Lennox skirt

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Hello again! How about that weather we’ve been having, huh?

Anyway, here is a skirt. It’s not a very exciting one on the surface of it but nontheless I am pretty pleased about it.

It’s cold and I can always use more black skirts so I thought I’d toss the stash and see what came out. I wanted a circle skirt to further my mission of more clothes that take up a lot of room (bigger skirts! No, BIGGER!!!). I have a fair amount of wool suitings, many of them from Shula’s destash by way of Suse one craft camp, but most of them are comparatively small cuts so I wasn’t sure if I could get a skirt out of them. In the tossing of the stash I uncovered this one. It’s some wool I got from Rathdowne Remnants back in 2012, which is about as old as my stash – I think I might have some stuff from 2010 at the earliest. In the link, it’s the one in the photo with the faded selvedge. It’s quite heavy and is heathered with green and purple, although I found it hard to capture that in photos.

Topstitched pocket

I got, I think, 2m of it intending to make one of those Ottobre skirts I was churning out at that period and just never got around to it. My memory of it was that it was a 1m cut but it must have been 2m I think. It was very wide and I managed to get this circle skirt out of it. I did have to piece the waistband, and I wish I’d thought it through and pieced it twice, on the side seams, rather than having one line on the front – you can see it in the first photo above. I’m debating putting belt carries on this and perhaps I could put one there – would it make it more or less obvious? Hmm.

I was too lazy to draw up a circle skirt pattern so I used the Pavlova one. I lengthened it at the waist by a couple of inches, and remembering that I had had issues with positive ease I also brought the waist up about a half a centimetre, to make the waist measurement smaller. I probably could have done with a bit more, honestly. It fits fine thanks to the waistband but I feel like it hangs a bit extra drapey at the zip, and there are a couple of small puckers where I eased the waistband to the skirt.

I swear the zip does do up all the way, I just managed to leave it down 1/2″ and daylight is so precious that I’m not taking the photos again.
A pucker by the waistband 

I used the waistband off of the gertie skirt although I lengthened it a couple of inches to make sure I had a proper overlap – and then ended up going back and adding another couple of inches as you can see above. I mean really all I did was cut a straight waistband a could of inches longer than my waist measurement and about 1 1/4″ tall. I was just lazy so I used an existing pattern piece, but it’s just a long rectangle so it barely counts. I also cut the waistband as two, one side wool and one side tafetta. I used midweight interfacing and probably didn’t clip the seams as much as I should have as they’re a bit bulky. I also wish that I’d used cotton or something more grippy for the waistband lining. The taffeta causes it to slide around a bunch – you can see it moving even in these photos.

Combined with the fact that I have trouble working out how tight to put in the hook, and the fact that the skirt is quite heavy, it is a bit unstable and shifts. I am planning to go and tighten the hook – I’ve already moved it once – or perhaps add another one so I can have ‘before’ and ‘after’ lunch hooks😛. I have also considered putting elastic in the sides but I don’t want to go back and retrofit that in. Perhaps belt carries and a belt would do the trick – but would thread carries be enough to hold it? I am pretty sure I threw out all the scraps (there weren’t many!) so I couldn’t go back and add self fabric carries even if I wanted to. Which I don’t.

Sliding off centre

The gertie skirt has quite a straight waistline and the pav’s waistline is curved like a regular circle skirt but it was fine, I just had to sew it slowly to make sure I was easing it in properly. I also used the pockets from the gertie skirt, and I lined it with taffeta, using the same circle pattern. I later had to go back and take in the side seams of the lining because it was too full and caught between my legs. This is a lesson I continuously fail to learn. One day!

Pockets, and apparently this is the face I make when my cat walks into the room.

The zip is just a regular invisible zip, and went in wonderfully. This wool was so lovely to sew with, stitches just sank in to it and it behaved beautifully. I serged the seams. I am trying to be neater and better about my finished but part of that is that I’ve decided that serging is just as legit as anything else. I always feel this weird guilt that I’m not binding or flat felling things. It helped reading this piece about period sewing – those dang Victorians, insisting on finished edges and giving the rest of us complexes about it! Anyhow, I’m letting go of that, serging is a perfect seam finish for me most of the time, since it means that the finished item is much more adjustable after the fact and I’d much rather it had neat serging and my time went in to other extra touches, or effort spent keeping the sewing neat.

I did, however, hand sew the hem! It took me about two hours and I really enjoyed about 1.5 hours of that… the last bit was a bit of a push. I realised, as I was drifting to sleep that night, that I’d not hung the skirt up so I wonder if the hem will fall. It shows no signs of it so far after a couple of weeks of hanging in the wardrobe and being worn twice a week – but then my denim skirt was fine for a good month and now it’s in the time out pile because the hems fell and it has a weird mullet hem, so now it’s languishing in the mending pile.

And THIS is the face I make while holding my very large cat. Look how much he loves it. (Toes of RAGE)

Apart from the hem this was a very quick make, and it’s a very useful addition to my wardrobe. I really love the way it hangs, it’s got a heavy, drapey swing to it. Perhaps I should acquire and wear more wool, it really is a fantasy fabric.

I am the night

Teacher’s Pet trousers

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So here are my Ginger jeans! This will be a long, picture heavy post, be warned!

Most of you will be aware I live a happily pants-free lifestyle. Not nudist (too cold! Too sunburny! What if I sit on something?) but all skirts all the time – except on weekends when I live in store bought yoga pants. However this time of year is so cold and I hate stockings and tights so much, I start to think that some work appropriate pants might not be a bad idea. I have all kinds of body/gender/appearance issues with pants which make me pretty wary of putting a lot of effort into fitting them and then finding I dislike them. But I had heard such great things about the Ginger Jeans that I thought I’d give them a go.

