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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Turnstone skirt

Hello lovelies! Here is my new favourite make (my favourite is always whatever I most recently finished, ofc), the skirt from Simplicity 1166.

I’d already made the top, but the skirt was what originally made me purchase the pattern. I don’t buy many skirt patterns because how many variations on ‘cut a rectangle, maybe shape it a little, attach it to a waistband’ does one person need? About three, according to my stash… but I do keep an eye out for skirts with a bit more shaping or some drafting details, and I thought the pleats and shaped waistband of this one would be interesting.

The fabric is a very lightweight cotton denim from DK fabrics. I stopped in to get some silk organza for a presscloth and interfacing, and ended up also getting 3 metres of this at $5 a metre. Couldn’t resist. It’s quite light with a thin stripe through it, and a denim weave, and it’s got a lovely slubby natural quality while also being gorgeous and soft. It’s a dream to wear and I suspect it will wear well. I’ve been thinking about going and getting more to make a shirt, but I think it would make me look washed out if it were close to my face.

I didn’t buy it with this specific pattern in mind, but just because I need some more casual, nuetralish skirts that I can wear with tshirts on the weekend or on casual Friday. I settled on this pattern and then discovered I didn’t have quite enough fabric. This fabric is about 120cm wide, which meant the pattern didn’t quite fit. Which was annoying, since I’d already cut out one front panel. Holding that panel up to my waist I realised the skirt is also LONG, and hit me at a place which made it looks very dowdy, so I folded 3″ of length out of the pattern and managed to fit it on the fabric, just. I had to cut the waistband with the stripes running horizonatally, but I was considering doing that anyways.

Here it is with its intended shirt:

My waist measurement is just over the largest size for this skirt so I held the waistband up to my waist and decided it would be a bit tight, so I added and extra 2″ total to the back waistband. I had meant to add some extra to the side seams when cutting but forgot – and it wouldn’t have fitted on the fabric anyway – so I just sewed the side seams smaller. I also put some elastic in the back – I zigzagged the ends of the elastic to the waistband facing, pulling it tight so it gathers in. I do need it – I suspect the waistband would have fit me perfectly as drafted but then it would have been too tight when I sat down. I don’t at all mind the gathers on such a casual skirt and anyway, a gathered elastic band is better than a falling-off or cutting-in-half skirt.

I do want to move that top button in because it sits where my stomach starts to go in again so right now it sticks out a bit. There’s supposed to be a snap on the inside between the third and fourth button but it sits fine without it so I didn’t add it.

It needs to come in maybe 0.5cm

I also had trouble putting it together. This was about 50% user error and 50% poor pattern writing. I was still a bit sick while sewing this and also did not read the pattern very carefully because it’s a skirt, right? How complicated can it be? Well. I got all the skirt bits together but then they didn’t fit the waistband! I checked and it hadn’t stretched out – I’d stay stitched – although I did find a pleat marking I’d ignored, because I hadn’t been able to work out what the pleat paired with. Always a good sign. Like finding one leftover screw.

I was feeling CROSS with this skirt by this point, so I ended up just sewing it up the back until the skirt fit the waist, and then chopping the extra off. I basted it to the waist and tried it on and it looked… fine, but a bit awkward. I decided I’d go buy some buttons and put them in and see how it hung when properly buttoned.

Before doing this though, after a day of cooling down, I googled to see what other people had made. Seamstress Erin has made one, and mentioned no  issues, and La Sewista has made one – she DID have problems and, like me, couldn’t work out where that pleat was meant to line up. But I could see from both of theirs that their pleats were closer to each other and to the front than mine, and the side seam was not at the sides! You can just see this in the line drawing but it’s not clear, and it’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the instructions. The instructions also don’t point out where the pleats line up – they just say ‘sew the pleats by matching up the markings’ or something similar. But there was enough information to tell me that I had done a bad. So I unpicked everything and serged the bits I’d cut off back on. Luckily, in the stripe, you can barely see this at all! Here is the back side of it, so you can see (and also see the evidence of the denim weave:

And here it is on, the join is just barely visible, if you look.

So I re-examined the pattern to figure out where I’d gone wrong. The back panel is actually marked ‘back and side front’ panel, because it is meant to wrap around the front. And there was a pleat line I’d missed – one of the larger size pleat lines is mislabelled ’14’ rather than ’24’ so I’d not seen it. The trick is that there are the two front pleats and then the third pleat goes around the pocket – so there’s a pleat line about two inches from the side seam of the front piece, and another two inches from the side seam of the back piece. The pocket therefore sits in a deep pleat, and it and the side seam are hidden. I found this very hard to photograph, but here are my attempts:

you can just see the pleat seam to the left of the pocket
I’m holding that third pleat open
Pulling the pocket bag out – no dollars but no moths either, thankfully

I still think the sizing is off on the larger size, though. Even after working out my error, the skirt was too big for the waistband – and this is the waistband that I’d added 2″ to! I ended up sewing the side seams at the regular seam allowance, and also taking a bigger pleat. I suspect that the two front pleats should be bigger, and perhaps a bit closer to the placket. From the diagrams, it looks like the front is supposed to be small enough that the pocket bag sits under the facing, which is not the case for me, but perhaps that’s to be expected for the bigger size.

