Sewing cake and frosting over the holidays

I’m looking forward to finishing some projects and getting started on some new ones. I plan on sewing cake and frosting.

Happy holidays! Will you be sewing over the holiday break? I hope to take advantage of some time to sew. I’ve been too busy lately to do much sewing or blogging. So I’m looking forward to finishing some projects and getting started on some new ones. I plan on sewing cake and frosting. (See Heather Lou’s post on her Sew Frosting challenge.)

Here are my potential sewing plans for next week. I am considering it a wish list as opposed to a task list because I don’t want to feel bad if I don’t finish everything – and I may not get to everything.

Sewing cake projects underway

New Look 6838

This pattern that has been in my stash for a while. (I couldn’t find it on the Simplicity website so I think it’s OOP.) I love boat necks and knit tops so that’s why I picked up this pattern at Joann’s a while ago.

I am making top A, which has 3/4 sleeves, size L. I had this houndstooth jersey leftover (see photo below) from making my wrap pants (V9191) and I had just enough for the body and I found some black jersey in my stash for the sleeves.

New Look 6838 - knit top and pants - sewing plans

All I need to do is hem the bottom and shorten the sleeves, which are too long for 3/4 sleeves. The hem is about an inch above my wrist so they look like long sleeves that are a little too short. (Side note: Did you know that 3/4 length sleeves are just below the elbow and 7/8 sleeves are a few inches below that?) I’ll write a separate post about this top later.

Vintage Vogue reissue of 1960 top

I made a skirt from this beautiful cotton print for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February earlier this year. Here’s the only good photo I have of the skirt where you can really see the fabric – a splurge purchase from Britex several years ago. I love the watercolor look of this fabric.

Blue floral print A-line skirt -

I had less than a yard leftover but I thought I could squeeze out version A of this sleeveless top (V9187, a vintage Vogue reissue from 1960). The idea was to make it seem like I was wearing a dress. But I ran out of time to finish it in time for Frocktails.

V9187 - Vintage Vogue reissue - design from 1960 - sewing plans -

I made one quick muslin and needed to adjust the bust. Luckily it had princess seams, which makes it easy to adjust. But I am fitting it on myself, which means incremental adjustments. Also, the pattern has all these facings for the neckline and armhole, plus a center back zipper.

I didn’t have enough fabric to cut facings from my fashion fabric so I decided I would line it instead. So I had to figure out how to put together some of the back pattern pieces to create the lining pieces.

The other change I made was to move the back zipper to a side zipper. I don’t want a zipper in the back because it’s designed for a separating zipper and I don’t see how I could put it on by myself.

Where I last left it, is that I went ahead and cut my fashion fabric, crossing my fingers that my last bust adjustments would work. I still need to figure out the back lining pieces. Then I can start sewing it.

Sew frosting projects to start

Skirt for Frocktails

For the last two Frocktails in February event, I made skirts at the last minute. For the 2019 Frocktails, I’d like to spend more than a day throwing it togther. In 2017, I modified a Deer & Doe skirt pattern, removing a few of the pleats and making an adjustable waist with a ribbon tie. Here’s a photo of that skirt and a link to the blog post, My adjustable waist Deer & Doe Chardon.

Deer and Doe Chardon - modified by removing two front pleats and adding a ribbon to give it an adjustable waistband

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know this is one of my favorite skirt patterns. I’ve made it multiple times. I like this modification so I’m thinking of doing a variation of this with the Marimekko fabric in my stash (see last month’s Sew Frosting post on the fabric). But I want to make a longer midi-length skirt.

I’ve also been browsing Pinterest for additional skirt ideas. Here are a few images that caught my eye.

This skirt is by Asos and is described as a high-waisted midi prom skirt. (Really? Prom skirt?) I have a 2-inch wide Petersham ribbon that I’d like to use for my skirt and make it an adjustable waist again. I like the center placement of this ribbon and the way the skirt has a bit of a paper bag waist. I’ll need a facing that will be a little stiff to make sure it stays up.

Asos - high-waisted midi prom skirt - sewing plans

I like the inverted pleats on this skirt. (Sorry, I didn’t note the source. )

High-waisted skirt with inverted pleats - sewing plans

Long Pilvi Coat

Ever since I saw images on Pinterest of the 2017 Valentino collection, I’ve wanted to make a long jacket with the hem near my ankles. A long red jacket would a combination of sewing cake and frosting.

