Blue and orange Closet Core Cielo top and Burdastyle 07/2012 #134 skirt

This was an indulgent project. Not because the fabric was precious or special. But because it was totally decided upon on a whim.

Which shoes?

This project leapt ahead of other projects that would have been more practical and actually filled a wardrobe gap. Just because I felt like sewing the three 1 metre lengths by 115 cm wide pieces of fabric left from an earlier project.

I have to admit that it was very satisfying to sew so organically and without a plan. When I overthink projects they sit uncut and unsewn. Yellow roses spring coat I’m talking about you!

There is some sentimentality associated with this fabric

Eating crepes from a street vendor on Avenue des Champs-Élysées 

Bought in Paris with Felicity

Best fabric weights ever

Cut out, for a previous project, at M of Nonsuch’s place on a rug, with Mr Bingley. There was still cat hair on these remnants five years later!

The remnants are also those bits of the fabric on which the pattern was printed a bit off grain. A whim with a sewing challenge. What more could I want!

I picked simple patterns – the Closet core’s Cielo for the top in a size 16 and a Burda pencil skirt made in my new larger size – 46 waist and 48 hips – Burdastyle 07/2012 #134. I didn’t add the hem darts but I angled the side seams in about half the amount to sort off get the same pegged effect.

There wasn’t enough of the alphabet fabric for a top and skirt, or of the stripey squares for either, so the top got a bit of both. In hindsight, stripey squares on the back might’ve been a better idea than using them on the front.

those shoes…hahaha

I surprised myself by not only having blue and orange shoes that worked with these new garments, but also having other me-mades that work – a blue and orange top, an orange coat and an orange shirt (not pictured). Of course plain black works too.

Who knew orange and blue were neutrals and could play so nicely in my wardrobe?

Basics – a Burda pencil skirt and a Forget-me-not Patterns Vera top

This is one of those boring posts about basics. Great for blogs that are mainly personal journals, like mine. Not so good for blogs that other people actually read.

And to make it worse, this post comes with not so great photos of creased garments and tired faces because the photography was done at the end of a day of sitting at a desk. At least I am wearing yellow snakeskin ankle boots. That’s got to count for something!

Feel free to move on to something more interesting and with better images.

Basic 1: The Camel Pencil Skirt.

Camel is supposed to be one of those excellent basics. So are pencil skirts. I’m a fan of pencil skirts. And I’m very taken with pencil skirts that have a teeny bit more interest than normal. Like this one with its horizontal darts.

I used this pattern for one of my gorgeous Linton tweeds but it was not a resounding success. The tweed version may have stretched out, or been traced too big. Whatever.

So this pattern needed a second chance. And what better fabric to use than one I picked up at a fabric swap! This polyester twill fabric was from my dear friend M of Nonsuch, who had already offered her large remnant to me. I didn’t recognize its potential until I saw it again at the fabric swap.

This skirt turned out so much better than the Linton Tweed version.

Changes I made were minimal – I took 5 cm off the length (still plenty long enough for that retro look) and shaved about 1 cm of the side seams above the hips (making this a sort of size 47 waist, I should have just gone to a straight size 46 because its still loose).

Its lined with a lovely bemsilk from the stash, and I love the way my aqua label really pops.

Basic #2: a Black Knit Top.

This is Vera, a free PDF pattern from Forget-me-not Patterns

This pattern is also elevated above basic with its sleeves and subtle high low hem

The V-neck is nicely proportioned, and the instructions for achieving a nice finish for the V neck are terrific.

My first version was a size 42 in a red fine merino wool, and it was a bit too big. I wanted to make the next version in a black merino/nylon blend. The black knit is much firmer than the red 100% merino knit. I also knew that I’d made both into a Papercut rise turtleneck in the same size and the black one was almost too tight whereas the red one was just right.

So, with all that in mind, I went ahead with the firmer black knit cut out in the same size as the red one, but sewed it up with a seam allowance of 10 mm rather than 6 mm.

