UFO Showdown #February Challenge

This month’s challenge over at The Monthly Stitch was UFOs. As I didn’t actually have any (though believe me I commit a whole array of other sewing crimes), I’d been forcing myself to work through my mending pile. Boring, but useful! I was making steady progress when a much more interesting idea came to mind that was in a similar vein. This beautiful skirt (top right) was originally purchased when I was at sixth form (I’m 43 now so suffice to say a very long time ago…). It’s from one of the very first issues of The Next Directory when it was an exciting, new concept. It may have just been my perceptions at the time but the designs were more designer-y and special, with the prices to match. Even the old labels (see below) were far more luxurious. Now, it’s a fairly common place venue that I rarely step into (although they do do great children’s wear).

Quite where I was intending to wear such a dressy item is quite beyond me now! But it was the 90s when I was rarely out of my DM boots and my Dad’s old cardigans, so I presume I dressed it down 😉 Anyhow this has resided at my parents’ house for a fair few years, before they forced me to come and claim or get rid. And it’s been lingering in my wardrobe ever since which is quite impressive in itself. I think it was the fabric that was holding me back from chucking it, or maybe just nostalgia? As it no longer fitted, being a good two inches too narrow to fasten at the waist (proof indeed that vanity sizing exists as I still wear this size or even the one below today, mmm… This feels to be more like a 6 in today’s sizing), drastic action was needed.

First off, I cut off the waistband, but managed to free the original zip and waist ties. I then cut it in half carefully in order to place and cut out my new pattern pieces (New Look K6217). Constructing the new skirt was relatively simple and sewing with this fabric (I think a single, very sheer, gauzy crepe) was just lovely. I attempted to improvise with the original lining, cutting it off below the original zip. I finished the waist with some lovely, matching brown grosgrain ribbon and was delighted with my efforts. On the hanger it looked fantastic…

But then I tried it on.. Let’s just say the fit was bad: too long, the outer skirt far too big and the lining ridiculously tight, grrr! Needless to say it sat loveless for a good week or so, before spurred on by this challenge I picked up my unpicked and set to work. To cut a very long story short I released the lining and discarded it, took the side seam in by a good inch and a half, reattached both the waistband and the ties, before finally chopping an additional nch off the length. I may well add a lining in at some point, but for now a RTW under slip will have to do.

So was it worth it? To be honest the jury’s out! While I can at least now wear it and I’m pretty pleased with the finished design, it was a LOT of effort for such a still-very-dressy skirt. Mmmm… I guess only time will tell…

Smokey Grey, part two

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I had enough lovely, grey crepe left to run up a matching top too. I love this aspect of sewing, where you can extend the versatility of an item by adding in a ‘dress’ option. I’ve worn my black BHL Charlotte and matching TGBSB tunic top loads together (despite the top’s shortcomings), so this is an obvious way to go for me. I was tempted to attempt the same top, as I often get really hot at work (an age thing? Or maybe we just live in an old house, so anything modern seems hot…) . But that darn, two-in-one facing business just didn’t take my fancy after a long half term.

Something simple was needed and that ‘something simple’ happened to be staring me in the face. In the same free, pattern pack that I made my side-split skirt from, there was a t-shirt style top too (NewLook K6217). It was a loose style, but I figured in a crepe this wouldn’t be too bulky or baggy, and I could always just tuck it in.

Again, I forced myself to slow right down and enjoy the process. And I did! 🙂 The pattern consisted of just three, simple pieces and it came together in no time. I was particularly pleased with my button and loop fastening, where I improvised and just used a small piece of black ribbon that had come with a RTW label (my natural, hoarding habits do come in handy sometimes 😉 ). It’s ended up pretty neat, despite my machine’s desire to chew it up! In the end, I simply hand sewed it in place.

I’m really pleased with this fake ‘dress’. The kimono-style sleeves are lovely and airy too. While I’m not sure what else I could pair the top with, I’ve no doubt that this duo will get plenty of wear for work together. The skirt will be easy to wear separately too.

It’s been really enjoyable sewing a couple of simple, but useful items, but I’m probably ready for something a little trickier now I’ve had a good rest from school. Maybe it’s about time I was brave enough to tackle the lovely fabric I was gifted as part of the Secret Sewing Santa swap…

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Anyone else find themselves continually adopting this rather matronly, hands on hips pose for their blog images?! I clearly need something to do with my arms and I guess it does work well at pulling everything in… 

Looking at this photo, this top is also crying out for a statement necklace of some shape or form. Will have to have a rummage…

 

Smokey Grey

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The trouble with having an overlocker is that it’s so quick and easy that it can get you into bad habits 😉 So on this project, on my regular machine, I was determined to get back to basics, slow down and enjoy the process…

The pattern is New Look K6217 which is a very non-shoutie, freebie pack that came with a magazine. The material is a beautiful, smokey grey, triple (can you get single and double too?) crepe from John Lewis. It cost £22 per metre originally, but was on half price sale. This is still more than I’d usually pay, but I’m fast learning that nicer fabrics in simple shapes are what get worn most. I’d originally bought it with a BHL Charlotte in mind, but thought that this simple, looser style would make a nice change. And I’m glad I did, I’m really pleased with this simple shape with its cheeky, little side split (see below).

The pattern consisted of just two pieces, so I slowed right down, pressing at each at every point, unheard of for me! I substituted a standard zip for my favourite invisible one and used bias binding in a tonal shade, rather than the ’twill tape’ recommended. Is ’twill tape’ an American thing? I got so engrossed it getting everything neat and tidy on this that I totally forgot to add the lining I’d cut out. Doh! I’d love to know when you get to the point where there isn’t always something…. However, at least this ‘something‘ wasn’t to do with the actual make, well kind of! And I now have a lining for another skirt project, all cut out and ready to go: any excuse!

And did you notice? The black tights are off! Finally! Hurrah! There’s been a glimmer of Spring in the air this week and about time too…

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