I got a few yards of red ponte in New York earlier this year to make another Pilvi Coat. I want to use it to make a long red jacket with side vents. Or maybe I should try another pattern. I’ve made the Pilvi four times using different fabrics:

So maybe it’s time to check out a new pattern. But since I know this pattern so well, it won’t take long to make it. Plus I’d be making some modifications – adding length and side vents.

What are your sewing plans? Are you sewing cake or frosting over the holidays?

My adjustable-waist skirt – Deer and Doe Chardon

Hi! I’ve made four skirts using the Chardon skirt pattern by French company Deer and Doe: two with a contrast bottom band (a black-and-white Chardon, a linen version) as well as a maxi and knee-length version. This high-waisted skirt has inverted box pleats, which are great for wide hips. You can just cut the size for your waist and not worry about sizing up in the hips. However, I’ve gained weight since the last time I made a Chardon so I wanted to see if I could make an adjustable waist version – in the hopes that I’ll lose some of the weight and still be able to wear the skirt. 😉

I got the idea from this photo on Pinterest, an A-line denim skirt that tied together at the top with two pieces of twill tape sewn to the front. You create an inverted pleat by tying the ends together. I discovered that it was originally posted in 2008 on Flickr by Martha McQuade, who designed the adjustable-waist skirt and is a co-founder of design firm MAD. (See the Flickr post “denim tie skirt” here.)

Here’s my adjustable-waist Chardon, which has many other changes, which I’ve described below, along with some construction details.

Deer and Doe Chardon - modified by removing two front pleats and adding a ribbon to give it an adjustable waistband

The original Chardon skirt pattern has five inverted box pleats in the front. (You can see construction details about my first Chardon skirt here.) I sewed only three of the pleats – the center pleat and the two on my left – and attached two ribbons in place of the two right pleats.

I also made these adjustments to the pattern:

  • Moved the center back zipper to the left side
  • Used an invisible zipper instead of a regular one
  • Removed the left side pocket because zipper is now on that side
  • Lengthened skirt by 1 inch
  • Underlined the skirt with silk organza
  • Used bias tape at the waist instead of a facing to reduce bulk at the waist because of the pleat created by tying the ribbon.

I guess you could say that I used the Chardon pattern as a jumping off point. I improvised as I went along because I was making this in a bit of a hurry. I started working on it the day before I intended to wear it to the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event on February 11.

I got this home dec fabric remnant from Britex Fabrics last year with the intension of making it into a Chardon skirt. This is mostly a medium-weight fabric but it is thick where the flowers are because of all the extra threads used to create the flowers. So I paid particular attention to where the front center pleat fell on the fabric. I pinned the pleats to see what it would look like and adjusted them until I liked the way it looked. It looked best when the pleats fell in between the flowers, which meant the fabric wouldn’t be too thick where the pleats were.

Deer and Doe Chardon skirt - pinned front pleats

There are all these threads on the wrong side of the fabric where the flowers are because it was meant for furniture and no one sees the other side. So I decided to underline it with silk organza that I bought a few years ago to use as lining for a jacket I have yet to make. Organza has crispness to it that matched the fabric.

Organza is a bit slippery so I decided to pin it to my fashion fabric and cut both fabrics at the same time. See all the threads on the wrong side of the fabric? I could see catching it on something and pulling it by accident – another reason to underline.

Silk organza as underlining for Chardon skirt

Here’s my front pattern piece placement place on the fabric and organza. I lengthened the skirt 1 inch. I would have liked a longer skirt but I was limited by the remnant length. Because I was in a rush, I just sliced across the bottom, measured an inch down and pinned the bottom piece in place. If I wasn’t rushing, I would have taped the bottom piece to another piece of pattern paper.

Deer and Doe Chardon skirt - front pattern piece

After I cut the pattern piece, I machine basted the organza to the fabric using a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. But you should really hand baste because the fabric could pucker. I didn’t have any problems because this was home dec fabric.

When I cut the back, I decided not to worry about matching the pattern at the side seams but to line it up horizontally. So I placed my front pattern piece next to the back piece to line up the design. You can see the side seam where my hand is in the pocket. Maybe if I had more time, I would have tried to see if I could match the pattern. But I don’t mind that it doesn’t match. It’s not as if I’m going to stare at my side seams when I’m wearing it!

