My eyes locked on to this fabric from across a crowded room and I knew I had to have her. I really can’t resist a fruit print and these pineapples are so much fun! I instantly pictured myself in a cute skirt, frolicking joyfully during a mini-break. For a while, I thought that we couldn’t be together. The lady in the shop told me that the fabric was all used for online orders. I was heartbroken. But then I checked the website and was able to buy her there. She’s worth the postage.
I decided to take a risk and try to squeeze this skirt out of a metre of fabric. When I measured the last tulip skirt I made, it took 1.1m of fabric. I really hoped those 10cm wouldn’t cause me too many problems…
Nope! Most sizes could easily be cut from 1m of 145cm wide fabric. I didn’t even have to use a different fabric for the waistband facing.
Having seen the gorgeous sample in quilting cotton in the Sew Over It store, I decided to use lining fabric for the pockets. This cotton-linen blend is quite heavy. I used the pocket pieces for the Day Dress because the pockets on my first tulip skirt aren’t quite capacious enough for my liking.
Doing the pleats and darts was a breeze as the linen in this fabric allows it to hold a crisp fold. I’ve never worked with linen before, either as a knitter or a sewist, so it’s been fun to learn about a new fibre. I’ve just realised this skirt will probably crease like billy-o, but I’ll be too fabulous to care.
I wanted to overlock the pattern pieces as both the fashion fabric and lining fray easily. However, I ended up pulling out my trusty overcasting foot and finishing the edges that way. This is the most excited I’ve been about a project since my zebra shorts and I couldn’t wait to get to a sewing cafe.
I couldn’t find a suitably coloured invisible zip at Liberty or John Lewis, so I decided to use an exposed zip. I followed the same tutorial I used before. I’d forgotten how laborious it is to put in one of these suckers! It took forever. I also had to use a 7″ zip (8″ recommended in pattern), which gives me just enough wiggle room to get this thing on and off. Be careful of using a shorter zip for this skirt if you are pear-shaped!
I have to say that my perfectionist tendencies came out big time when installing the zip. I found myself getting very frustrated that the two sides weren’t symmetrical. Fortunately, I decided to give myself a little break from the machine and try the skirt on. I was very relieved that it fit! I decided to use my mother’s old trick of cutting some pattern pieces on the selvedges to save finishing those edges. The problem with doing that on the centre back seam was that I wouldn’t have been able to let the skirt out if it had been too small. I’m not sure I’ll do it again in future.
Even though I realised the zip looked absolutely fine when I tried the skirt on, I also noticed that the placement of the pattern isn’t amazing on the back. There are lots of pineapples cut in half. As usual, this is something that I would probably ignore if I bought this skirt RTW, but it bothered me that I hadn’t foreseen this problem. I just need to take it as a reminder to be more mindful of pattern placement when using such a bold print in future.
Fabric: 1m (145cm wide) cotton-linen mix from Sew Over It
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)
After the relative success of my raindrop-print Bettine, I was excited to cut another. I picked up this remnant of striped jersey from Sew Over It a few weeks ago. I thought £7.50 was very reasonable for two metres, and when I was looking for more information online, I discovered that it’s still available for £13/m. I love a bargain. I’ve never worked with a knit fabric before, and getting this fabric so cheaply helped me to push myself.
I made a few further changes to the pattern
- Reduced neckline by 1cm on each side to prevent gaping (tutorial here)
- Reduced length of bodice by one inch
- Curved front skirt waistline to match back
- Removed 4cm (2cm each side) from neckband. In future, remove 5 or 6cm
- Stabilised areas with wonder tape before twin needle stitching to reduce tunnelling
- Finished pocket edgings with the same technique as the neckline. Used 23cm strip of fabric
- Single layer pockets
- Reduced curve in the hip by 1.5cm
Tilly provides some very handy tips for making a jersey Bettine, including the dimensions for the neckband.
Cutting the jersey was more difficult than cutting a woven fabric. I’d already invested in a rotary cutter, mat and pattern weights (partly because I find cutting with scissors super annoying). I must add that I made the job more difficult for myself by using stripes, which I tried my utmost to keep horizontal.
For the sewing, I also purchased some ballpoint needles and made use of my walking foot for the first time on my new machine. I just bought a cheap generic one as part of a set of feet.
The first step was constructing the neckline, which was a real baptism of fire. I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage the stretch fabric without pulling the neck out of shape. I carefully pinned the fabric first, using ballpoint pins.
Heartbreakingly, I had to unpick my first attempt as the neckband was too long. I wasn’t surprised as I had adjusted the bodice neckline to reduce gape, but it was still annoying. I also hadn’t really understood the instruction to baste in place first, meaning I used a stretch stitch, which was a pain to remove.
Here is the finished neckline.
I’m really thrilled with it! Loads of firsts here- first stretch, first neckband, first use of a twin needle. I probably could have reduced the neckband by another centimetre or two, but I think this is good enough.
I even used the same technique to finish the pocket edges. I thought it might be cute to carry the design element from the neck. Lots of people seem to think the pockets as written aren’t a great idea in jersey, so I created single layer pockets. I stitched the pocket bags onto the skirt front using my twin needle, again trying to keep the details consistent in this garment. It felt a little strange to go my own way with no instructions to follow, but it seemed to work.
So far I’m cautiously optimistic about this project. I’ve found myself taking a lot of time to get things right- I pulled those pocket edgings out so many times to try and get them to lie flat! However I haven’t begrudged the time. I’m just hoping it’s going to pay off in the form of a lovely dress.
