Hello Polka Dot Skirt!

PolkaDots1Aaand here it is! Not the most complicated project, but I like the result very much!

I had been meaning to sew myself a skirt like that for years, but you know, so many ideas, so little time… The fabric is actually one of the firsts I ever bought! I had already sewn a skirt with it, which I wore a lot, but I’ve gotten more used to high waisted skirts (and pockets!) so I had been wearing it less and less and meaning to replace it with a new one.

PolkaDots2After sewing my modified Sureau, I was in desperate need of a simple project, one that I could complete in a day or two. I contemplated sewing a tote bag, then I set my mind on that gathered skirt. While I do need a (few) tote bag(s), getting a new skirt was much more tempting!

PolkaDots3The skirt itself took me a day but I decided to put off sewing the pockets to the next day so as not to rush things and make a mess out of them. And I must have made the right choice because everything went smoothly as can be; I didn’t use the seam ripper even once! Even the zipper went in without a hitch (okay, it’s not the most difficult kind, but still!).

PolkaDots5I used Gertie’s book to make the skirt pattern, but you can find the same information on her blog (part onepart two). For the pockets I followed A Fashionable Stitch’s tutorial. Both Gertie’s and this one were very clear and easy to follow and yielded great results.

PolkaDots7I’m really happy with the buttons: big ones on the pockets, small ones at the waistband. They’re from Gotex, one of my favourite fabric stores in Brussels, from a €1 bin full of old dusty button cards. The two buttonholes that close the waistband are a touch too small for the buttons, but at least they feel secure and they were parallel and the same size as each other, so I didn’t bother remaking them.

PolkaDots6I haven’t worn the skirt yet (I always fear if I wear a garment I haven’t photographed yet it will get ruined before I can take the pictures or something), but I’m pretty sure it will get in heavy rotation as it’s the kind of skirt I can see myself wearing both with or without tights, which means I can wear it all year long. I guess you’ll see it again soon with Me-Made-May coming up!

PolkaDots4

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

Apple Pie Skirt

Pommes2After more than a month without so much as touching my sewing machine, I was itching to get back to sewing, but with the start of the schoolyear I couldn’t for the life of me find the necessary time/energy.

Pommes1That was until last Wednesday, when I had the afternoon free and the apartment to myself, so no more excuses! I opted for a very simple project that could be completed in one afternoon, to get back in the saddle smoothly.

Pommes3I had that project in the back of my mind since I bought this vintage apple fabric a few months ago. I loved its colours, print and drape, but it’s one of those almost swimsuit-like polyester knits from the seventies, which I thought might look a little tacky as a dress. So I immediately pictured it as a very simple elastic waist gathered skirt.

Pommes8I tried to keep things as simple as possible: I used a whole width of fabric, so there is only one seam at the back and the selvages serve as seam allowances. I however found it pretty difficult to sew the elastic on: even when stretched out to the hilt, it wasn’t long enough to accommodate the width of the fabric. I solved the problem by making a few small pleats where there was excess fabric. Also, the elastic I chose has ruffles up and down, which made it difficult to sew evenly, but it doesn’t really show on the finished garment unless you’re looking for it specifically.

Pommes4The hem is simply turned up once (the fabric doesn’t unravel) and stitched with a double needle. I debated for a long time whether to keep this length or to chop it off, and finally opted for this more practical one (no risk of flashing anyone when getting on and off my bike!), which I also found cuter even though it’s possible that it makes me look a little shorter. I figured I could shorten it later if I ever had a change of heart.

Pommes5I was so happy to have a finished skirt at the end of the afternoon that I immediately planned an outfit featuring it to wear the next day (i.e. yesterday), which was the one you see in the pictures plus a golden yellow cardigan (and a scarf to keep the cold away!). After wearing it on my bike and at work yesterday, I can now attest to its comfort!

Pommes6

I was afraid a skirt with an elastic waist wouldn’t suit my figure. I’m still not convinced it’s the best choice for someone with such large hips and a short waist, but I think it looks okay anyway and maybe that’s just me being picky… It certainly won’t prevent me from enjoying my new skirt. It’s in one of my favourite colour combinations and it has apples on it, what more do I need?

And now I’ll leave you with an image that truly reflects my sentiments towards taking pictures of myself. 😀

Pommes7

Red Hot Chardon

Chardon4Two Deer&Doe patterns down, six to go! Oh how I love those patterns…

This is the Chardon skirt, of course. I made view 2, with the belt loops. I used a red cotton sateen with subtle stripes from Sacrés Coupons in Paris that I’ve had in my stash for a couple of years. The fabric has a slight stretch to it, which let’s hope won’t cause the skirt to stretch out of place (the interfacing I used should prevent that), and it was a joy to work with.

Chardon1The pattern, too, was a joy to work with. There were few pieces and the instructions were very clear. To the exception of the part that tells you how to attach the belt loops: the pattern doesn’t explain exactly how to sew the loops on. I had no problem doing that without the instructions, but the pattern is aimed at beginners and I know that as a beginner I would have been kind of lost.

Chardon2The skirt was really easy to put together, if not a bit time consuming when it came to the pleats. But I’m a very slow sewer, so this might be just me… About the pleats, looking at the pictures I realise I might have done a better job at pressing them before the shoot. Ah well, I’ll do that before wearing the skirt at least!Chardon3I cut a size 36 and the fit is spot on. I didn’t make any modifications. At first I wanted to add a lining, but I finally opted not to when I couldn’t find enough yardage in my stash. And I was really glad I didn’t bother with a lining when the time came to sew the zipper… I’m kind of zipper challenged, you see, so I had enough trouble inserting it without a lining! I almost gave up and hand-picked it instead of machine-stitching it, but I held on and I did manage to get a nice result in the end.

