I don’t think I ever imagined myself wearing or making a pink suit. Yet here I am. Pink tights, scarf, handbag and all. And it totally wasn’t in the name of Barbie, I can assure you!
The back story begins with a gifted pair of freshly laundered and neatly folded vintage M&S curtains from my very good friend Kiki. The jury is still out as to whether they are late 60s or 70s but either way they are something special!
Initially I wasn’t sure as to why she’d ‘thought I could do something with them’. They were so far from my every day vibe. But I did feel a pull to retain the faith she had in me, to create something interesting from them. I had no idea what at the time. So they sat in their neat folded pile on top of my existing tower of interesting fabrics for quite some time before the eureka moment struck!
I’ve been practicing pattern making for a while – starting with basic blocks and having fun with adaptations but up to this point I had never drafted a jacket, for fear of that notched collar. It transpires, like anything else it just required a bit of learning and rehearsing to understand the process. And I’m so glad I did. I really wanted to draft a coat this year so this was my first toe dipped before that happens.
Once I’d drafted the pattern and visualised the final thing I couldn’t get the curtain fabric out of my head and I sketched those big flowers in my Fashionary to see if it would work. And I was pretty sold that it would.
The fabric was great to work with – great texture and relatively stable. Perhaps a wee bit on the heavy side but I really didn’t mind that because it gave some great structure.
I padded the shoulders and added a sleeve head before lining it. I can’t not do this now I know what a difference it makes. And I spent a lot of time cooing over the rounded shoulder cap before I moved on to the next stage!
The rounded lapels were a conscious decision to reflect the rounded retro flower design, and also because I fell in love with the heart shaped lapels on a Vivienne Westwood jacket years ago, hoping one day I would replicate it. Not yet. But I’m one step closer!
Bound buttonholes were a must. Sometimes a machined button hole just doesn’t cut it. My jacket was a labour of love and was going to get the best kind of button holes. Covered buttons too. No other buttons I looked at came close to being able to use up the fun flower centres from the leftover scraps.
I used facings to finish the hems of the jacket bodice and the sleeves which I love to do and it makes it look all fancy inside too!
The only problem I had was that I didn’t really have anything to wear with it once it was finished! I mean it will totally go with a black dress and all but I weirdly don’t have many of those any more. So I whipped up a high waisted mini skirt on deciding that the fabric was too heavy for a shift dress which was an initial thought.
Now I have the option of wearing this as a suit or as separates. And I’m so happy about it.
The shoot was a great excuse to style it up. Dan was very encouraging of going full on retro although I had all of a couple of hours to pull something together. He’s becoming more and more in demand lately so I just have to make the most of when he’s around!
Yes you read that right! This is a dress made entirely of sleeves – those that were cut off of Dan’s RTW shirts after he got fed up with how tight and annoying they were when he was working in them!
I intercepted his route to the bin when I spied a couple of them poking out of the bag. And there then ensued a tussle, with Dan persisting that I had quite enough fabric already. What does that even mean – ‘quite enough fabric’?!
He laid the gauntlet, firmly before me – challenged me that unless I could cite good use, they should not be added to the peak of ‘stash mountain’ !
‘A dress!’ Was my comeback ‘A cool patchwork dress!’ It raised an eyebrow of disbelief but I grabbed that bag and literally ran to the studio with it and hid it under the cutting table.
It remained there for quite a while, mostly because I had other projects going on, but in that safe space of time I was able to hatch a plan in my head. I didn’t want a crafty kind of patchwork dress. I mean they can look cool and boho but that isn’t me. And lumberjack plaid certainly doesn’t lend that vibe! I spent hours dividing up sketched outlines of dresses with small squares, big squares and randomly sized squares. None floated my boat.
Then I tried random shapes to really over complicate a simple idea and then I realised it was the persistence of the vertical and the horizontal lines that were irritating me.
So I tried with some angular shapes and I was beginning to get somewhere. I already knew a heart was going to feature. It is after all a nod to Westwood. Someone who totally wore her heart on sleeve. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired by her. She taught me it was ok to dress differently, not to care (so much) about what anyone else thinks and to do it boldly. To buy less and choose well and to take care of our planet.
