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!
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).
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!
Great colors and cool Art Deco-like design – that was my first reaction when I saw this cotton voile at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I thought it was an abstract swirly motif, which is what made me want to get it. Later I realized that it was a family. Yep. Look at it and you’ll see that there’s a mother, father, and baby – check out the slippered foot towards the bottom of each family. This discovery made me like it less so I put it in the closet, where it languished for about two years before I finally decided to make this skirt with a yoke.
I’m glad I finally made something out of the fabric! I like it a lot more than I did before I stuck it in the closet. 😉
Folks who follow my Instagram feed have seen the various stages of putting it together. I wrote about the lining – Bemberg Lining for a Skirt – a while ago. But I ended up getting regular rayon, not Bemberg because that was what was available. (Note: Bemberg is a high-quality rayon with the feel of silk. It’s breathable, which is why high-end designers like to use it in their garments. Also rayon doesn’t generate static like silk and poly can, which is what makes it a better lining for a skirt. You can read a brief history of Bemberg here at the Fabric and Buttons website of Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.)
The skirt pattern is Butterick B5756, which is still available – though not for long as its current sale price is $4.99 on the Butterick site. I cut size 16.
Butterick 5756 – $1 (on sale at Joann’s)
3.5 yards of cotton voile – approximately $50 (I got 4 yards of it on sale a couple of years ago from Britex Fabrics. I can’t remember what I paid for it but it wasn’t cheap. I used more than the recommended yardage to match the pattern.)
1.5 yards of rayon lining – $15
zipper – $2 (pattern calls for a regular zipper, I used invisible)
hook & eye
fusible stay tape (optional, my addition)
The cool thing about making a gathered skirt with a yoke is that you only need to make a muslin of the yoke. You can just adjust the gathering that goes below to make it bigger or smaller. How easy is that?
I put the muslin yoke around my waist, held it together in the back and saw that it fit. I thought I might need to add more to the hips but there’s a lot of ease in this pattern so I didn’t need to make any adjustments. It was a little loose, but I thought that would be OK because I like skirts a little low in the waist. A zipper goes in the center back, which is why there are two separate pieces for the back yoke.
Here are the pattern pieces for the yoke. You cut two of each piece because the yoke is “self-lined” with the fashion fabric. The gathered skirt has its own lining.
This rayon was rather slippery so I made a “muslin sandwich” to cut it. I prewashed both the fashion fabric and the lining in cold water.
My sandwich worked out pretty well but I should have used more pins. The popcorn was good too – nothing like snacking and sewing!
I thought this could be a good time to try out the Japanese fusible stay tape I bought from Sandra Betzinger at the Pattern Review Weekend in San Francisco earlier this year. I wanted to reinforce the fabric around the zipper. This stay tape is more of a medium weight so I probably should have used something that was lightweight.
For this skirt, you sew the gathering stitches in the fashion fabric, then you pin and baste it to the lining, and then gather the top edge of the skirt.
Then you sew the skirt to the yoke – leaving the center back open for the zipper. I didn’t think about how sewing the lining to the yoke would affect how the invisible zipper would look on the inside – not very neat. If I make this skirt again, I’ll have to remember to stop sewing 5/8″ from both ends when attaching the lining to the gathered fabric…
… to avoid having it look like this. Or I guess you could add another 1/2″ to both sides of the lining in the zipper area so it could cover part of the zipper. I just didn’t feel like unpicking all the stitches (including a bit of the gathering) from that bit of lining behind the zipper. So I left it as is. No one can see it anyway – except if they see it here. 😉
Here’s what it looks like on the right side. I was slightly off where the center back seams meet. But I don’t think it’s too noticeable because the fabric is busy!
I really do like this skirt – even though the fabric is far busier than what I typically wear. I like the pocket I added but putting anything heavy in it weighs down the skirt because it’s a lightweight fabric and there is no waistband. I just put one pocket on the right side, which you can see here.
For some reason, my husband tends to cut off my feet in some photos. I think this is the only back view I’ve got.
And here are more photos from that warm September day in Berkeley.
