Quoits skirt (Simplicity 8250)

Hello folks! I have a skirt to show you today. It’s Simplicity 8250, which is a reprint of Simplicity 3775A.

 

 

I picked this up in my last ‘3 for $15’ haul at Spotlight. I just grabbed a bunch of vintage reprints because I always regret them if I don’t pick them up and then they go out of print. Initially this wasn’t on my shortlist to make immediately. I was a bit put off by how it looks on the model. It looks to me as if the skirt is sitting too low and the bolero too high, or perhaps it’s too small?

Whatever it is, the proportions look a bit odd to me – or too modern perhaps? I’m having the same issues with 8251 which I like in theory but the proportions look very odd and I can’t work out if it’s because of the model, or the actual proportions. They use this model a lot for the vintage patterns and about half of the ones she models have the waist and bust darts in totally the wrong place, while the other half are fine, so who knows?

Anyhow! I posted my pattern haul on insta and a bunch of people commented how much they liked this one, which caused me to give it a second look. It’s a pretty basic pattern – it’s a 1/4 circle with front, back and side seams. Both sides of the front have extensions of an inch or so that are folded over to create that overlap, which is then topstitched down. It would be incredibly simple to draft this oneself. The highlights are obviously the shaped waistband and the patch pockets.

The quoits skirt was sewn at craft camp. The fabric is a mid weight cotton drill-type fabric that I got from unique fabrics in Melbourne which is basically my favourite place in the world. I have trouble finding good bottom weight fabrics in Adelaide so I was thrilled to find this. I was envisioning an a-line type skirt, something 70s ish, maybe S8019, for spring and autumn. But no matter how many times I got out the pattern and put it on this fabric, I ended up putting it back again. It just wasn’t right. This fabric wants to drape and swoosh! Once I decided to make up 8250 it was the perfect candidate.

I sewed a size 24, the largest size. Obviously I made up the version with the shaped waistband! I was concerned that it would fold and rumple, but I find it sits in the right place on my torso and so the curved portion sits up away from my body just enough that it only folds slightly when I sit down and my belly smooshes into it. I used thick sew in interfacing, too, so it holds its shape nicely.

The only negative is that I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing when I sewed it together, and I didn’t take the curves as nicely as I’d like. As a result they’re not really shapely in the correct way. They’re ok, but every time I look at it I notice that they’re slightly wonky and it does annoy me. I would recommend that you do a practice run on scrap fabric before you sew this, as well as marking the sewing line on the backside so you can be sure to follow it. I was only out by a few millimetres but that made a massive difference on the curve. I didn’t manage a great closeup of this on, but you can see it below – there should be more of an overlap in the ‘petals’.

Pertinent to the above, the instructions for this are not good at all. Despite the simplicity (ha!) of the skirt pattern itself, I would NOT recommend this pattern to a beginner, because the instructions are just chaos. To be honest I only glanced at them to see what they suggested doing for the curved waistband, but I went back and checked them before I wrote this blog post and boy! I had trouble comprehending them at all.

There are separate instructions for the shaped vs the straight waistband, but it just launches into one and doesn’t point this out, or mention the places where they differ so if you are sewing skirt B you are totally disoriented. I would have found it easier if they’d done it all in one and then where it differed, said ‘for skirt B do blah blah, for skirt A do blah blah’ but I guess they were following their convention for writing instructions. I also felt that the sewing together of the fronts and the waistband curves are not explained well at all, and the diagrams didn’t really show the bits I needed visual help with.

They also have you top stitch the front before putting everything together, and don’t continue the topstitching onto the curved band. You can see that’s what they did on the modern remake of the pattern. I think it looks messy and is a real missed opportunity for a nice detail. The vintage line drawing clearly has the topstitching continuing up and around the curved waistband, as Liz points out, so that’s what I did.

I basted the fronts together, attached the waistband, and then topstitched everything in one go. Easy. The basting also made it much easier to be accurate with the topstitching and not pull it out of line as I went. I honestly would not like to attempt it without basting. I’m really pleased with my topstitching on this. I tend to rush it and that is not a recipe for good topstitching! This time I went slowly and carefully and it paid off.

I guess they don’t tell you to do it this way because it would make another difference between the way the two waistbands are sewn so they would have to describe it twice and probably take another piece of paper. But they definitely could have condensed other parts of the instructions to allow for this. (I did cut a small hole in it when I was unpicking the basting because I wasn’t being careful. I don’t have any fraycheck so I darned it and you can just see it if you look closely. Oops!)

The instructions have you topstitch at, I think, 1.5cm. I just did it the width of the sewing machine foot, which ended up something like 7mm? I like it and think 1.5cm would seem very wide to me, although it could be fun and chunky. Maybe another time?

