Hi, I finished my Frocktails skirt in February to wear at the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event earlier this year. I finished it just a few hours before the event began. It began as my Sew Frosting project but I didn’t finish it in November and then I thought of it as my #SewHappyColor project. However, I didn’t take photos in time to post it during the Reds and Pinks week of that Instagram challenge hosted by Katie Kortman. Ultimately, I consider it my Frocktails skirt.
I wrote a WIP post in February about sewing the pleats and attaching the ribbons. For this skirt, I used three different fabrics – the main fabric is the Marimekko print. I had 1 1/3 yards (~1.2 meters) of the Marimekko fabric, which was 58 inches wide (147 cm). I wanted to use all of it for a nice full skirt.
Side note: When I did a search on my blog for “Marimekko,I discovered that I blogged about this Marimekko fabric in 2013, the year I bought it. I wondered how long I’d had this fabic.)
Because I didn’t have enough for a midi length – my favorite length – I color-blocked the skirt – adding a red panel at the top and a deep violet panel at the bottom. The pleats are in the red panel. If you look closely, you can see the topstitching on the Marimekko fabric in the photo below.
I first thought about making the skirt back in December when I blogged about my Sew Frosting plans. It took my a long time to figure out the pleats – how deep to make them to use all the fabric, how far apart to place the pleats, and how much space to put between the two front pleats for an adjustable waist.
The deep violet panel at the bottom is a quilting cotton I got at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. I brought the Marimekko fabric with me to find a fabric for the bottom panel. It’s a nearly perfect match for the color in the print.
I topstitched the violet panel. This is a machine-washable skirt and topstitching will make it easier to press.
When I wore the skirt to Frocktails, I realized that the ribbons weren’t staying tied and it was gaping in the back. I thought the Petersham ribbon would stay tied. Plus, the red fabric was a stretch cotton, which didn’t work well for that part of the skirt. I used that red fabric because it was in my stash and it matched the Marimekko fabric. I was attempting to sew my stash.
To solve my problem, I added a hook to one ribbon …
… and an eye on the other side to ensure that the skirt would stay together. Here’s what it looks like when it’s hooked together.
Here’s what it looks like when I unhook it.
I got the Petersham ribbon from Britex Fabrics. The ribbon was also in my stash and perfectly matched the trees in the print.
Inside the Frocktails skirt
I lined the skirt with a soft cotton rayon from Britex that complemented the print. I drafted a facing and attached the lining to the facing. Here’s an inside view of the skirt waist.
The skirt has horsehair braid at the hem, giving the skirt a nice fullness without the need of wearing any petticoats or tulle.
More views of my Frocktail skirt
I’m really happy with how the skirt turned out. I think it could use a bit more support at the waist – maybe I’ll add a stiffer interfacing – but I like the length and the colors.
Do you hold on to fabric for years before you sew it? Or do you sew your fabric right away? I’d love to know!
My Frocktails skirt is slowly coming together. I haven’t worked on it very much over the past few weeks and now I’ve got to finish it by Saturday – when the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February event is happening.
This was my #SewFrosting project that I started in January. I sewed the pleats in the back about a month ago. Here’s what the back initially looked like when I basted the pleats. You can see bits of white thread that I used.
But I decided not to sew all the way down the red fabric. Instead I sewed about 2/3 of the way down and the back now looks like this.
I pinned the ribbons in place to see how it would look and then realized that the Petersham ribbon is a bit stiff and quite wide (2 inches, ~7.5 cm), it would be hard to bring the two sides close together. I chose Petersham ribbon because when I tied it, it would stay tied. The problem with a satin ribbon is that it’s rather slippery.
So I decided to fold the ribbon in thirds and then sew it to the top piece. Before I sewed the pleats with the ribbon ends inside, I fused some interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric to give it some extra support.
It took me a long time to figure out how I wanted to place the pleats in the front. I needed to have some extra fabric for an adjustable waist – but not too much fabric or the waist would be too loose. (See my Chardon Skirt with adjustable waist.) So I played around with how deep those last two center pleats would be and how far apart to place them. I finally put them about 8.5 inches (~21.5 cm) apart.
I don’t have a dress form so I spent some time looking at different placements in front of my bathroom mirror. I mostly make garments from existing sewing patterns so I really didn’t need a dress form. Plus I don’t have space in my apartment to store a dress form.
However, this is a skirt that I’ve drafted and it would have been helpful to play arond with the pleats on a dress form.
I decided at the last minute to have a facing because I want the top of the skirt to have some body and it will also look more tidy on the inside. So I drafted a facing over the weekend and I’ll attach some lining to it. The box pleats are rather deep and I’d like to cover them up.
Here’s what’s left to do:
buy lining fabric (red? purple?)
attach lining fabric to facing
sew facing/lining to skirt
decide on whether to add an invisible zipper to the side
hem the lining
hem the skirt
If I can do a little bit every day I should be able to finish this by Saturday. How long does it usually take you to finish a project? I feel like this WIP Frocktails skirt is taking forever.
I also promised my husband I would help fix a sweater of his. I’m hand sewing suede elbow patches to a favorite sweater. I finished one patch yesterday – one more to go!
Hi, I got a late start to the Sew Frosting party – the sewing challenge hosted by Heather Lou Closet Case Patterns and Kelli of True Bias, encouraging people to sew “frosting” (frivolous and fun!) as opposed to “cake” (basics and staples). For more about the challenge, see Heather Lou’s blog post and search the hashtag #sewfrosting on Instagram to see all the wonderful makes.
When I thought about what “frosting” fabrics I had, I immediately thought about this striking Marimekko fabric I got at Crate and Barrel several years ago. I remember it was discounted –not by much – but I loved the colors so I splurged on 1 1/3 yards (~1.2 meters) of this cotton fabric from Finland.
Even though it was holiday fabric – note the trees – the colorway didn’t quite say Christmas so I thought it could be used for other purposes. Yesterday I searched for this fabric online to see what it was called. I found other colorways of this fabric and learned that it was called Tultakero. The selvage of my yardage didn’t have the name on it.
I spotted this red, green and white version of Tultakero on eBay. As you can see, it has more of that holiday feel.
