Category Archives: Skirts

What’s next on the docket?

Jack and I had a wonderful time at my friend Kate’s house in Long Island this weekend.  Very relaxing and fun.  Jack had a blast in the pool and playing with the older kids.  I hope you all had a lovely weekend as well. 

I have started work on my next project, which I will tell you about in a sec, but I wanted to let you know (at the risk of being TMI) that my sewing will slow down significantly over the next few months as I am dipping my toes into the dating pool again and will have less time to devote to sewing.  I consider the first few months of dating like a second job in terms of the time commitment it requires.  Lots of interviewing candidates before you find someone remotely interesting.  Sound like fun?  NOT!  But I have come to the realization that a) I am ready to get back into the game again, and b) I ain’t getting any younger.  Now’s the time!  Carpe diem and all that.  Do I sound enthused?  😉   

My next project is a pleated skirt, Simplicity 2698, the shorter red print version on the left. 

I have had a certain fabric burning a hole in my stash from Fabricmart and I have to use it pronto.  Incidentally, Carolyn made a gorgeous jacket using this fabric.  Check it out!

Orange Chrysanthemum silk twill from Fabric Mart

When I originally bought the pattern, I still was in denial about my “number”.  You know what I mean…  What pattern size I am.  No way was I buying the pattern envelope with all the large sizes in it.  Now I am older, wiser and have calmly accepted the fact that I am a larger size.  Are you laughing at me yet?  The largest size in this envelope is 12.  I think realistically I’m inbetween a size 14 and 16.  I think it’s fairly simple to grade this pattern up and asked Thea how I might do so.  She wrote that I could take some inches out of the pleats or I could just add extra to the sides.  I think I am just going to add to the sides as I like how big the pleats are.  I just realized though that the back of the skirt is not pleated and I think I want it to be.  Thoughts people?  Do I want pleats in the back?  If so, would I just use the front pattern piece for the front and back?  Am I being stupid?

Last night I traced the pattern to make my muslin.  Tonight I will cut and sew it up.  Wish me luck.

By the way, here’s my sewing plan for the next couple of months:

  1. Churn out some pleated skirts using the chrysanthemum fabric, the navy stretch cotton from my first pair of pants (capris) and the khaki cotton I bought from Metro Textiles ages ago to make more pants.
  2. Audition/muslin several sheath dresses for my TNT project and for the family wedding in September.
  3. Work on my fall coat for the Trench Sew Along II.

With my new “second job”, this plan seems a little ambitious, but I think it can be doable.  The second job also threatens my 2010 goals, but I will try to keep my eye on the ball.  Life happens I guess; you can’t plan for everything. 

Happy sewing everyone!

Nothing is ever simple

I made my garment for Thea’s challenge!  It was not as simple to execute as it was to think of it.  ;0   But I am really happy with it and will wear it a lot this summer, I can already tell.  The most time was spent figuring out how wide to cut the rectangles for the front and back of the skirt.  It was hard for me to know how much fabric would hang around my thighs/legs after the shirring on the waist was done.  In the end I just guesstimated at 26 inches (my hips are 39 and shirring decreases the width by half), so that meant that my finished skirt circumference ended up being 52 inches.  And I loved the fullness of the skirt or the lack of it actually; the extra 13 inches do not add bulk to my figure, especially in this swishy knit fabric. 

The second time suck was testing the rolled hem stitch of my serger on my fabric.  It took F.O.R.E.V.E.R.  And then testing the shirring.  The actual construction of the skirt took only about an hour.  But all the prep increased that time by about 3.5 hours for a total of 4.5.  I guess the point of the challenge was about sewing creatively and not how fast you can churn something out, but I was still annoyed at how long it took and that I went to bed way past my already late bedtime.  *sigh*

But I have a new skirt to wear!  The only negative about this skirt is that the shirring is not a taut as I thought it would be. So one hard yank from a toddler running berserk my darling son asking for my attention and you will be able to London AND France.  *wink wink*

Anyhoo, without too much further ado, the reveal (for some reason I can’t take decent pictures of myself anymore.  Can’t figure it out)…

shirred waist with rolled hem edge

rolled hem courtesy of my serger

slightly blurry and unflattering picture of me wearing my skirt

Please let me know in the comments if any of you have finished your challenge sewing yet and I will set up the shutterfly page.

