pencil me in | NL 6107

Hey guys! I thought spring would never make it to my neck of the woods. After the epic and record-breaking winter of snow and cold, it looks like we’re finally thawed and back in business! How better to celebrate than by wearing a loud floral print?

So, I really thought pencil skirts were just never going to work for me, and for the longest time, I didn’t care all that much. Even though I love the look of a pencil skirt, it’s just not something I have all that much use for. However, I’ve had pencil skirts and sheath dresses on my mind lately, and I had this fantastic floral cotton sateen so… I decided to give it a shot.

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my photos are all a bit squinty-eyed… not gonna complain about the sunshine though!

I went through my patterns and found New Look 6107. I slapped together a muslin and while it wasn’t awful, I knew there was something wrong—I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was, or how to go about fixing it. I was going to scrap the idea, but I threw “pencil skirt fitting” into google and out spat a pencil skirt fitting post from the ever-lovely Gail, of Today’s Agenda. How could I have forgotten that amazing post?!

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Reading that was a huge “ah-ha!” moment, so I went back to my pattern and made a few adjustments. For the longest time, I thought that it was my backside giving me fit issues. Turns out that was only a tiny part of the equation. What was really throwing off the fit was my tummy and prominent thigh, leading me to the Full Tummy Adjustment, and the Prominent Thigh Adjustment. Gail describes these perfectly, so if you’re interested in the nitty gritty, just check out her post.

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I adjusted my pattern and went ahead and cut my fabric. I basted everything together first to check the fit. Initially I overdid the prominent thigh adjustment, so I took everything apart and backed down on how much I added. While the fit isn’t yet perfect, I at least know what to do about it now!

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This sateen is a cotton/lycra blend, so it has a decent amount of stretch. Unfortunately, it bags out fairly quickly, so if I do any amount of sitting it gets saggy looking. Also, the waistband came out a bit too big, so I really should go back in and adjust that. During construction, I sewed each waistband piece to the corresponding skirt piece and sewed the side seams all in one (skirt, waistband, facing) so altering it won’t be difficult.

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FYI, there was nothing special about this particular pattern; darted pencil skirt patterns are a dime a dozen. Aside from the aforementioned alterations, I added 1/4″ of width into the back dart, lengthened the skirt by 1″, and pegged it about 3/4″ at each side seam. I did choose my size based on finished measurements, because the pattern stated that there was 3 1/2″ of ease at the hip—hilarious! This thing would have been falling off me, had I gone by the size chart. In the future, I think I would add a little more to the back dart, possibly splitting it into two darts, and lengthen the skirt even further. There were two lengths offered in the pattern, and I went with the shorter. Adding an inch in length is pretty standard for me. I think perhaps another two inches in length would be nice.

So that’s about all I have on that. I’m super happy that I don’t have to avoid slim skirted patterns any more, now that I’ve got a handle on the necessary adjustments. Yay sewing!

lisa g.

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cropped zippy top and linen skirt

hey ya’ll! i had every intention of blogging my backlog of projects before we went on our summer vacation, but alas. it wasn’t meant to be. probably because i was sewing like a madwoman up until the last day, as one does… MUST SEW ALL THE THINGS. i have several makes older than this combo, but i really like this particular outfit so i thought i’d start there.

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a few months back, i suddenly decided that i needed a navy linen skirt. and then couldn’t find any navy linen at my usual fabric haunts. then one day i ran into joanns for a zip/thread/pattern sale, and their linen was 50% off and they had the exact shade of navy i was looking for. this particular linen is blended with rayon, which gives it a nice soft hand. it also has a subtle woven pattern to it, which is a nice touch. having recently acquired the lonsdale dress pattern, i decided to use the skirt pieces and shorten them by 4″ or so.

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i top stitched every seam to add a little detail, and bar tacked at the top and bottom of the pocket openings. i wish the skirt had a little more flare, but overall i really like it and it fits in nicely with my wardrobe. i’m really itching to pair it with a nettie (preferably in a mint green…) definitely on my to do list!

