The unremarkable black pull-on skirt

As part of my preparations for Me Made May, I did an audit of what clothing I’ve got available to wear in May. I also did a check on my potential Separates wardrobe orphans. Nothing is an actual orphan, but it was clear that a plain black pull-on skirt was going to be a really useful addition to give me more flexibility on outfits.

I pulled out the black viscose jersey I’d bought on sale at FC Fabric Studio, and my trusty stretch skirt self-drafted pattern. The jersey was just a tiny smidge too thin to use as a skirt on its own, so I decided I would just make two skirts and sew them together at the top and effectively self line it.

No problem! I whizzed through it, nothing could have been easier. It was a nice little stash-buster make. All ready for May!

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Boom!

Finishing off the Massive Paisley cotton

When I cut the Bonkers Zoë Dress, I had about 60 cms left over, and I decided that would be enough for a skirt. On Monday night I reached for my self-drafted straight skirt pattern, and sewed it up. This time, there was definitely no option for pattern matching, I was just happy that there wouldn’t be any big shapes with anatomically unfortunate placement. I even had enough of the weirdly shaped scraps to cut the facing pieces.

I decided I wanted to use one of the lacy zips I’d picked up at the Knitting & Stitching Show. I’d got one in navy, and although the navy in the paisley and the navy of the zip aren’t a perfect match, I was on a “use what you’ve got” kick and went ahead. It was going to be an exposed zip, so I read/watched a few tutorials, because I haven’t done one of these, and I worked out a method that looked manageable for me and was pretty enough.

Pretty lacy zip

I knew I was going to have a train journey up to London on Wednesday, so I decided to leave all the hand finishing until then. I knew I wanted to add a bias binding for the hem, because it would allow me to make as much use of the fabric length as possible. Also I really like the feeling of a satin binding when I’m not wearing tights. I overlocked the hem, and sewed on the binding, with the tiniest turn up I could get away with, all ready for the hand sewing. So Wednesday saw me hemming the skirt on the train, and neatening up the waistband by the zip.

Hem with bias binding

And today I was wearing it to work.

A fab new summer skirt!

 

Lookin’ good!

I did have a moment of panic last night, as I decided to try it on before going to bed. The zip stuck and then with all my faffing about with it the teeth split apart below the puller. The thought that I might have to cut myself out of it flashed through my mind! But then I got a grip and managed to ease myself out of it, and I was able to calmly coax the teeth back into their proper order. Phew!

Zip all A-OK

What would I do differently next time? Use fabric I can pattern-match more readily!

What do I love about this skirt? It’s going to be a useful Spring/Summer skirt. I love the lace zip, and I really want to use the rest of the ones I got now.

Blogiversary thoughts

Sunday was the four year anniversary of this blog starting. I was just looking back on my first post and I realised that I’ve done quite well in learning the things I thought back then that I would need to learn:

“Things that I will have to learn for this adventure to start being successful:

  • zips
  • buttonholes
  • proper fitting
  • finishing
  • neatness
  • patience”

Zips – check! I can do a centred zip (was my default from my teenage sewing days), a lapped zip (with or without protective placket, machined or hand picked) and concealed zips (thanks to the wonderful concealed zip foot). I don’t know if there are other kinds of zips to try, but if there are, I will not fear them!

Buttonholes – check! Although I haven’t really used buttonholes in series (for example, down a shirt front), I know how to use my machine’s buttonhole foot, and I’m no longer scared of them!

Proper fitting – I’ve learned that this is going to be a life-long learning process! But I do not fear the FBA, nor the swayback adjustment, and I can grade a pattern (though I may grumble about doing so!). So I think that’s another check.

Finishing – check! I’m happy with the finishing of my me-mades. Sometimes, the finishing has been more functional than pretty, but none of them have frayed. And with my lovely new overlocker, it is only going to get better.

Neatness – check! Well more or less – again, sometimes my neatness is more a matter of functionality. But I do a lovely invisible hem, I reckon.

Patience – Ah well, that’s another life-long learning process… But I’ve definitely come to understand and accept that the pattern adjusting and the cutting and the marking, while not technically “sewing” are key to the process of “making”. And I’ve learned to be a bit more Zen about that.

So overall, that’s pretty good going.

That led to me wondering where I go from here, in terms of my sewing ambitions and goals. I’m not at all competitive about this, and I’m happy just to be making nice clothes that fit me and suit my style. But I’d like to think my future sewing would involve making more complex garments than I’ve tackled to date, and improving my fitting skills. So I’m hoping that in the next two or three years, I would have made:

  • some button up garments such as shirts and blouses
  • some lined garments, including skirts and dresses
  • some more complex garments, such as jackets and coats. Especially if they are lined!

As well as getting better at the fitting and the patience.