The skirt is a bit loose at the waist so when I walk, it shifts a bit so I have to pay attention and make sure the side seam doesn’t move to the front. That’s a little annoying. If I use this pattern again, I could bring it about an inch for a closer fit. I have this same problem with some bias cut skirts I’ve made too. These are all skirts without waistbands so maybe that’s part of the problem. Have you had this issue with any skirts you’ve made? What did you do to fix it? I’ve thought about adding a little rubberized strip along the side seam at the hip but I haven’t tried that yet.
I do like my skirts to have some ease – then I don’t have to worry about things getting tight after a full meal and dessert. Heheh.
Do you have any favorite skirt patterns? Do you favor an A-line style, gathered, pleated or straight skirt? I like patterns with full skirts because they look best with my hips and because I have a big stride when I walk. Straight skirts aren’t really my thing unless I can walk in them without shortening my stride.
I started making this skirt (Butterick B5756) in August (how time flies!) using this cotton voile, which I got at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I’m making version C but a little longer (mid-calf length), which has gathered fabric below the yoke. But this version doesn’t have pockets so I decided to add one. I didn’t think side pockets would work because I’m using a lightweight fabric and I thought it would put too much strain on the side seams. Plus I didn’t know how it would look with the gathering. So I decided to add a patch pocket and see if I could line it up with the fabric design, which I haven’t done before. Here’s my brief tutorial on how to add a patch pocket to a skirt.
This fabric has a rather large repeat design so I decided to make a pocket that would line up with the pattern.
I needed to determine its size. So I thought about:
the purpose of the pocket, how I would use it
the weight of the fabric and how it would look.
When I’m at work, I often go to a cafe around the corner and I pay with my phone using an app called LevelUp. So I wanted something that could fit my iPhone and building access card. However, my fabric is lightweight and because the skirt would be gathered, I didn’t want it to gape too much. This meant the pocket couldn’t be too wide.
Also, I knew I would be placing the pocket below the yoke but near the gathering because I didn’t want it to be too low on the skirt. Thus my pocket is narrow (X inches wide finished) – about the width of one “family” (yes, that is a family in the design!) – and wide enough to fit my hand. The height was determined by the fabric design. The family was about 8 1/2 inched tall. I added an inch to that measurement.
So I drafted a pattern with rounded corners, which seemed appropriate for the fabric design. I made it big enough to fit my hand.
I cut out the fabric.
Then I ironed a strip of 3/8 inch double-sided fusible tape (I like “ultra soft double sided fusible” by Design Plus) to reinforce the fabric around the sides and bottom of the pocket and to make it easy to fold over. It’s paper-backed on one side so you iron over the paper strip, fusing the other side to the fabric, then remove the strip, fold over the fabric and iron. It’s tacky enough so the fold easily stays in place.
I folded it over about 1/4 inch, ironed it and then folded it another 1/4 inch. Though I think I could have made a little narrower – 1/8 inch. I folded (and ironed) the top over 1/2 inch and then another 1/2 inch. Then I sewed the top fold down and checked how it would fit on the skirt front.
Then I pinned and basted the pocket in place (big enough for my iPhone!).
Finally I was ready to sew!
And it matches!
Have you added pockets to anything? Have you ever lined up pockets to your fabric’s design?
It’s been about a year since I last did a C Sews StytleEye post. I’m reviving it. I borrowed the idea from Bill Cunningham’s On the Street photos for the New York Times (as I mentioned this in my very first post C Sews StyleEye 3 Jan. 2012). I wasn’t a very good sewcialist back then! Instead I was more focused on learning to use WordPress.
This is essentially a brief look at the clothes and accessories that I’ve captured (with my iPhone) on people I’ve seen as I’m out and about – mostly in San Francisco or the East Bay. These people are on the move so some of the photos aren’t exactly in focus but I think you can still get the idea of the fabric and cut.
I have not edited the photos – partly to give you an idea of where the photos were shot (on the street, at a cafe, in the grocery store) and it certainly saves time! I took two photos of the last skirt because I really loved the use of fabric.