It worked well! either the fabric difference or the larger seam allowance, or both..

The sleeves really are quite lovely – here’s the red one at work (I made this first version wearable by shortening the shoulder seam by 8 mm and reattaching the sleeves and reducing width through the body of the top about the same).

Lesson (re)learned- stretch and drape and weight matters with knits!

Orange and blue top: #128burda02/2015

A colour blocked top in ponte is an idea that has been percolating in my head for a while.

It all came together this winter because I made a simple pencil skirt in an orange and cobalt plaid and I had ponte in matching colours in my fabric stash. I love my stash!

The project included the fun of playing with colour blocking combinations on the screen before I committed to cutting. This is style 128 from Burda 02/2015

The pattern is in petite sizing (17-21), which works for me because I am short waisted. Except that COVID-19 induced isolation, grieving and menopause mean I now need plus sized petite sizing. 22 or 24 would be perfect. But that is not really a thing. Luckily, the pattern is boxy and flat pattern measurements suggested it’d be okay as a 21.

It was.

I liked the split sleeves of the ¾ length sleeves on the dress/tunic version of this pattern but wanted longer sleeves.

I don’t know how the orange part of the slit turned out slightly longer than the blue and was perfectly matched at the seam but I suspect it was due to the orange ponte being lighter andstretchier than the blue and me not marking the slit point. I’m not mad at how its turned out. Its hardly noticeably different and if it is then I figure it just adds a little bit more drama.

I’ve worn this top as is and with a black turtle neck layered under it.  I love it – and am asking myself why it took so long to make this pattern

This is not a complicated sew – just requires precision around the piecing and the square corner of the armscye. I used a square of interfacing on this spot and marked in the stitching line with a FriXion heat erasable pen, reduced stitch length around it and crossed my fingers (virtually) when I snipped into the corner.

It’s ponte, so none of the seams are finished. How weird, but freeing, it felt to leave everything raw!

I used a double needle for the hems, and went to the trouble of changing colours for the different colour blocks. Slow mindful sewing was what I needed to do.

The skirt? It’s a simple pencil skirt made from a gorgeous wool knit from Tessuti’s lined with a fine merino wool nylon blend from The Fabric Store and an elastic waist using fancy elastic from Seamstress Fabrics. All purchased online, but that’s no surprise is it? It’s 2020 and there’s a global pandemic.

It is certainly not a subtle top or skirt but it makes me happy!

Pencil skirts and turtle necks

No, I have not yet made an A-line skirt.  But I have made five pencil skirts and two turtlenecks. Why isn’t there a sewing related version of the Twelve Days of Christmas? Ahem, I digress.

Five pencil skirts. Why? Well.  All of the skirts in my wardrobe made from my go to TNT pencil skirt pattern had ‘shrunk’. Not sure why…..I’m sure it’s nothing to do with my chocolate habit.

I turned to a new pegged pencil skirt pattern, BurdaStyle 10/2012 #145 and traced off a size up (a 46).

Five skirts later and I have a new TNT pattern.

My first version was a wearable muslin – a stretch woven with an elasticised waist, no walking vent and no zip. Baby steps. The fit was a bit on the big size.

Still, I’ve worn this skirt quite a bit. It’s a good cool weather casual skirt. Yes it creases. Yes that is a Monroe turtleneck. More on that later.

Encouraged by this I made a second version in a grey pinstripe woven with no stretch. Lovely fit through the hips but the waist was a bit on the big size. Perhaps I’m not a 46? Perhaps I should have added the waistband this style is drafted with?  Despite the looseness, I have worn this a lot this winter. It’s fabulous for work in my corporate environment.

I then jumped to a yellow double knit jersey with an elasticised waist. Because I wanted a yellow skirt and I had this fabric in the stash. Yellow brightens up my work day!

I made a mistake with the cutting out though and forgot to extend up the waist to incorporate the elastic. No problem I thought. I’ll just cut out a separate waistband/ facing.

