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.
It took me so long to make up the shirt from this set that not only is this pattern out of print, it’s not even listed on the website anymore. Oops. Also this means that if any of you like and want to make this … you’re out of luck. Sorry.
I actually originally bought the set for the skirt, which has some very cool seam lines on it, but this winter I found myself in need of long-sleeved shirts. Now, if you are like me, the word “need” comes to have a very ambiguous definition for sewing projects. Like: “I ‘need’ to find a jacket pattern to make up the felted black wool I picked up downtown on a whim,” or “I ‘need’ to find a lightweight jersey with a bit of body so I can try that jersey dress from this month’s Burda.” Or, more recently, “I ‘need’ to find some brightly coloured wool crepes so I can make up some skirts like Mia wore in La La Land.” None of these would pass the global-issues sniff test, and I wince a little every time I catch myself thinking anything like them.
All of my previous year’s long-sleeved shirts were loose and drapey. And then last year went and did it’s I’m-2016-I’m-going-to-make-you-cry-uncle that we’ve all enjoyed so much. And I lost my appetite and a bit of weight. So last year’s “drapey” and “loose” became “looks like a five-year-old dressing up in mom’s clothes.” (Along with a few of last year’s pairs of pants, necessitating a new pair of Style Arc Jasmine‘s, but you don’t want to see another one of those, do you? Suffice it to say that it’s grey and it fits.) On a “need” scale this isn’t “I haven’t eaten in three days” but at least in a first world context it is somewhat legitimate.
So, after my recent sequin adventures and a black skirt that is in the blogging queue, and a long-sleeved shirt for my daughter who also has an unaccountable need to put on clothing that fits and is appropriate for school every day, it was time to do something about this. Shirt #1 was Yet Another Renfrew, and again, you don’t need to see another one of those. It is a purpley blue, long-sleeved, and I’ve finally altered the front pattern piece so that it fits properly, which just goes to show that buying a pattern from a company that specializes in patterns for pear shapes is not the smartest thing to do when you are not a pear shape, no matter how nice the pattern is.
This is basically a raglan-sleeve t-shirt with a very wide neck band and a wide neckline. In terms of construction it is completely uninteresting, except for the neckband which has to be stretched out to its fullest extent while attaching to the shirt in order to lie (mostly) flat when worn. I made this a bit easier on myself by first basting and then serging.
When on the hanger, there are gathers along that seam that largely smooth out when it is stretched out on the body. However I do find that that neckband really wants to contract and it won’t stay as wide as it is supposed to according to the pattern drawing. I also find that some of the gathers remain on the back of the neck, but I don’t much care as that’s covered by hair anyway.
Overall it’s a fun pattern with some interesting details that make it a bit different–I mean, check out that side seam:
Such a small thing but a nice touch.
But I somehow doubt people are going to be paying much attention to the side seam because holy hell is it snug. There is nothing left to the imagination. This was supposed to be a shirt for work–and it probably still can be, if worn with a roomy skirt and a cardigan or blazer. Or I could go for broke and wear it with that front-split burda skirt I made in the summer and get myself sent down to HR.
It is a cool pattern, though. I’ll probably make it again, and maybe give myself just a smidge more ease.
I think I used to be. I remember a time when I would have very detailed plans for getting things done. It’s been a while and I seem to have forgotten all about how to do that, for better or worse, though it hasn’t made much of a change in what actually happens that I can see. For instance, I used to set an annual GoodReads goal of 75 books. And I would read those 75 books. In 2016 I decided that this was taking too much fun out of reading and I was going to get rid of the goal. How many books did I read? 75.
Frances, on the other hand, while she struggles with the concept of planning anything with a deadline in the next month or so, excels at the big picture. She has been trying to decide where to go to college and what to study since she was seven years old. “Well Mummy,” she’d say, “I don’t want to get there and find out that they don’t have anywhere for me to sleep.” Similarly she is very concerned that some of her friends don’t have realistic career goals. Have I mentioned that they are thirteen? Meanwhile every project due date seems to come as a shock and with a frantic last-minute late-night work session.
Regardless: Frances plans, in her own idiosyncratic and not necessarily very functional way, and I largely avoid it. But even so, like many of you I bet, there is often some kind of vague plan-like entity in one’s head, particularly at a milestone like the New Year. At the beginning of 2016, my vague plan-like entities included: I Want To Take Frances Camping, Maybe I Can Get the Bay Window Replaced This Year, and Let’s Finish That Blackwork Sampler. I am 0/3 on that list. Similarly, if anyone had asked me, not that anyone would because this is uninteresting to everyone, which won’t stop me from telling you, I would have said that my sewing for the year was likely to consist of casual weekend wear, basics for Frances and some work separates. Cue a parade of dancing dresses. Surprise!
