Tag Archives: circle skirts

Hallowe’en (Epilogue)

Y’know, that slow bit after all the exciting stuff, only read by the true fans who love the characters more than they love good storytelling? That’s kinda how I feel posting this so long after Hallowe’en, when all the excitement, and even most of the candy, is long gone.


Regardless, because it’s my blog and I’ll blog late if want to ;), here’s some quick and not terribly organized glimpses of my Hallowe’en outfit. It’s not really a costume since I’m not actually anything in specific, but I still had a lot of fun making it and wearing it. Even if I did work the whole damn day AND evening so the only pictures I got were crappy bathroom mirror pics and staffroom selfies. I am obviously not a real “Millennial;” I suck at selfies.


Man I miss my basement-bedsheet-photo studio! These days even if I might have time to take some decent pics it’s a gamble whether I’ll even be able to FIND my tripod, and that doesn’t even address the complete lack of any thing approaching appropriate space in our current home.


You can’t have a circle skirt without a petticoat (ok, I can’t, anyway), so of course I had to make a crinoline. As it turned out, I had to make two—the neon green tulle one I made first was, unsurprisingly, woefully inadequate. So I pulled out the black crinoline fabric and ribbon I bought last spring to make a black petticoat, which worked really nicely, although I fear it’s more costume-grade pouf than everyday pouf. I may have to make another, not-so-fluffy one for every day wear. Which means I’ll have four crinolines to store. My husband may leave me, just so you know.


Also, no circle skirt is complete without horsehair braid. I covered the join in a scrap of my fashion fabric, which, if you can’t tell, was an awesomely over-the-top acid-green taffeta with black spiderweb flocking. Don’t ask me why it needed to be a circle skirt, but can you really imagine it being anything else? Short of a complete eighteenth-century ballgown, anyway. That would also be awesome.


I constructed my circle skirt EXACTLY the same as my old grey one, even using the same waist template from Elegant Musings. This is the facing for the slit I made for the not-invisible zipper.


Of course poodles are traditional for circle skirts, but this one had to have a spider. I wish I’d had enough of my green thread to go around the applique a second time so the black edges didn’t stick out—I wasn’t really thinking about that when I bought my thread and only got an itty bitty spool. I used a supplementary (acid-green) cord of embroidery floss under the zig-zag to give it a bit of dimension, and because, ah, the manual for the Rocketeer (on which I sewed all of this) suggested it. I love the little techniques old manuals suggest. Although somehow they never mention all the massive amounts of actual skill it takes to use most of these techniques. So, y’know, your black velour fabric doesn’t stick out on the wrong side of your zigzag.


I used a skirt hook and a thread-chain loop. We’ll pretend this was a couture touch, and not because I couldn’t find a bar to match my hook. It needs a second hook & bar, too… I confess day of I just used a safety pin. Do you see how wide that waistband is, by the way? I think it was around three inches, finished. Which pretty much brings the top of the waistband right to my underbust. Fortunately I’m fairly cylindrical in that area, so I can get away with a straight waistband rather than a contour one.


Because I’m bored of detail shots, here’s a slightly naughty pic of my layered petticoats. You can see clearly the sheer inadequacy of the green one (sheer… snork… see what I did there? hyuk, hyuk.), but the black filled it out nicely and the green was still a nice touch of colour.


And this eye-searing green is actually the little tank-top I made to wear under the black lace blouse. I used my brand-spanking-new walking foot to sew it, and while I don’t sew enough spandex to really compare, it sure handled it nicely. I didn’t get any actual shots of the tank-top, (I used my old pattern… the real miracle is actually that I FOUND all these old pattern pieces), without the ruching, of course, but it went together fairly nicely until I got to the straps. They are ugly. But I can always cut them off and do better at some point, I suppose, and they weren’t exactly a prominent part of the costume. I cut out bikini bottoms at the same time, should I someday wish to own an acid-green tankini.


I decided, rather belatedly, that what the ensemble really needed to finish it off was yarn falls. Pushes it a bit into anime territory? Anyway, it only took me three different yarn shops to find what I was looking for, which turns out to be 100% wool superwash, whatever that is. It certainly was warm, and the texture was great, although a bit fluffier would’ve been nice. These are ridiculously easy to make, just cut a bunch of lengths and tie them on to a hair elastic. I’ve been trying to look up the knot I use but I can’t seem to find it…


Oh, look, here you can actually see me edging the applique! (which I adhered with Steam-a-Seam, by the way) I forgot I took this one. I’m using the “Special Purpose Foot” on the Rocketeer, which has a little piping-hole. It seems like a really flimy, cheap little foot, but I guess it’s held up for fify-some years already, so it can’t be too bad. It worked fine, anyway.