Chardon skirt - side seam

I centered the back piece on the fold so it fell in between the flowers, forgetting that the back doesn’t have a center pleat because of the center back zipper. I moved the zipper from the center back to the left but I didn’t add a pleat. Instead, I removed the seam allowance. However, my pattern placement meant the four back pleats would fall on the flowers, making really thick pleats at the waist. I had already cut my fabric before I realized this. Oops. See how the flowers at the waist are cut off?

Chardon - adjustable-waist skirt variation- Deer and Doe

The Chardon skirt has two pockets, but I only added one because I moved the center back zipper to the left side and used an invisible zipper instead of a regular one. I had a scrap of red Bemberg lining so I used that for my pocket.

Chardon skirt - pocket

I had a red 14-inch invisible zipper on hand so I used that for my side zip. The pattern calls for a 10-inch regular zipper. I like using a longer zipper, especially when using an invisible zipper. You can’t sew all the way down the zipper because the zipper tab is in the way so using a longer zipper gives you a bigger opening to slide on your skirt.

Here’s my invisible zipper installed (before pressing).

Invisible zipper installed

Once my skirt pieces were attached and the zipper installed, I used my pinking scissors on my seam allowances. Then I used bias tape at the waist. I just used this pre-made blue bias tape that was in my stash. Hey, there’s blue in the fabric and I was going to use my red bias tape for the hem. The line of stitches near the pinked edged is my machine basting.

Bias tape at the waist

I hand stitched the bias tape down, using red thread that doesn’t quite match my fabric, but I just used what I had in my stash – no time to run to the store. I was stitching in a rush. The good thing about underlining is that you can stitch into your underlining instead of  your fashion fabric. This is one of the back pleats – see how thick it is?

Hand stitching bias tape at waist

I had some lovely double-faced green silk ribbon that perfectly matched the green in the skirt. I bought this expensive ribbon ($11/yard!) at Lacis in Berkeley to match a vintage silk scarf I think I was planning on turning the scarf into some sort of top. I decided to use it for my adjustable-waist skirt.

Because it’s silk, I worried that it might not be strong enough to be a waist tie so I fused the ends with strips of fusible bias tape. I also used Fray Block on the raw edges (affiliate link here for 1.5 ounce (44 ml) tube, and here for .5 ounce (14.8 ml) brush-on version).  It isn’t stiff when it dries, unlike Fray Check.

Silk ribbon reinforced with fusible bias tape

Then I folded and pressed the edged and hand-stitched it to the waist. To figure out placement of the ribbon, I tried on the skirt and folded the excess fabric trying to find two places that would work. Then I used pins to mark the placement. If I make this version again, I would reinforce the fabric with interfacing around the ribbon.

Hand stitching ribbon in place

Here’s what it looks like tied. You can see the waist fold just above the bow. You can made the fold as big or as small as you need it to be. No worries about indulging your desire for dessert, you can easily expand the waist. Have you ever made an adjustable-waist skirt?

Adjustable waist skirt - ribbon

The Chardon skirt pattern calls for hemming with bias tape. I didn’t have enough hem bias tape on hand so I used some red 7/8-inch (22 mm) bias tape. (Wright’s makes black hem bias tape that’s 1 7/8 inches wide (48 mm), which I’ve used on three of my other Chardon skirts.)

Chardon skirt hemmed with bias tape

See my hem?

Bias tape hem of Chardon Skirt

And here are a few more photos of the finished skirt. The sun was going in and out of the clouds on Saturday so it was a challenge taking photos. We’re in the midst of a big rain storm in California – an atmospheric river, in fact – so I was grateful for just a brief moment of sun on Saturday.

Adjustable-waist skirt - made by modifying the Deer and Doe Chardon pattern

Chardon skirt - side seam

Chardon skirt - back view - Deer and Doe sewing pattern

I was sewing on the ribbons on Saturday and then I was ready to go to Frocktails.

And here I am at Frocktails with Pauline who blogs at Sew You Think You Can Knock Off. She does a fantastic job making her versions of RTW garments she likes.

Enjoying Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February

Here’s a group photo – not everyone fit in this photo but you get the idea. We all had a great time.

Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February - group photo


How to make an adjustable waist skirt - using the Chardon skirt sewing patterns by Deer and Doe

My linen Deer and Doe Chardon 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.

Deer and Doe - Chardon skirt - linen fabric -

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.)

Linen print fabric remnant - Britex Fabrics -

For this version, I made several changes from the original pattern (some of which I’d also made to my maxi version):

  1. Moved the zipper from center back to left side and used an invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper
  2. Removed left pocket because zipper is now there
  3. Lined it instead of using the facing
  4. Added about 2 inches (5 cm) of length to the main skirt fabric
  5. Added 1 inch of length to contrast band (the solid red linen fabric)

Deer & Doe Chardon - 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, ).

Red contrast band - Chardon skirt -

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?

Chardon waist - linen fabric -

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.

Deer and Doe - linen Chardon - invisible zipper -
Detail of my side invisible zipper

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.

Bemberg lining for Chardon skirt -
Chardon skirt lining and zipper

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.

Red linen contrast band - Chardon skirt -

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.

Deer and Doe Chardon - front pleat detail -

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.

Deer and Doe - linen Chardon skirt - back pleat -

The pleats worked well on my maxi Chardon. I focused on centering the print’s design rather than matching anything on the side seams.

Chardon maxi - Deer and Doe - front view -

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.)

Deer and Doe - Linen Chardon skirt - back view -

I’m really happy with this skirt. I needed some more color in my wardrobe.

Deer and Doe - Chardon skirt - linen - left view -

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:

Deer and Doe - Chardon linen skirt - front -

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).

My next summer project is another By Hand London Anna Dress for the International Anna Party hosted by Laura Loves Pugs, Pips of the girl in a tea cup, and Uta.

Happy summer sewing!

My Maxi Chardon Skirt

Chardon maxi - Deer and Doe - front view -

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).

#Chardon maxi skirt – use this African wax print vertical or horizontal?

A photo posted by C Sews (@csews) on


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 sewcationbefore 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.

Chardon skirt - zipper - Deer and Doe pattern -

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.

A photo posted by Sewbusylizzy (@sewbusylizzy) on


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.

Chardon skirt - center back seam -

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.

Chardon skirt - side pocket -

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.

Lining for Chardon skirt -

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. 😉

Chardon skirt lining -

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.

Invisible zipper and lining

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.

Chardon maxi skirt - Deer and Doe - pocket -

Chardon maxi skirt - Deer and Doe pattern - back view -

Chardon maxi skirt - left view

Chardon maxi skirt - lining -

Have you made any maxi skirts? Do you wear them?

Deer & Doe - Chardon Skirt sewing pattern -lengthened to a maxi skirt
Deer and Doe Chardon skirt sewing pattern - lengthened to maxi version - African wax print fabric -

Finished: My Second Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt

Chardon skirt - Deer and Doe -

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?

Chardon skirt - Deer and Doe sewing pattern -

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!).

Chardon skirt - zipper - Deer and Doe pattern -

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.

Chardon skirt - Deer and Doe sewing pattern -

And the other side.

Chardon skirt - side - Deer and Doe pattern -

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!

Front-pleat detail:

Chardon skirt - front pleat detail - Deer and Doe pattern -

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.

Chardon skirt - pleats -

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.

Chardon skirt - bias tape hem -

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.

black wool beret -

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.

Deer and Doe sewing pattern - Chardon skirt -
Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt - black and white -

How I Made My Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt

Chardon skirt - belt - left side -

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.

I got my Chardon sewing pattern at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, which carries many indie patterns – everything from Christine Haynes and Sew Liberated to Sewaholic and Thread Theory. And Bay Area Sewist members get a 20 percent discount at the store on meetup days! Naturally, I bought my Deer and Doe Chardon pattern on a meetup day. (If you live in the Bay Area or are visiting, be sure to check out the Bay Area Sewists meetup page.)

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!

Chardon skirt by Camille of Attack of the Seam Ripper

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.)

Floral twill fabric -

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.]
  • Bias tape for hem – 25 cents – I got some vintage bias hem tape from East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.
  • [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.

black 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.

chardon skirt pocket -

So when traced the pattern, I went a little long in the pocket, which you can see here.

Making Chardon skirt pocket bigger -

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.)

