Thursday, August 26, 2010

For Whom the Bell Tolls

I've been on a search for a skirt pattern.  I needed something versatile, because in my real job casual days can turn to Very Important Meeting Days very quickly.  I also wanted something that wouldn't sag in the behind and it had to be simple, but polished.  It's hard to find a skirt pattern.  There aren't that many.  Plus, of the few that exist, there aren't many projects out there to examine for practicality.  I really don't want to try something that everyone else has failed at.  The following projects have me optimistic about the Bell Curve pattern by Kira Dulaney, but I'd still like to hear from people about the butt-sagging issue.  That's the deal-breaker for knit skirts.  Full disclosure: none of the following women appear to have saggy butts.

This is: Soozilah
Also Known As: Suzie
:  US 4 - 3.5 mm;  US 5 - 3.75 mm
 Size: Medium

 I hate to be all "black is so slimming" cliche', but you really want to stick with neutrals or muted colors on this one.  It's called Bell "Curve" for a reason, and some women don't want to draw too much attention to that very reason.  Suzie did a great job with her black version, and she looks so classy in her photo spread.

This is: SoKnitPicky
Needles: US 7 - 4.5 mm; US 8 - 5.0 mm
Size: 30"
It's always easy to gloss over the smaller women.  People think everything looks good on them.  But let's not underestimate that in this era of Beyonce' and Kim Kardashian, smaller women need nice butts too.  Bell Curve does a nice job of creating visual curves. The same vertical features that can help to slim a larger woman can help to create an hourglass shape on a smaller woman.

This is:  NancyKane
Also Known As: Nancy
Needles: US 5 - 3.75 mm; US 7 - 4.5 mm
Size: "Smaller than Medium"

I love this photo.  In case you haven't noticed, I'm all about clothes shopping in the fall.  I guess it's held over from when we were in school and had to go "school shopping."  My poor kids can't even get excited about their belt options- black or brown.  But this year I made them cool grossgrain ribbon belts... I digress.
Nancy has chosen a beautiful color for her Bell Curve.  I wouldn't like a heavy wool skirt in a bright, flashy color.  I guess I'm old fashioned in the "bottoms should be neutral" kind of way.  This photo does a good job of showing one of the skirts best features: the vertical details down each side make your eye believe that the edge of the skirt is actually a few inches in from where is really is.  Instant Slimification!

This is: wargoddess
Also Known As: Keli
Needles: US 6 - 4.0 mm;  US 8 - 5.0 mm
Size: 3x

I know a few women who would kill for this shape.  Keli knit this in a tight gauge, but she still suggests using foundation garments.  I definitely would not use a loose gauge on this, or a drapey yarn.  You want this skirt to hug you tightly, if not suck you in.  And, check out how those vertical bands take a few inches off the width. Genius!

In Conclusion:
Vertical interest acts as a slimming illusion or can add curves to a straight figure.  It's like regression to the mean for any of you math nerds.  Stick with neutral or muted colors and fuller yarns.  Tight gauge is your friend, but be wary of the borders- you'll want to loosen up there.  This pattern looks great dressed up or casual.  Foundation garments may be necessary.

Speak Up!:
I only have one question.  How does the butt hold up over time?


  1. Thanks, Shannon Ann, for the write-up on my pattern. I'm a huge fan of knit skirts and I really try to design ones that will look great on a variety of figures. Sagging skirts are nobody's friend, but you can avoid the problem entirely before you even start on your skirt.
    First, you want a yarn with some springiness, so that it will stretch with you and then bounce back. Wools are usually good, but there are plenty of cotton and synthetic blends that work as well. To test, hold a piece of your yarn with your two hands about 5" apart. Stretch the yarn a couple inches and then bring your hands back to 5" apart. You want a yarn that will stretch but will also immediately return to shape. Yarns that are mostly silk or linen just aren't cut out for skirts - make a lovely top out of them instead.
    The other important factor in yarn choice is something sturdy, since you don't want the seat of your skirt to pill or snag. Usually yarns that are made of many plies or have a chainette structure (like a tiny knitted tube) are good choices. This particular skirt helps you out a little, since it's made of 4 identical quadrants and there is no specific front or back. You'll put it on differently each time you wear it, so any wear and tear on the seat will be evenly distributed and it'll last longer.
    When you have your yarn picked out, knit your swatch and make sure that it's a pretty sturdy gauge. Your swatch shouldn't feel drapey or droopy. You shouldn't be able to see through the fabric when you put it on top of your leg or another surface, although I still suggest wearing a slip under the finished skirt in case you're ever backlit.
    Knitted skirts are some of my favorite projects because they're a little dressy but super comfortable. They're also easier to knit (and fit) than sweaters, and tend to get lots of attention and compliments.

  2. I read somewhere that wearing a slip helps a lot with knitting skirts. I think it keeps them from being too clingy and it probably helps a bit with sagging too.
    I've looked at a lot of skirt patterns over the years and though I haven't made any I agree that Bell Curve really seems like one of the best out there.

  3. The Bell Curve was a pleasure to knit and is just a pleasant to wear. I do wear a foundation garment and a slip when I wear it to help prevent any sag, and after about 6-7 wears I'll have to say there is not a droop or even a hint of a sag anywhere. I'm seriously considering doing another one!

  4. Thought I'd posted a comment but it kinda disappeared. I left an award for you on my blog -drop by to pick it up! Love your blog.


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