Tag Archive | skirts

Creating a holiday wardrobe

I’m off to France for 2½ weeks next Thursday – I can’t wait! I’m trying to plan for two things, firstly I want to take a capsule-ish wardrobe, and secondly I want to take some sewing/knitting to be done there.

The holiday wardrobe doesn’t need to cover formal events, it’s going to be seaside and family visits. I’ll have access to a washing machine, so I can happily repeat wears. I’m a shocker for over-packing, so I’m trying to limit myself to 4 skirts, 5 tops and 3 dresses. I’m going for a blue based colour scheme, because this year I seem to be drawn to blues. However, in order to take the garments that I want to take, I do need to get down and make some of them. That’s ok, I’ve got a week, right? And any hand finishing can be a holiday craft project.

What I want to take

Skirts: grey birds, royal blue jersey, paisley leftovers, black denim
Tops: white dot shell top, watercolour floral shell top, mournful leopard, blue-grey t-shirt, black lace top
Dresses: Teal dress, royal blue & mint lace t-shirt dress, denim/lace jersey dress

Making stuff to take

I started last night with a royal blue jersey pull on skirt. I was using the lovely soft viscose jersey I got from FC Fabric Studio back in April.  This is another of my self-drafted numbers, mostly done on the overlocker, nothing special about it. I took trouble to make the elastic waistband nice and I used the mock-bank hem finish with my overlocker. And it’s got a lovely little “Handmade” charm inside the waistband to show me which is front & which is back.

A straightforward tube skirt


I’ll be honest, this project took considerably longer than it needed to, because the overlocker took a bit of umbrage about something, I don’t know what, and decided to break threads for no readily discernible reason. This meant proper re-threading from scratch. Which is fine, I totally know how to do that now, but it was a bit of a faff. And then it decided to break a needle. This was rather more of a learning experience. I had a spare, so no problems there, but this was a new thing to learn how to do, and for a while I got all fingers-and-thumbsy and couldn’t hold the needle *and* tighten the little screw both at the same time. But again it’s all fine, it got done, it was just time consuming. Incidentally, the broken needle pinged off quite a distance! I’m glad I wear glasses – if I didn’t I might be looking to invest in safety goggles!
I’ve got enough of this jersey left over, to make the dress I’ve got on the list.

While I was in the groove, I even got around to sewing a buttonhole and a button on the Grey Birds skirt waistband, last night, to replace the hook & bar that I first put in. This is something I’d been meaning to do for ages. So that’s another easy win. 

This means the skirts are all done! Hooray!

For the tops, I’ve got a lot to do if I’m going to take all the tops I want to take.

The Watercolour Floral top is under way. It’s nearly finished except for the hemming, which I will do by hand as a holiday project.

I’ve got a t-shirt to make, and I’m going to be using the Simple Sew Shannon Collection pattern for that. I’ve also got all the doings for a lace back top. I don’t have a pattern for this, although I think I’m going to use my shell top pattern as a starting point. I can’t use that exact technique, though, because of the lace element. It’s going to require a bit of thought and research. I’m quite excited to see how far I can take it!

And finally, the dresses… I need to make all of them! They will all be partially made, to be finished by hand while I’m away. The teal one is all ready with only sewing bias facings to be done on my hols. The other two will probably end up being self-drafted, on the fly!

I’ve also got to spend a bit of time this weekend on my next Simple Sew Blog Make, because I want it to be done before I go away. But I think I’ve got time for everything I’ve got planned, particularly as I’m leaving all the hand finishing as Holiday Sewing Projects. Which leads me to…

Holiday Sewing Projects

I know I’m lining up a fair bit of hand finishing for myself, but it will get done pretty quickly, I reckon, so I need more projects to work on. I’m going to take some knitting, but I suspect that will be the last thing I pick up, because sewing is much more my default crafting activity! Knitting is too slow.

I will take a couple of my plain t-shirts to embellish, for example there’s one that I started a while ago, that would handily fit well into my holiday capsule wardrobe, so it would make sense to take that one and get it finished.

