Saturday, 2 June 2012

I've been sewing...

... and it's not quilting!  I stumbled across this Five-Minute Skirt Tutorial just after I'd dug out my summer clothes from under the bed and having suffered the usual disappointment of things no longer fitting or being worn out.  As we were in the middle of a heat wave (it's gone now), a short cotton skirt seemed very appealing. So I ordered the Fold Over Elastic online from Klein's in London in four different colours.

Then I dug out my very dusty overlocker (serger) from under the sewing table, and after spending about an hour drafting a paper pattern and finding the instruction manual and rethreading the overlocker, ran up my first skirt out of some quilting fabric.  This one is fairly short as I will usually be wearing it with leggings.

I haven't made any clothes for years, so I felt a ridiculous glow of achievement especially when I wore it to the cinema about five minutes after hemming it.

It seemed a waste after all that effort to get the overlocker going, not to make another.  So I made a longer version out of some different quilting fabric and wore it to work.

Then when I was at Primark looking for summer shoes, I saw a really cool retro 50s skirt which was a size too big and styled to make any woman look as fat as possible unless she was a twiglet to begin with.  "No matter", thought I, and bought it anyway, brought it home, and used my skirt pattern to cut it down and resew it into something I can wear. Result!

So today I was going to put the overlocker away, but I had one more look through my quilting stash for anything else that looked like 'skirt fabric' and made one more skirt from batik.

Now that I have the pattern fine-tuned, the skirts really are remarkably fast to make up:  just two side seams, a rolled hem and zig-zag the elastic straight onto the top raw edge.  I thought quilting cotton might crumple too much if I was sitting in it at the office all day, but it really wasn't too bad. And they are really comfortable to wear.

Technical stuff:  I started out by following the tutorial instructions to draft my pattern but found that I had to make the following adjustments:
  • Adding 3" to half the waist measurement made the waistline far too big and I had to cut away most of it, so I think it should read 'add 3" to the waist measurement and THEN half the number"
  • Adding 22" to the hemline made the skirt far too wide, especially for the shorter version.  I trimmed off about 6" to reduce the angle at the sides.
  • Curving the bottom hemline by just 1/2" was insufficient to stop the side seams drooping below the hemline level once the skirt is on.  I found I had to curve my hemline up by about 1 & 1/4" before it would hang straight.  DH was useful here for helping get the first skirt level by eye so that I could adjust the pattern.
I might even be doing some more sewing this week as a book I ordered turned up: "A bag for all reasons" by Lisa Lam, who runs the website for people who like to sew their own bags. I have sewn several bags and they rarely turn out the way I would like them to, so I have invested in this extremely-high-production-value book for help.  There are quite a few useful tips in it and I am tempted by the knapsack and wallet patterns.

Knitting this week was hampered yet again by injury, since I somehow tore a muscle in my back which was quite painful for a few days (it might have been from lifting out the heavy overlocker from under the table, not sure).  I did finish the first True North Mitten and darned in most of the ends, and TV knitting has been finishing Day 9 of the Advent Calendar 2010 lace scarf and a few more inches on the Eyelet Lace jumper.  Commuter knitting has been the Japanese stitch sock on which I have now turned the heel.

DH surprised me with a fully-painted set of 10mm high Marlburian soldiers, which when painted with two coats of gloss varnish, look like china figurines in dollshouse scale.  He had made quite a lot of them, so I couldn't find homes for all of them.

I put a pair into my Canadian house in a corner cupboard, and another pair onto the mantel in the Gamekeeper's cottage.

I put another pair onto the mantel in my French Tower House.

And yet another pair onto the mantel of the dining room in my Vic-war-gency house.

It's quite a big weekend here in the UK as we celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  There are all sorts of events going on up in London which in true British style seem set to be blighted by wet weather, and we get Monday AND Tuesday as holidays - yay! DH and I have booked the remaining three days off as leave so I get a whole week to do crafts and catch up on jobs.  I also need to prepare for a telephone interview the following Monday for a very scary sounding job, but it will be good practice to do an interview.

I will finish with my little bit of happiness for today.  I went to have my start-of-summer pedicure and the manicurist asked if I wanted a pattern on my big toe.  I've never had one before so said 'yes' and watched in fascination as she free-handed this delicate little floral tracery out of nail varnish.  So now I am looking at my toes every few minutes all day.  I don't want to wear shoes all week in case it wears off  :)


swooze said...

Love your skirts. Makes me want to wear them! That is fun that dh participated in your doll housing. Are the pieces all different?

Cute toes. Good luck with the interview. If you spy a postcard for diamond jubilee would love to have it!

Sarah Nopp said...

On a roll! Nicely done. I made kind of complicated aprons for all my book club girlfriends during the past year (designed and figured size and sewed and resewed!), so I am on a break from my sewing machine. Now: weaving.

Marthaamay O_o said...

First off, your toes look so summery!

And the skirts you made are great too, I like the high/proper fitting waist.

I was in town today, and it was awful weather and I never saw the Queen with my own eyes, I was disappointed. It's all just crowds and queues. We had a WI tent in Battersea Park though, so I was there for a reason.

I hope all your prep goes good for your interview too. :D

Daisy said...

Love the toes! And the skirts, I'm off to look at the pattern now!

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