This weekend is the long July 4th weekend here in the states.  Jack and I have been invited to a friends house in the “country” (aka the suburbs).  I am very excited to have the distraction for him and me during a long weekend especially since my sister is out of town.  But this means I will probably get no sewing done this weekend because of it.  But I’m ok with that.  I am a mother first and sewist after that.  Not vice versa.  My friend even went so far as to mention she didn’t have a sewing machine!!!  So funny.

I hope you all have great weekends and that some of you get to sew!  Can’t wait to see what you’re all up to.

The zebra print that never was

The next thing on my list to make was a skirt (using my TNT pattern, Simplicity 2452) using my newly purchased zebra print cotton pique from Elliott Berman Textiles.  Imagine my surprise when I pulled out said fabric and it wasn’t a zebra print, but was, in fact, a graphic plant print.  I think it’s bamboo leaves, but am not sure.  So here I was thinking I was being so on trend with a soon to be made zebra print skirt and it’s just a bamboo leaf print.  Oh well.  My memory ain’t what it used to be I guess.

At any rate, I love my new skirt!  Nothing much to report on the construction other than that I should have listened to my inner voice and underlined the cotton pique.  It’s a loose weave and quickly loses its shape.  Underlining would have helped with wrinkling as well.  Oh well, I still love the skirt and am wearing it to work.  It still took three days to make it though.  I don’t seem to be getting any faster here folks.  I am a little frustrated by that, but I am still managing to make wearable items.  So I guess I should just be thankful.  *big sigh* 

Oh one cool thing about this TNT skirt that I did differently with this iteration.  After I had finished the construction of both fashion fabric and lining, I tried it on.  And. It. Was. Too. Big!!!  I had to take in the side seams at the hips about 3/8 on both front and back for a total reduction of 1.5 inches.  I guess my workouts have been working.  *pats self on back*  The scale tells a different story (haven’t lost a pound), but at least my clothes are fitting differently.  I probably should change the facing as well, but I had already done all the work and wasn’t going to completely redo the whole skirt. 

But enough wordy stuff already.  Here’s the proof of the pudding (with Jack’s cousins as extra cute bits)…

Happy sewing everyone!

What I did on my summer vacation

Warning:  Really long and picture heavy post.  

As I mentioned in my last post, I am on vacation this week.  I always take the week of Jack’s birthday off and my parents come and visit.  We’ve had a great time so far.  Me especially.  I took advantage of every down minute I had to work with my wondrous new fabric from Elliott Berman (Lindsay T did an excellent review of this store).  I visited their showroom last Friday with Lindsay T, Carolyn, and Allison.    

at Mood fabrics

At Elliott Berman

I walked out with this beautiful, beautiful fabric by Christian LaCroix.  It’s the most expensive fabric I’ve bought to date.  Now I know a lot of sewists save their expensive fabrics for special projects, but I knew right away what I was going to make with this fabric, a pencil skirt.  This fabric needed a simple pattern that would showcase its beauty and a pencil skirt with no waistband fit the bill perfectly.  And wouldn’t you know, but I just so happen to have a pencil skirt pattern ready to go, Simplicity 2452.  

If you will recall, I wanted to tweak the pattern a bit the next time I made it, so I went ahead and added my tweaks.  I changed the side zip to a center back zip.  I changed the vent to a slit.  And then I….  

Wait, are you sitting down?  