‘Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well’ – Vivienne Westwood
I don’t always sew as sustainably as I could but I like to reuse and recycle and rewear whenever I can. Read to the end for some more of my sustainable projects.
Once the sketch was finalised, I pondered how I was going to sew them together. These sleeves are made of cotton – a flannel I think – and they are soft and drapey. That was going to work wonderfully for the bias cowl sleeve I had in mind but not so well for the actual body of the dress. So it had to be stabilised somehow. I considered using a double sided fusible interfacing but I really didn’t want the extra weight so I simply sewed the pieces onto some black cotton I had in stash. I used a self-drafted pattern from my baby cord dress and cut the black cotton pieces first, before mounting the cutout shapes. I made sure to overlap them slightly and I zigzagged, first on the absolute edge and then again each side of each piece to make sure it was secured but also to make the black lines of stitching look intentional and a little like stained glass panels.
I managed to glean all the fabric I needed from 9 shirts worth of sleeves. I came a bit unstuck on the actual sleeves because I was so intent on featuring the yellow ones with as much coverage as possible. And that meant including the sleeve plackets! I’ve left the buttons on for context and again to make it intentional.
The collar is made from the cuffs of the yellow sleeves. Two of them, buttoned up, fitted perfectly around the necline. Again I was going to use the original buttons, but the Pigeon Wishes star buttons were cooing me. Loudly!
I considered making this dress sleeveless in the beginning. Oh the irony! But reconsidered at the prospect of not wasting any of those sleeves, to create one with statement sleeves instead. I took a draping class a while back with Mr O and he taught us how to draft a cowl sleeve, I’ve tried a few sleeve-drafting tutorials in the past but his was so much simpler and I’m slowly learning that long-winded old school methods aren’t always the best – controversial, I know!
I winced at the prospect of having to patch in some small pieces at the top of the sleeve but actually it adds to the punky charm and I love it. It feels like I’ve broken a whole heap of rules in the making of this dress, yet at the same time, none!
The good thing about having mounted all those pieces on black fabric is that the insides are clean (ish) and everything hangs as it should. Once I sewed up the side-seams, the shoulders, the skirt to the waist-seam and inserted the sleeves, I pressed open the overlocked seams on the inside so everything laid perfectly flat. (Couldn’t be arsed to change the thread from white to black but hey, who is going to see?!) I really must invest in some rainbow overlock thread. I think that would have looked even better to be fair.
The collar went on next. I just had to cut off the seam bulk but of course the interfacing and the topstitching along the top and front edges was already in place – bonus!
And then I sewed in an invisible zipper. Also from stash. I made sure to align the waist seam before sewing up the second side of the zip because as punk as this is, I have standards you know, haha!
Having said that, standards went a bit out of the window with machined hemming. I toyed with hand-sewed ones, but… well… hours in the day and all that!
Dan was in the studio with me when it was all sewed up and finished. And suggested we shoot it that same night. So we went back home for tea grabbed some tights, shoes, shades and a skateboard (of course!) and just went for it. No time for a hair wash – just scruffed it up, just as I did in the 80s. And it couldn’t have gone better.
I am so over the moon with the shots that he took. He has forever championed my creations and has been so obliging with photographing them over the years – often more eagerly than me! But he totally knocked it out of the park this time. Do look him up if you are ever thinking of getting some professional shots done at danieljamesphotographic. I know I’m biased and all but he is bloody good!
I posted some of them on Instagram a few days ago and the comments have been both humbling and mindblowing. It feels so good to have created something that is all me. Well, a bit of Dan and a bit of Viv too! And to have it appreciated by so many. I am so very very grateful and the whole process from bin-interception to reception of the photos has been incredible. And It’s just made me want to do more of the same.
I have some really small scraps left over. I didn’t throw any cut-offs away. (Don’t tell Dan!) And I have another cool little project in mind so watch this space or follow along on Insta to find out more, soon.
