Copycat: Dressing for ice cream. But not maths.

So, I think approximately 15 years ago, I wrote this post about my next planned copycat, which I duly made and loved and haven't worn or photographed or written about.   Finally, I've got my behind in gear and here she is, in all her chintzy, florally, acid green glory.

I hate admitting this as I like to think I'm smart and can do anything, but I am singularly rubbish with numbers.  I struggle with times tables and it takes me a phenomenally long time to work out any mathematical conundrum. I vividly remember the ridiculous length of time it took me to master simultaneous equations at school and how immensely frustrating I found the whole thing (I did however get 98% for something or other related to my maths GCSE which just goes to show what being a hard-working geek can get you). 

The point of me telling you this is that I had to use my incredibly non-math(s) oriented brain to work out the pleating on my skirt.  It took me longer to do that than it did to make the skirt. And the sweater. Combined.

My fabric was 45 inches wide and I only had about two yards of it.  I intended to use the entire length of the fabric so the skirt would be mid-calf - which seems to be a theme round here at the moment - and a width each for the front and the back.  This totally dictated the size and number of pleats (rather than the other way around). 

As you can see from the above photo, my workings - even with guidance from how to do this on various websites - went on and on and on.  I had to play around with the width of the pleat - I originally wanted 2 inch pleats - and the number so that I could get a skirt that fitted around my waist.  The maths went on. 

And on. 

And on. 

And then I got fed up with myself and left it alone for a few days.  And then I had to start all over again as I couldn't remember where I'd got to.  Finally, I found my formula (shown in the celebratory box at the bottom of the page).

I could only fit seven one and a half inch pleats in each width of fabric and this left quite a bit of non-pleated fabric on each width.  Fortunately, this actually worked to my advantage as I used the non-pleated bits either side of the side seams.  This creates less bulk on my hips, which as a pear-shaped lady, is always a winner.  I also stitched down the first inch and a half of the pleats, again to create a smoother top of the skirt and reduce bulk.

After the fifteen maths years, the skirt was so quick to put together.  I finished the seams with my serger, didn't bother to line as the fabric (from The Fabric Store in LA) is lovely and soft and very opaque and pretty heavy.  The waistband is a simply inch and a half rectangle, which I interfaced and then stabilised with some petersham ribbon as a waist stay that I left peaking out from beneath the waistband as it's so pretty.  I usually finish waistbands by slipstitching the facing closed, but I thought some wonky topstitching would finish the band nicely so I used that method instead. 

An invisible zipper on the side and a sweet domed clear plastic button - one of the many I have bought in the search for the perfect buttons for this dress - which I still haven't found incidentally - created the fastening.  Given the fabric is so thick, I decided to hem with tape.  I've never hemmed like this before so I went to town with a fancy scalloped machine stitch to attach the tape to the raw edge and then an invisible catch stitch.

And there she is the inspriation and my replica.  Pleated, chintzy, floral joy, just waiting for a green sweater, ridiculous necklace and an ice cream.

Except I was too lazy/ overdressed to walk the half block to the ice cream place to get a proper ice cream so hideous popsicle from the freezer will do instead.  And I'd taken my sweater off for this photo, but you get the idea ....

I mentioned when planning that just at the time I was thinking how I could recreate this vision of loveliness the April issue of Seamwork came out and my wishes were answered in the form of Astoria. Then whilst in Mood I found this bright bright bright textured green ponte, which I'm still not sure about. But I've found the top works OK with this skirt but actually looks great with a lovely pair of wide legged ankle swingers I own.  

And if I don't look down too much my eyes don't hurt, so that helps. 

I like this pattern and it was super fast to make. I'll probably make it again in a more wearable colour, but again I had ease issues as it would look much better if I went down a size or even two.

Incidentally, my green silk eucalpyt goes perfectly with this skirt.  Who would have thought I'd make two items of clothing that actually go with each other!