Ok, I. DRAFTED. MY. OWN. FACING.  Did you hear that?  I drafted my own facing.  No really, I did.  Ordinarily, I would pester or hound email Thea or Karen for advice on how to do a facing.  Or I would google it for hours on end.  But not this time.  I had a deadline —  a family dinner at a French restaurant on Wednesday night.  Come hell or high water I was going to wear my Christian LaCroix skirt to that dinner.  So, I just did it.  No ambivalence.  No over thinking the problem or task at hand.  I just drafted a facing.  I laid out my skirt (at this point it was mostly constructed and I am slightly going out of order here in the telling of this tale, but that’s my prerogative, isn’t it?) and flattened it out as much as possible.  I traced the top of the skirt onto pattern paper and cut it out.  I meant to make a two inch facing, but forgot to include one of the seam allowances so it ended up being a 1.5 inch facing.  Hey, cut me some slack!  This was my first time drafting anything.  Sheesh!  I chose to add a facing to this pattern as I didn’t really like the twill tape method that I used (per the instructions) in my last skirt.  Let me tell you folks… The facing is a superior method.  My skirt feels so nice on and really sturdy.  I interfaced it as well so it’s really substantial; that waist is not gonna stretch out.  No way!  

self drafted facings

finished facing

For the other beginners out there who have no idea how to draft or prepare lining patterns, I will explain how I went about creating the lining for this skirt.  If I wasn’t adding a facing, I would just used the skirt pattern pieces and be done with it.  But I since I did add a facing, I had to deduct area of the facing from the area of the lining.  I thought about using the same method of laying out my skirt shell and copying it with tracing paper, but with the darts, it was already a 3D garment.  So what I ended up doing was the following (I didn’t have time to research another way, so if there is a better method out there please let me know):  I constructed the lining the same as the skirt, including the stay stitching and all the darts.  Then I sewed another line of stay stitching 3 inches down from the top of my prepared lining.  Once that was done, I cut a 1/2 inch above that.  That way I included my seam allowance and it was exactly where the facing left off.  When I sewed them together, they matched flawlessly.  Ta-da!  

I did ask Lindsay T for some advice in handling this fabric as I know she’s had a lot of experience with fancier fabrics and she had seen and felt the fabric in person.  She suggested that I underline it with organza.  I didn’t have any organza or time to shop for it.  So I punted and used some ivory cotton batiste I had on hand.  I cut it out exactly like the skirt pieces, no added width.  I didn’t know at that point that I could have french seamed at the same time as underlining; I found that out after I google for underlining tutorials.  Laura Lo has a great tutorial (and can I just take a minute to say how much I really miss her blog.  I love her sense of style and the great tutorials she provided and, most of all, seeing all the beautiful clothes she made).  Since my fabric was real ravelly, I knew I was going to serge the SA’s anyway.  So I serged them together with the batiste.  One note: I did construct the underlining separately from the fabric before basting.  And I pressed the darts the opposite direction of the fashion fabric.  

  

Another thing that I had to differently for this special fabric was I had to thread trace the darts as chalk or tracing paper would not work on this weave.   This worked really well, but was time consuming.   

darts are thread traced

Basically this skirt was easy to sew, but with the underlining, the facing and lining, I added a lot steps to the process.  I think with all the hand sewing I did (basting the underlining, attaching the lining to the zipper, tacking down the lining to the slit, hand sewing the hem, etc) I have over 20 hours clocked in on this skirt.  But I love it.  This is my princess skirt.  I feel so pretty wearing it.  It feels substantial.  It is the most professional garment I have made yet and I am really proud of it.  

Now for some more pictures…  

Front

The only cutting error I made was on the front, but it’s really minor and I think only other sewists will notice.  I was so careful to cut on one of the lines of the pattern for the hem, but didn’t notice or line up the diamonds in the center of the skirt.  I was more careful with the back.   

back

On Monday, I dragged took Jack to P&S Fabrics in search of suitable matching lining for my skirt.  He was a good sport about it.  I bought a lot of lining actually as it was only $2.50/yd there.  I only bought 1 yd of the lilac though as I thought I wouldn’t probably use it again.  I found some lilac stretch lace in my lace stash; it was a perfect match.  I’ve always admired Carolyn’s lace hems for her linings and wanted to try it out.   I love it and will definitely do it again and again!

lining with lace hem

I used an invisible zipper and inserted it perfectly on the first try.  I hope I’m not jinxing myself for future zippers.  My only difficulty is getting the top to be even.  Hmm… not sure what’s going on with that.  The fabric lines up beautifully though and there’s no puckering at the base, so I am happy with it.  

invisible zipper with hand stitched lining

invisible zipper, check out that fabric matching!

