Tag Archives: skirt

Alma Blouse

Well, I’m back! What with school and all, I’ve hardly had time to sew, and it doesn’t help that both of my sewing machines are broken! I did make a Secret Santa present using the sewing machines in the costume shop, but other than that I haven’t been able to sew since I don’t know when. Now we’re in the middle of winter break, though, and I’ve been out in the country using my mom’s fancy Juki to make her an Alma blouse!

Alma and car

When Mother first bought this lawn, she described a fitted, vaguely medieval, possibly button-back blouse with 3/4-length sleeves. We decided that the Alma blouse had the right fit, and the sleeves were easily modified. It is also such a nice, versatile, modifiable pattern, and falls within both of our sizing ranges. I can’t wait to sew myself a version in white geometric-patterned cotton with a forest green yoke, or a little floaty summer blouse in lawn or voile with cap sleeves…

I cut a size 16, going by Mother’s upper bust measurement, and did a full bust adjustment. At first I added a total of three inches to the bust, but after the first muslin, I had to reduce the bust by an inch (interestingly, this happened with the last FBA I did as well–I’m really not sure why). I also did a forward shoulder adjustment of probably 1 1/4″.

Alma and car

I had a lot of trouble fitting the sleeves, and as you can see, they’re still not quite right. I narrowed the shoulders by about 5/8″, and put that fabric into the sleeve cap instead. I also did a full arm adjustment, and cut the sleeves on the bias. They fit a lot better in the lawn than they did in the poly-cotton sheet I was using for the muslin, and Mother can move her arms pretty freely, but I’m still not entirely satisfied. Sleeves are hard!

sleeve detail

In addition to changing the sleeve length, I gave the sleeves a little notch that matched the neckline. I trimmed both sleeves and the neckline with some homemade burgundy bias tape.

blouse and earring

Alma neckline

I attempted to do a swayback adjustment because of the wrinkles in back. I don’t think I did it right, but there are fewer wrinkles than there were…

Alma back

Alma zip

I used a regular zipper instead of an invisible one, for no particular reason. It is still pretty discreet. The belt shown here is the leftover burgundy bias tape.

Alma and car

I also made the skirt that Mother is wearing, which was last year’s Christmas present. It is something like a quarter circle, made out of something woven but stretchy from Fabric Depot. It matches the blouse perfectly!

I’m going home tomorrow with a borrowed sewing machine, to sew like mad until I leave for Ireland in a week! I’m hoping to make a shirtdress, two circle skirts, and to finish the Macaron I was sewing when my machine broke. And if I can accomplish all that, there’s a million other things I’d like to sew…but I’m trying to keep my to-do list short!

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Orange Velvet Circle Skirt

The projects are stacking up without me blogging about them… By which I mean, I’ve made two things since starting school, and thought seriously about making others, restlessly between classes. It’s not an overabundance of work or anything, it’s mostly just that my sewing machine, fabric, and makeshift ironing board live in my closet, and I forget to take them out.

Anyway, I made this several weeks ago, and I’ve worn it a few times since:

front

(One of the reasons I had not yet blogged about this is the terrible photo quality. I have three roommates, and no excuse for fuzzy dimly-lit mirror shots.)

The back view:

back

I am always reluctant to cut into fabric, so I tend to make things out of fabric I don’t really care about. This orange velvet was purchased in skirt form from the theater department’s costume sale about a year ago, but it was far too big for me and weighed several pounds (I think it may be drapery…for curtains…), so I made it into something more more compact.

I originally intended it be a half-circle skirt, for reasons that I cannot recall, but I had some trouble with the math and ended up with a piece that only fit halfway around my waist. So I cut out a duplicate piece and made a whole circle skirt.

I used a piece of cute green quilting cotton to make the waistband:

waistband!

It’s not really very even but I love secretly contrasting waistbands so much that I don’t even care. Secret lining fabrics are the best.

When I stitched the waistband onto the skirt, I realized that I had forgotten to take into account the seam allowance, and that the waist would get bigger. It was meant to sit at my true waist, but as it is it only just rests on my hips. I’m pretty pleased with that actually, though.

I got a new zipper foot, too, so I didn’t even have to sew this zipper in by hand! Actually, I learned how to properly install a zipper foot before I made this skirt and realized that the zipper foot I purchased from Mill End fit the entire time… I could have been sewing zippers in with impunity all summer!

