And then there were three

Following my daughter-seal-of-approval of the sunshine yellow skirt, I’m on a secret operation to make a bunch more. But shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, because it’s a… you know! Operation Sunshine Yellow begins…

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First step: preparing the fabric. An overnight soak in the bath removes the starch from the fabric – which is used to literally stick the threads together while it’s being woven. Then into the washing machine with some Dylon machine dye.

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Next step: refining the construction process. While making up three skirts in three different sizes I learn:

  • my overlocker blade gives up the ghost when cutting through more than four layers of fabric. So I precut some of the side seams before overlocking
  • my labels melt if I iron them at maximum temperature. So I’ll give that a miss next time.
  • put pockets on before doing the side and back seams. Otherwise, you’re working in a tube of fabric that’s only 25cm wide – very fiddly!
  • I should consult my commercial patterns fffffor construction methods – a slow learning curve at this stage impinges on my fffffmotivation and satisfaction.
  • I need to ffffffffix the ‘f’ key on my keyboard. It’s sticking and makes me express myself in fffffunny way.

All in all – this is a good place to be. At the end of my first week, I’ve run up three trial skirts in sizes 18m, 2y and 3y. Next steps – getting my numerous toddler friends to try them on and see how they fit!

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Sunshine yellow skirt – finished

Yellow skirt final An amazingly sunny day, and instead of rushing out to the park to enjoy it, I finally completed the sunshine yellow skirt. I tried to sew quickly and efficiently, and sort of failed. Don’t get me wrong – the finished item is a good bit of sewing, but my thought processes were super-muddled and I did LOTS of staring into space. My muddledness included: sewing on the yoke upside down. Three times. Sewing the faux pocket flaps on the back instead of the front, as per my design. Then realising they look better on the back and sewing them back in place. Cutting the waistband 10cm too short. And instead of focusing solely on drafting the pattern and making the skirt, getting sidetracked, halfway through, into a poorly executed and fruitless tidy-up of the hall cupboard – abandoned after 35 minutes, annoyingly. Pocket flap close upBut I’m happy with the finished item – it’s as I envisaged, pepped up a little with a contrast floral fabric on the pocket flaps and the waistband facing. The adjustable elastic on the waistband looks about right (see, I’m very scientific about these things. Measurements are for wimps). Yellow skirt waistband Next step – seeing if Little Miss will wear it. The photographic evidence is…. Yes! She likes it – strikes a moody model pose! putting on yellow skirtYes! She tries to put it on, voluntarily, before I’m quite ready with camera! Yellow skirt and matching shoesHurrah! Selects coordinating shoes! yellow skirt washing hands Praises be! Wears it while washing hands! yellow skirt with dinosaurGadzooks! Confronts dinosaurs in it! yellow skirt at playgroupand finally, wears it in public at playgroup *sniffs* To say I’m pleased is an understatement. Thanks Marina. I made your skirt, you made my day.

Sunshine yellow skirt

grey day

I’ve waited months for a day like this – grey, drizzly, unwelcoming weather. And the best bit? I’m at home to enjoy it.

And, what’s even better, there’s *just* enough of this bright yellow fabric to make Marina a skirt that’s been on my mind for quite some months now.

yellow fabric

So, the plan is…

  • draft a rough pattern using a GAP skirt for overall dimensions
  • find buttons for the pocket flaps
  • pop a couple of buttonholes in some elastic in to make the waistband adjustable
  • dig the sewing machine out
  • and get sewing.

pattern idea sketch

The big question is will she wear it? Drop by tomorrow next week for photographic evidence….

Update: sewing halted by life events… more soon.

Apple a day dress

Marina in apple dress

Yet ANOTHER woollen moth casualty – this time they munched multiple holes a much-loved green woollen wraparound skirt. Greedy. Bastards.

Apple dress cut out

So, I size it up for a toddler’s tunic dress, just cutting approximately around another jumper dress and keeping the existing hem and side seam. As I’m cutting, I notice one of the offcuts looks like a leaf (see? between the armholes of the front and back?), and the apple motif follows quite naturally.

And then I’m off down memory lane… I had a dress with an apple on it as a child. Here is the original apple dress.

So I cover the mothholes with an applique apple. As it’s a fuzzy woollen, I’m guessing it won’t fray, so don’t finish any cut edges, or use interfacing to stabilise the apple. (Two machine washes later & I’m proved right – all stable AND unfrayed). The rest is dead easy: machine stitch the apple into place, followed by the side & shoulder seams, then fold the seam allowance once on the neck & armholes and stitch. It’s a bit wonky – my cutting, I’m afraid, but I figure it’ll wear ok.

