Amanda vs The Kelly Skirt

There’s nothing like a bit of pressure to kick your sewing self into gear. My always rad roller derby league hosted a fundraising trivia competition last night with a cult films and pop culture theme. The best bit? Costumes! The worst bit? My tiny walnut sized brain which forgot about this until a few days before the event. With four evenings left to get something together, of which two I was out, I needed something rad that I would love but was also quick. Enter Megan Neilsen’s most rad Kelly skirt to help make me a last minute Hufflepuff (best house at Hogwarts) uniform… And man does it rock!

Image credit: Steven Craddock photographer extraordinaire

Total nerd squee!

I’m not going to lie- this was a fair bit more work than I first anticipated. The uniform was made up of a few bits and pieces, of which two were sewn, and a bunch heavily modified. When i came to this project you did not want to get between me and a hot glue gun on my lunch break. Things got cray-cray…

The shirt I picked up at Big W for super cheap but apparently all the extra upper body weights work I’m doing at the moment has made my forearms freakishly huge (in my head I am so Linda Hamilton in T2) and the cardigan wouldn’t sit right. So I hacked the sleeves off the button up, restitched them neatly and also added two press studs so the shirt would close neatly for the tie. With the cardigan I hot glue gunned some velvet ribbon on and then tacked on my Hufflepuff house patch I picked up from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter last year. I also added some marle grey tights, a wand and a horcrux- because I’m hardcore like that. Hello, badass Hufflepuff right here.

I went looking for a Hufflepuff tie online ($49 with postage? hells no) and even tried cheap stores to find a yellow one I could paint stripes on. In the end I bought 1/2 metre of yellow cotton drill and made skinny tie using See Kate Sew’s rad free pattern. I downloaded a Harry Potter tie colouring in page and traced the lines over to my pre-cut fabric and coloured them in with marker pens. Note to self- read instructions for fabric paint that takes 48 hours to dry more than 20 hours before function start time. Oops. The pattern was super easy to follow and I’m so tempted to make some more for the husband. I lined the tie in some of my left over tiny houses voile I have in my offcuts basket from early last year. Because nothing says sophistication and class like a tiny village of oompa loompas poking out from the back of your tie.

So what was left? The skirt of course! My mamma did not raise no pantsless witch! Although if I was wearing a skirt I guess I was technically pantsless… but you get my gist. When I went looking for costume parts I had one of those moments where I completely forgot I sew my own clothes. The two cheap black skirts I tried on were all kinds of hideous and I felt like some form of weird caterpillar struggling to get out of a hideous polyester black pudding-esque cocoon. And then it hit me… I could easily sew myself a skirt. Duh! Two metres of black corduroy, a handful of buttons and a two people asking me about my weird robot space boot later I was good to go. And I have to say the Kelly skirt was a peach to sew. Easy to follow instructions, rad diagrams and nice thick pattern lines for easy tracing. In the space of 2.5 hours I had traced the pattern, cut the fabric and had the skirt made up except for the buttonholes. And boy, were those things hellish. I could totes cast a incendio spell on them I would… Cue obvious segue into wand pointing photo!

I pimped my machine earlier this year to a fancier Janome mechanical number and, whilst I love Daisy so, she was a bit of a jerk when it came to sorting buttonholes. A one step button hole feature is all kinds of awesome in theory. But in practise I found it tough to get tension, stitch width and stitch length set. And to make matters worse I was on a deadline. So in the end I have some really shonky buttonholes that no amount of gin will make look okay but my dear friend Fray Stop has helped me keep everything from literally falling apart. It ain’t pretty but the skirt stayed buttoned and now I can take the time to hand finish the ones that were pretty bad… Like this friendly fellow here…

And may I say it is ridiculously hard to photograph black fabric. Honestly it’s like a black hole of joy and photographic goodness. Any tips out there peeps? Well except for sewing in exclusively polka dots. Mmm full polka dotted wardrobe…

What I loved about the Kelly pattern:

