A Stripy (and spotty) Pencil Skirt

Pencil SkirtRecently I have seen a lot of really great pencil skirts popping up on sewing blogs, in magazines and in real life. I decided it was time to make one for myself. Pencil skirts are often tricky to find one that fits well and as fit really is key I decided to draft my own with my Freehand Fashion book as a guide.

I am really pleased with how it turned out. The fit is not 100% perfect but I think it is much better than I would have got from any shop, or even sewing pattern.

Getting the fit just right

Although this is just a pencil skirt there are still quite a lot of measurements that go in to creating it. I dutifully took them all and drew out the pieces on a plain white poly-cotton which was to become my lining fabric. I fitted this and sewed it up to check it was right before cutting into my fashion fabric.

pencil skirt casual side

Well I say fashion fabric…it is actually upholstery fabric from Ikea! Can you believe it my dream to become Maria from the Sound of Music is turning into a reality! So, it’s not quite dressing an entire family from one set of curtains but it is a skirt from curtain material so I’m counting that as a win!

pencil skirt casual front

The fabric did confuse me for quite a while. I kept trying to match the stripes at the seams. I could get the side seams right but couldn’t figure out why they were misaligned at the back. After quite a lot of head scratching I eventually figured out that the stripes are not all straight! I am sure this gives a great effect on a pair of curtains but perhaps not on a skirt! Oh well, I am happy to live with it as is.

pencil skirt dressy back

The pattern suggests an invisible zip but given the weight of this fabric and the fact I didn’t have one to hand I decided to go with a centred zip and I am glad I did. I think it fits in well with the style of the skirt.

pencil skirt dressy front

The fit is not quite perfect across my stomach but I can live with it and I think it looks much better in the pictures where I am wearing heals so perhaps I will keep this skirt for those occasions when I want to wear heels.
pencil skirt dressy side

The details:

Pattern: Self drafted following guide in Fashion with fabric

Fabric: curtain material from Ikea

Notions: 10in white zip, gutermann thread

I love the fact that this is a really fun fabric paired with the smartness of a pencil skirt making for an unexpected combo but I really think it works!

You can also read about this make over on the monthly stitch. This is an awesome collective of sewers posting on a monthly theme. This month the theme was spots and stripes!

Tulip Skirt

Tulip SkirtSo, this post has been a long time coming! I actually made this skirt way back in February but only got around to taking photos this weekend. So, given that you will have to excuse the odd crease as I have worn it a lot since then and on the first day I was well enough to not look a total mess and the light was good I didn’t want to waste any time cracking out the iron!

So, when I made this skirt, I had just signed up to the #VintagePledge, but I decided that I wouldn’t dive straight in to a vintage pattern. In fact, I went for the complete opposite extreme and picked a brand new one! When I saw the tulip skirt from Sew Over It had been released as a pdf pattern I knew I just had to have it. I love full-bodied skirts but I’m not sure that they really suit me all that well, I much prefer a pencil skirt. Well, the tulip skirt lies right between, the pleats add lots of fullness but the shape is maintained.

Stash Busting instead of buying new

P1010661eThis pattern calls for a fabric with a bit of body to it so that it holds the shape. Instead of rushing out to buy new fabric I decided to be good and take a look through my stash. In fact, I chose to use the same fabric as my previous make – this Megan dress. The fabric was so nice to sew and I was happy to be working with it again. I was also glad that it wouldn’t be going to waste! However, I had only just over a metre left and the pattern called for 1.8 m. I wasn’t put off though and decided to forge ahead anyway.

The pattern offers two different length options. Given my lack of fabric I opted for the shorter one but even so had to take another inch off to make it fit! I cut out the waistband facing and pocket pieces from a different fabric to reduce the amount of main fabric required.

Despite this project having lots of new-to-me elements it was actually really quick to sew. The first hurdle was the pleats in the front of the skirt. Even though I had never done pleats before these were super simple and the instructions made everything clear.

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Also, pockets! Can you believe this is the first garment I have added pockets to? I think I will be adding them to everything I make in the future as they are so simple to make, yet add so much practicality . Again, the instructions were clear and I never felt like I was struggling with this new technique. The pockets are just about visible from the outside but as my lining fabric is such a nice match I don’t think it matters and the added practicality of pockets clearly outweighs any negatives they might bring!

