Nothing doing

Or doing nothing. Or well, doing other stuff. I’m back to uni with a vengeance and little time for much else, though I’m hoping to have a bit more time in the next few weeks. I’ve cleared the decks a little and that’s improved matters a lot.

Hope to make a few more My Fave Tops in several colours in the next few weeks. I’m a little concerned about the weight of one of my knits, but I’ll give it a go anyway. 🙂 With winter coming, I’m planning to extend the sleeves a little in these versions.

Another skirt – 5 down, 6 to go

My fifth garment in my eleven garment SWAP is done!


This week’s project is an embroidered denim skirt made from this fabric. This is my self-drafted pattern from Winifred Aldrich’s book “Metric Pattern Cutting“, which I used last week for the black skirt with the box pleat at the front. To make this pattern, I traced off another copy, and put back the 5cm I lowered from the waistline last week. I then turned the one front dart into two (at roughly thirds along the width of the pattern at the waist), slashed through from the center of the dart to the hemline, and closed the darts at the waistline. This swung the hem out to make an A-line shape. There are no darts in this final version of the skirt.

Dark blue embroidered denim with ruler at bottom
Dark blue embroidered denim (1.6 metres, 1.4 metres wide)

As it was an A-line skirt, and as I tried to pattern match as much as possible (including the pockets), it took virtually the whole amount of fabric. I have some scraps – enough for a little bag, or something like that, so I’ve put them aside.

The skirt has a centre back invisible zipper, a narrow waistband (essentially a bound band) and front pockets. I was reasonably pleased with the pockets.


It’s hard to tell from this photograph, but when it is properly flat, the pocket opening and facing behind it match rather well! I don’t know why I was so fussy, since I expect these pockets to be unseen most of the time, but I was!


The inside of the garment showing the pockets. The part of the pocket closest to the body is a stay, and helps the pockets sit nice and flat during wear, and hides all the doings of the pockets. I imagine this could also be extended to be a lining, but extra layers of fabric is the last thing I need during summer in my hot climate (it’s a bit cooler now, but earlier in the week it was 42C/107F), especially since this fabric really doesn’t need it!

Doing the pockets this way necessitated a slightly different sewing order than I’ve previously done, but I like it and will use it again. The pockets were more or less self-drafted, but I did take (more or less) the bag shape and depth from a pocket I’d liked in a commercial pattern I’ve used – New Look 6681. (The link is to Pattern Review, but I haven’t reviewed this pattern.) I drew the top of the pocket at quite a shallow slant and this will mean the pocket isn’t noticeable most of the time.

The back part of the pockets is a stay, but since there is no centre front zipper in which to catch it, I’ve cut it on the fold. This could have been cut all from the embroidered denim, but I didn’t have enough fabric to cut it without a seam (well, since I was being fussy and wanted to pattern match). Since I’d cut it from a fabric that I didn’t want to show at the pocket opening, I cut out a piece from the embroidered denim big enough to cover that opening, plus a little below. I finished (overlocked) the inside-most edge and appliqued it in place on the back part of the pockets. Next step was to finish the edges of the back pocket piece (except the waistline area). This means overlocking two layers at the side seam where the denim was appliqued in place. Then I overlocked around the sides and bottom of the other pocket piece.

The next bit was to layer it all up to check it. 🙂 The back pocket piece went down first on the table. Next was to pop the other two pocket bits down – in place, as they’d be worn – on top, and pin them into place. The next step was to sew the pockets down the inside-most seam, to the point where it begins to curve at the bottom. That’s important, because it would be tricky to sew that later.

Then I put the front skirt and the pocket piece right sides together, rolled the inside pocket pieces out of the way, and sewed the pocket opening (pressed, understitched, pressed, topstitched) and then flipped it around. It sat nice and flat and I heaved a sigh of relief! Then it was a matter of just joining the remainders of the pocket pieces together, which was really just from the curve at the inside-most part of the pocket, across to the side seam (and I basted it all together at the side seam).

The side seams were just sewn and pressed open to facilitate future alterations, but did decide to top stitch along the seam lines at the front. That just meant that it sits a little better after laundering.

