bottom-halfs wardrobe

Cali Faye – Pocket Skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

As many of you know, I’ve been sewing in various levels of intensity for a couple decades now. There have been times where I was making garments consistently enough to call it Work, and alternatively I’ve had stretches of time where I let my machine collect dust in the cupboard for a year or more. I’ve started drawers of beautiful broken clothes— a missing button here, a ripped seam there— that were less in queue for their much needed repair than banished out of sight. I’ve had moments where I can churn out 3 or 4 questionably crafted garments a week, and other times where it’s just exhausting to think about a looming deadline of a multiple garment weekend marathon.

I’ve learned that if I don’t pace myself with the things I really love, I tend to burn out on it. Even with the freedom to do so, it’s a rare day that I can sit at my machine for 8 hours. I tend to tap out at 4 or 5, even and especially on projects that I’m absolutely excited about. My creative brain exhausts itself and I turn into a chocolate-craving ball of naps on the couch, which doesn’t lend itself well to the rest of my life.

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

It’s not been an easy task to reconcile with myself over the fact that I am not prolific. I think we all kind of hope for these things that we’re not, right? I was really hoping that Prolificacy could be a Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It situation, but alas, while you can fake an attitude, it’s much harder to fake energy.

So, this year has been really interesting to me, especially in terms of being a part of the online sewing community for the first time. Sure, I’d been following Sophie of Ada Spragg and Sallie Oh for several years and could easily relate to their pace of posting garments (one or two a month, sometimes less, sometimes more), but I had no idea until last fall that there was a whole community of talented sewing bloggers, with many posting garments multiple times a week.

I have to say, I’m amazed (and undeniably a bit envious) that it’s possible to accomplish such a feat, and on such a regular basis, no less. And, ultimately, while I wish I had the Sewjo you wonderful ladies have, I’m really, really happy that sewing is becoming a hobby and a skill that is currently only growing in popularity. I’m so very grateful that the activity of making ones’ own clothes is bringing awareness to the Slow Fashion Movement, as well as the mere fact that your clothes are not made by robots. You can be a slow sewist, a fast sewist, one that only dabbles in embroidering giraffes, or someone who doesn’t sew at all but supports any one of us who does; as the blogging community and instagram has shown us, sewing can bring together a world of people. And that is so. freaking. inspiring.

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

The Pattern: Cali Faye Collection Pocket Skirt
The Fabric: Heavy yarn-dyed cotton canvas from Miss Matatabi
The Size: ??
Adjustments: ???
Alterations: ????

Let’s go in reverse order today and talk about the pattern first before I talk about construction.

It’s hard to say whether I made A LOT of alterations to this pattern or if I barely made any, and the reason is, at the core, this is a very basic gathered skirt. While I didn’t use the rectangular skirt pattern pieces, I did cut out my own rectangle for my skirt. While I didn’t use the rectangular waist band pattern piece, I did cut out a rectangle for my waistband. Instead of sewing the pocket tops into the waistband seam as suggested, I moved them down to be patch-pockets. I ditched the pocket opening binding for the fabric selvedge, and I also ditched the elastic in the back waistband. Truly, the only pattern piece I used was the pocket. Still, even with all those changes, the shape and silhouette are similar, if not the same as what Sarah intended, because it’s still a very basic gathered skirt. While you can change the fabric, add or detract volume or length, pleat, or gather, there isn’t a whole lot else you can do with rectangles.

It’s also hard to say whether the instructions were any good. I’ve read on another blog that they were not so great for a beginner, and to me, they kind of read like Word Salad (though to be fair, I was having a kind of brain fart day and was probably eating my own Word Salads for lunch). I did raise my eyebrow at a couple points, though:

1) the finished garment measurements for the waist is just a couple inches smaller than the hip measurements and several larger than the waist, which made me assume that this skirt was meant to sit at the hips, even though the summary paragraph clearly states it should sit at the waist;

2) that it calls for elastic inside the back of an already gathered waistband with a zipper —so this is how the skirt sits at the waist, but why make a chunky, gathered waistband?— and

3) there are no finished photos of the actual elasticized waistband of this skirt anywhere on the Cali Faye site (a blouse is covering it in every photo) —which I assumed, perhaps cynically, that it’s even a mystery to the designer what this skirt is supposed to look like. So, I figuratively threw the instructions over my shoulder and sewed the skirt how I would sew any rectangular skirt pattern.

