Category Archives: Skirts

Detour to Wadderville

OMG! What happened here?  Things were going swimmingly well with my version of the Knip Mode skirt… that is, until tonight.  I bagged the lining and attached the waistband last night.  Tonight was going to be all about the buttons and buttonholes.  I was at my sewing machine testing my buttonholes out on the fabric and checking to see if I liked how my Emerald 183 attached the buttons by 8:15 this evening. (Oh, fyi, I decided to go with the white buttons.) 

The testing was very successful.  I cracked my knuckles and got to marking  my buttonholes and button placements on the skirt.  The first pleat was beautiful.  The rest of the pleats are one fat droopy, slobbery mess.  Ok, there was no actual drool involved, but if pleats could drool, these would be dripping oceans of drool.

Where did I go wrong?  I ask you.  I beg you.   Can this wadder be moved back to the land of beautiful clothes?  (Oh, and if it could make me look 20 lbs thinner, I wouldn’t complain.)

Here’s my sad wadder:

And here’s Cidell’s gorgeous sculplted pleat beauty, full of life and awesomeness:

Cidell's amazing Knip Mode perfection

My skirt needs a makeover.  HELP!!! 

Any and all suggestions will be desperately accepted.  Thank you!


Thea saves the day

I am a little late in writing this post about my lesson last week, but better late than never.  And a warning – this is a long post.

If you will recall I had made two muslins recently that required either a trash can or resuscitation,  The grandma skirt and the knit top from hell.  That post generated the most comments I have ever received for any one post.  I was overwhelmed by all of the kind words and moral support you provided as well as for all of the good ideas.  Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for putting up with my whining about my weight and pattern sizes.  I’d like to highlight some of the comments:

Faye shared: “I am in the SAME boat … I still need clothes so I sew for where I am now, and will when I do lose the weight, I’ll sew for where I am then.”  I know you’re right, that I should sew for the body I have now, but I don’t want to.  *stamping foot like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum*  My urge to sew is negatively correlated to how out of shape I am, unfortunately.  Ugh! 

Sue suggested: “… none of us are going to fit into any clothing/pattern without some tweaking.”  As I shared with Karen on the phone the other night, I stupidly assumed that, after the sz 14 turned out to be too small, of course the sz 16 would be just right and would require no tweaking at all.  WRONG!

Robin mentioned: “I have TNT patterns that I use over and over.  When I want a new style, I work out a frankenpattern, rather than try to sew a muslin from a commercial pattern.”  I haven’t been sewing (i.e., producing) long enough to have any TNT patterns yet.  In fact, muslining the Simplicity skirt was my first attempt to find a TNT pencil skirt (post on TNT’s still in the works).  Read on further in this post, however, for more progress on this front.

Hatty pointed out: “Oh and another thing — what’s in your construction queue — that Burda cardi/jacket thing — that’s a definite no-no unless you are feeling devastatingly attractive and tall and willowy.”  OMG!  You’re right!  I am taking that out of the queue pronto.  Thanks for saving me from some more frumpy angst!

Helen bravely brought up: “You know, underneath all the stuff about your size there is that disturbing comment about ‘not expecting to date’ for some time, which we are all politely ignoring because it is so worrying.”  You are right too Helen, I should not feel that I have to be skinny to date, but while I understand that, I still can’t feel motivation to date when I don’t feel good about myself.  It’s a little bit of a catch 22.  But hopefully, after somehow working in working out again, I will feel better about myself and feel the urge to get out into the fray again.  The problem is, though, as a single parent, it’s hard to find time to work out without having to pay a babysitter to do so.  I can do it, but it’s a tricky business, can be expensive and you have to be extremely motivated work it into your schedule.

JC asked: “Did you enjoy your sew fast sew easy class?  Yes, I did.  I wrote a couple of posts about the projects I worked on in that class where I detail what I learned.  Check them out!  I highly recommend their classes.  However, one of the reasons I have Thea as my teacher now is that she comes to my apartment so I don’t have to pay babysitting on top of the class fee.

