I’ve wanted to make this dress for ages, but could never find a fabric I thought it would work well in. It’s a regular jersey dress, yes; but the twist meant I wanted something with a bit of body that would hold the shape. Or at least, hold it longer than something soft and drapey would.
This is a cotton jersey from Fabricland that is just a bit stiff (and was on sale) and it seems to work fine.
Given the twist in the pattern pieces, it’s hard to measure the flat pattern to ensure the fit. I made it a 40 at the waist and 44 at the bust/hips and hoped for the best.
Construction is super simple. It’s four pieces: front, back, two sleeves. (Technically I guess it’s six since there’s a front and back facing, but those are just shorter versions of the front and back.) Because the sleeves have a twist in them, it’s important to sew them together and insert them in the round, which otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered with. Otherwise: sew the front and back together, insert the sleeves, sew the facing pieces together and attach it to the dress, clean finish the armholes, hem the bottom. Voila: dress.
Basically no fitting changes were made. I did have to take it in a bit at the sides after trying it on, but no biggie.
The bottom of the facing is just serged, and the dress hem is serged and then turned up once.
The twist does not like to stay put, so there’s a bit of wrenching it back into position while it’s being worn, particularly when say walking or dancing, or doing anything other than standing still for photos. Otherwise it looks just like the pattern photo and is a really cute take on a basic jersey sheath dress.
I’d definitely make this one again. A lightweight, structured knit without a lot of drape is key to hold the twist in the waist, if you decide to make this yourself.
This is one of those projects where a well-timed Burda issue, a Fabricland sale and a nice fabric on the ends table combined to make a skirt project that I in no way need but will wear a lot anyway.
It’s sewn up twice in the magazine; the floral version looks pegged, and the solid version doesn’t. Go figure. But I loved the “pockets” (more on that below) and it looked work appropriate and the print is perfect for a bunch of very brightly coloured tops I have already. This is a lightweight cotton satin.
1) Size down. There’s three inches of ease in the waistband. No one needs three inches of ease in a pencil skirt waist. What were they even thinking? Even after sizing down I still took about an inch out of the waist.
2) Be extremely precise with your hem allowances. Because of the “pockets” panel, all pieces are hemmed *before* being sewn together. There was a whole lot of finishing, hemming, pinning, unpinning, rehemming, and repinning in the skirt construction for me, and even so, one of the edges doesn’t quite line up.
3) It’s not lined: serge, overlock, or otherwise finish the seam allowances before joining.
4) It’s not particularly pegged.
Is it? The actual skirt pieces have a pegged shape, but the side seams are left open for a slit for walking and it takes the shaping right out. I took about an inch out of the bottom back seam, tapering to the hips, and it helped–these photos are post-pegging. The original was very boxy.
5) With the instructions as written, they’re not pockets, they’re “pockets”: They’re not sewn horizontally to the underlying skirt anywhere. This is easy to fix by sewing them down yourself, but it’s a weird and puzzling gap.
6) I still found it a bit loose at the waist. I took in the waist about an extra inch to get a snugger fit, which was a pain in the butt, but less so than having a loose pencil skirt.
7) It is very long and because you do the hemming first, it’s not possible to shorten it after you try it on.
8) Also, I misunderstood the directions with how to attach the “pocket” panel to the skirt below the first seam mark and edgestitched it. Which is fine, but apparently you’re supposed to sew the rest of it down on the *inside* edge, not the outside edge. No biggie but I’d do it the other way next time.
It’s a nice, if finicky, skirt pattern with a few interesting details that make it a bit different from a standard pencil skirt. I recommend being very careful in choosing and tracing a size due to how difficult it is to alter afterwards, and making up a first version in something less expensive to see what you think of the length. I’d probably shorten it by about six inches myself.
You’d never know from reading here, but I’ve never had an extravagant wardrobe.
Ok, enough, pick yourselves off the floor and stop laughing already. I’m serious.
All four seasons of clothes have always fit in one small closet and a dresser. I bought my first-ever raincoat and pair of rain boots in my thirties. I bought my wedding dress for $200 off the rack at a mall–it was blue. (It’s amazing how cheap nice dresses can be when they’re not white.) There was nothing in my earlier life to predict that this blog subject would ever be something I would consider, even blind drunk and high on cocaine.