The colorway I have doesn’t have any green in it; instead, it features red, magenta, purple, deep yellow and dark violet. Here’s another section of the fabric.
Sewing my stash
I have been (mostly) sticking to my fabric fast this year, trying to sew my stash rather than shop for new fabric. This fabric is 57″ wide and I will cut it in half and use one piece for the skirt front and another for the back.
I want to use inverted pleats or maybe a combination of inverted pleats in the back and one big pleat or fold in the front. I’ll use one of my favorite skirt patterns – the Deer and Doe Chardon as my jumping off point. I’ve made five versions of it – from color blocked to maxi. The most recent one I made I changed the waist by removing a few of the front pleats to make an adjustable waist with a silk ribbon tie.
I tend to gravitate towards the same shades of red, rose and plum. I knew I had a solid red cotton and a fuchsia cotton. I just had to dig around to find them (which bin? which drawer?). I found the two fabrics and also discovered that I have a wide Petersham ribbon that perfectly matches one of the colors in the Marimekko fabric as you can see below.
I will color block the skirt with maybe the solid red and fuchsia above and below the print. Or maybe the print at the top? I’m not sure.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to start or finish sewing this before the Sew Frosting deadline of Nov. 30 because I sprained my right ankle just before Thanksgiving. 🙁 So I needed to stay off my foot, instead of standing to cut my fabric or using the pedal on my sewing machine. But the good news is that my ankle is feeling much better and I can start making this skirt!
Thanks to Heather Lou and Kelli for the inspiration!
Earlier this month I thought about making some trouser jeans for a job interview at a tech startup. But I soon realized I didn’t have enough time to make a mockup and then make the jeans without stressing out. So I decided it would be better to make a knit skirt, using the mid-length skirt pattern from Alabama Studio + Design. I’ve made it before and to save time, I’d skip the hand sewing and just sew it on my machine. So I popped over to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics and found this great heavyweight cotton denim knit fabric (5 percent lycra). Perfect to make a denim knit skirt!
In the above photo (taken after I washed the dried the fabric), it looks black. But in person, it looks like a dark indigo denim. You can buy this heavyweight organic cotton knit fabric in black on Stonemountain’s website. The weight feels great and it’s so soft! It was worth the price of $26.70/yard, the most I’ve ever paid for a knit fabric. All I needed was 1 1/3 yards for my denim knit skirt. The pattern calls for 1 1/4 but I got a little extra in case of shrinkage.
I bought the fabric on a Saturday, finished sewing it on Sunday and wore it to my interview on Monday. So that’s why I didn’t have any time to hand sew it. I rarely ever sew fabric that quickly. It usually sits in my stash for a while before I sew it.
If you’re familiar with Alabama Chanin aesthetic, it’s all about organic cotton knit fabric and hand sewing. I’ve hand sewn my other Alabama Chanin outfits but for this one, I just used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine. 😉
I cut size XL but because there wasn’t a lot of stretch on this denim knit fabric, I decided to increase the seam allowance to 5/8 to give my self enough ease. Then I quickly basted the skirt to check fit and took the waist in about an inch. I usually have to grade up in the hips so this wasn’t a surprise. Then I removed the basting from the side seams and zig-zagged the two front pieces together and then the two back pieces. Now I was ready for the elastic.
This skirt pattern uses foldover elastic at the waist but with this heavyweight knit fabric, I didn’t think that would be strong enough. So I looked for something similar but wider and a little more substantial. I found this soft elastic that was 1 3/8 inches wide (~3.5 cm) and wouldn’t add too much bulk. It wouldn’t fold as easily as foldover elastic but it was pliable enough to do the job.
It was a little tricky to sew it to the waist. I had to rip out my first stitches because I decided to use double-sided fusible at the waist to hold the elastic in place before sewing it. The idea was to avoid pinning the elastic. I used a wide zig-zag stitch and then tried on the skirt. If you’ve worked with knit fabric before, you can probably guess what happened. The waist was too wide and stood out from my waist. I realized I needed to slightly stretch the elastic as I sewed it – similar to sewing neck binding on the t-shirt.
So I ripped out my stitches – luckily, very easy to do because of the wide zig zag – and then used a small zig zag to sew the elastic to the wrong side, stretching it slightly as I sewed it. Then I folded it over to the right side and sewed a wide zig zag in the middle.
Here’s the wrong side of the front. You can sort of see the small zig-zag stitches just above the wide zig zag.
And here’s the right side of the front waist. This fit well.
And here’s the finished denim knit skirt, which I wore to the Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex Fabrics last weekend with my Pilvi Coat (ponte knit) and my Toaster Sweater 2 (black French terry). It’s my all-knit ensemble! I took the photos with my iPhone and the lighting wasn’t the best because I’m standing in the shade. You can’t really see that the skirt is a dark denim, not black. In this photo the skirt blends in with the Toaster Sweater.
I used a photo timer app (gives you a countdown and lets you pick how many photos to take and how much time between each shot) and attached my phone to a tripod using the Promaster Mobile Phone Tripod Mount (affiliate link). I got mine at Adolph Gasser Photography, an independent store in San Francisco, which sadly closed last year. The tripod mount expands from 2 inches (~5 cm) to a maximum of 3.75 inches (9.5 cm). It fits my iPhone 6 and it’s battery case.
Here are a few more views of this A-line denim knit skirt. This fabric has a lot of body and not much drape so it stands out at the bottom. You can really see the silhouette of this skirt in this photo.
I got my hair cut two weeks ago – lopped off a couple of inches. It had been covering my neck before I got it cut.
Here’s a back view. It was a warm day so I didn’t wear a hat – plus new hair! It’s so nice to have my hair off my neck!
Here the denim knit skirt looks a little more like denim rather than black.
I didn’t get the job but I have a skirt I love. I know I’ll wear it all the time.
Hi, as promised, here’s my post on the construction details for my Blueprints for Sewing A-Frame pencil skirt – my first pencil skirt and my first casual skirt. I usually make A-line skirts because they’re easy to fit to my body. What kind of skirts do you usually make?