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after making this skirt i made see kate sew’s zippy top. i really intended to alter my scout tee to have a kimono cap sleeve, but when Kate put up a sale on all her patterns a while back i decided to try it out.

initially i cut this top to full length. when i realized that it would be a perfect match to my navy skirt i tried them on together and just loved the look. i wasn’t super excited about tucking the shirt in, as this fabric—though lightweight and gauze-y—has some body to it that made tucking a little fussy and unflattering. then i flipped up the hem to a cropped length and had a definite “ah-ha” moment. suddenly the crop top trend made sense! it helped that Sonja at gingermakes had just that day posted a crop top/skirt combo of her own, which nudged me in that direction. the crop does considerably narrow my options of what i can pair with this top, but i’m okay with that. i was nervous of over-cropping, so i went with a length in the front that is 1″ lower than the crop line in the pattern, and 2″ lower in the back. i think this worked out great, and i love the subtle sweep of the back hem.

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i actually didn’t plan on putting in the back zip, but as it happened i had a red zip on hand that kinda looked cool with the blue floral, so in it went. my fabric is a smidge see-through, so instead of the facing i did a bias facing at the neckline, and used a scrap to cut out the zip opening in the back.

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i’m really pleased with this outfit. it’s great for summer, and the whole not tucking in my shirt thing is pretty awesome, especially on the extra hot sticky days. our summer vacation was spent in Texas visiting my husband’s side of the family where it is most definitely hot and sticky (though we lucked out on weather for most of the trip!). since we were spending a couple days in Austin, i reached out to Susan of moonthirty to see if she would be available for a little fabric shopping one afternoon. she rounded up her IRL friends, sewing buddies, and bloggers Dixie of dixie diy and Susan a.k.a “Miss Lulu” to join us. i had a great time visiting the local indie shops and getting to know these gals a little better. i think it’s awesome that they all hang out as part of a sewing group, and it has me itching to find some local sewists here at home! anyways, the point is that i wore this outfit for that little excursion, so you may have spied it on IG. haha how’s that for a smooth transition…

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thoughts on the zippy top:

it’s a nice simple pattern to have around, and i plan on hacking it to make a simple pull over dress at some point. the actual pdf file gave me a bit of a head scratching when the file didn’t have any margin lines. i thought that was just a random printer error on my end so i asked about it on IG. kate did offer to send me a new copy, but i had already gone with my gut and worked it out on my own. being a pattern with so few pieces (and easily verifiable finished measures) i’m not terribly bothered. also, i didn’t see a test square anywhere. i can’t always assume that 100% scale actually prints the right size. our current (new) printer has been pretty accurate, but with the older printer we had a few months ago, i usually had to print at 106% to get the right scale. so, i guess what i’m saying is, i like the insurance that i am, indeed, printing the right scale.

pdf issues aside, i found the drafting to be great. often on tops like this the front and back pieces are the same aside for the neckline. that’s not the case here, so i was pleased to see that. i found that it fit as expected, and next time i’ll do a SBA to remove some excess from the front, and maybe a FSA if i can be bothered. even though this is a very simple top, i’m okay letting someone else do the drafting work. it comes together super fast and would be easy to change up for color blocking, neckline changes, etc. i also find kimono sleeves ideal for layering with a cardigan—it’s far less fussy than trying to stuff a regular sleeve into a sweater.

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so that’s kind of a long post for two really simple garments, but i guess that’s just how i roll. 😉

—lisa g.

 

a better gathered skirt

i like gathered skirts as much as anyone, but i tend to find the gathered rectangle variety a bit annoying. unless you are using a super thin fabric, they can get very bulky, very quickly. so, if you ever want a nice full gathered skirt with less waistline bulk, here’s how…

your typical full gathered skirt will have a hemline about twice that of your waist measurement. here i’m using a measurement of 30″

i’m drafting one quarter of the skirt, since most likely you will be cutting it on the fold.

step 1: divide your waist measurement by 4. this will be your quarter waist measurement

30/4=7.5

step 2: take your quarter waist measurement and multiply by 2

7.5×2=15

step 3: take your quarter waist measurement and multiply by 1.5

7.5×1.5=11.25

step 4: subtract the 1.5 measurement from the 2 times measurement

15-11.25=3.75

on your drafting or tracing paper, start by drawing a rectangle as wide as your 2 times measurement (15″) by however long you prefer. don’t bother with SA’s or hem allowances at this point.

with a straightedge, make about five evenly spaced vertical lines. cut along these lines, leaving a tiny bit connected at the bottom for a hinge.

overlap the slashed pieces until you have reduced the top measurement by the amount you figured in step 4 (3.75″–since i made 5 slashes, i will overlap about 0.75″ at each section). this doesn’t have to be absolutely precise, just keep it all as evenly distributed as possible, then tape the sections in place. since this piece is now a bit of a mess, trace the shape onto another piece of paper, rounding off the edges.

once you have retraced, add your side SA, waist SA, hem allowance, and fold markings at CF/CB. if your back piece needs a seam for a closure, just remember to add SA when cutting your fabric, or trace off another pattern piece with a CB SA.

once you have this drafted, you can add it to your favorite waistband and make a skirt or use it for the skirt portion of any dress.

