A Summer Dress: McCall’s 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall’s 7774 in Yellow Linen

And now back to sewing!  Despite the quiet blog and relatively quiet Instagram account, I’ve been sewing as much as possible.  With kids home, guests, and travel, the sewing has varied in amount, but it’s still happening.  I usually blog mostly in the order I make things, but this dress is jumping to the front of the line because some of my other projects have been multiple versions of single patterns and, if possible, I’d like to feature those together.

On to the dress!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

This season, I’ve really felt the urge to discover some Tried ‘N True patterns.  I suppose that’s an endless quest, since fashion and our own opinions about it tend to change, but I’m looking for favorites nonetheless.  I decided to try out McCall’s 7774, View C to see if I liked it.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

I made a 16 in the bust and a 20 in the waist and hips.  The dress hits your waist somewhere in the skirt portion, so I didn’t have to grade out to the 20 until I traced the skirt piece.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

When I was younger, I really favored empire waist and A-line dresses and skirts, and I’ve been wondering if I still like them.  This dress has a higher, empire waist, so it seemed like a good one to try.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

It features pockets (yay!) and a bodice cut that looks like it might hide undergarment straps (always a plus, in my book).

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

It also has some interesting seaming that would allow you to play with pattern placement (especially stripes), which you can see in the photo on the pattern envelope.  I was excited about this one, and I definitely wasn’t the only one in the sewing community.

In my stash, I happened to have a really nice, midweight yellow linen from Fabric Mart that I had planned to use for a ready-to-wear-inspired top, but which seemed perfect for this dress.  It was quickly reassigned to this pattern.  I gave myself a slightly crazy deadline of a wedding my husband and I were going to, and got to work, no muslin/toile in sight.  I was going for it with my awesome fabric!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

This is one of the designer linens that Fabric Mart regularly stocks, and it is AMAZING.  I think they call it a light-medium weight, and it’s pretty opaque, which I really like.  It is very linty when you wash and dry it, but you only notice that when you clean the dryer’s lint trap.  It was great to sew, although I did press it on the cotton setting rather than the linen setting.  I can’t tell if my iron is starting to go, but that seemed to be a better setting for this fabric.  Usually the fabric retails for around $25/yard, which is way out of my budget, but they often have sales, so it is totally possible to scoop this up for $9 or $10/yard.  Oh!  And it’s a wider width at 57″.  I highly recommend it!

On to the pattern!  Being now older and wiser, 😉 I’ll tell you that if you attempt this dress, you should probably muslin the bodice.  I really like the pattern overall, but I did have to adjust a few things, and they seem to be common adjustments for people who tried this one.  Some good news is that if you just go for it, like I did, you can make these fixes on the fly without damaging your fabric.

The darts, which are under the bust, extend pretty high.  You want your dart points to end 1/2″ to 1″ below (or beside if you have side darts) the apex of the bust.  I shortened these by 2″, and they may still be slightly high.  Shortening darts that much gave me darts that were very wide at the bottom, which made the bust very…pointy.  That’s not for me!  So, then I had to narrow the darts.  I narrowed them by half (so that they were half as wide).  If you do this, you must take the extra length you have created out of the side/bottom of the front bodice!!!!  Learn from my mistake!  I knew that narrowing my darts would give me extra length in the front of the bodice, but because the skirt was gathered and could expand and because I love ease, I initially left it in.

Wrong choice.

I ended up with a pregnant-’90’s-lady jumper.  If that makes no sense to you, just trust me when I say that it looked bad.  Apparently you can take a love of loose clothes too far.  😉

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

The original dart is in marker.  My modified dart is in pencil inside the original.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Below is the area I should have adjusted when I narrowed those darts.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Above:  the final modified front bodice piece with narrowed, shortened dart, and excess length (from narrowing the dart) removed where the side seam and bottom of the bodice meet.

I also noticed quite a bit of gaping in the back neck area, but I realized that if I fixed that, the bodice would be tight in the shoulders, so I decided I could live with it.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

All these issues aside, I think the instructions for this pattern are really good.  You are on your own for seam finishing, but other than that, this was really enjoyable to make and was well-thought-out.  The bodice is fully faced/lined with self fabric, and it’s a nice dress.  There is quite a bit of hand-sewing involved in putting in that facing/lining, but if you know that going in, you can enjoy it, and come out with a beautiful result.  Using a comfortable thimble to push my needle through the fabric and running my thread through beeswax to keep it from tangling has really helped me in the hand-sewing department.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

If I made this pattern again, I would do what @artsy_tiff did and lengthen the bodice, lower the neckline a smidge, and maybe lower those dart points a bit more.  I’m new to doing forward shoulder adjustments, so I’ll have to wear this a bit more to see if I think I need that.  Initially I thought not, but now I think maybe I do.  This dress is very comfortable to wear, especially in this fabric. Belting it really helped when I wanted a more form-fitting shape.  The belt is some wide ribbon (maybe upholstery trim?) from my stash.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Here are some pictures of the dress without the belt:

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Final thoughts on this project:

  • Fabric Mart’s designer linen:  recommended!
  • McCall’s 7774:  recommended with reservations–do your research and maybe make a muslin of the bodice.

I’d love to make this again just to see what it could be with those fitting changes, but I don’t think I will this year, so we’ll see if it happens.  I considered the maxi length, but my mom and I both think it might just be too much.  I need a good woven maxi pattern.  There are a few contenders, but I haven’t settled on anything.