I like that there’s never a strict order of process. Often I pick a pattern and go looking for the right fabric. Sometimes the other way round. Driven by need or pure desire but in this case it got changed up a bit more.
Diane from @Dreamcutsew was kindly giving away some fabric on Instagram and I just couldn’t pass up her wonderful piece of cable knit jersey. I didn’t have a Scooby what I was going to do with it – I didn’t even know this kind of fabric existed till then!
I considered a cushion cover, a hat, some gloves – even some slippers! (I still have a small piece left so this could still be an option) But it sat for sometime, perched on the top of my own stash until I had a flash of inspiration. And then it came – in the shape of a hashtag challenge: #magamsewalong (Make a Garment a Month) hosted by @suestoney and @sewing_in_spain. This month the theme #naturalnovember was set by guest host @gigi_made_it, and that really got the ball rolling.
I loved how free-range the brief was;
☑️ Make something from a natural fibre Now I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a speck of natural fibre in that cable knit but I did have a raggedy moth-eaten merino wool jumper which met its demise in an accidental hot wash. I’ve no idea why I kept it but I’m jolly glad I did because I decided to add some black detail. I generally stick to the safety of any colour palette that involves black!
☑️ Choose a make reflecting the weather and rhythms of the season where you live The weather was definitely a factor in my need for a jumper. I don’t have nearly enough and I can never find any I like that I can actually afford!
☑️ Make something in a nature-inspired print I figured stars are pretty nature-inspired, aren’t they? And an appliqué is an acceptable swap out for a print.
☑️ Use earth-friendly, sustainable materials in your make So the main fabric was a leftover piece from another sewist, the appliquéd bits were upcycled from an old jumper. The gold thread was a few leftover strands from a previous project and the only additional notion was the cuffing/ribbing that I bought from Minerva.com
☑️ Make something that totally expresses your natural true self, unconstrained by cultural norms or trends I’ve been so wanting to make something that does just that. It harks back to my 80s days where I was probably the most experimental with my clothing. Big batwings and balloon skirts the lot! I actually had puffball shorts too! ☑️ A make that occurs without (much) effort. As always, interpret creatively and be natural I freestyled the pattern. Based on a RTW jumper I already own and simplified further. No shaping for armholes and rectangles for sleeves gathered in at the cuff. That meant less waste too! I shaped the shoulders slightly and cut a V neck but the back piece is fundamentally a rectangle also.
The project began with a very rough sketch! Please do not judge my Adobe Illustrator skills on this sketch alone – I might never work again!
Once the main pieces were cut out, I began by stabilising the shoulder seams. Even though it was going to have a relaxed drop shoulder I still didn’t want it to stretch out. After sewing the front to the back along the shoulders I added the cuffing along the neckline. Incidentally I used a wide shallow zigzag stitch on my regular machine throughout and then overlocked the edges for a smaller neater finished edge.
To make the appliqué shapes I first fused some doublesided fusible stabilizer to the black jumper pieces (sans moth holes) and then cut the shapes. I ironed the pieces to the front of the jumper and to the sleeves while they were flat. I then handstitched all round with a tiny blanket stitch. I’m still not entirely sure how the points of the stars will hold up over time but we’ll see. The big gold stitches are purely for decoration and to complement the glittery gold stripe of the ribbing.
When all the pieces were in place, I closed up the underarm and side seams. I gathered the wrists of the sleeves by hand with reasonably big stitches and then stretched the cuffing to fit, sewing right sides together. I did worry that it might be a bit bulky but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Just extra warm… and that’s totally fine with me. I can’t stand the cold!
The final step was to add the ribbing to the hem. I really like the contrast of the stripe and the added glitter just makes it pop!
I really loved the whole process from hatching the idea to wearing the finished jumper! It feels so great to be wearing something that is totally unique and totally me. And all thanks to my Insta fam.
I’d like to say this is my new way of working. I’d so love to get even more creative and original about all that I make and I will, in time, but I’ve already got an indie pattern in mind for my next dress. One I’ve never tried before. Watch this space to find out more!