(Note: I’ve never been drunk or done any drugs harder than caffeine. Just in case you thought I spoke from any personal experience.)
So it is with some chagrin, served up with a side of identity crisis, that I report that as of finishing this skirt … I need to buy a new skirt hanger. Because otherwise I can’t hang it.
Worse: I made another one just like it. Well, except in a different colour.
What have I become?
This is a silk/wool plaid end I bought years and years ago at the Creativ Festival, 2m for something like $20. I made the meringue skirt from the Colette sewing book and regretted it: it was too big, wouldn’t stay in place, and the scallops didn’t look right with the fabric. Eventually I gave it away. But I kept looking at the scraps and thinking, I bet there’s enough to make a skirt here.
I was right!
Of course, it’s short. I was able to cut everything out on grain but there wasn’t enough to ensure pattern matching; three of the four main seams worked but the big piece on the front could not be cut out any way other than what it was, so:
The flounces are curvy pieces so while the centre is on-grain, the sides are on the bias, and there’s no sense even trying to pattern match those. But the back and the right side worked out:
The flounce is super cute. I just serged the bottom edge with matching threads and it worked fine.
The skirt is lined inside to just above the flounce.
It’s a cute pattern that works well and goes together fairly easily, even with the flounce. The flounce gives it a bit of an a-line-with-edge vibe.
…so of course I had to make it again.
It’s a new thing I’m trying. I have this habit of seeing a pattern I like and telling myself, “It’s cute. I’ll make it up out of these scraps and see what I think.” And then never getting around to making a ‘good’ version out of not-scraps. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with having clothes made out of scraps, if they turn out well; they’re essentially free clothes if you discount the time value. But it would be nice to take those patterns I worked to fit so nicely and use them on not-scraps more often. Which is how I ended up with two keyhole dresses, two winged skirts, and now two flounce skirts.
This one in a royal blue/purple wool crepe.
It was distinctly not free. The wool was about $30/yard. The lining, though, was the remainders from the lining for the leather and suede skirts, so free. And I already had the zipper. So about $45 for a wool skirt that fits. Plus that colour makes me happy.
My father’s wife always had a fantastic style sense. She spent a lot of money on her clothes, which took up the walk-in closet in the master bedroom, the closet in the guest room, and a couple of racks in the basement. More power to her, but when my winter boots got holes in the bottom or the lining fell out of my winter coat, she’d refuse to replace or even repair them. Sometimes for Christmas or my birthday I’d get some really nice clothes, and there was usually a back-to-school shopping trip, and that would be it. This meant I could, most years, dress ok for fall through spring assuming everything held up, but for summer I had to be creative. And then she seemed to decide that I was her physical clone and started buying me clothes and shoes–in her size. We are not the same size. I’d have skirts that hung off my hips, shirts that fell off my shoulders. It was all very, very odd. In any case, I got used to having an eccentric wardrobe that didn’t take up a lot of space.
And now I am in the position of having to buy a second skirt hanger for the first time actually in my entire life. Or I suppose I could ship off an old skirt to a happier home.
I guess I’m still doing the eccentric part all right, though.
I have no idea where this came from. But here it is. If I ever start talking about buying racks for the basement for extra clothes, please someone shake sense into me.
(Brace yourself: there’s a dress pattern based off the skirt pattern and of course I have to make that up too.) (HELP)
I’m trying to remember when sewing changed from being a way to make myself and Frances clothes that were practical, comfortable and fit properly, and became a way instead for me to figure out how a dress like this gets put together.
PEPLUM POCKETS! Genius. Functional and decorative at the same time. No seamlines to break up a cool print.
You know–or if you’re on FaceBook at any rate you should know–what a very big deal pockets are in skirts and dresses.
This is a mid-weight rayon with a herringbone weave that is only visible if you get really really close. It came from Marina’s fabrics on Ottawa Street and was, I think, about $8/m. So plus the lining (bemberg) and the zipper, this might be a $25 or $30 dress. It’s very soft and super ravelly. The bodice is lined, but the skirt is not, so those edges were overlocked.
Of course, it was the print I couldn’t say no to. And in a rare burst of thematic inspiration, given the colour scheme, I even finished it up early February so I could wear it on Valentine’s Day. This will probably never happen again.
