Monthly Archives: February 2011


A little "mad scientist"?

While attempting to unearth my kitchen yesterday, I uncovered one of my (mercifully few) UFOs. Right after I finished the first circle-skirt, I had a vision of mini-wardrobe bliss and promptly printed and sewed up the lining for a Franzi vest. Which has been kicking around my computer/sewing desk ever since.

In hindsight I’m not sure why I did it, as I have a hard time styling vests at the best of times and while I’ve nothing against the menswear look, it’s not really what I was going for in my mini-wardrobe-headspace.

Anyway, since I was looking for a quick weekend project, I figured I’d finish it off and at least get it out of the kitchen. So I hunted down the pattern-pieces (hooray, cleanup!) and cut out the shell. I even took the time to mess around with a piped pocket, which is like a double-welt pocket but narrower. It worked, though the ends aren’t

Piped pocket

especially pretty. I remembered to face the back of the inside with my fashion fabric, though, so there won’t be a big gap of pocket-lining showing through. I used the last of the red piping (left over from the Ceylon blouse) around the neckline, too. I opted not to fold down the little lapel bit, as I didn’t really like the bright silver lining with this fabric. Black would’ve been better.

And the result is… well, a little meh.

The fit’s not horrible but it’s not perfect. The larger sizes of this vest have a

Burdastyle Franzi vest

dart in addition to the princess seam, but my size doesn’t; the additional shaping would’ve been a good idea. It’s a bit gapy at the armhole above the bust. I could’ve shortened a wee bit above the waist, too—I can tell from the way it feels, although it doesn’t show too much, I think. Of course I don’t have a buckle for the back belt, so I’ll have to hunt one down. I did a small swayback adjustment, basically just taking in the bottom of the CB seam a wee bit, which worked well.

It really needs a high-necked shirt underneath it, which basically means one of

Back view

my JJ blouses, and since the ruffles don’t really do any favours for anything you wear over top, that limits it to one of the non-front-ruffle versions. And the red in the piping doesn’t match the red in my red JJ, so it really only looks even half-ass good with the white-with-black spots JJ.

So, I dunno. Not awful but not great. In theory a vest would be nice to spice up an otherwise generic outfit, but since this vest really only works with one top in my wardrobe, it’s not going to be that versatile. And I don’t really like it with the matching circle skirt. Still, I suspect it’ll crop up in Me-Made March, at least once or twice.



Filed under Sewing

I hate style blogs. (Not really)

One of my favourite styles from Self-Stitched September

OK, hate is too strong a word. In fact, I very much want to like them. I know for a fact I’m not the be-all, end-all of fashion (not when I spend as many days as I still do in jeans and a knit shirt). I have things to learn, especially about not dressing like a teenager/skank/student/harried mom. Sometimes all four together, which is not the best look ever. (What’s worse is that I’ll end up dressing like a teenager from ten years ago. Fail.)

So. Style blogs. I’ve tried them, I really have. I’ve flipped through Already Pretty, Fashion for NerdsWhat I Wore TodayInside-Out Style (some great info on dressing for your body type there, which basically amounted to what I’ve already figured out by trial and error. Nice to have the backup on why, for example, I hate belted on me)…

And here’s the thing. With sewing blogs, if I see something I love, my first thought is—what pattern did she use? How hard would it be to knock it off?

All I think of when I’m reading style blogs is either a) not me (which could mean “not

my style” or “gorgeous but not going to work on my body”) or b) I want it! And in this second case, unlike the sewing blog, I can’t have it, because obviously it’s in someone else’s closet and I’m not buying RTW much these days anyway even if it’s still available in a country near me. And she definitely doesn’t have a helpful how-to on how she knocked off this Anthropologie-esque look

It’s almost as frustrating as when I used to read “women’s magazines” at the gym. This was pretty much the only point in my life I’ve actually read a women’s magazine, by the way. It didn’t do too much of a number on my body image—I was 23 and 115 lbs and going to the gym regularly enough that I was actually toned, what did I have to complain about—but it did leave me with the intense desire to shop. Especially bad since then, even more than now, the shopping budget was basically nonexistent. So I resigned myself to digging through the piles for the occasional copy of Newsweek or MacLean’s.