Dan of course is behind the lens of these super shots… we took a 5 minute walk up the road where he’d already planned to factor in some twinkly lights. He is so very good at this and I’m so grateful but also aware that he’s getting more photography gigs of late, so I better keep that leash tight!!
I feel like I haven’t posted anything in yonks though I did publish a write up about my By Hand London Rumana Coat over at Minerva. That’s the deal, see. They send me choice fabric, I whip something up and give them an exclusive write-up in exchange. If you haven’t seen it on my instagram grid @ooobop, do hop over to here at my Minerva profile to have a looksee!
The coat was such a lovely project to work on but if you’ve worked on one before, and if you don’t get much time to sew, you’ll know just how long it takes in short bursts. As soon as I finished it I promised myself that my next project would be a quicker one. A Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top – Just the ticket for a swift sew on a spare Saturday morning.
For clarity I cut it out the night before, but seriously, this top was ready to wear by lunchtime.
To do this, I took the regular full length template and slashed from the hem of the sleeve to the arc of the sleeve cap. I spread the pieces, traced the result and repeated the process again with the new piece to create the flare.
I was tempted to go larger still but was worried the fabric would be too bulky gathered in at the wrist.
The fabric is a gorgeous stretch crushed velvet from Fabrics Galore. I bought it eons ago when we were allowed to go actual fabric shopping. It was definitely earmarked for an Agnes and I’m so pleased to have stuck to plan for a change! My only concern was the extent of stretch compared to the jerseys I’d used before.
I measured the bodice pattern pieces and physically stretched the fabric to guesstimate the result and I’m glad to report that it fits. Albeit very snuggly! There would be no hope if there were any remaining mince pies to be had!
Though it has to be said, I do like the contrast of the close fitting body against the draping sleeves. Luckily!
To sew this top you begin by stabilising the shoulder seams with some tape or ribbon or suchlike. I skipped this stage with one that I made with disastrous results – the shoulder stretched out like Billy-O! So I made sure to obey that instruction this time.
And then on to that neckband. Oh boy was I in for a ‘treat’ this time.The object is to stretch the doubled over loop of fabric as you stitch it around the neckline. Well, the crushed velvet, as soft and lovely as it is, definitely wasn’t designed for such treatment. And it curled up like a goodun on the raw edge I wanted to sew. It became a nail-biting 8-stage process of pressing, pinning, unpinning, pressing, basting, pressing, sewing and eventually overlocking which thankfully sliced off the curl and the bulk thus making the topstitching way easier. I decided against the ruching at the neckline to avoid tempting fate!
From this point on it was seriously plain sailing. The sleeves are set in flat. No ease necessary on the cap. The side seams and underarm seams are sewn in one go. I used the overlocker for this – so satisfying! I hemmed the bottom up with a Zigzag stitch, mostly because I’m too lazy to set up another spool and swap out the needle for a twin one! In. Any case the stitches were going to sink in to the velvet so it didn’t really matter.
And finally I cut some Prym 7mm standard elastic (Aff link) just a bit wider than my wrist and wide enough to go over my knuckles plus bit extra for the overlap. (Its all very calculated round here!) I threaded the elastic through a gap in the sleeve hem that I sewed up and zig zagged the overlapped ends before sewing up the gap.
And then my hacked-sleeve Tilly Agnes was ready to go!
I love that she’ll be a staple in place of any boring long sleeve Tee and can be dressed up or down owing to the slightly more luxurious fabric. Just got to remember to pull those sleeves up if I’ve got soup for tea!
And I’m so glad this was as successful as was envisaged because I have just taken delivery of a new length of equally gorgeous stretch velvet from Minerva in leopard print which I can’t wait to make!
Thanks to Daniel for my impromptu photoshoot. We went for a walk trying to avoid people and ended up down the back of the bus garage… such glamour!
And thanks to you my lovely reader, for taking the time to read my ramblings and for your continuing and valued support. Hope you are also managing to find joy in the small things to keep you happy in these weird times.
There is joy to be had when you revisit a pattern that you know only needs a couple of tweaks. Even more joyous when the pieces have been sat in a basket, all cut out and are ready for a simple sew-together.
