Pale imitation

So, a couple of months ago I saw Kelly’s awesome skirted leggings and thought now there’s a solution to the Leggings Aren’t Outerwear disagreement The Girl and I have.

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So I made a pair and felt kind of meh about them so never got around to blogging them. (Yesterdays post reminded me cos the leftovers ended up in my new knickers).

On the advice of Kelly (she is a generous woman) I curved the skirt portions out a bit going down the side seam and made them lower at the centre than the sides. The side seam curve worked well but with hindsight the hemline is far too curvy.  (On the plus side, note my dots and crosses paper (1 inch grid) that came as packaging with something non sewing related orderd online. I have ironed it out and am repurposing it).

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The skirt hem is turned and zig zagged, which would’ve been easier with a less pronounced curve. And it has a tendancy to flip up in the middle – the resulting duck tail look is not a favourite of mine. I wonder if this is the curve, or the fabric (a nice jersey, but not anything as fancy as the Haci sweater knit that Kelly used).

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The skirt is then basted at the top to the leggings before adding some kind of hem band, or in my case, this rainbow elastic. I was pleased how neatly I sewed it on at the time (the blue and orange zig zags just melt into the background stripe colour as planned) but overall the look screams “Home made” in a “could do better” kind of way to me.

So yeah, without wishing to sound too negative, these fall firmly into the “room for improvement” category to me (the fit of the leggings isn’t that great either). However, The Girl does not seem to share my reservations and has been wearing them, and they do cover her bum, so maybe I will just need to make a new pair that fixes my grouches and puts these into the Wearable Muslin category.

Costumes

This Tuesday, The Girls year at school will be having a Greek Day. Which is going to involve “a carousel of activities throughout the day” (your guess is as good as mine), a Greek feast (we’re signed up to take in a jar of black olives), and instead of school uniform they “may come dressed in Greek attire (a sheet!)”. Ha.  After extensive research (half an hour sat on the sofa using internet search engines) I decided that to be a Greek in a Sheet, you need for a minimum two seperate bits of sheet that you can pin together at your neckline.

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Sewing together seemed more secure though. So, here is the Chiton (pronounced Ki-ton, as in “I’ve got a kite on”, well as far as I can tell, I’m no ancient Greek expert), which is indeed made from a part of a sheet that  I never used (the rest is now in the stash) and a bit of appropriate looking ribbon that was lurking in my ribbon box.  It may, or may not, be a Doric Chiton, but it definitely didn’t cost $45. And the belt is included, the middle of it is even sewn in place at the back, to prevent it from getting lost.

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The drapey over thingy is apparently a Diplax, as shown here and is just a hemmed bit of nasty synthetic fabric that I’m not even sure how I acquired which I’ve pinned up with safety pins (on the inside, cos they’re not so authentic).  I’m really glad I found Serial Hobbyist Girl’s post because it gave me the confidence to go with not white and I reckon the Diplax really makes the costume.

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Family Photo Upon Arrival

It actually got called into service before Greek Day, as we all went to a Mythical Themed Ceilidh yesterday. Turns out Greek costume (and simple vaguely Greek style hairdo) plus stuffed owl toy is perfect for being Athena. Bonus. The Boy on the other hand wore a fairly normal combination of his own clothes, plus made himself a copy of Mjolnir and hey presto, he was Thor. Long Suffering Husband kept up the father/son thing and went as Odin, in Travelling Stranger Mode, complete with labelled origami ravens and a bandage over his “missing” eye made with conveniently see through muslin that our christmas pudding came wrapped in.

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Action shot where you can sort of see the skirt and possible the tail. (I managed one dance before abandoning the mask. A fellow dancer was apparently stabbed in the armpit!)