First crack at the bodice was quite loose so I snugged it in by about 1 1/2″ at the waist, and of course the sleeves had to be shortened as always. Then once it was sewn up, the bodice was still too loose to be smooth, so I unstitched, re-pinned and restitched. I can’t even tell you how many times I have sewn the bodice lining to the waist seam at this point. It’s still not as smooth as shown in the magazine photo, but I’m happy with it now. I think part of the problem is just the weight of all the folds at the front pulling down the front waistband seam.
Other than that, this is the dress as the pattern has it; it works and sews up perfectly, and the pockets make me positively giddy. They’re perfectly functional for anything you might think of putting in a skirt pocket–small wallet, lipstick, keys, phone, would all fit and not alter the line of the dress. It’s great for an office environment and yet manages to have some personality. There was no universe in which I actually needed this dress, but I’m pretty happy to have it.
I decided to make this one in the midst of Fabricland’s annual December members’ sale, but wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t find a jersey that seemed meant for this dress: too patterned, too poly, too thick, too sheer, too whatever. I ended up settling on this bright pink poly/rayon jersey. It is unbelievably soft; it is as comfortable as a t-shirt; it is probably not meant for a dress. But who cares. It cost $6/metre and bought three, so plus the zipper this is about a $20 dress. I made it up just in time to wear to Christmas dinner with a friend and her lovely parents, and have worn it several times since, because it meets that cardinal rule of dresses in wintertime: snuggliness.
Keyhole slit, slanted waistline, gores in the skirt, pleats in the bodice, and fancy bell sleeves to capitalize on our current Sleeves Moment.
Before making it up I shortened that keyhole slit: bizarrely short upper torso necessitates these kinds of machinations unless I want to put my underwear on display which, despite the Accidentally Underdressed posts, I really don’t. Even so I need to be careful with my underwear choices in this one.
After making it up I realized that I need to take some height and width out of the centre back and back neckline seams, which is pretty standard for me. But long hair=No One Can Tell, or so I say to myself. I also hemmed the sleeves more than the pattern said to so it would hit at my elbows, thanks to bizarrely short arms.
It’s almost entirely serged. The bodice is lined; for this version, I self-lined. I wouldn’t do that again, since the pleats x 2 make for a thick join at the front waistline.
The sleeve cap is pleated too, which is hard to see in these pictures or in the line drawing. Take my word for it: it’s cute.
You’re supposed to do a button-and-loop closure at the top of the keyhole slit but I just sewed it shut. The dress has a zipper up the back, for goodness’ sake; a functional button closure is not required.
Having liked the first one so much, I had to make it again.
Hush. That’s how it works.
I altered the pattern to take out the excess width in the back, and lowered the back neckline by about an inch and a half. And then I went shopping.
Not intentionally, actually. I had to bring my coverstitch machine into the shop (… yes it did take me that long) and saw that the fabric shop across the street from the sewing machine store had a “CLOSING BY JANUARY 31!” sign along with “70% off lowest marked price for everything in the store!” This was the one shop on Ottawa Street where they sold really, really, really nice stuff. The kind of stuff that can cost over $100/yard so you go in, pet it reverently, and then leave quietly so as not to mark or damage anything.
I went in. It had been pretty picked over, but in addition to six yards of silk picked up for $35 including taxes (!!!!!), I found a plum poly jersey with a super sparkly gold lurex weave, marked down to about $3.50/yard. Two yards of fabric plus one metre of cheap polyester lining plus a zipper comes to a grand total of about $13 for the whole dress. And yes, this was the first of the Lurex Trend to be completed. It’s very sparkly. In some lights it’s more gold than purple.
Sewing your own clothes doesn’t always save you money, but holy hell that’s less than the price of a trade paperback.
Anyway. It’s a very, very light jersey–so light I took it home and discovered it’s almost transparent with the light behind it–and I used wisperlite (their spelling, not mine) lining which, incidentally, is both very very light and sheer and woven so tightly my regular machine needles did not want to puncture it for love or money. This increased the frustration factor, but also made it much easier to pleat the bodice as both together were about the thickness of a regular jersey. Because the fabric was so sheer I had to draft a lining for the skirt. Because it’s jersey and so light, and because I didn’t want to have a topstitch or even a blind stitch hem to break that lovely sparkle, I just left the hems raw. And again the keyhole was sewn shut.
