Pinstripe Pattern Puzzle February 03 2015

Are you guys reading Studio Faro’s blog, Well Suited?

These days you can find it at, but it’s just moved there from where you can still see a full archive. A ‘Pattern Puzzle’ is posted on their facebook page every weekend, in which readers try to guess what the garment looks like just by looking at the pattern pieces, and the solution follows on the blog. They are often fiendishly difficult puzzles, though the solutions are often surprisingly straightforward. I love it! Recommended reading for anyone interested in how patterns work.

Anyway, once I found this blog a few months back I had a good read as far back through the archives as I could. My favourite pattern puzzle was this one from May 2014.

I believe the original inspiration for this skirt was Donna Karan, but it’s been lost in the mists of time. Anyway, HOW good would this look made up in pinstripes? I decided to draft up my own version to find out.

I split up my skirt block as per the diagrams and ended up with the following pattern pieces (note the grainlines):

The lining pieces are simply like so:

Front lining has no darts. Back lining has two darts turned into tucks. The lining attaches to a copy of the waistband cut out of the fashion fabric. For the back I was intending on cutting two slits, but realised that would leave a wierd stripe of lining between them so decided to go with one big slit in the end, as you’ll see later.

In case you want to make this yourself, I made a quick cutting plan. I had 1m of pinstripe fabric in stash and was determined to get the whole skirt out of it. You can see that the inside waistband pieces had to be pieced, but that was OK as they are not visible. I actually cut them on the straight grain.

A note on stabilisation. Where does one begin with a design like this? All the pieces are on completely different grainlines, some are bias, some aren’t, practically all seams are curved... I could have block fused the lot but I would have lost the lovely properties of my wool suiting, so I decided to leave it and hope for the best. The only place I decided stabilisation was absolutely required was for the bias-cut waistband. I was worried this would ‘grow’ significantly while wearing and mean the skirt would fall down! So I interfaced both the front and back waistband pieces. Would you have done something different? Let me know in the comments.

Here are some in-progress shots. The stripes in different directions look great! Here’s the back.

This side detail is probably my favourite feature.

Here’s the front in progress.

Here you can see the slightly strange drape caused by the grainlines all being totally different. You can still see it in the final skirt, though not as much as in this picture.

Here’s the front lining...

...and the back lining.

To try and fix the small boo-boos in the back pleats, the one on the left of the picture was pressed into submission, while the one on the right needed more attention.

You can see the fold of the pleat doesn’t line up with the point – this was inordinately difficult to do.

I unpicked this mess,

...freed the pleat,

...and hand basted it together again how I wanted it to lie before resewing the seam on the right of the picture.

I didn’t take an after shot because it’s still not perfect, but honestly, I don’t think anyone will notice, so don’t say anything, OK?

Here’s how I handled the lining slit. I cut a wide strip and sewed it to the right side of the lining at the centre back. I sewed two parallel lines a couple of millimetres apart, joining in a point at the top of the slit.

Then I cut up the slit all the way to the point...

...and turned the strip of lining to the wrong side.

On the wrong side, I turned the edges of the strip under and topstitched them down.

Here’s how it looks. Not bad, if you discount the fact that using entirely the wrong needle has snagged the cheap and nasty fabric all the way around.

Anyway, joining the lining to the skirt was done at the waist seam. Here you can see that I trimmed carefully and understitched the seam allowance to the lining side.

It’s coming together! This is the finished skirt on the dummy. The hem was turned up once and catch stitched by hand. Since almost all the pieces are on the bias, I didn’t finish them as they wouldn’t fray and I didn’t want any overlocking etc to show up on the right side when pressed.

A couple of detail shots. First is the back pleats. As I was making it I wasn’t sure how the inverted V in the middle of the right hand pleat would look – I considered moving the seam between the right back piece and the right left piece away from the centre of the vent to the side of the vent or something. I didn’t have enough material to recut, so it had to stay as it is. I’m happy because I really like it now it’s finished!

Another not-great picture showing I joined the zip tape to the lining by machine.

Here are some pictures of it on. London is FREEZING right now, hence the coat. Sorry for the creases – the pictures were taken after lunch! – but I think this gives you a good idea of how it looks on. What do you think?