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here i made a skirt for my daughter out of chambray. i added yoke front pockets, an elastic waist and belt loops. and sometimes i make my daughter clothes that i really wish i had made for myself…

–lisa g.

colette patterns | zinnia

thanks for all the responses on my last post, it was interesting to hear the wide and varied opinions! after making this skirt, my own opinion is rather torn, but i’ll get to that in a bit.

first of all, i’m very pleased with how this skirt came out. it is just as i imagined and will be great for fall-wearing. the fabric is rayon and perfectly opaque enough to not require a lining. it’s ever so slightly heavier than some other rayons i’ve worked with and has a twill weave on the right side. that twill weave caused a nightmare for hemming! oy. didn’t think i would ever get that hem evened out! i let it hang for two days and it stretched anywhere from 1/2″ up to almost 2″. usually the growth will happen at least symmetrically, but… no. this one was cray cray. add to that the fact that the stitched pleats made it so i couldn’t fan the skirt out and just measure. i ended up putting it on my dress form, measuring from the waist and just hacking away until it looked even. it’s not perfect, but i’m not in the mood to keep futzing with it!

IMG_1707 so what are my final thoughts on this pattern? first the good:

i think the pleated version is nicely drafted. many people are concerned about full skirts and having excess fabric at the waist. to overcome this, the skirt pieces have an a-line shape, and pleats that fan out. this skirt has a 90″+ hem, so really it’s the best of both worlds: full skirt, sleek tummy.

i love the belt loops for being able to add a skinny belt, but they also blend in if i choose to go sans belt.

the waistband is a perfect width—not too skinny, not too fat. i chose not to interface the waistband, but instead underline it with muslin. i can’t seem to get good results fusing onto rayon, it always ends up puckering after a wash or two. underlining gives the waistband plenty of structure while not being stiff.

the sizing seems accurate. and since you only have one measurement, it really should be. that said, i finally got smart and went up a size from what i measured for. i have a fairly high waist, and prefer that my skirts sit an inch or two lower. so, i measured where i wanted the skirt to sit and cut my size accordingly. revolutionary, i know, but with as little ease as this is designed for, i didn’t want to fight with it every time i wore it. plus, being a fall skirt, i may have bulkier shirts to tuck in. plus, plus… i can cinch it in with a belt. i should have raised the pockets though, because now they sit pretty low. oops.

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alright, now the less-than-good:

the directions and construction methods on colette patterns continue to confound me. they call for so much hand stitching, basting and frankly, techniques that don’t provide professional clean results. on the pleats, you are supposed to baste them, press them, edgestitch them, then remove the basting. why? because my rayon was kinda funky to work with, i basted them by hand on the front piece (i was afraid that bringing the skirt to and from the machine so much might cause the waist to stretch out). there are 16 pleats altogether, so this is not for the faint of heart! on the back pieces i basted by machine, and everything was fine. however, removing the basting was quite a chore. and i can’t see a good reason for removing the basting, so i’ll definitely skip that next time. or just not stitch down the pleats at all. i think in a nice drapey fabric, stitching the pleats wouldn’t be super necessary if you are disinclined.

and then the waistband directions were a bit strange. you are instructed to sew the edges of the waistband before sewing the waistband to the skirt. however, it is so much easier to sew the waistband to the skirt first, then finish the ends. i opted to skip basting the inner waistband before topstitching, and just pinned and went for it, as is my custom.

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also, if you plan to make the belt loops, do yourself a favor and don’t use the pattern piece. it is way too small. i cut mine 1/4″ wider, and a couple inches longer. you sew the belt loop piece lengthwise, turn the tube right side out, then cut into six belt loops. i always find that the ends get a bit beat up in the tube turning process, and then you only have 1/8″ to turn under on each end of the belt loop when you sew it on. that, my friends, is just not enough. after struggling with the original piece for about 5 seconds, i recut a piece so i would have 1/4″ to turn under on each side and that was perfect. you’d think such a simple thing as belt loops they’d get right… weird.

lastly, i bought the .pdf version and there is something wrong in the printing. when scaled at 100% my test square was larger by more than 1/8″. i adjusted the scale until i got the test square right, but then the margins were off. the pattern indicates that the margin is  6″ x 10″ and when the test square was the right size, the margins were not. so… i guess i’m not sure which is faulty: the test square or the margins. i noticed that a few other people had issues with the skirt pieces being too small, so i wonder if the .pdf is faulty. my pieces matched up fine, so… this is kind of a question mark.

