Raise your hand if you love Megan Nielsen and are excited about her return to printed patterns and the release of her new sewing app. All I can say is – YAAAAY!!!
To celebrate these big launches, Megan also dropped a new pattern into the mix – the Brumby skirt. She asked me a few weeks ago if I’d like to try out/review the new pattern – as well as the app – and considering I’d been stalking this pattern for well over a year (it’s not too hard, since she kept posting teasers of it on Instagram!), I was all YAAASSS. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish the skirt – let alone post about it – before I leave for my trip next week, but curiosity got the better of me and I found myself dedicating an afternoon to Brumby Heaven.
Brumby is a simple little gathered skirt pattern, with a couple special details to make it stand a step above your basic DIY-drafted-dirndl. For one, there’s those pockets. How good are those pockets?! They are nice and deep, and what really pleases me about them is how they kind of stick out away from the skirt and give it this interesting shape. The instructions also include how to insert an exposed zipper – which, honestly, I didn’t realize there was actually a specific method on how to do this. These instructions give you a nice clean finish and a strong zipper.
The skirt has a curved waistband with side seams, as well as options for varying amounts of fullness in the gathers and different hem lengths.
What I’ve always loved about Megan’s patterns is that there isn’t necessarily anything ground-breaking about the designs – it’s clean and simple design, the building blocks of your wardrobe, to be made in a myriad of different fabrics. There are special details to make the pattern stand out above all the other similar ones available on the market – such as the curved hi-lo hem of the Briar tshirt, or the floaty circle skirt of the Tania culottes, or even the awesome pockets in this skirt. The directions are clearly laid out so that even the earliest beginner can manage them, but they also lend themselves well to customization so even an advanced sewer can find joy in making them up.
To make my Brumby, I cut the size XS and sewed up Version 1. This version has less gathers and is intended for heavier fabrics, however, I used a pretty lightweight fabric in it’s place. I’m not a huge fan of gathers at my waist – I think they add bulk in weird spots and just don’t look very good on me – but I thought the wide waistband combined with less gathers in a lighter fabric would probably work. And I think it does! My fabric is a total stash-bust, leftover chambray that I used to make this shirt last year. I bought it locally here in Nashville at The Fabric Studio, and I’ve been hanging onto the remaining yardage because I wanted to make a floaty little summer skirt with it. It’s *very* lightweight chambray – like, voile lightweight. It’s borderline sheer – with my button up, I have to wear a nude bra or you can see everything underneath haha. Anyway, it has a lovely sheen and a nice drape and it’s soooo good to sew. Making it up into this skirt was a good idea. Sorry if it’s a little wrinkled – these photos were taken after a day of wearing it.
Oh! And I also made that top – it’s my very first Butterick 5526. I hated the length of the sleeves and never wore it, so I finally just cut them off and finished the raw edges with bias facing. Much more wearable now!
Back to Brumby! I knew I wanted topstitching, but chambray is notoriously hard to thread-match, and I didn’t want my topstitching to be the first thing you noticed when you saw the skirt. I actually ended up using denim thread to topstitch this – a lightweight denim thread, but denim thread nonetheless. It’s that weird blue/navy Gutterman thread that they sell with the denim thread. The variances in color were good enough that they went well with the blues in the fabric, and they contrast nicely but they don’t really stand out. The thread is light enough so it doesn’t make the topstitched areas hang weird, so that is nice. I used white all-purposed thread in the bobbin which also probably helped.
The topstitching goes all over the skirt – down the center front, down the side seams, around the pockets, across the hem, all around the waistband, and of course, holding the zipper into place. I wanted to offset the delicate, floaty fabric with a some casual construction, and this is it! All seams are topstitched at 1/4″. I just eyeballed it on my machine, but I think I’m pretty certain I want a 1/4″ foot next time I go to the Bernina store. Feeeeeeet♥
I am really happy with how nicely the zipper went in! Like I said, there are directions in the pattern for getting a good exposed zip – and I totally didn’t realize there’s a method to doing this. I put an exposed zip in one of my tops last year (and I totally thought about wearing that top with this skirt, peplum tucked in, but ughh it won’t work because there are 2 exposed zippers and they’re different metals and wah), but that was really a matter of pressing seam allowances back and topstitching the zipper in. Poor peplum top, didn’t even have a damn chance.
