STOP PRESS!! The skirt is finished!!

Can you believe it?! I have actually finished my 3 hour clothes making class skirt in just under 7 weeks!

Well, that’s enough of the excited exclamation marks, but I hope you can understand my glee in the skirt finally being done. I had thought it would be finished about a month ago, but what with waiting for the tutor to show me things, and queuing for the overlocker I finally finished it on Monday.

Before I show you the final thing (yep, am going to drag it out even longer – scroll straight down if you simply can’t wait), I’m just going to explain how I did the hem so that I have it recorded.

Before finishing the hem the skirt was levelled whilst I was wearing it. We did this in pairs – me wearing the skirt and Lorna using a ruler to measure evenly all round the skirt from the floor. She then marked this distance with pins. This would be a great time to use my Nan’s hem marker if you were on your own.

I then just cut along the pinned line and used the overlocker to finish the raw edge. After folding the hem up I stitched it in place. Done.

For the lining hem I was shown another way that is meant to be good for less straight skirts than this one.

Again I put the skirt on, and someone pinned where the purple layer of fabric hung down to on the lining. Don’t want the lining hanging down longer than the skirt now do we?

After cutting the excess away I stitched a line about 1cm from the edge.

Using this line as a folding line I folded the hem up towards the waistband and pressed.

I then folded it up again, enclosing the raw edge, pinned and then sewed the hem on the machine.

After a final overall iron, my skirt was finally finished!!

Despite the long drawn out process, I know I learnt an awful lot whilst making this skirt, and think for an elasticated waistband it looks great!


Vintage Pattern Parade

Today I have completely been inspired by / copied Stitch & Witter’s Vintage Dress Parade from yesterday (make sure you take a peek at them, they’re beautiful), but I’m doing it with patterns!

Much like all the donations my Nan has made to me of her old sewing bits and pieces (who can forget the amazing hem marker!) and clothes, my mum and mother-in-law have also been passing things my way. In particular I have all of my mum’s old patterns that she made for herself. I’m not sure how happy she’ll be with me calling them ‘vintage’ in the title, but I thought you might like to see a few of my favourites.

If you can get over the hairstyles, I love the dress and shoes the girl in the middle is wearing. Not so sure about the other two outfits…

This one was my mother-in-laws. Very stylish!

I included this one as I really like the style of illustration.

I think this one might be my favourite, and hopefully I can make it sometime soon.

My Nan made the long dress for my Mum, my sister then wore it to a Jane Austen themed hen party, and I then got my hands on it and turned it in to this (because of the embellishment my Nan used, I think removing it was definitely an improvement!):

I’m not sure that all the patterns are big enough for me, or if all the pieces are still there, but there’s plenty to keep me busy! If and when I make any of them I’ll try and find out a bit more about them and let you know.

Bit of a bodge job

In between bashing out pillowcase dresses for my challenge, I wanted to make something quick to prove to myself that I still have the ability to do other things!

Through reading other sewing blogs I came across Grainline Studio, who seemed to have the perfect answer to my needs. I liked the Scout Woven Tee as it looked nice and quick, was a downloadable pattern so I would have it there and then, was cheap, and I had the ‘perfect’ fabric already. I especially liked the full-back alteration as I would be able to put my pattern cutting skills in to practice.

So I downloaded the pattern and printed out all the pieces to then jigsaw them together.

This had worked OK when doing the Sorbetto, but I was obviously not being as careful this time and things didn’t always line up. I guess this will always be a problem with printing out patterns yourself.

I think I did the Sorbetto on a wooden floor rather than carpet which probably helped. Anyway, this wasn’t even really a problem compared with what was to come!

This is how the sleeves printed out.

In Grainline’s defence, they did send me the amended sleeve pattern, but it was a few days later so I couldn’t really use it. Maybe next time.

The fabric I wanted to use was from an old dress / tent that I was never going to wear again, and not entirely sure why I bought it in the first place!

I also thought I could cut a few corners by making sure I used the existing hemline. I did my pattern alterations, and cut the main part of the top out. So far so good. Then I realised that not only was it going to be impossible to make the bias binding for the neckline, but I also didn’t have enough fabric for the sleeves!

This is where the bodging started. I think I may have committed every sewing sin there is in the process of making this top, so look away now if you are a ‘proper’ sewer and don’t want to see what I did…

I made non-bias binding, which obviously didn’t go round the neck line very well, and in the end wasn’t even long enough. So I added a few tucks here and there round the back where I wouldn’t see them to make it fit.

I cut some sleeve like shapes from the scraps that I had left. Having never drawn / cut / made sleeves before this was mainly just down to guess work. Won’t be doing that again. Then I did a bit of gathering here and there, couldn’t work out how to attach these wonders of modern pattern cutting, stuck a few pins in as best I could, closed my eyes and put my foot down on the sewing machine pedal (kids, don’t try this at home).

The end result isn’t so bad, just a bit tent like. Someone even asked me if I’d lost weight yesterday when I was wearing it (thanks Emma :-)). As I made the larger size to fit in my bust, I probably didn’t need the full-back alteration after all! (This is definitely something I need to work on – grading a pattern so that my bust fits in, but everything else isn’t super big because of it)

This is me

This is a tent

Image source

Slow and steady wins the race. Apparently…

I have now been making my Clothes Making class skirt for about 7 weeks. It is meant to take a few hours.