The waistband is an easy application that I’ve done previously and liked. A long strip is cut and overlocked (or otherwise finished, I guess, I like to overlock it for flatness) along one long edge, folded in half (so now you’ve got a strip of fabric that is just as long as before, but half as wide) and pressed. Then it is sewn in place with a 1cm seam allowance. I don’t trim it, I leave the whole 1cm seam allowance intact, though probably a layer could be trimmed out of the pocket area. The band is pressed flat first of all, and then toward the waistline. All going well, the originally pressed fold will line up neatly at the top of the waist. (It did!) Then the corners are sewn and the band flipped into place as it will be worn. I like to stitch in the ditch from the front at this point, having pinned first to make sure that the back of the band will be caught by the stitching. (It was!) I’d caught a loop of elastic in the corner on one side and sewed a button on the top of the other for the closure.

Finally, the skirt hem was overlocked and turned up 1cm and topstitched. After wearing it, I might take it up a little – not much, just 1-2 cm.

I like the pocket treatment on this skirt, and will use it again. I’ll take more pictures next time (next week, all going well) and include them in a blog post.



New skirt – four down

box pleat skirt

Not a great picture. 😦 There are creases in the box pleat that I need to iron out – that suggests that this fabric might crease a lot in wearing… Oh well.

I’ve found myself suddenly needing some more skirts. I’ve started a part-time job and need clothes. I probably can’t wear shorts to work, but I can wear skirts and skirts are good for our summers as well, so my SWAP plans are going to change to incorporate four skirts instead of two skirts and two pairs of shorts.

I wasn’t thrilled with how I’d messed with the skirt pattern I used last week (the Ottobre pattern) and I’m not sure where the original pattern is any more (hopefully in a box in the attic… hope I didn’t toss it during our move a few years ago…) so I can’t go back easily to trace a better size and start over. I want a basic straight skirt that I can alter to make a few different skirts – an A-line and a straight skirt with a box pleat at centre front come to mind straight away.

So, out came the trusty Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. The basic block for the pattern was drafted using her instructions for the skirt block and my own measurements. Following directions for the straight skirt variation, I added 1cm to the centre back at the hem tapering up to about the hipline, and cm to the hemline at the side seam on front and back, also following the directions for the straight skirt pattern. The draft is for a skirt to sit at the natural waist but I decided to lower it by 5cm to sit below the natural waist. This is a spot I’ve liked in the past as I feel that it reduces the bulk at the waist and my tops always cover them up anyway. Finally, directions for adding a box pleat were then followed, and added to the centre front. 1.5cm seam allowances were added to all seams, and about 1.5cm for the hem. I didn’t want a deep hem at the box pleat, but a deeper hem would be good for other times.

It looks like an elasticated waistband – it is, sort of. It is a regular waistband, into which is threaded elastic instead of the usual interfacing. This is to just snug it in a little as the fabric is very stretchy. When worn it looks like a regular waistband, but my top covers it anyway.

Black denim with ruler at bottom
Black denim (2.2 metres, 1.5 metres wide)

A slightly better photograph of the fabric. The skirt was cut after folding the fabric slightly off the centre line so that I had a wider bit left over at the edge instead of two narrower leftover bits. This meant I had more useable fabric left to (hopefully) make shorts a bit later – maybe, maybe not, we’ll see.

Initially I’d intended to sew a centre back lapped zipper, but absently-mindedly cut the back on the fold instead of adding a seam allowance, so I ended up adding an invisible zipper at the centre front. That meant that the side seams were free to take in or let out if needed. (It wasn’t, as it turned out.) The darts were sewn first, then the zipper, then the box pleat was basted together (to avoid borrowing any ease during fitting), then the side seams. The fit was pretty good straight off and I didn’t make any adjustments. Then I added the slant pockets at the front and finished it off.

I’m so happy with the basic pattern that I’ll use it again in the next week or so, and will tweak it to make an A-line skirt with no darts (an easy pattern manipulation). I’ve got a nice embroidered denim to use for that one. I’ve just got to decide where to put the waistline on this one – on the natural waist, or sitting below like this one.  Decisions, decisions! Any opinions will be gratefully received!




Something every week

I didn’t mention this previously, but this year’s goal is to sew something every week. That’s pretty vague, but the goal is to sew through my modest stash over the year. I’ve got a bunch of leftover curtain fabric and some garment fabric. (The garment fabric is pretty much all earmarked for my SWAP, so that’s accounted for.) The only real rules I’ve set myself are to sew from stash, and that any completed item counts, no matter how quick to make.

