The Five-Month Skirt

JupeGrise1Long time no see, huh? I haven’t stopped sewing and knitting of course, but I needed to put blogging on the back burner for a moment. I hadn’t imagined I wouldn’t come back here for over two months, though… It was really weird (and not in a good way) taking pictures of myself again… By the way, my hair looked smashing in the mirror, but in the pictures it looks like a hot mess, whatever.

JupeGrise2This skirt took two months in the making and still had to wait for close to three more months to get its blog post. I like that this allows me to speak about it more knowingly than if I had blogged it right away. When I had just finished it, I felt like it was going to be easy to wear and to match with the rest of my wardrobe, now I know I was right! I also know that one should never try on a high-waisted skirt so close to the end of the year festivities and their obligatory overeating: a skirt that fits perfectly at that moment might not fit so well the rest of the year! My skirt is now a little too big at the waist; I might add a second row of snaps to make it tighter in the near future.

What I don’t like in writing about a garment so long after its completion is that I have to make much more of an effort to remember the technical details. But here goes…

JupeGrise3It’s a Burda pattern from a few years ago; this was my second time making it. The first time I used a shiny pink fabric, so even though I still really like that first skirt and find it very flattering, it’s not that easy to wear. I wear it a lot in my free time, but it doesn’t feel right for work. So when I found this corduroy remnant at Tissus Passion, one of my favourite fabric shops here in Brussels (it doesn’t look like much, but there are gems to be discovered there!), I immediately thought of that pattern.

JupeGrise4Like the first time I made a size 36, which corresponds to the size of my waist but not of my hips (my hips are between a size 40 and 42), and, despite having to wiggle my way into the skirt to slip it on, once I have it on there’s enough ease at the hips for it to be comfortable.

I underlined the skirt pieces with some grey Bemberg rayon lining I had in my stash to prevent them from clinging to tights without having to bother with a lining (come to think of it, I don’t think a lining would have been that much more trouble) and it is very effective: to the exception of the waist that bags a little like I mentioned, I never have to readjust the skirt when wearing it.

JupeGrise6I used a thinner fabric for the hidden parts of the waistband, front fly and pockets: a cotton poplin (I think) with tiny grey flowers printed on it, also from my stash (I got it at a fabric swap). This was both because I didn’t have enough corduroy and I feared the corduroy was too thick to work in those places. Also, it looks pretty.

I took advantage of the underlining to hand sew an invisible hem, catching only the underlining with the thread. And I replaced the hidden buttons of the pattern with snaps, and the faux welt pockets with functional patch pockets.

JupeGrise5

See? Functional!

One of the reasons it took me so long to finish this skirt (aside from the fact that I am a very slow sewer) is how scared I was of messing up the fly front zipper. The first time I made that pattern, I didn’t know fly front zippers were supposed to be that difficult and I didn’t have a problem following the instructions of the pattern, but ironically this time I had read in so many places how scary they were that I started to fear that step. I read a few online tutorials that confused me even more, so I went back to Burda instructions… and everything went, if not perfectly (you can see there’s a small bubble of fabric at the top of the zipper), pretty well! So now I am kind of mad at people who make things seem so insurmountable when they aren’t. No, fly front zippers are not that difficult, you just need to go step by step. And while we’re at it, sewing knits is no more difficult than sewing wovens!

I still have a cardigan, a dress and a blouse to show you, let’s hope it takes me less than two months to come back again!

Enregistrer

Pink Elephant

ElephantFaceI still haven’t finished my coat, so it’s official then, my first finished project of 2014 is a pink elephant! And it’s not even for me! Will you look at that face: how am I supposed to let it go?

Last Wednesday I was working on my coat and kind of loosing steam when I realised I had completely forgotten to either buy or make a gift for one of my best friends’ baby girl’s first birthday the next day. I thought no problem, I’ll use that cute elephant pattern I recently bought and I’ll be done in no time! Hahaha, how wrong was I?

ElephantProfilAfter spending the whole evening and Thursday morning working non-stop on the elephant, all I had were an empty body sans tail and an empty head sans eyes and ears. Turns out the pattern is cute for a reason: it uses a thousand pieces with darts and you have to clip/notch about a million curves! Nothing difficult really, but time consuming, oh yes!

Let me cut to the chase, I finished the elephant yesterday. Yep, it took me four days to make a stuffed elephant, I’m definitely not the world’s fastest sewer, if one still needed proof!

Style2052The pattern is Style Craft Pattern 2052, from 1979. There are two versions: adult and baby. I chose the adult, but I didn’t think to check the measurements of the finished elephant, so I was kind of surprised to see the size of the beast: 30 cm at shoulder height, 40 cm length without the trunk, oops! Ah well, I’m not the one who’s going to have to find a place for it in my apartment!