I hope you all are having a great summer.  No thoughts of fall here!  It’s usually warm where I live through September, so I’m sticking to summer sewing.  Yay!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Thanks to my wonderful husband for helping me out with some of the pictures in this post!

Recommendations:

  • I read the most fascinating book after I saw it on Peter Lappin’s Instagram account.  I planned to just skim through it, but ended up reading it cover to cover, even letting it go overdue at the library since I couldn’t renew it and wasn’t quite finished.  A History of the Paper Pattern Industry:  The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution by Joy Spanabel Emery was really well done.  The older I get, the more important history seems and while this isn’t world history, it’s history that covers one of my favorite little corners of the world.
  • I really like hats and, for the past few summers, have been thinking I’d like a white summer hat.  After doing a little research on Panama hats, I found one that looks like the real deal (made in Montechristi, Ecuador of toquilla straw) on eBay and ordered it.  I love it!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

  • I haven’t been able to shake my summer obsession with wooden-bottom clog sandals (is it just summer love or is it true love forever??).  Here is the latest pair I keep looking at by Cape Clogs.  They’re pink!
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The Brimfield Report: July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

And I’m back!  After taking a little more than a month off of blogging, it’s time to get back to it, and first up is a report on my trip to Brimfield Antique Show in mid-July.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Brimfield, it’s a small town in western Massachusetts that hosts the largest outdoor antique show in the US three times a year (May, July, and September) for about a week (Tuesday-Sunday).  I love antiquing, and while I don’t get to go every year, I make it for a day when I can.  The show (which is really a collection of different fields) stretches out on either side of a one-mile strip of road.  You never know what you will find, from sought-after antiques (and new things that play well with antiques), to repurposed items, to raw materials to make your own upcycled creations.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I love antiquing.  A full day of wandering through the fields with a friend or by myself is one of my favorite kinds of days.  This July, my best Brimfield buddy Jo-Alice (of Hillcraft Designs) and I managed to get away for the day.  We left before the sun was up, drove out to western MA, and got walking!  Each show has its own flavor, and July tends to have fewer vendors and fewer customers, because it can be the hottest weather (although sometimes September is pretty toasty, too).  Having said that, though, there is still A LOT to take in.  A few of my favorite vendors weren’t around, but despite that, we walked from about 7 A.M. to maybe 4:30 P.M. and found plenty to look at.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

No, that didn’t come home with me.  That dress form made me laugh and cringe at the same time.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I always go with a list of things I’m looking for for our house, my sewing practice, as gifts, or just fun things like jewelry and plants.  I save some of my Christmas money toward this end, and don’t usually spend much, but always have a great time.  Anything I don’t spend, I roll over for next year.  I only get things I can use, because our apartment is small, and we don’t have wall or shelf space for knick-knacks.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

Storage items are always useful finds!  I didn’t find any affordable pattern storage boxes, though.  I’m not willing to pay a lot for those.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

Hm.  Maybe I should have gotten this sign.  😉

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

Health fads of the past…

I didn’t find quite as much as usual this time, but I still came away with some good finds:  deadstock top sheets with a great border print.  These were unused and unopened and are 100% cotton.  I think they’ll make a great maxi dress.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I found a sparkly necklace and this cute chocolate tin for gifts, but…bonus!  It was filled with sewing odds and ends for me!

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

We needed some enamel ware for camping.  Check!

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I also thought I would try out this folding drying rack for holding patterns that have been cut out but aren’t sewn yet.  Right now I drape them over my husband’s chair and, while he’s very patient, I bet he would like his chair back.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

My favorite jewelry lady and plant lady weren’t in attendance, so no treasures from them this time.  Not a huge haul, but a good one, nonetheless.  Next year, if I get a chance to go, I’ll reevaluate this year’s list and roll anything over that I am still looking for.

After a day full of walking and looking (and eating second-breakfast and a delicious lunch of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream), my friend and went to Cracker Barrel for dinner since it’s on our way home.  What a great end to the day, and a wonderful chance to hang out with a dear friend!

If you get a chance to visit Brimfield, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t bring your young children.  If you plan to make a full day of this, it’s a lot of walking and can get long and hot.  Can you do it with kids?  Definitely.  Will you (and they) enjoy it?  Probably not.
  • Bring cash.
  • Wear good shoes.
  • Park in the middle so you can drop things off in your car as you go back and forth.
  • Write down the fields your favorite vendors are in.  After walking for a while, things start to look the same and the paths through the fields are sometimes curvy, which can make remembering exactly where you found that perfect item a little tricky when you are tired.  My current favorite fields?  New England Motel and Quaker Acres.
  • Pack a cooler filled with water and leave it in your car.  Plan to take a midday break with some water and a snack as you drop off your purchases so you can get that second wind to keep going!
  • Wear sunscreen and be prepared for varying weather.
  • Have fun and chat up the vendors.  They are usually really friendly, really interesting, and great to learn from (whether you want to know the history of your latest find, its provenance, or the psychology of Brimfield).

 

Do you have a favorite antique fair where you live?  Have any tips to share or recommendations for fun flea markets/fairs to visit?  Leave them in the comments!

Summer Sewing Inspiration

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Summer Sewing Inspiration

It’s summer!  I don’t have a finished project to share today (although I do have one in progress!), so I thought it would be fun to share some summer sewing inspiration with you.