I can definitively say that when it comes to pants making, I am as clumsy as a camel. However! I triumphed in the end.

Actually these went together pretty easy, in essentials, but because I was changing things up they needed a fair bit of tweaking. The fabric is ponte I got on sale at spotlight. I figured it’s about the right stretch factor and I didn’t care if I wrecked it or didn’t wear it. I had 2m and I have almost a half a metre left because of my very wide fabric and from not doing back pockets. I wanted slim black pants because I felt that they were most likely to fit into my existing style and not make me feel like a lumpy teen who is trying to work out what to wear (exclusively jeans and Tshirts for years, and it worked ok as camouflage which was what I was going for, really. I find wearing jeans now makes me feel uncomfortable and not like myself).

I wanted to make a highwaisted pair that would look vaugely retroish, and I did not want to muck around with a zip. My number 1 problem with pants (apart from mild dysphoria, I am not kidding about that part) is that my stomach squishes when I sit down so that + jeans button = angry red welts and extreme discomfort. I toyed with the idea of a side zip but in the end I thought that I would just go elastic waisted the first time to try them out. I had seen Gillian do the same and it solved a lot of my ‘difficult waist’ fitting issues and I also figured it would be easier to fit the crotch curve if I didn’t have to set and reset a zip.

And then the villagers all burst into song…

To adjust the pattern to take the fly out I just folded that part of the pattern out. I wasn’t sure what to do with the pocket stays so I cut them on the fold, overlapping to take out seam allowance. I figured since they get caught in the fly they would be about the right size. WRONG. I don’t know if I used the wrong piece or misunderstood the way the pockets go together – I found that part of the pattern hard to follow because I was just skimming along and for complicated things I tend to need to do to understand them – but the pockets were way too big and had a fold in the middle. I just unpicked them from the waistband and chopped them off in the centre to make them hanging-loose pocketbags. The stays are some stash fabric with a slight stretch – not 100% sure what it is but it’s definitely cotton something.

… and dance.

I cut a straight size 20 which from the size chart would be a bit small for me but I figured negative ease would be fine. When I first tried them on they were HUGE around my waist. I did some tweaking and pulling and found that the side seams were balanced and the hips and legs fit how I wanted them to. All the excess was in the rise. I ended up taking 2″ from the front, tapering to about 1″ at the crotch, and then back out to four whole inches off of the back. Yikes! I’ve since seen a lot of people, including Heather, saying that the larger sizes run big. It’s a shame as it makes it hard to fit yourself and also means people who might fit into them won’t try them.They do fit my hips perfectly though, which I find a bit strange as the issue I have with bought pants is if the hips fit then the waistband is too tight!

I’ve adjusted the pattern pieces with my changes, but not my last extra skimming off of the rise so I have to go back and do that. I kept adjusting and sucking the front crotch in more until I had taken a good 1″ off all the way down. There’s still a bit of weirdness at the base there – I looked around online and saw that a fair few people have that too, but of course it’s a bit obfuscated if you have a fly.

Some weirdness

I’m not sure how I would fix that (hit me up if you know!) but I’d rather have that little pooch than the camel toe I get with most RTW pants so I can live with it. I think I could do with taking a 1/2″ fold at mid-rise as it seems to want to creep down and pooch a bit there, so I’ll do that next time.

The back is creeping up my bum a bit – it’s only very bad when I stand like above (and it’s more visible there because the shiny fabric + exact light conditions are showing it up. I think next time I need to add width to the inseam. I don’t know enough about pants but I suspect that would help with some of the inner thigh pulling, too? I did basically no fitting of the back because I pretty much couldn’t see it. I was sewing exclusively at night and black pants and low light meant no mirror viewing was really possible. I just made sure they were comfy and I could sit in them and went for it.

I’m really glad I had left the fly off so that I could do all this adjusting! For the waist, I cut the waistband as drafted except I put it on the fold the other way – so instead of joining at the front it joins at the back, folding out what I approximated to be the length of the overlap. I then attached it as I would a regular waistband – band to yoke, facing of band to front of band. Then I zigzagged some elastic in to the facing part, closed the yoke in and topstitched it (not very neatly – I was ready to be done at that point and I suspect this pair will mostly be worn with tops untucked). The elastic is the exact size of my waist when standing, so that at rest there is no wrinkling or anything – it’s more that it expands easily when I sit but then doesn’t sag out afterwards. I used 1″ elastic as that’s what I had that fit neatly in the band. I suspect I have already popped some of the topstitching stitches from getting it on and off, as they’re straight stitch and not very flexible! I probably should have used lightning stitch but I used straight throughout. I did take some detail shots but they all came out blurry and weird so I have nothing to show you, sorry!

One last butt shot.
Ok I lied
This one doesn’t even count as a butt shot. I don’t know what you mean.

After this I still spent a bunch of time fiddling with the pockets. The instructions have you either french seam, or serge and sew so that the serging is inside the pocket, and the clean finish is outside of the pocket. You can see what I mean in the sewalong. I found this made them bulky and I had a very visible and unattractive line where the pocket was. I spent some time moping about it because I have feels about my stomach. I think the issue is that the pocket happens to end right where my stomach is the biggest and also the lumpiest, on the edge of the ridge where my belly is dissected with underwear/waistband lines. I thought about my boughten jeans and how they have the serged edges on the outside, so I went back and unpicked the bottom seam and sewed it that way.

Tada! Lumpy pockets!