I made version 1; version 2 is a lovely A-line skirt. (You can buy the A-Frame as a paper pattern or as a PDF pattern.) For my mock-up, I used some sheets from Goodwill (a chain of charity shops in the U.S.). If you follow me on Instagram (@csews) you may have seen some of these photos.
I wanted to play around with color blocking and use both sides of a narrow-striped denim fabric. As you can see from the line drawings, you can really have fun using up your fabric stash with this pattern. Version 1 has a center panel, flanked by side panels, which include pockets. The back also has a center panel with two narrow side panels on either side. There’s a center back zipper. I used an invisible zipper for mine. You can also use a regular zipper.
The pattern is printed on bond paper and is easy to trace. It comes in a nice package with a velcro closure. I got the printed version when it was first released in June at a 20% discount. The full price is $22. The PDF is $15.
I wanted to use the darker side of the denim for the center front and back pieces and the lighter side for the side pieces.
The pattern’s sizing goes from A (26-inch waist/35-inch hips) to J (40-inch waist/49-inch hips). For my mock-up, I cut size E for the waist (31 inches) and graded up to size F in the hips (41.5). But it was too snug as you may be able to tell from the photos of my mock-up. A year ago this would have fit better.
I could zip it up but I needed more ease. I didn’t notice that the pattern helpfully provides finished sizes. Oops. The finished size waist for size E was 32.5 and for the hips size F was 44 inches. My waist is now 32 inches (gained an inch over the past year as a result of little exercise and having a sedentary job).
I didn’t bother attaching the waistband because I wanted to get sewing so I just went ahead and adjusted my pattern pieces so the waist was size F (32.5 inches, 33 inches finished) and the hips were size G (43 inches, 45.5 finished).
The instructions include detailed descriptions for making alterations if you are different sizes at the waist and hip. Yes! They tell you exactly which pattern pieces you’ll need to adjust and where to make the changes. This was a relief because I wasn’t sure how I would make the alterations because the front and back each have 4 to 5 pattern pieces. Read the instructions before you start sewing – it will save you time. 😉
To keep track of which side was the “wrong” side, I put safety pins on the wrong side. If you use this tip, you might want to put your safety pins closer to the raw edge. Warning: Sometimes pins can leave holes that can damage your fabric, especially if you set it aside for a few days.
The instructions were very clear. You start off sewing the pocket lining to the top and bottom side-front panel pieces. (I used leftover cotton voile from my most recent Anna Dress.)
These two fabrics look really good together! But no one will see that because it’s the lining. (Maybe I can sew a different skirt combining these two fabrics.)
I decided to topstitch my pockets and some of the side panels. This was my own addition to the pattern. The instructions have you understitch the curved part of the pocket. I skipped that and topstitched it instead. I also decided to add top stitching to one side of the front panels and back panels. If you’re going to topstitch, make sure you do it before you sew the front and back together at the side seams.
The back has four pieces – the two center back pieces and two side panels – and a vent. Here’s where I marked the vent. If you are using medium-weight or heavy-weight fabric, the hem will be really thick if you follow the instructions and fold the hem up 1/2 in and then 1 inch. This could make your vent stick out. My fabric was medium-weight and it didn’t look great after I hemmed it. You’ll have to press it to death or you might want to finish the edge with bias hem tape to reduce bulk. If you do that, remember to shorten the skirt or it will be longer than you want it to be.
I put a clothespin on the vent folds to hold it in place overnight. That seemed to work – the vent stayed down! You can sort of see the vent near my leg in this photo. The skirt is easy to walk in.
Here’s a detail of the finished back view. I should mention here that I forgot to adjust the waistband size to size F not E so it’s a little smaller than it’s supposed to be. Oops! So that’s why I used a hook and bar closure, rather than a button. No room for a buttonhole. The pattern gives you the option of using a button or hook/bar to close the waistband. This fabric really disguises the invisible zipper!
[Note: for Version 1, step 14, I think the drawing might be showing the wrong side of the side-back pattern piece to attach to the center back piece. But if you just match your notches you’ll be fine.]
The pattern instructs you to edgestitch along the bottom of the waistband like so. The topstitching goes well with the edgestitching. 🙂
This skirt was easy to put together as long as I paid attention to the notches. Be sure to mark your notches! I now use a pink highlighter and arrows to note the notches so I won’t forget.
I really hate going back to a pattern piece to mark the notches after I’ve removed the pattern piece from the fabric. I not a fan of pink so it really gets my attention. [I got the highlighter tip from Brooke of Custom Style. She sews for a living – making and altering costumes for TV shows, the opera, theater productions, etc. I enjoy seeing what she’s up to on her Instagram feed (@sewbrooke).]
2 yards of medium-weight denim for the skirt from Fabric Outlet (I got it at a 40% off sale so I think I paid maybe $5 a yard for it.)
Cotton voile for pocket lining (leftover fabric from my stash)
9-inch invisible zipper
hook and bar closure
You can see more photos of it on this blog post but here’s another photo of the finished version.
If I make this again, I think I’ll make it a little shorter, and adjust the center front panel, which puffs out a tad – as you can see from this photo – though my hand in the pocket is also contributing to this. And the waistband needs to come in about a half-inch at the very top of the side seams. There’s a slight gap between the top of the waistband and my body, which you can’t really see from these photos. If I had made a second mock-up, I would have noted this and corrected it. I may rip out the side seams at the waistband and fix this – especially if I wear it with a Nettie bodysuit.
I didn’t make another mock-up because I was trying to finish this so I could enter it in the Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest, which was part of Sewing Indie Month (#SIM2015), organized by Mari of Seamster Patterns. You can vote for me here. 😉 Just click on the heart in the upper right corner of my photo – No. 20 – by Sunday, Oct. 11, central time, U.S.
Hi, did you sew anything in September? It was Sewing Indie Month and National Sewing Month. I made the A-Frame Skirt by Blueprints for Sewing. This pattern has two versions, a pencil skirt and an a-line skirt. I usually make a-line skirts so this time around I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and make a pencil skirt. I really need more casual skirts, plus I really like this design.
I usually avoid them because I have to size up in the hips. I don’t buy RTW pencil skirts because they just don’t fit well because if it fits in the hips, it’ll be too loose in the waist.
