Pattern of the Month: Mabel

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mabel-pool

Last month I made the move from Los Angeles to Portland. After living in Southern California my whole life this has been a huge change. I could speak volumes on the distinction between the two cities, both of which have their virtues, but today I want to talk about this move in the context of my wardrobe.

In L.A. the weather is mild to sweltering, and I could get away with wearing sundresses every day of the year. I would simply add a cardigan and tights for “cold weather” (read 65 degrees Fahrenheit). Portland is very wet and chilly in comparison to the eternal sunshine of Southern California.

To distract myself from the stresses of moving to another state, I would lay in bed at night and plan my Portland wardrobe. This wardrobe consisted of layered button-ups, sweaters, tights, booties, and Mabel skirts. Fast forward one month later and Mabel has become an absolute staple in my wardrobe.

I love a garment that looks put together but is comfortable and easy to wear. On a rainy day, I can style Mabel with leggings and boots, and if the weather is bright and sunny I can wear Mabel with a breezy blouse and flats.

This is why I am excited that the Pattern of the Month for May is Mabel!

Here is why I love Mabel:

  • Mabel is a simple fitted knit skirt that transitions seamlessly from season to season.
  • This style of skirt can easily take you from work to play.
  • It is perfect for traveling.
  • It can easily be sewn up in an afternoon.
  • The simplicity of the garment creates the perfect opportunity to play with prints and color.

I am dreaming up a few versions for summer to be worn with button ups and tshirts alike. I have rounded up some inspiration for spring and summer Mabel skirts.

mabel-collage1
mabelcollage3

  1. A color blocked skirt from J.Crew.
  2. A casual drawstring skirt perfect for the relaxed weekends, from Banana Republic.

  3. A midi-length striped skirt with subtle side gathers, by Caslon.

  4. A pink skirt with shaped hem from Topshop.

  5. A floral skirt from Ann Taylor is the perfect way to were florals to an office setting.

  6. This faux wrap skirt from Anthropologie is an edgy take on a classic style.

  7. Try making a coordinating set like this one from Asos.

Through the end of May, you can get Mabel for 20% off when you use code MABELMONTH at checkout.

We are also hard at work on another pattern hack and ideas that will teach how to modify you Mabel skirt.

Have you made a life change that has drastically affected the way you think about your wardrobe?

Haley Glenn   —   Editorial Director

Five years ago, Haley left the apparel industry to join the world of home sewing. She has been empowering women to sew ever since – first through years of in-person teaching at Sew LA, and now through her writing at Colette. Haley writes tutorials and articles on our blog, teaches sewalongs, and writes and edits for our magazine, Seamwork.

More about our writers

Comments 31

Miss Crayola Creepy misscrayolacreepy.com

Ooooh, I REALLY like the color blocked one. Good idea!

knitmo

I have four mabels in my wardrobe. I joke they are my secret PJs. Everyone thinks I’m put together and all professional, but really I’m just as comfortable as I am when I have lounge wear on.

I need a color blocked version — camel and black would be classic!

MJ

Yes, my life change was having babies which has dramatically altered my waistline. It is much thicker and I have a small pooch on my belly that I am not sure how to work with in pants and skirts now. I haven’t found many online resources for helping me to fit a low pooching belly. I think Mabel would accentuate it. Any tips from others struggling with this fit issue?

Haley

Hi MJ,

I think this an issue lots of women struggle with, my stomach is by no means flat! What I have done in the past (in the case of skirts) is cut a smaller waistband based of my natural waist measurement, then cut one size up for the skirt, easing in the differential. This book is a great resource for diagnosing and amending fit issues:

http://www.amazon.com/Fit-Real-People-Clothes-Pattern/dp/0935278656/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430867017&sr=1-1&keywords=real+fit+for+real+people

Fabric choice is also key! Choose a firm knit with good recovery and avoid clinging fabric like rayon.

Wearing a half slip is also very helpful!

knitmo

I too face this situation. I have the same situation, as I had a set of twins and a third baby. Mabel is my absolute best fitting skirt and skims so well. I am in between the large and XL sizes on this skirt and I opted to make the XL with a stable knit with good recovery. I swear this skirt makes me look like I’ve lost several pounds and have a flat belly. It is magical for me.

Generally speaking, wearing clothing at my natural waist and having skirts skim it really reduces the visual bulk. I feel for me, lower rise pants/skirts accentuate the bulk. When you go with a high rise skirt/pants they don’t look that much higher, but are mor flattering — just me mindful of pocket placements with the higher rise…

My twins are 9 and it’s only been in the last three years or so that I’ve really figured out how to flatter me, the mother.

MJ

Thank you very much for the tips and encouragement! I really need to get that book – it has been on my Amazon wish list for ages. Going to take the plunge and buy the Mabel!

Brenda

Omg, I am totally confused trying to finish the arm hokes and turn out the bodice of Rooibos?. Any help, tutorial available?

Haley

Hi Brenda!
Check out the Rooibos Dress Sewalong! The following is a link to the post that details the all in one facing method.
https://www.sewalongs.com/rooibos/rooibos-all-in-one-facing-and-piping

Brenda

Thank you Haley. After a week trying to figure that out, I did one side yesterday and the other today using the tutorial link. Muah

Anna sewinfrench.wordpress.com

I made my first Mabel last week and I do to love the pattern by the reasons listed above. My issue is how to adjust the version with the side panels and kick pleat to my waist. My waist measurement is two sizes smaller than my hip. Should I sew by the hip size and adjust the waist or sew by waist size and widen the pattern at the hip?

Haley

Hi Anna!