A fun photo

Which I guess is a roundabout way of saying that I find style blogs frustrating. Which isn’t fair at all to style bloggers, who I’m sure are lovely people just trying to share their wardrobe creativity with the world—which is what we sewistas are doing, too, in a slightly different way. But I feel faintly like I’m butting my head up against a wall—trying to take something away from the blog that isn’t actually there, or wanting something that isn’t really on offer.

I guess I’m thinking about this, too, because we’re on the cusp of Me Made March and my own blog is going to devolve, temporarily, into a rather lackluster version of a style blog, probably with far more jeans-and-random-knit-top than is strictly good for it. And it’s a good thing, because it will push me to wear more of my less-used clothes (Businesswoman Pants anyone?), and to find ways to be more creative with what I have. But it’s (at least potentially) a bad thing in that my “product”, which is sewing and yakking, will be at least somewhat changed to “styling and yakking,” with sewing interspersed.

I miss my lawn.

Looking back at these highlights of SSS makes me more excited for my impending style-bloggishness, but then these are my faves out of the whole month. On the other hand, I have a number of fun items I didn’t have before, at least some of which I need a little push to get me wearing.

Speaking of which, the Businesswoman Pants got their first out-of-the-house wearing ever today. Mostly because the button had come off and it took me this long to get around to fixing it. They were, I’m happy to report, deliciously warm, which is good considering the daytime high today was -23C (not including wind chill… and it was windy).

So what do you think about style blogs? Love ’em? Leave ’em? What am I not getting? What do you get out of them, if you do love ’em? (and what killer-awesome-knock-your-socks-off ones am I missing?)


Filed under Sewing

An edgy little vest


One cool kid.

Tyo wanted to make her Patrones vest out of the same fabric as her lounge-pants. This was not ideal, but when has an inappropriate fabric choice stopped us? 😉 So I interfaced the skull print pieces with an iron-on knit interfacing, used scraps of sweatshirt-knit left over from the Kimono Lady Grey for the rest, and went to town. Tyo did much of the cutting out, but I did all the sewing. Mostly because I haven’t done many shawl-collars and was kinda winging it and didn’t want to confuse her and screw her up. It was also my first time making a lined vest since learning about the trick where you sew the neckline and the arm-hole edges before the side-seams so you can pull them right side out without hand-finishing. So I wanted to try it myself. I did manage to sew one of the side-seams with the front twisted around the first time… have I mentioned how much I hate picking out serger seams? And I managed to pick out half the front princess seam first, by mistake. *head-desk*

I did a particularly poor job on the little belt at the back, which I really should have interfaced, too, but fortunately it really doesn’t show (it does need a buckle still, but anyway). I wish I’d had enough of the skull stuff left over to do the front side panels in it, too, but it was touch-and-go as it was.

A stylin' girl

Her one request (besides the fabric) was the little pocket inside the front. Just the right size for her MP3 player.

Other than the little belt, I think it turned out really cute!

Also, nothing like a quick before-bedtime photo-shoot to bring out the silliness:

Stylin' Syo

But the Badass Badguy takes her down!

Even bad guys like to chill with their tiger.

Just for the record, I’m pretty sure that’s the only toy gun we have in the house. Toy swords… plenty. Guns… not so much. We are not really gun people.


Filed under Sewing

A fifties colour scheme

Among its myriad of styling tips, the Madeleine Hunt Sew and Save volume also includes some suggestions on colour. Now, those of you who’ve been following me for a while may have noticed that my colour palette is a bit, ah, limited, and I generally eschew prints as well (excepting the odd plaid). I prefer my fabric interest in the form of texture… anyway. I could obviously use some help in this area, so I thought I’d reproduce it for you.

It begins with a segment on colour combinations. Some of the combinations are pretty obvious (navy, red, white, anyone?) but others are a bit more unusual, such as pairing pink with “wine”.

Basic Colours Contrasting Colours or trimmings
Pink White, blue, wine
Blue White, pink, navy
Yellow White, mauve, violet, black
Beige Tomato-red, black, green
Green White, rust, copper, black, mauve
Red White, navy
Brown Green, yellow
Rust Brown
Wine White, pink
Mauve White, light grey, light yellow
Purple White, orchid, grey, green
Navy White, red, pink
Grey Purple, darker grey
Black White, pink, rose, yellow

They also have a section on colour for your complexion—years before Color Me Beautiful! :

White—very good for young and old. If complexion is brick colour or blotchy, no! no!