This pattern so lovely color blocking options. I made it from this denim, which has a touch of lycra in it. It has some slight stretch to it. I had fun using both sides of this fabric. (I wrote about my Sewing Indie plans here.)
This is a short post because I’m just barely making the deadline to enter this skirt in the Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest. I meant to make the Nettie bodysuit by Closet Case Files to go with the skirt but only had time to make a muslin so I’m wearing a RTW top with my skirt.
This front of this skirt has several pieces – center front, bottom side front, top side front, and the pocket lining. I used leftover fabric from my most recent Anna Dress for the pocket lining. Oh, and I top stitched my pockets and one side of each panel. You can (sort of) see the top stitching on the darker blue-gray fabric in the photo below
Here’s the back view. I installed an invisible zipper in the center back.
You can really have fun color blocking this skirt!
Do you have a favorite skirt pattern? I just can’t seem to get enough of the Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt sewing pattern. This is my fourth Chardon – but it wasn’t the easiest to make as you’ll see (heheh). I had no idea when I made my first Chardon more than six month ago, I was going to like this pattern so much. I really love the inverted pleats. It’s a lovely pattern, especially for curvy figures (meaning you usually have to grade up in the hip area as I do). The Chardon pattern is a high-waisted skirt with side pockets. You can make it with a bow, belt loops, or contrast band.
This rather long post includes photos of my finished skirt and some construction details as well as a discussion of some of the unexpected problems I ran into as I made this version.
So far I’ve made version A with the contrasting hem (but no back bow), version B (but without the belt loops), and a maxi version using a wax print. I used medium- to heavy-weight fabric for the shorter skirts (cotton/hemp blend for one and a cotton stretch twill for the other) and a quilt-weight cotton for the maxi. This time I had a beautiful linen print remnant, which I got at a Britex Fabrics 50% off sale last May. As soon as I saw it, I thought – Chardon!
Here’s a photo I took on the fourth floor contemplating this fabric as a skirt. It was 1 3/8 yards (1.3 meters) long and 56″ wide. The pattern calls for 1 1/3 yards of 60″ wide fabric (or 1 2/3 yards of 45″ wide). Though it wasn’t quite 60″ wide I thought I could make it work if I didn’t match the print. (The fabric was originally $39.99/yard and I got it for $17.50 (!) – half off the remnant price of $35.)
For this version, I made several changes from the original pattern (some of which I’d also made to my maxi version):
Moved the zipper from center back to left side and used an invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper
Removed left pocket because zipper is now there
Lined it instead of using the facing
Added about 2 inches (5 cm) of length to the main skirt fabric
Added 1 inch of length to contrast band (the solid red linen fabric)
I really didn’t know how long I would make the contrast band. I deliberately cut it several inches longer and I posted three options on Instagram (@csews). The red band is longer (deeper?) as you go to the right, 1.) 5 inches (~12.5 cm), 2.) 8 inches (~20 cm), and 3.) 11 inches (28 cam, ).
Many people were in favor of No. 1 and some liked No. 2 (no votes for No. 3). The third was too long so I already took that out of consideration. (You can see all the comments/votes here.) A couple of people suggested making the main fabric a little shorter, which was a good idea except that I had already attached the red fabric to the main skirt piece. Plus I really loved the print, I didn’t want to make it shorter. I decided No. 1 was a little too short and No. 2 was a little too long. So I made it in between those two lengths, adding about an inch to No. 1.
This version is significantly longer than the pattern,which has the skirt hem end above the knee – not below the knee. What can I say? I like long skirts. I just feel more comfortable hiding my legs. But I have made a couple of things that are knee-length – my first two Chardons and my Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress. Those were definitely out of my comfort zone. 😉
I assumed that sewing this one up would be a piece of cake. Heheh. Wrong. The big difference was the fabric. This time I used a heavyweight home dec linen/viscose blend that frayed like crazy. And then it wasn’t easy to see my markings for the pleats on this fabric. I inadvertently stitched many of my pleats about 1/4″ (slightly less than 1 cm) longer than they were supposed to be. Oops.
I made this discovery when I tried it on before installing my zipper. To my surprise it needed slightly more ease around my hips. What?! I haven’t gained that much weight since I last made this skirt. I took out my seam gauge, compared the pleat mark on the pattern to what I sewed and saw that those seams needed to be shorter. I had to unpick that slight extra length on nearly all of the pleats and then go back and reinforce the stitches. So much for a quick sew…
I finished all my raw edges with either a zig zag stitch or a curving straight stitch. Then I thought – hmmm, does the waist need more reinforcement because I’m going to line it and not use a facing or interfacing? Will the linen fabric eventually distort? So I decided to add seam tape to stabilize it. (I sewed seam tape to the waist of my Spring for Cotton dress, so I thought it couldn’t hurt.) Here’s a photo of the waist when I had just began pinning down the seam tape. See all that fraying?
After I stitched that seam, I wondered if using seam tape was a bad idea because I now had three layers at the waist – lining, thick linen fabric, and seam tape – and a triple layer of the linen where the pleat folds were (so five layers wherever there was a pleat. Yikes). I used my pinking scissors to trim the seam allowance. See all that fabric above the seam tape? It’s gone now. I trimmed that down so there was only about 1/4″ left. Understitching the lining and a good pressing keeps everything in place.
Then I tried on the skirt and the lining was too tight. Really? More problems? Well, somehow when I cut the lining, it got distorted and thus it wasn’t wide enough at the hips. Luckily the waist was fine so I didn’t have to touch that. I had already machine sewn the lining to the zipper tape and I really didn’t want to unpick that.
So I just unpicked the right side seam before the waist and added more lining to that side. Luckily I had some leftover fabric so I didn’t need to run to the fabric store. I added more fabric than I needed but no one will know or see it, right?
I knew I wanted to add a red contrast band. I first went to Britex Fabrics to see if they had a linen of a similar weight and they did but it was more than $50/yard because it was a home dec linen. It didn’t seem right to spend more on the contrast band than the main fabric. So I went to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley and found this red linen – a nice match.