I’d almost forgotten about it. Though to be honest, the main reason for it sitting pretty was that I was unsure about the colour. I liked the pale blue, linen-like fabric when I scored it cheap all that time back from a closing-dowm sale in Ealing, but I just didn’t have a plan and so it took up residency in stash mountain for a very long time before it’s destiny was decided.
A little burst of consciousness about the wastefulness of my impulse buying spurred me into action to finish any WIPs before buying any more fabric and so I paired it with vintage Simplicity 6772 – one of my favourite vintage shirt dress patterns.
I used this pattern first in 2015 from suiting fabric – my worky shirtdress – which is perfect for an Autumnal wardrobe and it gets a lot of work-wear. This next version was going to be great for those warmer months.
It sewed up beautifully. I took a smidge out of the ease of the sleeve head; shortened the hemline a little and I just loved the way it shaped up with all those darts. I used to hate sewing them but it really doesn’t bother me now especially when on realising how important they are for a great fit. It comes together pretty quickly, with no lining, and precious little hand sewing except for the hem and attaching the under-collar to the neckline.
The only thing that bothered me with this pattern and fabric combo was that it looked a little ‘nursey’! I’m so not used to wearing light colours – my usual palette very much centres around red and black – and it was going to take a bit of getting used to, so I added some black buttons to subtract some of the ‘clinical’!
And I’ve been very happy wearing it until a ‘friend’ jokingly asked why I was dressed like a nurse. The cheek of it! Really struck a nerve and I was not best amused!
So, not to be defeated, I had a little rummage in the trim box and found some lovely ribbon-insert braid – just enough to edge the collar and sleeves.
I’ve just spent a lovely long weekend away in Devon with Mr O (hence the random poses in fields of cows) and this was a great little hand-sewing project to complete in the hotel room when those ominous black clouds did their thing outside.
And I’m really happy with the results. I think it’s a little less ‘care-worker’ and much more ’50’s diner waitress’ now. But that’s ok. I can live with that!
I’ve got more love for it now. Which is a good thing because this dress is so easy to wear and so flattering, IMHO! All thanks to some great pattern drafting and lots of perfectly placed darts.
The journey of this dress definitely provoked some thinking about my buying habits. My bad, bad buying habits where I’m swayed by a bargain and the belief that a cheap length of fabric will have an ideal use at some point. Unless it’s of fairly good quality and at the very least within my preferred range of colours, it’s not going to be put to use without compromise. And I don’t want compromise. It won’t feel right and that in itself will not be a fair exchange for all the hours of work invested. And also, I’m so over that ugly box tower of fabrics looming over my bed. Lesson learned… I hope!
Sadly this is my first and very likely my last post of December. But I’m not going to duff myself up because… it’s Chriiiiiissssstmaaaaasssss!
Just one more day of work to go. I repeat, just one more day day of work. Excited? Me? Yes siree. But also determined to hold that wonderful thought and not to get stressed out that I’ve not yet scratched the surface of my shopping list nor yet contemplated what is to appear on the Christmas dinner table!
But let’s get priorities in order. Let’s blog this latest outfit of mine. This two-piece garment of brilliance that’s been so patiently waiting in my inbox! It’s the Martini pattern by the very cool and talented Sally of Capital Chic. I’ve been a fan of her amazing Charity Shop Chic refashions for like aaaages so when she asked if I’d be interested in trying out one of her new patterns I was flattered beyond belief. It just took me a hundred years to get round to finding the absolute perfect fabric to do it justice!
So just how delighted do you think I was to find this amazing set of vintage bark cloth curtains with ‘Martini’ written all over them!!
They were peeking out behind a rail of really naff shiny peachy curtains in Snoopers Paradise, Brighton. I’d almost given up hope of finding any vintage fabric at all. And as I gave one last despairing glance backwards, there they were, glowing, calling me. I literally ran back like a crazy woman, in case anyone else spotted them before me and whipped them out like my life depended on them. Nostalgia screamed from every thread. I’m pretty damned sure we had these curtains in our living room when I was a kid!
Here’s a little intro to Snoopers Paradise if you haven’t had the pleasure…
I think I might possibly be a professional snooper!