Pattern: Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons
Fabric: 2m (140cm wide) cotton jersey from Sew Over It
I finally finished sewing the Sew Over It pencil skirt that I started over two years ago. I feel that my tastes have evolved even in the past couple of years, so I’m not sure how much wear this garment will get. I suppose this is why most people don’t leave things on the WiP pile for several years! Maybe it will just have a token appearance during Me Made May.
I was highly apprehensive about making the size 12 as the measurement chart indicated I should cut a 14. However, I have found the sizing and charts off for pretty much every SOI garment I have made, so I went with my gut instinct and I think the 12 is the correct size for me.
It’s good to know how this pattern looks in the flesh, so to speak. I think it’s a good standard pencil skirt. I would only make this pattern again using quite a structured fabric, as I think anything drapey would cause the skirt to hug my lumps and bumps.
I’m already considering my second pencil skirt, for which I’m eyeing the lovely piece of thick, textured fabric I snapped up in the Sew Over It remnant sale. Aside from being irritated with myself for apparently losing the front and back skirt pieces that I so painstakingly taped together, I am aware that I already own a pencil skirt that is perfect.
It’s this beautifully tailored navy skirt that I picked up in a charity shop a few years ago.
It’s a bit difficult to see the skirt as I was actually photographing the shirt, but there’s definitely a reason that I’ve worn this skirt almost to death. It hugs my waist without being tight or constricting in any way. It skims over my hips in exactly the way that I like. It’s fantastically comfortable in pretty much all seasons. When I got it, it had already been loved by the previous owner and now the fabric is getting shiny, there is a flaw in the zip, and the kick pleat flaps around sadly.
I wonder if I have the skill to adapt the ultimate pencil skirt to become my ultimate pencil skirt? Have any readers had any experience of making significant adaptations to patterns as a relatively novice sewist?
Pattern: Ultimate pencil skirt by Sew Over It
Fabric: I think it was called Joseph Rainbow Boucle, from SOI. Pretty sure I used around a metre.
I’ve got to admit that after my final class, I was worried that I would never finish sewing my Ultimate Shirt. The remaining tasks seemed very daunting for me to tackle on my own. But I went for it, and I’m glad I did!
Here’s how the shirt looks with my specially made tulip skirt. I re-did the hem, which I put off for months because I knew how dull it would be. I was right, it was boring and took two hours, but it looks much better. Having a steam iron (thanks dad!) also makes a big difference, although looking at these pics makes me realise it STILL needs more pressing.
I think this shirt is really only wearable tucked in, but shirt tucked into skirt worn on the waist is a look I rock at work a lot, so that’s fine.
Notes on steps taken after third class
Hand-stitching the cuff facing seemed okay as I had already used the same technique on the collar stand. Emboldened by my success, I attached the second cuff.
I next spent about an hour pressing and pinning the hem. Like my unicorn top, the hem looks shit in places, but I don’t want to redo it so I think this is something I will live with for now. I will mostly be wearing this shirt tucked in anyway. Looks like I have found my sewing nemesis- shaped hems.
The next step was scary. Buttonholes. I spent ages thinking about which colour thread to use, which turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. I don’t think I’ve ever machine sewn a buttonhole before because my mum lost the foot for her machine years ago.
I did something I normally never do- consulted the handbook of my machine for advice. I then used some scrap fabric to practice, and the resulting holes looked pretty good.
It was time. I tried on the shirt to ensure that a button would cover the fullest part of my bust, to reduce the risk of gaping. I then measured and marked each buttonhole, which worked out at every 7cm.
I did manage to make one really stupid mistake. I accidentally started one of the buttonholes on the ‘top’ mark instead of the ‘bottom’, meaning that it was about 2cm out. Next time I mark buttonholes, I will use different colours for the top and bottom marks to avoid this happening again.
Since my buttons are fluorescent pink, I knew this error would be very obvious. It was time to do something I had never wanted to do on such a light cotton voile. Unpicking. I practiced unpicking one of my practice buttonholes and managed not to break any of the threads in the fabric. Heart in mouth, I unpicked the errant hole on my blouse. I won’t keep you in suspense, dear reader. I survived, and I don’t think my silly mistake is too noticeable.
I’ve got to say, I absolutely love this outfit! Go me. I’m hoping to engage with Me Made May a lot more this year, and I think this outfit will be a key player.
I’ve finished my holiday shorts!
The cutting out and machine sewing took about fifteen hours. I’m a bit baffled by the sizing on these shorts. My original cigarette trousers, a 10, are quite big, but these shorts are on the small size despite only being an 8 at the waist, and grading up to a 10. I also forgot that there is an error in the waistband piece of the pattern, which nearly caused me a big problem as I didn’t have any leftover fabric to cut out a spare.
Here I am trying them on. I had to let out the crotch and side seams a little. At first, I was stressed out because the waist looks a bit crap, but then I pulled my t-shirt down and remembered that the waistband will never be on show. It can be hard to maintain perspective when you have spent hours and hours working on something.
Overall I would say that I am very happy with this make, which, sadly, is unusual. The fabric only cost £12.20 including delivery, so the total cost of the materials was well under £20. And I think it’s safe to say that I am the only person in Rio strutting about in hot pink zebra pants.
Pattern: Cigarette Pants by Sew Over It
Fabric: 93x112cm remnant of cotton, plus about 0.5m of contrast fabric