The blouse was made out of a spiderweb lace. This pattern, McCall’s 6467 (view D), was not the best choice. WAY too many seams, all of which had to be finished super-neatly, in this soft, floppy, annoying-to-sew lace. Of all the frilly blouse patterns I possess, why did I pick this one? *headdesk.* To make it worse, the pattern had hella crazy ease and I did not want it to be a sack on me (the way it looks on the envelope model). I made the size 8, a full two sizes smaller than usual. I went a little easy on my usual bodice shortening because of this, but apparently not easy enough because I had to cut down under the armpits to make it fit. In the end it looked fine and the sizing was about right, but it really wasn’t the best pattern for the job. And did I mention that’s a lot of annoying seams to sew in an annoying fabric?

Ah, well. Deep breaths. A week later, it’s all water under the bridge, right? It was a really fun outfit when it was all put together, and I have at least a couple of pieces that will (maybe?) be useful in the future.

Hope you had a scary Hallowe’en!




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

Swirly girly

Oops, I made it instead

Erm, yeah, so that’s a circle skirt.

You may, ah, notice that it’s not that yummy purple fabric I showed earlier in the week. I chickened out. This doesn’t logically add up—2 meters of that purple stuff cost me $4 at the thrift store, whereas this stuff I originally bought for my Lady Grey muslin was at least $5/m. I still like the purple stuff more. Also I can’t get more of the purple, whereas every single Fabricland I’ve visited in the last six months (in two provinces) has bolts of this grey stuff in their clearance section. Apparently it did not sell well. At any rate, it seemed like a good vehicle on which to practice my circle-skirting techniques. It’s actually a really nice herringbone wool, suit weight, with this weird, sparkly black swishy pattern printed over top in what feels like latex paint.

Actually, it seems perfect for a circle skirt. Sedate but with a bit of fun—just like the skirt.

As per expectations, the waistband at the waist

Tucked in shirt: meh

looks terrible. You will not see how bad it is because I’m only going to show you  the “Pamela Anderson” pose: shoulders straight on, pelvis twisted to the side. Really I should call it the Egyptian pose, as I think they had it figured out a few thousand years earlier, but anyway. It emphasizes bust, minimizes the waist, and shows off your butt. Check out the magazine rack next time you’re at the grocery store, I’m pretty sure you can find an example or three.

Note the interesting hang of the folds

However, it does look pretty cute with a hip-length top over it, so I can style it that way. And I’m thinking a Franzi vest might complete the ensemble. Actually, I can envision a bit of a capsule wardrobe happening (that’ll be a first!) involving this fabric and the grey pinstripe I made my Businesswoman Pants out of. It might require me to buy more of this weird fabric if I want to both make the vest and finish the Lady Grey muslin. We’ll have to think on that.

As to the skirt itself—easy peasy. My fabric was 60″ wide (just shy after I steam-shrunk it), just enough to cut the entire thing in one piece. I used Casey’s 50s circle skirt tutorial, which provides you with a lovely pattern for the different waist sizes that runs quite true, though I’ll note that my size, 28″, is the second-largest. Oh, those 50s wasp-waists. The waist pattern is slightly squared off, which changes the hang of the circle skirt slightly: it hangs more straight at front and back (and sides, I suppose), with somewhat more folding at the front and back hips. This looks nice, and might even help minimize the bias-stretch since if you cut an even circle those bias areas will be a smidge shorter.

Using a single piece for the skirt is lovely and simple, but

Don'tcha love the full circle?

does complicate inserting the zipper. The tutorial is not particularly helpful in this case—it simply says “follow the instructions that come with your zipper.”

The outside of my hand-picked zipper. Not perfect but reasonable.

Which would’ve been fine if I’d, y’know, remembered I was using a vintage zipper—probably not quite as old as the skirt, but still—that actually *came* with packaging and instructions. Duh. Once I opened it up and looked through them (and posted piteously on Pattern Review—thanks for the helpful responses!), it became clear that I should do a facing around a narrow slit, and then attach the zipper as usual. Well, as usual as zippers ever get for me, anyway. I also LOVE the suggestion of doing a snap-placket, similar to the continuous-lap placket in a blouse sleeve. I’ll try that on the next one. I machine-stitched the ziper to the facing but hand-picked to the outside. It seems to have worked reasonably well. I still need to stitch a hook and bar onto the waistband, but we needn’t dwell on such trivialities here. 😉

Oh, and I should probably show you a back view:

Back view

When I went to measure to hem it today, I trimmed down the length of the front but not the back. It doesn’t seem to have stretched much on the bias at all, although the sides were for some reason distinctly shorter than the front and back. I trimmed down the front half of the circle to match the side length, but left the back, as even I have enough booty to make it appear shorter at the back. Probably it doesn’t look as perfectly even as it could (still a bit short at the back, actually) but, y’know, whatever.

