Everyday Skirt Goes Minion–A Belated Halloween Post

Hello again friends, it’s been too long! This blogging stuff is hard work, especially when work gets crazy. But I have been doing at least a little sewing, so let’s talk about it!

First things first, let’s take the way-back machine all the way back to All Hallow’s Eve Eve (AKA the night before Halloween). Like many a procrastinating crafter before me, you would have found me up far too late working on this little number:

Slightly blurry minion.

Sorry for the image quality, but this was an all iPhone kind of photo shoot in the hallway at clinic, so what you see is what you get! Anyway, the more astute of you may recognize this as Liesl Gibson’s new Everyday Skirt pattern turned into–and here I’m giving myself away as a pediatrician–a Despicable Me minion costume. (The slightly less astute may have been tipped off by the subject of this post.) I had just downloaded the pattern before Halloween, and I wanted to make up a muslin anyway, so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and make a minion costume AND a muslin. Despite the late-night sewing involved (this is what happens when you start such a project at 8 pm), I think it turned out pretty well.

I thought the skirt looked a little full for my taste, so despite my measurements saying XL, I went with the large, and I think it was a good choice. When I make up my final version, I think I will extend the back panel a tiny bit wider so there is more gathering around the back elastic, but otherwise I don’t plan on any adjustments to the pattern. And the very deep hem was a bit of a lazy choice, but something I’ll plan to repeat because it is one of my favorite parts of the finished product. That and the side panels. Ooh, and the pockets.

Enjoying the pockets. And making a crazy face, as usual.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the fabric; it’s a very lightweight denim I got on the cheap using some Joann’s coupons, but it turned out much softer than I thought it would. As for the mods I did to make it minion-tastic, they were pretty simple: I cut out a rectangle and hemmed the edges for the front of the pinafore, and then added to straps that I crossed in the back (not pictured, sorry!). I sewed the front panel and the straps to the waistband et voila! I did not get up the gumption to do 3 am buttonholes, though, so the straps are fastened with velcro dots (with dummy buttons for effect). In an effort to win a costume contest (we did!), I actually organized it for my whole team to come as minions:

SO many minions.

We were quite the celebrities around the hospital, let me tell you. I bought the supplies for the goggles (canning jar lids and elastic, if you were wondering) and logos (self-stick felt, where have you been all my life), a few extra yellow hats, and pipe cleaners for hair. Then the day before Halloween, some of my med students set up an assembly line putting the accessories together (educational, I know; I swear they volunteered!). We’re a bit of a rag tag crew, but the effect was really cute overall.

As a teaser for future posts, where there is muslin there must be another project, so of course there’s another Everyday Skirt in the works. I’ve also just finished up my first baby dress (dying of cuteness) AND I’ve even nearly conquered my Sorbetto FBA self-tutorial. Add to that materials for an BHL Anna dress and knit Staple Dress burning a hole in my stash, and I have a lot of sewing/blogging ahead of me, so watch this space!

Sara’s Fall Sewing School

All around the internets, it seems that people are talking about their fall sewing plans, so I figured I’d join in. I’m not sure how autumnal most of these projects are (though who can blame me with today’s 97 degree temperatures?!), in part because I spent all summer making a mental catalog of all the things I wanted to sew, and I have quite a backlog!

So instead of focusing on sewing for the season, I’ve selected these projects based on two principles: things I’d like to wear, and things I’d like to learn. With these two guiding principles in mind, I think I’ve come up with a sewing plan that will keep me busy for the next few months, teach me a ton, and spruce up the old wardrobe. Let’s check out the list, shall we? We shall!

Lesson 1: Dotty chambray tank dress

The fabric: Dotty Robert Kaufman Union Chambray

The pattern: M6744 (except with the racerback), view B (c) McCall’s

This is probably the most summery (summeriest?) project in the works, given its very lightweight fabric and racerback cut. But it’s also the closest to being ready to wear this Indian summer, with the pattern traced and cut out. Instead of the narrow hem in the pattern, I’m planning on finishing the neck and arm holes/racerback with bias tape facing. I’m also thinking of adding a faux button placket to add some interest to the front.

Skills to be practiced: so much bias tape facing, making my own bias tape

Lesson 2: Mo’ chambray, no problem shirt dress

The fabric: RK Union Chambray in slub indigo

The pattern: M6520, view A (c) McCall’s

Can you tell I’ve been on a bit of a chambray kick? I’m planning on making up view A (or maybe B if I choose to embrace the season) in this Robert Kaufman slub chambray. My biggest concern is it might turn into a bit of a sack given the relative lack of fitting, but I like the shirttail hem and open neckline, so I’m going for it!

Skills to be practiced: buttonholes!

Lesson 3: Parenthetical potpourri skirt

The fabric: Anna Maria Horner field study linen/cotton blend

I’d been drooling over this fabric for months, but it wasn’t until I saw this skirt (which I could not love more) in the Hawthorn sew-a-long contest, that I knew I had to make it mine. I’m still undecided on what pattern to use, though I have two main ideas. One is a slightly less full version of Tilly’s Picnic Blanket skirt, which would be more buttonhole practice and keep the waistband element of the inspiration skirt. The other idea I had was to do an A-line with a few interesting design details, like this number with a fly front and contoured waistband:

The pattern: M6361, view D (also, what’s with her bracelet?!?) (c) McCall’s

I have to say, this doesn’t seem to be the most modern cut, a suspicion confirmed by reading some reviews of the pattern, but I think that if I lower the waist by an inch or two it should update this classic design a good bit. Will certainly be making a muslin for this!