I love summer clothing that is loose-fitting so that the breeze can blow through and keep me cool, and at the moment, I just want to sew easy things.  However…since I don’t always feel this way (and I know other people go back and forth, too), I’m including some simple as well as more complex patterns in this list.  Some are free, some are from independent designers, and some are from the Big 4 (Butterick, Simplicity, McCall’s, and Vogue).  Let’s dive in!

Tops

It would be terrific to find some staple patterns that are either great basics to showcase fun fabric or have interesting style lines.  I’m currently making the Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

This is a free pattern that seemed like a nice twist on a basic tank top.  I’ve heard this is pretty cropped, so I’m making the pattern as is, but may lengthen it in the future.  I’m using a vintage sheet and some vintage trim that I have on hand, but it would also be great in the new Mariner Cloth designed by Alison Glass for Andover or a drapey linen or silk.

Another pattern I’m curious about is Butterick 5948.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

The illustrations on the pattern envelope are pretty basic, but I think that’s the point of the top. It’s basic and can be used as your everyday woven t-shirt or tank.  It can be something you make to blend with the rest of your wardrobe or it can stand out and feature a cool fabric. View F with the length of E really appeals to me since I don’t have a go-to woven t-shirt pattern.  This would be cool in Robert Kaufman’s Neon Neppy or a crepe de chine.  Rayon challis isn’t my favorite fabric, but it would be really nice made up into one of these shirts.

Another garment I’m considering is Simplicity 8172, View A, a kimono-type jacket.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

This is in no way a traditional kimono, but is loosely inspired by that garment type with its wide sleeves and loose fit.  I have some beautiful polyester crepe de chine from Mood that friends got me for my birthday a few years ago.  I’ve been waiting to find just the right garment for it, and this may be it.

Lastly, I would love to find a Tried ‘N True (TNT) boho top pattern.  I thought about the new Phoenix Blouse from Hey June Handmade or the Roscoe Blouse from True Bias, but I just don’t know.  Both are close, but I don’t think I’ve found the right one yet.  Any suggestions?

Bottoms

At the end of last summer, I started to realize that some of my shorts are kind of short.  This never bothered me in the past–in fact, I didn’t even notice it–they just seemed like a good proportion for my body, but that shorted length doesn’t feel as comfortable to me as it used to.  I think I want something a little longer.

I love the easy elastic-waist fit and slightly longer length of the short in Simplicity 1887.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

It has a flat front with a tie and pockets.  I can see this in a sparkly linen (probably because it looks like that’s what the sample is made from).  Robert Kaufman makes a great Essex Yarn Dyed metallic that I’m hoping isn’t too lightweight.

For more of a gym short take, there are the City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho, a free pattern.  I’ve been looking at these for the past few years, but haven’t tried them.  They come in adult and kids’ sizes.  I bet they would be fun made up in a great printed quilting cotton, a chambray for something more basic, or peachskin for a look inspired by board shorts–or you could go luxe and use some Liberty of London fabric like they do in their samples.

If you are after something more complex and classic, the Thurlow Shorts from Sewaholic is a great pattern that I made in yellow last year (there is also a pant view included in the pattern).

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

If I end up wanting a more in-depth project, I would love to make a few more pairs in some of the other colors of Tinted Denim from Cloud9 Fabrics.  Note that I straightened the legs considerably in my version.  The original is more flared.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

One more option if you want to dig into an interesting project that will take more time is Butterick 4995 (out of print, but available on Etsy).

Summer Sewing Inspiration

These wide-leg pants come in shorter and longer lengths and have been on my list for a few years.  I have some yellow linen from Fabric Mart that would be great for View B.  (This linen does go on sale periodically, so if you can wait for a sale, it’s definitely worth it.)

I still don’t feel that I’ve found my favorite easy woven skirt pattern.  Maybe the Cleo Skirt from Made by Rae?  It looks simple, but has pockets and some fun customization options.  Otherwise, maybe the Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen would lend itself to an elastic back waistband hack.  It has an exposed zipper, but you could omit that and change the back waistband.  Can you tell I’m into the elastic waists this season?

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

This is a different look, but I have two of the Short Skirts in my closet from Natalie Chanin’s book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  This is an A-line skirt made from four panels that sits low on your hips.  The top edge is covered with fold over elastic, and because it’s meant to be made from jersey, you can leave the bottom unfinished.  Despite its name, this skirt is actually knee-length on me.  Created before I started blogging, these garments are great everyday skirts if you make the basic, unadorned version.  I have one made from a knit sheet and another patched together from a few coordinating t-shirts.  While you certainly can sew these by hand and heavily embellish them, if you use the pattern and sew them on your machine, they are very quick and forgiving projects.  Just a little thought if speed is your aim.

I would also love any maxi skirt suggestions.  I made the ankara one recently, and I like wearing it, but I’m open to trying other ideas as well.

Dresses

Last year I made the Hannah Dress from Victory Patterns, and I still love it.  (Here’s a link to the pattern.)

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

This falls into the ‘more complex, but very fascinating’ category.  It’s some serious pattern origami.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

I don’t think I’ll make it again this year, but I would love to make it again in a cotton or linen at some point since the rayon challis I used shifted and puckered quite a bit.

Here’s a dress that looks like a good everyday dress:  the Forsythe Dress from French Navy Patterns.  I like that it’s loose, has pockets, and has interesting seam lines that you could use to feature fun fabric (stripes, maybe?) if you wanted to.