They also have you put the zipper in all the way to the top for the curved waistband, but only to the bottom of the band for the straight and add a hook and eye. I did not do this – I find I need a hook and bar for my skirts to sit nicely. My stomach expands when I sit down so without that the waistband will gape. I extended the waistband so that I could put one in. Unfortunately I cut this out a few weeks before craft camp and forgot I’d done it. Because of this and also being uncertain how the fronts went together, I sort of winged this part and ended up with a messy overlap – on both sides!

I fixed it with some hand sewing but it’s messy on the inside and definitely not my best work. Oh well! It does mean it’s got a hook and eye on one side and a press stud on the other which turns out to be kind of good because it keeps the band sitting straight, which means the front curves don’t pull outwards or sag. I have been contemplating re-doing the waistband because of the poor job I did with the curves and the overlap but so far it’s not quite annoying enough to bother doing that.

I also bought a bulk lot of the hooks and eyes on etsy for less than a pack of 4 at my local stores… except my local stores have stopped carrying the large size altogether. And then they have the nerve to complain that online retailers are taking their profits! I’m TRYING to give you my money! Please stock the things I would like to buy and that are your supposed core business, instead of decorative glass bouys and hen’s night novelties!

Anyway. The bulk lot is good because I inevitably end up losing the bars and only end up with hooks and at least my odds of retaining some are better with more of them.

I should also mention I’m still trying to work out how to reclaim my blue wall for photos – the waist on this skirt looks EXTRA high but that’s because I haven’t quite worked out the height the camera needs to be at to get good shots while balancing on my bed, so it’s too low and has the effect of shortening my waist. I mean this is a high waisted pattern but it’s not right up under my boobs like it looks here. You get the idea, anyway.

Balancing on the bed is worth it but it did get a bit precarious…

I hand picked the zipper on the principle that it would actually be quicker than trying to do it by machine and having to unpick and redo it five times. It’s not totally neat but I am getting better at this process, and I actually really enjoy it. I made it centred rather than lapped because I found that easier to work out how to do and I’m still new at hand picking so I wanted to keep it simple for my brain. I also hand sewed the waistband facing down, and hand sewed the hem after letting it hang for a week – it did sag quite a bit on the bias.

This skirt is quite long, so after trying it on I decided on a three inch hem. I didn’t do the gorgeous patch pockets because I felt it might be too much with the curved band, so I added inseam pockets.

I was going to add a lining as well, but because I cut it out beforehand I accidentally cut a lining with a side opening. I didn’t have enough fabric on me to cut one that would open at the back, so I just went without. This means I can’t really wear it now, as it’s too cold, but it will be perfect for spring and even cooler summer days. It’s surprising how much warmth even a thin lining can add!

 

TL;DR

  • Sewed a size 24
  • Added in seam pockets
  • Hand sewed zippers and hems
  • Added a hook and bar to both zips
  • Basted the front overlaps together first, did the rest of the constructing and then top stitched
  • Continued the top stitching up and around the waistband (top stitched the underlying half of the band first)
  • Next time I would take more time with sewing the curves of the waistband, and mark the seam lines to make sure I got the curve exactly right.

 

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Erica blouse (Blue Ginger Doll Mae)

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A couple of months ago I was asked if I would like to sew something for the Sewcialists re-launch, with the theme of ‘tribute month’. I’m a bit wary of sewing on a deadline because it often leads to me rushing something and being disappointed in myself, but the timelines were generous and most of my makes are already directly inspired by other sewists’ makes so it fit in with how I sew already. After thinking about it for about two seconds I realised I was already planning to make a top directly inspired by Heather B!

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When I first saw her bee blouse, I actually gasped out loud. I WANTED one, but I figured it was probably an original vintage pattern that I wouldn’t have access to. But no! It was a Mae blouse from Blue Ginger Doll. Not only a modern pattern, but one that I already owned!

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I immediately thought of this cotton poplin that I have had in my stash for a long time now. It’s from the Spotlight spots and stripes range, and I bought it because it’s clearly in a different base than the rest of the line and it’s really lovely. But I hadn’t used it because I couldn’t figure out what to make that wasn’t too twee but also worked with the fabric. I knew this would be the perfect match! Especially after I dug a little deeper and saw that Heather had in fact made a version with small spots, as well.

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I read Heather’s post for her original Mae for fitting tips. I was initially going to try to do an FBA but I couldn’t work out how to manage it without a dart, which I didn’t want to add in. BGD are already drafted for a D cup, but the the largest size (18) lists the finished full bust measurement as being 1″ too small for me. I decided to muslin it up as a straight size 18 though, given Heather’s experience with it. It was too small through the torso but everything seemed to be in approximately the right place – the bust fit quite nicely although the dart was too far out. I decided I’d copy Heather directly and just add 3/8″ to the side seams below the sleeve portion.