Now back to my muslin disasters…  I showed them to Thea and we went to work on them.  For the skirt, Simplicity 2452, I just needed to nip in at the hips and down the sides of the skirt a 1/4 inch on each side seam as the waist was fine.  When it was pinned to the correct size, the skirt looked exactly the way I wanted it to look: fitted but not too fitted.  It was the pencil skirt I have been searching for; the grandma skirt had disappeared.  Yeah!  I used the french curve ruler to redraw the pattern taking it in a 1/4 inch.  It was pretty easy actually.  See my adjusted pattern below.  So this could be my TNT pencil skirt pattern.  I am going to finish up this skirt even though the more I work with the fabric, the more I dislike it and I’m going to add a lining.  I want to see how it looks all finished to be sure I like this skirt pattern before I cut into any of my nice suiting fabrics.  I don’t want to make any more “muslins” for this pattern if I can help it.  🙂

2452 pencil skirt hip alteration

I haven’t finished the skirt so no pictures yet.  Be patient dear readers. 

Next I tried on the knit top for Thea and she thought it looked just fine on me.  She thought the pulling/wrinkles on the bust were part of the drape and didn’t bother her at all.  She liked the top.  I looked at it again with kinder eyes and just may agree.  Although I am waffling on it since I still feel self conscious about my thick middle section.  Thea said we could add a little more to the side seams on the front pattern piece under the arms for more room for the bust and see what happens.  I think I may try that in my ugly dots knit fabric.  Again, I don’t want to waste any of my nice knits on another muslin.  While Thea was there, I sewed on one of the sleeves and I had my first experience of too much sleeve cap ease.  New Look requires you to gather the sleeve cap before inserting the sleeve.  Ridiculous!  It’s a pattern for a knit fabric people!  How about just drafting a knit sleeve cap that fits into the armscye?  Brilliant idea.  Now let’s do that from now on.  I asked Thea to redraw the sleeve cap as I hadn’t a clue as to how to do that.  I’ll try it out the new sleeve along with the new front pattern piece on my next iteration of this top. 

6901 altered sleeve pattern piece

crappy sleeve insertion due to excess sleeve cap

lovely drape front -- best feature of the top

I thought I could salvage this top by removing the back neck facing and finishing it in another fashion, but I can’t remove the facing for the life of me.  It’s on there but good.  I could only get two inches unattached.  I am admitting defeat with this iteration.

the gosh durned stubborn back facing

The reason why I am working so hard to make this top and skirt work is simple.  TNT’s people.  I need ’em.  I want ’em.  They’re worth the effort, the tweaking.  Once I get these two patterns working for me for how I look now, (*sigh*) I can start ramping up the wardrobe factory production because I need a lot more work clothes.  A lot.  I am sick and tired of what’s in the rotation. I want some variety and more of it.  And I want it NOW!!!  And to be truthful, it isn’t hard to make these patterns work for me and my body.  The changes are simple and easy, so it’s not like I am redrafting the pattern.  I just became easily discouraged at first.  I was focusing on the wrong thing, my body, not the fit of the pattern.  Not that I shouldn’t get in shape or anything, but I can and will sew for the body I have now.  It will take time and much effort to get back to where I want to be, shape-wise, and I am going to need to clothe myself in the interim.  So I better get cracking!

So I am going to do a little poll with New Look 6901.  I will show you a picture of me wearing the top and you let me know via the poll what you think.  Deal?

Oh and I almost forgot!  Thea also looked at my alhambra clover fabric that was printed off-grain.  She thinks it just needs a  better pressing than I gave it previously and it should be fine.  Wow!  I can’t tell you how relieved I was.  However, I think I need a little time off from this fabric for a while before I reattempt cutting it again.  We need a break from each other. 

Happy tweaking everyone!

Drunk Printing

So this is what I think happened… 

Guy printing stretch cotton: “Whoa, maybe I had a few too many at lunch today.” Unprinted Stretch Cotton: “Step away from me pal!”

Alhambra Clover Print Design: “We like the straight grain, only the straight grain dude!” 

Guy: “This looks ok, maybe no one will notice.” 

