Tag Archive | the sew weekly reunion 2013

The You Mean I’m Wearing Orange? Skirt (AKA the Sew Weekly Reunion Skirt)

This is the official “finished” post, and I’m really happy with how this came out. It actually came out looking just like the picture I had in my head.

Guildford Castle

Guildford Castle

At the Bandstand

At the Bandstand

I do have to thank my lovely boyfriend for suggesting the Castle Grounds for the photoshoot, and for being willing to troll around taking photos of me, and for being a proper artist who knows about composition and colour and light and stuff like that. And since it was quite hard to stop him taking photos once he got started, this is quite a picture-intensive post!

The Facts

Fabric: purple cotton drill- £6.00, patterned cotton from stash, I only used a tiny bit of it to cut out the appliqués, so I’m calling this free.

Notions: zip- 80p, cotton pearl embroidery thread- £4.05. hem binding- £1.50. Edited to add- a bit of interfacing from stash- I’m counting that as free.

Sadly, although I was using one of the notions (the purple tape measure) to help make this when I was cutting out, there’s nothing concrete from the pattern & notions swap in the fabric of this skirt.

Pantone Challenge colors: main colour: Acai, slightly pastelled down. Accent colours in the appliqués: Emerald, Koi, even a touch of Vivacious.

Pattern:McCalls 3830. I’ve used this twice before so I’m counting it as zero cost.

Year: 2002

Time to complete: A couple of hours for the basic skirt, what seemed like an eternity (but is actually more like 13 hours) for applying and embroidering the appliqués!

First worn: On Sunday. And again Tuesday.

Wear again?: Definitely! It fits so well in with my existing wardrobe.

Total Cost: £12.35

The pattern is my faithful McCalls straight skirt- it’s dead simple, it’s just a plain straight skirt.

McCalls 3830

I went for mid-way between views C & D, so it’s on the knee. I did start by trying to make it a bit more A-line, by angling the side seams out, but it didn’t look right, so I cut them back to straight again. So essentially, I stuck to the pattern. I suspect I didn’t start the angling of the sides high up enough, I’ll know better next time I try it.

Stuff I did that was new for me:
The whole appliqué business. I’d decided from the off that I wanted to have a plain skirt that was embellished in some way, and when I found the accent fabric in my pitifully small stash, and the colours were so damn perfect for the challenge palette, as well as for my base fabric colour, it was self-evident to me that it would be cut-out shapes from the accent fabric appliquéd to the plain skirt. I might use different techniques another time, but I like what I did with it here. Basically, I cut shapes out from the accent fabric, tacked them onto the skirt, then used a rough satin stitch with black cotton perlé embroidery thread to fix them in place more permanently. The black embroidery gives the shapes clear definition, and adds a bit of texture to the skirt.

Appliqué Detail

Appliqué Detail- that black line at the bottom of the skirt is shadow, not an edging!

I also did a bound hem for the first time, which I think is really pretty and I’ll be doing again. I used a lilac satin bias binding, and it feels lovely on my legs!



Stuff that stressed me at the time:
The zip just would not behave!* It took four goes, and its still not one of my better zip insertions, but khalas, it’s done.

Having got started on the appliqué embroidery, I was overwhelmed by panic that it would take forever to do, and that I wouldn’t have enough supplies of embroidery cotton. I had visions of having to photograph the skirt only from the front because that was the only bit that I’d finished! Here, have a back view photo, to prove that I did complete the embroidery all the way round!

The Back View

The Back View

What I don’t love so much about this skirt:
I did zig-zags to finish the seams, and it’s just not as nice as turning & sewing, or adding a proper binding. So it’s not as pretty on the inside as I’d like. Lesson learned for next time- finish the seams more nicely.

What I DO love about this skirt:
The colour! I love love love the purple, and I also love that I’m wearing a colour that I’ve avoided like the plague for years, albeit in homeopathically small quantities and well away from my face- I’m not stupid!

I also do love the appliqués with quite a passion, and I will definitely be doing something like this again.

And since I have lots of photos of me up by the Castle, here’s a few more.

DSCF2046  DSCF2053


It’s been fun sewing this skirt, and you can check back over my earlier posts about this skirt using the “the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?!” tag in the list over on the right there. I loved the colour challenge, and I’m SO looking forward to seeing everyone else’s creations all together.

But the main thing this Challenge has taught me is that all those Sew Weekly Contributors were INSANELY productive!!! This skirt (a measly straight skirt for heaven’s sake, it’s not exactly ambitious!) took me two pretty intense weeks** to make (and a third week to get photographed nicely), and I was getting all panicky and stressed over it. The Sew Weekly contributors were making far more complex and amazing outfits in just one week, routinely, and taking it in their stride. Kudos to you all, Sew Weekly people- I salute your work!