I’ve got plans brewing for learning more about shirts. I’ve booked myself onto another Sew Over It course, but that won’t be for a while yet, so I’m not getting over-excited right now. I found the Zoe dress course to be a really positive learning experience, so I have high hopes that I will learn a whole lot more again.

Making a Win out of a Fail

The Fail – adding to the stash

I fell off the stash wagon at the weekend. I was supposed to not buy any new fabric until I’d used at least 6 pieces from my existing stash. But there was a sale at FC Fabric Studio on Saturday. I’d only used three pieces, though I had cut out a fourth, without having done any sewing on it. Too bad – their prices are really good anyway, but when they are reduced, they’re brilliant. I couldn’t resist.

I went with a plan… I’ve got this new overlocker, and I need to practise using it. I decided to stick to jerseys, with the idea of making some leggings and t-shirts suitable for teaching dance in, because Me-Made May 2017 is coming up and I’ll have four teaching nights where I’ll need to clothe myself. And FC Fabrics have some beautiful jerseys.

I came away with over 8 metres of viscose jersey for only £10. Three of the pieces I found in the £2 remnants box, including a deep royal blue bit that turned out to be over 2½ metres – bargain! I thought I’d be going for their printed jerseys, but maybe because there weren’t so many of them on sale, or because the plains were just calling to me, it was all plains. They all have a bit of elastane, to make them stretchy enough for my dance-practice-wear purposes.

The colours are a bit off, but not too badly

However, I was conscious of my epic failure on the not-buying-new-fabric front.  I was already in deficit to the tune of 3 makes, and the stash has gone up by 4 bits.

The Win – using up the stash and firing up the sew-jo.

This fail galvanised me into action. I had four WIPs- patterns already cut out – and I could jollywell make some of them up, to start meeting that deficit. It helps that Saturday, apart from being Fabric-Buying day was also Me-Made-May-2017-Sign-Up-Going-Live day. As I have mentioned in my post, MMM is usually extremely good for my sew-jo. That, and an overwhelming stashguilt combined to make Sunday a day of sewing.

I sewed up the navy Juliette top that I’d cut out a couple of weeks earlier. I’d cut it before the black Juliette, to test my pattern adjustments, and I’d pinned it all together to test it. I’m not sure that even constitutes a toile! But it was still pinned, so it was good to go. Having made the black one so recently, the instructions were all still fresh in my mind. I didn’t include the waist ties, because I didn’t have enough fabric, so it was even easier/quicker. The longest process was the hand-hemming. I don’t really think there’s much else I can add. I’m impatient to post this and I haven’t photographed it yet, but it’ll feature in a post soon enough, I’m sure, and it’s certain to show up in MMM!

Oh except I sewed in a little charm, into the facing, so I’d know which is back and which is front. I got a load of these at the Knitting and Stitching Show last month.

Cute, eh?

And while I had the overlocker out, and threaded up with black thread, I pulled out a long-standing UFO, to see if I couldn’t have a stab at finishing it in time to wear to work on Monday (spoiler alert – I didn’t!). This was a straight skirt, using my self-drafted pattern. I’d cut it months ago, from 80cms of cotton sateen. The fabric was a tiny smidge too narrow to fit both front and back side by side, so I had to cut it rather more snugly than the pattern dictated, and I was relying on a slight stretch in the sateen and narrow seam allowances to make it work and still be able to sit down in it. This is what I had left:

I don’t like wasting material! 

I needed to cut the facings, and as there wasn’t enough of my main fabric left, I pillaged my scraps and used a bit of purple from the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! skirt. I used curved petersham inside the facing, while I was understitching, to make the waist nice and crisp and stable. The technique for that is in my Pink Polka Dots skirt post. In fact I referred to it, to be sure I was doing it correctly!

I sewed all the seams on the overlocker (I love it!) and then I tested my new concealed zip foot – it’s brilliant. Using Julie’s methods have resulted in another seriously invisible zip. I’m so impressed with myself!

Well, I managed to get all the machine sewing done on the Sunday evening, but the remaining hand-sewing of the facing to the zip, and hemming got postponed to Monday evening.

Facing, with charm

But I was wearing it on Tuesday to work.

I should really be getting on with my curriculum planning…

And how invisible is that invisible zip?!

What would I do differently next time? It’s a really good fit, actually, so I’m thinking that my self-drafted pattern may need a bit of width being shaved off it. On reflection, the Pink Polka Dot skirt made last year from the same pattern is also feeling quite loose. Maybe I’ve lost some weight in the bum & tum area. Next time I use the pattern I’ll measure myself and the pattern and see if I need to tweak it.

What do I love about this skirt? This print attracted me right from the start – I love a monochrome, and the pink just makes it pop!

So that was two down from my deficit of three. I’m going to see if there are a couple more quick wins I can get under my belt this week, to try and catch up with myself. Internet accountability is a powerful motivator!

Hurray, hurray for Me-Made May!