Fabric store owner who shall remain nameless: “Maybe no one will notice.” 

Me: “ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” 

lame hand drawn graphic


Thank you all for your supportive comments about my recent discovery of some badly printed fabric that I bought way back in 2008.  My fabric was not only printed off grain, but it begins to skew in the middle of the pattern ever so slightly.  Enough that there is no way to match the print at all, no matter what method is used.  See my “graphic” above for my expert visual illustration of this problem (the writing tablet lines are the straight grain of my fabric, the green lines are the pattern printed on my fabric).  I’ve tried cutting in single layers, I’ve tried matching it up on different parts of my 3 yd cut.  I’ve tried inverting the pattern piece. All to no avail.  I have officially given up on this fabric.  Sigh.  I really love the alhambra clover pattern too.  double sigh. 

By the way, I am trying to make Simplicity 2452, a pencil skirt.  I hope it will become my TNT pencil skirt, but that’s a discussion for another post.  

Simplicity 2452


What I’m trying to say is that this is all it took to stop my sewing mojo in it’s tracks for a couple of days.  Last night, in a fit of determination and before Jack went to bed and my closet of sewing stuff/stash was inaccessible for the evening, I looked at all of my fabric for a suitable stand in fabric to learn print matching at seams.  Unfortunately, I have a bad case of good-fabric-itis and don’t want to cut into any of those fabrics yet.  So I resorted to some slightly icky black (subtly striped) fabric left over from my class at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  It’s a stretch cotton.  I wanted to attempt matching the stripes using the Selfish Seamstress’ discovery of the easiest way to match stripes/plaids.  I think my stripes were too irregular and too subtle for this method, but I still recommend it as it looks like it works.    However, I also looked at my patterns for a good knit top pattern to make some tops for my suits.  I don’t have a lot of work appropriate separates and desperately need to grow my wardrobe.  However, after perusing my pattern stash and all of my Burda’s, I couldn’t find anything!!!!  My parameters were easy, work appropriate and attractive.  Can I tell you that it seemed like I was asking too much?  If the pattern was easy, it was shapeless and fugly.  If the pattern was attractive it looked to difficult.  I want knock out a few of these with my printed knits, not spend two weeks on one top.  

If anyone has any pattern suggestions for cute knit top, I am all ears. 

Tonight I am going to attempt S2452 with my slightly icky fabric.  I will consider it my 2nd muslin (the first muslin story is part of the TNT post to come).  

Happy sewing everyone!

Burda 11-2009-120 Skirt: Up close and personal

It was a race until the end, but yes, I am wearing my skirt today at work.  I was furiously hand sewing the hem last night at 1am, but I am proud to present to you this picture of me in Burda 11-2009-120. 


Here’s my pattern review a la

Pattern Description:  Burda’s text:  Together again — Getting back together must be celebrated, and that requires the right outfit! Our flared, knee-length tweed skirt with double-layered, inverted box pleat in front is chic and just the thing. 

Pattern Sizing:  Burda sizes 38-46; I muslined it at 38 and it was too small.  The 40 was just right and what I ended up making.  I guess I’m a 40 in Burda.  I would like to be a 38, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen anytime soon, unfortunately.  Another reviewer had mentioned that she thought this skirt ran large which is why I tried the 38 first, but that was not my experience. 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes!  I am so pleased!  I even used a tweed, just like the model. 

Were the instructions easy to follow?  They’re getting easier for me and not bad for Burda (even though I am severely disabled in the reading directions dept). I would recommend some changes regarding order of construction though (detailed below).  Burda does leave off most finishing details, so, as a beginner, you might not get a great looking and finished looking garment if you used their directions alone. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I LOVE (dare I say I am obsessed now?) with the pleats.  That is my favorite feature of this skirt.  LOVE. THEM.  I also liked that even though there is a lot of detail interest in this pattern, there’s actually very few pattern pieces and it’s really very simple to put together, if time consuming.  