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i realize this is a lot to say over a skirt, so yippie if you made it to the end of the post! overall, i like the skirt and the pattern a lot. not thrilled about the construction techniques, but i tend to go my own way so this doesn’t make much difference to me, though it may to you, which is why i’m putting it out there. this is billed as a beginner pattern, and the gathered skirt i imagine would be beginner friendly. the pleated version… maybe not so much. with sixteen pleats to manage, a lot could go wrong.

okay, i’m done!

links: zinnia by colette patterns | chambray archer by grainline

—lisa g.

zinnia skirt

i just started working on colette pattern’s new zinnia skirt. i made sure to snag the .pdf when it was on sale and didn’t really plan to make it up quite yet, but the sewing gods have spoken and into my grubby mitts landed a sweet granny floral print rayon. it has those perfect fall colors and i keep saying i need more skirts. it’s a good thing i had mentally noted the fabric requirements, because this skirt takes a lot of fabric! i wouldn’t have thought the skirt needed more than a yard and a half but, this skirt is cut on the crossgrain (directional prints need not apply) and the hem is a whopping 84″-97″ depending on what size you cut. i had 2.5 yds of 45″ rayon and that was just enough. typically i find colette’s yardage totally out of whack, but this one is spot on. of course, if you want to do any print matching—buy extra! for mine, there was no worry and i didn’t bother with matching on the CB seam. hopefully it won’t matter.

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since this pattern includes instructions for a lined/sheer overlay version i was curious to see the directions for this, and i’m afraid i was a bit dissappointed. in fact, there’s a tiny detail in the directions that just doesn’t jive. you construct the main pieces of the skirt (pleats stitched through both sheer and lining layer) then you insert the invisible zip through both layers and sew up the back seam, again through both layers. later you are instructed to hem the shell, then trim the lining by 1″ then hem the lining. but… how? if they are both attached down the CB seam? this is not at all how i would approach this.* jen over at grainline has a nifty tutorial where you finish the overlay opening and simply insert the zip into the lining only. the overlay hangs free, then the seams are sewn and finished separately.

now, after i bought the pattern, i happened across the discussion thread on pattern review (whose site is down at the moment… will link up later) and this pattern has garnished some criticism for being too simple, and just another dirndl skirt. now, i’m not sure why people were so up in arms, but i just want to clarify for anyone interested—this is not a dirndl skirt. and, if you do the pleated version, all the fullness should be under control around the squishy belly parts that we don’t need to add tonnage of fabric to. with the pleating action, you wind up with a partial circle skirt. same with the gathered version (as in, it has an a-line shape so there is significantly more fullness at the hem than there is at the waist. while the gathered one is nice, and gets top billing on the cover, i think the pleated skirt is really the star of the show and the reason i bothered to buy the pattern.

now you can probably find cheaper alternatives, and people kept pointing to tilly’s gathered picnic skirt, which is a rectangle, i.e. same fullness at the waist as there is at the hem, but i do like the ability to be able to print off another copy of the pattern if i really need to make up a different size. that, and i trust the indie pattern sizing so much more than big 4. if i look at the waist measurement on colette, i can feel pretty safe that the size it corresponds to won’t end up having 4″ of ease. if i grab a simplicity pattern, i have to hunt down the pattern pieces and measure the different sizes to see which will give me a reasonable amount of ease. obnoxious.

i didn’t start this post in order to pontificate on pattern drafting and who does it better, but each pattern company relies on a specific block that will work for only a small number of people. colette has one block, while sewaholic has another block, and burda, simplicity, vogue, etc has their own block. there is little wrong with the individual blocks—they will fit someone!—but if they don’t correspond to your body type, changes will have to be made. no. big. deal. what i don’t appreciate is the unreasonable amount of ease given by the big 4 (making the size chart irrelevant), which indie pattern companies have handled much differently, and i believe, much better.

anyways, drafting pleats, while not hard, is tedious and time consumming. i’m trusting that colette patterns did all the engineering for me, and i know there are a lot of people out there who have no interest in drafting such a pattern. so, yeah, you pay for the convenience. in fact, i spent last week working on a very basic dress (with pleats!) and it took all week to get the details right. i could have sewn up the dress in little more than a day, but since i was fiddling with pleats and sleeves etc, it was a bit of a chore!

okay, i’m not entirely sure where i’m going with this post, my mind has been a scatter of trying to work sewing time in with the fact that i only have one kid at home most of the week. one who has never had to play by himself until now. and, even though we limit the activities our kids are involved in i still spend a few days doing little but running kids from here to there…

so what do you guys think about the zinnia skirt? love it? hate it? indifferent? do tell!

lisa g.