That left me. Originally I had great plans to use this as motivation to finally make the gabriola skirt up in blood splatter effect denim, which is surely the basis of a great costume, but I didn’t get around to it in time. So, this is my last minute unicorn costume, cos if you already have a 3D unicorn mask lying around the house (from World Book Day 2017) it’d be a shame not to use it, right? Except being made for my daughter the mask didn’t actually fit me, so I had it pinned on top of my head instead. I quickly ran up a waistcoat out of cream fleecey/fake fur stuff. And then went a bit mad and started a muslin of the Gabriola skirt at 4pm on the day we were going out at 7.30pm (with break for cooking and eating dinner).  I used the white reverse side of some curtain fabric. To say it was rough and ready would be generous. I didn’t realise until after I started that I didn’t have all the pattern pieces printed. And then I found out I didn’t have enough fabric. So, this is the gabriola yokes, front and side and a random bit of the right size at the top sort of rectangular bit of fabric at the back, no waistband, rough and ready zip, and then a kilt pin  holding it in place. Oh and some netting strips being a tail. By the end of the night I needed to change into my emergency jeans as part of the seam had come undone at hip height. But I’m counting it as enough of a fitting muslin to mean I can go ahead and try it in my real fabric, I think the size is good enough to just need minor tweaks and it’s definitely a good skirt for dancing in.

So, maybe this year I will actually finish and Gabriola, or two. Only time will tell.  (I have given up making pledges, my soul dies a little every time I break one.)

The return of the bustle

dancing underway

dancing underway

Sometimes one just needs something a little bustly in ones wardrobe, especially when one is hanging out with adventure seeking, time travelling, molly dancing, steam punk automata. As you do.

front

self drafted skirt

As befits such time travelling adventures, I’m a little hazy on when all this sewing took place. First there was the prototype “bustle” skirt, which Professor Moustachio and I then dip dyed.

side view

side view

At some point later (but this year, I’m pretty sure), this more elegant version got made in some rather lovely shot green/orange needle cord. This was worn to a dance out and I discovered that the waistline finished with bias binding (as per tutorial detailed in the prototype skirt post) was both not the comfiest and not the most secure (especially if some noggin had used a popper(snap) to fasten it at the back, not the brightest idea I’ve ever had to hold up a skirt under pressure).

swags

swags

So the day before the latest dance out, I sewed on some swags of ribbon (fittingly orange shot with green) that I’d been toying with, sewed the bustley bits at the back in place (rather than leaving them permanently safety pinned as I wasn’t sure I’d done them right, I’m still not sure, but at least they’re secure now) and improvised a scruffy looking but comfy and secure waistband out of the last bit of leftover fleece from my ill fated lola.

bustle

“bustle”

And then I went me a singing for the dancers at the steam up at Coldharbour Mill and whilst I was there I got to accompany the boy in his element – asking detailed questions of enthusiastic volunteers.

Understanding exactly how opening both furnace doors at once causes blowback (i.e. fire shooting out of furnace at you)

Understanding exactly how opening both furnace doors at once causes blowback (i.e. fire shooting out of furnace at you)

And now I have made something with nearly all the fabric I brought in Brighton (just the precious black needle cord to go), hooray for me! Also, this counts towards my goal of making 12 things from “proper stash” this year (i.e., not stuff I bought right at the end of 2015 or leftovers). There are a lot of ways I could chose to count this, but today I’m thinking that my stripey trousers, first drape top, sun hats, the sucessful drape top, Challenge Anya skirt, burgandy shot cord skirt, waistcoat, pajama’s (do these count as they were half made?) and this makes 11, which with 2 months left is not bad going!

How’re your sewing goals for this year going?

Issy flashes her bloomers

Issy flashes her bloomers

up close and personal

up close and personal

learning about worsted yarn

learning about worsted yarn

weaving

weaving

Issy Ahman inspects a model traction engine

Issy Ahman inspects a model traction engine

Bustle in action, honest, if you look closely

Bustle in action, honest, if you look closely

Draped skirt

So, after showing you my latest t shirt I was hoping to show you some new jeans next, but they are coming together very slowly as I’m quite under the weather with a nasty chesty cold thingy and jeans are just a tad too complicated for me at the moment.

However, yesterday, I decided I needed some fresh air, so took a little trip down the road to my very local fabric shop. I had a fun time chatting to all the staff, shame about the massive coughing fit on the way home that saw me going in a corner shop with tears streaming down my face to buy a drink 😦 Luckily I don’t think the shop assistant looked in my direction once whilst serving me so presumably hasn’t jumped to any conclusions about my distressed looking state.

