A-Frame Pencil Skirt – construction details

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?

A-Frame skirt - Blueprints for Sewing pattern - construction details - csews.com

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.

A-Frame mockup-front view - csews.com

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.

A-Frame pattern - back-cover

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.

Tracing A-Frame skirt - csews.com

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.

Striped denim fabric - csews.com

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.

Mockup - side view - A-Frame pencil skirt - csews.com

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.

Wrong side of fabric marked with safety pins - csews.com

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.)

Pocket lining for A-Frame skirt- csews.com

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.)

Pocket lining detail - csews.com

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.

Back vent - A-Frame Skirt - csews.com

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.

A-Frame back view - csews.com

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!

Back detail - A-Frame skirt - back detail - csews.com

[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. 🙂

A-Frame Skirt - topstitched pocked - csews.com

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.

Highlighting pattern notches - csews.com

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).]

Materials
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.

A-Frame skirt - Blueprints for Sewing - right side - csews.com

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. 

There are also two other sewing contest going on as part of Sewing Indie Month – Dressed to the Nines and Pattern Hacking. Check them out and vote for your favorite garment!

Happy sewing!

Blueprints for Sewing A-Frame Skirt – Sewing Indie Month

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.

A-Frame Skirt - Blueprints for Sewing - front and back view - csews.com

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.

A-Frame pencil skirt - front view - Blueprints for Sewing

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.)

Striped denim fabric - csews.com

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.

A-Frame skirt - Blueprints for Sewing - right side - csews.com

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

A-Frame Skirt - pocket detail - csews.com

Here’s the back view. I installed an invisible zipper in the center back.

A-Frame Skirt - Blueprints for Sewing - back of pencil skirt - csews.com

You can really have fun color blocking this skirt!

A-Frame Skirt - Blueprints for Sewing - side view - pencil skirt - csews.com

To see all the entries, check out the Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest page. This contest was hosted by Mary of Idle Fancy. Thanks for hosting, Mary!

Voting starts tomorrow!

UPDATE: I’m entry number 20. You can vote for me here, starting on Monday, Oct. 5. Just click on the “heart” on No. 20, my entry to cast your vote!

P.S. I’ll be writing a post with construction details later this week.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to my post on the construction details for the A-Frame skirt.

It’s Sewing Indie Month and National Sewing Month!

Hi, in case you didn’t notice, September is the month to celebrate sewing. Yep, it’s not only Sewing Indie Month, it’s National Sewing Month! So if you need to jump-start your sewjo, this is the month to do it.

Sewing Indie Month - Blueprints for Sewing - A-Frame skirt - csews.com

I finished my project for The Refashioners 2015 challenge – to make something from a men’s shirt. (See my post Refashion, Stylish Remakes book review. Psssssst – if you comment on that post, you’ll be entered to win a copy of the Japanese sewing book Stylish Remakes.)

I’ve been wondering if I should attempt making something for Sewing Indie Month, which celebrates “indie sewing patterns and people who make them.” A couple of weeks ago I bought Pattern Bundle #2 (paying $25 and getting 5 PDF patterns – 20% of the proceeds go to the nonprofit organization Women for Women, which helps women survivors of war.) But I hadn’t made anything yet. Then I got this fortune cookie and decided it was a sign – time to get going on my Blueprints for Sewing A-frame skirt and maybe a Nettie Bodysuit by Closet Case Patterns, and a pair of Rose Hips Tights by Seamster Patterns!

Fortune cookie fortune - sewing indie month 2015

I got a PDF of the Nettie bodysuit/dress pattern as part of my bundle and I got the Rose Hips Tights paper pattern from Mari, the designer behind Seamster Patterns and the founder of Sewing Indie Month. Mari and I follow each other on social media and I got to meet her in person when she was in the Bay Area.

More than 20 designers are participating in Sewing Indie Month (#SIM2015), offering tutorials, interviews, and prizes! Yes –  there are sewing contests – make something from one of the patterns or tutorials by one of the participating designers.

I need more casual clothes so I’m aiming to enter the Everyday Casual contest hosted by Idle Fancy. The other contests are Pattern Hacking, hosted by Ronda’s Creative Life and Dressed to the Nines, hosted by Lilacs and Lace. It’s not too late to enter! Your projects just need to be posted by Sunday, Oct. 4. Check out the contest rules here.

I bought the A-Frame pattern more than three months ago but I got busy with other things and only got as far as tracing some of the pieces. I think I saw a finished skirt on Instagram and I really liked the design of version 2, which has a lovely flare. But in the interests of stashbusting, I’m going to make version 1 using this denim fabric, which I got 40% off at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco. I’m going to use both sides of this fabric and use the lighter (wrong?) side of the fabric as the contrast part of the skirt.

Striped denim fabric - csews.com

Don’t be put off by the drawing on the front of the pattern! Yes, the gals pictured seem a bit rustic and the boot-wearing gal on the left seems like she’s ready to go for a hike but …

A-frame - Blueprints for Sewing - csews.com

… check out the line drawings! The pencil skirt and the A-line skirt have lovely lines. Plus you gotta admit, those cover gals are unique and the artist is offering an image of a woman who you don’t typically see on pattern envelopes – women with real figures, not a super-slim models with sticks for legs. You know they saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, don’t just a pattern by the models on the front.