See that annoying bubble? That’s what happens when you attach a facing waistband with over-locking and then add elastic.

Another ‘innovation’ for this skirt was to line it with tricot. Lovely to wear.

I still haven’t hemmed the lining. Bad sewist.

Version four was made in souvenir fabric. A Japanese linen cotton woven from Raystitch in London last year.

By this stage I’d nailed the fit.

This skirt is lined and has a grosgrain ribbon waistband/facing

The final version was in pleather. And I seem to have a lot of silly and overexposed photos of it

I added a centre front seam and a curved hem.

Not the best skirt to sit down in!

Everything got topstitched. I couldn’t iron it flat but I could sew it flat.

This skirt was lined too. Leopard print seemed the only suitable choice for faux ostrich.

I used an invisible zip. I suspect I’ll regret that soon when it breaks and I have to unpick it. I top stitched here too.

I faced the hem with premade wide bias binding. And top stitched that too. This project was top stitching heaven.

And the two turtlenecks? You’ve seen them already.

They were made with Tessuti’s free Monroe pattern.

I cut the neck band down to half the height. A swan like neck I do not have.

My stripy version was shortened by 5 cm but the ‘foxes in London’ print version was exactly as drafted.

The print on this fabric is almost too cute for words.

I’ve got to say, though, that the lack of accuracy slightly annoys me. A fox as big as a bus??! A row boat the size of three trees?!!

So that’s my story of basics. My wardrobe thanks me.

Oops I did it again – Kalle Shirt

This time in June’s Meadow Liberty lawn.

I did the same things as last time – lengthened by 10 cm and used a cut on button band – but I also used another Liberty lawn print for the hem facings and inner yoke.

I’m really the only one who knows it there, but it makes me smile every time.

Don’t tell He who Cooks, but I bought both these fabrics from Tissus Reine in Montmartre, Paris intending to make him a shirt. In 2013. Clearly not ever going to happen. Much better as a shirt for me!

I love the high-low hem of this pattern

The skirt is BurdaStyle 10/2015 #106 which I’ve made before.

This time I accentuated the panels with poly satin bias binding, as a sort of flat piping.

The fabric is a delightful cream stretch cotton with a snakeskin texture.

Both garments were made from the stash. So glad they turned out so well because the fabrics were almost too precious to cut into. I’m sure no one else has that problem!

The dilemma of reversible fabrics

I know which side of the fabric is the right side, but what if I like the wrong side too? That makes it an unintentionally reversible fabric, right?

This fabric is a delightful Italian linen from a high end English menswear line. I was lucky enough to visit Ditto fabrics in Brighton in the UK last year, and this is one of my souvenirs. The right side is the classic navy and white plaid. The reverse has a beautiful bronze coating.

So, what to do?

I did what any sensible sewist would do. I squeezed two garments out of my fabric length.

And made one of them reversible. (I think that means I made three garments…)

The main garment hasn’t even been photographed yet. The squeezed-out-of-the-remnant-and-made-reversible simple pencil skirt? That’s today’s story!

The hem is fringed.

I zigzigged and then pulled out threads

The waist was finished on the brown side with grosgrain.

I turned under the seam allowance at the waist and topstitched the ribbon on. Hardly noticeable on the ‘right’ side.

The darts were top stitched down too.

The zip was exposed on the navy side

And even a more ‘exposed’ on the brown side

I ran the grosgrain ribbon down the seam underneath the zip, to cover the seam allowance.

Looks like that ribbon goes all the way from top to bottom, doesn’t it?!

The other seam got flat fell treatment

and a bias strip covered slit at the hem.

I love this skirt!

The skirt edition of sewing at the beach

I made some skirts at the beach too. Simple stretch cotton summer staples. Fabric from the stash, but originally from Gay Naffine’s sales in July 2014 and November 2010.

