Slim fitting jeans skirt with a back split and shaped waist band. This is a pattern that we would advise making a toile first, firstly to adjust the fit if needed but secondly to familiarise with the pattern instructions. We have not used a traditional run and fell jeans seam, we have chosen instead to topstitch the seam, which is easier to achieve on a domestic machine.
The Clementine is a relatively new pattern, Merchant and Mills launched their Made in Denim collection back in May this year. I think everyone knows how luxurious their fabrics are, also their sewing notions. But it seems to me that their sewing patterns are not as big a hit. I struggle to find reviews on their patterns, this one especially. My old Camber dress pattern review is actually my most viewed post. Yikes! Those first posts that make you cringe! Ah well…
Merchant and Mills designs to me are more focused on comfort; loose fit, and mature, you know what I mean? If you see their photos (don’t get me wrong, I think they are absolutely stunning pieces of art), they look rather… umm… somber, no? Anyways, you’re not here for my babbling about that, let’s get on with the review.
Side note: the photos here aren’t as good as I’d like, I couldn’t get good lighting – the weather is so dark and gloomy today. My apologies.
Size 12 with some alterations. I didn’t make a toile for this (I know, I know), I did however shorten the skirt pattern first before cutting the fabric (taking back split into consideration). I also did baste-fit first and then I made my alterations.
Supplies I used.
- 1.5 m of 12.5 oz denim fabric in vintage blue colour from Fabric Godmother – 150 cm wide. I’d like to put a direct link to the one I purchased but it looks like this particular one’s sold out already.
- Leftover cotton lawn fabric for the pocket bags.
- 1 spool of 100 m Gutermann strong topstitch thread in shade 402.
- 1 spool of 100 m Gutermann Sew-All thread in shade 402 (for bobbin when topstitching).
- 1 spool of 100 m Gutermann Sew-All thread in shade 13 for seams.
- 1 metal button – another one that I salvaged from an old pair of trousers.
- 7 inch metal zipper.
- Schmetz jeans needle size 100/16.
- Universal needle in size 70/10 and matching thread for sewing the pocket bags.
There was an errata print-out in the pattern envelope already. They missed an additional instruction on step 6, so that was reassuring; it means that they’ve double (triple, whatever-ple) checked the pattern. The pattern instructions are only in English, clear, and accompanied by detailed drawings. It is intended for experienced sewers.
- Flat booty alteration, cutting 1 cm each from the lower back yoke pattern and the upper back skirt pattern, 2 cm in total. I used the pivot and slide technique from Nancy Zieman’s book Pattern Fitting with Confidence to do this. (Links available down below).
- Shortened the skirt by 11.5 cm with 5 cm taken from the dedicated shorten-lengthen line on the pattern, and 6.5 cm from the hem.
- Let out 0.5 cm of the SA on the waist.
To be honest, I don’t believe (much) in the whole “beginner, intermediate, experienced” idea when it comes to sewing projects, because that can be a double-edged sword; one can either feel challenged (excited) or completely discouraged by the label. I pick a pattern based on whether or not I like it, that’s it. If it’s beyond my skill level, well then I will learn, won’t I? What’s more important for me is to keep reminding myself to be brave, to have the will to learn, and to spend more time on the project – so no more rushing.
This was my first jeans project. That being said, there are a few things I was particularly mindful of when I was making this skirt, such as:
- Test stitch e v e r y t h i n g.
- Topstitching using longer stitch, I used 3.5 on my machine, with regular thread in the bobbin.
- When topstitching, write down needle position (stitch width number), and where the edge of the fabric is – is it on 1cm seam guide line or the edge of the sewing foot, or maybe the inner groove of the sewing foot? It is important as the pattern calls for double topstitch at 5mm distance from each other throughout. Writing down helped my topstitching to be more uniform. Although if you were to run a seam gauge ruler all over my topstitchings, you’d find they’re not all perfectly uniform at 5mm distance, but who’s gonna do that, eh? They look uniform enough, let’s leave it at that. 😛
- When topstitching, go sloooooooooow. I mean sluggish turtle speed kind of slow. Patience is usually not my virtue, but it is worth it.