Note on fabric and pleat placement: If you use a fabric with a large print, you may want to pay attention to where the center front pleat will be positioned. I didn’t have enough fabric place the front pattern piece so that the red flower would appear at the top of the pleat. It is centered but you only see it below the pleat.
And if you remove the center back zipper, remember that there won’t be a pleat in the center back unless you add one. But I like it without an extra pleat because it shows off the print.
The pleats worked well on my maxi Chardon. I focused on centering the print’s design rather than matching anything on the side seams.
Here’s another photo of the back of my latest Chardon – but it’s a bit off-center on me. I hadn’t noticed but the side seams aren’t quite on the side. (I guess that’s why it’s helpful to have someone help you on a photo shoot – but it’s just me and my tripod.)
I’m really happy with this skirt. I needed some more color in my wardrobe.
Miscellaneous details: I got the hat several years ago in Santa Monica. It was made in China from paper fiber. The top is a sample size Ann Taylor silk sweater knit I got a few years ago in San Francisco. I recently got the sandals (by Elliott Lucca) at a deep discount in San Francisco. My lipstick is from Besame Cosmetics, which described the color as a “cool berry shade from 1945.” The company calls it American Beauty.
The wall behind me is the side of a vintage modern furniture store. In case you’re wondering, here’s what the rest of the chair mural looks like:
Cool painting, isn’t it? Makes me think of Lily Tomlin and her character “Edith Ann” who would sit in a huge rocking chair, which made her seem small (see this photo).
Hi, as you might know, some people (including me) are participating in the Japan Sew Along – hosted by Tanoshii (#2015jsa). It started towards the end of January and I’ve already seen some completed garments, which you can check on the sew along’s 16 February post. I’ve only gotten as far as making one muslin test garment. Over the past couple of weeks, my WIP (work-in-progress) has been the A-line Block Skirt from the Japanese sewing pattern book Basic Black by Sato Watanabe.
I do wear black a lot and I really need a longer black skirt. I only have one other black skirt – a knee-length RTW (ready-to-wear) circle skirt.
I traced size L – the largest size – the skirt (pattern T in the book). There is no XL in this book. (For more on sizing, see my post Japanese Pattern Book Sizing.)
For the A-line skirt, essentially a skirt that’s been divided into 16 rectangular panels (8 for the front and 8 for the back), I traced the 8 pattern pieces. When I measured the pattern pieces at the waist (not including the seam allowances), and added them up, I got about 31.5 inches (about 80 cm). So I knew the waist would fit but I wasn’t sure the hips would fit because I usually need to grade up a size in that area.
Basic Black’s Sizing vs. Indie Patterns
For comparison’s sake – I’d say size L for this skirt was similar to size 44 of my Deer and Doe Chardon skirt – but with less ease in the hips. The Chardon skirt has pleats so lots of ease there!
I folded my test fabric in half and pinned my pattern pieces to the fabric (a white cotton Ikea curtain I got at Goodwill, a charity shop, for $2). After I cut my fabric, I had a total of 16 pattern pieces. I used my erasable Pilot Frixion pen to label each pattern piece so I would remember which piece went where: top center front, top side front, top center back, bottom center back, etc. It erases via heat – so a hot iron will make my scribbles disappear.
There are many pattern pieces so I recommend labeling them. Then you can sew them from top to bottom and left to right. I matched and pinned the top and bottom pieces together, following the numbered diagrams in the book.
Then I tried on my muslin. It fit at the waist but there was very little ease at the hips. This was not a surprise. I posted this image on Instagram.
Then I needed to figure out how much ease to add. So I went to my closet and pulled out one of my favorite A-line bias cut skirts, a linen silk blend. Then I put my muslin on top of that skirt.
I decided to add a centimeter (3/8″) to the Top Side Front and Top Side Back pattern pieces. The skirt I’m making doesn’t get as wide as my RTW one. I wanted to keep the look of the Basic Black pattern.
To figure out where this 1 cm would begin and end, I put on my muslin and made two marks along the side seams: One mark about 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) from the waist and then another mark (near the pen) where the skirt didn’t need more ease.
Here’s one of the side pattern pieces I adjusted. I taped a piece of tracing paper to the side, then used my French curve to gradually add 1 cm to the hip area. The increase starts near the tomato. Once I got to 1 cm. I just extended the line straight down. I also added 1 cm to the Bottom Side pattern piece to preserve the A-line design of the skirt. If I didn’t do then, then I would have had a side seam that just curved out at the hips and then got narrower, like a modified tulip skirt or something.
Add a Lining? The pattern calls for finishing the waist with bias tape. I’m going to make the skirt from a medium-weight cotton pique and there are a lot of seams in the skirt. Maybe it will be more comfortable with a lining. Here’s what it looks like on the inside (all of these seams are supposed to be top stitched):
However, there is no lining pattern so I needed to draft one. I couldn’t use the skirt pattern pieces because there were too many pieces.
I took my muslin, folded it in half, traced it and added a seam allowance on the side. That sounds simple but it was a bit tricky because my muslin was a heavy-weight fabric and it turns out that folding it in half wasn’t too accurate.
I wasn’t sure if my seam allowance was correct so I put the skirt on top of the muslin and I could see that I needed to add more. Plus I needed to add more ease to the hips. I taped a long strip of tracing paper along the side, and added the ease (see hip area just below the tomato).
I did the same thing for the other side. Then I cut my lining fabric, black bemberg. After I cut the lining, I put it on top of my muslin to see if it was the right size. Somehow I added too much seam allowance at the waist, so I made the lining a little smaller there. Then I had to add seam allowance at the hips and the rest of the side seam. I’m glad I checked or I would have had a problem like I did with the skirt lining I drafted for my maxi Chardon skirt.
It took me half of my Saturday afternoon to get it right. I didn’t think it would take that long. Maybe it would have been faster to draft part of it using the Top Side and Bottom Side pattern pieces. Then I could have used my French curve to draft the rest of the waist, etc.
Have you drafted a lining for anything you’ve made? What garment was it and how did it work out?
Hopefully I can start sewing my fashion fabric for this skirt! I decided not to make another muslin and just go ahead and cut my fabric – a medium-weight solid black cotton pique. I’m really looking forward to finishing this skirt!
