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Red Tennis Skirt: Stretch and Sew 488 Pattern Review

Pleated tennis skirts are a staple for athletic inspired apparel. Combined with the recent revival of athletic wear and 70's looks, tennis skirts have been easy to find the past several years. American Apparel's tennis skirt has been a best seller for the better half of the last decade, prompting numerous retailers to recreate it. However, the skirt shape was not originally created by American Apparel. While I own several of their tennis skirts, I had always wanted to make my own. They're easy to coordinate and comfortable enough to wear anywhere. So, I was elated to find this pattern on Ebay!

Anyways, today's post is about my experience trying out this Stretch & Sew for the first time. Read below to see more pictures about what I liked and disliked and the changes I made to the pattern. 
Here are a few more views of the skirt. 

The Pattern 

Kwik Sew 488, released in 1989, features three different variations of a tennis skirt. View A features knife pleats all around with a button closure on the left side. View B is a wrap around skirt with a button closure on the waistband, and View C has pleats with a flat front and a elastic waistband. I made View A, which closely resembles the American Apparel tennis skirt. The only difference is that this skirt features a few more pleats and has the button closure.

This pattern was exactly what I wanted in a tennis skirt pattern, and I feel lucky to have found it. Of course, I could have drafted this pattern, but using a premade pattern is always easier. This pattern introduced me to Stretch & Sew, and now I love the brand! I wish they were still in production.

As for fabric, I chose a cheap red gabardine that I found on Amazon here for only $5 a yard. I didn't have a red tennis skirt yet, and this fabric worked wonderfully! 

What I Liked 

This pattern comes with a broad range of sizing, from a 32 to 48 inch hip. I wish this pattern were more readily available, because finding tennis skirts in larger sizes can be a bit of a struggle. For View A, you fold the pleats in order to determine your size. I like this method, because you can use it to alter the size once you start sewing. For example, I cut for a hip size of 42 inches, but it ended up being a little too big around the waist. So, I was able to easily remove one pleat around the side seam, hiding the change in pleat.

Honestly, overall, I just really liked this pattern and the instructions. The instructions worked well and I ended up with the final result I wanted. 

What I Disliked

Although this pattern was pretty much exactly what I was looking for, there were a few things I would change next time around. Like most Stretch & Sew patterns, the seam allowances were a quarter inch all over. This left little room for error around the waistband (more on that below). If I were to make this skirt again (which I likely will), I will definitely add 3/8" to all the seam allowances. For a non-knit pattern such as this, I personally found the quarter inch seam allowances a little too tiny. But this is just my personal preference.

Other than that, the skirt was a little on the short side and I didn't want to stick with the button closure that came with the pattern. Neither of these are serious issues, however. 

Changes Made 

To combat the aforementioned short skirt length, I added two inches of length to the skirt and choose to change the hem allowance to only one inch. This left the serged edge of the skirt exposed on the inside, which doesn't bother me.

Also, I replaced the side button closure with an invisible zipper and clasp closure. I didn't formally alter the pattern, but once the pleat and side seam were together I measured the distance of the pleats, so the zipper wouldn't be completely obvious. Afterwards, using one of my preexisting American Apparel skirts as a guide, I tried to conceal a pleat underneath the zipper. This method requires you to clip part of the fabric from one side of the zipper, making it easy to end up with a spot of fabric with raw edges that are difficult to finish. I attempted to use a serger to finish the seams and apply Fray Check, but it still looks a little messy. It does its job from the outside though.

My biggest mistake was adding some small loops to the waistband. I like the look of chain waist belts, so I strategically added a few around the waistband to hook the chains into. However, this endeavor was somewhat of an afterthought, and it definitely shows. The loops aren't uniform in size, and they aren't as evenly spaced as they could be. They do work for chains, though!

This chain in particular is a little too long and heavy, so I would probably choose a different belt to actually wear out. 
Quite honestly, I think the craftsmanship around the waistband is abysmal. I could have (and should have) done a much better job. Besides the waistband loops, the the zipper top didn't quite meet up. When I was topstitching the waistband, I stopped sewing in the middle of the skirt and switched sides and started sewing from the opposite direction. So, there's some wrinkling on the front. I think larger seam allowances could have helped improve the situation. Oh well, better luck next time!

Another view of the loopy (literally) and problematic waistband. At least the rest of the skirt looks aight. 

Outfit Details 

Because this is a tennis skirt, I chose to style this look with a top from the Wilson x Forever 21 collaboration. I love the top personally, but perhaps with the socks and scrunchie it looks a little too cheerleadery? Oh well, I enjoy it. 

I also made a matching scrunchie out of the leftover fabric. 

I also tried to pair the skirt with a Lazy Oaf heart top for a Valentine's Day look. I don't think it's the most flattering look, but it's not the worst. (Maybe with different shoes or accessories. I tried tucking the top in, but it didn't look very good that way.

Besides these two tops, it won't be hard to style a red skirt with other items. 


Ultimately, besides the issues mentioned above, I think I will get a lot of use out of this skirt. But I'll likely remain hesitant about showing off the waistband. I wouldn't mind making another one of these and possibly try to make it a skort. I considered doing that with this one but changed my mind. 

Anyways, if you've read this far, thanks for checking out this post! 

To see more other pattern reviews, click here.

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