Pencil Skirt – Progress Report

So I’ve been working away on the toile for my pencil skirt.  The waistband on the first version proved to be too high for my body and gave all sorts of fitting problems. Once it was removed the rest of the skirt looked much better but had some excess fabric across my tummy.  I cut down the waistband to a straight 4cm all round my body and pulled up the front of the skirt by 1cm and now I am ready to cut the fashion fabric.  Wish me luck!


New fabric

I had a lovely time buying fabric this weekend in London.  First of all I went to Cloth House on Berwick Street where I bought two knits and a piece of linen.  The first knit is 1.6m of quite a thick a grey jersey that I’d like to use for Burda 117a 02/2012.  I have been inspired by Catherine Daze’s wonderful version; her’s is black but I thought I’d go for grey.  The second knit is 1.3m of plain black for skirt 118 in the current (03/2012) version of Burda  There seems to be a lot of fabric here for such a small skirt!  Lastly I bought 2.5m of some beautiful, silver grey linen.  Silver grey is one of my favourite colours.  I’m not sure what to do with it yet but I have been inspired by a Japanese book I have (in French) called “Jolies Robes Toutes Simples” by Machiko Kayaki.

I then went on to John Lewis in Oxford Street to buy some haberdashery items.  Usually I don’t think much of John Lewis’s fabric selection but this time I found 1.3m of  blue stripy chambray which will be perfect for skirt 128, also from this month’s Burda.

Lastly I went to Raystitch in Islington.  Have you been there?  It is a lovely shop, they sell the best cakes and coffee and have a great selection of fabrics and patterns.  I chose 1.8m of liberty print jersey (in fact it was the end of the roll so I think I got about 2m) in black and cream.  I would like to use this to make V1257 and DKNY dress.  I’ve had a go at this pattern once before and came horribly unstuck as the arms are cut very narrow.  Having read various pattern reviews I now realise I’m not alone in having had problems but stitches and seams version is very nice so I’d like to have another go.

Pencil Skirt

I could do with a new skirt for work. Some weeks ago I bought a length of gorgeous wool/herringbone cashmere/wool mix tweed (from Borovick fabrics) and have decided to make it into a curvy, pencil skirt.  The pattern is 109 from Burda 11/2011.

This is the first Burda pattern I will have made and I’m hoping it will be precursor to a lot more!

I traced the pieces last night and can see why people find Burda frustrating. At one point I was tracing a piece I could have sworn belonged to my pattern only to find I had just drawn a sleeve!

The waistband has just one piece across the front and the same on the back.  As my fabric has stripes I have decided to cut these pieces up the middle and lay them on the bias so I get a chevron effect across the waist.

I have some very dull black lining fabric but I’m going fabric shopping this weekend (whoop!) so may try to find something prettier.  I’d like to use a different fabric on the inside of the waistband as I’d prefer not to have the wool next to my skin.

Do you think this will work?

Burda’s arrived!

I love it when the Burda magazine arrives in the shops. I have thought about taking out a subscription but actually think half the fun is stalking it through the newsagents. Today I managed to find it newly displayed at WH Smiths in Woodbridge. I know it was new because I popped in yesterday afternoon and they only had one copy of last month’s left.

Anyway despite all the excitement I’m not actually sure it’s a classic issue.

I liked the dress on the cover and even better the version made out of checked cotton batiste. I don’t normally suit full dresses like this but may be with a very drapey fabric? What do you think?

I also like this wrap top but would need to think carefully about what to wear it with. That sort of top can look at bit odd if the trousers or skirt you wear it with have waist bands that aren’t covered by the top. A simple dress might work.

This simple coat is nice, particularly with the two fabrics

Lastly there are a couple of skirts which have unusual twist details in them. I can see myself making the one with the waistband (128)

New Look 6000

I’m nothing if not ambitious.  I wanted to make a red dress in wool and decided to go with New Look 6000, the version with the sunray darts just like the front of the pattern.

There have been masses of good reviews of this pattern and Scruffy Badger has even run a frock fest on it.

I found some lovely red wool crepe in Borovick Fabrics in Berwick St along with some grey lining fabric.  Although the pattern does not call for a lining I can’t imagine wearing a dress like this without lining, particularly one made of wool (can you imagine the itching?). I’ve not had any experience of lining dresses but I reckoned I could make it up as I go along.

Having made Simplicity 2362 and found a 14 on the large side I cut a 12 in the toile.  Unfortunately this was a little tight across my back so I added half a centimetre to each of the centre back seams.  The pleats on the front looked a bit odd but I recked that that was due to the calico being quite stiff (I was right they look fine in the crepe).

So I made up the dress and then made a separate version in the lining fabric. For this I used the pattern pieces for view A which have straight darts.  I then attached the lining fabric to the front facing and flipped it inside the dress. At this point I realised I needn’t have made the collar facings I could have just used the lining. Some handstitching along the shoulder seams and around the armscyes locked it into place.  Lastly I made some dress guards which, on some very small poppers, I installed in the dress (a dress that needs to be dry cleaned every time you wear it is very impractical).