I’ve also been researching a few haberdasheries, to do a bit of sewing sightseeing, especially for those days that aren’t so hot and sunshiny.

So that’s my plans for the next few weeks. Happy holidays! 

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!

DSC_0013

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.

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!

Holiday sewing

Grey birds 1

Holiday sewing – it must have been in the morning, because it’s coffee!

I’m just back from a holiday in Vendée (France). It was a lazy kind of a holiday, in that we didn’t do a whole lot- no paragliding, no white water rafting, no visiting museums… Visiting relatives, and having them visit us was the full extent of the activities. Oh, and going to the beach.

Which left me with plenty of time for sitting around and keeping myself busy. I took along a couple of sewing projects which I could finish off by hand, and a knitting project.

My first holiday UFO was a skirt which I’d originally cut out over a year ago, in an attempt to kickstart my sew-jo, which went completely awol in 2015. I got this fabric from Ditto in Brighton. I couldn’t resist the birds. The fabric was going to do all the talking – it was going to be a very straightforward pleated skirt. A waistband, a zip, a tube of fabric to pleat and a hem. There was nothing simpler, but it had been hanging around making me feel guilty for all this time, and I decided I could get it to the hand finishing phase before I left and finish it while I was away. It would fit in well with my pink/grey/black/white holiday wardrobe plans.

I had a bit over one metre of the fabric. I cut the waistband, then cut the remaining fabric in two, so that I had a front and a back. I sewed them together, making sure my birds were more or less in line, to create a tube. I made two inverted pleats front, and two back, because that’s what had been in my head. I’d forgotten just how wide the fabric was, so the box pleats are pretty big, but that’s fine.

I did a pretty hot zip insertion – I think I’m getting over my aversion to machine sewing zips! It’s a lapped zip at the side. I don’t know what the conventions are on which side the zip should go, but it seemed right for it to be on my right side. Then I sewed on the waistband. That left me three sewing jobs to complete on holiday – hand-stitching the waistband down, sewing in a hook and bar, and hemming.

Boom! That was the work of but a morning, and I was wearing the skirt the next day!

Honestly, the hem is straight. There's a breeze blowing it backwards.

Honestly, the hem is straight. There’s a breeze blowing those big box pleats about, is all.

This was a nice simple sew, nothing fancy,but it’s a nice summer skirt that I’ve already enjoyed wearing, and I’m hoping will see me through to the end of September or then-abouts.

Grey birds 3

Oh look, the sun’s over the yard-arm!

Pink Polka Dots

I do love this skirt! It’s the product of my Summer Term in sewing class. I drafted the pattern myself, and did a toile, even though my teacher would have let me try without it, but the toile actually did its job, in that it made me alter my pattern slightly.

Pink Polka Dot Skirt

Bonkersly Pink Outfit!

There were three things I learned from making this skirt:

Vent opening in the back seam. I’ve done vents before, they’re an easy thing to do, but I learned, in particular, to add iron-on interfacing to make the vent opening really clean and stable. I’m definitely going to use this technique again.

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Interfacing

Invisible zip – I will treasure Gail’s instruction sheet forever, because it’s the clearest, most straightforward guide to how invisible zips go in that I’ve seen. It inspires me with confidence that I can do this again. I’ll need to get a few more invisible zips into my stash to get more practice in.

Zip close up

Zip close up – the bottom bit is slightly ropey, but at least 3/4 of it is beautiful!

 

Curved Petersham to support the facing. I’ve done skirt facings before, no problem, but the addition of the curved petersham tape has made it so much more stable. Just to remind myself of the construction order (because I know my memory is fallible), and to help anyone who’s interested in trying it out for themselves:

  1. Sew the facing to the skirt top.
  2. Sew the curved petersham along the top of the facing, on the wrong side of the fabric, with the shorter side of the tape nudged right up close to the seam with the skirt top.
  3. With the skirt seam allowance and the facing seam allowance together, understitch the facing.
  4. Stitch the facing to the skirt at the zip edges, and also at the seams and darts, to stop it flapping about, because flappy facings are a right nuisance.