*after writting this up… i see colette patterns addressed this pattern error and future printings will have the correct directions. i still don’t think it’s the best way to go about a sheer overlay, so do with that what you will!

another moss…

my love affair with grainline patterns is pretty well documented as of late, and evidently i needed another moss skirt! i went to sewfisticated (one of my local fabric haunts) last week in search of some lightweight denim (which i found) and stumbled across this marc jacobs stretch denim. for $4/yd, i couldn’t pass it up. i didn’t buy much, and planned to save it for shorts next spring, but i decided i didn’t want to wait. so, another moss skirt was in order. hopefully i can pair it with some tights and wear it through the fall as well; three-season wear (spring, summer, fall) is way better than summer only!

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with my previous moss skirts i’ve added things like back pockets, belt loops, and extra topstitching. I decided to keep it more basic this time around, and not bother with all those extra details. plus i really wasn’t in the mood for print-matching back pockets. the only pattern change i made was to the front pockets—i kept them rounded out like my denim moss. for some reason, that shape is just my favorite.

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i did my best to keep the fabric print matched through out the seaming, and i think i did a damn fine job. can you even see the zip fly without zooming way in? or my CF or CB seams? yeah. like a BOSS. the only thing i’m annoyed with myself for is forgetting to yank the twill on-grain before cutting the front. if you squint, you’ll see that the print kinda skews up a tad. not a huge deal, and really it’s pretty minimal, but whatevs. i didn’t have enough fabric to recut, so… not gonna be bothered by it!

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i love this skirt so much. the pattern, the fabric, it just makes a dull day a little brighter. i’ve been crushing on patterned skirts/shorts/pants for a long time, so finally i got a little piece of that trendy pie.

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photo-bombed by my hipster son… how could i not include this pic?

—lisa g.

possibly the most boring skirt i’ve ever made

how’s that for a blog post title to really suck you in? riveting, i know. just to let you know how boring it is, i made this skirt monday, threw it in the wash (i always wash my twill makes before wearing them), and totally forgot about it! i came across it when sorting laundry this morning and was all—hey, new skirt… sweet!

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super bright outside, but whatevs. i can never pull myself together to take morning pics with better light.

okay, so i wear my denim moss mini all. the. time. it’s in pretty heavy rotation, so i knew i was due for another “basics” moss (from grainline studios, incase you’ve been living in a cave). i had intended to make one from the same fabric as my daughter’s shorts, but finally conceded to the fact that the color is too close to the actual color of my legs and would probably end up way too wash-y out-y. however, i had plenty of fabric left over from my husband’s jedediah shorts, and that fabric color is a way more flattering, but still a go-with-everything, basic color. and now we match d’awwwww…..

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i gave the skirt a more slash pocket treatment instead of the slant and gape. i can’t say i really prefer one pocket type over the other, i just like to be difficult.

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and, as before, i added back pockets and belt loops. then, because last time i had a hard time with the zipper insert as drafted, i added an extra 1/4″ SA on the underlap side of the fly.

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the waistband is cut as one piece which means that the front of the waistband ends up being on the bias. i noticed that my denim moss distorts a little because of this, so to help prevent the waistband from mis-shaping too badly, i pieced my interfacing so that the bias part of the waistband is reinforced with on-grain fusible. i used a woven fusible (stuff i had picked up for collars and cuffs) and really like how it holds up in waistbands (though not so much for the collars and cuffs…). i really don’t know what the best way is to interface waistbands, i suppose i should look into that, given my affinity for sewing them.

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anywho… since this skirt is rather plain i decided to jazz up the insides with some leftover seersucker for the waistband facing and leftover floral cotton lawn for the pockets, which just happens to be the same fabric the top i’m wearing. so… my top matches my pockets haha! gotta love that.

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to top it all off, i decided to hammer in a snap for the front closure. basically lazy me didn’t want to make a buttonhole and sew on a button. plus, hammering stuff is way more fun.

the end.

—lisa g.