However, as well as some more thread for my jeans, I picked up a few other things. In my defence, I only got 1/2 m of one, two more were from the remnants basket (and one of those was something I’d been eyeing up on the roll before) and the other was a little grey jersey. Just perfect for trying out Maria’s draped skirt tutorial. (I just may have worked out measurements before hand and took them with me my trip.)

Maria Denmark fan girl

spot the Maria Denmark fan girl (that’s my Day to Night T shirtDay to Night t shirt I’m wearing too)

Basically, you make a tube, twice as long as you want your skirt to be, then fold it in half (so you have a double layer), but twist one of the tops round 180 degrees. (If you’re confused, check out the tutorial, it’s very clear).

roll top

roll top

I put a yoga style folded waistband at the top made from some ribbing. It was the sort that comes in a knitted tube which was a close enough match sizewise to what I needed the waistband to be, so I managed not to have any side seams.

back view

back view – the best of some very bad photo’s!

The skirt looks like a weird jumbled mess when it’s not on and your feet have to fight their way through when putting it on as it doesn’t feel as if there’s a hole at the bottom. When I first put it on, it feels very tight around the knees (bearing in mind I tend to live in jeans and don’t have any pencil skirts), but I can walk in it just fine and it’s very comfy to wear. I won’t go cycling or tree climbing in it, but if I worked in an office I think I might run up another couple to be secret office pajamas.

long scarf

long scarf

There was a long strip of fabric left over, so I made a quick scarf.

guts

guts

As these things tend to flip out, I used a french seam to stop the seam showing, then sewed it down, faux flat felled seam style. The sides I left raw.

doubled up

doubled up

And doubled up it works as a shorter scarf and it can also function as a headband (although it’s a bit bulky that way).

All in all, a quick couple of makes to cheer me up and there was no left over fabric at all! Double win. Now, back to edging forward with the jeans…

The Challenge – Part 2 (The Idea)

So, how to complete my challenge and turn my lovely birthday present into something for me?

First thoughts? I cannot imagine something made from all of those elements. A fat quarter of quilting fabric is quite small! Maybe I could eek a hat out of it? Or find a “100 things to make with a fat quarter” list on the internet.

hmm, looking promising

hmm, looking promising

Then The Man (AKA Hubby) and The Best Mate stepped in and suggested the mushroom fabric should be pockets. The weight of the fabric said to me they would have to be pockets on a skirt or pair of trousers. Sticking to the spirit of the challenge (if not the letter), I poked around in my stash (which is a spiritual extension of my sewing box, although it would take a pretty big actual sewing box to fit all of it inside) and came up with some sagey green cord that I bought as part of a bulk package of bits of corduroy that someone was selling on facebook (what can I say, I was a maths post grad, I have a bit of a weakness for corduroy).

Sapling Skirt

Seasalt Sapling Skirt (image grabbed from the Seasalt webpage)

I got an idea in my head of a kind of Seasalt/White Stuff style skirt, with mushroom patch pockets, wanna see my sketch?

professional, not

professional, not

Next up, I had a look for a pattern. I don’t have a Tried and Tested skirt pattern as I don’t usually make skirts. I have made but two, both grainline moss minis. However, I do have a copy of Ottobre 5/2012 and the Aztek Velveteen Skirt (no. 12) looked promising.

Picture of Ottobre Aztek skirt (05/2012) from the Ottobre blog

So I set to work….

(yeah, I know, I’m being a tease. New post soon, promise, I just didn’t want this one getting too long and I have to go and pick various children up from several places now.)

First Swallow of Summer

I’m not sure if finding a bargain second hand item that you know you can transform is luck or judgement, what do you think? Either way I don’t usually have the knack.

before

before

However, this time, I could see the potential in this adult top which was £1 and we both liked the fabric. We even saw sandmartins (which we thought were early swallows) the day I finished it – which made the fabric even more special for us.

jump for joy

jump for joy

I found some co-ordinating quilting cotton bought for a project that’s fallen off my list and I was away.

back view

back view

I just made it up as I went along, cutting the top across just below the button placket and reusing the original side seams and hem. I gathered it slightly into a blue band I made with A line sides. A navy waistband as well seemed like it would be a bit too much navy, so I added a strip of flat piping in the seam from the bird fabric to break it up. It’s slightly wobbly, but I think I like it.

pockets

pockets

That just left pockets, an essential for a girl to keep her stones/tissues/hairclips/treasures in. They needed to overlap the colour change to be at the right height, so I couldn’t work out if I should make them navy or birdy, I felt either would look wrong. Eventually I hit on this combination, with a little help from this tutorial and I really like the result.