I sewed the skirt together in a slightly unconventional order, and my zipper came out a little wonky.

zipper

It doesn’t quite meet up at the top, which originally bothered me deeply. I have since fallen too much in love with the twirliness and fabric to let it get to me.

Next up: a green knit dress, as soon as I get one of my roommates to take a few good photos.

A Scholarly Skirt

It’s a rather amusing fact, that although I spend most of my time in an academic setting (school), and hang out with academic people all the time, I don’t really care for academics. My own inner academic is a flighty and theoretical person, who gets very excited about picking out classes and purchasing textbooks, but vanishes completely at the first sign of an essay. I am a theater major (hurrah!) who finds history and literature very fascinating indeed, provided I never have to formulate a thesis sentence connected with them.

Be that as it may, this skirt definitely speaks to my secret English major.

skirt

(Corduroy doesn’t photograph well at all, hm. It’s really pretty, believe me!)

It’s something about the color, or the corduroy, or the pleats, or the high waist. I don’t think the pattern itself is inherently collegiate-looking, but maybe the fabric is. Doesn’t it just look like I should be reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the library on a rainy afternoon? Or walking across campus with a bookbag and a blazer with orange leaves falling around me? I could be in one of those college brochures, except no one would ever believe it. (OK, maybe it’s not that over-the-top, but wait until I get my hands on a sweater-vest.)

OK, but as for the actual skirt. They had a bunch of corduroy at JoAnn’s when I was there with my mother, and I wanted to make something I could wear with blouses. I debated navy or forest green, but settled on green because–forest green corduroy! How do you get any better than that?

I picked out Burda 7300 for my skirt pattern (look at me, using a pattern!), not understanding that the little arrow on the diagram means “cut on the bias.” It did initially bother me that all the little lines of corduroy were going to be doing whatever they jolly well pleased and not going up and down, but I got over it. I even bought a lining fabric! (Let’s be real, I spent a lot of money at JoAnn’s, but hey! I can line garments in forest green polyester for years to come! And the skirt is absolutely worth it.) I made view A with the view B waistband and without the tulle . . . or else I made view B shortened and with a lining. You decide.

I cut out all the pieces in a straight 10 as my measurements decreed, and didn’t have to alter anything, which was delightful. Of course I cut out one of the skirt pieces on the wrong side of the fabric since I didn’t pay enough attention to the instructions (the tale of woe is here). Luckily for me, I am about five inches shorter than the person the pattern was intended for, so my only real alteration was to chop an inch or so off the hem, which somehow magically fixed my wrong-side-of-the-fabric problem. I think it also messed up my bias-cut on one of the back pieces, but it’s not like I had enough fabric to cut a whole other skirt panel properly on grain, so I decided it was close enough. 30 degrees, 45 degrees, what’s the difference really, right? Ha.

I also french-seamed the entire thing, which was a poor decision on such bulky fabric with only 5/8th seam allowances. But I love french seams so much, and corduroy ravels super easily. When I did it on the waistband, the interfacing and the corduroy made really thick seams and it was too tight. I don’t like a lot of ease around my waist, but I do like to be able to eat and breathe and move comfortably, so I half-unpicked about four of the seams, trimmed the fabric, and sewed them up again with smaller seam allowances. This gave me plenty of room, in fact, I’m glad I didn’t do it with all of the seams as that would have been too much. In retrospect I suppose I should have bias-bound all my seam allowances instead, but hey. All’s well that ends well, as they say (they also say, platitudes are fun!).

I did bias-bind my center back seam, actually, though to be honest I didn’t know what I was doing and my bias tape was too wide, etc. etc. It’s hidden by the lining, though.

back lining

(Or maybe it’s my lighting that’s terrible . . .)

Please excuse the sloppiness of the zipper. I biked to Mill End to purchase bias tape, an invisible zipper, and a zipper foot, but they only had one zipper foot and when I came home I discovered that it didn’t actually fit my machine, so I had to sew the zipper in by hand. Luckily it was only nine inches. I usually find myself sewing in 20-inch zippers and that is never any fun at all.

skirt back

Something about my hand-sewing abilities resulted in my invisible zipper being visible. Alas. But it’s the same color as my skirt so I can live with it.