I’d love a good maxi dress pattern.  Any suggestions?  Something really flowy would be nice.  I just realized that all the long, beautiful dress pictures I’ve saved on my “Fashion Ideas for this Year’s Projects” Pinterest board all have long sleeves.  Hm…

Of course, once you get started with ideas, they never end.  I went a little crazy planning projects and managed to completely exhaust my brain, so I’m trying to slow myself down just a little and do some easier projects to take a little break.  I’ll also be taking a break from the blog in July.  I plan to post next week, and then will take July off, and maybe even a little bit of August.  We’ll see.  I hope you all have a great summer and if you have favorite summer sewing patterns or patterns you are excited about and are thinking of making, please leave me your ideas in the comments.  I love new sewing ideas!

 

 

 

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric…and the End of Spring Sewing

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric…and the End of Spring Sewing

It feels like it took the entire spring season, but I finally finished this batch of projects.  Well, ok, I didn’t finish the muslins, but do I have to count those?  This dress, Burda Style 7114, was the last “real” garment (since muslins are proto-garments in my mind).  It represents some of my best and worst sewing.  Let me explain…

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I did some things I’m really good at, and they turned out well.  Some of my seam finishes are great, and I even managed to grade the pattern up beyond what the size range of the pattern is–something I haven’t done before.  I also tried some new things or tried things differently and, frankly, they look pretty bad, but I’m leaving them.  I tried a different method for the single welt pockets and I tried to do machine blind hems on the sleeves and hem.  I’ve only done each of these things one or two times, and I think they turned out terribly, but (1.) I’m still the only one who will really notice, (2.) I wanted to finish this dress, and (3.) maybe this is me putting a glossy coating on my own impatience, but this is where I’m at with these techniques, and I think leaving them is a reminder that I have to start somewhere.  We don’t start out as experts, we start as beginners.  And it’s definitely a humbling thing to become a beginner again when you are getting fairly proficient in other areas.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I have had this pattern for a long time.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I looked at it and planned to make it over and over without really committing.  I love the look and shape, but I was intimidated by Burda Style patterns because I hadn’t tried them before.  So this spring, (after breaking the Burda Style barrier with my Burda Style 7084 dirndl in the fall) I finally put it on my list.  I’m also realizing how much really good fabric I have that I want to use, so I dug deep in the stash and pulled out some old Amy Butler fabric that was originally earmarked for reupholstering our couch 9 years ago.  We went with a neutral color for the couch, which meant that this has hung out in my stash since before I started sewing regularly.  I thought it would make a good first-try-fabric for this pattern since it has that fun, retro look to it just like the dress.  And you know what?  I really like it.  I didn’t know if I would like this dress until I put it on to take pictures, but I really do.  It’s comfortable and interesting.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I traced the 18, which was the largest size, and then I did my best to grade the waist out to what would be a 20 and the hips to a 22.  I used the size 18 sleeve.  Burda’s sizing isn’t the same as McCall’s or Simplicity’s or the other Big 4 companies.  They have their own system.  In order to grade up, I looked at how the pattern looked as it went from one size to another and did my best to imitate that.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I also did a major broad back adjustment.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I couldn’t find the 24″ zipper the pattern called for, so I used a 22″ zipper.  This worked out just fine.  I also tried using a light grey thread since I didn’t have any that matched.

Here are my notes on the pattern.

  • Seam allowances are included in the Burda Style paper patterns (which you can get at JoAnn Fabrics), unlike in Burda magazine.  Yay!
  • I tried to follow the directions for the most part, hoping to learn some new techniques and accustom myself to how Burda Style patterns work, since I have several I would like to try at some point.  I really do think there is probably a better welt pocket method, however.  I think next time I will look in one of the sewing reference books I have or at another pattern and try something different.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

  • I tried the machine blind hem instead of sewing by hand as directed since I wanted to learn that technique.  Not pretty, but if I keep practicing, I’ll get it eventually.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

  • There was a lot of basting before sewing your final seams, and while it’s a great idea, and I did it at first, by the time I was half way through the pattern, I realized I didn’t need to baste quite as much as the pattern told me to.
  • The other part where I deviated from the instructions was installing the invisible zipper.  I think the directions that came with the zipper were more detailed, so I followed those.  I kept messing it up, though, (reading directions AND looking at the pictures is a better idea than reading alone, in case you are wondering) and I had to put the zipper in FOUR times.  The words I wanted to say at that point aren’t ones I will type out, but I did go off on a rant to my husband about how I was only sewing easy things and repeat patterns after this.  And by the way, this had nothing to do with the directions in the pattern or the zipper packaging.  It was 100% operator error.  I think it came out well in the end, thankfully.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

But…I persevered, and I finished!  I wasn’t sure if all my adjustments had worked and if the dress would fit, but I tried it on after washing out all the sewing marker, and it did!  I wasn’t sure if I would like the dress, but I do.  I like a shift/A-line style, and the pockets are pretty great, too.  After making this version (Version A), I think I would try this again and maybe make Version B, which is sleeveless.  It has kind of a fun and interesting look.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

And now it’s time for SUMMER SEWING!!!  I’m so excited.  I love summer sewing.  I just want to make loose, easy linen or cotton tops.  All the linen!  All the cotton!

OK.  That probably won’t be all I make, but it might be.  I don’t have firm plans yet, so we’ll see!