And as an added bonus, I found out half way through it fits with the April Put a Bird on It challenge over at the Monthly Stitch.

Anyone else putting a bird on it this month?

Something I ruffled up

Back in the summer I made a simple bustle skirt skirt using this tutorial from the costume trunk. My goal wasn’t a historically accurate skirt, but rather something that would look suitable steampunky to hang out with some Time Travelling Molly Dancing Automata. I liked the look of this one as it didn’t require complicated undergarments.

I used some cotton material that I have no idea how it got into my stash. It was white, and I wanted khaki, so I went to buy khaki dye. The shop didn’t have any, they recommended green. I thought I saw khaki, but it turned out to be grey. So I bought both and used half of each. The fabric turned out a nice shade of greyey green (quelle surprise) that wasn’t quite what I had in mind but I thought it would do. My mum quickly pointed out that I should have mixed brown and green, but in my defense the shop staff didn’t think of that either and they’re pretty knowlegable on many things.

Anyway, the skirt made up pretty easily. The only thing I found frustrating about the tutorial was the lack of dimensions. So, for the record, as far as I can tell from my scibbled notes at the time, my 3 shaped skirt panels were 12″ wide at the top (width 1 on the tutorial diagram) and 19″ wide at the bottom (width 3 on the diagram) and 40″deep (which is not quite length 2 from the diagram, but rather the height of the pattern piece) (oh I’m 5’8″ by the way and this skirt came out long). These measurements include a seam allowance of 1/2″ on the side seams and 1″ hem allowance at the top and bottom. My bustly panel for the back was 42″ wide and 78″ long. I sewed it straight to the side panels for 12″ at the bottom and 5″ at the top and had folds in the middle. It was basically the size of the fabric I had left (I used pretty much all of it) and it worked out just fine). The other change I made was to use a waistband nicked of a deceased garment I’d already cut up for scraps.

Pinning the folds was nervewracking and lastminute. In the end I got hubby to do it in the street with safety pins. The result looked like this.

Hmm,  a bit droopy methinks

Hmm, a bit droopy methinks

And it worked well. And then it languished in the bottom of my overflowing washing basket for 6 months as I was worried the dye would run if I put it in with anything. And then my timeline was scheduled to cross paths with the Automata again, so I got it out, removed the safety pins, washed it and then with a little help from my trusty assistant, I dip dyed it with some brown dye

When instructed to wear something that could get dirty, he immediately found his lab coat and goggles

When instructed to wear something that could get dirty, he immediately found his lab coat and goggles

Obviously for such a technical and potentially interesting task I needed supervising. Well, until it came to the bit where you had to go and poke a bit more skirt into the dye pot at 15 minute intervals, then he was seduced by screens and lost interest.

skirt about to be dyed in foreground, brown dye all over bottom of bath (he did help clean up too though)

skirt about to be dyed in foreground, brown dye all over bottom of bath (he did help clean up too though)

The result is a little coppery, (I think the dye was a terracotta brown) and not unreminiscent of someone who’s spent a long time walking through mud, but these things work for me. I’m not sure that any of the skirt is actually the khaki coloured I intended, but the Automata, though once immaculate, have been sullied by their adventures in time and are now a pretty rag tag bunch so it fits in just fine.

The photo’s are action shots of the dancing really, but I think you can spot the skirt ok.
Oh, and its still held together by safety pins.

Thanks Gerard for the use of the photo’s.

 

 

Anyway, this muslin is now officially done and I have started making making the real deal…

Never Say Never

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be up late sewing presents on Christmas Eve this year, not after last year and the shirt for the boy.

In theory I didn’t need to be. I’d already made the boy a top and the girl a skirt and as I still haven’t finished that darn waistcoat I haven’t started a new thing for the man.