Do you like maxi skirts? This is the first one I’ve made. I used Deer and Doe’s Chardon skirt pattern, which is knee-length, but I made it into a maxi length so I could show off this great wax print, which I got from Britex Fabrics. It’s a medium weight cotton that has a bit of stiffness to it but that works well with this pattern.
I bought the last few yards of it in November during a Bay Area Sewists meetup on sewing slippery fabrics. The warm beige background color isn’t very flattering for my skin tone but I loved the print so much, I thought – as long as I keep it away from my face, I can make it work. And I knew I could wear it with black. (Warning: Many photos are in this post – construction details and more photos of the finished skirt.)
I debated on Instagram whether I should use the print horizontally or vertically (excuse the blurry photo but you get the idea).
People liked it horizontal and vertical. But horizontally, it did look a lot like snakes. And as @Sewbrooke of Custom Style pointed out:
Definitely go with what you think you will wear more. It’s a fun print and it has an interesting illusion of movement in the vertical. =)
So I cut the fabric perpendicular to the grain so the squiggles would run vertically.
To lengthen the skirt, I sliced the front and back pattern pieces horizontally about 2/3 down and then added about 18 1/4 inches (46.5 cm) between the two pieces. I cut my fabric during my sewcation – before I decided to move my invisible zipper to the left side. The pattern calls for a regular zipper in the center back but I wanted to use an invisible zipper, which I did in my first two Chardon skirts. It worked well with my first Chardon because the black zipper tab disappeared into the fabric. But I didn’t like how it looked on my second Chardon. The centered zipper tab bugged me.
Then I remembered that SewBusyLizzy had posted a photo on Instagram of Butterick skirt pattern B5756. I mentioned to her that I made version C, and she commented: “I’m going to move the zip to the side & get rid of the centre seams in the skirt.” Gee, why didn’t I think about moving the zipper before I cut my fabric back in December? Darn it.
So I have a center back seam that looks like this, but I’m fine with it. The print is so bold it doesn’t really matter that it’s cut off. If I make another maxi Chardon skirt I’ll eliminate the seam in the center back.
This skirt is supposed to have two side pockets. But I couldn’t figure out how to keep the pocket and install an invisible zipper so I removed the pocket on that side.
I’m sure there’s a way to incorporate a side pocket and an invisible zipper but I was too impatient to figure that out. I just wanted to finish the skirt. If you’ve installed an invisible zipper next to a side pocket, let me know how you did it!
The other change I made to the pattern was to add a lining instead of a facing. I used the facing to draft the lining pattern but I didn’t add enough ease to the side seams. I made the mistake of drawing a straight line from the facing to the bottom of the maxi-skirt length. I didn’t compensate for the pleats so my lining was a lot smaller than the skirt fabric around the hips. Whoops!
So I ripped out the right side seam (my zipper is on the left), traced the opening between the two lining pieces on some tracing paper and then cut out a strip of lining. I didn’t have any lining fabric left over so I took some of this ivory Bemberg from my stash and added it to the side seam, which you can sort of see here.
Here’s a detail of what it looks like. No one’s going to know that my lining fabric doesn’t match, except me – and you. 😉
Here’s what the lining around the invisible zipper looks like. This is the first time I machine sewed the lining around the invisible zipper. I usually hand sew it to the zipper tape. I followed Colette Patterns tutorial: A simple way to sew facings with invisible zippers – and it worked like a charm.
I only have two other maxi skirts in my wardrobe – one is a 1970s era skirt I got at a vintage sale and the other is a cheap solid black one I got at H&M a couple of years ago. (I don’t shop at H&M anymore – especially after I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. I reviewed the book here.) I don’t wear either of them that often though. The vintage one is made from a really heavyweight fabric – it’s almost like wearing a rug. I’ve tripped wearing the black one – the hazards of wearing maxi-length skirts – so I think I may cut that one down. The fabric is really lightweight and maybe that’s why it’s easy to trip on it.
I’m sure I’ll wear this one a lot more than my other two. It can be dressed up for night – especially with a fancy hat – and I can also wear it to work. I actually wore it to a jazz concert a couple of days ago – the lining still needed hemming but hey, who could tell, right?
This is my third Chardon skirt. I really like this skirt pattern. It’s very flattering and works so well for figures with wide hips.
And here are some more photos of this skirt. It was a bit warm and I shot this when the sun was very intense – thus the strong shadows.
I finished my second Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt last weekend – this time with the contrast band at the bottom. I really love this easy-to-make pattern. And if you use fabric that’s medium heavy, you can put things in your pockets and it doesn’t disrupt the line of the skirt. I’ve put my smartphone (with case) in my pocket and I couldn’t tell it was in there. If you use medium-heavy fabric, it will take the weight of keys, smartphones, etc. in your pockets. The waistline won’t be weighted down.
I like that the skirt is a little stiff because the fabric (organic cotton/hemp blend) has a bit of heft to it. Using a heavier fabric lets you see how full the skirt really is. BUT if you use heavier fabric, you should use a lighter weight fabric for the facing or the fabric at the waist will be really thick (see my post on my first Chardon Skirt). And if you use lightweight fabric, it will be a bit droopy. (You can buy this pattern here.)
Side note: When I showed it to my husband, he said in a surprised voice: “You made that?”
“Yes, I did,” I replied. He said it was one of the best things I’ve made. Hmmmm – guess he likes the fabric and the pleats or maybe he doesn’t remember the things I made last year…
I made the version with the contrast band because I only had 1 1/4 yards of this black-and-white print. I bought this solid black cotton twill at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics to make another black Chardon skirt with a contrast band using leftover fabric from the colorful print of my first Chardon, which is made from cotton twill with lycra. (My top is RTW from Ann Taylor Loft.)
However, this black-and-white print does not have any stretch in it. After I attached the contrast band, I was a little worried because it looked like the seam might not lay flat. But after pressing it, it looked fine (whew!). Should you avoid sewing fabric without stretch to fabric with stretch?
The pattern calls for a regular zipper in the center back. I used an invisible zipper because I have a bunch of them lying around. But in retrospect, I should have moved the zipper to the side because the zipper pull is just hanging out there in the center. :/ I’ll do that with the next Chardon, which I’ve already cut so it will have a seam in the center back but I’ll put the zipper on the side.