Recommendations

  • I found a new sewing/crafting podcast!  I’ve been listening to Stitcher’s Brew, and it’s so fun!  This one is based in England, so it’s a great chance to get to know about the sewing scene that is happening there. Gabby and Megan seem like they have a great time together, which makes the podcast really fun to listen to.
  • I meant to post this article on making great collar points last week, but forgot about it. In “How to Make a Perfect Point”, shirtmaking expert David Page Coffin shares his experiments in collar points with us.  I think about this every time I turn my collars right side out.
  • I think costume design is so interesting.  Here is an intriguing article about “The Afrofuturistic Designs of ‘Black Panther'”.  I had heard the costumes in “Black Panther” were good, and I wasn’t disappointed.
  • Think you have a lot to worry about?  How about the plight of the humble marshmallow farmer in North Carolina? 😉

 

An Oversized Simplicity 1538 in Cotton and Steel Raindrop Print

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An Oversized Simplicity 1538 in Cotton and Steel Raindrop Print

If I haven’t declared it before, I’m doing it now:  Simplicity 1538 is my Tried ‘N’ True (TNT) button up shirt.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

I have made this so many times, and I love it.  I’m sure it’s not substantially different from many other button up shirts, but I know how to modify it to fit ME, and that’s what makes it special.  I’ve discovered that although they take awhile, I really like making button up shirts.  They are a great canvas for a number of different fabric substrates and fun prints, or you can make them very subdued.  I also really like all of the options for details that you can put into each shirt.  I definitely get into finding just the right topstitching thread, locating the perfect buttons, and deciding what fabric I want to use for yokes, collar stands, and cuffs.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in Cotton and Steel raindrop print

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

Now when I see someone wearing a button up shirt, I look at it to see if there are any details I might want to incorporate into a future shirt.

All this shirt love, however, has given me a closet with several great shirts, and as I’m not really one for dressing in a “uniform” (meaning the same type of clothing every day), I wanted a button up shirt that was at least slightly different.  So, for this shirt, I sized up and lengthened the shirt by a total of four inches.  The shirts I already have made from this pattern fit fine, but my measurements have changed slightly, so according to the size chart, I should be making a size larger.  I decided to try that out for this version.  I have also wanted a shirt or two that covers my butt and, while I have lengthened this pattern by two inches previously, it wasn’t quite as long as I wanted.  I worried that these changes might not work, but I decided to go for them anyway.  What I got was a wonderful, oversized shirt.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

As far as classic markers for fit go, this shirt doesn’t fit well.  The shoulder seam extends beyond the end of my shoulder, and when I put my hands on my hips, I get drag lines.  I think the darts are also somewhat low.  However, when combined with the longer length, it gives an overall relaxed vibe that I really like.  I was worried that this shirt would just turn into a sea of raindrops with the added length and be way too much, but the length is perfect and the print is great.  Because this fits the way I want it to, the fit is perfect!  I have worn this both with jeans (as pictured) and with nicer pants (these gray pants), and it’s easy to dress up and down.  I’m also excited that it will be a great slouchy fit should I decide to make another flannel sometime in the future.  AND I’m happy to have a chance to use this fun fabric in colors that I love.

Speaking of this fabric, which is a Cotton + Steel quilting cotton called “Drops Yellow” that I got at Pintuck & Purl…I have to point something out that I really love.  Normally the selvage of a quilting cotton is fine.  It has the name of the designer(s) and the collection and fabric company.  It might have a little picture or two, maybe.  When Cotton + Steel does selvages, though, they sometimes put cute little sayings on them, and I love using them as tags.  The first time I did this was on this apple print skirt.  And the next time?  Yep!  On this very shirt!  Check it out.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

Some of my favorite art is the kind that makes you look at things in new (positive) ways, and this definitely qualifies.  They turned a ho-hum part of the fabric yardage into a focal point that creates even more opportunity for creative expression.  Brilliant.

Before I wrap this up, here are a few other little details I incorporated into this shirt.  Extra buttons just in case I lose one or two:

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

And some sweet French seams.  The armhole seam allowances are wider than the side seam allowances because I forgot that you usually sew your wider seam allowance on the first pass and trim down before sewing your narrower seam allowance, but oh well!  I’m here to get things done, not necessarily to make them perfect!

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

Also, look how much thread I have left of each color!  It was so close!  I can’t believe I finished before running out!

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

So, all in all, this one is a win.  And while I definitely recommend this pattern because of my own personal love for it, I really think the best button up pattern is the one that you like that you have customized to fit you.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

The many iterations of Simplicity 1538

In case you are interested, here are the various versions of this pattern that I’ve made:

  • Version one:  a wearable muslin made in a cute vintage sheet.  This version helped me realize that I needed a major broad back adjustment.  I also didn’t realize that shirts are only “button down” shirts if they have buttons on the collar that help you button the collar down.  What I was making was a button up.
  • Version two: one of my favorite versions in a tiger print by Cotton + Steel.  I still wear this shirt often.  This post shows how to do a major broad back adjustment on a shirt with a set-in sleeve like this.  I also began making a box pleat in the back on this version, rather than the gathers the pattern calls for.
  • Version three:  my best plaid matching ever and still my favorite flannel shirt that I have made.  This is the first time I tried lengthening this pattern.  I added two inches to this version.
  • Version four:  in a non-plaid flannel with pearl snaps!  If you need help installing pearl snaps, I have a tutorial for that here.
  • Version five: in red and white gingham in which I discover the beauty of good quality fabric.  I love this version for summer.
  • Version six:  this one!