All of which means, as we stand here together at the start of the Grand Adventure of 2017, that I really have no fucking idea what I’m going to do. Sure would be nice to replace the bay window, assuming nothing else critically important on the house falls apart. Hopefully we’ll go camping. The poor blackwork sampler may languish for yet another year. I bet I’m going to make a grade 8 grad dress, but no promises. Most of you seem to have much more confidence in what Future You is going to want to wear in August. I suspect Future Andrea is going to spend August in a near-panic over her daughter’s imminent high-school-ness.
Most of the time I buy fabric with a garment or even a specific pattern in mind, but not always. Sometimes it’s just a very cool fabric that sits there and looks at me with (textile) puppy eyes until I let it follow me home. I have a few pieces of fabric in the stash that are a testament to this inconsistent planning, pieces purchased in a state of “this is amazing I have no idea what to do with it but I’m sure I’ll eventually figure it out.” I haven’t yet figured it out. Maybe some of you have ideas:
Three yards of a silk charmeuse with an extremely large floral repeat. I’d like to avoid cutting into the print as much as possible, so the pattern would need to use large uninterrupted blocks of fabric with as few seams as possible and be drape-friendly.
Three yards of a coral/peach silk shantung with a bright gold sheen and a papery texture–thin, all body no drape.
Three yards of a hot pink silk chiffon with a thin gold lurex stripe. Tons of sheen, lots of drape, very sheer.
Black–I want to say rayon/wool, but I’m not sure–medium to heavy weight, lots of body. Large scale felted/embroidered multicolour pattern on the cross-grain. Don’t want to cut it up more than necessary. A jacket is one possibility but I have enough for two non-dress garments and would rather start with the second one, assuming it’s simpler than a jacket, to get the feel of the fabric. On the jacket though: fancy or casual? Blazer or bomber? Something else?
A blue cotton with a gold lurex weave–I don’t know what is with this trend for me lately of gold lurex in things; apparently I want to be shiny–about 2.5 metres, soft and with some drape, opaque.
Soon to come, a purple jersey poly-and-lurex keyhole dress and a coral velvet poly-and-lurex sheath dress. Let’s dub 2017 the Year of Lurex. Then it sounds like I planned it that way. I think I can probably leave it at five lurex things though. (I hope I can leave it at five. Future Me, please let’s leave it at five.)
True to form, I couldn’t even post this at the beginning of the year like a normal person. (Grammar note: “post” and “normal person” with reference to a sewing blog combined into a single sentence: eep.) Here we are, edging on February, and it’s as much as I can do to say, “bah, plans, who needs ’em.” However I grudgingly accept that maybe I could use some plans for these ones … and potentially some help in developing those plans.
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.
In one of the September fashion magazines–I forget which one–I saw a picture of a sequined pencil skirt–I forget which designer–that looked like it would work for dancing and/or dating in the winter. Tights, t-shirt, jacket–you’re good to go.
And so when I was downtown looking for fabrics to make into a dress for a masquerade party, and I saw these sequins—
I mean, holy hell. Look at them! Purple blue green teal depending on the light, matte black on the reverse. It’s like mermaid scales.
It’s also heavy.
Plus heavy. I got one yard, that being all I could justify, and then two yards of a cheaper ‘practice’ sequined fabric (that ended up being the masquerade dress. More on that later).
The back of the fabric is a heavy black knit, perfectly opaque, with lots of lengthwise stretch but very little widthwise.
The pattern is based on my skirt sloper. I looked at my pencil skirt patterns and none were quite right. I wanted something fairly dramatically pegged, not too long, without a waistband, and all of my pencil skirt patterns–all three of them–were either too straight, too long, or had too many pieces, which I didn’t want to mess with on account of the sequins.
I traced out the sloper, compared to current measurements, altered slightly, determined the length I wanted (I think it’s 18″), pegged the bottom side seams by about an inch on each piece, and cut.
And then began the true joy of removing sequins from seam allowances, first marked with white thread so it would show up on both sides. I tried to just sew through them but these sequins were having none of it.
The sloper is the result of Suzy Fuhrer’s skirt sloper class on Craftsy, and I just want to say: she gets a lot of rave reviews on those classes but IMO she adds too much ease and she relies too much on “industry standards” for certain measurements. My skirt sloper is based on ignoring her advice on those, and even so, it was loose enough after the first draft that I had to sit down and take out a bunch more sequins so I could take it in a bit more.
I also ended up pegging the centre back seam by about an inch on each side, too, after the first fitting.
Even pegged as it is, and without a slit or vent, I can walk up and down stairs and sit comfortably.