A-frame skirt - Blueprints for Sewing line drawing - csews.com

And here’s a finished version 1 – the pencil skirt (oh the color blocking possibilities!) – from Blueprints for Sewing’s website:

A-frame skirt - version 1 - Blueprints for Sewing pattern

And here’s a finished version 2, the A-line Skirt (love the pockets!):

Blueprints for Sewing - A-frame skirt - version 2

So it was the line drawings and the finished versions that sold me. I bought a paper pattern and then I contacted the designer to see if she’d be interested in donating some of her patterns to give away at an upcoming Bay Area Sewists meetup. (I’m the organizer for the group.) And she generously offered to send the A-Frame Skirt and the Cabin Shirt/Shift Dress. This Saturday our meetup is at Sips N Sews in San Francisco and we’ll hold a drawing for the A-Frame Skirt AND for Seamster Patterns Rose Hips Tights! If you’re in the Bay Area, you can RSVP for this meetup here. Thank you Blueprints for Sewing and Seamster Patterns!

Check out this illustration of color blocking ideas!

A-frame skirt - Blueprints for Sewing - csews.com

I’m going to make a mock-up of this skirt using this blue floral sheet under the color-blocking drawing.  I got the sheet at Goodwill (charity shop) for a couple of dollars. You know what I’ll be doing over the next week!

What are you making for Sewing Indie Month or National Sewing Month?

Summer sewing – WIPs

Hi,

What are you working on? Projects for summer and fall? Now that summer solstice has come and gone, I feel pressure to get going on the summer clothes. One good thing about living in California is that it stays warm through September, even in the Bay Area, where the weather is a lot cooler than Southern California – so I’ll be OK even if I don’t finish my summer sewing projects by the end of August.

I’ve just finished making another Deer and Doe Chardon skirt – this time out of some heavyweight linen fabric. Here’s a sneak peek of the main skirt fabric, which I got at Britex Fabrics and my side pocket:

Linen fabric - pocket detail for Chardon Skirt - csews.com

Hopefully, I’ll be able to take photos of it in the couple of days so you can see the finished version with the red linen contrast band. This is my fourth Chardon skirt. (Here are the links to my first Chardon, my second one with a black contrast band, and my maxi version.)

Also on my list – dresses – one each from the Japanese sewing books, Basic Black by Sato Watanabe and Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I want to make the dress on the cover of Basic Black. (I made a 16-paneled skirt from this book earlier this year.)

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - csews.com

I already got some black seersucker fabric. It’s a perfect project for the Sundress Sewalong, hosted by Handmade by Heather B! It starts on July 1 and continues to August 31 – plenty of time to finish it! Thanks, Heather!

Sundress Sewalong 2015

The other dress is one I thought I would make for the Japan Sew Along (hosted by Tanoshii) but I was only able to complete one garment, the A-line Block Skirt (from Basic Black) by the end of the sewalong.  This is the pattern…

Stylish Dress Book - sleeveless dress with ruffles - csews.com

… and here’s the pretty purple cotton voile fabric I got for the dress:

Fabric - cottons and wool - csews.com

Oh, and let’s not forget tops! I cut out my mock-up of the Asymmetical Top from Drape Drape 2, which I’ve been meaning to make ever since I saw a couple of MaciNic’s versions on her blog The Somnolent Dachshund. I cut a straight size L/XL. I’m using a drapey rayon knit so we’ll see how well it fits. My guess is that it will be tight in the hips. The top was a bit of a pain to cut out because it is one huge pattern piece. So I had to lay it out on the floor. It’s waiting to be sewed.

And way back in December I cut out a mock-up of the Renfrew top, Sewaholic’s best-selling and versatile knit top. It got pushed to the bottom of the project queue when I started making my Chardon skirts, Japanese sewing patterns, and my Spring for Cotton dress. I need to sew this up as well.

I also bought my first Blueprints for Sewing pattern – the A-frame skirt, which looks like a great stashbuster. Just think of the color blocking possibilities!

A-frame skirt - Blueprints for Sewing
(image from Blueprints for Sewing)

The drawing is unique – rather rustic but don’t be put off by it, the design is rather elegant with two options – an A-line and a pencil skirt. And the pocket detail is quite lovely. You can see more versions of it on Blueprint’s blog.

Another pattern I got earlier this month is the Flutter Blouse by Papercut Patterns. I like the floaty sleeves. You could make it tunic length and wear it as a dress (check out SewBusyLizzy’s version here). I don’t know if I would make it tunic length – like SewBusyLizzy I worry about it looking like a sack. My hips are rather wide so I don’t think that will be flattering on my figure. It will be fine as a blouse though.

Flutter blouse - Papercut Patterns - csews.com

I love the packaging on Papercut Patterns!

There are other indie patterns on my to-do list as well – Deer & Doe’s Bruyère Shirt, maybe another By Hand London Anna Dress for the International Anna Party (I’ve made two so far – one with a border print and a color blocked version), and Sewaholic’s Granville Shirt. What’s on your sewing list?

Follow on Bloglovin