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 …
I knew I’d make another one of these. I just needed another metre of fun chiffon and this little birdie print was perfect. All totally synthetic of course but I’m learning not to be such a fabric snob in my old age and hey… you can’t argue at £2.50 a metre!
I had a couple of issues with the last one I made, namely the size of the armholes. It transpires that this was partially due to the stretch in the other fabric because the alterations I made – namely ditching the side seam allowance and raising the underarm point by 1 inch – have made a larger difference than anticipated. But its all good and there will be no fashion faux pas when wearing this one!
Advisable to seam the sides with French seams. It gives a very satisfying finish but the instructions provided are otherwise very simple to follow.
Below is a pic of the back view as requested. Exactly the same as the front, in case you thought I might have the ability to rotate my head a whole 180 degrees! And you also get to see the print a bit better here too.
Actually. Maybe they’re not birdies. Maybe they are the little fluffy bits from a dandelion clock. Hey ho. Cute all the same!
Since my last post, the instructions for the pattern are free to download from Burdastyle here. It’s called the Summer Tank 05/2013. If you are not already a member I can assure you it’s worth the registration with this site. The gallery is constantly being updated with inspirational uploads from fellow sewists and there are plenty of other free pattern downlads available among the great ones you can purchase.
Thanks as always to Mr O for the great photography. He snapped these literally in seconds this evening. That birthday camera was worth its weight in gold! 😉
First I must thank you all for your lovely comments on my initial post about the finished jacket. I’m so touched and I love that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when they find their way into my mailbox!
So as promised, here is some nitty gritty detail from the project for those that might be considering this jacket for the first time.
Though I am pleased overall, with the results. I can’t help being niggled that more tailoring techniques weren’t employed. I’ve only myself to blame. I could have researched them myself but there’s always a next time!
The jacket is cut from pieces #131, Burda Style magazine 11/2010 but the construction details are from #130. The only difference being that I chose the full length sleeves with vents… and proper working buttonholes… glutton for punishment, me!
I made the toile back in February and was intending to make adjustments to the waist only. But I got worried about it’s ‘snugness’ and just went up a size in the end. A little bit chicken perhaps, but also concerned that I was more likely to be wearing a few layers underneath in the colder months!
It is essential that you make a toile. There is so much work involved in this, you don’t want to get to the end to find it doesn’t fit!!!
My first slip up, that I DIDN’T clock until I got round to dealing with it, was the back vent. I am so used to adding the statutory 15mm seam allowance to each edge that I clean forgot to add 4cm as specified, to the vent openings. Doh. I could kick myself. It doesn’t look so bad in the photos but I know that it isn’t created properly. It is intended as a ‘split’ but would have been so much neater with an interfaced proper allowance. So please remember to do this if and when you cut yours! I would even go as far as to make it a vent rather than a split. But that opens another can of worms with the lining!
The miniature pattern layouts indicate what pieces are to be interfaced with fusible interfacing. I did toy with the idea of sewing traditional interfacing. I liked the idea of employing some traditional skills but I agreed with myself that I was embarking on a big enough journey and that the fusible stuff would be just as good for what I was trying to achieve.
And so the interfaced pieces included: centre front; side front; outer collar stand; under collar; back facing; outer pocket flap; neck and armhole edge of centre back.
The main construction of the body came together very easily. Darts seams and pressing.
But then came my reality check. Welt pockets with flaps. Needless to say I practiced these before the real thing. You can see how I got on with this here. Well worth checking out YouTube or the Burda site for instructions. I challenge anyone to get the gist of welt pockets from the following instructions!! Or it could be just me!!
I am over the moon at how they turned out in the finished fabric. I don’t intend to put anything in the pockets, for goodness sakes, don’t want to misshapen them! But I am so proud when I slip my hand inside. Feels so special! And no one gets to see that lovely welt under the flap, except moi! Though I have pointed it out to a few of my friends who smile loyally with raised eyebrows!
Next up was the notched collar. This was actually not as scary as I was anticipating. I did pin and I did baste before stitching and it all worked out just fine. The stitches sank invisibly into the wool when I machined the seam so I didn’t want to risk having to unpick at any point! Neat trimming and clipping is essential and it is also important to take care when you ‘push out your points’ Very easy to push a pointed implement through the point of the lapel, (especially if you are using soft wool) and ruin everything. It’s worth being slow and patient with this part because it is such a lovely sharp feature. You’ll be really chuffed when it comes together at this point.
There was a suggestion to sew the pointed lapels to the underside of the collar to keep them in place but I didn’t really feel this was necessary for the weight of the fabric I used. I like being able to turn up the collar when its chilly!
Now shall we talk mitred corners? I’m so glad these were included. It makes so much sense and makes such neat corners. Nothing else will ever do from now on! Of course it goes without saying that you won’t survive with these instructions, especially if this is your first time…!
I mitred the sleeve vents and the back vent in the same way. Though I had created a bit of a monster on the back vent by forgetting the extra allowance. Please don’t forget this!!!
When I came to set in the sleeves I realised I had clean forgot a couple of notches. You will never work out how to inset those sleeves if you forget the notches, I can tell you. Mostly because I tried… and failed… 3 times!!! Till I relented and placed the pattern pieces over the made up sleeves and marked them.