And oh the beautiful irony that this pair of the coolest curtains were to be refashioned into a Capital Chic outfit designed by the queen of charity shop chic, herself!
And so they became my Martini. Why oh why isn’t bark cloth made any more? It sews like a dream, it doesn’t crease, it presses beautifully, it has body and holds its shape, and washes like a dream. I think I am actually in love with this fabric. The colour too, actually. I knew I loved it, lairy as it was, but I’ve had at least three random people comment on how ‘very me’ this lime green is. And there’s me thinking I’m all red and black!!
This is probably my most impressive invisible zip insertion to date. Once again, Thank you for all the advice on my invisible foot purchase. How ever did I manage without it?! The zip totally sinks into the centre seam of the back skirt. And the top has a separating zip. I so love that there’s always something new to learn about sewing. This is the first time I’ve ever had to shop for one of these, let alone sew one on a garment!
The construction of this two-piece is very simple if you pay attention to every word of the carefully presented instructions. I say this only because I’m definitely one for skipping an instruction or two and thinking I know better. But Sally knows her onions and her technique for sewing an all in one lined bodice is genius, as is her explanation on how to line a vent in the back of a skirt.
The waist is high on the skirt as you can see and is supported by bones sewn to the darts and the seams in the lining (which makes for six). But if I had to add one thing to those instructions, it would be to file those bones more roundy at the top, because boy do they dig in if you don’t sit up straight or lean over without hoiking up your skirt!
Also, The top worked out surprisingly short. Totally my fault for not toilling and so I defo need to add an inch or two next time. I’m no spring chicken and I’m not sure that the world needs to be exposed to any amount of my midriff so I sewed an inch of ‘modesty lace’ to the hem. That said I’m still horrified by the amount of skin that still shows. I’m hoping that this is because the lens was low!
I love the cutaway armholes in the top. Even if they do highlight the squidgy bits of my arms. But I will go a size up next time to lessen the squeeze. The beauty of this two-piece design is that you can have a totally separate size top to bottom. Which is what I am. You could also add a contrasting colour top to bottom as Thumbelnina did. and if you were really clever you’d make two or three sets that you could mix and match!
Watch out crazy curtains…. I’m on a mission and I’m coming after ya, big time!
I normally steer well clear of other people’s alterations. Mostly through fear of screwing up and from past experience, lack of self-belief has led to an incredibly frustrating and stressful process. I’d sooner stick with making from scratch to fit from the off.
But I got brave last week. I succumbed to the pleading eyes of my friend who’d bought a posh dress (see above) that didn’t fit properly and she needed it urgently for a do! Classic baggy armhole syndrome! It fitted like a glove elsewhere, helped by the cut and the give of the lovely viscose crepe but in turn, that’s what highlighted the poor fit around the armscyes.
I don’t have a before or after picture of my friend wearing the dress I’m afraid, so you will have to bear with and picture the problem.
I went in with an open mind, ready to admit defeat if I thought I couldn’t fix it, but instantly set about pinning the excess to see what would happen. About 3/4 inch under the arms and 1 cm off the right shoulder – interestingly enough – et voilà!
We’re still not sure if the dress was made on the wonk or if my friend actually has one sloping shoulder. She used to be a personal shopper and regularly carried bags on her shoulder so it is a distinct possibility I guess!
The armholes and neckline were faced and the dress fully lined so I had to unpick the dress from the facing and pull the internal side seams through the hole to mark the adjustment before sewing. For RTW I was dead impressed at finding a French seam inside the lining! Though that flummoxed me a bit in terms of how I would sew it! I just sewed it anyhows and pressed the seam to the same side it sat originally. I took in the same amount from the facing. That had an open seam so it pressed nice and flat once I’d unpicked the original line of stitching. To finish, I pinched the edges together and did a tiny ladder stitch to ensure no stitches were visible.
The shoulder seam was completed in much the same way apart from an added opening I made in the shoulder seam lining to make the stitching easier. Everything was ladder-stitched up good and proper afterwards.