And finally, because there always has to be *one* goofy shot, here’s the Alice Through the Looking Glass statue, because Lewis Carroll died in Guildford, because he stayed with his sisters who lived here, when he wasn’t at Oxford.

Béa Through the Looking Glass

Béa Through the Looking Glass

* It was all my own fault, not the poor zip’s.

** Well, to be honest, more like one easy messing-about week and one intense, stressy, panicky week.

So it’s not a “Challenge” unless there’s a challenge, right?

I’m suffering from a massive dose of Bitten Off More Than I Can Chew. I’m on the last bit of the Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge Skirt. I’m embroidering the appliqués. This is going to take a LOT of time. There’s only ten more days to finish this garment off in, and it looks like I’m going to be embroidering every spare minute I’ve got, to get it all done in time. This is only one evening’s work- aaarrrggghhh!!!

Edging commences

Edging commences

I’m doing a sort of rough satin stitch to cover all the rough edges of the appliqués. I chose black cotton perlé, because I thought it would have a bit of shine, which would be texturally interesting, and because black would show up the appliqué edges in a slightly cartoonish way, and (hahaha!) I thought it would go quicker. It’s going to be fine when it’s all done, but having got started on this tonight I’m giving myself the heebyjeebies. Also, I only got two skeins of perlé, and I fear I’m going to need way more, and there was only one skein left in black in Pandora’s, and none of the other shops in town stock it. Eeep! I wonder how quickly I can get some on ebay…

On a more positive note, and in the full confidence that I *will* get all that embroidering done in plenty of time, while I was in Pandora’s getting the cotton perlé, I also found a pretty lilac satin binding for the hem.

I’ve got the September Fall For Cotton challenge in the back of my head. For now I’ve got no idea what I’m going to be sewing for that, but I’m going to be going fabric shopping in the next week or so, which will firm up what my plans are for that.


Edited two days later, to add:

I’ve stopped hyperventilating! I bought that last remaining skein of embroidery thread, and did a load of measuring and calculating, and I’m fairly sure that I can just about manage the remaining embroidery out of that third skein, if I’m frugal. Also, I’ve done a SHEDLOAD of embroidering, and I’m nearly done. I reckon I can finish the edging tonight. Which only leaves the hemming to worry about. So my fears about not having the right materials and not being finished in time are allayed.

However, I am still unsure of how I’m going to photograph this skirt to make it look nice. It may be a case of wandering around the park over the bank holiday weekend, asking random strangers to photograph me!

Progress on the TSWR skirt

The basic skirt is all done, bar the appliqué work and the hemming. I got started on the appliqué work tonight.

I had got some shapes cut out from the pattern fabric, but what I’d already cut seemed like it wasn’t going to be enough so I cut out a few more last bits. Then it was a case of sorting out placement. Of course, that’s when I found out that actually I had cut out enough bits… That’s just the way of the world, of course.

Once I’d sorted out the positioning, it was the mammoth task of tacking it all in place. I thought that was going to take aaaaaaaaaaaages, but actually, once I got going, it went pretty quickly. So it’s all tacked and I’m happy with how it looks. Now I need to work out exactly how I’m going to work the embroidery. That’s a job for tomorrow.

For now, here’s how part of it looks.

Appliqué progress

Appliqué progress

TSWR Challenge thoughts

I’ve actually managed to finalise my plans. I’m actually going to be doing a small amount of stashbusting, as I’ve identified some fabric from my tiny-weeny stash that is just *perfect* for my appliqué plans. Behold!



I bought it last year to make a gift for a Secret Santa Exchange, and the giftee’s favourite colours were purple and orange. I kept the leftover bits  but I never  thought I’d ever use this floral fabric for myself, because orange tends to make me look like I’d died three weeks ago. But when I was trying to work out what to do about the appliquéing I half remembered this, and pulled it out from the bottom of the bag of fabric, and realised it’s *perfect* colour toning for my purple base fabric and for the whole TSW colour scheme. It includes the Acai purple, the Emerald green and the Koi orange. There’s even a touch of the Vivacious pink. I could even allow a touch of orange to slip in, because it’s going to be far enough away from my face that it shouldn’t be too killing. But if I don’t want to, there’s plenty of scope for avoiding the orange bits when I cut out my appliqués.

So I’m feeling well prepped, and it’s time to start cutting. I’m using a pattern I’ve used before, so I don’t have to do any faffing about with grading and tweaking- all that’s been done already, so it’s all systems go…


I managed to get to Fabricland yesterday, and do my SWR shopping in 20 minutes from getting out of the car to getting back in it (parking restrictions combined with shop closing times will do that for a person). I had done my dance demo at the Sunbury Regatta, and done a lot of talking to passers-by about Adult Learning, and handing out leaflets and course guides and generally being helpful. I managed to bunk off in the late afternoon and head for Kingston, where the nearest Fabricland shop is. I haven’t ever driven around Kingston before, which is a minefield of one-way systems, but I did manage to find the shop, and get in, browse, and buy, pretty damn quickly.