Here’s the front of my lining.

front lining

It was super slippery and not fun to sew at all, especially since I couldn’t tell the right and wrong sides apart and kept doing all my french seams backwards and inside out. I was also supposed to hand sew the whole waistband lining in, but I got bored and very slowly machine-stitched about half of it instead. The fabric is some sort of cheap anti-static polyester which will hopefully keep it from clinging to my tights as skirts are wont to do. I have quite a lot of extra too, and four enormous pirate shirts sewn from lining fabric that I can cannibalize, so I think I can happily avoid buying lining fabric for the next sixty projects I do!

Anyway, I like this a lot, and I can see myself wearing it excessively when the weather gets colder. I have a pair of forest green suede Hush Puppies that will definitely come into use a lot more now that this skirt exists. I actually might have to make another version soon-ish, so I won’t wear this one to death, or else maybe make a rule about the number of wearings in a week. We’ll see. I certainly won’t be sewing with corduroy in August again anytime soon! The fact that school starts in a few weeks keeps tricking me into thinking I can start wearing fall clothes again soon (thank goodness, my wardrobe is not geared towards warm-weather dressing), but in fact there is still over a month of summer left! Good news for our upcoming outdoor theater piece, sad news for someone who wants to wear her new corduroy skirt.

Look, a pleat! Isn’t it pretty?

pleat

And some more just because this post isn’t long enough yet . . .

hems

The hems were not miserable to sew, for once. This might mean I’m getting better at it.

yay, skirt

In which I am pleased with my skirt (not so with my bags of paper and fabric scraps in the background, but I’m moving, so my room is chaotic).

OK, this post is definitely long enough to convey my enthusiasm for my new skirt. Now, I have to pack my entire room up by Saturday so I should go work on that, probably.

A Work in Progress, Disrupted

I’m leaving this evening to go see Henry V at OSF, but I was really excited for my green corduroy Burda skirt, so I decided to just cut it out, and sew it up when I got back, you know, actually taking time and care to do a project like a proper sewist. I cut out the lining, even though it was slippery, and that was all right. Then I laid out the corduroy and began to seriously doubt that I could get all the pieces out of it since the skirt is on the bias. But, I did! Sure the nap is sort of willy-nilly, maybe, but that doesn’t really bother me a lot, especially since the pleats will sort of break it up anyway and it is such small corduroy.

skirt panels

Look how nice they look! Don’t mind the wrinkles, they kind of laid on my bed while I went to the Post Office.

But wait…

oops

When they’re actually laid out like they would be in a skirt, my mistake is revealed. And SUCH a basic mistake! I cut out the same piece twice, instead of reversing it the second time. It’s not even a matter of nap, it’s a matter of paying attention. I even read the instructions, where they specifically told me not to do this. I did it with my brown skirt two months ago. But I can’t just fix this one like that, because it’s a pattern. And I’m going away in a couple of hours, so my mistake is bound to haunt me all weekend. I still can’t come to terms with the notion that I ruined my skirt, maybe if I shortened the hem all around I could get away with a couple of seams in the wrong places? (Probably not.) I guess it’s yet another sign that I’m not giving the directions the proper respect they deserve.

In other news of failure (but less disappointing, this one), I taught myself to put in a lapped zipper last night. Without a zipper foot, even!

IMGP0281

OK, so it’s an enormous lap, but I have the basic concept down.

zipper skirt

Useful skill aside, the finished project was not something I’d want to wear, so I ripped out the zipper and cut up the skirt, which never fit me very well anyway. I guess my closet is smaller by one garment, then, thank goodness (I am running out of hangers). It would make a nice spot for my new skirt if I can ever rescue it, and really I have to, because my heart is set on this green corduroy and I would be so sad if I had ruined it forever!

Patterns!

Mother and I went to JoAnn’s today to buy a pattern so that I could make a nice high-waisted skirt (because obviously I need another project). Looking at patterns is so much fun! It’s almost like shopping for clothes, except that you get to make them, too. I returned from the store with these exciting purchases:

pattern

A skirt, which I’m going to make up in A length but with B waistband. (I’m sorry this image is enormous, but I can’t seem to find a smaller one.) It was surprisingly difficult to find a high-waisted full skirt, although there were a few compelling high-waisted pencil skirts and a lot of pretty true-waisted skirts.

pattern

Knickers! I was so excited when I saw this pattern that I bought it despite exercising exceptional restraint and NOT buying any pretty dress patterns or basic simple blouses. I don’t wear pants very often, and I’m okay with that as I am not incredibly comfortable in them. But little knee-length short trousers (are these what Dickens referred to as “smalls”?) are just so charming and Dickensian. I want to make these out of some crisp suiting, and maybe some velveteen, and some plaid (oh plaid!), and some corduroy. (And then I want to buy some tall riding boots that actually fit me.)