The one bit of advice I have for anyone making this up at home is to baste the front bodice pieces to the skirt before serging. Both times now the machine has struggled to gain purchase on all those layers at the middle front and so one piece has ended up skewed, necessitating fancy hand sewing after the fact to make it line up properly. Can’t tell now but it was a bit annoying at the time.
So now I have two versions of the same dress: one soft, snuggly, and work-appropriate, and the other sparkly and suitable for dancing. Both dirt cheap.
One thinks, on the one hand, “I want to be warm” (or maybe more accurately “I am so fucking sick of being so fucking cold goddammit why is it only February?”). On the other hand, one thinks, “If I wear the same pants again I may set them on fire.” Or, less melodramatically, “Ugh, again.”
But I think this skirt can manage some deep-winter wear without risking frostbite.
It’s to the knees, meant for a fabric with a bit of thickness and body, and fully lined. This one is made from a thick wool twill. The centre is a double pleat:
Which is what makes the hem stand out so nicely.
The lining is a grass-green bemberg because that’s what I had on hand. I just serged that hem a few inches shorter than the skirt and otherwise left it.
The inside of the skirt waistband is made of the rayon twill I used for the drapey skirt; I didn’t want the wool against my skin in case I should ever wear a shirt untucked with this, so I split the waistband into two and added a seam allowance. Otherwise I made it up as directed in the pattern with no alterations, using standard sizes, and it fits well and looks like it’s supposed to, and is even fairly warm (but no promises that I’ll wear it when it’s not at least near freezing). Overall it’s super simple and you could easily hack pockets into it if you wanted, without affecting the overall fit or line of the skirt.
I actually ordered a back issue of the magazine just to get this skirt pattern and it still took me a year to make it.
I love the seam lines on this. I love the way the darts have been rotated into those seams. And I love the way the seamlines work with the godet to shape the skirt.
I still love all of those things; but I wish I’d chosen a fabric that was a better match for them.
This is a fairly heavy fabric of unknown contents: Is it wool? Is it poly? Who knows? I don’t. It was free and I thought it would make something suitable for a funeral, when I thought I would have a funeral to go to. It is also a bit stiff. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it does make the shape of the skirt far more dramatic. And it makes it look like culottes from the front.
Side note: I do not like culottes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a pattern over the last few years and thought, “What a cute skirt pattern! Wait … never mind … culottes. Bah.”
And from the back, you get a snazzy tail fin:
However: there was no chance that I was going to special order a magazine for a particular pattern and then only make it once, even if it had been a spectacular success, which it wasn’t. So I tried again in a different colour of the same rayon twill I made the It’s Fine dress in:
Lord it’s dark in that photo. But hey! It’s a much drapier teal version of the same skirt. Rayon twill is about as unlike denim (also a twill, for those of you who don’t sew) as you can imagine: it is soft, drapey, clingy as hell. Just slightly thicker than challis. There’s maybe not much you can see here, but hopefully you can see that it does not look like culottes from the front. Nor does it have a snazzy tail fin from the rear:
Instead, it drapes, just as it did in the pattern photo.
All around better, except for the fact that the rayon, no matter how low the temperature I used to press, insisted on going shiny at the seams. So frustrating.
At any rate: it’s a great pattern. Easy to put together, fun shape if you get the fabric right. The seam around the zipper is a bit too rounded and I had to take about half an inch off, and sewing around the peak of the x-cross seam is a smidge tricky and doesn’t make quite as obvious an angle as it does in the pictures.
Something you can’t see here is that the gores make nearly a circle skirt at the hem, meaning that if you were to twirl in this you’d get a nice round swish below the knees. I did try for you Dear Readers, but I nearly gave myself a concussion trying to turn a fast circle on the stairs. Not that the photo wouldn’t have been entertaining for non-sewing-related reasons, right?
And just to round out the Holy Trinity of Sewing Blog Photos:
The side of the first one, complete with full wings.
You can see almost nothing about this dress (pattern here) thanks to the print I chose, a rayon twill from Fabricland that is soft, drapey, colourful, easy to sew, and obscures any seam not outlined with a highlighter pen.
So, in words: shoulder yokes, gathered bodice to a snug waistband both front and back, pleats in the front skirt, gathered bell-shaped sleeves. Like so:
Or like so:
Yeah it’s all pretty well invisible.