The pattern called for adding hooks and eyes to the collar, but I decided these were unnecessary as I prefer the slightly lower neck line.  Also my collar is very floppy so I’m not sure it would stand up properly.

I was a bit unhappy about the fit but Scruffy Badger and Allison gave me some good advice and it’s better than it was.

Sorry about this dodgy photo.  I couldn’t find a better one for now.

So what I love about this – the fact that I managed to work out how to put in the lining, the red colour and the darts.

What I don’t love; still not sure the fit is quite as good as it could be – but it’s getting there.  High necklines usually don’t suit me so maybe that’s part of the problem. Also in future I will use stiffer interfacing on the cuffs (which sag a bit) and possibly a bit of interfacing on the collar.

Summer Dresses part Three

For this dress I used simplicity 2648.  I chose this because of Eugenia’s versions here and here

I chose an Indian hand blocked cotton from Our Patterned Hand (the one called natural fern on black) and some lovely glossy buttons.

As per the measurements on the back of the pattern I cut a size 14 but the toile I made was vast, tent size! I then cut a 12 which was also huge.  Eventually I went down to a 10 but then had to let out the seams as it was too small.

So after three toiles I made up the final garment in double quick time. Following the problem I had with my maxi-dress I used an ordinary zip rather than try another invisible zip. I also used quite a lot of French seams (and learnt that French seams don’t work on curved pieces!).

The good bits.  I’m very pleased with this dress.  It’s comfortable to wear and I love the fabric.  The inside looks neat and tidy which is important to me.

The bad bits.  Despite three toiles I still have some fitting problems.  If I were to make it again (definitely a possibility) I would add a bit extra across the back and also at the top of the princess seams. It’s not unwearable but it is slightly tight.  Also I chose to use the curvy skirt pattern whereas I think I am really more of an average fit.  Again not too bad but a learning point for the future.

Summer dresses part two

Encouraged by the success of my Make Lounge dress I decided to make a maxi dress and chose Simplicity 2362.  Like Miss Dibs I had seen the fabric display in John Lewis along with the pattern.

So I made my first ever toile. The bodice was quite difficult to fit and I ended up by taking out several inches around the top of the bra bit and in particular in the centre, leaving the fullest part of the bodice alone.  I also decided the arm straps were not for me so I made a very simple strap just wide enough so I can wear an ordinary bra underneath.

So here it is, another dodgy photo!

The good bits: I was very pleased with the fit.  It took quite a bit of time to get there but I think it works well.  I love the pockets – other bloggers have made similar comments – before I made the dress I was thinking why all the fuss about the pockets but actually they are very nice.

The bad bits:  Unfortunately I couldn’t get my invisible zipper to go in invisibly.  I now realise that the sewing shop in Ipswich sold me a foot which is just too light to work properly.  At the time I thought it was just me.  Also, again, I used quilting fabric which is a bit stiff so the dress sticks out a bit at the front.  If I were to make it again I’d use a much lighter cotton to get a more bohemian, drapey effect.

Summer dresses part one

So I promised to tell you about a few things I have made.

First up was the “Study Hall Skirt” by Anna Maria Horner

This was the first garment I had sewn for a very long time.  Living on the outer edge of Suffolk (and indeed England) fabric shops are a bit hard to come by but I managed to get some quilting fabric.  The shop only had four or five different fabrics so I had to take what was available. The pattern calls for a contrast fabric to be used on the inner pleats but I thought that would be too much so I just used the contrast on the hem edge.

OK the good bits:  The pattern instructions were easy to follow and I managed to put the skirt together well including the invisible zip. For an absolute novice I guess this isn’t bad going.

The bad bits:  Well the quilting fabric is too stiff for the skirt and as a result it sticks out after you’ve sat down.  The waistband is higher than I expected; I would have preferred it to sit a little lower than it does. The instructions for finishing the seams said to use a zig-zag stitch which to my eye just looks untidy

The ugly:  Well you can see – the pattern is just too loud and the contrast doesn’t really go with the main fabric.

This one will stay in the cupboard until I get around to throwing it out!

Second up was this dress

Sorry about the dodgy photo.

I made this at a Make Lounge course.  The course itself was very basic (probably a bit too basic)  but it gave me confidence and I did learn how to apply bias binding trims to edges.

The good bits:  I love the fabric and the style is so easy to wear.  It’s much more girly than I would normally wear but occasionally that’s good. The green doesn’t look too horrific with my  extraordinarily pale skin (always a problem with sleeveless garments).

So all good, no bad and no ugly this time.


So thanks to Miss Dibs I have signed up for the Susan Khalje Couture Craftsy class. I then found that Gertie had also released a new course, so I signed up for that too.  I then read that the material girl had attended a course on Pattern Magic at Morley college. I’d never heard of Morley College but it seems they have loads of good courses and very cheap prices (and they are in the centre of London so easy to get to).  Unfortunately the courses I wanted to go on – making a duct tape dummy and fitting workshop are either full or at times when I have other engagements.

I think I’m going to have to give up working so I can just spend my life going on courses.

Have you come across any good courses recently?