A little while back I was feeling very uninspired and blah about everything. I was spending a whole lot of time on Pinterest and not actually creating anything for myself, and I was feeling terrible. There was lots of moping about and a hellava lot of indecision, made worse by reaching Sunday night again and feeling like I did nothing but work and work and work. But then I read this post by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. She put into words everything I hadn’t worked out for myself, and the comments… well… there was one that just made me cry (way to get strange looks from your husband I can tell you). Lauren said: “This post was like having someone turn on the lights for you, when you hadn’t even noticed it was getting dark out.”
Something had to be done. I still didn’t really feel that I could make a choice, but I could at least decide I could ask The Mister to pick something for me to make. I pulled together 2 or 3 options, things I’d made before so they weren’t too taxing, and got him to choose. Not really surprisingly, he picked this super cute polka-dotted, glasses-on-deer Echino print and the skirt from Vogue 1247.
All up, this took me 2 hours from cutting out to finishing – I was up past midnight but it was worth it. The skirt is a simple design but it is really lovely (albeit short) and it comes together really easily. The kangaroo pockets add an extra something, and if you don’t bother with the binding on the seams it is a very quick make.
I put a huge amount of effort into matching the front up (look at those deer on the pockets!) and making sure the deer placement was even – but I overestimated my yardage when it came to the back and I had to squeeze it out any old how. I figure I don’t have to look at that side so I’m not too worried. The ‘grellow’ colour just makes me happy (it does look terrible on my skin tone so it will have to be worn with stockings – but it will need to be worn with stockings anyway given the length), and the little glasses-wearing deer? Swoon.
I have this fabric in the black colourway as well so expect to see more hipster deer in my future!
Skirt: Vogue 1247 (skirt) in size 10 (no mods)
Fabric: 1m of Echino ‘Deer in Glasses’ in Chartreuse from Bolt of Cloth (linen/cotton and SO nice to sew)
(Oh, and if anyone is finding that images aren’t showing up on my posts could you let me know? They are only showing up for me 50% of the time at the moment for no apparent reason.)
I feel like a bit of a broken record here, but having stitches in my neck (nothing serious) mean I have been not able to do much sewing over the last week or so (recipe for insanity that – couldn’t even knit!).
Which means, unfortunately for you – more pencil skirts. So. Many. Pencil. Skirts.
Though I lie – the first, while based on my trusty Burdastyle Jenny, is in fact a super cute Mui Mui copycat based on this fantastic tutorial on Frau Fleur. If you have a pencil skirt pattern that you’ve already worked out the kinks to (or a skirt block) then this is a super easy make – especially when you have By Hand London’s handy circle skirt app to do all the maths for you.
This is made in some mysterious composition suiting that I got last year in Sydney – I feel like it must have at least some wool because I don’t usually buy poly, but who knows? It is spongey and frays like crazy, presses well, but is almost impossible to photograph. The closeup below attempts to show the colour – it is actually black and white, but is looking quite brown in the photos.
There’s not much I can actually say about this make – the hardest part is the endless hemming. I was going to do this one all fancy-like with bias binding, and had it all on and perfect before I worked out that I had sewn it on the wrong damn side. I was not going to unpick it all so off it was chopped. I actually like the length (thank goodness), though, as with any flippy skirt, the risk of wardrobe malfunction is always there. I’m planning another one of these in something more sculptural – wool perhaps.
And on to pencil skirt no. 5239239545435: again, photographing weirdly brownish.
I broke my own rules with this – I rarely sew with quilting cotton for reasons covered ad nauseam all over blogdom. (This is not to say I have a blanket rule at all, but it has to be for very specific items. I could show you some terrible and never worn items that were my lessons.) This is very lovely fabric, an organic cotton by Monaluna, in an uneven spotty pattern that I fell head over heels for. Why is it so hard to find irregular spotty fabric? Why???? But, this fabric has a very tight weave. A tight weave that means, despite using the same pattern I have used 50 million times, that this skirt is too small. Barely zip up small. Can’t breathe small. ‘How much exercise can I feasibly do’ small.
Such a pity. I spent ages and ages on this to make sure everything was impeccable. Interfacing in all the right places. Handstitched inner waistband and hemline. Lined in lovely silk cotton. The best work I was capable of doing. I can’t quite cope right now with the idea of having to undo so much of it to fix it, so it sits, abandoned, in my wardrobe.
Never heard a tale of more woe?
The lesson, of course, is to have less of the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude and perhaps try it on a little more carefully before you put the zip in. Oh well. One day…
Based on Burdastyle Jenny pencil skirt, in size 36. Cut off just at the top of the leg, plus circle skirt to fit the bottom
Fabric: mystery suiting from The Remnant Warehouse in Sydney (I could tell a good story here about how a trip to this place meant buying an extra suitcase and $110 of luggage fees, but it still makes me weep a little)
Top: French Connection (is NOTHING cut on grain any more?)
