Time for some separation

It’s hardly a state secret that I love dresses. But sometimes it’s nice to wear a skirt and when I’m off duty during winter I basically live in jeans. So, time to add some separates to the sewing mix.

Part of the impetus for this was The Monthly Stitch‘s birthday cake challenge. As a super keen baker (there’s a cake in the oven as I type this) I was excited about all the possibilities – a cake-inspired dress, baking mits, fabulous fabric. I decided to have a go at tracing a pattern from a RTW top I wear often. It’s a green, boxy (but not *too* boxy) woven top with lace-trimmed cap sleeves.

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Obviously with such a basic garment the fabric would need to be baking-inspired. I researched cake fabrics on Spoonflower but wasn’t sure they’d arrive down under in time. With impeccable timing, Posie Patchwork posted on instagram about her closing down clearance fabric sale. I moseyed over to have a look and spied the perfect print! It’s a Michael Miller 100 per cent cotton called Bake Sale. The 1950s ladies baking in their pristine dresses are hilarious – they remind me of the Gilmore Girls when Rory decided to be the perfect housewife for Dean.

Photo 14-08-2014 10 10 05 pmThere was only 80cm of the fabric but I was sure I could make it work, especially with black sleeves to kind of anchor the wild print. Three trace-offs and two muslins later I was prepared to cut up the fabric and just managed to eke the two pieces out of it. Clearly being picky about print placement was not an option but I think it’s ended up pretty well. I wound up having to piece the bottom corners on the back because it just wouldn’t fit, but it’s not that noticeable.

The original sleeves had gathers around the top of the sleeve cap so I had to guess how much to add onto the pattern. I’m not sure if it was my dodgy pattern making or the stiffness of the cotton used but the sleeves stick out a lot more than I thought they would. They kind of make me feel like Judy Jetson!

As well as being the first time making a wearable pattern from an existing garment, this was also the first time I made my own bias binding (exciting, huh?) and sewing with quilting cotton. I’m happy with the result!

The other garment to come off my machine recently was the Miette skirt – and it’s already been worn three times! It’s made from a lightweight denim bought in New York (or maybe it’s more of a linen – it certainly wrinkles like one). As soon as I saw this I knew it needed to be a circle or A-line skirt and have been hunting for ideas. I’d seen the Miette around but wasn’t entirely sold on the waist ties. Then I saw Fiona’s version with button closures and was sold.

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This is super easy to make. The whole thing took a smidge over two hours including cutting out. I cut a size 7 on the pattern, which was a little larger than my waist. The end result sits a little low so next time it would be worth going a size down (I didn’t realise how far the hem goes past my knees until seeing these photos). Or I could move the buttons, I guess.

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The buttons I used were also from the New York jaunt and I really love the wood against the denim. I’m still having troubles making button holes on my new sewing machine. The way it works (supposedly) is you click the button into the buttonhole foot for size, put the machine on the right setting, press the go button and hey presto! buttonhole. The way it works every time I’ve tried is I press the go button and it does a quarter of a buttonhole then starts either eating the fabric or stitching at very high speed in one place. Luckily I did a test run on a scrap first. I had a little sulk then hauled out my old, more manual machine and did the buttonholes on that.

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The pockets have helped make this skirt an instant favourite – especially lined with a floral print left over from an earlier dress. I also really liked the the waistband construction method. The inside and outside are separate pieces, which I found made it easier to know where to fold it over when ironing (accurate ironing is not my strong point). I’m also very proud of my top-stitching here. The top and bottom of the pockets, the back side edges and the hem are all visibly stitched and they’re pretty darn straight!

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And finally I like the huge overlap of the wrap…

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In fact I like the pattern so much I just whipped one up for my sister-in-law!

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3 thoughts on “Time for some separation

  1. whisperinggums September 6, 2014 / 8:26 pm

    Lucky sister in law! That’s a great 50s cooking print. Don’t you love the frilly white aprons they seem always use for depictions of that era?

    So, you are also a Gilmore Girls fan. Hannah and I love that show. I think we have the whole series here (we negotiated who’d buy which series) which we have watched a couple of times right through (over many weeks of course). Thank goodness Rory didn’t end up with Dean!

    • tinawheeze September 8, 2014 / 12:22 pm

      Big time Gilmore Girls fan here! Have you seen the Rory Gilmore reading challenge?

      • whisperinggums September 8, 2014 / 1:55 pm

        Oh yes, I did look at it once when Hannah pointed it out to me, but had forgotten all about it. A fascinating collection of books.

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