Green—excellent for red-heads or blondes (lightens the complexion)

Red and yellow—for brunettes

Blue, light red, geranium, red with rose cast—best for blondes

Mauve, violet—very becoming for platinum blondes and the grey-heads.

Is it just me or are “light red”, “geranium” and “red with rose cast” not all variations on “pink”? Also, apparently blondes can wear anything. I guess blondes really do have more fun. (I have no idea what you’re supposed to wear if you have black hair. Sorry.)

The page finishes with these words of wisdom:

Colour suggests personality.

pink, blue, shell-pink, rose—denote daintiness. These colours suitable for baby garments, slips, blouses, dainty summer dresses, lingerie.

Jade green, orange, red, bright blue—denote vivacity, energy, force, joy. Good for sportswear, housecoats, also dresses.

Beige, brown, grey, purple, navy, black—denote dignity, serenity, seriousness.  Excellent for your best dress or suit. Select darker shades when clothes are to be worn a long time.  Brigh colours may be used for trimmings which may occasionally be replaced.

I must admit, the subtler points of many of these colours are lost on me (and I probably could’ve spent more time tweaking the shades for my examples 😉 ). What is shell-pink? or geranium? (My mom has a zillion geraniums but I could’ve sworn they flower in all different colours). “Wine” I can just about wrap my head around (though I would’ve said “burgundy”. And what’s the precise difference between mauve, violet, and purple?

What do you think of their colour combos? What’s your favorite colour combination?


Filed under Sewing

Skinny cargoes: a tale of obsession

We won’t go into the state of my house or how neglected my children are, all right? I promise I’ll stop. Ok, slow down. Real soon. Really, really, soon.

But in the meantime, while I was only planning to show you this:

A good start on the skinny cargoes

it turns out that I couldn’t tear myself away, and now I can show you this:

Skinny cargoes

Yup, they are finished. Pretty much. I’m still debating opening up the inseam again and adding topstitching all around the big cargo pockets. And there’s some issues with the topstitching around the top of the zippers having to do with me picking a crappy construction order and not noticing I grabbed separating, not regular, zippers.

Very, very skinny cargoes

Anyway, process, right?

As you may recall these pants were inspired by both Yoshimi and Amber’s recent takes on the skinny cargo. Amber, in particular, went into great detail on the construction of her knock-offs, and mine are essentially knock-offs of her knock offs.

I started, natch, with my particular version of the Jalie 2908 stretch jean pattern. Now, I feel a bit bad pimping this pattern (not that it’s a bad pattern, or doesn’t deserve pimping) because my version is distinctly altered. In particular, I went down a size, lowered the rise, darted the yoke, narrowed the leg to straight below the knee, and replaced the straight waistband with a contour one originally cribbed off the Ellen pants. Also added five inches or so of length, but that sorta goes without saying. So if you see my jeans and decide to order the pattern, well, you’ll have a bit of work ahead of you.

Anyway, I have previously produced at least four versions (for me) from this pattern, all of which are staples of my wardrobe (except for the capris, which I can’t wear right now due to weather, and the red-topstitched ones, which were out of commission after I pulled the pull of the zipper a month or so ago. I hate mending, but finally got to it earlier this week.)

Now, turning this jeans pattern into a skinny-cargo pattern required a bit of work. First

Skinny cargoes: rear view

off, as I traced out a version of my Jalie pattern, I had to figure out how to replace the yoke with a regular back with darts. I sorta winged this, and thanks to the mercy of stretch denim it seems to have worked. I also had to figure out how to reconstruct the front pocket area, but that was pretty straightforward. Then it was a matter of deciding where I wanted my seams to run (much referring to Amber’s post on the matter), hacking up this version of the pattern, labelling where I needed to add seam-allowances (not to mention up, down, inseam, and outseam), and re-tracing all my pieces with their proper seam allowances. Whew! I took the opportunity to incorporate my rear darts into the back seam, as well as adding a bit more butt-shaping, although I can’t really tell if that was successful as it is covered by the back pockets. I removed one cm off each side of each seam at the ankle, for a total of 8cm around the whole ankle, which made it pretty narrow, although I suspect I could still get my foot through without the zippers. The zippers make them VERY easy to put on and take off, though.

I can’t decide if having the pattern in so many itty bitty pieces saves fabric or not. Jeans are pretty economical at the best of times, so with the added fabric required for seam-allowances, maybe not.  Plus there’s those big pockets eating up fabric.

