Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sewing in Translation

I made a muslin. A real, honest-to-goodness, quick-and-dirty muslin made out of actual muslin.  This is a step that I often skip.  This time, however, a muslin was necessary because I was between sizes and also because the instructions are in Polish.  I don't speak Polish, and Google Translate apparently doesn't either because among the instructions it gave me were "Step 1: Strengthen contribution clothing (fleece stick)" and "Step 8: Wszyj castle."  I understood that Step 1 is probably about interfacing, but Step 8?  No idea.

The pattern is Spodnica z kiezeniami. It's from this amazing Polish pattern web site,, which is chock-full of absolutely stunning, multi-sized sewing patterns that are all free.  You have to make an account to access them, but with the aid of Google Translate it's not too hard to figure that out.  And it's worth it.  Check out these gorgeous girls' dresses ...

... or this killer skirt (which I am totally making):

This particular pattern comes in Euro sizes 32-52 (waist sizes 24"-42.5" and hips 33"-49.5").   It included 1 cm seam allowances and pretty thorough pattern markings, and the drafting is excellent.

I made the muslin in a size 44, which is actually a size down from my measurements, because I was planning to use a stretch woven for my final version.  The 44 was a smidge too tight, but I figured the fit would be just right sewn up in this stretchy anchor-print cotton/poly denim from Joann's.  In making the muslin, which only took an evening, I figured out how to construct the skirt (details on that at the end of the post), and I also decided to lengthen both the back darts and the overall skirt by 1".

I used a knit interfacing for the waistband facing because I wanted to preserve the waistband stretch.  I didn't think about the fact that using a regular straight stitch to sew the waistband to the skirt, and to sew the waistband facing to the waistband (not to mention understitching the seam allowance to the facing) would eliminate all stretch in the waistband.  As a result, the skirt sits higher up than I had intended it to, and even though I hemmed with just a 1/2" allowance, I find it just a bit too short on me.  I actually like the waist up this high; I wish I had added another 2" inches or so to the length, which also would have allowed me to do a 1" hem.

This skirt has a fabulous v-shaped waist and these gorgeous pleated pockets in the side panels. The side panels are cut in one piece, and then you do some origami to form the pleats and the pockets. It is really important to be meticulous in folding the pleats and pockets on the side panels, so as to ensure that the panels are the same length as the skirt front and back pieces.  It's really easy to fold a millimeter or two too far, and then all of a sudden you have to shorten the whole skirt (ask me how I know).

The pleated pocket detail is what drew me to the pattern, although the pockets themselves are too shallow to be really useful.  In the photo above, my hand is slipped into the pocket as far as it will go; you can see the outline of the pocket bottom through the skirt fabric.  I suppose that's for the best, though - the skirt is quite fitted and putting anything into the pocket would add visual bulk.

For anyone who wants to try this pattern(and for my own future reference), here is how I sewed the skirt.

1. Sew darts.
2. Sew back waistband pieces to back skirt.
3. Baste to zipper bottom point.
4. Sew seam below zipper and sew kick pleat (I used the instructions that came with my Colette Mabel pattern).
5. Baste zipper. Sew zipper.
6. Interface pocket openings and fold and baste pocket pleats and pockets on side panels.
7. Sew pocket panels to front skirt - finish seams together and press seams towards front skirt.
8. Sew waistband to front piece.
9. Sew front skirt to back skirt.
10. Interface waistband facing pieces and sew them to each other.  Finish waistband facing bottom edge.
11. Sew waistband facing to waistband, finish by blind stitching from the inside or by stitching in the ditch from the outside. Done.


  1. I can see his skirt colourblocked! It looks great on you Masha and I adore that "killer" skirt above. What fabric do you have in mind for it? The girl's dress is cute too. It is such a pity there is no actual translation included but then that is probably why they are free too I guess.

    1. Thanks Tamara! I'm not sure what to make that other skirt in; I don't have anything in my stash for it at the moment; need to consider what would be structured enough for the pencil shape but with enough give for the kick pleat!

  2. What a lovely skirt! I too love the side panels. Going to check out the site now!

  3. Great skirt! Props to you for sticking to it despite the language and translation difficulties (Google translate also does not understand Thai, I have learned the hard way). The fit is lovely and that pocket detail is awesome!

  4. ok - those pocket details !!!!!!!!!! Incredible that you translated this to make it, great job. looks incredible!

    1. Thank you! I know, the pockets are fabulous; that is what motivated me to push through the language barrier.

  5. Love the skirt and the blog.
    If you scroll down a little you get a selection of flags on the right hand side of your screen. If you chose the UK flag you get the site in English. Unfortunately it looks like they use google translate as well and you get the same result :(
    I think 'Wszyj zamek' is 'Sew Zip'. Zip translates to 'zamek (błyskawiczny)'.

    1. I looked all over for little translation flags and totally missed them - thanks! Too bad it's just Google, but then, it's a free pattern so I shouldn't expect too much :)

  6. Adventures in Google Translate!!! The parenthetical "fleece stick" had me laughing! I did a Citronille pattern in French, and I learned immediately that Google Translate just doesn't work with technical instructions. It was fine for the most common vocabulary but sewing jargon was a no-go! Like you I figured a lot out based on common sense and experience. Now I've gone out of my way to purchase Citronille patterns with real translations - I'll report back!

    This skirt has that whole sexy librarian thing PLUS anchors ... it's like super cute rockabilly! You have the perfect shape for a pencil skirt (but really, who doesn't?), and this looks incredible on you, Masha!

  7. Haha for the translations! But you managed and the result is so cool. A very special pattern, I love all its details!

  8. Masha, wow, you did a beautiful job.
    Well done on making a muslin, it is so worth it as the beautiful fit you achieved shows.

  9. This is a great style on you - and well done with the translating!

  10. Nice skirt! I like the contour and all the small details (like the pockets).

  11. love this so much that I plan to copy it :) now if I could just figure out how to download it, lol!!


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