Wow!  I think this wins my “most sewn pattern” award!

And now that I have finished this shirt, I have one more dress to finish up, and then it’s on to summer sewing!!!!  Yay!  I can’t wait.  Do you have any patterns you’re really excited to sew for summer?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments.  Send me some sewing inspiration!

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Today’s project was a struggle!  Thankfully, I can report that it ended happily, but it was a long process getting there.

The challenge:  could I make jeans I liked using the denim I had, which was less than what the pattern called for?  Armed with my Denim Pinterest board and ideas from the Refashioners 2016 jeans challenge, I was ready to take this one on!

I decided to use the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans Pattern from Closet Case Patterns since I had non-stretch denim.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Idea one was all about a casual, patchy look.  I love clothes that are casual, lived in, and durable.  I decided to cut as much of the top of the jeans as I could from the denim I had left over from my Jutland cutoffs from last year and my Lander Pants.  I would use the worn out jeans we had around the house (kept for patch jobs) to construct the bottoms of the pants.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

This seemed like a great idea, and looked really cool on my sewing table.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Unfortunately, when I put them on, my cool, patched legs became something akin to denim leg warmers attached to jeans made of thin and much more flexible denim.

Fail.

On the advice of some very wise friends who, although not sewists themselves, often help me troubleshoot my projects, I took the pants bottoms off, and moved them up higher so the pants would end around my ankles.

Everything looked good on the work table again, but when I put them on, the denim leg warmer look was back, and it wasn’t a good thing.  It was time to abandon that idea.

Option two was cropped pants with a raw edge, back slightly longer than the front.  One look told me this wasn’t a good option on these particular jeans.

Fail.

Time to come up with a third option.  At this point, my eldest daughter had a great idea. I could use some of the anchor fabric I was using for my pocket bags on the inside bottom of my pant legs so that I would have cropped pants that could be rolled up to reveal the cute print on the fabric.

I loved this idea!  It wasn’t too hard to execute, and it looked great.  The fabric, with its cute anchors and hearts is directional, so I had to think about that as I planned it out.  Thankfully, I got it right the first try.  The pants are shorter than most cropped pants you see today, but I like them.  They are great for spring and cooler summer days.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Things were finally on track.  I just had to put on my waistband and back pockets.  I put the waistband on and…they didn’t fit.  And I had trimmed my side seams.  Oh no!

I tried letting the side seams out the little bit that I could, but it just wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t understand it.  I thought they had fit, but when I really examined what I had done, I realized that I must have been close to a 14 waist or between sizes, so I traced a 14 waist and 16 hip when I should have just done a straight size 16.

I wanted to give up, but I was so close to being done.  I decided to try one more thing, and if that didn’t work, I would give the pants away.  I added little triangle wedges at the top of each side seam using the same striped fabric I had used in my pocket facings, but turning the stripes perpendicular.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I lengthened my waistband at the end so that I wouldn’t change the curve (I had also added a dart at the center back to prevent gaping, and I didn’t want to change that either).  Then I finished everything up, tried them on, and…THEY FIT!  They fit well!  And they were pretty cute!  I was so happy.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I think I seam-ripped everything on those pants at least once–more in a lot of places.  I am so, so glad they are done, but also really happy to have a pair of fun jeans that I like, AND to have used up so many scraps.  Not only was my denim left over from other projects, so was the anchor fabric (I used it to make this shirt) and the striped fabric (I used the other side as my right side when I made the striped shorts in this post).  I even used a leather scrap to make a little patch.  Yay!

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

As for the pattern itself, I liked it, and would make it again.  I like the button fly, which is different from other jeans that I have, and the comfortable fit (once I got the sizing right).

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I have a few more detail-oriented projects in my queue, but after that, I might need a palate-cleanser of easy projects!  With family sickness (now better), projects that weren’t straightforward, and several muslins (still unsewn), spring sewing has been a bit of a slog.  Even with that, though, I still love sewing.  I’m excited to finish up these last few things and get down to easy and/or summer sewing!  Bring it on!  (If only I can narrow down my ideas!)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

It’s finally time to post this project.  Here is the big takeaway for me:  I love this bag.  I did not love making this bag.

I made the Portside Duffle from Grainline Studio to take on a weekend retreat, and it was perfect for that.  I finished with time to spare, and it was so much fun to have handmade luggage to take along with me.  I really love how it turned out. (I also learned that both “duffle” and “duffel” are correct ways to spell this word, so I’ll go with “duffle” for this post.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I was inspired in my color choices by this excellent bag on the Skirt As Top blog.  Mine is a little different, but the influence is pretty clear.  Her version is great!

The process of making it presented a number of challenges, however.

Materials

The first challenge for me was my inexperience with bag-making.  I decided to only make the duffle, as I was under a deadline, but because I’ve made so few bags, I was really stuck on how to choose things like interfacing and my zipper.  You know how it is when you are just starting out–you really need things spelled out.  I know how to shorten a zipper on a pair of pants or a skirt, but what if you can’t find the exact zipper length for a bag?  And do you need a separating or non-separating zipper?  Does it even matter?