Red ticking skirt

This is an adaptation of my asymmetrical wrap skirt Burdastyle 12/2013 #109

I took the left front side pattern piece (the one with the straight hem) and cut it out on the fold on the centre front line. I added a centre back seam to the back, plus a zip and walking slit. And used a facing instead of the waistband. In other words, it bears little resemblance to the original pattern!

A teensy bit of topstitching and, viola! a casual summer straight skirt.

The blouse is a me-made from October 2013: BurdaStyle 07-2011-121. It’s one of those blouses I reach for over and over again, and still looks great. I put that down to fabulous fabric. It really is worth sewing with the good stuff.

Lemon yellow skirt:

You saw this skirt in the last blog post. It’s BurdaStyle 01/2011 #137. It doesn’t seem to be available as a pdf download, but if you have this issue, have a look at this pattern. It’s a winner!

I first made it for Jungle January 2014, and have been meaning to repeat for a long time. This one is just the same as the Crazy Zebra version, except without lining.

It’s a nice pegged retro-ish over the knee length style, with a reasonably long walking vent that makes it easy to wear.

I’ve paired it here with another simple  knit top, BurdaStyle 04/2014 #109

I did a lazy persons petite adjustment (raised the neckline 2 cm) but otherwise changed nothing. Two pattern pieces? What was there to really change!?

This pattern is a bit of a sleeper. Burda made it up in a chunky knit, and instructed picking up stitches at the hem with a knitting needle and casting off using yarn you’d unravelled from the remnants of fabric. Sort of pretend knitting.

The pattern easily adapts to a regular knit. Instead of bias binding for the neckline, I cut out a skinny facing and, after stitching it to the bodice and flipping to the inside, stitched it down with a twin needle. I shamelessly copied this idea from Mary Athey.

This was cut out as a 42 grading to a 44 at the hips. It’s very roomy.

I know there are draglines from the bust but I’m not worrying about that (or ablogogising).

It’s a two piece pattern. I got to use up a knit remnant from fabric I loved and Felicity ‘stole’. So much to love. Draglines can be sorted with the next version. This one is going to be worn.

Cafe latte skirt

You’ve already seen this skirt, but, until now, I haven’t told you all the fascinating details about its construction.

[It has been ironed, very rigorously, but it’s a metallic poly cotton blend, and those metal threads just love crinkling up the weave unless they are pulled very taut.]

The style is a classic princess line pencil skirt with an integrated high waist, centre back zip and a walking vent. I added belt loops so it can be worn with a self belt (as above) or with a purchased belt.

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 08-2011-122

Size: 36-42, I made a 42 grading out to 44 at the hips

Fabric: Medium weight cotton polyester metallic blend from Gay Naffine.

Changes I made:

I omitted the pockets and added belt loops. Kay the Sewing Lawyer has a great tutorial on making belt loops, which I sort of followed (by memory and then looked at again after it was too late to do anything different…)

I lined the skirt with cotton batiste. Both fabrics are delightful to touch and the cotton lining makes this skirt cool to wear in hot weather (34°C today and we’ve had a week of over 30°C; that’s over 85°F).

Instead of iron on interfacing I sewed organza onto the seam allowances of the lining for the integrated high waist of the skirt pieces and onto the fashion fabric in the seam allowances of the walking vent.

I made a matching gently curved tie belt. I copied a RTW belt and had just enough fabric left over, about 20 cm by 150 cm wide, to fit a curved 5 cm belt onto.

Changes I’ll make with the next version

I’m planning another version without the integrated waistband and with a godet inserted into the back seam (rather than the walking vent). The style is quite pegged and I find that the walking vent pulls apart and looks like a slit. A really bad example is below, and the heavier top tucked in is responsible for the drag lines across my high back hip ( I hope!-other back views don’t look as bad!)

I also like the other shorter version, style 08-2011-121, with the ruched front panel. If I had a lot more time and a need for a skirt like this, I’d try this too! ( but I say that about many patterns…)