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So this version is a size 18 with a size 10 bust dart (the darts are all the same size, just placed differently). I probably should have gone with the size 14 dart as it’s a bit too far in, but not too bad. However, as you can see I do have a fair bit of pulling at the bust. This is exacerbated by the fact that I sewed the armholes up about 1.5″ higher. Initially it fit really well but then when I put it on to take photos you could clearly see my bra. I’m not sure how I thought it was ok in the muslin!

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As a consequence of sewing the armholes up higher, the back got tighter. I had to unpick the sideseams and sew them as narrow as I could – I’d already trimmed and understitched so there wasn’t much wriggle room.

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I’d say in the end there’s about a 1/2″ total added to the sides, and I could use another 1/4″ at the widest part of my torso. Next time I would do that FBA, even if it did add a dart, and do a small full back adjustment for across my shoulder blades. This is my largest part both front and back, because I hunch so I really always need extra room there.

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I would also like to take a wedge out of the centre because my hollow upper chest/low bust/lack of an FBA means it’s collapsing above my bust which throws the whole neckline out and it irritates the heck out of me. I feel like that + the tightness across the bust makes my whole bust look droopy, which is not ideal. If I pinch a 1/4″ out it all fits beautifully, and the whole neckline sits a lot better. Of course, if I’d gone down a size and done a proper FBA, that would also have solved this issue. Oh and while I’m listing things off, I’d also bring that back neckline up, which I did mean to do but forgot. It’s not too bad but it does make the shirt pull forward which adds to the general ill fittingness.

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I really took my time sewing those scallops. They are not perfect and one side (the first side I sewed) sits a bit wonky but I am still really pleased with them. The BGD blog had what I’m told was a great tutorial on sewing the scallops, but since the business appears to be pretty defunct the pictures are gone so I gleaned what I could from it, and from Heather’s photos. I enjoyed the process and feel like I learnt a lot by doing it, which I always like.

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I did find the instructions a bit baffling and not particularly well written. I seem to have had this complaint with my last few makes – perhaps it’s me? But the things I’m sewing at the moment are fine. Anyhow, I worked it out. I did add interfacing to the back to give that fold some weight, and I’m very glad I did. I find it a bit odd that it doesn’t tell you to do that? I did have to trim the interfaced parts off at the top where there were four layers. I also did the facings in white lawn to avoid the spots showing through.

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I thought about just sewing the back up and sewing buttons on through it, since I can pull it over my head without needing an opening. But then I remembered I have a bunch of snaps in my stash and they would be perfect! I really like how they look although they do gape because of the fit issues. Plus it’s always fun to hammer in snaps!

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All of the above mentioned flaws are really irritating me now – especially since I had to have three goes at photographing this due to poor weather and also, to be honest, being a bit out of practice! I hope you will forgive the slightly dodgy photos and my tired face. I’m trying to reclaim my beautiful blue wall but it involves balancing on my bed and propping the camera up on a wardrobe shelf and I haven’t quite perfected my technique yet!

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Anyway all I can see when I look at these photos are the flaws, and I feel kind of embarrased about them especially because I wanted this to be so perfect as a tribute to Heather – I really took my time and finished everything nicely and then ended up ripping half of it out! But in real life, when I look in the mirror, the flaws are not so obvious and although I can see it pulls across the bust it doesn’t feel restrictive.

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I’m anticipating getting a bunch of wear out of this blouse if it ever gets warm again. (It feels impossible right now but I know it will be spring before I know it). I also think that with those few relatively minor tweaks this could be an excellent TNT and a good base for drafting and hacking from. The main part of the blouse goes together so quickly and neatly, and it would be pretty easy to draw in a new neckline or add a skirt, etc. While I feel like there are a lot of flaws looking at these photos, and having listed them off like this, each one just needs a very small tweak to be neutralised, so it shouldn’t be too much work (famous last words?).

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TL;DR

Pattern: Mae blouse by Blue Ginger Doll

Fabric: from the ‘Spots and Stripes’ line at Spotlight

Size sewn: size 18 (the largest)

Adjustments made: added 1/2″ to the sides below the armhole. Sewed the armhole up an extra 1/5″ to avoid flashing bra. Added snaps instead of buttons. Cut facings from plain white lawn. interfaced the back fold over placket.

Next time I would: do an FBA, do a broad back adjustment, take a 1/4″ wedge out of the front neck, bring the back neck up about 1/2″