As it turned out, the length specified (21 inches) is very hard to find.  What I did find out is that when you run into this situation, you can buy a longer zipper and shorten it, and a separating zipper is just fine (I’m pretty sure you can use separating or non-separating).  This may seem obvious, but it was something I didn’t know and had to learn.  Luckily I had a longer zipper in my stash, so I was able to use that.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The other area that confused me was the interfacing.  I looked around online for ideas, but it was all so overwhelming!  I had no idea there were so many kinds of interfacing (and stabilizer!) or so many things you could do with the interfacing.  You can even combine interfacings!  Here is what I ended up using:  for the bottom, I bought 2/3 of a yard of 20″ wide Pellon Peltex 71F Single-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer.  (The bottom pattern piece of this bag is 21 5/8″ x 12 3/8″.) For the sides/top of the bag I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond (Firm Iron-on Backing with Extra Crispness).  My bottom fabric (the gold) was heavier than my top fabric (the off-white), so I used one layer of interfacing on both, but also added a layer of quilting-weight fabric to the top portion, like the way you might underline a garment.  I did not interface the striped pocket on the outside or my lining fabric.  I bought all my interfacing and stabilizer at JoAnn Fabrics.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In case you also struggle with the interfacing/stabilizer question, I found some helpful information in this article on sew4home.com:  “Top Interfacing Solutions For Bags and Totes:  Fabric Depot“, as well as this one from Sew Sweetness: “All About Bag Interfacing“.  Sew Sweetness had a lot of good information for bag-makers of all experience levels.

Cost-Saving Strategies

The other area that I struggled with was the overall cost of this project.  I tend to have a pretty limited budget, so cost is always a factor.  When I started to realize how much the pattern, fabric, and hardware could cost, I decided to get creative and see where I could save money.  Here is what I did.

I decided to make my own straps all with a width of 1.5″, rather than some at 1.25″ and some at 1.5″.  This would also allow me to use the 1.5″ D-rings I had in my stash rather than buying 1.25″ D-rings which I didn’t have (and which were harder to find).  There were two books that I found really helpful as I dug into the details of this project.  The first was On-the-Go-Bags by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay, which helped me see that I actually could make my own straps (something I didn’t know as a newbie to bag-making).  The other book, which was the most helpful, was The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu, which was filled with all sorts of helpful information.  If you sewed through this book, you would come out the other side with a lot of bag-making knowledge and skills.

I also realized that since I had so many D-rings (I have no idea why I have so many!), I could use those instead of the swivel bolt snaps/hooks the pattern called for, and join them with a carabiner since we had a few little carabiners in the house.  I didn’t end up making the leather zipper pulls.  I was kind of hoping I would find something in the jewelry section of the craft store to go with my lining, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so I skipped it.

The next thing to consider was fabric.  In case you are wondering, Fabric A on the pattern is your lower fabric and Fabric B is your upper fabric.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The off-white and striped fabrics came from my stash, and I ordered the gold bottom fabric from Fabric Mart when it was on sale (love that store!).  I think that 2/3 of a yard of 54″ or 57″ fabric for the bottom (Fabric A) would have been enough, although if you use a print, you may want more so that you can position it just how you want it.  The pattern calls for 1.25 yards of 54″ wide fabric.  This amount of fabric turned out to be helpful in making my straps, so I’m glad I had extra for that (I probably ordered 1.5 yards).

I also used a quilting cotton from my stash (with octopi!) for the lining, which saved me money.  I had been looking for just the right thing to use this fabric on and now I have both octopus pants and a bag with a surprise lining!  (This fabric, by Cotton + Steel, and my pattern came from Pintuck & Purl.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Construction

I’m going to share some technical details in this section, so feel free to skip it if that isn’t helpful to you.

***One important note:  I think there may be an error on pattern piece #4 (the side, bottom piece).  I would think that where it says “strap placement”, it would line up with the strap on the piece above it, but as printed, it looks like that text is on the bottom of the piece…where no strap is supposed to go.  I decided to ignore the strap placement marking and assumed that was the bottom of the piece (so that the words are right side up as printed).

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Also, you can skip the part in the directions about choosing your size.  This duffle only comes in one size.

In Steps 6 and 8, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ (double stick fusible tape) to hold things in place before sewing them down.  This wasn’t perfect because the bond was pretty light, but it was still helpful.

In Step 11, I used a zipper foot to sew the zipper in.

For Step 12, I found this blog post from Handmade By Carolyn very helpful.  She suggests leaving the last half-inch at the bottom of your sides and end panels unsewn to help with attaching the bottoms.  Press your seams toward the end panels after sewing.

In Step 13, sew the long sides first and then the short sides.

Before beginning Step 14, I think you should flip the bag so right sides are out (at least that is what I did).  The tip in the instructions about using your machine’s free arm is helpful here.  Even with that, though, this step is hard if you have heavy interfacing in the bag!  What worked for me was to sew a side, backstitch, cut the threads, and then move on to the next side.

For Step 16, as in Step 12, do not sew the bottom 1/2″ of each seam so it will be easier to attach to the bottom in the next step.

I did not do Step 18 as written.  Instead, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ to baste the lining to the zipper and used Wonder Clips to help hold it because the Steam-A-Seam isn’t very strong (something different would have been better, I think).  Then I basted outer fabric, zipper, and lining togewith my machine, with the lining up.  I just sort of tacked the ends because my machine didn’t love sewing over the zipper.  Then I sewed the long sides with a zipper foot and the bag’s outside facing up (in other words, I topstitched).  I tried to sew over the zipper ends, which was somewhat successful, so I also hand-tacked the lining to the zipper tape by the zipper ends.  Use a thimble for this!

