Lately I have had so much more energy given that I slept every night for almost three weeks straight (then totally forgot that I was all out of sleepers last night and surprise, surprise I am still awake at 7am) I decided it was time to use some of the fabric stash Lady Demelza grabbed for me & the girls to play with and try my hand at a pencil skirt. The instructions I found online seemed easy enough and I really thought going it without a pattern shouldn’t be too hard….right?
For the first try I decided to use some lovely navy-blue-with-polka-dots jersey I had lying around. I figured with the stretch I could avoid learning how to insert a zipper and just pull it on. I followed this high waisted pencil skirt tutorial on youtube. Of course I didn’t have pattern paper…just regular A4 (I hit up the massive box we have where all our wrong printing goes…so recycling…sort of). I figured that would be fine…all I had to do was tape it all together into a big sheet. Except we didn’t have any tape. So I got out the stapler…of course it kept jamming. Then I dropped it on the floor and the bottom part snapped off. I wasn’t off to a good start. Eventually after much frustration I had my big sheet of paper, took my measurements and attempted to follow the tutorial. I didn’t quite follow and I ended up with 4 pieces with the hip curve instead of just the two edges – grrr. Then I discovered I hadn’t left a seam allowance. As I had a limited amount of this material I figured I would just stretch into it. Then I decided I needed to complicate things and add a waist band as I HATE skirts without waist bands. So I attempted to follow this tutorial on youtube. But of course my smallest waist measurement was on the bottom part, not the waist band…meaning I made the waist band even smaller (as well as missing the seam allowance). By now the skirt is getting kind of ridiculously tiny…but I soldiered on. By the time I was done I was ready to tear my hair out. I realised there was no way I could fit into it…it would barely go around one of my thighs. Especially as I sewed the grain wrong on the waist band meaning it stretched up instead of out and without an overlocker I had to make do with a zigzag stitch. It was so small Miss 12 (who is a total waif) could barely squeeze it over her hips. It was still long enough for me at that point so I took the hem up and she walked away with a brand new skirt that she is already styling with wide belts, cardigans and braces/suspenders….and of course I am jealous as that was my plan for me *sigh*
After that frustration I decided to try something else. I have around 30 cardigans (totally obsessed) but I have been dying to go from hip length ones to lovely cropped cardigans like this one from Brora Cashmere
I haven’t had much luck finding cardigans that finish at the waist like this but I did have two identical navy blue glassons cardigans, a pair of scissors and a sewing machine. I grabbed that needed the sleeve sewn up out of the cupboard, had a quick look in the mirror to work out roughly how many buttons I would need to chop off to get it right and chopped off the bottom ribbed part. then I lined the two parts up and sewed them back together. I even ended up having the buttons perfectly lined up with the button holes on the other side. It was seriously too easy. Not as pretty as the cashmere ones but $25 vs 300 pounds …. I think I will just pay a visit to cocolatte and grab every colour of $8 cardigans they have and go at it.
That done and having gotten some lunch into me I decided to do some more research on pencil skirts and see if I could possibly find a free pattern. After all I had these super cute kitchen curtains Lady Demelza sent me and a spare navy zip…they were just begging to be used and the sewing machine was already out.
This time I roughly followed these instructions on the Cotton & Curls blog. But determined to add a waist band I decided my brain could totally figure out an “easier” way than the first waistband video. I cut a long strip of my kitchen curtains about 8in wide. Then I lined the patterns up with the big bit of material and sewed on a “band” at the top. Then I folded the material in half, then half again and followed the cotton & curls instructions. I then unfolded it once and cut to make two halves of the same pattern. I then cut the back panel in half (I made sure to leave an extra inch on the back panel when cutting it out) and basting stitched it together before following this tutorial on adding a zipper without a zipper foot (I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a zipper foot til I googled “how to insert a zipper”). Once the zipper was in I sewed the rest of the back seam again with a proper sturdy stitch. Then I lined up the join of the waistband to the skirt on the two sides and sewed them together. Then I made a “hem” at the top of my waistband all around in one go so it was even and did the same again with the hem. By this time it was 10pm and I had been so distracted I hadn’t even had dinner. I was totally sure it wasn’t going to go on as it had almost no stretch and it looked too small. But sure enough…apart from a little wiggling to get over my hips…it fit! Not only did it fit, it fit like a glove. Then I realised I could barely sit in it … or walk in it (I had totally forgotten the reason I did the basting stitch was so I could leave a slit at the back for walking). Also without my spanx I look more than a bit lumpy. But for my second attempt ever, having “drafted” the pattern on my own (which became more and more difficult as the day wore on as I discovered between lunchtime and 8pm I bloated out almost 10cm on my waist….every time I remeasured the measurements increased) and having never put a zip in before. I am really quite proud of it.
A few things I want to do or things that I will change in the future now that I understand a bit better how it all works
- Buy some butchers paper/tracing paper/cardboard in a very large roll
- Make a pattern of the above skirt with said paper so I can re-use it (maybe make it a touch bigger)
- Use heavier material. I much prefer a heavier material with little stretch to pull me in. I love pencil skirts in wool and I have a bolt of Alannah Hill wool I got last year from clearit.com.au that would be just perfect
- Learn how to line a skirt. Again…I like a lining in my skirts and dresses the same way I like a heavier material.
- Buy a zipper foot. Too many times the thread snapped or the needle snapped or I couldn’t drag the zipper through (as suggested in the video)…it became incredibly frustrating and I almost threw the sewing machine on the floor a few times.
- Remember that I am just learning…the perfectionist in me was absolutely devastated and wanted to give up after my first skirt that was suppose to be an adults sz 16 ended up a childs sz 8. I need to keep practising with all the spare material I have lying around. Practice makes perfect…even though I think practice is stupid and I just want to skip to the perfect part.
- Buy a basic pattern and try it. It has to be easier than measuring straight onto material and hoping for the best. I think I am going to get out the pj patterns (once again given to me by the lovely Lady Demelza) I have in the sewing box. Pj’s should be easy right? Another option would be an apron…I totally need one now I am wearing “real” clothes around the house AND cooking again.