For this version, I came in about 3/8 of an inch on the center back seam but then I began to worry that that would take out too much ease. My first Chardon seemed to have a tad too much ease, maybe because of the lycra in the fabric? So instead of lining up my invisible zipper to the 5/8 seam line, I just lined the edge of the zipper with the edge of the fabric and that worked. The fit it perfect.
Here’s a close-up of the back. Isn’t this print interesting? It makes me think of bobbing up and down in the waves or something. And any pattern matching is completely by accident. I got this fabric on my brief trip to Seattle last spring (which I have not blogged about). I was in the area to go to Port Townsend to attend my younger sister’s graduation from art school (she got her MFA!).
Before my trip, I asked MaLora, who I follow on IG and Twitter, if she had any fabric shop recommendations. (MaLora lives near Seattle and blogs about stuff she makes at Bird and Bicycle.) She kindly directed me to a great store – District Fabric in the Fremont neighborhood as well as a yummy sandwich place for lunch called Homegrown. At District Fabric I found this 1 1/4 yard piece remnant priced at $10. (A couple of weeks ago I discovered that Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley carries this fabric for $19/yard. If I knew I could get more of the fabric, maybe I would have made a longer version or one without the contrast band.)
And here’s another front view of the skirt.
And the other side.
Note on the photo shoot: I used the timer on my Sony cybershot digital camera, which was on a tripod. These photos were taking in Berkeley on the sidewalk near the parking lot of a laundromat. That dryer/fabric softener smell was in the air. The sun was setting so the lighting isn’t the best. I like that red door though!
And the inside view of the pleats, facing, and part of the pockets. For the facing I used some lightweight black cotton fabric and fused some lightweight black woven interfacing to it. I understitched my facing. The pattern instructions do not mention understitching. I recommend doing that to help keep the facing in place. I also tacked the facing to the pleat in the front and at the side seams to make sure it stays down.
And here’s my hidden detail – striped bias tape to finish the hem! I got this bias tape at Britex Fabrics. They have all kinds of bias tape in addition to the usual Wrights solid-color bias tape – stripes, knits, silk, you name it.
Note on my hat: Before I left the apartment, I let Mr. C Sews be my hat consultant. I tried on about four other black hats, a beret, and a red hat before we agreed on this black wool beret, which I got a few years ago at Loehmann’s (RIP). He rejected my black velvet vintage hat as too formal and the others as not the right shape. We both agreed on this hat so that’s what I wore.
Do you like pleats on skirts? I used to avoid them until this pattern. My next Chardon Skirt will be using a Dutch wax print and then I’ll make a black Chardon. I love wearing them to work.
When I finish a garment I usually do a post that shows the completed garment and all the steps I took to make it. But that can make for a r-e-a-l-l-y long post. So I posted Finished: My First Chardon Skirt earlier this week and today how I made my Deer and Doe Chardon skirt, which was one of my sewcation projects.
The Chardon features a high waist and inverted box pleats. There are two versions – one with a contrast band at the bottom and a bow in the back (version A) and the other one has belt loops (version B). The line drawing doesn’t do it justice. Frankly when I first saw the pattern, I didn’t think that much of it. It was hard to visualize what it would look like. But when I saw this lovely linen version by Camille of Attack of the Seam Ripper, I thought, oh, I need that pattern! I want those pleats!
During my sewcation I wanted to use something from my stash and when I ran across this floral fabric, which I got from my mom’s closet more than year ago, it said “Choose me!” Pink has never been one of my favorite colors – even as a young girl I resented the idea that I was supposed to like pink because I was a girl – but I like this bright pink, orange, and green against a black background. The colors really pop. So I do make exceptions. (This isn’t the best photo because I shot it indoors.)
OK, moving on to the details! (Note: You can click on the photos to see a larger image.)
Here’s my list of materials – I put [brackets] around things that are my additions or changes to the pattern’s supply list:
Cotton twill fabric with a touch of Lycra (Pattern calls for 1 1/3 yard of 60″ or 1 2/3 y of 45″ wide. I had about 2 yards of 60″ wide so I’m going to use the extra as contrast bands on two more Chardons, one black and one lime green!)
Black thread (I had a couple of spools of black Coats & Clark – bought on sale at JoAnn’s a while back.)
70/10 Schmetz needle
black stretch fusible interfacing for facing [I used interfacing with a little stretch because my fabric has lycra in it. I got it a Discount Fabrics in San Francisco.]
[Invisible] zipper [I used an invisible zipper because that’s what I had on hand.]
[Design Plus bias fusible stay tape to reinforce area around zipper]
The pattern calls for “medium weight, soft fabrics like lightweight twill, linen, denim or chambray.” Well, my twill was a bit on the heavy side, but I didn’t think it would be a problem, plus I liked the fact that it has a little stretch. If I overindulged at a meal, then the waist could stretch to accommodate any, ahem, waist expansion.
I contemplated not using any interfacing because the fabric was a bottom weight but then I thought, well, the waist area gets a lot of wear and tear so I decided to use some of this stretch fusible interfacing.
It doesn’t stretch much but then, my fabric doesn’t have a lot of stretch either so it’s a good match.
I cut out a size 44. For my first Chardon, I made version B, but without the belt loops or the contrast band at the bottom. The only adjustment I made was to make the skirt a little longer and the pockets a little deeper. I have long fingers and when I placed my hand over the pocket pattern piece, I decided I needed to add some length.
So when traced the pattern, I went a little long in the pocket, which you can see here.
After I cut my pattern pieces (skirt front and back, pockets, facing) it was time to mark the pleats. I decided to use my Pilot Frixion erasable pen. The pen erases with friction or heat. You can just iron over the pen marks and they disappear, seemingly like magic. (I posted about the Frixion pens in 2013, when I first learned about them.)
Before I pinned my pleats, I attached my pockets and finished the edges of the pockets and side seams.
To match up the 3-inch pleat lines, I put pins at the top of each pleat, like so…
And then lined up the pins for each pleat. If you look closely, you can see there are two pinheads next to each other.