The horsehair braid was fun, despite the fact that I couldn’t find any as yummy and wide as Gertie’s (as it was it took me two different Fabriclands to find the 1″ width). I followed her tutorial quite closely anyway, and managed not to singe off my fingers or melt the nylon braid, so life is good—but I I would still have preferred wider braid. Ah, well. Time to start hunting for an online source, I guess.

Horsehair braid---sadly I could only find up to 1" thick

Oh, and I recently splurged on a point-presser/clapper, urged on by MPB’s list of “tools you won’t want to be without” (relatively few of which I actually own). And, y’know, it’s awesome. I used the clapper-part like crazy in the making of this skirt and I am truly impressed by how much it improves the edge of the press. Who knew? (Okay, I know the rest of you knew already… these things I tend to have to figure out for myself.)

So now I am working on a vest to go with this, assuming that will work out and not just look funny, and I may nibble on that mini-wardrobe-capsule (that’ll be a first!) as well, assuming I can find the stamina to tackle another Lady Grey. I tried the skirt with my grey blazer, though, and it looks like crap—it needs something with a flared peplum, or at least a much shorter one. You can see all the photos here.

For the next circle skirt (the purple), I want to do a yoke of some kind, maybe princess seamed, so I don’t have that awful waistband right at my waist. But that requires a bit more fitting and I haven’t quite gotten that far yet…


Filed under Sewing

I want horsehair braid.

In real life, this is another muted purple. Apparently my lighting completely fails to capture this colour.

I think this is the fabric that will become my first skirt for the petticoat. It’s a thrift-store find, yummy purple herringbone wool (I seem to be on a purple kick here.) But now, ah, now I am torn. So many decisions. Do I want to cut the skirt in a single piece? Do I want to try and have front and back seams on the bias, matching the herringbone? How will I mark the hem before I hem it? How do I want to hem it? Narrow hem, hem facings… horsehair braid. Sigh. I want horsehair braid. I haven’t seen it at Fabricland but it’s certainly possible I missed it.  I *really* love the look and hang of the skirts I’ve seen (pictured) using this. Second best, I guess, would be a hem facing, but it always seems like that would just take up an obscene amount of additional fabric. And then there’s a lining. I really don’t have anything on hand that would work. Do I need a lining for a skirt I’m going to put a petticoat underneath? Maybe I don’t.  Will I ever want to wear the skirt without the petticoat? Doubtful. I much prefer how they look with some pouf. Grum, grum.

On the Men’s Shirt Sewalong front,

Left, woven-stripe cotton; right, black flannel.

I have two fabrics picked out and pre-washed, though I suspect the flannel, at least, should be washed a couple more times to make sure all that pesky shrinking is taken care of (I hear flannel’s a progressive shrinker.) Both of these fabrics are black*, and by some miracle I managed to capture the texture, if not the colour, of both. The woven-stripe stuff on the left would appear much smoother if it were ironed, but to be honest, my inclination to iron my hubby’s shirts is about on par with my inclination to run a marathon. I keep thinking that it would be a worthy goal, but there are far too many more immediate and rewarding things to spend my time on. Fortunately his work supplies his uniforms, so any clothing I make will just be worn to and from work and around the house, so a slouchy, casual shirt is fine (Yes, I will press while sewing, I promise. Just maybe not ever again, after). I will make my first try from the black flannel, as it was significantly cheaper.

Butterick 3364

I’m thinking I will go with view A for the first shirt after all, as I think the seaming would spice up an otherwise terribly plain shirt. Also I noticed some hand-topstitching on a male co-worker’s shirt (anyone else in this sewalong, are you ogling menswear around you as badly as I am?) today that looked really nice. If it turns out well I might consider something like that—again, it could be a subtle way to jazz up the flannel without trying to appear formal.

I guess I should really get on, y’know, tracing the darned pattern before I get too far ahead of myself, eh?

And on that note, what I thought was going to be a super-quick fabrics post turned into half a book, so I’ll end it here.

*here’s the problem. My hubby, the light of my life, a funny, insane, delightfully stylish man, wears only three colours. Black, white, and denim**. Occasionally a small amount of red or purple, as an accent, is tolerable. Although he really doesn’t like red. He doesn’t even wear grey.

**for him, this is a colour.


Filed under Sewing