Marking pleats on Chardon skirt -

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…

Use pins to line up pleats - chardon skirt -

And then lined up the pins for each pleat. If you look closely, you can see there are two pinheads next to each other.

Line up pleats on Chardon skirt -

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.

Pleats pinned to sew - chardon skirt -

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.

Center the pleat over the seam -

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.

Reinforce pleat on Chardon skirt -

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.

Reinforcement stitches for pleats -

Here’s what the pleats look like on the right side.

Chardon skirt - inverted box pleats -

After I fused the interfacing to the facing, I pinned it to the waist, lining up the side seams.

Chardon facing pinned to waist -

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.

Chardon skirt - facing thickness -

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.)

Understitching onChardon Skirt -

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.

Chardon skirt - fusible 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.

Chardon pockets -

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.

Vintage hem facing tape -

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.

Vintage facing label -

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.

vintage hem facing label -

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.

vintage hem facing -

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.

Press hem facing - Chardon skirt -

And I was done!

Chardon skirt - front -



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!

Dutch wax print -

My Sewcation

Sewing patterns for sewcation -

I took off the entire week after Christmas for a sewcation. I had a pile of patterns and fabric that had been sitting around for months and months. It’s hard to believe that 2014 is over! But I didn’t get much sewing done last year so I thought if I finally had some time I could really get going on some things.

I went through my patterns to see what I wanted to make first. The Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt with inverted box pleats was the first one I tackled. Last year I participated in the Quirky Peach’s Summer Stashbust 2014 and fell in love with the pleats on the Chardon Skirt when I saw the version made by Camille of Attack of the Seam Ripper.

I’ve always associated pleats with plaids (not my thing) and my high school uniform (green plaid) and I also avoided them because they just don’t work with my curvy figure. They won’t lay flat. (I usually have to grade up a size in the hips.) But when I saw the inverted pleats, I thought Eureka! Pleats that even I can wear!

If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen some of my WIP photos. Here one I posted before it was hemmed.

Floral Backdrop/Flowers Photography Backdrop/Pink Flowers Backdrop

Inverted box pleats are great for people with hips! I didn’t have to grade the pattern up in the hips! I just traced a straight size 44. I’ll be posting about it as soon as I take photos of it. I also cut out two more Chardon skirts (one with the contrast band and one maxi) and drafted/cut a lining for the maxi.

I finally traced and cut out my muslin for a Sewaholic Renfrew top. I’ve had this pattern for ages but somehow haven’t gotten around to making it yet. I have yards of black knit fabric that I got for $3 yard at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.

The top middle pattern with the lady in the red jacket is a 1950 Vogue vintage reissue V2934, which I got a few years ago. The suggested fabrics are satin, velvet tweed, Ottoman (I don’t know what that is), and lightweight woolen. I have some black sweatshirt material that would be great for this jacket and then I wouldn’t have to bother with hair canvas interfacing. Plus it seems a bit subversive to use lowly sweatshirt fabric for this jacket.

I got as far as cutting the pattern – yes, I cut the pattern! I didn’t trace because size large is 16-18 – plenty of ease for me and there are no bust darts. And I prewashed my sweatshirt fabric.

I’m sure many of you recognize Colette Patterns Moneta. I got as far as finishing up cutting out my tracing of this pattern. I’ve been wanting to make it using a striped knit fabric but the thought of stripe matching has kinda put a damper on that. Plus I have yet to make a muslin of it. I want to make a version with inverted pleats, rather than gathering at the waist, which I’ve never done with a knit.

I haven’t done anything with the Esme top yet – it’s a Sew Liberated pattern that I bought at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, which is also where I bought the Deer & Doe pattern. I’m soooo lucky that my local fabric store carries indie patterns!

Oh, and I nearly  forgot – I made a muslin of this vintage Vogue pattern – 8343 from the 1970s as far as I can tell. It has princess seams – with four panels in front and in the back.

Vintage Vogue 8343 -

I used this brown jersey fabric I had in my stash. It’s rather thin though and my fashion fabric is a wool double-knit. Clearly, I will need to do an SBA, which I’m excited about because I’ve never done one with princess seams. I’ve read that it’s pretty easy because you just take it in along the seam allowances. How easy is that?

Muslin - princess seams -

I haven’t attached the sleeves yet. I think I’ll make another muslin with an SBA and then attach the sleeves. My wool jersey was really expensive so I want to make sure the fit is perfect before I cut into it.

