Just a Quickie: Reprise of Colette’s Mabel Skirt

This was the third and final item of pre-vacation sewing binge. Added to the queue because it was simple, and because I hadn’t really internalized that the weather would be winter-y and not spring-y.

mabel - 1

This is the Colette Mabel. I’ve reviewed it before [after sewing ten versions of the same skirt], but that was the mini and this is the pencil. Just a few notes, and a question…

1. I really like that stupid little folded over fake vent thing that the pencil skirt version has. I bike to work (or did, until my bike got stolen while we were on vacay), and plus I take big strides to make up for my short little legs, so I need the extra circumference. I blew out the photo but it’s still a little hard to see here:

mabel - 2

2. Sizing really depends on fabric. With the plastic-y metallic gold of the last skirt, I made a size medium. This is a black medium weight that was sold as a ‘ponte’ on Fabric Mart like two years ago. The heftier weight is totally suitable for a skirt. It feels a little slick, not cotton-y, like lots of other pontes I’ve put my grubby hands on. Here, I used a size small at the waist and graded to an extra small at the hips (I’m 27″ at waist, 36” at hips), staying faithful to that size chart. It falls down a bit from my waist, though, especially with the tights necessary for winter wear. It’s secure around the hips,  maybe even a little tight, with a few horizontal drag lines at full thigh. But hey. Negative ease. I’d make just a straight size XS all around next time.

3. Again, with the 5’3”. I SHORTENED HERE 1”. But the pencil hit me in an unflattering spot still, so I chopped 2” off the bottom, before turning the hem under 1”. Any future version would get a 2.5” reduction at the SHORTEN HERE line so as not to cut into the vent.

4. I forgot to take into account that the front and back waist bands aren’t the same height, as I discovered in my last ten versions. Idiot. Repeating here, lest you forget.

5. I constructed the entire thing on my serger and it was awesome for that to be an option. Last time I used two rows of straight stitches with wooly nylon in the bobbin.


mabel - 3<–hem droopiness after three wears visible at left!

Is it me? Is this inevitable? Is there a solution other than a coverstitch machine (because really, I don’t sew knits often enough to warrant another machine, but I sew them often enough for constant popping to be annoying)? Is there a secret to getting twin needle hems right?

thanks guys.


  1. Question – Do your hems pop open at random, or is it the bike riding doing it? You could try a three step zip zag instead – doesn’t look as RTW, but I used to convince myself it was a decorative feature. Or use a knit stay tape at the hem, which would stop the fabric stretching as far, and preserve the hem… but possibly not your whole range of movement. I wonder if sewing the hem with wooly nylon on top and bottom would help? Good luck, and i hope you figure out a solution!

    1. Not at random– with walking etc. The woolly nylon in the bottom is a great idea, I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me. Needed a fresh pair of eyes. (Top is smart also, but I loath to buy wooly nylon for every project.) I think the problem is the bobbin thread doesn’t have enough give relative to the stretch of the fabric (it’s always the bottom thread that snaps). I think this because The popping isn’t as bad with a shorter stitch length– so when the width of the bottom thread’s zig zag is higher relative to the straight stitch length.

      Knit stay tape is also smart. Especially with the extra circumference from the vent I think this skirt would be okay with a bit less horizontal stretch at the hems. Thanks for the thoughts here.

  2. Have you looked at what stitches your machine does? I also have the double needle popping problem, which I hate. I recently discovered a fake coverstitch looking stitch on my machine – you have to have the length on stretch to make it work. I have yet to use it on a hem as the hoodie I used it on had ribbing bands at the hem and cuffs, but I’m definitely going to try it. https://prolificprojectstarter.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/hobbit-hoodie/

    1. Good thought! I do have a blind hem stitch for knits. Maybe that’s a good way to go. I’ll investigate whether anything looks like a fake coverstitch — or maybe the blind hem for a knit is what you’re talking about?

      1. Not blind hem, though that’s a good thought, if you go to this page and hover over it to see it enlarged, stitch H, but the stretch stitch version in blue near the bottom. Seen in action on the project I posted a link to before.

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