I forgot to mention that I used the “wrong” side of the fabric.  While I adore the much more silvery “right” side, it was just a little too blingy for every day use.  Since I want to be able to wear this to work, I used the side that had more black showing than silver.  *Sigh*  

Are you sick of the pictures yet?  

hand sewn hem

Slit interior, lining is tacked onto the fashion fabric

And now for some pictures of the skirt on me, courtesy of my sister.  Thanks Mer!  

  

  

  

If you’re still here after this long post, thank you!  I am so excited about this skirt.  It has a lot of firsts in it for me:  

  • Drafting!  Wow, still can’t believe I pulled this one off.
  • Underlining
  • Lace hem
  • Working with very fancy fabric

Thank you’s are warranted for Lindsay T, Carolyn, Karen and of course, where would I be without my fantastic teacher, Thea.  Thank you all for your patience and for sharing your expertise with me.  

I did wear my skirt to dinner this past Wednesday and love it.  I am going to wear it to Jack’s bday party too, inappropriate  though it might be for a 3 yr old gymnastics party.    😉   

Not sure what I’m working on next, still basking in the glow of this project.  Happy sewing to you though!

Pattern Review – Simplicity 2452

 

I just posted my review on PatternReview.com.  Here it is with added pictures of the construction of my skirt. 

 

 

 

Pattern Description: Misses’ jacket with front variations and skirt. I have made just the skirt so far but really like Jacket B and may make that in the future.

Pattern Sizing: 14-22, I made the sz 16 but took in the side seams a bit. I think the sizing on this pattern is pretty true to size. I initially made a 14 out of vanity, but my measurements said to make a 16. 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, but maybe not as form-fitting.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were. I guess my ability to translate sewing pattern directions is getting better. 😉

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the simplicity of the lines of the skirt. I am looking for a simple pencil skirt to use as a TNT skirt for my work wardrobe.

Fabric Used: Wool stretch suiting from Paron’s in NYC — similar to the grey stretch suiting I bought from there as well, but the hand was different from the grey. The brown suiting feels a little more synthetic. Not my fave, but fine for this project. And the color fills a major hole in my work wardrobe.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I shortened the skirt by 1.25 inches. The pattern calls for a 1.25 inch hem allowance but that covered my knee. I have noticed that hemlines have been creeping up lately and wanted to be in synch with everyone else at my workplace. I personally think a hemline below my knee is more flattering as my thighs and knees are a little chunky, but thought I should try out the shorter length and see how I felt. I think I will keep it at the shorter length; it feels more current and less school marmish.

As for sizing, I basically made a skirt that was between a sz 14 and sz 16 based on the fact that my sz 14 muslin was too tight in a rather compromising way. I pinned out the extra width on the skirt of the sz 16 at the side seams and altered the pattern to match, about 1/4 inch on each side for a total of an inch decrease on the circumference of the skirt.

I added a lining to this skirt even though the pattern is for an unlined skirt. Rant: I understand pattern companies needing to attract new sewists by offering easy, unlined patterns but I think they’re doing a disservice to us instead. Just because we are beginners, doesn’t mean that we don’t want a finished look and a complete garment. The frustrations we endure trying to add the elements of a garment they leave out actually deter us from having a great experience. For instance, due to the vent on this simple pencil skirt, I couldn’t just drop in a lining. Why? Because you have to construct the vent of the fashion fabric at the same time as the lining so that the individual vents work together, not separately or against each other. I did not know this and constructed my vent of the skirt separately from the lining and they fought each other. I had to unpick them both and resew them, together this time, to get the vent to work properly as walking ease as intended.  