The waistband is just a facing of black twill tape. I wanted something tough without any give or stretch that could support the fabric and to which I could attach a hook and eye closure, which is just a smidge tighter than the skirt so that the zipper doesn’t strain and so the skirt stays at my waist.
The skirt itself is just three pieces with darts and a zipper; putting it together out of anything else would have been quick and simple. It took hours longer to remove the sequins than it did to actually sew the skirt. But now it’s done, praise heaven, and I can wear it.
I have enough of the sequined fabric left that I could make the front piece of a simple shirt, and I might. I thought maybe a scout, with sleeves and black from a regular black knit fabric. But not until after I’ve recovered from the tedium of sequin removal.
I altered the pattern tissue after my first attempt so I wouldn’t have to worry about remembering what needed to be changed, and on the August long weekend here in Ontario, I finally cut out that fabulous rainbow linen, and sewed it up on the Monday holiday.
And here it is almost November and I’m finally blogging it.
Am I the only sewer out there who persistently underestimates how long it’s going to take to actually sew something up? I had this idea Sunday night: “I’ll spend tomorrow sewing and then I’ll have a dress for Tuesday and salsa dancing!” And this was, technically, almost true, if one extends Monday by 45 minutes or so into Tuesday morning. I started after waking, and barring food and bathroom breaks, kept sewing all day, all through the evening, and into the wee hours of the next day.
But except for the interior tacking stitches of the bodice lining to the bodice, it is done. And I wore it to work on Tuesday and will wear it out salsa dancing.
Every alteration made to the tissue but one was exactly what I needed. The shoulders are just where I want them; the arms don’t gape or bubble anymore; the waistline doesn’t tilt and it sits just above my natural waist.
But I shaved off a little more from the waist itself than I should have. There’s lots of seams so it wasn’t hard to do.
Dear Readers, this dress is perfect, so long as I have no plans to breathe or eat.*
Unfortunately, I always have plans to both breathe and eat. Breathing and eating are always high on my list of priorities. I like oxygen, and I like food. So.
I’m calling it the Three Pounds Dress after Regina George in Mean Girls, because this dress would fit just perfectly if I lost three pounds.
Or so I assume. Given my aforementioned love of food, this 3-lb weight loss seems very unlikely.* Still, in theory, if it were to happen, the waistline of this dress would no longer be painful after consuming a meal. Anyway:
I LOVE IT.
Unintentionally constricting waist and all. I love the colours, I love the pleats, I love how it swishes when I walk (you’ll have to imagine that part; I have no video footage). It is just the dress I pictured when I bought the linen, which is a very gratifying feeling and makes up for the loss of sensation in my feet. (I kid.) As a kind-of-bonus, the waistline goof does make for a more interesting silhouette.
I am definitely going to risk losing consciousness and wear it out salsa dancing. If I do faint I have faith that some kind soul will pick me off the dance floor before I am trampled, and in the meantime, it’s going to be fun to twirl in.
*I ended up having a fairly stressful August/September and lost the 3 lbs despite myself, so now I get to breathe even when it is fully done up. Huzzah!
The website says this is meant for jerseys and knits; the magazines says “dress fabrics with or without elastane,” which I take to mean wovens. As I went shopping for fabrics with my phone and not the magazine, I bought a poly jersey, and only figured out that might not have been what they had in mind when it came time to install the zipper–which, as it’s jersey, I skipped with no issues.
At any rate:
It’s cute, eh?
It was a bit bigger than it should have been, but that might have been the fabric choice. I’d have to make it up again in a proper woven to see how that affects the fit. The neckline is a bit wobbly–I’m not a fan but I see it on the sample photo so my guess is that was intentional. I’d take it out next time though, and probably change it to a deeper scoop.
Alterations are challenging given the way it’s put together, but I made what I think are my standard alterations.
The pattern goes together well and it is an interesting and well-thought-out design. The gore is a nice, very swishy touch; but it does alter the line somewhat from a sheath dress in my opinion.
Me: When I told him I wasn’t going to see him again he said “you will always continue to know me.” I thought that was pretty ominous so I told him not to contact me again. He was traveling a lot this summer and I thought that by the time he came back things would have blown over, but instead it was escalating. Just before I went on vacation, for example, a group of us went dancing. He grabbed me and started dancing without asking and, when he saw I was looking pretty miserable (seeing as I was feeling pretty miserable), he said, “It wouldn’t cost you a lot of money to smile, you know.” Then the next day at a dancing class he was there and he got … gropey when it was my turn to dance with him, then afterwards he was telling all kinds of insulting jokes and saying awful things about women to try to provoke me into reacting. I don’t even think he wants to date me, not really. I think he’s just punishing me for saying no.
H: It could be both, really.
