Caramel A-line skirt – finished!

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - finished

Thanks to a stand-in camera that I’ve temporarily borrowed, today I can show you my finished caramel A-line skirt.  : )  Overall it’s really not bad, despite a few bumps in the road during construction, which I’ll tell you all about below.  My goal with this project was to sew another casual, neutral colored, fully lined skirt that I can wear to work with tights, and I definitely achieved that.  I can’t say that I’m crazy about this pattern, but it served its purpose.  Here’s to casual separates for my everyday wardrobe!

Simplicity 1717 pattern art

Project Stats:

Pattern: Simplicity 1717, a simple A-line skirt with oversized patch pockets, part of the Amazing FIt series.  I cut View C, Size 12, with the Slim back pieces (the skirt comes with Slim, Average, and Curvy options).

Fabric: The shell is 100% cotton twill in a rich caramel color, and the lining is Bemberg rayon in teal.

Modifications: For aesthetics, I added a full lining, added belt loops, and added 1 inch to the hem.  For fit, I removed about an inch (lengthwise) in the front waistline area and added a 3/4 inch panel on each side to make the skirt sit lower on my hips.  I’ll talk about all of these in more detail below.

Level of crafty satisfaction: Satisfied.  This isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a functional skirt that will hopefully fit well into my work wardrobe.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - right side Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - back

I’m pretty happy with the way the skirt looks with my pink cardigan and teal tank top.  It feels natural and comfortable, and there’s enough room in the skirt for me to move around easily in the lab.  I’m not crazy about the way the skirt kicks out a bit right below the bum – can you see it in the photo above?  What’s up with that?  I debated taking out some width in that area, but I had already put in the zipper and didn’t want to mess with it.  Not a big deal, but something to think about if I ever make this pattern again.

Now, let’s dive into the modifications I made.  Are you ready?

Modifications for aesthetics

1 – Added a full lining

I specifically wanted a static-free skirt so it wouldn’t stick to my tights during winter wear.  To make the lining, I simply used the original pattern pieces to make a “second skirt” for the inside.  The waistband pieces are not interfaced, unlike the exterior waistband.  To assemble it, I sewed all the waistband facing pieces together, then all the skirt lining pieces together, and then attached the waistband facing to the lining.  Finally, I attached the waistband facing to the exterior waistband, understitched the facing, and turned the whole thing inside out.  No biggie!

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - inside front

I left the top half of the center back lining seam open, and I hand sewed the raw edges to the zipper tape once the lining was fully installed.  I debated doing this by machine using the Cambie method, but in the end I decided that I had better control doing it by hand.  It only took a few minutes to hand sew, so I’m happy with my decision.  Still want to try that Cambie method sometime though!

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - inside back

I just love how neat the inside looks with the full lining!  And let me tell you, this Bemberg rayon is completely static-free.  Love it!  It’s amazing what a difference it makes when wearing the skirt with tights, and since it’s a natural fiber, it’s super breathable.  I’m a total rayon convert now.  : )

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - hem

The hem is also hand sewn, which is definitely my preferred method.  It does take a while (I think I spent a good 3 hours between the shell and lining!), but I love the neatness of the finished result.  I catch stitched the twill and then slip stitched the lining on top of it.  Adding a few hand stitched details to my projects makes them feel special, especially on such a plain skirt like this one.

2 – Added 1 inch to the hem

Because I’m on the tall side (5’8″), I added an inch to the bottom hem.  I wanted the skirt to hit right above my knee.  The skirt on the pattern envelope is just a little too short for me, especially for work!

3 – Added self-drafted belt loops

I made 6 belt loops and top stitched them down at even intervals along the waistband.  The skirt looked kind of sad and plain without a belt, so I decided to cheer it up a bit.  : )

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - belt loops

If you look closely, you’ll see that my installation of the loops isn’t perfect, but I have a feeling no one will be this close to my waist when I’m actually wearing the skirt.  At least I hope not, haha!

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - belt loop pieces

To make 6 loops, I cut two strips of fabric 7 inches by 1.5 inches along the lengthwise grain.  For each piece, I folded it in half and then folded the edges under (1/4 inch on each side) – see photo above.  I then top stitched along the two long sides (no turning that narrow tube inside out!) and cut three 2-inch-long pieces out of each 7-inch strip (discarding the edges on each end).  This leaves 6 pieces that are 2 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide.  I then pressed under 1/4 inch at each end and top stitched the loops to the skirt, so the finished loops are 1.5 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.  Does this makes sense?  I should have taken more photos, but my camera had died!