Vent from right side

Vent from inside with lining attached

 

Check out that vent!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I am not sure if I will sew this skirt again, but mostly as a matter of taste. After making this skirt, which has no waistband, I think I know now that I prefer a waistband. I found using grosgrain ribbon (the pattern calls for twill tape, but I didn’t have any on hand) very fiddly. And I think I used the wrong size ribbon as it stuck out higher than it was supposed to, but doesn’t really show up on the finished garment when you wear it. If I were to make it again, I will insert the zipper at the center back as I think that kind of insertion is easier as it is not on a curved seam. I am not sure why, but after a day of wearing my skirt, the zipper has creeped higher than the waist band. Strange. 

sticky uppy zipper, hmmm....

Zipper inside with lining slipstitched to it

Conclusion: Good, workable skirt pattern. Instructions are good for an unlined skirt. Sizing is pretty true to pattern measurements. It’s a solid pattern, well worth checking out to see if it fits your life/tastes. 

Sneak Peek – Simplicity 2452 and New Look 6901

Full reviews coming tonight.  But until then, here’s a sneak peek at what I am wearing to work today.  I know…  I’m such a tease.

I know you’ve already seen the top before, but this is really how I want to style it.  I will be sucking in my stomach all day though.  😉 

Confession: I haven’t worn a skirt this short in a long time.  I know it’s not that short, but I don’t think my knees are my best bit, so I feel a little self-conscious.  But one must be fashionable, n’est ce pas?

P.S.  I lied in my last post about this skirt.  I said I wasn’t going to undo the vent.  Well, I did.  The perfectionist in me couldn’t leave it be.  *sigh*

Plain Vanilla

This is the skirt I’m working on right now, Simplicity 2452.  It’s part of my TNT project (the search for work wardrobe basics that fit well, look good and that I can make over and over again).  It’s a simple, no waist band, 4 dart, 3 piece, pencil skirt with vent pattern.  I’ve had my doubts about this pattern along the way, but with proper fitting and the right fabric, I think it can be a winner.  However, as my close friends and family will no doubt attest, I have this habit of complicating things.  I know.  Weird, right?  So I took this simple skirt and complicated it up by adding a lining and thinking I am really smart to add a grosgrain ribbon at the waist to stabilize it.  I’ve added linings before to patterns.  Sure it’s a lot of extra steps, but it’s relatively easy. 

Easy that is, if you use a simple, plain vanilla pattern.  I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t she just say that this skirt was simple?”  Why yes, I did, but I also said it had a vent, didn’t I?  A vent in and of itself is relatively harmless and quite useful to have if you want to walk while wearing your pencil skirt.  But when you want to add a lining, the vent on this otherwise innocuous and simple skirt becomes quite troublesome.

I was patting myself on the back that I remembered to construct the lining with the vent going the exact opposite direction of the skirt so it would mirror image it when put together, until Thea, my teacher and I started to work on adding the ribbon and lining last night.  That’s when I realized, I should not have finished the vents on the fabric and lining independently of each other. 

Let me tell you who my nemesis is when it comes to sewing: ORDER. OF. CONSTRUCTION.  I know that eventually I won’t make these stupid mistakes, but really.  Why can’t these patterns come with lining instructions????  Is it too much to ask that someone else do my thinking for me ahead of time?  Really???  Sheesh!

Anyway, here’s my advice to the other beginners out there struggling, as I am, each step of the way.  If you’re going to add stuff and be “creative” with your patterns, you better be darn sure that those patterns are of the plain vanilla variety, at least until you have some skillz under your belt.  (Disclaimer: I love vanilla, so I mean no disrespect for this flavor. It’s actually my fave ice cream flavor.)

I am chalking this skirt up as a learning experience.  I am not undoing the vents and then sewing them back together.  I am going to wear it as is dammit.  And I am going to wear it proudly.  No one’s going to know but me and I really stitched those vents closed but good.  It would take hours of unpicking to get them apart again.  I sewed it down with several lines of stitching each to make sure they wouldn’t rip apart.  And boy am I sure now. 

In other sewing news, Thea and I figured out a work around for the Knip Mode skirt.  But I will save that story for another time. 

Until then, happy sewing!