Below are the skirts that caught my eye for various reasons – fun fabric (love those elephants!), nice shape, or interesting details (check out the buttons on that jean skirt!).
I like long skirts. I usually like the hem to be several inches below my knees – mid-calf at the very least. Also I really don’t have the legs for short skirts. 😉
I love the public library. It’s a great source of free information for everyone. It’s also a wonderful place to check out new sewing books. Right now I’ve got five books out, four from the Berkeley Public Library and one from the San Francisco Public Library.
I flip through the books to see how many things I’d like to make and whether I’d learn any new techniques and ideas. Oftentimes I stick post-it notes on the pages of things I’d like to make or ideas that inspire me. If there are a lot of post-its, then I’ll very likely buy the book, which is what happened with Alabama Sewing + Design, reviewed here.
Here’s my roundup of the other books I’m reading:
Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution + 25 Vintage‐Inspired Projects for the Modern Girl by Judi Ketteler ($24.99). This is a fun book – a brief romp through fashion history (1880s to today) interspersed with profiles or interviews with women designers of the decades – from the 19th century’s Ellen Curtis Demorest to today’s Amy Butler. Alongside those pages, the author has projects (and patterns for them) that are supposed to be reminiscent of each time period. It’s a bit of a hybrid book with more pages devoted to history and people rather than sewing projects.
The projects were pretty basic, ranging from bags and purses to pillows and coasters – all things a beginning seamstress could easily handle. I’m not really interested in making most of the things in the book because I don’t need any more potholders, aprons, bags, etc. But I did like the needlecase – a nice design to store your hand sewing needles and thread snips.
Chic on a Shoestring: Simple to Sew Vintage-Style Accessories by Mary Jane Baxter ($22.95). This 2011 book has many ideas for embellishing tops and shoes – adding buttons, lace, rickrack, you name it – to refresh or refashion your existing wardrobe. Some of Baxter’s ideas aren’t really my style though. For example, I wouldn’t trim a hat with small pom poms or put lace doilies on a top. The author is a milliner.
The book also has several ideas for making accessories: belts from old neckties and necklaces as wells as detachable collars from a variety of materials — shoelaces, ribbon, fabric, beads and lace. I liked her idea for making flowers using Petersham ribbon that I made a few last month (see photo). I’ve attached clips to the back so I can wear them in my hair. She put several flowers on a purse, which looked quite elegant.
Sewn by Hand: Two Dozen Projects Stitched with Needle & Thread by Susan Wasinger ($19.95). This book has nice photos and illustrations on hand stitching, covering how to make knots (the single-hand, tangled knot vs. the two-hand knot) and a variety of hand stitches (running stitch, back stitch, stem stitch, blanket stitch, slipstich, overcast stitch, and so on). The book’s projects are all very nicely designed and photographed. Some of the usual things featured in sewing books are here: a tote bag and potholders. But the author gives them unique touches, such as the covered buttons and rope strap on the tote bag and the potholders with smocking.
Improv Sewing: 101 Fast, Fun, and Fearless Projects: Dresses, Tunics, Scarves, Skirts, Accessories, Pillows, Curtains, and More by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut ($19.95). I put a slew of post-its on the pages of this book, which means that this one’s a keeper and I’ll definitely buy my own copy.
The book is full of simple designs for clothes (dresses, skirts, and tops), home projects, accessories and gifts. You make your own pattern for tops using your own shirt (or one you get from a thrift store if you don’t want to cut one up) as pattern pieces. Once you have your torso pattern piece, you reuse it again and again for the other designs
The majority of the book is devoted to clothes that you can make fairly quickly because they don’t have very many pattern pieces – and they look good! Some of the skirts use jersey knit fabric with foldover elastic over the waistband (no hemming necessary). How easy is that?
Sometimes I’m really impatient with sewing so it’ll be great to make something that I can finish in an afternoon. At more than 300 pages and with clear instructions and plenty of photos, it’s well worth the cover price. Oh, and the authors share a blog Improv Diary (in addition to their individual blogs) and they have an Improv Sewing Flickr group for folks to share what they’ve made.