Ooh la la Gabriola

Possibly I have given you the impression it’s been one sewing drama after another around here recently. That’s not actually the case; it’s just that the dramas have been rather heartbreaking. In fact, I have successfully completed a couple of things recently – lucky or the sewing machine may have been stored permanently…


For instance, I finally finished the Christmas present jacket for my man. Approximately 14 hours before he flew out of the country. This one was going to be a drama because the pattern I started with was way too hard for my skills, the instructions didn’t make sense and it all was going pretty poorly. Fortunately for once I had decided to make a toile before starting (normally I just launch myself and my scissors fearlessly at the fabric) so all was not lost. I switched to Vogue 8719 and all went beautifully. First time sewing Hong Kong seams too and now I want to use them in everything!


In the middle of all that I whipped up a couple of cushion covers to go with our new couch, using some Ikea fabric that’s been hanging round for ages that I loved but had no idea what to do with. Didn’t bother with zippers or buttons – these were so easy they practically don’t count as sewing.


Finally (get to the point missy) there is the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt. Now I’m a sucker for a maxi dress and they’re my go-to outfit for travelling but I’ve never been sure about maxi skirts. I don’t know why now. I sewed this up a week ago and have worn it three times since (it’s ok, I washed it). I think I want one in every colour!

Part of that is the fabric – it’s a beautifully soft rayon that feels really nice and moves well. I was in Paris for work and spent half a day on the weekend wandering around the strip of fabric stores near Montmartre. Just before leaving I’d received the Gabriola pattern I bought from Stitch 56 so I had her in my mind and when I saw this fabric (for just €3.75 a metre!) I knew it was perfect.

Having read many of the pattern testers’ blogs about Gabriola I just launched into it (who am I kidding – I would have done anyway!) with a few changes. First, I ignored the cutting layout, partly because I had four metres of fabric at 130cm (51in) wide and partly because the layout seemed to me to be inefficient. Secondly I used French seams for almost all the seams because it was the nicest finish I could think of and the By Hand London ladies have made me less intimidated by them (the other day I got an overlocker which I am super excited about and which will probably take French seams back out of my sewing repertoire). The only place I didn’t do it was where the yoke joins the skirt, where I used bias tape to cover the raw edges.

The "look over there"
The “look over there”

Lastly I ignored the waistband instructions and did it more or less my own way, adding the zipper all the way up to the top instead of having an overlap with button. Buttons on skirts – who can be bothered? Oh, and I cut 6cm off the hem then folded it over 3cm and 3cm again (so it’s a lot shorter than the pattern).

Tricky bits: I’m still learning a lot about picking the right size and wound up taking it in a lot at the side seams and centre back on the zipper insertion. And something very peculiar happened at the centre front of the yoke (where it points up) and I wound up putting in a tiny little pleat because it was that or have a lopsided chevron.

But I adore this skirt, the print, the feel and the way it moves. Walking in high wind sounds like you’re wearing the flag on top of Parliament House!


4 thoughts on “Ooh la la Gabriola

  1. whisperinggums March 30, 2014 / 4:02 pm

    I agree Tina Wheeze (!). I love maxi dresses, and if I wear skirts I prefer maxi skirts. Clever you making your own. I’m impressed.

    • tinawheeze March 30, 2014 / 6:52 pm

      Thanks – it was a quick sew and I’ve been impressed with the results

      • whisperinggums March 30, 2014 / 7:16 pm

        It’s great having an item that is comfortable and you love to wear isn’t it. I hope you had a good time in Paris – and enjoy your next trip!

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