I also found the pockets quite shallow. I can’t fit my whole hand in there, and I think if they were longer they would have a more effective stay effect. I found the shallowness a bit weird on a high-waisted pant but perhaps that’s more flattering on people without big stomachs? I don’t know. Anyway if I make these again (which I intend to) I will lengthen the pockets by a few inches so they hit me in a better place and have enough room for my phone, as well as fitting the stay properly so I can have it all the way across my stomach, which I think will reduce how wrinkled they look and minimise any tucked-in tops’ wrinkles showing through. I didn’t bother making the coin pocket.

So once this was all done and I was pleased with my pants I grabbed a free minute and had a quick photoshoot. When I got the images off my camera I felt bad. I had just thrown on whatever shoes and a plain white tshirt so you could see the pants properly and I just felt weird and lumpy and strange. I might have well been wearing a chicken costume for how comfortable I felt. A lot of this is complicated feelings about my body and presentation that I can only barely articulate. I spent a week feeling glum whenever I thought about it. I did spend some time looking at images I liked of people wearing pants and decided that the main issue was the length. I had hemmed them at regular pant-length because I wanted these pants for warmth, dammit, and cold ankles wasn’t part of my plan! However they were actually hemmed a bit too short for that, and shifted around when I moved or sat, so they looked like I’d grown out of them. And all the photos I liked had people with cropped pants. So I decided I’d crop them and see how I liked them.

I basted them higher and they looked a bit like this:

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Look at these space dorks and their dumb short pants. That one guy is so embarrassed by his short pants that he’s passed out! And look how smug that lady is. I guess I’d look smug if I had a Science blue space nightie and matching slippers.

So I unpicked everything and tapered the legs in about 1cm each side at the bottom. I wasn’t very precise about so hopefully they’ll be fine. They certainly look better at least to my eye! Then I thought about how to style them for photos. Usually I go for ‘how to make the details the most visible’ but honestly, you’ve all seen ginger jeans before. I wanted a confidence boost. I pulled this top out of my wardrobe – I bought it in Bali last year and haven’t worn it because I don’t have anything it goes with! A match made in heaven. I hope you can still see the pants properly – I pulled it up for most of the photos so hopefully it’s clear. I’m still working out what shoes I like with it too. The white ones are a bit of a look, which I’m a bit unsure about, but I love the shoes and if I wear them with my shirtdresses I look too much like a nurse! It would be good if they could get some wear.

Sitting view, v important

I grabbed some rare winter sunshine to take these photos, and had a lot of fun doing it. How do you like my teal wall? I’m taking advantage because soon my bed will be where I’m standing, no room for photos! Can’t wait to go be able to stare at this lovely colour every night, just as soon as the paint stink dissipates. Before the teal it was beige. Floor to ceiling beige. Nightmare.

Minimal downcreep at the back when I sit

I was very nervous when I went to look at this second batch of photos but luckily I love them! They made me feel really good, and good about the pants (especially with a shirt long enough to hide the weird butt business). The power of styling! Must remember that. Utilitarianism and practicality is all well and good but it only goes so far. It also made me realise that part of the problem was that I’d created a wardrobe orphan! My general style silhouette is wide bottoms, slim tops. So none of my tops worked with this because I only feel comfortable if that’s flipped – slim bottom, bulkier top – like a shirt or an oversized jumper. I do try so hard not to make wardrobe orphans, too! Well at least it has one matching top. I suspect these will get more wear in warmer weather anyway, because the ponte is quite thin, so the thin lawn top is perfect. Honestly I never find pants as warm as leggings/stockings + skirt, unless they are going to be, like… flannel lined wool pants I guess. But I will have to think about sewing some shirts for these pants, especially as I am planning more. I have some thin denim to make some jeans-like pants – I’m not interested in the full jeans thing but some slim denim pants with a side zip sound like a go. And I would like to try the wider leg in some bengaline I have. Perhaps merging the high waist with the wider leg? Or perhaps I’ll muslin the lower waist and see how I like it. I’d also like to compare them with my Colette Juniper pants which I never wear because the rise is too short, and see what the shape of the rises are like compared to one another.

I guess I do this pose a lot, huh?

Phew! That’s a lot of words (and photos!) Everyone who stuck with me the whole way gets a gold star.

Here’s your TL;DR: I made pants, and I liked it! They would be a pretty quick project now I’ve fitted them (especially with no zip!) and for someone used to circle skirts they take up a very modest amount of fabric. I’m pleased I tried something different, and very excited to have a pants pattern in my arsenal.

Winter skies skirt

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Hello pets! Long time no see! I wasn’t sure how long it had been so I checked – two months! That was longer than I thought.

It’s winter, which means of course not many daylight hours for photography. I also haven’t been sewing much from a combination of the winter blahs and logistical issues. I’ve been prepping and painting my bedroom – from beige to a beautiful but hard to photograph deep teal. In the meantime all of the stuff from that room is piled into my craft room. My cold, cold craft room. I have actually set up a little corner in the living room and done some sewing lately because I was getting quite twitchy from not sewing anything but I do have to pack it up after this weekend. S has been very patient but I don’t want to make our shared space unpleasant and cluttered. I’m hoping I’ll finish the trim on that room this weekend and perhaps next weekend I can move everything in and get my craft room back!

Anyhow, before all that kicked off, I did sew something. Another Butterick 6285 skirt

I love my other one so much and I wanted to wear it just about every day, so I figured another one was in order. I really needed another black skirt too, so I started to keep an eye out for a suitable fabric. This is 100% poly taffeta from Lincraft, and I originally bought it as a lining but then I decided that I liked it enough to make a whole skirt out of it. I have some poly taffeta from spotlight and it is stiff and basically like a kids party tablecloth, but the lincraft stuff softened up really wonderfully after washing, presses well, doesn’t crease and is a delight to wear. I am so thrilled! Plus it’s only $9/m where spotlights is $15. They have limited colours – only four on the website – but I would absolutely sew with this again. It’s moderately shiny, I wonder if a whole dress of it would be too much to wear to work? Probably.