But then, not long before Christmas, the girl met Father Christmas and all she wanted to ask him for was an Anna dress. How could I let her down?

ugh

ugh, bad photo of bad work, taken just as the skirt was falling down.

This sewing has not been my finest, I had to force myself to do it, I’m still feeling pretty ill. But, mainly on the 23rd, I cranked out a black velvet t shirt with puffed sleeves (all from good old Simplicity 1573), with an altered hemline and neckline (done by eye, it looked a better shape before the binding smoothed my curves out, oh well), trimmed with gold satin bias binding and with a really wonky badly applied vaguely Anna like ribbon design and some sparkly jewel like giant sequin things added in for good measure. Anna has a bodice on her dress and wears it over a pale blue long sleeved top (as far as I can tell). The girl does not do layers and I’m not mad keen on sleeveless items (as she will wear just this, even in January), so I made a t shirt and I thought the puffed sleeves (which I realised are an option in the pattern envelope) might make it more Princess like (she is a princess, right?).

And tonight, with 45 mins to spare, I ham fistedly put together a long blue skirt, rectangle, elasticated waistband, with pockets (last time I made her a fancy dress item she wore it for a whole day out and complained about the lack of pockets, not doing that again), made in lining fabric (2 layers, plus a 3rd layer around the top few inches as the fabric allowed to help keep things decent). The fabric was horrid to work with as each layer just wanted to roll up. Urghh. It has a shiny ribbon around the bottom, not very Anna like but I kind of hope that I can make a blue top and this can mix and match with that to be an Elsa dress. (I also have some fantastic Elsa cape fabric that I want to use).

So, I won’t say I won’t be doing this again next year, cos I probably will, (lets face it, if I’d’ve finished this earlier I’d’ve been making the boy trousers, or both of them pajamas, there’s always just one more thing to make) but I can dream….

Oh, happy Christmas to you all, may the sewing fairy bring you lots of time for making, ensure your bobbin never runs out at inopportune moments, keeps your seams straight and your stitches true.

Maids a milking

So, what do you do when you’ve finally dusted off that work in progress, had a burst of energy on it and nearly finished it bar buttons and buttonholes? Why you put it on one side and start something new of course.

spotty cordrouy

spotty cordrouy

I bought some lovely spotty needle cord in my tourist visit to Guthrie and Ghani – I had the girl in mind when I got a metre (I nearly bought the pink). I decided to make a skirt like a shop bought one she already had.

The shop bought skirt she got for Christmas last year

The shop bought skirt she got for Christmas last year, also spotty needle cord. I always felt this one was too full for the length though

Luckily the Milkmaid skirt tutorial was just what I needed and I liked the look of Justina Maria Louisa’s pleated version.

So, some lovely toning needle cord from my stash for a bit of added interest, some pocket linings (the side you don’t see) squeezed out of leftover green satin from the waistcoat and a purchase of some bias binding later (oh and a bit of sewing) and I’ve completed something from my Christmas makes wish list. (Yeah, I know it’s possible to make bias binding, I’ve even tried the continuous loop method. I can make a halfway decent bias strip that way, but when I try and turn it into binding it ends up looking like a dogs dinner, trust me).

front view

front view – the purple binding is brighter in real life and looks lovely and brings out the purple dots in the fabric. I almost wished I had more to sew some peaking out of the bottom of the waistband but adding extra fabric there would’ve been madness anyway.

back view

back view

If anyone is interested, for the pattern piece – I drafted straight onto the fabric (hurrah for symmetric prints that make straight lines easier). I loosely based the measurements on the skirt she already has, as fittings were out of the question for a surprise present. The skirt front and back panels both had a length of 15″, were 28.5″ wide at base and 22.5″ wide at top with 17.5″ between the pockets at the front. (I did them the same width as I was planning on putting pleats in the front, the tutorial has the back panel 2″ wider than the front). I put 4 pleats in, after which my front was 14.5″ wide at the top. I sewed the pleats down for the first 2.5″ to help hold the line. (I was winging it a bit, I don’t think I’ve ever done pleats before, so these may not be “right”, but hey, they look like pleats).