I want to make some napkins, and even though they only take a few minutes to make, they count. That means I should be able to meet my goal of something completed a week, even if life gets away from me and I don’t have much time. Most of my garment sewing is uncomplicated and fairly quick to sew – tee shirts and fairly plain skirts etc – so they should all help me meet my goal. I’m also planning to make some fabric baskets to go into drawers, so they count too and can be made from the leftover curtain fabric.

So, for January I did fairly well. I made:

2 white tee shirts (blogged) – 2 items for SWAP
One “skirt” for a dressing table stool (not blogged)
One denim skirt (for home only, it was experimental)
One pink skirt – 1 item for SWAP (to be blogged shortly)

Plus, DD wants to make a costume, so we drafted that and she cut it out. Just a toile at this stage, and cut out of an old bedsheet, so I’m not counting that at present.

So I’ve managed to meet my goal and also be on track for my SWAP. Pretty good. Happy with that.


Pink Skirt

I’m not overly excited about this skirt, but it is okay and I’ve already worn it. It started life as an Ottobre pattern, but I decided that I’d gained weight since I last made it and added quite a bit to the pattern. Turned out I’d have better have not… I ended up taking it in and adding an extra dart on the front.

Pink Skirt

I omitted a waistband/facing and instead used grosgrain, and eased the waistline onto the grosgrain. It has a left zipper and no pockets. It’s a rather stretchy denim-y fabric. It’s quite comfy and I wore it on Thursday with this top.

White lettuce edge top

So it’s completely wearable and my third garment in my SWAP.




Two down, nine to go!

Garments, that is, for my SWAP.

Two tops sewn today and yesterday. Both Jalie 2566, one with a short sleeve and the other a capped sleeve.


This one has a lettuce edged strip applied as a neckband, and as sleeve hems. The hemming at the waist/hips was done with a twin needle.



This one has a narrow neckband.

Both were this fabric:

White cotton lycra knit with ruler at bottom
White cotton lycra knit (1.75 metres used, now 2 metres remaining, 1.5 metres wide)




For my SWAP I want to make six or seven knit tops. I wear these almost exclusively, so it’s logical to use them for my SWAP. For four of them I want to use a single, plain, tee shirt pattern with some variations. It’s within the rules to prepare patterns before the official start date so I’ve been tweaking a Jalie tee shirt pattern to fit me to my preferences (no pics, sorry!), and my intention is to use that for most of my tops. This is a great pattern with two sleeves and two neckline finishes. Summer here in my corner of Australia is too hot for me to be interested in the mock turtleneck at this stage (but it’s a great option for winter), so I’ve been working on the scoop neck version.

It’s a nice flattering scoop neck, but I don’t want four identical tee shirts, especially since three of them will be white! So yesterday’s job was to trace several new necklines for this tee shirt.

I started by tracing the whole pattern onto a sturdier paper.

top tracing.jpg

The next step was to get out my trusty “Easy Sewing The Kwik-Sew Way” book, because I know it has several nice neckline options. (You’ll notice that it is so well used that the book has fallen apart and I’ve had to hole punch it and put it into a file!) I’ve made the tee shirt in this book several times but that was in the past and the pattern isn’t a great fit just now. Instead of starting over again, I decided to morph the necklines from that pattern onto my well-fitting Jalie pattern. This was made easier because both of the patterns have the same 6mm seam allowance.

ks book.jpg

Then, using thin kitchen paper, I traced off the top part of the Jalie pattern, getting all of the important fitting parts – armhole, shoulder etc. That was then placed over the KwikSew pattern, lined up with the size that was the closest fit and the neckline traced off. I’ve taken four of the necklines, including a crew, V, scoop and boatneck.

KS tracings

(This is the front pattern piece. It’s important to also do this on the back pattern piece so that the neckline bits join up. I haven’t shown it, but it’s done the same way.)

Finally, I fell in love with a square-ish scoop neckline I saw somewhere, and remembered this pattern, (currently out of print, but still for sale, by the look of things) which I already own.

mccalls pattern

This is a pattern for woven fabrics, and it will have a standard seam allowance (though I haven’t checked!). Still, I like the shape so I traced it off in the same way and I’ll try it on some scraps of fabric first to see how it works.

mccalls tracinig

So that should give me several options to make slightly different tops from the same pattern. I’ll have to pin the part pattern piece to the full pattern piece and fold it out of the way before cutting. I could also have traced a whole new pattern for the different necklines, but I expect to still tweak the fit a little and I only want to adjust the one pattern piece.