Because there were so many pieces and in particular the lower leg pieces are almost identical, I opted to cut and assemble the entire front and then the entire back. This is fine, except that I should’ve incorporated the side zipper in the lower leg into the original construction of the front instead of ripping out topstitching to fit it in later. But, we live and learn. Seeing as it’s only been a few days since I last installed a fly front zipper, I didn’t even need to look up the tutorial on it! It helps when you’re wearing jeans while sewing… I find I look down a lot to reference which side the stitching should be on ;). I opted to make the fly angular to echo the slanted hip pockets. Nothing to do with it being easier than a curve. Nothing at all.

Side-seam zipper

Once I had the front and backs assembled and topstitched, I had to do a bit of thinking. I couldn’t find a good reference on how to insert exposed zippers into a seam (though I didn’t look terribly hard). I decided for simplicity’s sake I wanted the zipper to fall in the front part of the pants, not straddling the seam evenly. Then I discovered that the cute little zippers with the nice little bauble at the end I picked up last weekend were, in fact, separating zippers.

I toyed with the idea of going back and getting different zippers, but I really like that bauble. I do wish these zippers came in silver (to go with my topstitching thread), but the selection at Fabricland is a bit limited. /sigh. Maybe I should’ve topstitched along the edges of the zippers, too? I think I was having topstitching fatigue by this point.

Because of the cargo pockets, I figured I needed to construct the outseam before the inseam. This is not as good for fitting as the reverse, but I was reasonably confident these would fit, due to the TNT pattern, so I went for it. The pockets were rather terrifying, I will say, especially getting them positioned and topstitched. Which is part of why I chickened out on most of the topstitching on the thigh pockets. We’ll see how much that irritates me in the days to come.

I almost always hit a point right before I’m able to try on a garment where I’m

You know black cargoes need biker boots and chain mail.

absolutely convinced it’s failed. It’ll be too big, too small, or just wonky looking. These were no exception—it was with immense relief that I wriggled into them the first time, discovered that the narrowed legs did indeed fit and that I could, in fact, zip up the zipper. Phew! This anxiety repeats again once I’ve attached the waistband. I tried a lighter waistband interfacing this time around, which was nice if only because it means I could make the buttonhole on the machine. On the upside, this iteration of the waistband is a nice width (some of my previous version were a little narrow) and doesn’t gape at the back. Yay!

Styling these is… interesting. My first effort, with the white cowl-neck top and the heels, is fine but a little, ah, mainstream? Doesn’t really feel like me. Nothing some biker boots and a little goth gear won’t fix. Ah, yes. Much better.


And I mustn’t forget to credit my delightful photographer:

Me and my photographer

In exciting men’s sewing news, my hubby has consented to having the shirt muslin finished for a comfy wear-around-the-house shirt, now that I’ve enlarged the collar. Which means I might actually get photos of it at some point… though probably not for a few weeks as he leaves tomorrow.


Filed under Sewing

The jeans of many sizes

Possibly subtitled “the best laid plans…”

Instructions: "Look cute."

In a fit of obsession yesterday afternoon, Syo and I decided to tackle her jeans. The project was simple; all the materials were on hand: one traced version of Jalie 2908, size K (aka 7); one metre of dark blue stretch denim; gold jeans topstitching thread, and a little metal zipper.

The pattern is the same size I traced out for Tyo’s jeans last spring, which she had outgrown by August. Syo is now wearing these jeans, quite comfortably, so I was feeling pretty confident about the fit. They would probably be a bit long, but otherwise shouldn’t be problematic.

Syo required only one, simple alteration. Tyo’s jeans had been flares, the pattern’s basic shape. Syo’s must be skinny. Yes, my seven-year-old is much more on-trend than my ten-year-old. Which probably says everything you need to know about their respective personalities. So I measured what seemed like a reasonable distance out from the midline of each ankle, drew a line that angled out to the knee, and we folded the pattern in along that line. Just in case Syo wants a pair of flares in the future (not likely, but this is how I roll). Oh, yeah, I double-checked my reduced width with the circumference of her pointed foot, to make sure she could still get her feet through. All seemed good, so we set to cutting it out.

Syo really wants to be able to sew. And cut out fabric. Unfortunately, the fabric shears

The back

are still too big for her little hands. This didn’t stop her from doing her best with the embroidery scissors on the pocket lining, and she actually did an excellent job, but man, it took forever.