I didn’t have the Pantone colours printed out- I figured my colour memory is reasonably good, and the colours I had in mind were firmly in my head. I didn’t have any specific project ideas, I was waiting for the Inspiration Fairy to wallop me with her stick. I got drawn to a lovely drapey pink/grey print, but it wasn’t pulling quite hard enough.

I looked at the plain cotton drills, because I was thinking I might want to make a skirt with some embroidery/appliqué embellishment, and both of those are going to work best with plains. I ended up going with this purple, because I decided that would be a good plain base to go on from. It’s in the Acai range, though slightly pastelled down. It’s a more intense purple than this photo makes it appear.

Purple cotton drill

Purple cotton drill

But as ever, I lingered longest in the prints! I have surprised myself by not going for any florals. I loved this groovy abstract print, and it works for the Emerald colour scheme, and falls happily into my teal/turquoise colour range. Again, my camera hasn’t captured its full greenness- it’s a proper tealy green. It’s telling me that it needs to be made into one of those big skirted summer dresses. Perhaps not quite in the “Autumn/Fall” spirit of the Challenge? I’m not sure…

Groovy Pucci style print- yeah baby!

Groovy Pucci style print- yeah baby!

After choosing two good potential candidates for the Challenge, I reckoned I could go a little off-piste with those prints. I had seen a gorgeous Flamingo print on the fabricland website which I thought would be fun, but when I saw it in the flesh, the colours turned out to be not quite right for me. But I fell in love with this fishy print, that made me think of a wonderful holiday I spent in the Maldives a long time ago. This is another potential fouffy summer dress. I think I’m going to go off and pootle around Pinterest, to get some stripey/directional contrasts inspiration- up & down for the bodice, across for the skirt, maybe? Oh lordy! I’ve just realised, I’d have to be very careful to make sure I don’t end up with fish-nipple! And yeah, for the one fabric where the correctness of the colour representation is irrelevant, *this* is the one that comes out realistically!

Tropical fish and dolphins swimming up and down

Tropical fish and dolphins swimming up and down

The Sew Weekly Reunion- Theme

The theme has been announced. It’s the The Pantone Challenge!

Pantone Autumn 2013 palette

Pantone Fashion Colour Report – Autumn 2013 palette

These are good colours, and I can certain get down with Emerald. Acai, Samba and Vivacious. I’m thinking Turbulence would be a good neutral, and I’m thinking already about how I could put all these colours together (well, not *all* of them in the same outfit!). These all fit beautifully into my own personal colour schemes.

It’s going to depend largely on what fabric I can find.  I don’t have a massive stash, and nothing in the little one I’ve got fits in this palette. Though heaven knows why not- some of those colours are screaming “Béa!”. So I’m going to have to wait till I get the fabric inspiration. Unfortunately, I’m off to dance Summer School tomorrow- one week of full-on bellydance goodness. So I can’t see myself getting anywhere near a fabric shop for the next ten days or so. Nothing like putting myself under pressure, eh? And until I choose fabric, I don’t really know what I’d like to make.

First thoughts, though, are:

– It’s the Autumn palette, so even though it’s August now, I should be working on the basis of this garment being an autumn item.

– I might not go all adventurous for this make, but I would really like it to be a decorated item. Whether that means some embroidery or appliqué, or some other embellishment technique, I won’t know till I get started, but there *will* be decoration.

– Also, it would be really cool if I could incorporate something I receive from the patterns & notions swap, and that probably won’t arrive for a good week or so, if it’s coming from overseas. And if I have to sign for it I won’t be around for next week, anyway.

In related news, I sent my parcel off yesterday- it’s going overseas, and I’ll be tracking it anxiously, like a mother whose child is on a gap year trip! So far tracking shows my parcel “has been passed to the overseas postal service for delivery in redacted foreign country” though I guess all that means is it’s been sent to Heathrow sorting office!


I’ve just committed to an online sewing challenge!

Over on the right there, you’ll see a button for The Sew Weekly Reunion. Sew Weekly was one of the first sewing blogs I got hooked on last year, and I miss seeing all those amazing weekly creations and reading all about their makers’ creative processes. So when Debi from My Happy Sewing Place posted about a Reunion, to which we were all invited, I headed right on over there. I thought about it for a moment, and thought to myself, “hey, it gives us a whole month, a thirty-one day month at that- what could possibly go wrong?”. I conveniently ignored that I’ll be away at Bellydance Summer School for a week of that month. Pfft, that’s only one week, right?

So I’ve signed up for it, and posted the button there on the right. I guess that’s a great big public “I’m in” declaration!