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this make. I lined it in the same way as last time, with the same fabric. The fabric was super wide, and I got the skirt and lining and pockets out of 4m. Score!

The only downside is that, being 100% artificial fabric, there is no give at all. I made the same size as last time but the waist is tighter than it should be when sitting. If i made this again in this fabric I would give myself an extra cm or two at the waistline. I solved the problem by setting hooks and eyes right at the edge of the waistband, but I think I will go back and add some length just to the waistband. It will still have that gap there above the zip but it will look better. At the moment I always wear it with a longer jumper over it so I’m not too fussed but I would like to be able to wear it as pictured, tucked in, without it looking strange.

I am also considering going back and redoing the hem, which I just quickly machined and it’s quite wibbly, as per usual for me.

I also think, when/if I make this pattern again, I might move the pleats 1″ in to the centre, especially on the back. I think that would make them hang a bit nicer and be more balanced.

This has been in high rotation since I finished it – I wear it at least once a week to work and I wore it for my annual solstice dinner – with my Monet top which worked ok. I’m going to try wearing the top a bit and see how I like it but the sleeves are an odd length so I can’t wear my thicker thermals under it or another top over, so it’s currently still too cold for it right now (if you’re soft like I am. I know it’s not really cold, comparatively, but for lizard people adapted to 35C temps its COLD). But this skirt is a hit and I could probably do one more of this pattern in my wardrobe, if I can find some fabric I like enough.

A big thanks to my partner S for being my tripod for these photos. We went out for brunch and did our democratic duty voting and then found a little park behind a community centre. S held the camera while I did my thing, since I hadn’t brought my tripod and he wasn’t feeling well enough to cope with my fussy photo requirements. I still haven’t gotten the settings right – the dynamic focus mode seems to work ok if I am in exactly the right range but if I’m too close or far I still get blurry ghost face (or blurry ghost back of head!). I need to play with it some more. I edited these photos with Picmonkey (so glad it’s back!) and it was nice to have a bit more control than the dumb photos program that comes with windows gives you. I probably should look into proper software for editing but given that I can’t even be bothered to do a proper hem… #priorities.

Also, a quick note about instagram, which I have linked a couple times here – I have a closed account just because I prefer to have some idea who is seeing my stuff on the internet, so I feel ok posting more personal things than I would on the wider net. Nothing scandalous, mostly just photos of me fitting garments with my stomach out, and endless photos of my cat. I pretty much grant all requests if the person is clearly a crafty person, or just a normal insta user. I only filter out spam accounts etc. If you have a private account and want to follow me maybe send me a message so I know you’re a real person because I do tend to deny those requests. If you’re on insta I’d love to see you there!

Anyway, that’s enough from me, I’ll probably see you again in another two months or so! Stay warm (or cool).

 

Monet wrap top

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This here is the top part of Butterick 6285, to go with the skirt part I made.

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I was initially not particularly interested in this top, as I find wraps tricky on me – they have to be perfect in order to sit right. However when I saw Gertie’s grey version I was intrigued – I think because of the high neckline it sits nicely. A lower wrap just shifts around on me and I always find myself adjusting it. I also liked how it looked tied in back, rather than with the ties creating more visual weight in front. In doing my usual pre-buying google, I found Tasha from By Gum By Golly’s surplice wrap hack and it tipped me over and I picked the pattern up when there was a sale.

Tied behind.

I do always like to make a pattern as-is, first, to see how it fits and goes together, before I change anything. The pattern pieces fit on a 1m piece of fabric, but you need four because it’s self lined, meaning it needs just over 2m of fabric. I don’t have that much knit fabric in my stash so for this one I went straight for some of the good stuff – some lightweight merino from the Fabric Store. I originally bought this to make a moneta but it’s so light I don’t think it would do very well for that, so I was happy to use it for this hopefully wearable experiment.

Tied in front

I had quite a bit of a struggle with this one, however. Starting with the very light fabric being hard to cut out. I wrestled with it! However, I got it done and started putting it together. The sewing went very quickly, it’s a neatly drafted pattern. But once I had it together I could see numerous flaws:

  • It’s short. I knew it would be short (it’s meant to sit at your true waist) but it’s REALLY short
  • It’s especially short at the back, pulling out of the ties – Press and Pin found hers 2″ too short as well so I suspect this is a drafting issue, although I do also have a long waist
  • It’s made even shorter at the back because I didn’t do an FBA of any kind, which is accomodated fine by the front but results in it pulling to the front and so the centre back dips WAY up – I notice that the back V is sitting much higher on me than on Gertie or on Tasha
  • The sleeves were so so tight (Tasha also noted this)
  • The back was incredibly baggy.

First step was to deal with the sleeves. I unpicked them and sewed them with the teeniest seam allowance possible. This helped but I really need more room still. If I make this again I would add 1.5cm to the sleeves. I cut the long sleeves, which should be 3/4ish length but because they are too tight they pull up and are shorter, ending at an awkward spot on my arm. I ended up hemming them 2″ shorter to get them to a point where they weren’t  cutting off my blood flow. Rather than slip stitching I used Gertie’s method here – I also top stitched the tie opening and the waist opening, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

You can see they’re still quite tight.

Next was to take the back in. I took a wedge out of the centre back. Here it is after that:

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S kindly took a video because I couldn’t see my own back, this is a still from it. Saggy baggy elephant! So I took it in again. And then again, until the back was taken in from dart to dart. Here is what it looks like now:

Excuse the wayward back of my hair! It does what it wants, Thor.