I had planned to show you the finished skirt this week. Other than pillowcase dresses I haven’t made anything of interest for ages now and it would be nice to show you a completed garment. However, I am planning to make up for this after Christmas when I have completed the 30+ pillowcases that are currently staring at me waiting to be made.

As many of you will know, or have gathered by now, patience is not a skill I would ever be able to boast about on a CV. I have very little of it, and the slowness of this skirt is driving me nuts!

As a class of 14, it takes time for the tutor to get round us all, and also means queuing for the overlocker. If it wasn’t for that then I would have been done years ago!

Waiting for the tutor to get to you feels like a bit of a waste of time, but it is worth doing as rather than just following the pattern, she has been teaching me better ways of making the skirt. For example I learnt how to do the super tidy curved pockets, and this week I learnt sink stitching as a neater way of finishing the waistband.

Sink stitch means that you don’t have any top stitching showing where you have joined the waistband to the skirt. Instead you sew in the ‘ditch’ of the join so that the stitches are neatly hidden.

First attach the waistband to the skirt as per the instructions, but only on the outside, not the side that will join on the inside of the skirt.

Now, with the waistband folded over, tack the unattached side of the waistband to the inside of the skirt. The folded edge must be just below the start of the waistband on the outside of the skirt.

Turning the skirt over to the outside, sew along the ditch or valley created by the skirt and the waistband join. This will attach the waistband fully with stitches that can barely be seen (if you are an accurate sewer!).

The blue line shows where the sink stitch is, and as you can see from the image below it is very well hidden.

I found this really good blog post on sink stitch, with a handy video if you want to see sink stitch in action!

Runny Yokes

I have been a bit lazy it recording my Pattern Cutting lessons recently, so it’s time for me to try and explain what I have been learning again!

Recently we looked at skirt yokes. For those that are unsure, a yoke is a shaped piece at the top of a skirt that usually comes lower down the skirt than the waistband would. Yokes can also be used on other garments, but here I will just be looking at them on skirts (because that is all I know about!). Yokes are a design feature, used to add more interest to a skirt. Here are a few examples:

1950s Butterick 6499 Vintage DRESS Pattern Stand Up Collar  SLIMMING Yoke Skirt  Bust Size 34 Uncut FF

McCalls 3129 Sewing Pattern Misses Yoke Skirt Medium

To create a yoke, a section is cut away from the skirt block. It is within this cut away section that you can close the darts so that they don’t interfere with the yoke design.

So to start with we worked on the pattern for a simple yoke like this.

As ever, we began by drawing round our block (I am using the block for the front of the skirt), putting in the hip line, dart etc. The desired yoke line was then drawn in, touching the bottom of the dart.

With the Centre Front of the skirt marked (admittedly, it should be a bit nearer the actual CF line!), two balance marks were also added to helped with lining things up when the yoke and the skirt are joined together again in construction.

We then cut along the yoke line, separating the yoke from the skirt.

The next step was to close the dart to remove it from the yoke.

After cutting out the skirt part as well, and then adding seam allowance, you have a skirt pattern with a yoke. The back can remain as it was if you wish, and once you have created a yoke, you can alter the skirt as you want. Read my post on creating a fuller skirt to find out more.

If the yoke / design line cuts through the end of the dart (image below), you can follow the instructions above, closing the main part of the dart in the yoke.

You would then get rid of the small end of the dart by creating ease between the two balance marks when sewing. This may create a slight gather.

If the design / yoke line is below the end of the dart, you can extend the dart point to the design line and then close it. If you don’t do this, by only using the original dart it will cause the bottom of the skirt to open more.

Here you can see the shorter original dart, and the new longer one that reaches the design line.

Close the dart and add all the correct markings – another finished yoke skirt pattern! This type of alteration will create a slightly tighter skirt.

To find out a bit more about yokes in general, check out Gertie’s Style Dictionary.

Image sources

Party Time!

This weekend was spent mostly making dresses, as my sister and I both held pillowcase dress making parties. Altogether we made 19 new dresses, which makes the total number made 80. Only 20 to go to reach the new target of 100!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who came to both parties, and an extra special thank you to those who had never even looked at a needle before – it was very brave of you to come and join in!

You can read more about my challenge here, and see all the dresses made so far in the Gallery.

(If you click on an image it will enlarge and you can scroll through them all)

First Prize for Best Photo goes to… Shelia!

A week or so ago I received an email from Shelia out of the blue. Her daughter-in-law Rosie had seen my challenge and told Shelia about it. Shelia then promptly went and made five dresses!

The dresses are being posted to me as I type, but I liked the photo so much I thought it should be the star of todays blog post. I hope you don’t mind Shelia!

These dresses bring the total to 61, so 39 left to make to reach the new target of 100. We can do it!

As well as thanking Shelia and Rosie, I also want to take the chance to say a mid-challenge thank you to everyone who has helped me with this so far.

When I set the challenge I thought it would just be me scouring charity shops for pillowcases and then being locked in my sewing room for days at a time to try and reach the target. Instead, I have been literally inundated with donations to the point I don’t think I’ll be able to make them all, have met lots of great people both face-to-face and through the blog, and been amazed by people’s enthusiasm for the whole thing. What a lovely lot you are!

If this is the first time you’ve read my blog and are wondering what on earth I’m gushing about Kate Winslet style, then have a peek at my Pillowcase Dress Challenge page, and the gallery of dresses made so far!