Purple Tulip Skirt – Sew Over It

Patience, Persistence and Puckers

"Our levels of desire, patience, persistence, and confidence end up playing a much larger role in success than sheer reasoning powers. Feeling motivated and energised, we can overcome almost anything." - Robert Greene, Mastery [1]

Purple skirt with floral bias binding at either side of the zip

This is the Sew Over It Tulip Skirt that I made during some dressmaking classes my mum signed me up for as a Christmas present. I completed the final version of this skirt in March last year and shared some photos on Instagram but I never got round to writing up the blog post. Because my measurements have changed since I made it, I can't share photos of it on my body but I'll update this post if I ever manage to fit into it again!

I love the crepe versions of this skirt on the Sew Over It site so I chose to use the deep purple satin backed Prada crepe from Minerva Crafts. Or is it a crepe backed satin? Both sides of this fabric could be used - crepe for a casual skirt, satin for a more formal look. The satin gives the crepe a beautiful sheen in the daylight and the shiny side feels softer against the skin so I decided to use the crepe as the right side for this project.

Purple skirt with floral bias binding at either side of the zip

I enjoy the sewing process so I never rush to finish a garment but, because I had a few weeks to make this, I spent extra time on the little details: hand sewing both the waistband and invisible hem, and finishing the seams with a contrasting bias binding using the Hong Kong finish tutorial on the Colette blog.

I did save some time by using pre-made bias binding in Liberty Wilmslow Berry D Tana Lawn from Etsy since I couldn't find any shops that sold this fabric by the metre. I don't make full garments with Liberty fabric because busy patterns don't go well with my colouring but I love to use it to add fun touches to the insides. If you have some fabric in your stash that you love but it doesn't suit you, you could try using it for facings, patch pockets, pocket linings, piping or bias binding.

I was so disappointed when, at the end of the course, I tried my finished skirt on and noticed puckering at the side seams (which isn't visible when the skirt is laid flat). I read everything I could find on the causes of seam puckering and tried every suggested technique on my fabric scraps. After a couple more attempts, I finally had a skirt with no puckered seams. Below are some tips I found useful (links to all the sources can be found in the footnotes).


Tips for sewing satin back crepe

  1. Use silk pins. These are extra fine so they will prevent holes from being left in the delicate satin side of the fabric.[2]
    Close-up showing the weave of the satin side of the fabric
    Close-up of the satin weave
  2. Wind the bobbin slowly. Polyester thread can stretch if fed through the machine at a high speed. This then relaxes when sewn into the garment which can cause puckers.[3]
  3. Use a Microtex needle. These needles have a sharper point for piercing through the threads of the fabric rather than pushing them aside which can distort the weave, creating puckers.[4]
  4. Use a shorter stitch length (2mm).[5] None of the sites that suggested this tip explained why this works but I'm guessing it's due to the tight weave of the fabric - let me know if you know!
    Close-up showing the tight weave of the crepe side of the fabric
    Close-up of the tightly woven crepe fabric
  5. Pull the fabric taut. This was the most useful tip I came across and it goes against everything I was ever taught about feeding fabric through the machine. Watch this video for an explanation and to see how it's done.

I've had fitting issues with other Sew Over It patterns but I was happy with the fit of this skirt. My waist measurement was 29" so I cut a size 12 based on the size chart. The waistband is curved and has only a small amount of ease so it fit nicely against my waist with my top tucked into it. I made the longer version which ends about 2 inches above my knee (I'm just under 5'5").

This skirt would go perfectly with some glittery flat shoes and a black silk cami. Here it is with an Ogden cami toile I made using some Atelier Brunette Stardust double gauze:

Sew Over It Tulip Skirt in purple crepe fabric with a black camisole top with gold spots

And here's a bonus picture of my furry sewing assistant:

Ruby the cat sat on the finished skirt

I'm glad I didn't rush this project or give up after the first attempt. I've ended up with a wearable skirt with pretty insides and I can apply the techniques I've learnt the next time I make a satin bra or camisole. It's given me the confidence to try working with other tricky fabrics too - a swimsuit or a chiffon skirt, maybe?

Project Summary

Pattern

Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (available in UK sizes 8-20)

Size

Size 12 based on the following measurements:

  • Chest: 35″
  • Waist: 29″
  • Hips: 36″

Adjustments

None

Fabric

2 metres of purple satin crepe from Minerva Crafts

Mistakes Made

Puckering at the seams

Additional Info

Pattern is only available as a digital download (PDF)


Footnotes
  1. Mastery is a book by Robert Greene that looks at the habits and mindsets of people who have achieved mastery in their fields.
  2. Craftsy article on the different types of sewing pins
  3. Blog post on the causes of puckered seams by Londa's Creative Sewing
  4. Tip sheet for sewing crepe back satin by Lets Go Sew (PDF)
  5. Sewing with Silky Textured Fabrics by Rose Marie Tondl, University of Nebraska - Lincoln