Those darts are supposed to be pointing straight down, but I’ve angled the back in so much that they’re making a triangle. Totally necessary as without it the back was hugely baggy and looked just shocking. It’s still… not great, probably partly due to all that handling. It might benefit from a wash and a steam block.

As you can see, I also added a strip along the back. I cut a 2″ strip, sewed it on, and then sewed a sharp angle from the middle of the front to the side seam. I don’t think that made much sense – if I were adjusting it on the flat pattern what this would like is adding 2″ to the side seam and grading sharply up – the front is curved so I essentially evened out that curve – and then lengthening the back 2″ all the way along the pattern piece. The addition isn’t ideal because it doesn’t drape the same way it would if it were one peace but it hopefully makes it wearable – you can see how much it still pulls up, even with the extra length!  I could probably use another inch there right at the centre back.

Untied. You can see how far up the V neck sits on me – on others you would see a wedge of skin at the top there. And it’s not JUST the weird camera angle + my hunch back.

Honestly I wonder if part of the problem isn’t that it’s too big all round. Someone else mentioned the sizing being quite large in this (I can’t now find where I read that, apologies) – I made the largest size (22) and actually now I’m looking again I really am closer to a size 20. You can see that the neck rumples up with extra fabric around the shoulders – basically it needs a reverse FBA to take that out. But the centre front and back, where I have all the excess, don’t change from size to size. I wonder if I wouldn’t benefit from just taking 1″ or so off the centre line.

Extra fabric around my neck

I also find the front wrap quite big, and I have to tie it tight and arrange it or it sits loosely. I suspect, however, that it has stretched out some. This might also be user error – I get the feeling my rouching where the front meets the ties is not as deep as it’s meant to be. I cut the ties on the fold because the fabric was being so difficult but suspect I didn’t subtract enough for seam allowance. Therefore where they attach at the front is less gathered. I like that it makes it a bit longer than it might otherwise be, and adds less bulk, but I wonder if it makes that angle of the front less trim and neat.

Loose front edge and a ridge of extra fabric at the neck. Evidence in favour of taking out an extra inch or so down the centre line?

All up, I’m just not sure about this top. This post sounds so negative but I want to be clear that I really like the pattern – it’s clever, and I actually had a ball sewing it. I think it has a lot of potential despite being a fabric hog. Many of the issues I had were either user error or standard fitting issues I have with most patterns.Although judging by both my experience and the commonalities with other reviews, as drafted the sleeves are too tight it’s too short, and the back is too short specifically.

I am a bit frustrated that I have had to fiddle with it so much and I’m not sure I have worked out what would fix the issues next time. As for the specific make, I don’t know if this version will get much wear. I was feeling ok about it and I do really like it from the front but seeing the back in these photos is making me have serious doubts! I’m not sure I’ll ever feel secure in this, it does take a fair bit of adjusting to sit right and then as I move it pulls and shifts because it’s not quite right. My main criteria for my clothes is that they make me feel put together, and I don’t think this one is going to (hence the name – it’s a full on Monet!) as the back is just… ugh. It’s a real shame because the fabric is so warm and snuggly and the double layer of it is just heavenly. However there’s enough of it in here that perhaps I can salvage it to make something else.

And finally… wrapped under the boob. This is the hardest to get sitting right but might be my favourite look.

I definitely want to give this pattern another go, whether a wrap version or a surplice hack like Tasha did. I have been thinking about trying a fully reversible one with two different colours of wool fabric.

I did always mean for this to be something of a muslin so I might give it a few outings to try, but be prepared to make my peace with not wearing it. Next time I will:

  • Add an extra 1.5cm to the sleeves
  • Take an extra inch off of the centre back.front fold line
  • Take even more than that off the centre back – and maybe fold out the darts
  • lengthen it at least 3″ at the back, tapering out to the front.

 

 

Malmaison skirt

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Hello lovelies! How do you like my new skirt?

Myself, I am pretty thrilled with it! It’s Butterick 6285, one of Gertie’s patterns. I bought it for the top, the skirt being a pretty simple thing to draft and I wouldn’t have considered it worth buying a pattern for. It’s a full circle skirt, but with four double box pleats – two front and two back – making it very full and giving it wonderful movement.

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The fabric is a jacquard-print sateen from Spotlight that I bought on impulse at one of their sales. I was there buying 8 metres of fleece for a planned dressinggown and needed a more exciting purchase to bolster my spirits. Full credit to my partner S for finding this shoved at the back of everything after I found a bolt with only 1 metre on it and was sad. He is truly an excellent fabric hunter, and the envy of all the other women trapped in Spotters. I saw the fabric and immediately thought of this pattern and couldn’t get it out of my head.

The pattern is cut on the cross grain – made necessary by the large sweep of the skirt and also lending extra springyness to the skirt – and it’s a real fabric hog. It calls for just on 4 metres for my size, and I used it all – if you’ve got wide fabric it leaves an annoying strip of unusable scraps. Oh well. The pockets I did in a plain white broadcloth I had in the stash, which is nice and tightly woven and perfect for pockets. They peep out a bit and I wish I’d used navy to make them less visible but oh well. I really like the way the pockets sit at the exact right point to add to the flounce of the skirt. The pleats are also places perfectly, and help avoid that weird droopy fold at the front that a lot of circle skirts get.

Technically I am sized out of this pattern – my waist measurement is something like 3″ bigger than the largest size. However going off several reviews, especially Heather’s, I knew that this skirt was drafted big – 3″ too big, exactly. WHY people insist on putting extra ease in circle skirts where it can’t do anything but cause them to droop from your hips, or shift around, I will never understand. However, I shouldn’t complain as it meant I could make the size 22 right out of the packet – in fact I even took a wedge out of the centre back seam for my swayback.