I am still struggling with taking good photos of the insides, sorry.

Anyhow, after a bit of fiddling I got everything together, and the pockets sit exactly where they should, and it looks GREAT. The first time I tried it on after I had sorted out my error I was just thrilled. Luckily this fabric is very forgiving and shows no sign at all of all the times I had to unpick things.

I did consider lining it but decided to keep it breezy and light. It’s long enough that it weighs itself down and I don’t miss the lining. I just top stitched the hem, although I note it drags at the back, just enough that I notice. I thought this might be because I didn’t account for my swayback but I noticed the back hem shows even on the hanger, so I suspect a cutting error when I took the length off. I’ll go back and fix it eventually but I might leave it a while in case the hem drops on the bias. I hung it for two days before hemming, with no dropping, but sometimes it takes a while.

Cat-meo. Cameow?

I also initially put in some square buttons, because they were the only ones I could find that I liked. I knew before I sewed them on that they would always look wonky, and they did. So I took myself off to the Button Bar and Veronica sorted me out, as always, with these round wooden look ones. They’re actually plastic and sewn on backwards because they have an engraved star on the front that I didn’t like. I should have known better than to go anywhere else (the square ones were from Lincraft) but Veronica only works later in the week these days and I bought my buttons on Monday. Didn’t want to wait! Should know better.

I don’t think it really shows in the photos but the placket is a bit wonky at the top. Another time I would top stitch it – the pattern doesn’t say to and I complied, but the wonky is from it rolling a bit unevenly so I would topstitch or at least understitch. I also initially pressed the darts to the side because I find that more flattering, but it looked odd because the side pleat was going the other way, so I went back and pressed them to the front as the pattern directs.

The pockets are pretty small and shallow – they perfectly fit my work pass card, and my phone and wallet fit but feel a bit precarious. Anything too heavy drags the skirt down a bit though so I don’t think I’d bother to change them if I made this a second time. I find the length perfect and would have been overwhelmed if it were any longer. The waistband does fold over the day but I don’t think it looks bad. It just is.

Here’s a TL;DR of the changes I made and problems I had:

Changes

  • I made the largest size – size 24 – for my 110cm-ish waist
  • I shortened the skirt 3″
  • I added 2″ to the back waistband and then added elastic to it.
  • I used sew in interfacing because that was the heaviest interfacing I had.

Problems:

  • The pattern is very unclear about where the pleats go
  • The first two pleats pleat on the front piece
  • The second two pleat around the pocket and side seam – one side of the pleat is on the front, and one is on the back.
  • I found that the skirt was still too big for the waistband, despite having added length to the waistband, so something is very off there.
  • I suspect that the larger size pleats haven’t been sized up enough. If you are making this, I suggest lining everything up to check before you sew the pleats, to see if it will all fit together.

I’m a bit unimpressed with those drafting and instruction oversights, to be honest. I’ve not come across any discrepancies this large before in a Big 4 pattern. However, the original vintage drafting is so clever and neat, and I feel like it gives a perfect amount of volume without compromising on comfort or ease of movement at all. I think this will be the perfect casual skirt – I don’t intend on doing much housework in it but if yoga pants didn’t exist I think this would be the next best thing, and very practical, although I think this fabric might be a bit warm in full summer. I will definitely put this on the list to make again.

 

Christmas dress 2015

How does one go about becoming one of those people who think of interesting blog titles?

Well, anyhow. Titles aside, here is my Christmas dress for 2015!

The pattern is Simplicity 1459, one of their vintage reprint offerings. I bought this pattern with the intention of making it into last year’s Christmas dress, which obviously didn’t happen, and I bought this fabric at the same time. The skirt is one of Spotlight’s Christmas line, and the bodice is just broadcloth from Spotters.

I sewed a straight size 18, with a 1.5″ FBA. I chose this because I looked at the pattern and saw that there is a whopping amount of ease, something like 3 or 4 inches, so I went with 18 which most closely matches my upper bust measurement. However, I suspect a bunch of my adjustments basically retro-fitted it to be mostly a size 20 or so. When I make this again (which I fully intend to, because I’m a bit in love with it) I’ll be comparing my adjusted pattern with the size 20 and maybe doing a mashup of the two.

I did make up a quick muslin of the bodice and sleeve – the pattern has a very nice 3/4 sleeve with darts at the elbow, which makes it fit very nicely, although I found I did have to add a considerable amount to the sleeve to get it to fit. Otherwise the bodice with the FBA fit pretty well as-is. My current practice is to make a bodice muslin and then safety pin an existing skirt onto it, because I find the weight of the skirt really changes the fit.