 

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One problem I did face with this make was the lack of an obvious right and wrong side on my fabric. This tripped me up a bit when it came to adding the pockets and sewing the side seams. I somehow managed to join the front piece with the wrong side facing out. As you can’t tell the difference on the fabric this is not a problem. It does however mean that my pleats are now going the wrong way. This does alter the look of the skirt a little but I still like it and can’t wait to make another with the pleats in the correct direction!

It seems that every time I insert an invisible zip it gets a little bit worse than the previous one. I still think my very first one on my first Delphine skirt was the best one I ever put in! This one is not terrible but you can see it in places. It doesn’t quite reach the top of the waistband but I think with this fabric it is not too noticeable. Also, I did not have a zip in navy or green to hand and so went ahead with a black one – it’s supposed to be invisible right so this shouldn’t matter!

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Any ideas about the slight gaping in the fabric around my hips?

 

I am so pleased with my pattern matching at the side seams. It wasn’t something I was particularly working hard to achieve. I like to think it makes cutting the pattern pieces out much easier if you place the top of each piece on the same point in the pattern repeat. This means it is a nice happy coincidence that the horizontal stripes match up.

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This was also the first garment I have made that has had any kind of hand stitching. The waistband facing is hand stitched. To be honest I was hoping to just turn under a little less than the seam allowance and use the same stitch-in-the-ditch technique as I used on my waterfall skirt. However, for some reason the waistband facing was shorter than the waistband in places so this was not going to work. I think this might be due to the different types of fabric I used cutting and stretching in different ways, but I’m not certain. I slip-stitched the facing to the skirt by-hand and I really like how it turned out. This makes me happy because I thought I would easily get annoyed with it. Patience is not always my strong point and with hand-stitching you need to take the time to keep it neat.

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Not sure how my hair has magically change from brown to red in this photo!?

Finally, I only turned the hem up by 1/4 of an inch, pressed and then another 1/4 inch before pressing again and sewing in place. This doesn’t look quite as neat as a wider hem but given the lack of fabric and shorter length cut it was about all I could do to keep it decent!

The details:

Pattern: Tulip Skirt from Sew Over It

Fabric: Tartan and lining from Fashion n Fabrics, St. Albans

Notions: Invisible zip, Gutermann thread in navy

Alterations: Size 12 short length, Shortened by 1 inch

I love this skirt and think I will get a lot of wear out of it. It kind of reminds me of a school skirt with its pleats but definitely in a good way! I can’t wait to make another and can see it quickly becoming one of my favourite patterns. It seems pretty versatile and the different length options open up so many possibilities.

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Can’t post about a skirt without an obligatory twirl photo

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and this is what happens when I get dizzy from too much twirling!

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Facebook.

A quiet couple of weeks

 

pot labelsSorry for the radio silence for the last couple of weeks. I was knocked back with a virus and then had so much work to catch up on! For those who don’t know I am a PhD student in my day-to-day life working on agriculture. This last week I had a huge experiment to set up so have not really had time to write much here.

Don’t worry though because I have lots to report so you can expect some updates soon. Here come the teasers!

Before I got ill I made a new skirt using up the last of my green and blue tartan used for my Megan dress and Lou Lou dress. However, for a couple of weeks after making it I did not look in a fit state to take any photos. So as soon as I get round to taking some I will show you!

Also, my sewing room is almost complete based on some of the ideas I shared here and featuring my new ironing board cover too!

Finally, the only activity I could cope with whilst unwell and the only thing I’ve had time to squeeze in over the last few days is knitting! So after the success of my first cardigan I have been working on a jumper – I already have most of the body and one sleeve done so it hopefully shouldn’t be too long before I can share that with you too!

Thanks for your patience and continuing to read despite me not having any projects to show you, but hopefully there will be plenty to come soon!

If you want to keep up to date with my jumper progress you can find my project page over on Ravelry

Christmas Gifts

I can finally reveal the last of my secret WIPs! I made a skirt for my mum for Christmas.

