How do you define a “neutral” garment? Does it mean lacking in color, like white, black, tan? (Yes, technically those are colors, but you know.) Does neutral include jeans? And if so, are they only neutral if they are a classic shade of “jeans blue?” Or maybe you consider solids your neutrals?
Lately, I’ve noticed that I attribute the neutral characteristic to something based on its role. Does it coordinate with tons of stuff? It’s a neutral. Case in point, I’ve decided that these shoes go well with damn near every garment I own. Neutral!
(A gift from my lovely sister last Xmas! They’re Cole Haan Air Jenni Ballet II flats in cobalt suede. ♥)
And with that logic, this skirt is the latest neutral addition to my wardrobe:
The skirt was made from the new release from Cake Patterns, the Hummingbird. I pre-ordered this pattern even before making my Tira. Not to go all PatternReview rating on you, but it truly is a Great Wardrobe Builder. It contains a knit peplum top and woven skirt, both with fantastic variations. I love the dickey top and flounce skirt designs, but I also I applaud the inclusion of the more-repeatable styles without these details.
I bought this fabric thinking it would make a cute jacket. But when Steph recently asked me to test the Hummingbird skirt, my eyes went straight to this piece and it was on. The fabric is from IKEA, and it’s a 100% cotton bottomweight (some may call it home dec weight) — ask for the Lappljung Randig, if you know how. I wanted to use contrasting stripe direction somewhere, so I opted for horizontal stripes at the upper side panels. Also, pockets!
Just as with the other releases from Cake Patterns, the sizing methodology for this skirt is brilliant. (And I’m fully aware that I’m prone to hyperbole, but I’m not exaggerating this!) You choose the skirt size to trace based on both FULL HIP and WAIST. Of course, this can’t guarantee a perfect fit without tweaks, but it got me awfully close. The instructions include a fit-check prior to adding the waistband, and when I did this, I found that the hip fit just right but the waist was a tad loose. I need to interject an important point here — this was my first fitted waistband. All the “bottoms” I’ve made prior had either elastic or drawstring waist. So, I wasn’t sure whether to cinch up the waist or not; I mistakenly assumed that the looseness would be corrected when the band was attached. Some of it was, but not all. (Another lesson for me to trust my gut! In this case, it was saying, “Hey you, I’m about an inch smaller here.”) So, my skirt sits lower than designed. (It’s supposed to sit about 1″ below your natural waist.) This wasn’t a big enough deal for me to rip out the waistband, so I just made a deeper hem. I’ve decided that the bit of extra circumference should be taken out of the back waist for the best fit on me, so next time I’ll adjust the darts and the waistband accordingly. I may still make the change for this one, depending on how it wears.
The only design change I made was to use an exposed zipper instead of an invisible one. I looked at the fabric and immediately thought, “Hey, the cross-threads on those colored stripes look kind of like zippers already, so I’ll mirror that!” No, that’s a lie. I did think that, but I did so after I realized I had no black invisible zippers in my stash. For most of the time that exposed zippers have been a thing, I’ve kind of hated them. Then I decided that maybe they were okay in some cases. My favorite one is the zipper Liz installed on her “mixed metals” dress…a gorgeous zipper absolutely worthy of being exposed! Then, Steph put one on a denim Hummingbird skirt and I liked it too. So I tried it, using this tutorial. (Except, instead of pinning in step 9? Glue stick!!) I didn’t do a perfect job, but the method worked well. I clipped too far in step 5, so those bottom corners are fray checked within an inch of their lives…
I adore my new skirt! Despite being multi-colored, or maybe because it is, it goes well with a surprising number of things in my closet. I have avoided making any sort of pencil skirt since I started sewing, expecting that the fitting would be a nightmare, and perhaps it would have been with a different pattern. This one calls for the option of “pegging” the sides in a bit more towards the hem, and I’ll likely do that with my next go. This time I opted against it because I didn’t want to interfere with the lines woven into the fabric. I am so excited about making more versions of the Hummingbird skirt — this is a whole new style of garment for my wardrobe, and one that I’ve been missing!
PS: I want to describe one part that you may find helpful when you make this pattern. The Upper Side Front piece (the one that I did with horizontal stripes), is shaped based on both your Full Hip and your Waist measurements — you trace or cut the outside edge of this piece based on your two numbers. The picture of it on the pattern instructions looks like the one on the left here:
Because of my hip-to-waist ratio, the slope of that edge isn’t as dramatic on my piece. Also of note, see the straight right edge on the illustration? On the pattern piece itself, that edge isn’t actually straight; it contains a dart hidden in the seam, as shown in the right picture. (Even with a hip-to-waist ratio larger than mine, the slope still may not be as great on the outside seam as it is on the inside dart.) So, you might get confused and sew the left upper side piece to the right pocket bag piece. Theoretically. :) That can be avoided if you just mark the outside edge in some way that you’ll remember. I’ve just read back over this paragraph a few times, and I may have even confused myself, so if this doesn’t make sense and you have questions, please let me know!