In Step 19, I wasn’t able to fold the raw edges under, since the straps I had made were so thick.  I used Fray Check on both ends and then zigzagged over them before stitching them down as in the directions.  It’s not as professional as I would like, but it should work.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In Step 20, I think it should say “tops of the rings” rather than “top of the top ring” in the second sentence.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

At this point, I used more D-rings rather than swivel clips.  I attached the D-rings to each other with mini carabiners.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

After Step 20, I tried to tack the lining to the bag by sewing two parallel lines across the width of the bag on the bottom and by sewing for an inch or two on top of one of my stitching lines on each strap.  The lining doesn’t look smooth inside, but at least it won’t billow out now.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I didn’t do Step 21, even though I think the leather zipper pulls are a nice touch.

Random Issue

One thing that happened that was unrelated to the pattern was that when I used my yellow Chaco Liner on the off-white part of my bag, it didn’t wash off afterward (I ran it through the washer and dryer).  I saw this once before when I was at a jeans workshop and someone used yellow Chaco Liner on white denim, and it also didn’t brush off.  Normally I don’t have any problems with the yellow, and it doesn’t bother me too much in this case, but it’s something to be aware of.  (You can faintly see it in the picture below.  It’s faint, but it’s there.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

So, there you go!  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.  I know I spent a lot of time hunting down blog posts about this pattern and searching the web for information and materials.  Hopefully this will save someone some time should you decide to go for it and make this bag.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Recommendations

This week’s recommendations are all bag-related!

Do you have any favorite bag patterns?  I still enjoy sewing clothing the most, but I’m opening up to the idea of sewing a bag here and there.

Attempted: Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Attempted:  Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

This week’s project was an attempt to tick several boxes:  using some of my fabric stash, making a maxi skirt, and learning another method for adding side-seam pockets to garments.  I wanted a basic design–rectangles gathered into a waistband, but a waistband with an elastic back so it would be really comfortable.  This seemed like a brilliant way to use the last three yards of ankara (also known as wax print) fabric that I had bought a few years ago, but it also preserved the fabric in nearly whole form in case things didn’t work out, since it’s just large gathered rectangles.  (In case you are curious, I also made a shirt and a pair of shorts from this fabric.)

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

For my starting point, I used the Elastic Back Skirt Tutorial from Cashmerette.  I got this some time ago by signing up for their newsletter.  I also used the Ankara Skirt Tutorial from the KLKC Collections blog.  These tutorials were helpful in guiding me through what math I would need to get the result that I wanted, which was a waistband that looked flat in the front and was elastic in the back, with a finished height of two inches.  I made the flat front wrap slightly to the back before incorporating the elastic.  So far, so good. This wasn’t too difficult.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

But I wanted pockets.  That’s where things got tricky.

I used the directions found in “The Low Profile Pocket” by Kathleen Cheetham in Threads magazine, issue #195 (Feb./Mar. 2018), p. 36-41 (the pocket pattern piece is available on the Threads website).  This article was excellent!

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

I sewed my BEST in-seam pockets to date.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

However…

The article has you sew part of the pockets and the side seams together before attaching the waistband.  My skirt tutorials have you construct the front and back separately and then sew the side seams.  So I had a quandary.

I wanted to interface the front of my waistband and then fold it over, covering the seam allowance at the top of my gathered skirt so everything would look nice and neat.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to cover those seam allowances with all the other things I had to take into consideration.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

What ensued was a lot of thinking about process, and adapting.  I was going to write it all out for you, but it’s a lot.

The end result is some good sewing and some ugly sewing.  One thing I’m really glad I thought about was how to keep the back elastic stretchy.  In order to do that, I sewed with a zigzag stitch while stretching my elastic, but choosing two-inch wide elastic and gathering 53″ of fabric per panel adds up to a lot of bulk.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

I got it done in the end, but I’m going to have to wear this a bit to decide if I like it.

Here are the pros and cons.

Pro:

  • nice, full, dramatic, long skirt
  • having pockets that disappear beautifully (and trying a new technique!)
  • general structure:  flat front, elastic back, pockets
  • using a bunch of stash fabric in one fell swoop
  • if I don’t like this, my fabric is still nearly whole and can be reused

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

Things that would have made this project easier:

  • omitting the pockets or sewing different ones
  • assembling the front and back separately (need to alter pocket directions or use a different method)

Things that could have been better:

  • place the pockets lower
  • make pocket opening wider (it’s a close fit to get my hands in and out)

Other options I could have used:

  • narrower waistband, which would have allowed for narrower elastic
  • elastic + zipper at the back and less gathered fabric to reduce bulk

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

So, I like and don’t like this skirt.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

It’s really bulky at the waist, which I don’t love, but I love the drama of the big skirt and being able to see that much of the fabric at once.  I love the length that I can wear leggings under if necessary.  I do think that there is probably a nicer way to produce a comfortable maxi skirt with pockets (if you have pattern recommendations, please leave them in the comments!).  I feel mixed about this one.  We’ll see  how it fares over time or if I remake it.  If you have ever made a maxi skirt, feel free to share a link in the comments so I can see.  I’d like a good TNT maxi skirt and maxi dress pattern I can use over and over.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt