so good, I made it twice

The skirt from Simplicity 2215.

simplicity2215_envelopeI originally bought it for the dress but then swiftly put myself in the Limbo of Hesitation. I didn’t feel like making a muslin and I was just stuck in a loop, fretting about the odds that the combination of the high neckline and voluminous skirt would make me the opposite of what the model in this linked photo is achieving. Because, moment of truth, I don’t strut into work with all the buttons undone, quite the opposite, so…

But that skirt.

I’m paraphrasing here, but it seems to me that I encountered this opinion in several places: “those asymmetrical pleats will change your perspective on pleats.” I wasn’t sure but I’m now totally on that bandwagon. I love them.

Skirt #1 with an unblogged Helmi blouse in black rayon

I had this beautiful floral fabric in my stash for a while now. The pattern’s too intense for me to dress myself in it head to toe, though I can’t get enough of those roses. I’ve used it in facings and pockets. It’s a pretty stiff (canvas?) second-hand find. And I think it was just the perfect pairing for this skirt pattern.

I had another well-loved remnant in my stash, from this dress. So I made another skirt.

Pattern: Simplicity 2215 view C; both skirts lengthened by 2.25″; black skirt squeezed out of a remnant due to which one pleat on the front and one pleat on the back were sacrificed but things worked out fine.
Fabrics: skirt #1 – mystery fabric (canvas?) bought second-hand; skirt #2 – remnant of the “Sprinkle” quilting cotton from Cotton and Steel
Notions: thread; skirt #1 – 7″ invisible zipper, navy single-fold bias tape for the hem, hook and bar; skirt #2 – 7″ lapped zipper, hook and bar
Seam finish, hems, etc.: skirt #1 – serged side seams, hem hand-sewn and finished with bias tape, waistband finished by hand; skirt #2 – serged side seams, double-turned handsewn invisible hem; waistband finished by hand
Fun fact: I went with one pocket in the right side-seam and am pleased; I worried it would feel asymmetrical but, no, it’s fine.

Verdict: another great simple pattern!

PS: I don’t think I can write much more about the Helmi blouse — not when I’m sewing it straight up from the pattern with only minor changes. This one was basically like the blue one construction-wise. It all started with these unusual buttons with a floral motif:


So I end with a prognosis: more Helmis to come and, possibly, more Simplicity 2215.

What patterns have you hooked?


‘there will be bulk’

That’s my alternative version of There Will Be Blood, in which Daniel Day-Lewis faces the harsh realities of sewing thick fabric. It could start with what he already knows: making shoes, striving to avoid unsightly heft and to maximize the comfort of the wearer. It would end with jeans and some heartfelt hammering of seams.

1070Somewhere in the middle I’d have DDL make the skirt from Simplicity 1070. I’d say, “Daniel, only I and a reviewer for Threads* have sewn the skirt from the pattern. Everyone else has opted for the jacket and the tops, so please consider what’s kind of insane about the skirt.” And I’d point to the ostensible pointlessness of inserting a zipper into a knit and fiddling about with interfaced facings and darts. But then I’d have him soldier on, much like I did, worrying mostly about the dreaded BULK at the waist.

He would do a great job, leaving everyone nonetheless in a state of puzzlement about the pattern’s mismatch between the recommended fabric (KNITS ONLY!) and a construction process that is really geared toward wovens.

I’m still in that state, even though I do like the finished skirt. The pattern was one of my mad sale purchases (it cost maybe $1.99?). Accidentally, a little out of my size range, because where my bottom departs from my top in the crazy, inexplicable Big Four sizing seems to be also their preferred splitting point between the smaller and larger sizes. Still no clue how to cut and fit the Big Four tops, but at least I know what I wear from the waist down.

Which was almost no help here because that was the size I didn’t have. So I embiggened the seam allowances, figuring that a pencil skirt best be baste-fitted before the final sewing anyway. As a result, I don’t know how what I cut relates to the sizing at all. The important thing is that it worked, and yes, I am able to sit in the skirt. I hadn’t thought to create photographic evidence of that, sorry. The closest are these shots of me holding up the living-room wall:

Steady there, wall.

I also chopped off some length, as you can see. I’m not convinced by the arguments in favor of mid-calf pencil skirts as being somehow the “correct” length. I enjoy not looking stumpy.

The fabric is a windowpane-patterned ponte from Jo-ann Fabrics. It caught my eye instantly, and that doesn’t often happen to me at Jo-ann. It’s a nice fabric, though a little on the thick side. Yes, things were getting bulky when it got to attaching the facings, because apart from the facings, there were also four darts and the zipper to contend with.

You can locate the front darts more or less in the photos above. And I invite you to spot the zipper and one of the back darts in the shot below:


My strategy for making things less bulky was the triad of grading seams, pressing, and praying that it all works out in the end.

The project came with some tough questions that neither the sparse pattern instructions nor googling answered for me. The crucial among them was: what needle do I use to attach the zipper? Do I hand-pick the zipper?

Well, YOLO, or Carpe diem! if, like me, you grew up in the olden days and watched Dead Poets Society unironically. I went for the universal needle and survived. And so did the ponte and the zipper. I didn’t much appreciate all the fiddling with the walking foot, then the two zipper feet, then back to the walking foot…

I was toying with the idea of a blind hem but in the end I decided to hem it even more invisibly, by hand.

Here’s what the inside of the skirt looks like… in a photo that looked less blurry when I checked before:


Another thing I spent precious time puzzling over was the chances of the waist stretching out immediately into an unwearable mess. The facings were interfaced with knit interfacing, but still… So before I tacked down the facings, I attached a strip of stay tape below the waist seam. Maybe that’s the real YOLO moment of this skirt?… Well, it’s snug but wearable now, though I wouldn’t wear it to a dinner probably.

Brainwave or mistake… brainwave or mistake?…

Serene hanger shots:

Verdict: don’t know yet. Time and fabric recovery will tell if it works. It looks good right now.

*Threads pattern reviews… They’re not really reviews, are they? They basically tell you how many pattern pieces there are and maybe also to be careful at certain points. But there is no criticism or even a hint of opinion in them, which is what I don’t really get. Still, thank you for making the skirt, Threads reviewer, you helped me decide to give it a go.

simple sewing

Through one of Hanne‘s regular link round-ups I stumbled upon this piece at Sewing on the Edge. Lots of food for thought there. Certainly, the more pattern pieces and seam lines, the more control over shaping we get… And yet there’s something about simple sewing — sewing simple pieces with minimal seaming and shaping — that is really, really exciting.

(my two Scout tees)

Simple sewing makes for a great break from more complicated projects, those you need to slow down on and take breaks from to think the details and fit through properly. And it makes for probably the best way to learn to sew and motivate yourself further. The Craft Sessions has a great series on simple sewing and Felicia’s tip on finding the right fabric is pretty crucial for success, I think.

Loose-fitting tees in nice fabrics are great addition to your wardrobe, at least to what you wear at home, if you’re not confident about this fit. Woven tees are a new thing for me and I’m still figuring out how I feel about them, though I can’t deny they’re growing on me.

My usual fabric choice for them is rayon — the drape makes them look less boxy  despite the simplicity of their shape.

Apart from the Grainline Scout tee (which is the only pattern so far that was a “straight out of the pattern envelope” make for me), I’ve tried Marilla Walker’s Maya top (that one took some modification) and the tee from Simplicity 1366.

(Maya top and Simplicity 1366)

As a break from the Peony dress, I whipped up another Maya:


(Maya 2, still unfinished in this photo)

Polka dot overkill? I’m not sure how I feel about this tee yet…

What about you? Do you like simple sewing?