- For marking the stitching lines such as on the back pockets and front skirt’s fly area, I used dressmaker carbon paper and tracing wheel on the RIGHT side of the fabric. Of course I first made sure that they wouldn’t leave permanent marks on the fabric.
- Attaching belt loops was the most difficult bit of making this skirt for me. Took me one whole day filled with rage and frustration! My machine just doesn’t like bar tacking, especially on tiny and thick (and folded!) fabric. My seam ripper never worked as hard as that dark and gloomy day (dramatic much? LOL). I was using the contrasting thread and I couldn’t get the stitching to look good enough so I decided to bar tack the loops using matching colour thread. I googled out tips to work this problem out, came across a tutorial on sewing jeans done by a pro. She said don’t worry about imperfect stitching, jeans don’t have those – or something to that effect. What a relief!
The pattern doesn’t require rivets to reinforce the pockets like you’d find on traditional denim. Instead it utilises bartack. As I said, my machine just hates that, so next time I’ll try rivets. The fabric I used is heavy weight and quite stiff, so it does give the skirt a nice structure, albeit wrinkle-ready, ha! Next time I want to try 8oz denim and maybe with a bit of stretch too. As it is right now, I find the skirt to be very comfortable to wear.
Despite the belt loop malarkey, I actually enjoyed making this skirt. I took my time – which I rarely did in the past, I allocated a full week for the project. For most of the process, it was relaxing. I think this is how I’m going to treat my future projects. The magic of slow sewing, eh?
In all honesty, even though I love the finished garment and the fit, and that I learned a lot from making this skirt, I feel that I can’t recommend the pattern whole-heartedly 😦 . Why? Well…
- I am not happy with the fact that there’s no PDF option, I don’t like cutting into the pattern, and I don’t find tracing enjoyable either.
- I was rather disappointed that the pattern designer didn’t have a sew-along/tutorial going for this pattern – in fact for all of the patterns in the Made in Denim collection. With other indie designers, they’d provide sew-alongs or tutorials to help people sewing the perfect fit garment, and they’d even go as far as providing hacking tutorials. I think that is actually one of the appeals of indie patterns. And I think for this pattern and the rest of the Made in Denim collection, a sew-along or tutorial is even more essential as most sewers feel that jeans/denim projects are a bit more intimidating. You could argue that this pattern was intended for experienced sewers, but so are the others’, and for the price? Don’t get me wrong, I love supporting independent businesses, but from a customer’s point of view, you still want to get your money’s worth. When you know that there are other independent pattern companies who sell very similar pattern for around the same price and provide tutorials for alterations on the said pattern, I feel this pattern has a disadvantage that the designer could address. Yes, you can always try contacting the designer, but I couldn’t be bothered emailing back and forth – assuming they’d reply immidiately. I feel slightly bad about writing this, it is not my intention to discourage anyone from buying this pattern, but at the same time, I want to give a fair review. The name of my blog is actually from this principle; fair as in unbiased, just, honest. That’s my goal. That being said, for anyone who wants to try this pattern, I would say go for it but with caution. It does have a potential to be an exciting project.
Here are a few links (that helped me) to check out should you need some help with fitting (whether for this skirt or other that has similar construction).
- For my flat booty alteration I used Handmade June’s sew-along for their Sandbridge skirt, you can also find other fitting issues being addressed there. Click here.
- Nancy Zieman’s pivot and slide technique can be found in her book Pattern Fitting with Confidence, or from her YouTube channel here. I love this technique, I use it all the time for altering waist, bust, hips, etc.
- Also, here’s a link to Angela Kane’s jeans sewing video series YouTube.
I also created a board on Pinterest for styling/hacking ideas for the Clementine skirt. I am planning to keep adding to this board as my style changes or when I find hacks for this pattern. Click here to check it out (and follow, of course).
Well, that’s it folks. Please hit the like/share button if you find this review helpful, maybe subscribe to my blog to be notified of future posts from me? 😀 Feel free to leave a comment below, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you for hanging out with me today, see you again soon.