The back has an invisible zip, and a hook and eye. The skirt is actually a bit loose in these photos. The last skirt I made I put the hook and eye in a bit tight, so I think I overcompensated on this – or perhaps I just hadn’t eaten as much the day I took photos. My stomach is the first place to show any temporary or permanent fluctuations for me so… [shrug] It fits ok still but if it stays this loose I will tighten the hook because it does shift around a bit. The hem is just a short 1cm turnup because I didn’t want to loose any length – I initially cut the skirt out 1″ longer but then realised my addition was wonky so went back and cut it as per pattern.

How do you like my photo location? I liked this skirt so much I didn’t want to do another boring wall shoot. Instead I ventured out into my neighbourhood. I tried a couple of other spots which were ok but the lighting  conditions weren’t right, but this path worked out pretty great, I think! Except that I need to stand more off the path so those dang signs aren’t in shot. It’s amazing what you don’t notice in the tiny viewfinder, when lining up a shot. Or is that just me? I walk this path every day on the way to the train, and even though it’s a fairly busy thoroughfare, on Sunday afternoon there were only a couple of people there. I just brought my phone so I could pretend to be checking messages when there were people, and waited for them to pass. I thought I would be terrified of being in such a public place but it was actually really fun! I scouted another couple of places which are promising but closer to a main road (but also closer to my house) so we’ll see if I’m brave enough for those another time.

Back to sewing. The lining is a thick mystery fabric I had in my stash – it’s short because I only had a couple of metres and that’s all I could get. It’s hefty enough that it adds to the swoosh of the skirt in a very pleasing way. I cut it by folding out the pleats in the pattern and cutting the lining from that, as Gertie does here. All edges were overlocked and then sewn.This skirt went together quite quickly, even with the marking and pressing and sewing of the box pleats. It took me most of a Sunday but that was because I stopped and started a lot. Perhaps three or four hours, from cutting to done, not including the muslin?

I think this pattern is very well drafted, and actually quite worth paying for! Which is saying something for a circle skirt pattern. The only quibble I have is that it never tells you to take the basting out of the pleats. It shows them sewn up the whole time. Looking at Gertie’s example and going by my own preference, I took the basting out but I see that some people have left it in. All fine according to preference, but it is an oversight in the pattern not to say.

Look at that glorious box pleat. Wrinkling over the bum not so much, I think I might need to steam that area a bit, since it’s got extra curve because of the wedge I took out.

As you can see I didn’t bother to pattern match, because I couldn’t be bothered. It would be easy enough to do if you cared. I also sewed a small bar tack at the base of the zipper because I find my skirts have a lot of strain there and the seam often pulls apart.

My top is also me-made – yet another Kirsten Kimono tee, with fabric from Rathdowne remnants that I bought on my recent Melbourne visit. I don’t remember what, it feels a bit crepey and maybe a bit rayon-y? It’s very comfortable to wear. I took yet ANOTHER inch out of the front centre of my pattern and it’s finally sitting right, I think. I need to go back and adjust the sleeves back down thought because the scooping of the front has swung them up. They sit ok in this light fabric but I’d have wings in a thicker fabric.

I am really in love with this skirt – it’s so easy and simple to wear, with very little bulk around the waist (I trimmed those box pleat seams at the waistband very aggressively) but it’s full and it is SO fun to move in. Honestly maybe I should have taken a video because this thing is so lovely in movement. Instead, here’s an attempted spinning shot:

I feel glamorous and elegant in this. I probably have enough skirts for now but I would definitely make this again if I could find the right fabric, and I’m excited to make the top from this pattern as soon as I stash dive and find some fabric for it.

Why do you sew what you sew?

My general sewing MO is to make some rough plans of the kinds of things I want to sew, and then when I feel like sewing something, I pick what appeals to me within that. I also often get a bee in my bonnet to sew a particular fabric, pattern, or type of garment, and happily let them skip to the head of the informal queue. Because this is a loose, flexible process, there’s some thinking about what would be useful to me – things like my School Witch skirt or denim circle skirt come to be because I notice a gap in my wardrobe that would make other things more wearable. But there’s also a whole bunch of reacting to unseen forces. Like many and over-educated person with two semesters of economics under my belt, I like to delve into those from time to time.

Filling a wardrobe gap

I really noticed this a lot when planning for my SWAP sewing. I was trying to be deliberate and sew what I would wear. I am done my sewing now, and looking at my original plan, I see I have only sewn five of the things on that list – and only two of them will make it into my final SWAP post as the others don’t really go with the others in terms of feeling like a cohesive whole.

Partially this is because my personal style is undergoing some shifts and of course the influence of external fashion trends etc,  but there’s more at work than that I think. (Of course I do), and it ties into my motivations for sewing in the first place. I was also prompted to actually blog about it when I was commenting on one of Ciara’s posts and could’t stop talking about it! Sorry Ciara…

Motivation one: I sew mostly work clothes

I generally don’t have trouble finding loungewear (although I do then feel guilty for buying things made in sweatshops but that’s another issue). But I DO have a LOT of trouble finding work appropriate clothes that I like. Partly this is size ranges – I am a tweenie which means I am often in between the plus and straight sizes. It’s also about price, material and fit. I am not paying hundreds of dollars for a poorly made, polyester shirt that gapes across my bust. Not. Happening. It didn’t happen much before I could sew, either. So before I sewed for myself my work clothes involved a lot of knit tops. It still does, but now it also includes fitted dresses.