Once I’d put the shoulder pads in, I tried it on and grinned from ear to ear. I was definitely on the home straight! But one niggling factor was that I didn’t like how the sleeve just ‘hung limp’ off the shoulder. I had heard mention of sleeve headings before but obviously never had to take full notice. So I found this little tute in my book Readers Digest: New Complete Guide to Sewing. This book has been so useful and really didn’t let me down this time.
Make a sleeve heading:
Cut 2 pieces of 3 x 5 in (7.3 x 12.5 cm) pieces of lamb’s wool, flannel, or polyester fleece. I had some leftover cotton flannel from my son’s pyjamas. Probably not as weighty or as poofy as lamb’s wool but it was better than nothing!
Make a 1 in (2.5 cm) fold on long side of each piece. How lucky is this. My fabric had 1 in square pattern!
Centre and pin heading to wrong side of sleeve cap with fold against seamline, wider half of heading against sleeve.
Whipstitch fold of sleeve heading to sleeve seamline. Heading now supports and rounds out sleeve cap.
The difference is subtle but is hugely important for my self satisfaction!
Before I lined the jacket I neatened and pressed all the seams. I did wonder if you have to neaten the raw edges, after all they wont show but I was worried about it fraying inside with wear and if it might eventually have a knock on effect to the seams coming apart. Probably over worrying but better to be safe than sorry was my own conclusion. But here presented my next concern. As much as I pressed this gorgeous wool, the seams would not lie perfectly flat throughout and I knew that would affect the overall shape and create a lumpy lining. And who would want lumpy lining?!
So I decided to stitch the seams down, like a good tailor lady. But hey! Guess what little tailoring trick was missing. NO UNDERLINING!!! Not that I have ever had to underline anything to date. But I have heard about it. I have wondered why you would want to but now it was blindingly obvious. My fabric was sturdy enough to live without it but how much easier would it have been to sew the seams down flat onto an underlining. I will definitely underline next time I make a jacket and I wholly advise you to do this even if you think your fabric is sturdy enough. It makes sense you know!! Fortunately my fabric was quite thick with a forgiving texture!
I found it was much easier to do, over my knee, whilst watching The Paradise! And also safer to stitch onto the interfaced pieces.
Hemming was easy with this fabric but be aware that a curvy hemline is naturally created with all those shaped pieces. To take in that excess fabric I just made a couple of tucks either side of the vent, symetrically positioned so that the finished shape was uniform. You’ll notice here that there is no evidence of interfacing. After I hemmed I remembered I was supposed to interface the hems. So I dutifully unpicked all that hand stitching, cut some strips of fusible interfacing, fused it on and re-hemmed. BUT do remember to interface the hem sections of your pieces from the start and NOT at this stage. You know it makes sense 😉
So then came the lining. I had pondered a silk lining but the lilac poly satin I found was so lush I looked no further. So long as you remember your ‘ease pleat’ in the centre back, you can’t go far wrong. I can’t give to much advice about this stage because I kind of winged it!!! But what I did remember to do was to push the lining up to the hemline of the outer fabric and roll it down over itself to create more ease and allow for shrinkage. Not that poly lining shrinks but I think its general practice! I did the same on the sleeves. I’m not sure I lined the vents on the sleeves properly but it works… of a fashion!
The buttons were a lucky find, though I was gutted I couldn’t find smaller coconut shell buttons. The two pictured here were way to big even for the front! So sparkly resin shank buttons it was. Lucky to find them in 2 different sizes at Shepherds Bush market. 20p each… a snip!
I created the buttonholes on the machine. Holding my breath as I did so. You know how it is. There’s always a chance of a wayward buttonhole! But next time I would love to try bound buttonholes. Karen did such a beautiful job with hers and I bet it feels far more special to button up with bound ones!
Well here ends my waffly post of niggles. I hope to have been of some help and not too much of a waffling bore!
I saw the pattern for this top in the May issue of Burda Style (2012) and it made the project list, even usurping the more ‘urgent’ projects! The back as you can see is fabulously buttoned all the way down which I love but have you ever tried buttoning yourself up back to front? I have got better with practice though, and I reckon I could give Houdini a run for his money now!
The fabric suggestion was for embroidered batiste. I didn’t have any of that to hand but knew the fabric had to be a little bit interesting to make the front not look so boring! I have a heap load of this white eyelet stuff in my stash. I thought it was cotton but when I did the burn test it proved not! I still thought it would be better dyed. I always feel a bit prim and proper in white! This is the result of using black dye on a not so totally natural white fabric…
I quite like how it turned out. The dye coverage is uneven, probably only colouring the small amount natural fibre content to get this linen look. And the embroidered detail, which I knew was synthetic, unsurprisingly remained white.
I went up a size from my usual, (given the few extra pounds that have decended upon me recently) but to be honest I probably needn’t have done. The style is very boxy even though it has front and bust darts. But it is very cool to wear, perfect for what appears to be our summer (not holding my breath) and perfect for teaming with pencil skirts for work.
So apart from taking it a size smaller the only other alteration I would make is to the neckline. The instructions were to sew the bias binding 1cm past the seamline. This struck me as a bit weird as it would have been easier not to have added a seam allowance in the first place, surely? Anyhows I sewed the bias binding ON the seamline…. afterall isn’t that what a seamline is for? It turned out ok, much like a vintage jewel neckline but I am going to try omitting the seam allowance next time, just to give a little more room to breathe!