I struggle with this same issue. I always cut according to my hip, then take in at the waist.

The first time I make a pattern I like to baste the side seams, try the garment on then adjust accordingly. That way when I alter the pattern I know I am making changes that will work perfectly when sewn up.

Thanks for the question!

Becky sew-and-so.blogspot.com

I’m looking forward to this month’s hack ideas– I’m coping with the last 6 weeks of pregnancy by trying to pair fabrics and patterns that I think would work well for fast nursing/post-partum-friendly makes, and Mabel is definitely on the list. Especially since I know I’ll need to whip out a few bottoms–I have literally no shorts that will fit me now, and I’m at the point where I’d rather wear skirts in the warmer weather anyway! Plus I got this pattern when it first came out and hadn’t had a chance to try it out yet.

Andrea vanillablackrose.blogspot.com

I absolutely love this pattern! I made 7 of these in various patterned ponte fabric and they are mostly what I wear now. If you have a serger, it’s a great pattern for making a bunch at once assembly line style. I made 4 in one batch and it took me about 3 hrs total.

Can’t wait to see this month’s pattern hacks!

Haley

I also love garments I can sew in an assembly line fashion. Especially when the garment is a work horse like Mabel!

Laura

This skirt looks so cozy and yet flattering! I usually wear skirts past the knee though(I don’t like my knees…), do you think I’d be able to lengthen it or would it not work with the fit and style well?

Haley

You could definitely lengthen Mabel! Though I wouldn’t modify to be much longer than a few inches below the knee.

Laura

Thanks – I think I will give it a try then. I’m a little nervous since I haven’t worked with knits before, but I’m excited to see how it turns out!

Andrea vanillablackrose.blogspot.com

Try starting with a ponte fabric. I was nervous about trying knits too and unlike a lot of jersey fabric, ponte doesn’t slip around when you cut or sew it, it’s awesome to work with. GirlCharlee has a pretty nice selection of it.

Laura

Thanks so much for the advice Andrea! I’ll check out GirlCharlee.

Charlotte thecreativedomestic.com

I always lengthen my Mabels! I lengthen versions one and two by 7 1/2 inches. It’s a lot, but it hits my knee perfectly and the fit is fabulous. Good luck!

Laura

Thanks Charlotte – I was scared to lengthen it too much because I was afraid of it losing it’s nice shape and fit, but if you lengthen it that much, that’s good to know!

Robin

I had a big change moving from a cold northeast US city to a tropical city, and then back again. I gave away all of my winter fabric and clothes to my sister (I really missed those Kasper suits back when they were great, in the 80s)…she still has a herringbone wool tweed I would love to get back! There was 16 years between the moves, and I found I did miss outerwear, and even raincoats, as few people bother with a coat of any kind in the tropics, even in the heaviest downpours. But now I can make all of the outerwear and jackets I want.

Lately the big change has been due to menopause. Not fun at all. I want to cover up a body I no longer recognize as my own when I step out the door. I’m so glad sheer fabrics are in, as they are great for summer coverups that don’t add a lot of bulk. Sorry, Mabel just doesn’t work for me. But I really would love to see a Colette trouser pattern. I already have Iris but haven’t made up a pair yet. Even better would be a chic pair of city walking shorts…please?

Veronica Darling veronicadarling.com

Love that B&W herringbone ‘Co-ord’ suit… I didn’t realise the Mabel was so versatile, so great post to see all the diffo types.

These kinda skirts are lovely, I’ve made one recently… a refashion… but I wanna try more, especially a freaking ‘Co-ord’ suit!

Cherie

Can’t seem to get the sale price to come up up. Am I missing something?

Haley

When checking out you will be prompted to enter a sale/promo code. Just enter MABELMONTH, and the discount will be applied.

Ani

I miss that Oregon weather like crazy! I grew up on the Oregon Coast and quite frankly, I duck at living anywhere else. I can’t get used to weather under 50F or over 75F. Living in the Midwest has been a nightmare for me clothingwise. You really have to have something to accommodate 4 distinct seasons here. It feels terribly wasteful, haha. I try to use as many pieces in different contexts but there are only so many times you can try to layer when you really just need to up your game to wool jersey under and regular woven wool on top. It is expensive and exhausting to come up with so many wardrobes! I am used to jeans + shirt + optional hoodie year round. And we don’t know where we will be ending up after 2 years so I don’t even want to create too much of a wardrobe for this climate! Agh.

Haley

The weather here in Oregon is absolutely beautiful, and is a huge reason we decided to relocate. It is truly a beautiful state. I am still acclimating to having to check the forecast everyday, rather than assuming it will always be 85 and sunny. I know that when I am trying to stay warm wool is my best friend! Starting in a few months I will definitely have to start working on incorporating more into my wardrobe.

Ani

Yes, Portland can get cold and rather snowy! It makes the Midwesterners laugh when I say that, but for us West Coasters, especially you lovely Californians, it can still hurt a lot!

I have somehow gravitated towards following approx. the entire sewing population of Denmark and Norway on Instagram and am learning loads about cold weather wear from them :)

Cherie

Thank you for the help with the discount. Can’t wait to try this one.

Sarah

I moved from a place with dry, clear, cold winters last year to my current home in a colder, damp, windier climate.

It’s taken a while to adjust (my skin has really suffered with the chilly wind), but lots of merino layers, topped with leather or thicker wool seems to do the trick. Also learnt to love living in knee-high Ugg boots out of work – they are the only thing that keep my feet truly warm in the winters here. Oh, and having a fine merino base layer next to my skin is a must (even in summer sometimes).

Podcast – Episode 8 | Fille d'hiver

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