A Girly Clémence skirt

Time for another project from Tilly and the Buttons’ brilliant book Love at First Stitch. Last year I made 2 summer skirts which were both an A-line style (New Look 6843- nice and easy btw). Time for something different! The Clémence skirt has a wide waistband and a gathered waistline and here it is…





The fabric

You may recognise the fabric from one of my previous posts, my Lauren Guthrie yoke top.  I bought it from Lauren’s shop Guthrie and Ghani and had enough leftover for this skirt. I have also seen it in an orange/blue colour way which is lovely and has been used in the current issue (16) of Love Sewing to make their featured halter neck top in.

The pattern

The first step you need to do is draft your skirt pattern which sounds scary but the instructions are clear and all you need to do is cut out 2 rectangles for the front and back pattern pieces and a waistband piece.  All 3 are based on your specific measurements. This can be done using dot/cross paper, grease proof paper, tracing paper etc. You basically design your skirt depending on where you want the waistband to sit and how long you want the skirt to be. I have seen a variety of versions online and it really is up to you as to how you want the skirt to look. Tilly’s version in the book is relatively high waisted and finishes above the knee. I saw a recent version on Twitter by everythinglooksrosie that is a midi length so mid calf which I thought was lovely although would not suit me at all. I cut the fabric to the knee initially so that the finished hem would be just above the knee.

I really did take a while to decide whether this skirt was for me or not. I wasn’t sure whether the gathered waist was particularly flattering for me (you know…does my bum look big in this kind of thing). The secret for me was making it a little bit shorter than planned which then felt like it was a bit more girly and fun. I also feel like the waistband needs to be on show for this skirt so it is also about what to team with it to look right as I wouldn’t normally tuck tops into skirts. I found a blue t-shirt which is quite a close fit. It totally transformed how the skirt looks and now I love it!!

The sew

The sides of the skirt are joined together with some lovely tidy French seams, just like the ones in my yoke top. I have picked out 3 techniques from the sew to focus on this time.

1) Gathering

Once the front and back pieces are joined together, next comes the gathering.


3 parallel rows of gathering stitches (increase stitch length and decrease tension) are sewn along the top of the front and back pieces. Then you pull on the bobbin threads to gather the material together so that it fits the waistband. With such a long area to gather it can be quite tricky to get the gathers even and to not break the thread. Tilly recommends splitting the skirt into sections to make it easier. Then the skirt is sewn to the waistband. Tilly also recommends sewing the 2 pieces together with the gathering on the top so you can smooth the gathers out as you go. I completely missed this top tip and thought it would be better to have the waistband on top to make sure that didn’t pucker. Oh no….not so. Grrrrr…unpicker required on a few occasions as the gathers got bunched up in the underside and caught in all the wrong places. Very frustrating to lose time unpicking what is really quite a straightforward technique. These little tips though are what I love to pick up and learn (when I actually read the instructions properly that is!).

Ironically the day after I did this, I watched one of Lauren Guthrie’s periscope videos on YouTube all about gathering (you can read about her periscope tutorials on her blog). 2 of her 3 top tips were splitting the gathers into shorter sections when gathering across a long length and to sew with the gathers facing up. I will definitely know what to do next time now!

2) Invisible zip

This is fast becoming my zip of choice. I have done a few recently and have definitely found the more you do, the better you become at them. Because the gathers kind of hide most of the zip, any gaping probably wouldn’t be majorly obvious. The important thing to try and get right is aligning the top of the skirt and also the waistline seams on either side. After sewing the one side of the zip in place, Tilly encourages you to put a pin in the other side of the zip exactly where the other waistline seam is first to make sure they are level.



There is also a brilliant blog post with some really clear photos from By Hand London here on exactly this – the challenge of matching seams across an invisible zip. 

3) Stitch in the ditch

Once you have attached the waistband facing, ‘stitching in the ditch’ is one technique that can be used to secure the bottom edge of the facing. By sewing right along the ‘ditch’ between the waistband and the skirt you need to catch the bottom edge of the facing underneath. The aim is for these stitches to be hidden and not visible from the outside of the garment -take it slowly!!


“Stitch in the ditch”

This is what it looks like from the inside. I ran out of the main fabric for the facing piece so used a plain blue fabric from my stash.

Waistband facing

Straightforward hem and hey presto…


Right to finish off with…time for a bit of fun and light relief after all that sewing. Having done a top and a skirt out of the same fabric I wondered what it would look like if worn both together. Far too much going on I thought and definitely not to be seen together. However there is only one way to find out isn’t there….try them on!! So here is my yoke top and my Clémence skirt together……..!!!

Please bear in mind this really was done out of pure curiosity, safely within the 4 walls of my home, with the curtains drawn!



Once the yoke top was tucked in I was then like, ooh maybe this could work. I felt like I was off to play tennis randomly but maybe that was because it was men’s finals day at Wimbledon and I was in the tennis zone. But part of me thinks it actually looks ok. Overall though I think it’s probably a bit much to be worn together and doesn’t quite work. So anyway the jury is out on this one… What do you think…..


Yay or nay?…


Well on that note, until next time,

Happy sewing!

Lorna x


  1. Maxine
    July 15, 2015

    I love it Lorna your putting me to shame how much your managing to complete and all looking so professional. I’m currently making a fitted lined dress for Lydia.

    • Lorna
      July 16, 2015

      Trying to get some things done for Summer is my aim! I’ve never lined anything before…seen lots of people do it and feel a bit intimidated by it for some reason! Think I should put that on my list of things to do. Lucky her for having these lovely made to measure clothes made for her!!

  2. Gaye Sorah
    April 2, 2022

    Oh dear seven years on. I think the complete top and skirt look amazing. I don’t think I could do the skirt even. You are clearly talented. xx

    • Lorna
      April 4, 2022

      Thank you very much!

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