Fabric Used:  A gorgeous brown wool tweed from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I am in love with this fabric.  It takes a press so well and it’s actually pretty stable with little to no fraying.  I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 

  • I added belt carriers to the back of the skirt using the top portion of the pocket pattern piece as my model to echo the pockets/carriers on the front of the skirt. 
  • I decided not to topstitch the yoke of the skirt as it would have been troublesome to do with all four belt carriers getting in the way.  It would have looked messy IMHO.
  • I changed the order of construction to sew the pockets on the skirt in the flat as another reviewer had suggested.  It’s so much easier than trying to sew them on over the hip curve once the side seams are sewn.  Also, make sure you follow Burda’s instructions on how to top stitch the pocket exactly in order to retain the functionality of the belt carriers.
  • Another reviewer found the lining pattern piece (the front piece minus the pleats) was too small.  I did not find this to be the case for me.
  • Finishing touches to add that Burda doesn’t mention:
       – grade the pleats to reduce bulk in the stomach area
       – tack pleats to skirt so that they remain in place as you walk
       – use hem tape to hem the tweed for an invisible hem
  • Thread tracing helps greatly with the pocket placement on the front of the skirt.  I highly recommend transferring the pattern markings to the front of the skirt using this method.
  • If you make this in tweed, consider using something other than the fashion fabric for the yoke facing as it creates bulk and is slightly itchy on the skin.  Ask me how I know.  😉
  • Another tweed concern is how to transfer pattern markings to the fabric on a folded pattern piece.  Obviously you’ll be using chalk as carbon paper won’t work on this fabric.  I also used pins to mark key reference points so when I turned the fabric over to mark the other side, I could be more precise with my markings.  Worked like a charm.   🙂
  • It pays to be exacting in your pleat placements.  The pleats are what makes this skirt special, so they need to be perfect.  It’s especially important to be exact on the top part of both pleats because as you wear the skirt, they tend to pull apart.  I thought I was careful, but if I make this again, I will have to pay extra attention to this area.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I definitely recommend this pattern, even to beginners if they have great sewing reference books or access to a teacher.  This skirt is a timeless staple for any kind of wardrobe.  I probably won’t sew it again in tweed, but maybe another one in a suiting fabric would be nice, like a black gabardine. 

Crazy stuff I did during this skirt making journey: 

  • It took me three attempts to insert the invisible zipper.  It wasn’t matching up placement wise on both sides of the seam.  I finally remember that I needed to mark on the zipper on both sides where the yoke/skirt seam was to get a good placement.  3rd try was the charm thankfully!
  • When attaching the lining to the skirt, I pinned  the front lining onto the back skirt.  Doh!  Luckily I figured that out before I actually took it to the sewing machine. 
  • Unfortunately, my luck ran out there as the next thing I proceeded to do was sew up both sides of the lining forgetting to keep one side open for the invisible zipper.  ARGH!  So after I unpicked the side seam and pinned the lining to the skirt I then realized I had unpicked the wrong side of the skirt.  Double ARGH!!!  So, back to unpicking I went.  Finally an hour later, I get the lining inserted and hand sewed the lining to the zipper.  Phew! 

Skills I could improve upon: 

  •  My hand sewing is not very professional looking.  I need to slow down this part of the process as well as just practicing it more so I get better at the different techniques.  although my hand sewn lining to the zipper tape is one part of which I am pretty proud.
  • I need a little more patience when sewing.  I think my finishing could have been a little better had I not self-imposed a deadline.

Conclusion:  Fabulous skirt.  Easy to make, pleats, tweedy loveliness….  What’s not to love?  I love it and highly recommend it to everyone.  I am pretty pleased with my skirt.  I don’t think it looks handmade from afar.  If you were to examine it up close you might see some wobbly stitching, some lining peeking through on the back belt carriers, but the pleats are too die for, if I do say so myself.  

And now for some down and dirty interior pictures… 

zipper interior with marking at yoke seam to match up


Perfect invisible zipper!


hem interior with hand sewn hem tape


pleats secured with sloppy tacks


lining hem


right side seam with a good join of the yoke seam


What’s up next?  I think a pencil skirt and learning how to match plaids or plaid like prints. 

Happy sewing everyone!