Chardon5I was afraid the waist would end up bulky because of the thickness of the fabric and the pleats, but it looks ok on the finished skirt. Though I had to understitch the waist facing and it still wouldn’t stay tucked inside so I invisibly hand stiched it to the waist, which solved the problem.

Chardon6My favourite part was finishing the hem with bias tape. It was so easy yet looks so nice! I’ll surely use that method in future projects. I used a red and white polka dotted bias tape which looks so cute against the red of the skirt even though it’s not exactly the same shade. Confession time: I had planned to use another bias tape (with another motif) whose shade was closer to that of the skirt, but I cut it too short… and then I couldn’t for the life of me sew two pieces together to get more length! I tried and I tried and got it wrong every time… so I finally gave in and went to buy some at the fabric store. I felt so lame! Oh, and of course there was a massive sale going on at the otherwise too expensive store, so I may or may not have bought a few metres of fabric that went to join a now overwhelming stash…

Chardon7Well, at least now I have a skirt I love (and cute new fabric to boot!) and I know I’ll be wearing a lot. I recently came to the realisation that, even though I consider red to be a wardrobe staple (it’s kind of a neutral, isn’t it?), I didn’t own any red pieces except for my new playsuit (do a T-shirt and an old frumpy cardigan really count?). So that’s one gap filled!

Blue-Ribbon Beignet

Beignet1

I had been meaning to sew myself a denim Beignet for years, thinking it would be a great basic skirt that would go with everything. Yet I pushed that project over and over to the bottom of the pile, always finding a new garment that seemed more appealing to sew.

But lo and behold, Me-Made-May made me realise more concretely that my wardrobe was missing a few basics. Not that I don’t wear the less basic garments I sewed (or knit), I almost always do, but they would be so much easier to mix and match with simpler ones.

Beignet2

This small piece of denim had been in my stash for years too, bought from the remnant bin of one of the local fabric stores. So no excuses not to sew that denim Beignet! Initially I was afraid the 0,80 meters I had wouldn’t be enough and I chose a contrast fabric for the facings, but in fact I had no problem getting all the pattern pieces on that very small piece, so no need for the contrast facing.

The lining is dark blue rayon bemberg, which I bought for the occasion. I try to use up my stash as much I possible, but there isn’t a lot of lining in it, so it is usually the only fabric I have to buy. About this lining, I must say I had the most difficult time sewing it without puckers and the like. Do any of you know how to avoid that? Should I loosen the tension a bit or something? Anyway, the inside hem of this lining was not very even-looking, so I sewed on a pretty blue ribbon I have tons of in my stash, hence the name. Well, that and the fact that I’m pretty pleased with my new skirt! 🙂

Beignet3

As far as modifications go, I topstitched all of the outside seams (except for the side seams because of the pockets) with a very strong thread like the one you would find on jeans. I also couldn’t turn inside out tiny belt loops made from this quite thick denim, so I folded and topstitched those, too. Oh, and I had to go from a size 0 waist (first time in my whole life I’ve been a size 0 anything, thanks Colette Patterns!) to size 4 hips.

I wouldn’t say the skirt was difficult to sew, but it wasn’t easy either: there were a lot of steps involved. But everything was explained very clearly in the booklet, so I didn’t encounter any major obstacle. Only the buttonholes made me really loose my temper: the machine I used had a hard time handling the thickness of the thread, so I had to redo some of them a couple of times (and some are still a little wonky). Oh, and I literally stabbed myself in the thumb with the embroidery scissors I used to slice them open, ouch!

Beignet4

After that, putting in the buttons felt very liberating: I used jeans buttons, so I had to hammer them in place and I LOVED doing that (though I broke three of them in the process, but fortunately I had a few spare ones)!

So, sewing this skirt was not a piece of cake, but the result is exactly what I had in mind (if you don’t look at the inside – or the buttonholes – from too close) and I already know I’ll be wearing it a lot in the future! Now off to find a thin brown leather belt!

Pirouette, Cacahuète!

Peanut1

I finished this skirt two weeks ago and I’ve already been wearing it quite a lot since then. It’s the Hollyburn Skirt by Sewaholic, in a beige and brown tweed that has a golden thread woven in, though you can’t really see that on the pictures. I lined it with beige Venezia, following those instructions, and the buttons I chose are wood.

Peanut2

The fabric is quite thick, which was kind of a pain to work with when the time came to sew the button tabs, but all in all everything went smoothly, even tough because of the thickness you can sometimes see the bulk of the pockets through the skirt.

Peanut3

The pattern was very straightforward, so I really took my time and focussed on achieving a very clean finish: French seams (my first ones!) on the lining, handsewn hem, hand-picked zipper…

Peanut4

I wanted a classical skirt that wouldn’t be boring either (hence the golden speckles!), and I’m really happy with the result.

Also, a thing that is always very important to me in a garment is to be able to ride my bike comfortably when wearing it (I bike to work, and everywhere as a matter of fact!), and this skirt passes the test, yay!

Peanut5

PS Pirouette, Cacahuète is the title and chorus of a well-known French nursery rhyme with an allusion to golden thread. Plus “cacahuète” means “peanut” in French and my skirt is kind of the color of peanuts (well, the background is, I assure you!).