My other goal was to make a tote bag using this fabulous oil cloth – at least that’s how it was identified at Britex Fabrics. I bought it 30 percent off at the store’s rare Black Friday sale. It normally retails for $30/ yard. I got 3/4 yard to make my bag. I love the print!

Oil cloth -

But I was worried about whether it would rip along the seams after some wear and tear. I got some great tips from folks on IG, including one from Brooke of Custom Style (@sewbrooke) who suggested sewing with duck cloth canvas underneath the stress points. Angela of Sewn by Angela (@sewnbyangela) suggested using a long stitch length to avoid tearing.

Then I took it with me to Stonemountain & Daughter and one helpful lady behind the counter suggested lining it with canvas or ticking fabric. So I checked out the ticking (they had several colors) and found this great red ticking that goes perfectly with my print! Oh, and I was told that my print wasn’t oil cloth but fabric that’s been coated. So maybe it will wear better than I think. She also suggested that the straps run the length of the bag so it wouldn’t have so much stress at the very top. I’m pondering that but I don’t want the straps on the outside, covering up the print so maybe I’ll sandwich the straps in between the fabrics.

Oil cloth and ticking fabrics -

I do want it to be sturdy. Maybe I need to make a test bag before I sew this up. 😉

Meanwhile, I prewashed my ticking and looked at all my sewing books that have bag patterns or ideas. I went through a spate of book buying a couple of years ago – some of them I picked up at Half Price Books for less than $10 each and the rest I ordered via Amazon. But I’ve only made one or two projects from all of these books.

books with bag patterns -

None of them quite had anything that I really wanted to make using this combination of fabrics but I did get some good ideas from Sew the Perfect Bag, a 2010 book with bag projects from Sew News magazine. I’ll be figuring out my own dimensions and construction later this month.

Oh, and I told the hubster I would make him a Newcastle Cardigan in black fleece. Last year I made a ton of adjustments to the pattern to get it to fit better and made him one in blue fleece (uh, I should mention that the first one I made in a double-faced black fleece was way too small). I told him I would make him one in black fleec. I had him try on the blue one again and he asked if I could make it a little lower in the back – it needed a butt adjustment. So I adjusted the pattern one more time, prewashed the black fleece and cut it out. After I attached the sleeves and had him try it on, he asked if it could be a little longer – what? Luckily, he didn’t want it to be too much longer so I just added a band along the bottom.

By day I traced/prewashed/cut/sewed and then at night my hubby and I listened to music and read aloud various books. For the past several weeks, I’ve been reading The Universal Tone, Carlos Santana’s fascinating autobiography. It’s full of great stories of his encounters with various musicians over the decades as well as a very personal look at his childhood, family, and spiritual and musical development. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, particularly of the blues and jazz. It was truly inspiring to read and one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. Last Friday, I read the final page. I was sorry to put it down – and it was more than 500 pages!

Here’s what I ended up doing during my sewcation:

  • Traced Deer & Doe Chardon skirt and Sewaholic Renfrew patterns
  • Traced/drafted Chardon skirt to a maxi length
  • Drafted a lining for a Chardon maxi
  • Went to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics four times – to look at fabric for another Chardon skirt, buy lining/thread for a maxi skirt, seam tape for first Chardon, fabric  for contrast band of my next Chardon skirt, get buttons for the Newcastle Cardigan (I thought I had buttons!). I live within walking distance of this great fabric store, which is open seven days a week.
  • Cut fabric three Chardon skirts: floral print, black-and-white print on hemp/cotton blend with solid black contrast band, Dutch wax print maxi
  • Cut black knit fabric for a Sewaholic Renfrew, View A
  • Prewashed fabric
  • Sewed 1 Chardon skirt (finished!)
  • Sewed muslin of vintage Vogue dress (fabric was already cut)
  • Sewed Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan for hubby (finished!)

I thought I would have completed more garments but at least I’ve got a good start on a few things! How long does it take you to finish something?

BTW – I’m giving away a 2015 Fashion calendar. For details, please read my post Happy Sewing – Fashion Calendar Giveaway!  and comment by 11:59 pm Pacific tonight (limited to U.S. residents, sorry but international shipping costs are too high)!

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