Pocket closeup, with fancy stitching.

After much discussion, we settled on stars for the back pockets. The first pair I made Tyo has stars on the back pockets (stars are nice and easy to embroider on stretchy denim when you don’t have an embroidery machine and are too lazy to stabilize your fabric).

This is the first pair of jeans I’ve made since I got my serger back in order, so it was my first chance to remember to serge seams after sewing, but before  topstitching. I mostly managed this. (Note: this pattern only has 1 cm seam-allowances, so you need to serge without cutting anything off or your second row of topstitching may not catch the seam-allowance.)

I like the Guterman jeans thread; it’s not as heavy as their topstitching thread, so

Side view

doesn’t require dirty tricks to get the upper tension high enough on my machine. Still, I can tell that my newish Janome doesn’t quite have the balls of the Grand Old Dame when it comes to stuff like this. The Dame would eat projects like this for breakfast—the Janome I have to baby along here and there. And this is with really thin denim.

I only hit one hitch in the construction, when I realized I’d cut the size Q back yoke (my size) rather than the size K. I think the size K yoke piece may have evaporated… oops. Another reason why I love tracing my patterns. However, I was pretty sure the outer width of the yoke was pretty close, so I just trimmed the wide, inner portion to fit. If there is any actual difference in the size, it’s well within my usual cutting-inexactitude; the side pieces went together just fine.

Calf detail

Oh, yes, and I added in a detail on the back lower legs ripped off from some RTW skinny jeans owned by one of Tyo’s trendier friends: basically a long, thin topstitched dart with a stud at the top of it, forming a very small amount of shaping below the calf. I keep meaning to do this on jeans for myself, but forgetting as it has to be done quite early in the process. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, though, though I suspect my studs are not perfectly aligned.

With the aid of Debbie Cook’s tutorial, I once again achieved near-perfect fly insertion. I actually had double-sided wonder-tape to use to stick the zipper down this time, and it was very nice indeed, although using pins instead really isn’t that terrible either. I did manage to put it in backwards (so girl-version, as opposed to boy/jeans version), but in my defense this is because I was matching the topstitching direction of the crotch to the one I’d already done on the rear of the pants, and I find it pretty much impossible to think that far ahead. The moral of this story is that I should probably construct the jeans front and fly before the back.

My straight-stitch topstitching is getting so good!

Fly... almost perfect.

My around-pocket and around-fly stitching… not so much. Perhaps I am sloppy because they’re for the kid… I’d like to think I wouldn’t wear such shoddy work.

I can’t promise anything, though. I’m pretty lazy about un-picking.

I sewed up the outer sideseams, and Syo came to try them on…

and they were HUGE.

Now, I don’t want to repeat my mistake with Tyo and make pants she’ll outgrow in three months. But these are supposed to be skinny jeans, not tapered-but-baggy jeans. I took in the side-seams by a cm on each side (so 2cm off each leg).

Better, but not perfect. Take another cm off. Hrrm. Well, maybe that’ll do. Keep in mind this is the same pattern as the other pair she’s wearing that are actually getting a wee bit tight. The only thing I can think of is that the first pair shrunk, which isn’t impossible, but I have a pair of my own out of the exact same “denim” that I’m still wearing just fine, and I promise you I definitely haven’t shrunk.

CB belt loops. Can you spot the booboo?

Putting waistbands on kids jeans is so much more relaxing than putting the waistband on a pair for me. For one thing, I use the pattern’s straight waistband piece, instead of my own contour band (coopted from the Ellen pants, if you must know). I also didn’t bother with interfacing. The only thing to remember was to put in buttons and buttonholes for the attaching of the buttonhole elastic. I did have one problem with the sizing, as my waistband wound up being too short to centre the CB seam on the back and cover the fly-extension. Maybe I’m doing something wrong with the fly extension, although what I end up with seems to be the same as what I see on my storebought jeans, so I don’t know what. Rather than fuss around, I gave in and put the CB seam of the waistband about an inch off of the true CB seam. It’s a problem, but it’s mostly covered by the belt-loops anyway.

Her coolest pose.