I will be totally honest here and tell you that I tried the skirt on about 3/4 of the way through construction (after attaching the waistband, but before I put in the zipper) and I was COMPLETELY underwhelmed with how it looked on me. In fact, underwhelmed is too nice of a word – I hated it! It was extremely unflattering and the length made me look dumpy. Part of that was because the waistband was a little bit too big – big enough to slide around and not sit into place, and make me look wider than I am. I did some quick waistband surgery to remove about 1/4″ total from the side seams, and then I took another 1/4″ out of the zipper seams when I was inserting it. That was enough to make the waistband fitted, but not so fitted that it’s uncomfortable.
The length was another issue – I just don’t do midis, and while I did cut the pattern for the mini, there’s a huge-ass hem included so it was really long before that got turned up. I know midis are ~in~ right now, and you can tell me all you want that they might even be flattering on me – but I’m all legs when it comes to skirt length and I just.can’t.do.it. Honestly, I didn’t really love this skirt on me until the hem was turned up and topstitched into place – and then I was twirling around my sewing room in excitement like a big dork. It’s funny how much the hem can affect how something looks. Anyway, that’s a big part of the reason why my hem is serged and topstitched – I wasn’t if I’d love the finished skirt, so didn’t want to spend tooo much time on the last steps. At any rate, the serging matches the rest of the guts so whatev.
Sooo in the end, I loved the finished skirt so much that I wore it for my last hurrah of my 20s. Notes about this picture:
– That’s not what you think it is in my hand. It’s hot chicken.
– I love Giorgia Tsoukalos.
– And America.
– And also aliens.
– My coworkers at Elizabth Suzann are awesome and know how to throw (me)the best parties.
Before I jump off here, let’s talk about the Megan Nielsen Patterns app!
I will admit – other than my love for sewing blogs, I’m a bit of a paper girl when it comes to sewing media. I like paper patterns and I like having hard copies of the instructions that I can scribble notes (and mustaches) all over. While I think this app is a completely brilliant idea and may very well be the future of sewing patterns – I wasn’t sure if it would actually be useful to me (I’m old-fashioned in that sense, and I’m ok with it). However, I was willing to try it. For science. Also, it’s a free app soooo it’s not like I had anything to lose if I ended up hating it.
The main drive behind the app is basically digitizing the instructions you get with your pattern (paper or PDF). Everything from the required materials, to the cutting layouts, to each step of the instructions (cataloged in a way that’s easy to get straight to the section you need, instead of relying on the Endless Scroll) is included in the app. There are also options within the app (and each individual pattern) to view other people’s makes of this pattern, customization suggestions, and links to the tutorials that may be useful while constructing the garment.
While I probably won’t switch out my paper instructions for digital (again, mustaches), I actually do find bits of this app useful! It’s SUPER handy to have when you’re shopping and need to reference a material’s list – in the past, I’d scribble everything down on paper (all right, I still do that. No shame!), but then you lose your paper, or you find that perfect fabric that doesn’t go with anything on your “make” list, or you forget that you also needed a zipper. I love the tutorial links, as I do use a computer to look up things while I’m sewing – but more often than not, I end up spiraling down this long internet rabbit hole, where I click on links on links on links and then I forget that I was sewing! Lame! So it’s nice to have a direct link in the app, where I can go straight to the tutorial, get the info I need, and get back to the task at hand. Another thing I love about the app is that you can access any tutorial/instructions for any pattern that you own – which is awesome for when I’m using a Megan Nielsen step in a different pattern, such as stealing her Briar neckline binding for my traced tshirts. In the past, I’d just pull the paper instructions out – but I’m always afraid I’m going to lazy out and forget to put them away and eventually lose them (I mean, it must happen – I think about all those vintage patterns we buy that have the wrong instructions or extra pattern pieces in them. Yep!). With the app, everything is in one place and I can quickly find it. So I like that!
And there are notes sections in the app, for scribbling, but no places that I see where you can doodle on the croquis faces.
Anyway, you can read more about the app in this post and download it in the iTunes store FOR FREE. Those of y’all on Andriods – it’s coming! Don’t worry!
In other news, thanks for all your tips on dealing with my caffeine withdrawals! I am happy to report that I was feeling MUCH better yesterday – no more weird body aches, no more tiredness. I found some great uncaffeinated teas and I only miss coffee the tiniest bit now :) To those of y’all who suggested that I drink decaf – I’m not opposed to decaf (and I drank about a cup a day while weaning off the hardcore stuff), but it does have trace amounts of caffeine in it, and my whole goal was to eliminate the stuff 100%. Mostly to see if I could :P
*Note: Megan Nielsen provided this pattern to me free of charge, in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own!