Box pleats and pattern matching.

11:32 am

box pleat, originally uploaded by Lazy Seamstress.
Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet and I have to go with it. Tuesday night watching The Great British Sewing Bee , and seeing many of the contestants struggling with the pattern matching and box pleats of the technical challenge, it occurred to me that I hadn't ever made a box pleated skirt where pattern matching was an issue. And I've certainly never had to pattern match box pleats under a time restriction with a camera pointing up my nose at the same time, so kudos to those on the show for keeping their sense of humour, I'm not sure I would have under those circumstances. I hope I would have had the sense to pick a stripe fabric and use it horizontally as my friend Vicki mentioned on Twitter.
After watching the show, as is often the case I felt inspired to improve my sewing skills, and I simply could not get those box pleats out of my head. I resolved to make a box pleated skirt with perfect pattern matching!
I should say at this point I had no thoughts whatever about how a box pleated skirt would suit me, or fit into my wardrobe, I was merely interested in the technical challenge.
I didn't set out to make the exact skirt they made on the show, but simply to play with the pleats, and this I did in stolen moments over half term.

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I had to use fabric from stash for this, so was limited in what I had that might work. I fished out a large floral Amy Butler print, but soon realised the pattern repeat was too large , then I found this African print, and began playing.African prints really don't want to play ball, the prints are hand block printed by eye, often not even on the straight grain, so yeah not ideal at all ! (But I may be able to resurrect this skirt at some point I think!)

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After struggling with the African print, I began playing with this geometric print cotton. Again not ideal, but slightly better to work with.
I only had a small amount of fabric to work with, so after checking my maths with my 8 year old ( I never did get a maths O level ) , I decided I could get three small box pleats across the front and back of a skirt. (I didn't use a pattern for this skirt.)

I pressed the pleats in, tacked them securely in place, and then began to construct my skirt.
Two side seams, a lapped zipper and button fastening.
I hadn't intended to make the exact skirt featured on the show, but I thought just for fun I'd half machine sew, and half hand pick my zip. I wouldn't usually hand pick a zip unless using a delicate fabric, or I particularly wanted to achieve a vintage look. For example Jemma's prom dress made last year ;the zip was entirely hand sewn into that delicate lace in the bodice.

lapped zipper (hand sewn)

You may notice my side seams don't exactly match. Again I was working with the small amount of fabric I had and couldn't match front and back vertically without losing too much off the length.

I machine stitched my waistband on too, as they had on the show. I have to say, I'm in full agreement with Julie who hand stitched her waistband down. that is my favourite method. I think it gives a nicer finish, but to push me out of my comfort zone, I top stitched my waistband.

top stitching

And yes, my waistband doesn't match! I had nowhere near enough fabric left to pattern match the waistband, so I flipped the design instead.

I finished off my skirt with a vintage button, and a machine sewn hem.

box pleat skirt 2

Am I happy with the finished skirt? Well, yes and no. I enjoyed the challenge I set myself. I'm happy with the finish of my skirt, glad to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone of invisible zips and hand stitched waistbands. Mostly I'm happy with my pattern matching using a not really ideal print, but I really don't like this skirt on me!
The print is one I wouldn't usually wear, nothing in my wardrobe goes with it, and it is not particularly flattering. (These photos of me wearing the skirt have made the print on the skirt look very washed out, that is a trick of the light, it is a bright print in reality.)
I may wear it in the summer with leggings and ballet flats. That might work.
I'm not disappointed that I've made myself a skirt I don't really like, as I've already said, I enjoyed the challenge!

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  1. I love the skirt! I think you need to wear it with brighter colours though rather than the black. (but you know what I am like - I would probably have orange tights and a teal top on with it!) :)

    1. You are right, think I'll save it for summer. :)

  2. As always you look effortlessly gorgeous! And that view haircut is not wasted on me neither!!

    San xxx

    1. Thank you San. The new hair I actually do like.

  3. Grr texting issues new not view! Must remember to proof read before posting!! Xx

  4. I love it, bright happy colours just right for heading into warmer (we hope) weather. Fabulous hair too x

    1. Thanks Grace, yes I will try it again in the summer with some brighter colours.

  5. It looks great on you! I couldn't make that in a 1000 years! Love that fabric too. xCathy (p.s.Giveaway at mine if you like).

  6. I think it is a lovely skirt and really suits you! Love the new hair cut as well!

  7. I am making the box pleat skirt up can not work out how the pleats work.
    Only one on you tube but not clear enough.
    Well done your skirt is amazing

  8. I love the skirt and your shoes!!!!


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