What I didn’t like in the pattern (except for the fact that they would have you baste most seams before stitching them – I didn’t and I had no problem whatsoever) was the fact that you have to hand stitch the tail, ears and tusks (as you can see, I chose to omit the tusks: the elephant looks way cuter for a baby without them) afterwards instead of sewing them into seams. The eyes are also supposed to be hand sewn afterwards, but I machine sewed them before attaching the head to the body. There are no seams where you add the ears, so there’s no other solution for them (and it’s possible to get a nice and secure result with invisible stitches, contrary to what the envelope picture would have you believe…), but if I ever sew that pattern again, I’ll be sure to sew the tail into the back seam: it will look better and be more secure.

Also, the sample is sewn in felt, so the tail and ears (and tusks) are sewn wrong sides together, with visible seams. Since I used corduroy (remnants from this skirt) and I didn’t want it to fray, I sewed the ears and tail with right sides together. This caused no problem for the ears, but for the tail I had to adjust its end so that I could turn it right side out.

Elephant3:4Stuffing the elephant was an adventure of its own. I bought a giant (and I mean GIANT, like 1 cubic metre!) bag of polyfil for a song at least seven years ago and although I had used some for a few projects, it must have been self-regenerating or something because all of my projects barely made a dent in it. But this time, the giant polyfil bag has found its master! The elephant literally ate most of it, leaving me with about a fifth of it, if not less. The pattern has you stuff it firmly, so you wouldn’t believe how much polyfil there is inside. And it was not an easy task getting it all in: it took me about an hour, sweating and short of breath, and my arms are still a bit sore.

PinkElephantIt’s not easy drawing with a sore arm, but I didn’t want to abandon my resolution, so here’s the third page of my sketchbook! I normally draw before finishing a project, but the impromptu nature of this project made it impossible, so afterwards it had to be.

I’m really happy with the end result of the project, I’m not kidding when I say it’s going to be difficult to give it away! I really took my time (four days, you bet I did!) to get the best result I could and there are not many things I would change if I had to do it again. And I want to sew that pattern again, though I’ll take filling my wardrobe over adding to the clutter of my home any day, so it will have to wait for another special occasion.

Dulcinea Skirt

Dulcinea1Like a lot of my projects it seems, this one almost ended up in the trash. I had this idea in my mind that it would be a quick and easy project, and where could I go wrong fitting wise on such a simple skirt?

Well, for starters, I forgot to take ease into account when picking the size of my waistband, so I cut one a little smaller than the XS, which turned out to be a little on the tight side. Nothing horrible, but I doubt I could eat a big meal without it becoming uncomfortable.

Dulcinea6When I first tried the skirt on, I also noticed the weird horizontal pucker you can see in the picture above on each side of the top of the hips, as if there was not enough room for my hips. But what is even weirder is that these two puckers also appear when the skirt is on my dressform whose hips are, to say the least, less well-endowed than mine. So I don’t really get where those come from. Any ideas?

I also realised I had sewed the waistband so that the nap of the corduroy doesn’t go in the same direction as on the skirt itself, but I must say I don’t even see the difference (I can only feel it with my fingers) with such a short pile.

Dulcinea2But the straw that (almost) broke the camel’s back was when I saw one of the pocket seams had started to unravel. I chose to use pinking shears to notch the curve of the pocket seam allowances and I don’t know whether I went too close to the seam or whatever, but it began to show signs of unravelling in one small place, which almost had me throw up my hands and cut the partly finished skirt into a thousand pieces out of rage. I decided to go to sleep before making any rash decision and the next day I decided to hand stitch the small patch of unravelling instead, which doesn’t look perfect, but I don’t think anyone will notice when I wear the skirt:

Dulcinea7So I’m not really in love with the finished skirt, but there are things I like, such as the fabric and buttons, for example. The fabric is a thin whale cotton corduroy, which was a dream to work with, and I LOVE the antique pink colour. What’s nice is I used much less fabric than what the pattern recommended, so I still have about a meter left if I ever feel like making another skirt in the same fabric.

The buttons are some “Anorak” press fasteners from Prym, which were very fun to put in with a hammer (my boyfriend who was trying to work downstairs does NOT agree) and look nice and sturdy.

Dulcinea5Also, I put a lot of effort in the finishing techniques: I tried not to use unnecessary topstitching because I don’t think it would have looked nice on my fabric (other than that I usually love topstitching), so I understitched the pockets and invisibly hand stitched the inside of the waistband. And where I had to use topstitching, I don’t think I’ve ever sewn a line that straight.

Dulcinea3So not everything is negative about that skirt. Even though it’s far from perfect, it would have been a mistake to throw in the towel too soon. It clearly won’t be my favourite skirt, but I still can see myself wearing it a lot, and it would have been a shame for it to end up in the trash. I really have to learn not to make a mountain out of a molehill when something doesn’t go according to plan on a project (which, let’s face it, is every single time).

Dulcinea4