Boring to sew, gets worn all the time

So my sewing is mostly work-appropriate clothes, and that is very different for me now than it was two years ago because I work in a different workplace. (As an aside, a colleague found out last week that I sew my own clothes and she exclaimed ‘Really?! But you always look so professional!’ I am choosing to take that as a compliment, I suppose…)

Motivation 2: I sew what I already wear. Conversely I sew what I can’t already wear

My choice of patterns has always been influenced by what I wear, which in turn has been influenced by what was already available to me. I don’t have a desire to make jeans (or any kind of pant), for instance, because I don’t wear them. But I don’t wear them because I can’t buy them to fit my in a way I like. So perhaps it is worth making them, because then I can make ones that fit and then I would wear them!

I am also influenced by things I would like to wear but aren’t available to me to buy – whether that’s shape, style, fabric, or fit. My first makes were numerous skirts, not just because they were relatively easy but because I already wore a lot of skirts and tops, but this way I could wear well fitting skirts in colours and patterns that I liked, and shapes that weren’t fashionable at the time. The trouble I had buying an A-line skirt! Ridiculous.

Looks like I first made this pattern in 2012, and I made several over the years. Repeating the same pattern over and over helped me get better at sewing. I don’t wear this silhouette much any more but I regret getting rid of this version specifically – I doubt I’d wear a robot skirt these days but it holds a special spot in my sewing history and I wish I’d kept it. At least I have the blog!

Motivation 3: I sew what I can sew – or can almost sew

Ultimately I am sewing clothes to wear them. That means I naturally gravitate towards things that I know I can sew with enough skill that the garment is wearable. As with the above mentioned skirts, I didn’t quite have all the skills to make them when I started, and admittedly, some of those early skirts were a bit of a disaster – but honestly no more than many of the RTW options available to me. As my skill level has increased, and I acquired more sewing tools and better machines and a dedicated sewing space, what I sew has increased in complexity.

I’m a product sewer. I like reading about seam finishes and I like knowing the couture ways to do things but honestly I’m not at all bothered by raw knit edges and overlocked seams – or even obvious mends or mismatched seams as long as they’re not in a place where they’re highly visible. I am much much more interested in the overview of how the garment looks on. While I do continue to enjoy building my skills and knowledge, and can certainly see a future where I spend a month making a simple skirt with couture finishes, that time is not now. I am coming around to not feeling guilty about that – I always feel like I should spend more time and effort on my garments. But why? Does that have a value in and of itself? Maybe, but I don’t think that value overrides the value of having a finished, wearable garment – at least for me, right now it doesn’t.

Sometimes that means messy insides. That's fine by me.
Sometimes that means messy insides. That’s fine by me.

Motivation 4: I sew to cover my nakedness

Riffing off of that last point, as I have moved into sewing being the default rather than shopping, it’s actually put a fair amount of pressure on my sewing time. I need to be clothed, respectably, and in a seasonally appropriate manner. Six months ago I went through my wardrobe and got rid of every thing I didn’t wear. I was left with essentially five outfits, all but one me made, all appropriate for high summer. It was lovely to see my wardrobe comprised of my sewing but likewise it meant that my future sewing time needed to be practical. As we moved into autumn I found myself very hard pressed to dress myself appropriately every day! So I have focused lately on sewing very versatile things that work well in this transitional season and also work with my existing wardrobe. I can’t afford not to! Very soon I am going to need to sew some warmer items for winter, or shiver through it!

My wardrobe in November, after a clean out. This is everything that I wear, with the exception of tshirts and jumpers which are in drawers. And looking at this now I see three garments I haven't worn since then that should probably go to the op shop, also. 90% of this is me-made.
My wardrobe in November, after a clean out. This is everything that I wear, with the exception of tshirts and jumpers which are in drawers. And looking at this now I see five garments I haven’t worn since then that should probably go to the op shop, also. 90% of this is me-made.

Motivation 5: I sew what works with the materials to hand

Fabric shopping in Adelaide is pretty limited. There are a couple of nice stores but the only fabric I can access in a consistent way is from Lincraft and Spotlight. That means I sew things that work well in the fabrics that they do well – sateen and broadcloth and cotton linen and voile and other plain cottons. I find it hard to access nice, higher end fabrics – and I don’t know that I am willing to pay the prices if I could. In theory I believe that it’s worth paying for, but in practice, when you are large and like big skirts and therefore need six metres for a dress, and that dress may or may not end up getting worn a lot… well. It’s a disincentive to spend thirty dollars a metre, is all. I also have a hard time accessing knits – the main topic of the comments on Ciara’s blog. I don’t tend to sew many tshirts because I can buy ones that are basically fine, still have a drawerfull, and find good quality knit hard to find. That said, I do feel guilty for buying sweats and yoga pants and tshirts because of issues of sweatshops etc. And prompted by the discussion with Ciara, I realised that despite having a whole drawer of tshirts I really only wear the ones I made myself. So I will be looking into buying more knit fabric when I can get it and making more, and giving away the bought ones I don’t wear!

There are some things I have no desire to sew at all. Jeans, bras and underwear (which I have FINALLY found RTW ones I’m comfortable in and so don’t seem worth it). And there are things I can see myself sewing eventually, when it’s less important to clothe myself (in between being excited about shiny new patterns, which I suspect will never change) – sweats, yoga pants, more tshirts. And garments that I am working my way up to because my skill level isn’t there yet but I find it impossible to buy RTW – coats and jackets and also swimsuits although that’s less urgent.