The last time I saw her she was admiring my Delphine skirt and pestered so much that I had to let her try it on. The fit was perfect so I decided I would make her one for Christmas using exactly the same pattern pieces as for my first one, together with the size gradient between waiste and hips. I chose to make the main skirt from the same navy blue twill as my Lou Lou dress but added a fun polycotton lining to the waisteband using remnants from my Megan dress.

Delphine Skirt

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and my mum loved it!

For Christmas this year I got given the great new book Freehand Fashion by Chinelo Bally. I really loved her makes on the Great British Sewing Bee and cant wait to try my hand at freehand dressmaking – no patterns required!!

H.

Waterfall Clemence

Waterfall Skirt

After all that blogging about knitting and crochet last week I was really excited to get on with some sewing last weekend so I made a good start on the next item on my ‘to-sew’ list. It was the Clemence skirt from the Tilly and the Buttons’ book. I have seen a few of these popping up all over blog loand for a while now and each one is so different so I couldnt wait to put my own spin on it!

Waterfall skirt using Clemence pattern

One really great thing that I loved about making this skirt is you actually get to make your own pattern! This sounds really daunting at first but it turns out all you need is a few rectangles! You only even really need your waist measurement but your hip measurement can help get the fullness of the skirt more to your liking. It is a simple waistband cut twice and then a front piece cut on the fold and two back pieces. The length of the rectangles is simply your desired skirt length and the width is determined by some mathmatical trickery concerning your waist measurment. Although I did decided to make the width of my skirt panels a bit narrower to give a less full skirt.

Clemence pattern

I chose to make a midi skirt that would sit just a bit below the knee. However, it is now much longer than this on me as it sits quite a bit lower on my waist than I had hoped. I think I might have stretched the fabric slightly as I sewed the waistband. I thought about shortening it before hemming but I decided I actually really like this length so decided to stick with it!

The details:

Pattern: Clemence skirt from Tilly and the Buttons book: Love at first stitch

Fabric: Waterfall print quiliting cotton (unknown make) bought from Fashion Fabrics in st. Albans

Notions: YKK invisible zip in cream, Guterman thread in grey, lightweight interfacing.

Alterations: Midi length, reduced fullness from recomendation by taking 3.5 inches off the width of each pattern piece

I really love this skirt, infact I dont think theres much that I am disappointed with. The waist does not sit exactly where I planned but I am still happy with it. I was so happy that the sunny weather cam back yesterday so I got a chance to wear it straight away. In fact 4 separate people complemented me on it (yes 4!…cue smug face) and I even got asked where I had bought it from!

I think this is one I will definitely be making again!

H.

Anemone Peplum

Anémone skirt

Over the Easter weekend I finished making my second skirt. This time the pattern came via a friend of mine from Deer and Doe. The pattern comes in both French and English and is quite versatile with two different lengths and the option to add a partial peplum or buttons. I opted for the shorter skirt with the peplum so as to make it drastically different from my Delphine skirt. I enjoyed making the skirt however in places the instructions were a little sparce. However, with the odd bit of googling I managed to make it through and have a totally wearable garment (although it is a little small on me – not through any fault in the sewing but rather the large gap between starting to make the project and its completion. During this time I had a birthday and with that came lots of meals out and cake!)

I am quite pleased with the skirt. I love the pattern on the fabric, although the fabric itself was quite tricky for me, as a brginner, to work with. It had quite a bit of stretch in it and so some of the seams have puckered a bit, especially around the invisible zip. Despite this I feel my second attempt at an invisible zip was a fairly succesful one – you cant see the zip and it functions as it should – what more could you want?

I made no attempt whatsoever at pattern matching as the pattern is so busy you would hardly notice anyway which is great seeing as the skirt is constructed from multiple panels so that would have been a lot of seams to match! It was also my first garment that had a lining. I enjoyed this aspect of making the skirt quite a lot as it allowed me to make any adjustments to the lining as a sort of trial run before starting on my actual fabric. For the lining material I went to the local market and bought some plain white cotton for £2 a metre so I could mess it up as much as I liked and not feel too bad about wasting precious fabric. I think if I were to make this skirt again I might choose a fabric that holds itself a bit better to make more of a feature of the peplum. This could also be done by choosing a less busy pattern. I would also probably make the skirt a little longer as it looks great with tights but I would be a little afraid to go out in it with bare legs in the summer!