Waistband wise I made the front 14.5″ section wide like my skirt (so it would have a flat waistband at the front like Justina Maria Louisa’s) and the back 15.5″, so the back of the skirt was gathered into that. I sewed elastic into the back section, I tried to work out how long to make my elastic from the existing skirt, but I think it’s come out a little big. Still I’m not going to adjust it until she’s tried it on as it might be ok and I might make it too small. I’ve never made a half elasticated waistband before, I found a very complicated tutorial and in the end just cobbled something together.

Waistband, folds pressed in, attached to skirt

Waistband, folds pressed in, attached to skirt

The front of the waistband was sewn on first, right sides together, all the way around. Then for the back section I fixed the elastic to the wrong side of the portion of the waistband that would be the inside. I zig zagged the ends in place and sewed through the middle too. Then I folded my waistband down (with seam allowance tucked under) and top stitched from the outside. I hope that makes sense if you’re trying to figure it out, or maybe you know a better way? Anyway, it looked ok to me, just a little baggy.

Elastic in place, ready to fold over and stitch down

Elastic in place, ready to fold over and stitch down

I’m quite pleased with this make, it just remains to be seen what the Girl thinks. I like the contrast colours and the finish. The pocket bags could do with being lots deeper though, they’re only 2″ below the bottom of the pocket opening so much more than a tissue is going to fall out of them (not that they really need to hold much more than that). Now I look at the tutorial photo’s again it’s obvious they should’ve been deeper, oh the perils of not drawing out your pattern piece in advance.

Mini version

Mini version

Oh and I made a matching skirt for one of her dolls (confession time, it was meant to be for a bigger doll but I messed the measurements out), hopefully that will win me extra brownie points and she wont complain I didn’t make a doll sized pocket. So we will have a quarter of the quorate number of maids decked out for milking.

More drapery

So, there was more meant to go in my post about the asymmetric drape top, but it was getting a bit long, so here is the Post Script.

After making the top and deciding it was too tight around my bust there was room for improvement, I added some ease to the pattern. My pattern altering skills are fairly basic and the geometry of this top is a little hard for me to get my head around so I probably didn’t do this the “right” way. I decided the fit in the shoulders was fine and the length was fine. So I added 1 inch to the side/underarm seams, thereby adding 2 inches to width of the top. Then I was troubled at adding all the ease to one side (heaven forfend the top should look one sided 😉 ) so I cut the pattern piece down the line where the other side seam would be if it wasn’t a one piece pattern and pulled it two inches apart and redrew the ends of the arm.

In retrospect maybe I wasn’t thinking enough, as the original top fit well enough that I probably didn’t need to add 4 inches. So it was probably that, or maybe it was the different drape of the viscose jersey I chose, but the new top ended up a bit baggy.

akward photo shoot in garden

awkward photo shoot in garden

Hmm, not convinced this is a flattering look

Hmm, not convinced this is a flattering look

at Budleigh Salterton

This was not a “photoshoot” – proving it is worn in “real life” (Pebble balancing at Budleigh Salterton)

The arms fit a lot better on this version but its quite baggy and yet somehow my chest still seems to spoil the flow of the garment. Obviously I should have heeded the warning signs of stick thin models in the book and the fact that everyone else whose made it seems to be a different build to me.

I do wear it, it goes with my little bird skirt. But mainly I wear it with the skirt in that picture. I bought the fabric for the skirt at the same time as the green viscose thinking of making another patterned drape top (I’ve only seen it in plain or stripes and was interested how a pattern would work) but then I got bored/frustrated/disillusioned with this pattern after making the top above and started fantasising about making the patterned fabric into a maxi dress instead. Then I realised I’d probably not wear a maxi dress so I made a maxi skirt. It’s a metre length of fabric, sewn into a tube, sewn onto a wide elastic waistband and hemmed at the bottom. It’s quite versatile, if I pull the elastic so it sits a little on my hips it’s fashionably maxi, but if I pull it up slightly it’s more practical for walking about. I can’t quite bring myself to be pleased with it, it seems to simple to count, but I am wearing it quite a bit in the heatwave we’ve been having and I love the fabric (still 1m left but can’t bring myself to make a top with it as it would match the skirt and that would be wrong does that make any sense?).