It made up just fine and it’s a perfectly ok dress for work, and because it’s rayon, I’ll be able to wear it in the spring, too. But I don’t love it enough to make it again. The print makes the whole thing so impossible to read that the wearer becomes an amorphous blob of paisleyish floral stuff with no details about the garment or the person underneath the garment even remotely visible. It’s practically a caftan.
The pattern itself works up just fine–everything matches, everything works, it’s not too challenging. It’s not the pattern’s fault that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. If this is something you wanted to make up, I recommend picking a less busy print.
By the way, get used to stair photos for the next little while. We have entered the Cold Grey Bucket of Suck winter period here in S Ontario and I plan on keeping my acquaintance with the outdoors limited to shivering from the front door to the car. Weird shadows and bad light are the name of the game until probably May. Sorry.
This is the story of a skirt I made for work that I can’t wear to work.
“What a lovely and interesting pencil skirt!” I thought in April when the Burda issue came. “Just right for the office. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a cool stripe fabric that might work.”
I had a work meeting in Toronto, after which I went to Queen West and found a very cool watercolour-style linen-spandex stripe in orange, green and yellow. Perfect!
Made a test version in a heavier stretch-cotton just to see how it worked. Good thing, as I initially made the front band (under the slit) about half as wide as it was supposed to be, and holy cow was that version indecent.
Phew! Crisis averted. (cue foreboding music)
Cut out and sewed up the stripey version. Tried it on. Fantastic! The stripes are going in the right directions; it mostly fits, though next time I would make it higher in the waist as it’s too low and low-waisted skirts always want to ride up on me to my actual waist. Also a bit loose for such a light-weight and stretchy fabric. If you make this up (and you should! but not for the office) a non-stretchy fabric will work just fine. What with that slit you will not need stretch.
Got dressed one morning for work. Walked to the kitchen for breakfast.
That slit opens up all the way to the top, eh? At every step.
Put some emergency stitches in to hold it a bit more closed. Went to work.
Stitches popped out.
Faced awkward conundrum of either acting like I meant to flash the office all day and just owning it, or holding it closed with one hand if I needed to walk anywhere. Very professional.
It’s a great pattern, a fun skirt, definitely different from the usual and if you can find a good stripe to make it up in, well worth the effort. Runs a bit loose so recommend doing flat-pattern measurements to make sure it’ll be snug enough to stay put.
Don’t wear it to the office.
Date night? Dinner? Dancing? Sure. Absolutely.
But unless you’re aiming for a very special kind of promotion, if you get my drift, not for work.
It didn’t work out. The flowers didn’t make it through the first wash, and when I removed them, I was confronted with the inescapable reality that the neckline had stretched out during sewing and could not be repaired.
Sad but true.
Happily: I had enough of that lovely silk-linen fabric left over to make a decent skirt. And here it is.
It’s the first ever garment I’ve made from a Burda magazine. Yes, I got a subscription. Alone out of all of my tech-loving sewmies, I hate pdf downloads. I hate buying them, I hate printing them, I hate worrying about the scale, I hate taping them together, I hate cutting them out once they’ve been taped, and I hate trying to store them afterwards. I would rather trace out a grayscale labyrinthian pattern sheet any day, if it saves me from the horror of the pdf download.
(I said horror, and I’ll say it again if I want to. Horror. See? I’ll keep it up, too, if I have to.)
It’s skirt 101A from the 3/2016 issue. It’s got a deep box pleat in the front, and is otherwise a simple a-line shape. And it’s got a cool extra-wide hem band at the bottom, which gives it a bit more weight and body.
Technically, it also has welt pockets, but I opted to omit those. I can hardly imagine how I would have botched the whole thing if I’d attempted to put them in, with my focus being what it is at the moment.
I drafted a lining for it as the silk-linen is loosely woven and a bit translucent on its own. You wouldn’t think so, since it’s not thin, but it is. The zipper is supposed to go on the side, but I put it on the back, and I used a wooden button at the waistband for the closure.
It was entirely unexceptional and unexciting. The pattern went together nicely and everything fit. The skirt is comfortable and just different enough to be worth making. The fabric is lovely and I enjoy petting it every time–silk linen! All the waxy stiffness of linen somehow combined with the softness and sheen of silk. It’s a technological miracle.