Beignet and Breton

So, while I was waiting for a pattern to arrive for the Monthly Stitch Cape Challenge I thought I would tackle a quick project and make myself a skirt.

Turned out is was not so quick…

I’ve been a fan of the Colette Beignet pattern since seeing Tilly’s lovely red version on her blog a couple of years back and I finally got hold of the pattern earlier this year (thanks Mum and Dad), picked up some dark denim on Leeds market and I was ready to go.

Denim Colette Beignet 13 Denim Colette Beignet 16

(I hadn’t realised I was copying Tilly by pairing it with a stripy top – it is just another me-made I wanted to get photographed!)

As I mentioned at the top of this post, this skirt was not a quick make.

Denim Colette Beignet 8 Denim Colette Beignet 18 Denim Colette Beignet 5

For starters there is the tracing and cutting of the pattern; now I am sure that there is somebody out there who finds this part of the process relaxing and pleasurable, but I am sure I am in the majority when I say that it is generally my least favourite part of a project. And this sucker has a lot of pattern pieces to trace. Not only is the skirt panelled, but it is also lined and has pockets and belt loops and facings. This all adds up to a grand total of 15 pattern pieces (admittedly the belt loop does not take long!), so I had been working on this for over an hour before I even touched my fabric.

For the lining I used something from Abakhan which was called “silky pongee”. I have never come across this lining fabric before, but it was on sale and I am cheap, so I picked up several metres in different colours just to have it to hand. I actually quite like the feel of this stuff; it does not have that slippery feel of some polyester linings, and it comes in vibrant colours. For this skirt I used purple.

Colette Beignet lining

I do not, however, particularly like the way it behaves when you use it. It has a tendency to slide around when you are cutting it (not surprisingly), and my first attempt ended up so off grain by the time I had sewn it up I realised I would be better of scrapping it and starting again. At 63p per metre this was not too much of a heartache, except for the time it added to the completion of this project.

On the skirt shell, I chose to do some topstitching (in purple to match the lining) on some of the seams. I am glad I did this, as it is a classic finish with denim (are they flat felled seams? I don’t know – they are just what looked right), but it was quite time consuming.

When it came to attaching the facing the instructions suggest that “it will help you to trim down the seam allowance on both pieces”. Yeah, right. Like I had time to remeasure my seam allowance and trim it down! But we all know what happens when we cut corners to try and save a couple of minutes, don’t we? Yup! Those facings were attached. Then unpicked. THEN trimmed down and re-attached.

In my “wisdom”, I had decided (and not just because I was bored with cutting out) that I would omit the interfacing on this make; I figured denim is already quite stiff and I was not sure I needed the extra thickness in my seams. Turns out this denim also has a bit of stretch and could possibly have done with something to help it hold its shape, especially with all the unpicking, so my front edges stretched out and ended up all wobbly.

Denim Colette Beignet 1 Denim Colette Beignet 12

I managed to fudge around it until I was somewhat satisfied, but on the home stretch had a problem with my buttonholes. The practice one was perfect, but the fabric got stuck on the first one on the skirt, leaving me with a big knot of thread to unpick…

By the time I finished this skirt it had become a labour of Hercules rather than a labour of love. I did not want it to end up in my UFO heap, so I persevered, but it was a struggle to finish it off and not just discard it for something more fun.

But I am glad I did finish it, because I do like it. It is a little bit big on me, but nothing unwearable. I had not made a muslin, reckoning that with this style I could try it on during the construction and just take a bit extra out of the side seams if need be. I did try it on during construction and if anything it was a bit tight, but it somehow grew in those finishing stages.

Denim Colette Beignet 10 Denim Colette Beignet 3 Denim Colette Beignet 9

So my Beignet experience was not, overall, a good one. I will be making another – I have the pattern cut out already, after all, and if I actually follow the instructions I am sure it will go more smoothly next time.

A final quick word about the top. It is my first attempt at working with knit fabric. I used a really thin, cheap jersey I bought from ebay, so I wouldn’t be too upset if it did not go well, and used Angela Kane’s  fitted t-shirt pattern. (Do y’all know Angela? She has a subscription site with a couple of dozen patterns to download. The site is great for basic t shirts and tops and has some cute dresses and jeans patterns – plus a couple of patterns not so much to my taste; once you subscribe you also have access to some really good video tutorials on working with jersey; subscription is £20 for the first year and £5 thereafter, if you chose to stay, rather than download all the patterns and skedaddle). The top was really quick to knock up – the edges are just turned and finished with a twin needle – and it is not brilliant, but it is useful and wearable.

So there we go – Beignet and Breton; a classic combination. Now can I just put the whole thing behind me and move on?

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