Then I pinned each pleat along the lines with the pin heads going from bottom to top so I can pull them out as I sew.
After you sew the pleats, you open it up so that it’s centered over the seam. I inserted a point turner inside the pleat to open it up and then pressed it. The instructions don’t mention pressing here but you should press it so you’ll have a nice edge to guide the next step.
Then you need to stitch 1/4″ along each side of the pleat seam to hold the pleat in place. Here you can see the pleat seam just to the left of the my sewing machine foot.
It’ll look like this. Here I’m flipping up the right side of this pleat – the stitch near by thumb is the reinforcement line of stitching, the other line of stitches is the pleat stitch. If I flip it down, it’ll look like the inverted box pleat on the left – the two lines of stitches above my hand are the reinforcement stitches.
Here’s what the pleats look like on the right side.
After I fused the interfacing to the facing, I pinned it to the waist, lining up the side seams.
This was then I realized the fabric was pretty thick where the pleats were because there were about four layers of fabric in those areas – the right side, the folded box pleat two layers, and the facing. I should have used a lighter fabric for the facing. Oh, well.
I understitched the facing, which is not mentioned in the instructions but it helps to keep the facing in place. (Here’s a link to a understitching tutorial on Coletterie.)
I graded the seams at the pleats as close to the seams as possible to help with this thickness and pinked the rest. Oh, and I decided to finish the facing edge with seam tape, which you can see in the above photo and below. It looks pretty sloppy below – and it turns out it wasn’t such a great idea because seam tap doesn’t have any stretch so when I’m wearing the skirt, it pulls a little and creates a slight line where the seam tape is. I only noticed this when I wore it to work. I may just cut if off and finish it with a zig zag stitch or cover it with bias tape.
I fused a strip of fusible bias tape along the seam line of my invisible zipper – that’s the black strip you see above. I’ve had RTW skirts where the fabric around the invisible zipper got a little frayed so I wanted to make it a little stronger there.
I installed the invisible zipper – the pattern uses a regular one but I like the idea of hiding it. One side went in easily but I had problems with the other side. I discovered that the little plastic thing at the top was slightly off and prevented the teeth from staying in the groove of my invisible zipper foot. I took a pair of sharp craft scissors and trimmed it down and then it went in fine. (whew!)
The directions to press the pockets toward the front but I wanted to press open the side seams so I clipped one side of the seam allowance so I could do that.
This skirt uses bias tape to finish the hem, which I had never done with a skirt hem. I usually fold, press, and hand sew the hem.
I looked through my bias tape and saw that I had this really wide vintage bias tape – 100 percent mercerized cotton.
Look at the label on the back, which says it’s for “lengthening skirts” and as “facing or band trim on apparel, curtains, bedspreads, draperies, etc.” It was a bit shiny where the fold was or I might have used it as a contrast band at the bottom.
On the other side of the label, there’s an offer for bits of Wrights trimmings for doll’s clothes in exchange for 3 labels and 50 cents.
Here’s close-up shot of the hem facing. I unfolded it, pinned the edge to the skirt hem and sewed it to the skirt.
After I sewed one side to the skirt edge, I pressed the hem tape and then hand stitched it in place. I really like this way of finishing a skirt hem. I think I’ll use it more often.
And I was done!
This was an easy pattern to sew. Now I want to make more Chardon skirts! I’ve cut a maxi version from this African wax print, which I’m going to line instead of using a facing. I hope to sew it soon!
Voila! I finished my first Chardon skirt during my sewcation (sewing vacation!) over the holidays. This was my very first Deer & Doe sewing pattern. I made the skirt from this pretty floral fabric I got from my mom’s closet – a cotton twill with some Lycra in it. I’m usually not into pink but I love these flowers against a black background. Such happy colors!
The pattern calls for a medium-weight fabric and this was a little heavier than that. But I like it because I can put stuff in my pockets without ruining the line of the skirt. Plus when you use a fabric with a little heft to it, you can really see the fullness of the skirt and you don’t need a crinoline. It just had nice body to it as is. I think if you use a lightweight fabric, you’ll end up with a droopy skirt and you won’t really be able to appreciate the inverted box pleats.
I’m wearing my black suede boots in the above photo. I had to lighten it so you could see my boots. They seem to meld with the tights in the other photos. The sun was shining on the other side of the street but I just love this red wall.
The Chardon skirt has pockets, which I love. In fact, I had my hands in my pockets for most of the photos! Heheh.
You can make the skirt with belt loops or a bow or neither. I left off the belt loops because I wasn’t sure if I would like a belt with it. And I’m not a bit fan of bows, plus I read in Camille’s post about her Chardon skirt that the bow in the back wasn’t very comfortable. Apparently the knot dug into her back when she sat down. Her linen version is very pretty and is what inspired me to make this high-waisted skirt.
I’m showing my finished Chardon skirt first and then I’ll be doing a separate post on the making of the skirt so you can see the details. I’m doing this backwards but it will take me a while to go through those photos and I didn’t want to wait another week before posting about it.
I pretty much followed the pattern as is (traced a size 44) and made a couple of minor adjustments:
invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper in the back,
deeper pockets because I have long fingers,
slightly longer length because the pattern is drafted for someone who’s about 5 feet, 5 inches tall (1 m 68 cm) – and I’m 5′ 8″ (about 172 cm).
This is essentially my muslin. The waist has a little too much ease at the top so I think I’ll take in the center back seam just a little bit – maybe 1 cm or 3/8 inch.
I did take some photos with a belt and my black leather shoes but I don’t know if this is the right belt. Here’s what it looks like from the back.
Then I went across the street, which was the sunny side of the street.
In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing a black vintage velvet hat, which doesn’t photograph well because it sucks up the light.
Here’s a detail of the hat – the crown and underside of the brim is black velvet and the top of the brim is a black fabric (photo lightened so you can see the velvet). My husband doesn’t really like this hat for some reason. He thinks it’s odd or maybe too small for my head but I like it. I use a hat pin to keep it on my head
See how full the skirt is?
This is a great pattern for people with hips! I didn’t need to grade up in the hip area, which I usually need to do. 😉
Stay tuned for construction details. Meanwhile thanks for visiting!