The details:

Pattern: Deer and Doe, Anémone skirt. Short version with Peplum.

Fabric: Midnight flowers abstract floral print from the textile centre

Notions: YKK 41cm invisible zip in dark blue and Guterman thread in pale grey.

Alterations: Graded pattern between size 38 waist and 36 hips

beginnings of knitted cowl

Bank Holiday Weekend WIPs

I hope everyone had a nice relaxing bank holiday weekend. With 4 days off work there was plenty time to fit in lots of crafting around all the housework. On Friday I decided to give myself a whole day without chores. I mainly spent that time sewing as I have been working on a skirt for some time now and progress has been slow. So I set my mind to it and by the end of the day the skirt was finished! I wont show you it now as I want to take some better pictures and give it the full post it deserves seeing as I have spent nearly two months on it!

On Saturday we went on a little trip out to the shops to sort out some bits and pieces and as we just happened to be driving past Hobbycraft it would have been rude not to go in, especially as I had a voucher that I had received for my birthday. I decided to buy the rest of the wool for my sunburst blanket so that I could start on the final round of the individual grannies. I decided to stick to the plan and bought a dark blue. When I got home I was eager to check out my purchase in combination with the other colours already in my blanket so quickly completed a few squares and I’m really happy with the result.

completed granny squares for sunburst blanket

completed granny squares for sunburst blanket

I also decided to buy an embroidery ring as this is something I have always thought about trying but not really known where to start. However, a couple of weeks ago I got the new “Simply sewing” magazine and there was a section on embroidery and a simple design to practice simple backstitches so I thought I would give it a go.

On Sunday we went out for the day so unfortunately not much crafting took place and then on Monday I managed to squeeze in a bit of knitting around the housework. I am currently working on a cowl, that is knitted in the round so it seems to be taking forever as each round is 320 stitches and so I am only on round 11 despite feeling like I should be making a lot more progress!

beginnings of knitted cowl

beginnings of knitted cowl

 

How have you been getting on over the bank holiday? I cant wait to see all the progress everyone has made.

H.

Easter weekend

Today is a bank holiday which means a lie in, plenty of cups of tea and lots of crafting! I have a few projects on the go at the moment which I plan to progress over the weekend.

The first is a skirt which I have been sewing for some time now so my main goal is to get that completed. I also have the beginnings of my first dress so I hope to make some progress with that.

Aside from my sewing I am working on a knitted cowl and my crochet blanket. So lots of crafting over the weekend.

The weather is not looking to great at the moment so no other plans as yet. Hopefully there will be some sun tomorrow and I can go outside and enjoy all the spring flowers that are coming through!

H.

Delphine skirt waistband close-up

Delphine Skirt

After the fantastic success of my starry pajamas I decided to follow it up swiftly with another sewing project before I lost all confidence. This time I wanted to create something that I could wear outside the house.

Say hello to the Delphine skirt. This is another creation from Tilly and the Buttons.

Delphine skirt in burgundy cotton drill

Delphine skirt in burgundy cotton drill

I decided to play it safe and choose one of the suggested material types. So I searched on ebay for “drill” in the fabric section despite not knowing what that meant! I chose this lovely burgundy colour – again opting not to go for a pattern to play it safe.

I enjoyed making this skirt as I felt I had progressed so far from my pajamas but was not overwhelmed by a vast number of new skills needed to complete the task. In fact the only new skills required were interfacing and inserting an invisible zip. I had attempted some interfacing before for a bag, that time I just guessed my way through it using a few internet tutorials but I wasnt really satisfied with the result. However, this time I had specific instructions in my book to follow along with the pattern and in fact it was incredibly simple and I created a stiffened wasteband with only minor difficulty!

The second new skill required for this skirt was a little more daunting, the invisible zip. Once again, the step by step photo tutorial was amazing and this together with the instructions included with my new invisible zipper foot meant that in just over an hour I had a zip on my skirt!

invisible zip

Invisible zip on Delphine skirt

I was so proud of my creation I decided to wear it along to my craft club and tell everybody that I had made it. The response to which was a planned trip to the local fabric shop for me and my fellow crafters to purchase some more fabric so that we can have a sew-a-long and create a garment together!