Hopefully you get the idea.  They’re just little strips of folded-over fabric.  : )

Modifications for fit

1 – Removed about 1 inch lengthwise in the front waistband area

Ok, here’s where we get to the ISSUES I had with this skirt.  Please excuse the quality of the photos below (and the bare stomach, ahem), but they show what I’m talking about pretty well.

Remember the pooling at the waistband that I talked about in this post?  You can see it in the two photos below – see the wrinkles below the waistband?  Not cool man.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - first attempt front

After staring at the skirt for a while and trying to figure out how to fix this very annoying problem, I decided that fabric had to be removed from both the skirt AND waistband pieces at the center front.  There was just too much fabric right around my stomach, which is seriously unflattering.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - first attempt side

The skirt essentially looked like the schematic below, with a little extra “bump” of fabric protruding at the waistline.  UGH.  What’s up with that?  It’s the same issue I had with my Butterick 5613 pleated skirts, and I suspect it’s a product of sub-par drafting of these contoured waistband skirts.  Or maybe it’s just my no-hips body not fitting into the pattern properly?  Regardless, it needed to be fixed.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - schematic before

I simply pinched out the excess fabric, removing about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the waistband at center front, and about 1/2 inch from the top of the skirt pieces.  I tapered to nothing at the side seams.  This seemed to do the trick, more or less.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - adjusted front yoke

You can see in the photo above that I removed part of the bottom of the front waistband piece.  Since the width of the waistband was now uneven, I removed the corresponding amount from the top of the waistband piece, as shown above.  The final waistband was now a bit thinner than the original design, but that’s fine with me.

I didn’t take a photo of the top of the skirt pieces, but I removed the same 1/2 inch in that area, tapering to nothing at the side seams.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - adjusted back yoke

I also removed about 1/2 inch from the top of the back waistband piece, as shown above, so that it would match up with the front.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - schematic after

This definitely flattened out the front of the skirt, and my stomach no longer looked like a kangaroo pouch.  Awesome!  My only complaint is that the skirt piece seems slightly puckered at the waistline (indicated by my little vertical lines in the schematic above).  I think it must have stretched out a little, but a good pressing seems to make it passable for wear.  Crisis averted!

2 – Added a 3/4 inch side panel on each side of the skirt

You can see this in my schematic above, as well as in the photo below.  The main reason for this was that the skirt was sitting way too high on my waist for my taste – i.e., right at my natural waist.  For some reason I really don’t like how this looks or feels on me.  I feel so constricted!  My natural waist is too close to the bottom of my lungs, and I feel like I can’t breathe when something is wrapped around there.  No thanks!

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - added side panel

The addition of the side panels was definitely an afterthought.  Even though the pattern comes with 1 inch side seam allowances, I had already trimmed them down to 3/8 inch before I realized what was happening.  I had even made a muslin ahead of time, but it was pretty useless!  Anyway, I don’t think the panels are too distracting, and I’m calling them a design feature.  : )

The skirt now sits a few inches below my waist (maybe an inch below my navel?), which looks and feels much better.  Phew!

Final thoughts

Despite all the hours I spent fixing this very simple skirt, I’m pretty happy with the final result.

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - hand in pocket front

I mean, this is a cute outfit, right?  : )

Caramel A-line skirt - Simplicity 1717 - hand in pocket sideI definitely wouldn’t classify the fit as “amazing” as the pattern envelope proclaims, but like I said earlier, it’s a functional and casual skirt that fills a gap in my everyday wardrobe.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to ensure full disclosure on this project.  That’s what blogs are for, right?  : )

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4 comments
  1. Helena said:

    Hey Carolyn, firstly I think your version of the skirt looks amazing and I really love the side panels! I sew a lot for my two girls but have never used a pattern to make myself a skirt. I thought this pattern might be a good starting point but decided to check some reviews before I go for it.

    The information you have provided is so helpful and just wanted to say thanks for your honest opinions of the pattern and what worked for you. I just hope mine turns out half as beautiful :-)

    • Carolyn said:

      Thanks Helena, and I’m so happy to hear that my notes on this pattern were helpful! This skirt pattern is indeed good place to start since it’s such a simple and straightforward design. Hopefully you won’t encounter the fit issues that I had, but you just never know how your body will fit into each new pattern. Best of luck with it, and if you’d like, send me a photo (or link) of your finished skirt! :)

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