Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Zinnia in red with black

Dear readers, have you ever been ambushed by a pattern? A pattern that simply wants you to make it, in spite of yourself? You're not even sure if you like it, and yet it whispers of the perfect fabric in your ear - that exactly-right yardage you have in exactly the right weight, just sitting there waiting for a plan? When that happens, what do you do?

Well I measured my lovely red fabric up against every possible dress pattern in my stash, desperately trying to make the yardage stretch to something else. Something that would really do the print justice. But in the end, the random inspiration that put together Anneke's red silk cotton and Colette's Zinnia skirt won out.

And what do you know? I really, really like it.


When the Zinnia pattern was released, I was unconvinced almost to the extent of disappointment. It was just a bit plain, a bit unexciting, a bit just-another-gathered-skirt. But, having caved to the inspiration by which I was hijacked (and to instant gratification, damn you Paypal), I think I was missing the point. Those things are the point. The Zinnia skirt is those plain, unexciting, perfect-skirt things done very, very well.

This is view 3, which is designed specifically for lightweight/sheer fabrics (with the shorter length of view 2). One of my favourite things about it is the edgstitching along the pleats and the waistband - it's a small, subtle touch, but to me it elevates the look well beyond any improvised pleated skirt I  might have dreamt up for myself.


The pattern instructions are, as usual for Colette, very clear and understandable. However, I did find them a bit lacking in good options on the zip insertion. They would have you insert an invisible zip sewn to the lining and outer skirt layers together, explaining that this is for the sake of a clean finish on the outside of the skirt if you're working with sheer fabrics. This is true - but you're likely to get bunching along the back, disturbing the swishy lines which are the whole point of using floaty fabric in the first place.

So I used Grainline's tutorial for an invisible zip with free-hanging overlay instead. I know pattern instructions can't include everything, but I think in this case - where they're deliberately tailored towards a certain finish - a clearer pointer towards different zip options, along with the reasons why, would be a small but significant improvement.

Forgive the blurry picture, but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out on my first attempt ever:

Now, not for the first time in my sewing career, I managed to put the button tab on the wrong side. Does anyone else get this? I simply cannot visualise left and right properly when I'm putting things together inside out, right sides together, this that and the other. It's like I get a kind of spatial dyslexia. I only realised when I came to put the skirt on: I instinctively wanted the button to be the other way round.

I also instinctively wanted a plain, cropped, fitted black sweater to wear with it. Bummer: I didn't have one.

Do you remember, before sewing, those treks round the shops, looking for a specific item of clothing? I do. They were rarely successful and never fun.

So I made another instant-gratification sewing purchase (bad Jo! bad Paypal!) and made myself a Renfrew. Size eight at the top, graded through size 12 at the waist, cropped off shortly thereunder. It is a cheap poly sweater knit and it is perfect. When it dies - as it will, because it was very cheap and I sewed it at high speed on the serger - I'll do it again with fabric that's worth it.

So comfy, so lovely, the whole thing just so gloriously DIY.

And there you have it: I have been properly ambushed by two patterns I never thought I'd like.

UPDATED to add:  have you seen Hanne's Zinnia? I LOVE the shorter length - my next one might have to be a mini! Unless it's a midi, I like that too. There may have to be more than one...


  1. Your Zinnia is soo lovely <3 Probably I should buy that pattern, finally. Now. :)

  2. House Of PinheiroOctober 29, 2013 2:58 pm

    Looks lovely

  3. It's lovely! I'm so glad to see what you did with the fabric, it worked out perfectly!

  4. This is gorgeous! That fabric is amazing and perfect for Zinnia. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with instant gratification sewing purchases, I just made one myself but it needed to be done.

  5. This is gorgeous. I'd been uninspired by the zinnia pattern, too, but you're making me review my opinion! And yes, I have those wrong side moments - the worst was when I made the shirtwaist dress from Gertie's book and made my first bound buttonholes; I was pretty proud of myself until I tried it on...

  6. I love your version. I might steel it from your closet. I know the feeling about feeling ambushed. I had the same problem with Colette's Laurel.
    Thank you for mentioning me!

  7. SeamsOddLouise.Blogspot.comOctober 29, 2013 9:10 pm

    Its lovely. A match made in dressmaking heaven

  8. It looks great and yay to being able to sew a top lickety split to go with it. I'm glad you mentioned the zipper instructions because I followed them as well for my skirt the other day and was confused. I'm so glad to read Jen's instructions. I'll be doing that next time.


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