 

So that’s my navel gazing about what I sew. I craft because it fulfils a deep need in myself, but I SEW, specifically, to clothe myself. And that has an influence on the kinds of patterns, fabrics, techniques and garments I choose to make. It was very interesting to look back over five years of sewing blogging and notice not only how much better I’ve gotten but also how the silhouettes I am choosing have shifted. And it was wonderful to realise that now, when I want a new garment, it doesn’t even occur to me to shop for it.

I’m looking forward to this changing, too – I’m not planning on quitting sewing any time soon! Tell me, what do you sew? And why?

One skirt, two skirt

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I spent like thirty minutes not blogging this because I couldn’t think of a name for it. I knew the naming thing would get me! That’s too much thinking and delaying for a simple 3/4(ish) circle skirt.

What would you call this one?

But! It’s not just ANY simple 3/4(ish) circle skirt! It is the reincarnation of the one that I had so much trouble with in December. I thought I probably had enough of the fabric left to recut the back, but every time I looked at the skirt I just felt tired. There were sewn-shut pockets and a waistband and the denim was light enough that I just knew unpicking would be a challenge and I might end up with a stretched out mess.

After craft camp, I was looking for a displacement project so that I could procrastinate on finishing the dress I started. What, isn’t that how you get anything done? Well anyhow, I laid out the denim and I figured that with a bit of creative positioning I could get a whole entire new skirt out of my scraps. Hooray!

I just went and checked my last skirt and for some reason I cut the whole front on the bias – like, so the bias runs across the whole of the skirt from the bottom corner diagonally to the opposite top corner. This is not making any sense, is it? Basically idek why I did that, but it made the front hang funny. So clearly a whole bunch  of good decisions happened with the last version… Anyhow, this time I cut the front so the centre front is just on the straight grain. The backs I meant to cut with the centre on the straight grain but I got my pattern flipped around. The centre back is actually significantly different to the centre front because I took a pretty massive wedge out of the centre back for my swayback/big booty. So the seams of this skirt meet at different biases, which is supposed to be a big nono but it seems to be fine so far. I tried to take a photo  of it but it is quite hard to photograph, so you’ll either have to imagine it or lean in real far on this side view:

I guess you can kind of tell anyway, because of how they are sitting. The back side is on the straight grain, so it’s hanging stiffly and a bit out from my body, while the front is draping. I do notice some hem weirdness – the pattern I had made had a shorter back than front somehow so I ended up adjusting on the fly and I think I need to smooth out the curve at the bottom because the centre dip of the circle is too deep and so hangs low. OR it could be because of the bias issue. I am not sure. Any thoughts?

I also need to smooth out the circle at the top at the centre back – see how it’s bubbling up? I think this is part of the on the fly adjustments I made. As you can see, there’s elastic in the back there. Here is how I constructed this skirt.

I cut out the pattern but with the waist area about 1″ lower, so that the waist was wider. I then measured around my waist with 2″ elastic so I had a length of elastic the fit my waist measurement. I cut a straight piece of the denim about 2″ longer than the elastic. Then I basted the elastic, slightly stretched, inside the denim so they met up and the denim was slightly gathered when the elastic was at rest. I then basted this on to the skirt.

Unfortunately I had two issues at this point – one was that I had cut the elastic too long and it wasn’t sitting firm enough. The other was that the denim was not quite as stretchy as I’d thought and so it was quite a wriggle to get into it. So I hoiked it until it looked about right and chopped off another two inches off the skirt, and re-sewed the elastic, totally forgetting that I needed to make it tighter. When I realised, I unpicked only the back section and tightened it, which is why the back is gathered and the front isn’t. This is fine by me, as it offers a much smoother look at the front and minimises the evidence that I am wearing clothes with elastic waists.

Next time I would:

  • start lower at the waist than I did – I’d even take a bit more than I did for this one, say 4″ total off the waist depth. The front seam rolls up a bit, I think because it needs more width, and it is a bit of a song and dance to get into (literally a dance, sometimes) because there’s not really enough ease in that waist to get it over my hips. Starting out right would mean I could be sure not to end up with a wonky curve, like I do at the centre back.
  • extend the length down – I forgot that obviously taking an length off the top means the skirt will be shorter! It’s fine, but I wish I had another inch of length.
  • pay more attention when cutting to get everything on the correct bias!

Here’s the innards:

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I lined it using the same pattern as the skirt but starting even further down and then gathering it. I’m not sure that’s working really well for a skirt with an elastic waist? Anyone lined a skirt like this before? I suppose if I were making the waist wider anyhow I could just treat the lining and skirt as one – I gathered the lining to the skirt fabric on the premise that the denim would stretch, but since it doesn’t really I probably could just treat them the same as each other. You can see that the waistband is serged on, catching the edge of the elastic. I used the selvedges for the side seams and serged the others. Hem is just serged, turned and top stitched. Another lazy, slightly wibbly hem. It’s my calling card!

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Back waistband

All in all, I am really happy to have this in my wardrobe. It’s not perfect – another of my calling cards! But it’s pretty good and I love the simple shape. The shirt I’m wearing in this and the last post is yet another Kirsten kimon, made with a mystery fabric from my stash that I think I got from an opshop but I’m not sure because I don’t really remember. I guess it’s probably pique or something similar, with some kind of poly content but mostly cotton. It’s mildly see through so I was trialing it in pics to see if it’s opaque enough to wear to work. I think I vote yes (especially since I end up wearing a jumper all day e’ry day anyhow. My office is freezing). Earrings are from Have you met Charlie, and I am kind of obsessed with them.

So there you go! I finally made myself that 3/4(ish) denim skirt I’ve been craving, AND successfully avoided having to set in sleeves in my dress. A resounding win! Now I just have to figure out what to do with the other, dodgy dress which I can’t bear to throw out because that’s a lot of good fabric in there! I have issues.