While I’m feeling very confident that this is a straight skirt pattern I can rely on, I’ve got two more skirts planned that will test this premise, because I’m aware that patterns can sometimes turn out differently.

Tragic Rear View

The Tragic Rear View

The gigantic elephant in the room is how my pattern matching is non-existent. I attempted to get the dots to be approximately in line, but that’s as far as it went. I am forgiving myself for it, because that was never one of my targets for this skirt, it was all about the invisible zip and the vent. So it’s there, and I’ve acknowledged it, but it’s not going to bother me. Much.

But let’s finish on a more positive note – I wanted to keep the skirt as long as I could, so I added bias binding to the bottom to hem it. The only one I had in stash was black, which makes a good contrast, and it’s satin, so it feels lovely and smooth on my legs.

What I love about this skirt?

How learny it was! The construction process really upped my game.

Also it is bonkersly pink! Perfect!

 

The Big Floral Half Circle Skirt

As the end of Me Made May was waiting just behind the horizon, I got the inspiration to work on those UFOs, as I mentioned in my last post. One of those was a considerably long standing one, namely the Big Floral Half Circle skirt. Months ago, I had cut it out, including the waistband, which had iron-on interfacing pinned to it, all ready to actually, yanno, iron it on. Then it had sat unfinished, indeed barely even started, for maybe a year or so(?). All it needed was a back seam, a zip, a waistband and a hem. It was Bank Holiday Monday and I had a day’s worth of spare time, and I wasn’t feeling shattered from work. I was all set to finish it.

The back seam was the work of a moment, and the zip went in like a dream. It’s a lapped zip, and I’m feeling super-confident on those now! I do think the fabric helped, too. It’s a fairly heavy cotton sateen, with a slight stretch, and it sews up beautifully

Lapped zip

Lapped zip – a thing of beauty and a joy forever

The waistband needed a bit more work, I’d cut it rather wider than I decided I wanted it, so I had to do a bit of re-measuring and adjusting. I also mucked up the positioning a bit, and I was too lazy to correct it properly, so there’s a bit of a gap in the underneath part of the waistband (the bit where the button ended up) and it’s covered up by the other end of the waistband where the buttonhole is, so it’s not visible, but I’ll always know it’s there. But I’m not worrying about it, because I’m just so thrilled and excited by having actually done a machined buttonhole!

Buttonhole!

Buttonhole!

It’s the first time I’ve ever done a real one. It was so easy with the buttonhole foot, and the right programme on the lovely new Singer. I need to make some more things with buttons now!

And then, once the button was on, it was time to tackle the hemming. I was originally going to do a machined hem, because I’d had a late night the night before, hemming the Under the Sea dress. But then I had second thoughts –  the fabric was just too beautiful to ruin with a crummy machined hem. I wanted a lovely invisible hem for it. I tried the skirt on, and made sure the hem was level. Then I machined about 5mm away from the cut edge, and turned up to that mark, and turned up a second time, by about the same amount, to make a narrow hem. I pinned like a demon, and then I sewed. I was watching the Sewing Bee as it happens. It was rather nice to be sewing in a nice relaxed way while the contestants were having to sew to the usual ludicrous time deadlines.

And by the end of the day I had a skirt all ready to wear for the last day of Me Made May 2016.

Body shot

The last of the office selfies

Things I love about it: the fabric is lush, it’s got a lot of structure, it’s holding its shape well, but because of the sateen finish, it looks elegant, not lumpen. I adore the print, because I will always love gigantic floral prints, and because it combines a whole load of colours that work well for me, black, navy, grey, red, minty green. And it fits perfectly. I am kicking myself that I didn’t actually keep a record of the measurements I used, before I started sewing it up, because they would have come in very handy for the next one I make. I like the gentle flare of a half circle skirt.

I’m less than happy about my own stupid waistband laziness, because I could really have done the thing properly, if I’d only been bothered, but it is what it is… Nothing shows, it’s only in my head.

And this skirt has already earned a couple of compliments, so I’m definitely counting it as a win!