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)
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.
When I was in Indonesia last year, I was drawn to an embroidered dress in a vintage shop, despite the fact that I knew the shape of the dress wasn’t for me. A year later, I have finally finished converting the dress into a skirt.
This is the dress as I bought it. The bust and top back are made from a jersey material, which complicated the alteration.
This is what the skirt looked like partway through. I’m not going to share a vast amount of information about the alteration because I just did it how I felt, and I’m fairly sure there would have been a much better way to go about it.
Basically I cut off the jersey part of the dress, and used the under-bust part as the waistband. The dress was already partially elasticated- you may be able to tell where the elastic is in the picture below. I added a thicker strip of elastic, partly to disguise where I cut the jersey. I recycled the strips of embroidered woven fabric to cover the elastic at the back. It buttons to the elastic, and to itself, to keep the two halves together and flat. I may remove this part in future and just leave the elastic visible- I’ll see how the skirt wears before making a decision.
Here’s a side view.
Overall, I am fairly happy with the finished product. I just love the embroidery, which is why I purchased the dress in the first place. The fabric isn’t drapey at all (maybe it’s a light cotton?), so for me it’s not ideal for a skirt of this style, but I think it’s fine overall.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished sewing my Sew Over It tulip skirt.
Having looked at the pictures, I still need to press the skirt some more, and I may redo the hem. I think it’s bunching a bit because I made it too narrow.
When I stopped my previous post, I still had lots of work to do on this skirt. Further issues I had surrounded the pockets. I had to pin the pocket openings of the two sides together to ensure that the openings lined up without gaping. If I make this skirt again, I will draft my own pocket pieces as I would like the pockets to be a bit deeper. I tried to freehand this a bit when I was cutting out, but it didn’t really work. The positioning of the pockets is also a bit low, so I might try to address that too.
The invisible zip insertion was also stressful. I may invest in an invisible zip foot for my machine in future. However, I’m very pleased with this one for a first go. The first time I inserted the zip, my stitching lines were around 2mm away from the zip’s teeth, so it was totes visible. However, I remembered the trick of moving your needle across to sew closer to the teeth, and this fixed the problem.
I also have to say that once again, I have found the sizing on this pattern totally off. Having measured a skirt that fits me perfectly, I cut a size 12, which is meant to give a 30.5″ waist on the finished garment. However, when I tried the skirt on before putting the zip in, I could see that it would be way too big on the waist. In the end, I had to take a 4cm seam allowance on the back seam (the only place to make the skirt smaller without a MASSIVE headache) for it to fit. Overall, I made the skirt 5cm narrower, which means that I should actually have cut a size 8. I almost always buy size 10 in RTW garments, and my tummy is my ‘problem area’ so I’m really not sure how that works. Still, a victory for making your own clothes and trying on as you go.
I went out and bought some matching thread before attempting to slip-stitch the hem. When I tried on again before hemming, I wondered if the bottom of the skirt was too poofy. But I don’t think it is. One of my weird things about sewing is that I often forget about how the garment will be used when I’m making it. For example, I will forget that you need openings to get in and out of a dress, or I will fail to factor in that a knee-length skirt probably shouldn’t be skintight.
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It
Fabric: 1.1m of wool crepe
This is my first attempt at the Pencil Skirt pattern by Sew Over It. I actually started it several months ago, but I had a very frustrating day of sewing and so it’s been languishing on the naughty step since then. I think the problem was that I had in my mind that I would finish the skirt in a single session, and I got really annoyed at myself when I couldn’t.
I had a vague thought of making a matching jacket, but this fabric frays easily and is a little tricky to work with, so I’m pretty sure that I will be abandoning that particular harebrained scheme.
I’m halfway through the zip insertion at the moment. Hoping to finish the skirt soon as it would be a nice spring work garment.
Pattern: Pencil Skirt from Sew Over It
Fabric: Joseph Boucle, also from SOI
Thanks to my day off, this skirt ended up being a pretty quick make. It also represents a first (thanks to Craft Blog Club on Twitter for the prompt). This is the first sewn garment I have ever made totally independently and I must say that I am absolutely thrilled with the way that it turned out. What I like best is the shape from the side.
I’m not ashamed to say that inserting the zip was one of the greatest feelings of pride I’ve had all year. I had hoped to do an exposed zip with metal teeth, but Sew Over It didn’t have any, so instead I went for this golden yellow standard zip. I think it looks pretty cute.
Getting it neatly exposed involved some finagling. Luckily I had read a tutorial on inserting an exposed zip, so I was able to follow those instructions on the left hand side of the zip opening. It’s not perfect, but I’m still very happy. Here’s how it looks on the inside.
Something I need to remember next time is to save some extra fabric for pocket facings, as in seam pockets have a tendency to gape open. I salvaged some awesome fabric from the scraps bin at SOI for my pockets.
…which does have an unfortunate tendency to peek out. I can definitely live with this flaw, but I will try to avoid it in future.
I haven’t yet managed to get any great pictures of the skirt when I’ve worn it, but I did fulfil one of my more minor ambitions in it.