Speaking of corduroy, I bought some to make the Burda skirt, in a lovely forest green. I even bought lining, because I am determined to do this thing properly even if it means I don’t have an instantaneous garment, and everything feels more professional if it’s lined.

Last, but not least, I found this Vogue jacket pattern that Mother bought me for my birthday a few years ago:

pattern

Isn’t it pretty? The dress is nice too, although it is certainly not what drew me to the pattern. It is perhaps a bit more complex than I can handle right now, but someday! The back of the pattern envelope claims it is “Easy/Facile,” but it looks like an awful lot of pattern pieces to keep straight.

I feel like I’m developing quite a little pattern stash by now, as I have three or four others at home, and it’s pretty thrilling. I want to get more, and make them all! Of course, I still have to learn how to make them fit me…

Some garments that are kicking around in the back of my head:
-A yellow blouse with small puffed sleeves, a peter pan collar, and flower-shaped shell buttons (I love yellow, I really do)
-A royal blue wool circle skirt, knee-length, for winter
And a million and one other things, slightly less clearly pictured. School starts soon, though, and I don’t expect I’ll have a lot of time to sew. It is very sad indeed.

Oh, and I am considering buying another sewing machine. I adore my little Singer Featherweight, absolutely adore it, but I would really like something that at least does zigzag and has a zipper foot. Or, I may just invest in a pair of nice pinking shears and persist in my somewhat impractical sentimentality, because why do something easily when you could do it vintage-ly?

skirt: an experiment

I made this:

skirt front

Totally patternless, no less. And I probably used about twice as much fabric to do so as was actually necessary.

My original plan was to make a pinafore dress–an empire-waisted, a-line skirt with criss-crossing straps and lots of buttons, mostly decorative. It would be really simple, not use too much fabric, and would mostly be practice in making seams, something I’m pretty bad at. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have to take a bodice into account.

So I cut out five skirt panels from my fabric, only part of the way through I got really concerned about whether I had enough fabric and started paying more attention to conserving fabric and less to how the skirt was actually going to look. In the end I succeeded in doing neither, because what I ended up with was three panels cut on the right side of the fabric, and the other two backwards. Eventually I sorted it out, by shortening the panels and disregarding the actual grain of the fabric, but when four panels were sewn together and I tried on what I had created, it didn’t fit very well and the entire project was just getting more and more complicated. I didn’t even want a pinafore dress, I was only making it because it seemed simple.

And so I thought, why make an ill-fitting dress suitable only for children under twelve, when you can make a tasteful, high-waisted skirt instead and with less trouble?

So that is what I did. I used the last piece of fabric to make a sixth panel, and voila! A skirt!

skirt side

I kept the sash, because I had already cut it out and I needed a waistband. I think it adds a nice detail and it is good to be able to cinch up the waist a little bit, but even as I was making it I was aware that the sash I was envisioning was not made of quilting cotton, but maybe of some material that gathers and drapes. Hopefully, though, this fabric will have an opportunity to soften up, because I will be able to wash this one with impunity!

Which brings us to the highlight of the skirt–French seams!

french seam

I’m really proud of them. You can see from the picture at the top that the first one didn’t turn out ideally–there is a thin line of unfinished edge showing in one of the seams, but I refuse to let that bother me.

I also kept the button fastening from the original dress design, mostly because I didn’t have any zippers, but buttons are cute so that’s all right.

buttons

The closure was kind of tricky and is less than perfect and probably not the most durable thing ever, but it’s almost my favorite part, if you don’t look too closely at it.

Now that I have purchased an iron, I have no excuse not to sew things and I am already trying to figure out what my next project will be. Though I am somewhat limited by lack of skill and having only one pattern (well, two, but one needs all sort of fitting work first), I am sure I will come up with something, and if I don’t come up with anything soon I will maybe make myself curtains with beautiful seams.