Me: I guess … Then a few days later there was another class and he was there again and he was gropey again, and afterwards he was just following me around trying to bully me into a conversation. I’d ignore him and walk away and he’d just follow me around. He wouldn’t stop. So I got fed up and left and he followed me into the parking lot and stood knocking on my driver’s side door while I started up the car and drove away.
H: Are you going to call the police?
Me: I will if I have to. I’m not planning on it yet. I’ve gone through things like this before and in my experience the police are pretty useless. They won’t do anything, they won’t even take a report, until after he’s basically punched you in the face. So, probably not. And besides, they’d only tell me to stop dancing.
H: That’s upsetting.
Me: It is. It’s really very unhelpful. It’s kind of a crap world to be a woman in, isn’t it?
H: Have you thought about getting a gun?
H: Well–I’m South African, so I have different experiences with guns than you do, but I’m not kidding.
Me: Oh. Um, no, I don’t think I’m going to get a gun. I don’t–I’ve told a bunch of people about what’s going on and they’re helping me to enforce some boundaries and distance. I’m going to see how that works out before I–but I’m not going to get a gun.
H: It’s something to think about.
Me: Uh… I mean. I have gone through this before. Eventually they do leave you alone. Like in about six months. They get bored and stop. You just have to not interact, not react, not engage, at all. It’s just getting to that point is a huge pain in the ass.
H: Are you afraid?
Me: … Somewhat. It’s the escalation. But we’ll see in a few weeks, what’s going on then. I wish I had a better radar for this kind of thing. It’s just ridiculous that this keeps happening. I have to be doing something or …. One of the women in my dancing class was telling me that she’s seen him doing this thing when we go out for dinner, where he’ll just pester whatever woman is sitting closest to him to eat a french fry. And she can say no a dozen times and he’ll just keep pushing. He tried it on her once and she just kept saying no, and she said it took him five minutes or so to stop asking. Stupidly of course he tried it on me and I ate the damned french fry. But it seemed like such a small thing so I didn’t even think of it, except that’s probably how he figured out I’d be his next target. And I can’t even say that if someone else tried something like that, that I wouldn’t fall for it again.
H: Yeah, I don’t know either.
Predators do indeed test or “groom” their victims. They intentionally violate boundaries in small ways and wait to see your reaction. Then they up the ante. An example of this could be as simple as insisting on eating pizza on a date if you have expressed not liking it.
Let’s pause briefly for some Basic Important Safety Stuff: “No” is a complete sentence. If you say “no,” and the other person keeps talking and trying to convince you to go along with whatever it is they want, do what you can to extract yourself from the situation. This person is trying to manipulate you, and you don’t have to let yourself be manipulated. And if you hear a “no” from someone, the correct response is to back off immediately. No insults, no whining, no pressure. Just say “Okay, sorry to hear it” and move away.
In real life, being overly persistent is not romantic. It is called harassment. Sure, sometimes a little persistence is necessary to win someone over, but incessant badgering to the point of making a girl uncomfortable is not going to get you anywhere. If a girl smiles politely and says, “That’s very kind, but no thank you,” she is not playing hard to get. She does not want you to “get” her. She is simply not interested.
Perhaps the worst part about persistence is when a guy realizes his defeat, refuses to accept it, and still subjugates a girl to unwanted attention. Let me make this clear: if we reject you, WE. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. HUG. YOU. Don’t try to play the good guy. Don’t act all sweet or ask us to press our bodies against yours. Not only is it humiliating and extremely uncomfortable, but it makes us look like heartless bitches if we say no. We do not want to give you a hug.
No darts, no pleats, no shaping; just a t-shirt with an attached gathered skirt. Not only is it easy as sin to put together, the lack of structure means there is no interruption to the print. Huzzah!
I sewed some seam binding into the shoulders and the side seams to help it hold its shape. It’s a lot of fabric and quite heavy so otherwise it stretches out.
The black area between the floral repeats was not large enough to position the entire bodice, so I knew both skirt and bodice would have to have flowers on them. To create a bit of interest and have a solid black waist, I reversed the flowers on the top half.
The skirt was just gathered; I added clear elastic to the waist after the dress was assembled to help hold the weight. It didn’t work quite as well as I might have hoped but it’s definitely better than without.
The one goof was accidentally cutting one of the pocket pieces in reverse. I went ahead and used it anyway since I figured it’s on the inside and no one would see it … except that it insists on flipping out a bit and making a nice light grey stripe on one hip. I’ll bar-tack it down and see if that helps, and otherwise just be always twitching at that pocket to make sure it isn’t peeking. If that doesn’t work I’ll just cut a narrow strip of black and hand-stitch it close to the opening.
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.