I’ve been thinking about what I post and write about on this blog, and I came to the conclusion that I should try and be a little more thorough in the details of what I make, especially for things I haven’t seen much around the internet. I certainly appreciate those bloggers who go the extra mile to give honest information on sizing and fabric requirements and so on, so I’m going to try to be equally useful. I like to think that my reason for blogging is to be helpful to others in the way that sewing blogs have helped me improve my sewing over the years, rather than just showing off on the internet. I’ve never been 100% comfortable putting pictures of myself up online, but one of the best things (I think) about sewing blogs is that you are seeing handmade items (which is a whole other best thing) on people of every single shape and size and I think that is wonderful and valuable, especially when the visuals we get from magazines and television are so very homogenous and frankly, judgemental. Hooray to that!
(The other side of this of course, is if you try and add my images to your judgemental and sexist ‘women look better in this rather than that’ flickr group I will block you. End of story.)
Sorry! Brain dump. Let’s get to the sewing part… (long post is long)
I have to admit to being a complete copy-cat with this top. I’ve had the Drape Drape books sitting on my bookshelf for at least a year, but it took seeing Sew Busy Lizzy’s lovely version to give me a kick up the pants to make one. Screw the sewing queue!
I’m going to call this a next level tee-shirt. It looks super complicated and elaborate but it is actually really easy to pull together. The hardest part of this was tracing the pattern (in three parts in a Burda-esque mess of lines) and finding a big enough surface to cut it out on – I could just fit it on my dining room table but certainly not on my cutting mat! The actual sewing part is dead easy – 3 seams, hemming the sleeves and hem, and finishing the neckline. I did the whole thing (including tracing and cutting) in less than 3 hours.
It helps of course that with something like this fitting isn’t quite the issue it is with other items. If your arms fit and your hips fit it is a-okay. HOWEVER, because this is a Japanese pattern the sizing is very small. I did the largest size (it comes in two sizes – S-M and M-L) and I’m the equivalent (roughly) of an Australian 8 / US 6. If you needed it bigger, Sew Brunswick explained her method here (and doesn’t it look fabulous on her? I think this is one of those patterns that is universally flattering and elegant).
The pattern piece looks bizarre (see bad iPhone pic above) but actually makes perfect sense once you take a minute to work out what is where. The Drape Drape books are out in English now (which is the version I have), but from what I saw the original versions as well as the English one mostly rely on illustrations to show you what to do (I have to admit I didn’t really use the instructions – just skimmed over them and then made it as I would normally make a tee-shirt). If you have made a tee-shirt before I think you would be fine.
The fabric requirements are 1.5m long by 1.5m wide, but I *just* got this out of 1.1m (with a slight change in grain) – I think you’d want 1.25m to be safe. I made this in the most amazingly silky smooth and drapey viscose jersey that I got (ahem) from my fabric buying binge in The Fabric Store’s 50% off sale recently. It really is lovely – we were all petting it in the store. Something this drapey works really well for this shirt – I’ve since made it in a normal cotton knit and it doesn’t look anywhere near as good, nor feel as nice on. If you do make this it’s worth keeping this in mind – the silkier and drapier the fabric, the easier the drapes fall over the body rather than gripping on to your skin or underwear.
Not sure if it is a quirk of my particular physiology, but when I wear it the shoulder seams do sit at least an inch backwards off my shoulders, but it is actually a good thing or the neckline would in no way be suitable for work. If you aren’t as happy with low necklines as I am you can easily modify the pattern to reduce it. I did also change the ‘normal’ sleeve side to sit more like the other (tighter and a little more angled) rather than how it was drafted, just because it felt more balanced. This is easy enough to do – just hack a bit more off with the overlocker after trying it on to see how it sits.
I really like this top – the draping means it just feels a little more dressy than your run-of-the-mill tee-shirt, it hides all manner of ills and/or large lunches, but it doesn’t take much actual effort… Sometimes a lazy but fantastic project is just what you need.
Now that I’ve gone on and on about the top, I don’t feel like I have many words left for the skirt!
This is another Burdastyle Jenny pencil skirt (I really have got my money’s worth out of this pattern) made in another of the ikats I got from B&J Fabrics. Because I spend half the year in tights (in work’s arctic air-con) I bothered to line it with a silk cotton blend (hot pink of course) – I used the same pattern pieces as the outer skirt, and just changed the darts to pleats to allow more movement, a trick I picked up somewhere on the interwebs (sorry, I don’t remember where). Because I forgot when I was cutting out, this skirt has a slit rather than a kick pleat (and I notice from the photos that I forgot to tack the lining down so it doesn’t show, oops) but the skirt is perfectly lovely and serviceable anyway. But: I haven’t worn it much, which is a pity. I’m realising that the pencil skirts I reach for are the ones that have stretch in them, probably because sitting for 10 hours a day is more comfortable in stretchy waistbands. I’ll have to try and remember that if I ever allow myself to go fabric shopping again (hahahahaha).
Top: No. 4 from Drape Drape 2 (English version), size M-L, slight change to sleeve shape
Made from 1.1m grey marle viscose jersey from The Fabric Store (half price – yeeeessssss!)
Skirt: Burdastyle Jenny in size 36, waistband shortened, used slightly smaller SA because using a woven
Made in appx .75m of Japanese cotton ikat from B&J Fabrics, lined in silk cotton blend (it was Donna Karan so a bit of a waste) from The Fabric Store