The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Hardware and Hammers

I decided to enter the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee even though this is an entirely impractical thing for me to try to engage in right now. But sometimes leaping into the impractical (and sticking out your tongue at the practical) is good for the soul.

It's impractical because I've got a ton of orders to fill and any personal sewing should be directed at making a coat. I desperately need one and it's starting to get cold here in the Midwest. As in snow cold, as it snowed on Halloween and actually stuck to the ground overnight.

But, like I said, I decided to go for soul.

The first challenge was to make a lined, a-line skirt with zipper, waistband and button/closure. I haven't made an a-line skirt for myself in a while now. I like what pencil skirts do for my figure and I like that they have a sexy/gritty vibe. If I were to give skirts a personality rating, a-lines would be the girl-next-door with her demure sex appeal, and pencil skirts would be her cousin from the big city who likes to stay out late drinking cocktails and flirting with the bartender, head thrown back laughing. So the challenge for me was to see if I could give the a-line skirt a bit of edge.

My inspiration came from a RTW jacket I own with interesting hardware. There are rivets and grommets and hooks. I particularly like the front closure:

I did a quick search online but couldn't find what I wanted and wasn't sure anything I ordered would arrive in time anyway. I think it might be a scabbard hook, like this one that I found on Richard the Thread, attached with rivets. I don't like the bright brassy color of the one on RtT, so if anyone has leads on where to get something more like the original, I'd love to hear them!

Then I drew up a couple of sketches and got to work.

I used the skirt block I created from the Studio Faro worksheet. I shortened the length by about five inches and added 6 inches to the sweep to get an a-line shape. I wanted this one to end a few inches above my almost 45-year-old knees (muttonlambs be damned). I drafted the wide waistband from the block and eliminated the darts. I added a center front seam that continued up through the waistband/yoke. I thought about adding pockets but thought I might not have time to do those well. I also played around with the idea of moving the seam closure to front left, and I'd like to try that in the future.

Since I hadn't been able to find the hardware I wanted, I foraged through my own stash and the notions wall at my local Hancock's for something that fit the look I wanted and came up with large brass snaps like these:

Dritz Sewing - Snap Fasteners
Photo from

I also pulled out some gold jean thread for topstitching and a chunky metal jean zipper, both purchased from And this skirt emerged.

Check out my new stretch boots from Boden! Love them!

I sewed a flat fell seam for the front/back center seams and finished them with a double row of topstitching with jean thread. I used a single row of topstitching around the waistband and hem. I installed an exposed metal zipper using the tutorial in Thread No. 162. The waistband closes with three metal snaps and I added three more decorative snaps to balance out the design. I hand stitched the facing to the lining and the lining to the zipper. 

I like that I can wear the skirt with a somewhat dressy top and a concert tee and it works both ways.

 Side note: you know I took the photo shoot seriously when I actually put on make up. This happens around 4 times a year, and I'm still using the make up I bought for my wedding in 2006. At this rate, I might run out of product when I'm 80. I needed to disguise the fact that I'd been up until 3am finishing the skirt for the deadline.

You might wonder why the middle snaps in each row are not solid. Two problems emerged post midnight when I was finishing up the skirt. First, I had made the waistband so that the right side would overlap at center front by about 5/8" so that I would be able to center the snaps over the zipper. This is what I did with my muslin and it worked great. I had purchased six snaps and only planned to use three, so I used one up to practice the installation. When it came to the real garment, I forgot that the right waistband needed to overlap, and I eased the waistband to fit the skirt exactly. Don't know what I was thinking. I didn't realize my mistake until after I had completed the topstitching and handstitched the lining and facing. So now my snaps couldn't be centered over the zipper. I went into "Huh" mode (as in, "Huh, this is a problem. How can I solve it?") And decided to do two rows of snaps. This was a good solution, except that I only had 5 snaps. Luckily I had the exact same snap in silver, so I could use those on the inside. Don't know if that makes sense, but it all worked out! And if you follow me on Instagram, you know this was my second time getting out the hammer this week.

So that's it! The denim is a charcoal/indigo stretch denim that has been in my stash so long I'm not sure where it's from. The lining is a stretch lining I purchased at the Discount Textile Outlet in Chicago. The facing fabric is leftover from a skirt I made for a client a couple years ago and I was so happy to find it in my scraps - it was exactly what I wanted! It's an Alexander Henry cotton lawn. I hope I make it to the next round so that I can see what my imagination cooks up for the next challenge.

Happy Weekend!
2 comments on "Hardware and Hammers"
  1. Thanks for sharing your process.....! Can't wait to see what you make next for the contest :-)

  2. It's awesome! And the mismatched snaps look intentional. Love all the hardware. Cool skirt.