Do you have a favorite skirt pattern? I just can’t seem to get enough of the Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt sewing pattern. This is my fourth Chardon – but it wasn’t the easiest to make as you’ll see (heheh). I had no idea when I made my first Chardon more than six month ago, I was going to like this pattern so much. I really love the inverted pleats. It’s a lovely pattern, especially for curvy figures (meaning you usually have to grade up in the hip area as I do). The Chardon pattern is a high-waisted skirt with side pockets. You can make it with a bow, belt loops, or contrast band.
This rather long post includes photos of my finished skirt and some construction details as well as a discussion of some of the unexpected problems I ran into as I made this version.
So far I’ve made version A with the contrasting hem (but no back bow), version B (but without the belt loops), and a maxi version using a wax print. I used medium- to heavy-weight fabric for the shorter skirts (cotton/hemp blend for one and a cotton stretch twill for the other) and a quilt-weight cotton for the maxi. This time I had a beautiful linen print remnant, which I got at a Britex Fabrics 50% off sale last May. As soon as I saw it, I thought – Chardon!
Here’s a photo I took on the fourth floor contemplating this fabric as a skirt. It was 1 3/8 yards (1.3 meters) long and 56″ wide. The pattern calls for 1 1/3 yards of 60″ wide fabric (or 1 2/3 yards of 45″ wide). Though it wasn’t quite 60″ wide I thought I could make it work if I didn’t match the print. (The fabric was originally $39.99/yard and I got it for $17.50 (!) – half off the remnant price of $35.)
For this version, I made several changes from the original pattern (some of which I’d also made to my maxi version):
- Moved the zipper from center back to left side and used an invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper
- Removed left pocket because zipper is now there
- Lined it instead of using the facing
- Added about 2 inches (5 cm) of length to the main skirt fabric
- Added 1 inch of length to contrast band (the solid red linen fabric)
I really didn’t know how long I would make the contrast band. I deliberately cut it several inches longer and I posted three options on Instagram (@csews). The red band is longer (deeper?) as you go to the right, 1.) 5 inches (~12.5 cm), 2.) 8 inches (~20 cm), and 3.) 11 inches (28 cam, ).
Many people were in favor of No. 1 and some liked No. 2 (no votes for No. 3). The third was too long so I already took that out of consideration. (You can see all the comments/votes here.) A couple of people suggested making the main fabric a little shorter, which was a good idea except that I had already attached the red fabric to the main skirt piece. Plus I really loved the print, I didn’t want to make it shorter. I decided No. 1 was a little too short and No. 2 was a little too long. So I made it in between those two lengths, adding about an inch to No. 1.
This version is significantly longer than the pattern,which has the skirt hem end above the knee – not below the knee. What can I say? I like long skirts. I just feel more comfortable hiding my legs. But I have made a couple of things that are knee-length – my first two Chardons and my Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress. Those were definitely out of my comfort zone. 😉
I assumed that sewing this one up would be a piece of cake. Heheh. Wrong. The big difference was the fabric. This time I used a heavyweight home dec linen/viscose blend that frayed like crazy. And then it wasn’t easy to see my markings for the pleats on this fabric. I inadvertently stitched many of my pleats about 1/4″ (slightly less than 1 cm) longer than they were supposed to be. Oops.
I made this discovery when I tried it on before installing my zipper. To my surprise it needed slightly more ease around my hips. What?! I haven’t gained that much weight since I last made this skirt. I took out my seam gauge, compared the pleat mark on the pattern to what I sewed and saw that those seams needed to be shorter. I had to unpick that slight extra length on nearly all of the pleats and then go back and reinforce the stitches. So much for a quick sew…
I finished all my raw edges with either a zig zag stitch or a curving straight stitch. Then I thought – hmmm, does the waist need more reinforcement because I’m going to line it and not use a facing or interfacing? Will the linen fabric eventually distort? So I decided to add seam tape to stabilize it. (I sewed seam tape to the waist of my Spring for Cotton dress, so I thought it couldn’t hurt.) Here’s a photo of the waist when I had just began pinning down the seam tape. See all that fraying?
After I stitched that seam, I wondered if using seam tape was a bad idea because I now had three layers at the waist – lining, thick linen fabric, and seam tape – and a triple layer of the linen where the pleat folds were (so five layers wherever there was a pleat. Yikes). I used my pinking scissors to trim the seam allowance. See all that fabric above the seam tape? It’s gone now. I trimmed that down so there was only about 1/4″ left. Understitching the lining and a good pressing keeps everything in place.
Then I tried on the skirt and the lining was too tight. Really? More problems? Well, somehow when I cut the lining, it got distorted and thus it wasn’t wide enough at the hips. Luckily the waist was fine so I didn’t have to touch that. I had already machine sewn the lining to the zipper tape and I really didn’t want to unpick that.
So I just unpicked the right side seam before the waist and added more lining to that side. Luckily I had some leftover fabric so I didn’t need to run to the fabric store. I added more fabric than I needed but no one will know or see it, right?
I knew I wanted to add a red contrast band. I first went to Britex Fabrics to see if they had a linen of a similar weight and they did but it was more than $50/yard because it was a home dec linen. It didn’t seem right to spend more on the contrast band than the main fabric. So I went to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley and found this red linen – a nice match.
Note on fabric and pleat placement: If you use a fabric with a large print, you may want to pay attention to where the center front pleat will be positioned. I didn’t have enough fabric place the front pattern piece so that the red flower would appear at the top of the pleat. It is centered but you only see it below the pleat.
And if you remove the center back zipper, remember that there won’t be a pleat in the center back unless you add one. But I like it without an extra pleat because it shows off the print.
The pleats worked well on my maxi Chardon. I focused on centering the print’s design rather than matching anything on the side seams.
Here’s another photo of the back of my latest Chardon – but it’s a bit off-center on me. I hadn’t noticed but the side seams aren’t quite on the side. (I guess that’s why it’s helpful to have someone help you on a photo shoot – but it’s just me and my tripod.)
I’m really happy with this skirt. I needed some more color in my wardrobe.
Miscellaneous details: I got the hat several years ago in Santa Monica. It was made in China from paper fiber. The top is a sample size Ann Taylor silk sweater knit I got a few years ago in San Francisco. I recently got the sandals (by Elliott Lucca) at a deep discount in San Francisco. My lipstick is from Besame Cosmetics, which described the color as a “cool berry shade from 1945.” The company calls it American Beauty.
The wall behind me is the side of a vintage modern furniture store. In case you’re wondering, here’s what the rest of the chair mural looks like:
Cool painting, isn’t it? Makes me think of Lily Tomlin and her character “Edith Ann” who would sit in a huge rocking chair, which made her seem small (see this photo).
Happy summer sewing!