Tilly and the Buttons – Arielle Skirt

My impromptu Arielle skirt a few weeks ago gave me an idea for the leftovers of my Italian wool. After my Jasika Blazer and my first Oia Dress, I only had a very small amount of the gorgeous grey wool twill that I brought back from Italy in 2019. Remember 2019? It feels like a lifetime ago! Anyway, it is a lovely fabric, very densely woven and sturdy but also light with a gentle drape and I’m glad I didn’t part with the last tiny remnant.

Standing in the sun, facing to my right, wearing a grey skirt with exposed metal zip at the side, navy blue buttoned cardigan and sunglasses. Shown from the knees up
My Tilly and the Buttons Arielle skirt hacked to have an exposed metal zip. Worn with my navy blue wool Andi Satterlund Salal Cardigan (that I never blogged about but made back in 2017 /18) and posing with my husband’s Bonsais in the winter sunshine.

For this version of the Arielle skirt, I got it in my head that I wanted to do an exposed zip instead of buttons. It was challenging to conceptualize so I just went for it without any firm plans. Sewing the zip to the right front was easy, I just sandwiched it between the facing and main fabric when I sewed them together. Figuring out to the left front was more challenging as I wanted a placket under the zip to protect the tights I will invariably be wearing from the zip teeth.

Close up of grey wool Arielle skirt with metal zip, open to show blue lining and hook and bar clasp
Close up of the zipper opening with the grown-on placket extending under the zip. I had limited zip options. This is a 16″ separating YYK zip that I ordered from Dressew (and arrived so super amazingly quickly, I was shocked in the best way)

I was afraid to cut the left side to make a proper under placket, so I ended up with a sort of grown-on placket. I’ll explain it as best I can but I didn’t take pics of the process unfortunately so all I’ve got for you is written instructions:

  • Sew the facing to the main fabric with zip sandwiched on the right side
  • Stop sewing about an inch past the left side seam and leave the entire left side unsewn
  • Press so that the facing lays flat on the inside – I didn’t understitch at this step, just pressed everything so I could try on the skirt to fit the left side zip
  • Top stitch to finish the zip on the right front
  • Put on the skirt and try to figure out where the zip should be sewn on the left front
  • Baste the zip, right sides facing, on the left front only (leave the facing free)
  • Fold the zip open (the rest of the left front piece will fold back toward the side seam)
  • Try it on and check the fit
  • Repeat those last four steps until you get the position of the left zip as you’d like it and then sew down the zip with a regular stitch length
Standing with hands on hips wearing grey mini skirt, blue rights and blue shoes, shown from the waist down. Two small bonsai trees and a dwarf cypress behind.
It ended up a little looser than my last version but it stays in place well so far. If I need to, I can always open it up again and adjust the right side of the zip at the waist (I’m not messing with the left after how much work it took to figure that out!)

Ok, now to make the grown on zip placket. Thankfully, the Arielle pattern has a large under button placket on the left. You’ll need all of this excess so I recommend you make a regular version first to test the fit and make sure you have at least three inches of overlap at the opening. I was fine with the original size I had cut.

  • Press the remainder of the left side excess back over the zip tape so that it lies under the zipper teeth (back toward the centre front)
  • Note that you’ll be pressing the fabric below the bottom of the zip around as well but it won’t have the zip tape under it. Try to keep it aligned.
  • Top stitch along the zip the same distance away as you did on the right front and through all layers (you should have two layers of fabric on top of the zip, the zip tape and another layer of fabric below the zip – the facing is still not involved at this stage)
  • Now you’ve got the zip tape concealed in the under placket, the placket is narrower than it was because the fabric has been folded back and around the zip tape.
  • Cut the left side of the facing down to match
  • Flip the skirt inside out again and continue where you left of sewing the facing to the main fabric
  • Sew the remainder of the left waist and down the left side to the hem
  • Turn everything right side out and continue construction as the pattern indicates
Close up of grey skirt with metal zip showing open top edge with hook and bar clasp
Hook and bar in action. The skirt is. a bit loose so tend to twist a bit to the right when I’m wearing it. This also happens with my tighter button version so maybe just happens with this skirt?

I used a self-locking zip but also decided to add a bar and hook closure for extra security. Now for some things I’d do differently if I did it again:

  1. A slightly shorter zip – my zip was 16″ and my skirt is one inch longer than the mini version. I think a 15 or even 14″ zip would have worked fine. Another alternative would be to install the zip upside down so you could adjust the size of the opening on the go.
  2. Interface the left front where the zip will be attached. I did not do this and you can see there are some waves in the fabric around the zip.
  3. A slightly tighter fit – I found fitting this to be really challenging. I should have gone back and forth with my basting a bit more because it ended up a little looser than my last version. It stays in place and is comfy though, so maybe it’s fine like this
  4. Follow my own instructions – I actually did the zip insertion in the reverse oder than what I explained above. I estimated the placement of the zip and sewed it to the left side before sandwiching it to the right. I realized part way through that it would have been much easier to do the fitting in the reverse order and will definitely follow my own instructions if I make this again.
Right side/back view of me wearing navy blue sweater and grey mini skirt, shown from below shoulders to knees. Two small bonsai trees behind.
Side view. I love how high-waisted this skirt is. My Salal cardi is quite cropped and I don’t risk exposing any skin when I wear it with this skirt, which is great.
Back view of my outfit - navy blue sweater and grey mini skirt, shown from knees up. Two small bonsai trees behind.
And back view. I hand sewed the hem and you can see it in the angle of the winter sun.
Close up side view of grey wool mini skirt with exposed metal zipper. Small bonsai tree behind.
There is a bit of fabric wobble on the left front because I didn’t interface before adding the zip. Lesson learned but I also don’t think it looks too bad and am not overly concerned.

This was a fun experiment. I love the different look of this skirt compared to my previous version. I don’t yet know how well this will wear but it’s comfortable and super high-waisted without feeling too tight so I hope it lasts me a good long time.

Now I’ve got an Oia dresses and a matching skirt, make that two Oia dresses with matching skirts. Probably not necessary but I love that I used both dress scraps and made lovely, wearable garments – and hey, if I ever want to try a capsule wardrobe, I’ll have an easy time starting with these already matching pieces.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Lindsay