After writing about that four-letter word, budgeting, I have been a very good girl.  However, before I had my budgeting epiphany, I did make some on-line purchases.  Spurred by Caroline’s post about a yummy fabric, I went traipsing to’s site and attempted to purchase that fabric and some others (because why would anyone buy just one fabric when making an online purchase — that’s just not very time efficient!).  I say attempted because apparently I wasn’t the only one copying Carolyn taking Carolyn’s suggestion as it was sold out by the time they processed my order.  😦

I did, however, get some other beauties and here they are in living color…

hexagonal windowpane boucle (?)

silk and cotten blend suiting

rayon jersey print

cotton batiste print

I have no idea yet what I am going to make with these fabrics; I only know that I love them.  The first one is a boucle I think and it’s wonderfully thick and wooly (maybe it’s destined to be a Chanel type jacket???).  The silk and cotton blend suiting has the most gorgeous hand and drape.  I have to find the perfect skirt suit pattern to do it justice.  The rayon jersey will most likely be a summer dress.  And the cotton batiste print is sheer.  Not sure what I’ll make out of that, maybe a blouse?  I’ll have to see what the hand and drape is like after I wash it.

I’m almost finished with my Burda skirt.  I hope to plan on wearing it tomorrow.  I only have the lining insertion and hemming to do.  CAN’T WAIT!!!!  I am really proud of my work on this skirt.  I took my time, made sure to not work on it when tired or after two glasses of wine, and sewed cautiously. And it’s really paid off; I think the skirt looks fabulous.  Sure, there are few things that aren’t perfect, but I’m guessing that no one’s going to notice as it’s worn. 

Here’s a sneak peak…

Perfect invisible zipper!

Until tomorrow, happy sewing everyone!

New Obsession and Impromptu Meetup!

Carolyn’s post  of a few weeks ago catapulted me into a new realm of sewing I had heretofore managed to resist, vintage patterns.  After perusing her friend’s vintage pattern site, The Blue Gardenia, and falling in love with a few patterns there, I succumbed.  So now my new obsession is vintage patterns.  Good thing I’m on a budget now, otherwise I would be  OUT.  OF.  CONTROL!!! 

Take a look at my lovely purchases.  My favorite is the last one… 

McCalls 5021


Vogue 1990


Butterick 4515


And speaking of Carolyn, we met up last weekend in the Garment District.  I brought Jack with me and he was on his best behavior, if a little shy.  Carolyn was on a trim mission for her SWAP; I was there for moral support (remember that four-letter word “budget”?).  I did buy $12 worth of buttons (no pictures of them though), but mostly because Jack was entranced with them.  He loves anything small and shiny.  Carolyn bought him a button too!  I guess I’m not the only one who can’t resist his smile.  🙂 

Then Carolyn introduced me to Mood.  I had never gone before as I had heard that their service was bad and the fabric wasn’t marked adequately.  Well, apparently things at Mood have changed dramatically.  Each fabric section was marked clearly.  There were at least two staff people on hand in each section and all were very helpful.  The only customer service problem I saw was the need for more people at the registers — a small concern considering  everything else.  Oh and let’s not forget the wonderful selection and quality of fabrics to be had there.  I saw a gray suiting with a lavender pinstripe that I was dying to own.  And a wool Challis with a gorgeous abstract purple and gray print that sang to me as I passed by.  I showed it to Carolyn and she took a cut home with her.  *sigh of longing*  I can’t wait to see the dress she’ll make with that piece.  It will be stunning!  So, I am sold on Mood and will visit again when I am not on a strict budget (which should be about 2025).  

I am still working on my Burda skirt.  I am taking it slow; I want to make a very professional looking garment.  Last night I sewed the darts and sewed up the pleats.  The tweed, surprisingly, takes to pressing well and I have really crisp looking pleats now.  I love it!  I thought I would hate working with this fabric, but I am really pleased with the hand, and stability of it, and how nicely it takes to pleating.  Who knew?!  Tonight, I’m on to making and attaching the pockets (they’re lined) and attaching the waistband.  Yippee! 

