A Kew Review

Hello from isolation! I hope you are all staying home and working your way through your to-make list - can you just imagine how incredible all the sewists from around the world are going to look after months of lockdown?!


I have been trying to find the positives from this crazy situation we find ourselves in, and as such, I have been making the most of this time away from work to get some sewing of my own done. Despite helping people learn to sew all day at work, it’s rare that I ever get a chance to sit down and sew myself, so I am cramming in as much as I can over the next few weeks!


Last week, I found myself about to purchase a button front, spotty midi skirt online. Luckily, my internal seamstress voice managed to remind me just in time that I had the perfect pattern, and a variety of spotty, drapey fabrics to choose from at the studio.



(L-R) Monochrome Dotty Crepe, Black & White Paintbrush Effect, Navy Polka Dot Morrocaine Crepe, Ivory Polka Dot Morrocaine Crepe


After raiding the stock of spotty fabric at the shop, yesterday’s #isewlation project was the fabulous Nina Lee Kew Skirt (AKA a replica of my almost-ASOS purchase). The skirt is a brilliant transeasonal piece for your wardrobe and is also a relatively quick garment to put together. The Kew has been popping up on my news feed for some time now, and I purchased the pattern months ago during a trip to London... but that is about as far as I got! Combined with my online shopping inspo, my love for Kew was reawakened last week, when our first shipment of Nina Lee patterns arrived at the studio (check out the range here!), and I knew it was time to finally get making!





The Nina Lee Kew comes with 3 different options to choose from; a incredibly sweet vintage style tea dress (note: add to sewing list immediately), a strappy dress that just screams out summer BBQs or picnics in the park, and the button front midi skirt.


As mentioned earlier, the skirt is relatively quick to put together, with only the buttonholes that slow the process down slightly. I made this garment in around 2 hours, including hand sewing the buttons on. The speediness of this pattern makes this the perfect go-to garment for when you are short on time. Or, during our current working from home situation, the perfect make for your lunchtime work breaks.


To make the skirt you only need 4 pattern pieces, the front, back, waistband and facings. The skirt is darted on both the front and the back, giving it a flattering fit. After sewing your darts, it’s the side seams - and before you know it your fabric is resembling a skirt already. Result!





I opted to make my skirt from our Monochrome Dotty Crepe; a lovely light and drapey fabric, perfect for Spring days. To neaten and finish my seams, I opted to overlock, however an overcast stitch or a zig zag down the seams would have worked just as well.





My decision to overlock was swayed by this baby on the right of the above photo; the Husqvarna Amber Air S 400. An air threading beauty of a machine, and my new obsession. It usually lives at the studio, however I thought it was only sensible to bring it home while we are closed for lessons. Like when someone volunteers to take home the class gerbil over the Summer holidays - only so much better!


After sewing your side seams, it’s onto the facing for the skirt front pieces - which is where I was stopped in my sewing tracks. Where were my facings?! Now as far as I am concerned, leaving the house to go and collect said facing pieces from the shop is a necessary journey, however unfortunately I’m not sure Boris would agree. In the national interest of staying at home, I improvised. I double folded the skirt centre fronts, to create a button stand instead.





Whilst this method is often used on garments, if you want to do the same (perhaps if you are short on fabric), then be aware that you are making your skirt slightly smaller than it is meant to be. The facing would have taken off 1.5cm from each centre front, however to get a substantial fold for the buttons, I ended up using up 2-2.5cm from each side. This will affect whether the garment will fit you, and whether the waistband will attach. Luckily, the Monochrome Dotty Crepe has a fair amount of give, and a little stretch in it, which allowed me to ease my waistband onto the skirt.

If you chose a fabric with less give (a cotton or linen for example), but you want to use this method instead of a facing, then just add a centimetre or two to the skirt front and the waistband. Remember it’s easier to take excess fabric off than add it on! Ultimately I would just suggest that you stick to the pattern and use the facings, however should you find yourself in an #isewlation emergency like me, then this method works just as well.





Once your waistband is on, it’s just the hem and buttonholes to work through. If you are newish to sewing, please don’t be put off this gorgeous pattern by the buttonholes. Most machines have settings and/or feet to make buttonholes easier, and there are some amazing YouTube tutorials out there. Just grab some scrap fabric and have a practice until you feel comfortable enough to be let loose on your pretty new skirt.


Below is the finished result - Dotty certainly seems to approve! It is a really comfortable skirt, and I think it should see me all the way though to Autumn... lets just hope that we are all allowed to leave the house by then!





I would highly recommend the Nina Lee Kew pattern, the fit is flattering, the style is timeless and, with its 3 equally gorgeous versions, there’s something for everyone. A quick social media search of the #KewDress will also show you how completely hackable it is, as well as endless By Hand London/Nina Lee mash-ups that are being put on my to-sew list as we speak!


Stay safe and happy Sewing, Kate & the Sew Creative Team x

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