  • Ridiculously simple pattern parts. They’re all rectangles and that makes for some fantastic fabric usage. No wastage here. The lines are also super thick which made tracing a breeze when in a rush.
  • How clear and well written the instructions were. They’re fantastically illustrated and this made life so much easier the two nights I was sewing when my brain was all skooshy.
  • How quick this was. If I hadn’t have had the buttonhole disaster of 2013 I would have had this done from tracing to final press in under four hours. That’s a win in my book! Also a win- popcorn and chocolate chip cookies. Seriously. These are amazing.
What I will change for next time:
  • Fixing those gosh darn buttonholes! I will master you one step feature!
  • Fabric choice. I’m wearing my giant robot space boot of healing for another month yet so I am only able to wear skirts or dresses with tights. I want a few different Kelly skirts in other fabrics. Not sure what yet but I have a bizarre urge for chambray with wooden buttons. We’ll see…
  • Topstitching properly. I went with black thread to top stitch this one so any rush mistakes could not be seen (and thank goodness I did). I want to get me some topstitching thread and fancy up my next one.
Pumpkin Juice – the choice of nerdy fan girls
I’m so very very happy with the Kelly skirt and I love that a pattern I had on my to make list was able to not only whip it together so quick but that it also looks super rad (and I may be wearing it again today)… Yup, it’s that good!
Also, I apparently need to stake my claim like a prospector on this here patch of the interwebs so here it be Bloglovin…Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Now if you will excuse me, Doctor Horrible and I have places to be…
Image credit: Steven Craddock photographer extraordinaire




  1. Aah, where were you when I hosted that Harry Potter party back in Feb. Could have used the help of such a fan girl. Your outfit looks rad as, as per usual. I’ve always been a bit scared off by the buttons in the Kelly skirt but I think I need to rethink this. It does sound like a great pattern. BTW, should you be even having photos taken without your moon boot!!?

  2. Merci, lovely lady! And I was super naughty having my boot off for these but made sure I didn’t weight bear on the ball of my foot. Just to the left of camera is boot ready to be back on. Stupid photo vanity…

  3. That is awesome! I’m still waiting on my letter to hogwarts, they accept late entries right? Right? Lol
    I’m in love with your outfit and the skirt is fantastic plus the cardigan is all sorts of awesome!

  4. Wow, what a cute costume. And way to give Hufflepuff some love! The tie turned out pretty nicely. I would have no idea what I was doing!

    As well, I’m absolutely dying to go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter someday.

    I hope you had fun!

  5. Gah, you’re so awesome I can hardly stand it! It is funny how sometimes we forget that “duh! I totally know how to run a sewing machine” when there’s a deadline coming up.

    I am in complete agreement with you on the 1-step buttonholes–at least on the four step ones, I’ve only got myself to blame if they don’t match up….regardless, your costume turned out fantastic!! 🙂

  6. How awesome! I love dress ups. I want to have a dress up party just so I can make a costume. Your skirt looks great! I really want to try this pattern so glad to hear your positive review.

  7. I so hear you- I never thought I would miss the four step system… We live in crazy, yet radly attired, times 😀

  8. Thanks for the tips, Carolyn! Even playing with the contrast wasn’t helping with the photos. Curse you dark colours!

  9. Thanks, Helen! I’m now considering the buttonhole function as my nemesis and will be systematically sewing practise ones until I defeat it!

  10. You so need a costume party! And yes, I can’t recommend the Kelly skirt enough. I’ve already shopped my stash for the next version!

  11. I didn’t enter myself in the competition as there was a Slytherin and a Griffyndor already there but I can tell you that some dressed up from Mad Max one. They were really really good!

  12. Great costume!!! I was wondering about fabric markers the other day and wondered how well they worked. Now for the life of me I can’t even remember what I wanted if for! ha!

  13. Yaaay I love when other people get to dress up, even if Hufflepuff is not my favorite house…still, it’s redeemed by the fact that you’ve got a Hurcrux 🙂 That tie looks fantastic, too!

    Should it bother me that all my buttonholes look like that? Oops.

  14. Hufflepuff for life! Medical bills are meaning fun moneys is sparse on the ground at the moment so cheap and cheerful tie was worth the saving. Was a fun learning experience 😀

  15. teehee! They only problem with this one is I haven’t set the pen so it is rubbing off on my white shirt. Doh! That’s what I get for not buying the good pens!

  16. Oh no! The sorting division! There was a guy talking smack about Hufflepuff on the night. I poked him in the arm with my wand. Quietened him up good!

  17. I’m catching up and always allow myself plenty of time to visit your blog as you are soooo entertaining. ( as well as making ace threads) what an amazing emergency fancy dress, it looks so convincing and I don’t know about you, but there’s an age when it’s too much fun to wear school uniform….especially magically accessorised !

  18. I got put in Hufflepuff on Pottermore they’re not that bad, and JKR says that Hufflepuff is the best!

  19. Oh wow! Where do you get a tie colouring in page?? Or pumpkin juice?!

    I am so impressed with your tie. I was convinced you’d found one, not had to sew one and paint on your own lines! The whole thing is grand.

  20. I googled the tie page – I think it was a father’s day colour in page. And the pumpkin juice bottle I brough home from Harry Potter World in the states 😀 Merci, lovely lady! I love my Hufflepuff outfit!

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