The Pleather Pavlova
I’ve found a new favorite pattern. The Pavlova top and skirt from Cake Patterns. Seriously, it’s as though Steph C. drafted it just for me. I joined in on the sew-along and took some quick pics with a self-timer to post into the Flicker group on the second to last day of the sew-along. The sew-along pictures really show off the versatility of this pattern. I had a premonition I was going to love Pavlova, so I cut out two tops and two skirts at the same time. I’ll post about the other one later. Since I tend to be loquacious it’s better to split it into two separate readings.
Here we have a take on the pattern that I can’t trace my exact inspiration for. Maybe Pinterest. Maybe too much late night online fabric store browsing. At any rate, at some point I decided that a pleather skirt needed to make it’s way into my closet. So I bought some pleather somewhere about January or February from Fabric.com. Once I had the fabric, though, I had trouble finding a pattern that I wanted to use. That’s where Pinterest came in handy, After seeing multiple images of leather/faux leather skirts, I realized the only ones I really liked were circle skirts. Pavlova was the perfect pattern for this fabric, at least for what i wanted it to look like.
It falls in nice, soft folds and has a full-skirt without a lot of waist bulk. The top is the wrap top from the Pavlova pattern, made up in a polyester/poly-blend jersey with an unusual texture.
It could probably be classed as a “burn out” texture, but it’s thicker than any burn-out knit I’ve ever seen before. The texture of the flowers is almost like french-terry, rather than being velvety. Of course, I also bought this fabric on-line. I love the look of it, but being polyester, the feel leaves a lot to be desired and had I felt it in-person before buying, it may never have made it’s way home with me. Once home though, it needed to be used. Other than having some edge curl, it was overall an okay fabric to work with. I used my serger to finish off seams and a long zig-zag for the the seams themselves. For the edges (and there are a lot of them on this top) I serged first, then turned under and used a double needle to top-stitch.
Now that we’ve covered the details about the top, it’s time to discuss the skirt a bit more. The pattern wasn’t drafted or written for faux leather, so there were some parts of the instructions that didn’t apply. For starters, the pocket included with the pattern is a seashell patch pocket. This particular faux leather was more forgiving than some, as it has a knit backing and an irregular surface texture, but I still followed the cardinal rules of working with faux leather or other polyurethane type fabrics. The number one rule is that any hole made in the fabric needs to be intended to stay in the fabric. Pin basting can only occur within seam allowances, and is best avoided when possible. A mistake needing to be ripped out may be permanently visible. No pressure.
Because of the limitations on pin-basting, not to mention the inability to press this fabric for fear of melting it, I put in side seam pockets instead of the patch pocket on the front. I used the pocket pieces from my Tiramisu pattern. Because my fabric was so thick and bulky, I made the pockets out of some lining scraps I had sitting around.
The other part that was tricky was zipper insertion. I did a lapped zipper, partly because I had one in my stash in the right color and size, and partly because I wasn’t sure if an invisible zipper would be sturdy enough to hold up to the weight of the pleather. It was tricky getting the zipper in without pin- or hand-basting for that last step of insertion. I was glad it was only a 9″ zipper. It’s a little rippled, but not too bad unless you look at it really close.
Lastly, the last step of the pattern, the hem. I did leave it hanging up for a few days before hemming to see if it would change shape on the bias areas. It really didn’t which kind of surprised me given the knit backing and how heavy it is. How to finish of the edge was a question I pondered for those days while it hung. I didn’t think I’d like the bulk of a twice turned narrow-hem. Any amount of hand hemming on this fabric would have made me collapse in tears. Just putting the skirt hook on the waistband was enough of a pain. I finally decided that the knit backing and heaviness of the fabric would be a good match for a narrow-ish twin-needle hem. I wouldn’t usually suggest this finish on a circle skirt, but it worked for this one. First I serged the bottom of the skirt all the way around, then turned under and top-stiched with a twin needle.
On the left of this picture you see the outside of the hem, on the right the inside of the hem. The picture is a little more “soft focused” than I’d like, but you can see it’s decently even and certainly not going anywhere. You can also see that my serger didn’t really want to pull the fabric through so my stiches were very close together.
I’m so in love with this pattern. It’s practical and pretty all at once. The way the pattern is designed and drafted, the fit is very forgiving and I would expect it would work for a lot of shapes and sizes. I made it up with no changes to the pattern pieces. While most style “experts” would tell someone as short and round and curvy as I am to stay away from tops with ties in the middle and from full skirts, I really love how this style makes me look (even when Guinevere is holding the camera crooked)