I also took 1 1/4 inch off the bottom. I marked and cut 3/4inch off, then made a small 1/4 inch double hem.
The only thing I’m jolly glad I didn’t do before I tackled this little project was to Google it. I hadn’t heard of Acne Studios but having been suitably impressed with the quality of this dress, I went off to investigate further. Their range is mostly not my cup of tea but there are some very stylish numbers going on… and some very hefty price tags to boot. The dress was nearly £500! And I know that she was stung for £60 duty too. So what if I’d messed up?! What if the iron had been too hot? What if I’d missed a stitch and made a hole with seam ripper? What if I’d snagged the fabric? Doesn’t bear thinking about!
Any hows. Its done. No screw ups. One very happy friend off to a very posh do. And a few more added strings to bow… phew!
I visit charity shops on a regular basis, almost always blinkered, and head directly to the fabric section and back. But a couple of weeks ago I was drawn magnetically to the back rail and to this wonderful tartan skirt.
The lady who served me knows me all too well and said she just knew it had my name on it!
The label read ‘Basler Collection’, which I hadn’t heard of but I was assured it was sign of good quality.
Back at base and on further inspection, that was verified…
The seam allowance is very generous for RTW. Even on the lining seams.
French tacks held the facing in place.
The pattern matching is faultless, across all pleats and seams.
And an internal button and loop adds that extra safeguard to zip-ups and unintentional zip-downs. Fine quality zip too!
The hem is blind stitched by hand. Though I can’t guarantee this was an original feature.
I only say that because the detective in me has spied that the previous owner had made adjustments to make it smaller… by making two fat darts at the back of the skirt. Inclusive of the lining. Very lazy and detrimental to the positioning of the side seams but I suppose that’s the sewing-snob coming out in my know-it-all self!
All the above aside, this lovely skirt was way too big for me and way too granny-long. And so my mission which I chose to take to the table, was to fix it and properly. I put my £7.99 where my mouth was and turned this beaut into something that should have already have been in my wardrobe.
Yes I know I could have made one from scratch. It’s not that tricky. But not for anywhere that price tag. The label says 100% virgin wool. Virgin, I tell ya! I even had to Ask Jeeves what that was! Transpires that stuff can sell between £20 and £80 per meter!!
And so I was already quids in. And so I decided it was worth the work.
First to unpick those fat back darts.
Initially, I was going to pin the excess at the waistline whilst wearing the skirt. But have you ever tried to do that without stabbing yourself or at least getting both sides even.
Common sense prevailed thank goodness and I opted to measure my waist, measure the waist of the skirt and deduct the first measurement from the second…. doh!
Once I determined how much I needed to lose (6 inches in total!), I divided by 4. I needed to mark 1.5 inches down each side from the top of the waist band and gradually blend in with the side seam where it felt natural. I was quite keen to keep the width of the pleats and to create a more A-line silhouette at the same time
I needed to separate the facing from the skirt and also the lining from the facing. More detail was revealed in a 1cm fusible stay tape at the top, sandwiched between the main fabric and the facing.
Once I’d stitched and pressed the seams open I tried it on for fit.
All was good so I evened up the seam allowance and overlocked. I left a generous SA as before as there’s every possibility I’ll need an increase after Christmas. This skirt is definitely in for the long haul, baby!
I didn’t reduce the width of the lining. Merely pleated the excess to one side. Never a worry to have the lining bigger than the skirt.
Lastly, I just needed to shorten it. Luckily this skirt was cut perfectly so all I need to do is follow the horizontal line of tartan to cut.
I overlocked the edge, pressed well and hand stitched with invisible stitches
Me in my new perfectly fitted Basler tartan skirt!
I wish I’d have taken a before picture now. There is such a difference. The shaping has made a much better silhouette and the shortening of the length has made if much more modern!
Not quite as exciting as a brand new make. But I’m so glad to have gained a great quality skirt at a fraction of its worth and to have given it a second life… and of course the feel good factor of having donated to a good cause in the meantime. Win, win, win!
And throughout the whole sewing process some totally fond ‘virgin’ memories sprang to mind …