Finally, all that was left was to hem them to an appropriate length. This is always dicey with children, and skinny jeans are even worse than flares in this department. In the end I opted for a length that would be floor-brushing in socks if they weren’t being pulled up by the front of her feet, and just folded the excess 2″ of fabric under, topstitching three times to make sure it’s well in place (this mimics the three rows of topstitching on the top of the pockets, so it’s a design feature, right?). In theory this means that when she hits her next growth spurt and grows three inches by summer, I can let out the excess length. In practice, we know this’ll never happen, but hey, allow me my fantasies, all right?

Also, Syo was very helpful in the hammering of rivets, and only hit my thumb once. And Steph, the awl from your sharp and pointy giveaway kit is divine. How on earth did I live without it?

So that’s one more project down on the “madly off” list. Which leaves, mainly, shirts for my hubby and those skinny cargoes! If I can get the neck alteration figured out for the hubby’s shirt before he abandons me, I can putter away at that until he gets back. And I think I’ll take a stab at the drafting for the cargoes this weekend, if I can find paper I like for it. I’d rather use craft paper than tissue paper for stuff like this.


Filed under Sewing


Circle skirt, take two

I did it again.

Yup, despite deadlines and a myriad of other things I should be working on, I finished the corset-waist circle skirt. (Sorry, Liza-Jane… I promise I’ll get to those skinny cargoes soon!)

I used the Ceylon midriff pieces as my basis for the “corset” portion, with, obviously, a fair bit of alteration: I put the centre-front on a fold, added a sinuous side-front seam, and completely forgot to allow for overlap in the back, which is now the opening portion. Fortunately, the amount of ease you need in a blouse is considerably more than what works for corset-style waist panels, so there was plenty of room for overlap. I made my lining piece first, out of a sturdy cotton ex-curtain also used here, adjusted the fit on that, and went from there. I added notches to all the tops of pieces, which made it much easier to keep track of how they should go together.

Side view

I piped the seams on the corset portion, using a narrow off-white piping from one of my thrift store scores. Unfortunately, I only had the one packet of this and, although I measured my seams first, apparently I screwed that up royally because I didn’t have enough left for the bottom seam. So I waffled a bit and ended up adding this home-dec trim from my stash. In the past I’ve always stitched this trim on by hand, but I was lazy and machined it this time. I can’t say that I notice a difference, even from up pretty close, except perhaps that my positioning isn’t quite as exact as it might have been.

I mentioned before, I elected to use snaps as the closure here. Time will tell as to the wisdom (or folly) of this decision. Way back when I was sewing the original circle skirt, I had posted a question on PatternReview about how to insert the zipper. I got great answers, but also the suggestion of a snap-placket as a vintage-style alternative. So I determined I would give it a try on my next circle skirt.

Now, I will say, the snap-placket would have worked better in a thinner fabric. This wool is quite heavy, more of a coat weight than a suit weight, and getting even the most heavy-duty snaps through multiple layers of it was a pain in the ass. And a double-fold bias strip of the wool (so that’s like five layers!) is really, really bulky. That being said, I really like the idea, and will try it again in a more summery fabric. On the up-side, because I was using snaps, when I discovered on first try-on that there was way too much ease in the “corset” portion to hold it in place properly, it was easy to run another row of snaps up further in, instead of having to pick out and adjust piped seams or, worse, a zipper.

Snap placket (top portion). I painted the snaps with matching nail polish.

I don’t know that the snaps are ideal for the “corset” style either, though, as due to the small amount of ease they’re under a lot of strain. For now they seem to be holding—they are heavy duty, after all—but I’m not convinced they’ll make it in the long run. We’ll see. Converting it to a laced closure or something at some point would be a pain in the butt, but not impossible, I guess. (Note to self… hang on to some of those scraps in case you need a modesty panel for behind the lacing…)

As I mentioned before, I opted to pass on boning mostly as I’m too lazy/disorganized to procure any (or cable ties, either, as Ms. Slapdash so smartly pointed out). I used hair-canvas interfacing, hand-basted in place, with the “hairs” running vertically in at least some of the pieces (read: the ones where I remembered). This makes the waist nice and firm, but I can see that I might keep a smoother line longer with boning. Again, not impossible to add later if I feel the need…