Skills to be practiced: either more buttonholes or a fly front with zipper insertion

Lesson 4: Sorbetto fitting school

The pattern: Colette Pattern’s Sorbetto (c) Colette Patterns

I’ve already made two sorbetto tanks (yet to be blogged) in two different sizes, and neither of them fit. Woes. I gave up in a fit of pique. I knew enough to know what I needed to solve the problem: a full bust adjustment. But I just got overwhelmed at the mere thought. So before I make more garments that are fitted through bust, I know that I must embrace the FBA. With its simple construction and just one dart , I figure the Sorbetto is a great place to start. I’ve bought Kathleen Cheetham’s Adjust the Bust class on Craftsy and a few fun Lisette cotton voiles on clearance at Joann’s, so once I get my nerve up, I’m ready to go!

Skills to be practiced: did I mention I need to embrace the full bust adjustment?

Final exam: Fabric TBD Traveler dress

The pattern: Lisette Traveler dress (S2246), view A, (c) Liesl and Co, Inc.

I have a passion for a good shirtdress (see lesson 2), and this one is no exception. In fact, this is the first sewing pattern I ever bought, and I think it will be such a wearable garment for me. It will also be a nice place to bring together the skills I’ll have practiced in the earlier projects, especially those buttonholes and fit adjustments. I have a few fabrics in my stash that would work, but I may also pick something totally different that says fall. An excuse for more fabric shopping!

And there you have it! A solid, if ambitious, plan for sewing and learning. And there are so many ideas that didn’t make it into this list. We’ll just have to see if I stick with it or if other projects make their way in (I’m sure they will).

How about you? Any suggestions for great, wearable patterns for building sewing skills?

My denim Meringue skirt

Hi there, friends! Here I am to cap off a fantastic weekend with a post about my favorite project yet, the Meringue skirt from the Colette Sewing Handbook. Besides the clear and thoughtful instruction on so many sewing techniques, it was this pattern that made me want to buy the book in the first place, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

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Slightly sassy pose for a slightly sassy skirt! I made this up in a very lightweight dark denim I found at G Street Fabrics in Rockville. I have a more traditional denim skirt that is one of my go-to bottoms, so I thought a denim Meringue would be a great workhorse addition to my wardrobe. The casual fabric, classic lines, and show-stealing hem detail combine for a skirt I can easily see myself wearing for work or play (or for walking awkwardly towards the camera in an off-center roof deck photo shoot):

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In terms of construction details, the pattern was simple but interesting to make up, with great instructions. This is the first time I’ve made a muslin, which ended up fitting quite well (or well enough for me…), so no adjustments. If I were to make another, I might grade down a few sizes from the hip line to the hem for less of an A-line, as I’ve really noticed looking at these pictures that the skirt is fuller than what I imagined while making it. Overall, though, I like the shape and fit, displayed here in the bum view for your viewing pleasure.

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As for of changes to the pattern, I did add a lining, because the fabric is a bit thin, and I think it makes the final piece a lot more fun. It’s a deep purple rayon Bemberg I picked up at Joann’s, and while it was not as difficult to work with as I thought it might be, I did manage to cut the hem very crookedly and a bit shorter than I meant to. Oops.

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Hello, toes! Anyway, I cut the lining pieces from the skirt body pattern and then trimmed them down to account for the waist facing and the scalloped hem, but my changes at the lower end in particular were somewhat…lacking in precision. At least the lining covers where the hem facing is attached to the skirt body (where there is some excellent and well camouflaged catch stitching, if I do say so myself). I scoured the internet for how-to’s on lining the Meringue skirt and saw a number of linings that were attached to both the waist and hem facing, which I didn’t totally love; I ended up deciding to attach the lining to the bottom of the waist facing but leave it free at the bottom hem, which I think was the right choice.

I was a little nervous about the scalloped hem, but in the end, going slowly sewing the curves and grading my seams well made for relatively easy work. This mini scallop tutorial from Tilly was also really helpful. I didn’t get any photos that I think totally do the hem justice, but here’s my best effort:

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I was also more nervous than I needed to be about sewing the lining to the invisible zipper; I didn’t hand sew anything on the zipper, but it still looks neat enough to me. My only issue there is that the facing/lining seams don’t line up on either side of the zip, but I think that’s more a feature of uneven cutting on the facing than the installation of the zipper itself.

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Excuse the evidence of my ineffectual ironing on these lining photos. The inside photos were taking after wearing the skirt for a day, and that lining wrinkles like nobody’s business.

Phew, that’s a lot of writing about one little skirt! But it’s been an exciting project for me, and one that makes me feel like this whole “sewing clothes I like and will actually wear” thing might actually work out. Fingers crossed!