clothing, sewing

Cherry Pie wool skirt

Hey ho, it’s been a wee while, hasn’t it? Never mind though, I’m back with a finished skirt that’s only been a work in progress for 4 years!

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When I was living in Berkeley, back in the days when I still used Pinterest, a stylish friend of mine pinned a skirt by a French clothing designer that I fell head over heels for. It was a circle skirt, made of woollen fabric, with two velvet bows on the front. It was also about €300 and not anywhere near my size, not that I would have bought it anyway. So I set about making my own. I bought some red Melton wool from fabric.com, and used the Circle Skirt App by By Hand London to make the pattern. I “pre-washed” the wool by taking it to the laundromat and tumble drying it with a damp towel – not having my own washing machine in the States was infinitely annoying when it came to pre-washing fabric! I cut out the skirt and the waistband, and then it got set aside and suddenly we were moving to New Zealand!

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(I pressed it, I promise – it got crumpled in the moving process and is being stubborn about unwrinkling)

Of course, I had to bring my unfinished skirt with me, so I packed it into a ziplock bag in my suitcase and once I got a sewing machine here in Auckland, I took it out again and assessed. I wanted to interface the waistband, but I was unsure what to use, so I went to the local fabric shop and they sold me some quite expensive interfacing that worked beautifully, and in fact I only used the last of it up recently! I wish I knew what kind it was but the fabric store employee was unfriendly and I just wanted to leave, so I didn’t ask. It was very soft, and grey in colour, and fusible. After that, I attached the waistband and inserted a lapped zip from my newly acquired op shop stash.

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For the hem, I knew I wanted it full and swingy. I had bought horsehair braid from the now-defunct online shop run by Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch and knew I wanted to use that. I used Gertie’s tutorial on how to attach it and shape the hem, and after folding it up I did a catch-stitch by hand to secure it.

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And then, I was stumped. I had bought some velvet ribbon to try and mimic the original skirt, but it was only velvet on one side and I couldn’t figure out a way of forming the bow where none of the non-velvet side was showing. The skirt ended up getting put to the side again after I got a job, and for a while I thought about it and toyed with the idea of embroidering something around the hem. For two years.

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I wish you couldn’t see the outline of my top under the skirt – the photographer should tell you such things!

Finally, last Monday was Luke’s birthday, and he wanted to take some photos of me (among other things), and I wanted to look nice. I came across the skirt again, and decided to try it on. I wasn’t even sure if it would fit – I hadn’t ever tried it on! Thankfully, it did – but it didn’t have a button. Ever resourceful, I found a brooch Luke’s mum had given me a while back and used that to pin the waistband closed – you can see it in the side-on shot above.

Oh, and the top I’m wearing? I made that, too! It’s the Ensis Tee by Papercut Patterns, made out of black merino from The Fabric Store for our Iceland trip last year. A black long-sleeved top is a must for me, and this one is really comfy. I have fabric to make a few more, just need to find the time!

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Tropical Summer Gabriola

Front Untucked

So, I made a maxi skirt. To be more precise, I made the Gabriola skirt by Sewaholic. I don’t know when or where I bought it, but I had the paper pattern – which is now out of stock on their website. This was quite the queue jumper, to be honest. I’d found the pattern during a reorganisation of my sewing space, and a few days later I was in Geoff’s Emporium and found this lovely, summery rayon fabric for $7 a metre. Since this skirt is a huge fabric hog (4.8 metres for version A at 115cm wide fabric), the price was right! As it turned out, I easily had 1.5m of fabric left, despite making the largest size. Slightly annoying, but I guess I’ll make a top or something out of the rest.

Side Untucked

I made a size 16. This was a mistake. My waist measurement, on a good day, hovers around 88cm. Since the size 14 finished measurement was exactly 88cm, I thought by making the 16 I’d give myself room to breathe, eat and be comfortable. Instead, I ended up having to take the waist in by 6cm, in the form of 4 1.5cm darts. It was huge. And even now, it’s looser than I would ideally like. I cut the length at the smallest size, because I am short (154cm), and I still needed to take it up by 6 inches. I was going to do this at the lengthen/shorten line, but it didn’t look quite right to me and luckily Mel and Nikki advised against it, and I took it from the bottom, to preserve the hip shaping.

Back Tucked

Making the skirt was pretty straightforward. The fabric didn’t shift too much, and it pressed nicely. I did French seams wherever possible for neat insides, and pinked the ones where I thought French seaming wouldn’t have worked very well. Well, I say it was straightforward – until I got to the zipper, that is. I had the perfect colour zipper in my stash (I have a huge vintage zip collection of all colours and sizes), but inserting it was like pulling teeth. I interfaced the zipper opening, I basted it in first…and it still took me 4 tries before I was satisfied with it. And even now, I’m not sure satisfied is the right word. More like resigned. I didn’t realise until I got to that step that the zip didn’t go all the way up to the top of the waistband. I hate hooks and eyes, so that didn’t thrill me. I ended up using some small nickel snaps I had from god knows where.

Closure

I let it hang for about 4 days before I hemmed it – I didn’t plan for it to be that long, but life got in the way. I ended up cutting another 2 inches off the bottom before finally hemming it the recommended amount. Luke kindly got on his knees and helped me pin it – I didn’t enjoy any of the hemming process, it’s a huge hem and I was worried the whole time it was going to be wonky. I did use hot pink bias binding though, because why not?

Hem

Can I confess that I’m not really loving the skirt? I don’t know how to wear it! I imagined I would wear it with a tucked-in top, but it turns out I hate the way that looks (you can see what I mean at the bottom of this post). It’s so much brighter than anything I usually wear, and while I love how flowy and light it feels when I’m wearing it, I feel like I have no suitable tops to pair with it. I’m wondering if a looser fitting top, tucked in, would look okay. I’m desperate for open to suggestions.

Funny

When twirling photos go bad…

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McCall’s 9125

Do you ever finish sewing something, try it on and just feel…blah about it? This is one of those.

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This skirt is McCall’s 9125, a vintage pattern for a skirt or culottes, jacket and shirt. I am having trouble finding a picture of the pattern online to show you, but the envelope says it’s from 1967. To be honest, this is the kind of skirt that doesn’t even need a pattern – it’s literally two rectangles, gathered and sewn onto a tabbed waistband. But hey, I had the pattern and it’s actually the perfect length for me. This is my second time making it – I don’t think I’ve blogged the first one, only Instagrammed it a while back. I do wear the first one on occasion – it has chartreuse foxes on it, after all – but I’m just not feeling this one.

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The fabric is a rayon challis from Backstreet Bargains (I think) that I’ve had for a while. I love the teal colour, and it’s so flowy and soft. I thought it would work well for this pattern, but now I’m not so sure. It does feel summery to wear, but I don’t feel like it’s very flattering?

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Especially not from the back…geez. Excuse the odd poses, I was wearing a longish cardigan and instead of taking it off, I just hitched it up and held it there. It has a handpicked lapped zipper, done following the instructions on an old vintage zip, and it has a snap fastening at the waistband with a decorative button on the tab.

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It even has self-made matching bias tape on the hem! Why did I go to so much trouble for a skirt I had my doubts about? Who knows. At least it’s well made. But I think I’ll be donating it, sadly, as I just don’t see myself wearing it.

Do you keep your dud makes, or do you get rid of them as soon as you can?

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