Happy sewing everyone…

Burda Skirt Update

Confession:  It’s taken me over a week to cut out my fashion fabric, lining, transfer the pattern markings and interface the yoke on this damn oh-so-cute Burda skirt.  Why? I ask you for all that is holy did it take me so long.  Hmmm…  Well, let’s take into account the following: 

  1. I’m a beginner
  2. I have never worked with tweed before
  3. This pattern is easy but not the quick fix I thought it would be after the trench project
  4. I’m a beginner
  5. I tend to overthink things (no, really?)
  6. Jack was not being cooperative with bedtime four of the last 7 nights so I wasn’t able to work very much
  7. Oh, and did I mention that I’m a beginner?
  8. Double Oh, 24’s season premiere started this week.

Karen helped me out with some of my stupid duh questions, like: 

  • How do you transfer pattern markings to the opposite side of the folded pattern pieces if a tracing wheel and carbon paper don’t work on tweed?  Answer: Use tailor’s chalk.  Open up the fold and place the pattern piece on the opposite side and transfer markings separately.  DUH!!!  Or use thread tracing.  I did a little of both.
  • To pre-treat or not to pre-treat the polyester lining?  That is the question.  Answer: Not usually, but I steamed it with my iron just to be sure.  I don’t want to spend all this time on a skirt only to have it not wearable after one trip to the dry cleaners. WORD!

So, here’s how I accomplished transferring the markings to my fashion fabric, based on Karen’s suggestions above.  I don’t know if this is THE method to follow, but it worked for me, and I wanted to share it with you. 

Since this is a Burda pattern, the seam allowances are not included, so I first chalked the seam lines on the wrong side of the fabric (WS).  Then I used a ruler to mark the 1 inch seam allowances (SA).  I used 1 inch for my SA because I wanted to make sure I had some wiggle room if the next size up (sz 40) wasn’t enough to contain my ample curves.  *sigh*  Picture below. 

tailor's chalk markings


So one side of the folded pattern piece is marked.  Now to mark the second side.  I did not open the fabric as Karen suggested, because I thought of something else to do instead.  If anyone has an opinion (like, “you are a genius!!!” or “here’s some constructive criticism my dear”), please let me know in the comments.   Here’s what I did next:  I marked all nexus point with a pin so I could see where they showed up on the other side of the fold.  Then, when I placed the pattern tissue on the other side, I could match it up and chalk away confidently.  Ta da!!! 

Pins on opposite side of fold


They’re hard to see, but the pins are there.  Here’s the chalked up second side… 

Opposite side chalked


Next, I cut out the lining, no surprises there and I was back to the  tracing wheel/carbon paper method.  Phew! 

Then it came time to interface the yoke pieces.  And because I can’t complete a project without making one mistake, I cut out the yoke pieces without folding the interfacing and then wondered why it wasn’t long enough.  *big sigh*  I bought my fusible woven interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply and used Pam Erny’s method of taking the wrinkles out of fusible interfacing.  This time I cut it on the fold with yoke pattern piece and then trimmed about 1/8 inch off on all sides so that the interfacing lay slightly within the sewing lines of the fashion fabric piece.  This is to reduce bulk in the SA’s.  I made sure to use a hot iron, plenty of steam and to apply the iron at least 12 seconds on each piece.  I also started from the middle and pressing out to the edges so that there wouldn’t be any bubbles.  See below… 

interfaced yoke


Now here’s where the thread tracing came in handy.  On the front yoke pattern piece, there are placement markings for the skirt pockets.  I used thread tracing to show the placements on the right side (RS) of the fashion fabric for when I am ready to attach the pockets.  Aren’t I fancy?  Next thing you know, I’ll be sewing as professionally as Tany!  As if!  *big big sigh*  Here’s my not so pretty thread tracing… 

pocket placement thread tracing


Tonight I hope to sew a majority of the skirt.  I am not so much a beginner now where I delude myself into thinking I can finish it in one night (well, maybe if you’re Carolyn).  You can only pull the wool over my eyes a billion times before I catch on.  Yes, I am that quick! 

Happy sewing everyone!