So now we come to the hem. I was quite happy with my experiment with horsehair

Hem interfacing... bound and circled

braid last time, but as I mentioned before it’s a bit tricky to source locally and I’m (again) too impatient/disorganized to order online. Not saying I never will, but not for this project. So, since I still have plenty of hair-canvas kicking around, I decided to give bias interfacing a try. I measured and cut three-inch bias strips of the hair canvas. I will say, cutting bias strips out of hair canvas is much less annoying than out of regular fabric—it’s nice and stable and hardly skids around under your pencil at all. I then sewed the pieces together into a long strip (and managed to only sew two pieces on wrong-way round 😉 ) and ironed to “circle” it—just pulled it into a curve while ironing. The stuff goes incredibly soft under the seam-iron, but firms up again perfectly when it cools, which is mostly nice but can be a little tricky. I then stitched some ready-made bias-tape along the inside edge of the “circle”, stretching the bias as I went. I picked this yellow because it was the only colour I had enough of other than red. I love red, but it wouldn’t really go with this project. Cream would’ve been perfect, but I didn’t have any. (if I had, I would’ve turned it into piping for that last corset seam, anyway). And where else am I going to use six yards of yellow bias tape, anyway? (this is another of those thrift-store “scores”)

Finished hem

So now I had my interfacing ready, I basically followed the rest of Gertie’s tutorial for applying horsehair braid. The only trick was to make sure to remember to start with the seams in my bias interfacing facing up, so that when flipped to the inside they’d be hidden. Ironing the hem down once it was flipped was in some ways easier than with the horsehair braid—the hair canvas won’t melt under the iron—but in other ways harder, as the hair canvas gets really soft when ironed and I had to be careful that the seam allowances weren’t getting folded and crunched. Still, with a bit of care and pinning, I got it all folded over and steamed so that the upper and lower seams were about the right circumference.

I opted to hand-stitch the hem this time, rather than topstitching, which worked

Full skirt!

reasonably well and only took two TV shows. I’m sorely tempted to run a band or three of the same trim from the waist around the edge, but that might be a bit over the top and would take a lot more of the trim than I have kicking around. We’ll see, I suppose. 😉

So this project fits with my “spring palette,” which isn’t a formal part of the Colette Spring Palette Challenge, but is in line with a palette that I’ve been playing around with intermittently for a while now. As is demonstrated by the colour scheme of this entire website ;). The main colours are cream or ivory and a muted, dusty blue (sometimes veering towards a pale aqua), but this light, dusty purple fits right in as well. It’s not far off Sunni’s palette of choice, either, although I don’t know that I’ll be incorporating her caterpillar green ;).

Back view

I absolutely love the skirt with this blouse, though I’m thinking I’m a little old for the sheer-blouse-over-bra look. Still, fun for a photo shoot, anyway. I’ve been keeping my eyes open at the thrift store for a perfect pair of ivory shoes to go with this palette, but nothing’s really thrown itself at me yet. Light-colour shoes get banged up and turn drab so quicky, I may need to hunt around new-shoe stores… though I hate to buy new a pair of shoes just for taking photos in… /sigh.

The back closure wound up a bit bunchy, partly because of the incredible thickness of the snap placket in the skirt part, and partly because of the overlap where I readjusted the size (which i why the snaps are closer to the left-hand line of piping, not centred between the two). As I don’t have to look at it, I’m not bothered by it ;).

As to whether heavy wool belongs in a “spring” palette… well, as far as I’m concerned skirts of any kind are spring wear. Heck, anything that isn’t quilted down is spring wear. So there. 😉

Oh, yes, and since some people like to see what they look like without the fluffy petticoat underneath:


Sans petticoat

Here you go. In this particular (heavy) fabric, with the interfaced hem, it’s actually not a striking difference. I have noticed one thing about wearing the petticoat, however—it makes a skirt much warmer, as its fluffiness fills in that air-space between legs and skirt remarkably effectively. Still not as warm as pants, but much better than a skirt without petticoat.

Next up: probably Syo’s skinny jeans. Poor kid seems to have the virus Tyo had last week, although her symptoms are totally different. Those of you with children, do you ever find that? Even when we had swine flu last year, Tyo and their dad had one distinct set of symptoms, while Syo and I had another. Yet I’m sure it was the same virus—their entire school was decimated for about two weeks. Although it would be nice if I could get the alterations figured out on my sweetie’s shirt this weekend, before he goes away… I could then present him with a completed shirt or two when he gets back. (Yes, I’m going to be single-parenting for a full two weeks! Wish me well… I’ve never had to do this before. Usually it’s me bopping off and leaving him with the kids…). Also I should really make another pair of jeans (or those cargoes 😉 ) before March kicks in…


Filed under Sewing