MMMay17 logoIt’s that time again! Zoe of ‘So, Zo… What do you know?’ has posted the Sign Up for Me-Made May 2017, in its eighth glorious year.

This will be my fourth year of taking part. My formal pledge remains the same as in the last two years:

I, Béa of Bea’s Sewing Adventures/@missbeacurtis, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I will endeavour to wear Me Made clothing (not including underwear, shoes and tights) each day for the duration of May 2017.

I already wear me-made almost every day anyway, so it’s a case of taking my RTW clothing out of the wardrobe for May and wearing only Me-Made. Beyond that, my personal challenges are:

a) to make sure I photograph my outfit every day and post it on Instagram (I’m @missbeacurtis there). I will post round-ups here. It’s tricky sometimes, as I don’t have a dedicated photography space at home, so be prepared for a load of office selfies.

b) to dress with a bit more care and thoughtfulness, particularly with regard to jewellery and accessories, because I can be very lazy about those.

c) to crack on with some making. Past experience tells me that MMM is a really useful catalyst for completing WIPs and getting on with planned makes, refashions and fix-ups/mending, in the April build-up and during May itself. It’s already started.

Having said all that, May is always a stressful time at work, and I don’t want to make getting dressed in the morning an additional source of stress. So I’m giving myself two Get Out of Jail Free cards (one from Chance, one from Community Chest!). I hope I won’t need them, but they will be there, in case I do.

Fancy taking part yourself? Want more information? Well head on over to Zoe’s sign-up post. It doesn’t need to be a Me-Made-only pledge, it’s entirely personal. That’s what is so great about it, it’s a challenge that works for you, that nudges you to wear and love your handmade clothing more. Everyone needs a different nudge, so you pick one that will be achievable and helpful for you.

I’m starting my preparation. I always need more tops, so I’m going to try and get two or three done as part of the prep, or part of MMM. I’ve tackled two of my WIPs, and an evening of hand-hemming tonight will see them both finished, I reckon. Watch this space!

That Juliette top and MOAR overlocker love!

I made the Juliette top for the Simple Sew blog, and Gabby wanted it sooner rather than later, so I got it finished in super-quick time, and photographed, so that we could post it. But I had a plan for a bit of improvement, that I couldn’t do in time for my Friday after work photo session last week, so technically these photos don’t show a fully completed make. SorryNotSorry.

I was working with a black peachskin fabric, that I’d bought when I went up to Walthamstow last November. It’s a lovely solid weight and it drapes beautifully. It’s got a soft silky sheen to it, and it could easily be mistaken for actual silk, except that it only cost me £3 per metre. It was an ideal choice for this sort of pattern.

The pattern itself, from Simple Sew Patterns, is a piece of cake to sew. It would be an ideal Beginner’s starter project. There are no fastenings to worry about, so apart from the facing it’s just shoulder seams and side seams. The most technical aspect of the sewing was inserting the facing. The most frustrating aspect was turning the waist ties, though!

It’s hard to photograph black! Especially in the setting sun.

That’s a better angle! And it shows off the soft sheen of the fabric.

The rear view with bow

I did a tiny bit of pattern adjustment, to add an FBA. I did it the long way around, but it’s a very easy  pattern to enlarge. I also added a bit of extra length, because I don’t like tops that come untucked easily.  I’ve got the waist ties tied in the back in the photos above. The ties are long enough to wrap around the back and then tie in the front, but I’ve got enough going on in the front! The pattern can just as easily be made without the waist ties, if you haven’t got enough fabric.

I untied the ties, here, to show the natural swing of the body.

The post-photographic improvement was made possible by the aquisition in the week after these photos were taken of some black overlocker thread because…

Dun, dun, DUN!!!

I’ve got myself an overlocker!!!!

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Brand shiny new!

Lidl were having one of their occasional overlocker sales (they happen every year or so), and I got this beauty on the Sunday after the photos, for the princely sum of £119 . Brilliant value! I had to order some black thread online and as soon as it arrived I Had A Go. I confess, I’m a bit daunted by it, but I’m determined to get really familiar with it, and make full use of it. I’ve cheated massively for now, by just tying the black threads to the white ones that were already set up, and I haven’t yet attempted to thread it all by myself. But I’m booked onto a Get to Know Your Overlocker course in June, so I just need to be able to keep tying on new colours as & when needed until then, and hope that none of the threads break!

So instead of zigzagging my seams to neaten, I was waiting to be able to overlock them beautifully. So I’ve now done a bit of unpicking of stitching, so that I could neaten up the facing edge, and the seams and hems. I’m in the course of rehemming, but that won’t take long.

The Juliette top has been a smashing stashbuster and wardrobe builder. It’s getting me through two of my #UseNine fabrics, because I’ve already cut out a navy version, so it’s contributing nicely to my Stashwatch pledge.

And now for the obligatory silly shot – I think I was trying to show off the sleeves, but got my self-timing slightly off!

I’ve gone all Titanic!