I love love love this skirt, but I think I might have mentioned before that my life doesn't really warrant an army of fancy pleated skirts and aside from that it's been 30 degrees and 80+% humidity recently which equates to far too warm to wear such deliciousness, even if accompanied by ice cream.  I'm holding out for September when I get back from my travels and booking in lots of grown up evenings out so I can wear the heck out of it.

See you soon x

Brumby and Elise

So, this is me feeling like a proper sewing blogger: a new indie pattern comes out and I snaffle it up, make it and blog about it straight away (pretty much). I am never organised enough to blog things when I actually finish them and usually have a half dozen other things I want to sew before I entertain something new. However, with this skirt, I had been sitting on the fabric for a year and as soon as the pattern was released, I knew it would be perfect to show off the cotton's complete and utter fabulousness.

 It's amazing what a few considered and well-designed details can do to elevate "humble gathered skirt" to "pattern must-have". Gathered skirts generally leave me cold.  I don't think they're particularly flattering or especially interesting, but this is the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen which has fabulous oversized pockets, an exposed zip and a wide contoured waistband that enhances the usual waist-to-gather ratio so the skirt doesn't make one look so wide or indeed frumpy - which has been my experience of gathered skirts up to now.   

The fabric is a stunning, lightweight pale grey cotton voile that has an abstract metallic design. I stalked it after seeing Laney's Alder shirtdress in the same fabric and bought a few yards as soon as it landed at Grey's Fabric.

The skirt is a quick and straightforward sew, although I did have some problems inserting the exposed zip. The instructions were quite limited and I was in such a hurry to get it done (I wanted to wear it on our anniversary weekend away to the North Fork of Long Island - where these pics were taken) and was having problems logging into the App to get more detail, so just ripped it out and started again. I've inserted an exposed zip once before and had a much neater result so may use that method again in future. I still haven't logged onto the app.  I really like the idea though and since most of my sewing learning is done through Google, this seems like the obvious next step to the sewalong and tutorials.

Also due to the stupid self imposed deadline, I forgot to add any length to the skirt where I usually add two or three inches. I'd prefer it if this was a couple of inches longer as this is neither midi nor knee length. Other than that the fit is good.  It's a gathered skirt for Pete's sake - where could I really have gone wrong with that?

I really can't remember why but I have some metallic silver thread in my stuffed to the gills Oxo tin, so I used that to topstitch the centre front seam, pockets and hem and although it's nigh impossible to see it, it makes me happy. The instructions also suggest to topstitch the pockets down a little so that they don't gape, but I like the gape, it really makes a feature of the pockets.  This skirt is ALL about the pockets.

In short, I like it and I'll probably make more.

I also made the top. It is a free pattern by Fine Motor Skills called the Elise Tee. The design is exactly the type of tee I like to wear, wide necked and sloppy with grown on sleeves. It's sewn up in a very lightweight lilac cotton jersey that I've had for ages as well. I didn't have a clue what to do with it but this pattern calls for lightweight knits and I thought the colour would go well with the Brumby. It's a super quick tee to sew - an hour I think - but I'm not too sure of the result - I rushed the cutting so the neckline is wonky and the shirring of the fabric which I thought was so sweet when I bought it, actually just implies Michelin Man ... But with a bit more care and a higher quality knit this pattern should be a winner. And I'm pretty pleased with my double needle topstitch work around the neckline. And I've worn it a lot. And did I mention it's free?!

So, what is my favourite thing about this whole particular sewing adventure? That I finally feel I've arrived by blogging a new pattern as soon as it's released? Little bit.  Or the way the metallic print on the skirt reflects the glorious colours of the sunset?  What more could one possibly want in a skirt? 

See you soon x

Photos taken at the stupendously wonderful Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast in Cutchogue and on Truman Beach near Greenport, NY. 

 

 

 

A style about-face: Shadi pencil skirt and Eucalypt tank

It's funny how my attitudes to different items of clothing have changed over time. A few years back there were few things I found more restrictive and uncomfortable and felt more self-conscious in than a pencil skirt.  I wore them occasionally - when I needed to wear a suit or wanted to feel particularly corporate and put together. But my hip to waist ratio just didn't work with what was available on the high street. The age old if-it-fits-on-the-hips-it-gapes-at-the-waist-and-if-it-fits-at-the-waist-it's-obscenely-tight-on-the-hips scenario.