Apple dress finished

The neckline looks pretty small all of a sudden, so I make two self-

Apple dress loopsApple dress button

covered buttons and loops for a shoulder fastening, and a small facing for each edge. This takes ages but I like the finished look.

However, in the cold light of day, it turns out the neckline is too BIG, so I run a little elastic thread through it with a darning needle – this works perfectly and Marina seems to like it!

Marina in apple dress laughing

NB After about 85 blurred photos she suddenly climbs on the sofa and strikes a slightly eerie doll pose. For a second. Then runs off and jumps around a bit more. Photographing a toddler to show off a garment is REALLY hard work. How do you do it?

Marina in apple dress doll pose

————*-*————

Oh and I also made this hat from the offcuts. It’s simply a rectangle, sewn up the short side, hemmed at the bottom and tied around with a strip.

Apple hat

She wouldn’t keep it on for more than a second, threw it off and now we cannot find it ANYWHERE. Prolly been munched to dust, by a bunch of delighted moths.

Modest maternity mini skirt

Maternity mini-skirt

After a week of unsatisfying and slow sewing, my quick wins weekend (now a few weeks ago) took shape nicely and I finished a modest maternity mini that mashes up an unworn Reiss skirt with a primark tshirt.

I’m still trying not to purchase maternity clothes, but the challenge of refashioning my existing wardrobe is getting keener. Some garments are off the list for refashioning/cutting up because they’re just too nice and I’ll hang on to them until I get to The Other Side of Pregnancy. Other garments just can’t accommodate a jersey expanda-panel. But when tempted to just go shopping, much of the maternity stuff on the High Street I’ve found so far is ghastly! I may well elaborate in another post.

reiss skirt fabric close up

Where was I? Oh yes – this skirt was on its way to the charity shop. Although I like the colour and the sewn-in swirly pattern of the fabric, the shape just didn’t flatter – too tight. Hoiking it up over the knees, however, turns it into a modest-mini – perfect with tights, boots and a jumper. You can do it too, by adding a jersey panel at the front with an elastic waistband.  

Maternity mini front panel 2

maternity mini front panel

All you need to do is…

skirt with marked up bump

1. try on skirt and hoike up to hem level required. Mark lowest known point of baby bump, and desired waistline at back.

Reiss skirt cut for bump and waistband

2. mark out and cut waistline, following curve of original waistband at back, then general bump shape at front. I cut mine extra-low because I get terrible tummy ache if anything cuts in to my bump.

3. reaffix waistband to back. I put in a couple of small darts at the back to keep the shape for my remaining waist. Tiny bit left!

4. cut a thick piece of elastic – at a length that sits comfortably from your side seams over your tummy. Mine worked out about the same width as the tshirt I was using, and to be worn right up over the top of the bump.

5. tshirt – use whole body of tshirt. You will be using the fabric doubled up, and the body hem as your new ‘waistline’. Fold the tshirt hem (double thickness) over your elastic so it overlaps by 2-3mm. Stay stitch at each end, then catch hem edge and elastic in wavy zigzag stitch.

Jersey panel for Reiss skirt, cut and marked up

6. Fold the tshirt in half to give you the centre front, lay your cut skirt over the top of it matching up waistlines and mark out the curve given by your cut skirt. Then add 1cm seam allowance and cut. This is your jersey panel. 

Panel pinned to skirt

7. pin the lower edge of jersey panel to the cut out bump of the skirt (still double thickness),  right sides facing, matching centre fronts and stretching where needed. Stitch a single seam 1cm from cut edge, then finish raw edge with a zigzag.

8. sew the back to the jersey panel at the side seams, right sides together.

Reiss skirt with jersey panel, finished

9. It should look a little like this.

10. Now pull on your new maternity skirt. Get your boots on.

Which suddenly reminds me of King’s Love and Pride, and feeling a-flutter watching Paul King on TOTP in 1985 …

Cross posted on wardrobe refashion.

About me


I started this blog to help me Get Things Done: sewing and knitting mostly.
But now I have a daughter! So I continue to daydream in enormous detail about what I'd like to make, but squeeze the 'doing' into precious naptimes and evenings.

Can I keep it up? Time will tell!

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