And it’s hard to say whether or not this is a “good” pattern, because, while I’m frustrated that I paid $14 for a pocket pattern piece and not much else, I’m still really happy with the way this skirt looks. I make gathered rectangle skirts as often as the next girl, but I probably wouldn’t have reached for this fabric combo for this particular silhouette if it had not been for the Pocket Skirt pattern. To be honest though, I will probably never pull this out of my pattern binder again, because it’s just not necessary once you understand how rectangle skirts work.

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

My verdict is this: If it weren’t for Cali Faye having other patterns in the #Sewmystyle challenge, I would probably not buy another one of her patterns, but as it stands, I’m due to make two more of her garments before the end of the year. And, alternatively, if you are keen on learning how to make your own rectangle skirt (and I think it’s absolutely a worthwhile skill to have in your sewing toolbox!), instead of the Cali Faye Pocket Skirt pattern, I suggest a class like Allie J’s skirt class on Skillshare. It’s touted as a 50’s style gathered skirt, but the basics of making a gathered skirt are the same; if you want one to look similar to the sample Pocket Skirt, just make it in linen or chambray and with less volume/width in the rectangles. I haven’t taken the class myself, but from what I know of Allie and of gathered skirts, I think that would be a better investment. Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Give a Sewcialist rectangles, she will make a single gathered skirt. Know what I mean?

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

But let’s address those ????’s up above. As mentioned, the sizing really threw me for a loop. Since this is a skirt that sits on the waist, with free hips and a nil bust, I originally based my size on the waist measurements, and on an average day, I fit perfectly square into the measurements for an S. But looking at the finished garment measurements confused me. The actual finished garment waist measurement is 32.35, which is a whole 7 1/4” longer than the actual waist measurement. Looking further at the instructions regarding the elastic, the elastic is only meant to go on the back waistband, and since that 7+ extra inches of ease isn’t evenly distributed along the entire waistband, it leaves you with A LOT of extra bunching along the back. A lot.

I decided to trace a size XXS waistband because the finished measurement for the waist was 29”, but that was still a 4” ease in the waist band. I do have a high natural waist, so it wouldn’t look so odd for it to sit a tad lower, but who really wants to show off their belly button? Not me. In the end I decided to just nix the whole elasticated waistband and “draft” my own. Side note: the term draft is used loosely here because it is literally a rectangle folded in half.

I had already nixed the rectangle pattern pieces because I knew the width of the pleated stripes in my fabric would be the determining factor in the width of my rectangles. Further, in an effort to reduce bulk in the pleating since this fabric so heavy, I made the skirt as one rectangle wide enough to be a single pleated panel, rather than a separate Front and Back. I also moved the zipper from the side to the back, because I like things to be symmetrical and there would have been no opposing side seam to balance that side zipper.

It was at this point that I realized reading the instructions was a waste of my mental energy (again, Word Salad for Lunch), and I would merely make a pleated rectangle skirt and add the Cali Faye pockets onto them. Suffice it to say, I have no idea what size I made and have no idea what constitutes an alteration, an adjustment, or a complete re-draft.

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

Ok, on to the construction. I’m not usually one to celebrate how quickly I can put together a garment (#slowsewing), but this skirt really came together in a flash (and for me, that’s around 1.5 afternoons). That’s mostly because I ditched what little detail work this pattern calls for. Pocket bindings? Who needs ‘em? Side seams? Throw them out! Hems? Pshhhhhhhh…

I loved how the yarn-dyed nature of this fabric left the selvedge as stripes of the true yarn color, so I used the selvedge for the bottom hem and also for the pockets, which gives it a “raw” finish without running the risk of having the fabric actually fray or look worn.