I even went so far as to have two suits with pencil skirts custom made when I was travelling in Vietnam thinking that at least they'd fit me properly (oh yes, I am absolutely travel name dropping here). Alas, having been really really sick when I arrived in Hanoi, by the time I got to tailor central in Hoi An I was substantially lighter than usual and consequently as soon as I got back home and reverted to my usual weight, the skirts were too tight: Like constantly riding up, and only able to walk with a serious wiggle tight.  Which in turn meant it took me a lifetime to walk to the Tube, particularly as I always wore four inch heels, which meant I had to get up earlier which was not at all compatible with my pretty much daily hangovers at that time.

Lets just say I never felt like me in them, not least because I associated them with work and not something I would wear for fun.

Well, that was at least three lifetimes ago and my attitude towards the Mighty Pencil Skirt has swung full tilt as I now view them as comfortable and something that is an easy alternative to jeans to wear day-to-day. I also appear to have lost my self-consciousness about my BF Bottom and the detrimental effects this might have on the general public if combined with a pencil skirt.

So I should point out that the pencil skirts I buy, make and wear now are generally made of knits which obviously makes them a lot easier to wear than those made in wovens.  Er hum. But in my defence I do have at least one woven version on my to-sew (stretching to infinity) list.

I can't remember which came first: my desire for a striped pencil skirt, or my feverish pouncing on this gorgeous dark navy and white wide striped super thick Theory French terry I found at Mood Fabrics, but I suspect it was the fabric. 

I used the Named Clothing Shadi skirt pattern which I've made once before and really liked.  It's super super simple but in true not-paying-attention-because-it's-a-simple-pattern fashion I had to spend a significant amount of time unpicking my serger threads due to a backwards waistband mishap.   I wanted to start and finish the skirt on a navy stripe and to make the waistband exactly the same width as a stripe so that there was no break in the pattern and it looked as if it was just one continuous piece of fabric. However I also wanted it to hit knee length and the two desires were not compatible.

So initially I thought, well there is excess white stripe at the top so I'll have to make the waistband white.  Which looked terrible, so I flipped the waistband and after ALL the unpicking, made it navy and decided to live with the fact it doesn't have that continuous stripe look. The blow is softened by being rather pleased with the stripe matching at the side seams and the nice straight-along-the-stripe-edge hem. 

I really love the bold stripe in this skirt. The fabric is very firm, with only a little stretch, so it isn't as easy to wear as other knit skirts but it is still getting worn a lot (or at least it will do when I can wear clothes with waistbands again.) 

I also love the navy with the beautiful emerald green of this silk cotton Eucalypt tank. This is such beautiful fabric that I've been sitting on for a while and originally came from my mum's Chest of Fabric Wonder, I think having been left over from a dress she made for a wedding in the 80s. She's a serious serious hoarder.  

I had less than a yard so I knew it would be a tank and wanted to revisit the Eucalypt having made a dress from it last year, which I was not entirely happy with. For this version, I added an inch to each shoulder seam, scooped out the neck a little more and slimmed the hips (primarily as I didn't have enough width in my yardage) and I love the fit now.  I really like this top in general even though I deployed contrast topstitching (read, "oh cream will just have to do") as I haven't anything like emerald green in my thread tin.  And even though my trials with the bias neckline and armholes prompted this rather ranty (not 'randy' as autocorrect kept wanting me to say) post, they are sitting pretty flat.

So, the pencil skirt is in favour, the combination of pencil skirt and tank is a goody and can and will be repeated in many many forms over the coming months. And I love that as my lifestyle, my attitude towards my figure and my understanding of fit and fabric change, my eyes are reopened to previously no-go styles. 

Have you had those kind of garment reawakenings? is there something you never thought you'd wear but you've tried and loved? Do you agree that it isn't always necessarily dictated by the changes in fashion?

See you soon x