A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be one of the attendees at this year’s Sewing Weekender in Cambridge. I’m still pulling together my thoughts on the weekend (organised by The Fold Line and English Girl at Home) in general, but today I’d like to share with you one of the projects I made during the weekend.
This project is the first of my autumnal makes for this year, and it came about through the generosity of Sarah (www.likesewamazing.com), who contacted me a few weeks before the event asking whether I’d like to do a guest blog and use some of her supplies for my Sewing Weekender project.
Well obviously I wasn’t going to say no to this lovely offer, as Sarah has some amazing fabrics in her shop, but I was a little stumped as to what to make. The problem I had was that I knew that it was time to switch to autumnal makes, but Sarah got in touch literally as we were queuing up to board the plane to Italy, about to spend 2 weeks in ridiculously high temperatures. My brain just couldn’t handle autumn sewing plans, so I asked for some suggestions.
I am so glad I did! Sarah suggested that some chunky bottle green cord she had in would work well with my colouring, and might make a really good Cleo or Arielle (both Tilly patterns). I was originally thinking Cleo but then, when it arrived, it just had to be a skirt somehow.
Enter Arielle. I’ve actually had this pattern in my stash for a couple of years and I don’t quite know why it hasn’t got to the top of the queue? I love its asymmetric front fastening detail and all those lovely buttons.
Because I hadn’t made it before, I did a quick toile in the week before the Weekender. I graded between a 4 on the waist and a 5 on the hips and I’m really glad I went to the effort of toiling. The toile showed that, as drafted, the skirt would be too tight on the hips, loose on the waist and the hem wouldn’t be level at the back.
To fix all of these problems, I made a few changes.
- I increased the size of the back waist darts to bring the waistline in to the small of my back whilst making sure the side seams remained vertical
- I reduced the seam allowance to 3/8″ instead of 5/8″
- I added 2″ to the length all over (again, when Tilly says short, she means short!)
- I added 2cm to the centre back seam.
The last adjustment was winging it slightly; I’d not seen this done on a skirt piece before, but I reasoned that the unlevel hem was for the same reason my trouser waistbands normally dip in the middle; my bum’s quite large! And thankfully, it seems to have worked!
The cord fabric is absolutely beautiful; the colour is gloriously rich, and the hand is great. As it’s cord it needs to be cut out as you would for a directional print; to cut efficiently, instead of cutting the back piece on the fold, I simply created a pattern piece for the whole back skirt and then was able to lay everything out carefully on the single layer piece of fabric. I managed quite easily to get everything out of the 1.2m of fabric Sarah sent me, transferring the marks with tailor’s chalk.
Because this is definitely a cold weather skirt, I went for a full lining; I chose a plain poly lining in black. I didn’t get chance to cut this out beforehand, but cutting it on the floor in Cambridge didn’t take long at all.
Despite the ample distractions of the Weekender (i.e. all the lovely people I was sitting with and the chance to chat about sewing and life in general whilst actually sewing), I made pretty good progress and by Sunday morning I just had the buttonholes, buttons and hem to finish.
Oh, those buttonholes! With hindsight, I should have realised that my fairly temperamental machine and 6 buttonholes were perhaps not the greatest combination known to man! However, with rather a lot of swearing and several instances of unpicking and starting again, I ended up with 6 pretty even, very presentable buttonholes and a machined hem by mid morning. At which point, I decided to call it quits and sew the buttons on by hand at home.
I’m pretty delighted with the finished skirt and so grateful to Sarah. Without her prompting I would possibly not have gone for this very beautiful, very wearable plain coloured cord and I definitely wouldn’t have thought of the neglected Arielle pattern waiting in my stash. And yet together, they’ve combined to create a garment which is totally me and which will definitely see a lot of wear over the coming months.
So the moral of the story is, if in doubt, ask Sarah what you should make; her impeccable taste is clearly the magic ingredient here!
Thanks very much Sarah; and autumn, I’m ready for you!