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

I think this skirt leans a bit in the direction of “apron” (what with those patch pockets) or really, in some ways, Modern Candy Striper, so I made a lapped waistband with double buttons to turn that wink into a heavier nod. For finishing the zipper, I did a basic rolled hem on the seam allowance before stitching the zipper in. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was having difficulty hand finishing the waistband and called for your help in figuring it out. Unfortunately, the heavy canvas was just too heavy, so I did end up finished it with a stitch in the ditch.

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

And this fabric is seriously heavy. It holds on to wrinkles like it’s life depends on it. I ordered it for 50% off from Miss Matatabi, not realizing how heavy it actually was and thinking it was a steal, but the shipping from Japan doubled the actual cost of the fabric. I originally thought I’d make a Tilly and the Buttons Cleo out of it, but it’s honestly not really suited for clothing other than perhaps outerwear or pants. And somehow, that Cleo bandwagon came and went before I could jump on. Woosh. I’m kind of glad I didn’t use this for a Cleo, because I’m really happy with how it turned out as a pleated skirt, even if I’m still surprised that the weight and drape of the fabric actually works.

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt

Do I feel a little bit guilty for such a strong verdict about a pattern I barely even used? Yes. I’m tempted to say something along the lines of “I’m sure this pattern is useful to someone else” in an effort to mitigate how rude I feel for saying it. And who knows? Maybe it really is a fantastic pattern if I just gave it a shot. Maybe the extra 7.25” ease in the back actually does wonders for comfort and fit. But I don’t think I’ll ever really know.

Either way, I’m excited to see everyone else’s Pocket Skirt this month and what y’all did with it! I think, as a base, it really does lend itself well to being made up in so many varying ways. What else are you working on this month? Any new patterns you’re excited about? As always, thanks for reading, and have a great week!

saki jane - cali faye pocket skirt


15 Comment

  1. Very fair review Saki! I agree it seems a bit odd to have a gathered back waistband but still include a zip (surely the whole point of elastication is to avoid the possible trauma of zip insertion!). How clever of you to use the selvages, such a cool detail.

    1. Right, that’s what I was thinking! Why have both? Anyway, I’m glad to hear you think it’s fair. I just hate the idea of dogging on an Indie designer, but I think it’s important to remain honest too!

  2. its gorgeous – and when I first saw the pic – and even though I had just thought that I really dont need to sew more clothes right now (and just finish a few instead) – I thought I really need a skirt with big pockets!!! I had a big pocketted summer skirt years ago and it was a favourite until it got too small or I got too big… looks great

    1. I know! So prolific, right? But I agree, I like to take in every stitch. I guess we can’t have it both ways 🙂

    1. I know, I just adore this shirt. It’s so simple but it really makes a statement. Unfortunately, it’s RTW but I’ve earmarked this style for a future make too 🙂

  3. Great skirt and great review! I love how you combined the fabrics! I am now working on the pocket skirt too and the waistband did seem a bit big, maybe I’ll size down. Nice work!

    1. Thanks Medi! Wow, I just checked out your blog post on your version… I love it! The colors and the contrasting colors are fantastic 🙂

  4. “Word salad” is a great way to describe the directions, Saki. I think the pattern is fine, but getting to the end of the skirt was a weird journey.

    I also envy sewists who are prolific… but I also know, in my heart of hearts, that if I made clothes that quickly, I wouldn’t wear many of them. When you have fewer clothes, you appreciate them more and actually can SEE all of them – none of them get lost in the crowd.

    Thanks for a great post; you have a wonderfully writerly style!

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking it was wonky wording. And I agree… I tend to really love on specific Me Made clothes and kind of ignore the rest. If I had more, I wonder if there would be more to ignore or more to love on? Who knows?

      Thanks for your kind words Erin 🙂

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