I found, again, that the broadcloth had much less give than the muslin. I ended up sewing the side seams quite narrow to account for this, which is another thing that makes me say I could do with going a size up. In particular, I needed an extra centimetre or so for the back. I also ended up tapering the bodice overlap a bit, so that it had more ease at the stomach. This IS a Christmas dress, after all! You can see the tapering in this internal shot.

This does make the bodice sit a bit odd, and isn’t ideal, but it’s fine. It does mean I probably added back in the intended ease. And I must, say, I like the way it fits. I might be with Gina on starting to prefer a slightly looser dress. It feels comfy and as long as it is fitted to shape, I think it’s more of the look I’m going for – less prone to riding up and shifting around during the day. I also don’t know if you can see but I sewed the vertical dart in a teardrop shape rather than a straight angle, to get the bodice to fit how I wanted. This was all on the fly adjustments. I really should have thought about it more and split the darts into two darts each, for a total of eight darts on the bodice. They are all quite large and it’s ok but inevitably leads to some wrinkles and bumps, and did make them harder to sew and to avoid the bubble at the end.

Crinoline peeking out

I top stitched the overlap down because it’s a faux opening anyways. I was planning the side zipper as the pattern instructs but I ended up skipping it. It is fine to pull on although I must say it’s a slight struggle to pull off and I think when I make a non-novelty version I will add the zipper. But given that it’s a dress I’ll only be wearing occasionally, I really didn’t think it was worth fighting with the reduced seam allowances to insert something. It probably would have been a mess.

I had intended putting in sleeves but ended up being so in love with the collar that I left them off, to emphasise the collar’s hugeness. I feel most comfortable in sleeves but actually what that turns out to mean is ‘with covered shoulders’. Since the collar is SO huge that it covers my shoulders… well then that’s fine! It does make it mildly impractical, I don’t know if you can see that one side of the collar is creased from carrying my handbag on top of it, from when I wore it to the work Christmas party.

I used quite a stiff interfacing for the collar, which made it more dramatic. I am very into that but it would be easy to tone down slightly with a less extreme interfacing. The only heavy one I could find was sew in, so I sewed it in, which was fiddly but fine. It does ride up as I move but that’s fine with me, although looking at it perhaps it would benefit from a slight slash and spread along the back? I suppose because of my poor posture in that area making a strange shape for it to drape over.

Another time I would line it rather than do the facings. I have just now noticed you can slightly see my bra, and you can see the front facings which bugs the heck out of me. I also found the facings incredibly fiddly, and I had to hand sew them down all around the arms or they’d pop out when I put the dress on. A full lining would have been about one million times easier, especially on a sleeveless version.

I sewed the shoulder seams 1cm smaller, because my muslin was pulling there but I hadn’t really noticed until after I cut the bodice out. To compensate I just traced the largest collar size, which was fudging things a but but worked out fine. I should have planned better, however, and raised the neck accordingly. It’s not scandalous but it’s a bit lower than I would be comfortable with for a regular day dress. My notes say I thought I should also have raised the waist by 1cm but I’m not sure I think that now.

Here are some photos of it without the petticoat under it.

I LOVE how it looks with the petticoat, and am wondering how weird it would be to wear a petticoat to work. I did also include the tulle underskirt and the lining.

I just overlocked the waist seam and it was pretty scratchy on the first wearing but appears to be fine now. Here’s an overview of the whole innards.

I also could have thought it through and cut the skirt straight, instead of as an A-line, but actually I don’t mind how it looks even though it makes the kookaburra’s slightly wonky. I love the shape of the skirt.

The buttons are, of course, from The Button Bar. I was going to make a belt to go with it but the vintage belt buckle I had is more maroon, and then I remembered I do own a red belt that I almost never wear. I do think it benefits from a belt, and when I make a regular one I might consider putting in belt loops.

I am definitely planning a non-novelty one, I just have to decide, sleeves or no sleeves? Tanya Maille has made a couple of lovely versions of this pattern. I should note that this one is a fabric hog. Often I find I can get away with considerably less than the pattern calls for, by cutting carefully. But the collar takes up a whole width of fabric, and you have to cut two, and they’re an odd shape. So that alone takes up almost a metre! Plus there are four wide skirt panels. If you’re making this, with the skirt as is, definitely buy as much fabric as the pattern tells you.

I am happy that I got to make this as a novelty dress – I find that I never find all the fit issues until I’ve worn an item for a whole day. I wore this to my last day of work for the year, for our work Christmas party. I got a bunch of compliments, and a lot of ‘didn’t you wear that last year?’ so I guess now I’m the person who wears novelty Christmas dresses. I’m cool with that. It was too hot to wear it with the petticoat but, being sleeveless, I found it ok to wear even on that day, which was 42! Obviously I was in air conditioned buildings most of the day, however.

I’ll be wearing it tomorrow to our family do, which is on Boxing Day, with the petticoat.

Here’s me attempting a twirl

And feeling dizzy

Merry Christmas, to those of you who celebrate it. And happy holidays and general good wished for peace and joy in your lives for those who don’t, or who can’t bear to. Here’s hoping that 2016 is a wonderful year!