Pencil Pencil Skirt

Hi everyone,

I love that making your own clothes means that you can play with prints and essentially create whatever you want to wear so when I bought this super cute pencil fabric from Sew Me Sunshine and I was looking through my fabric options in my Stash Buster Fabric Post I decided on a pencil skirt. Why not have a pencil skirt made of pencils?!

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I had some success last year with Simplicity 8342 as part of the Simplicity turns 90 challenge. It’s a vintage style pencil skirt with a ruffle. I really like the overlapped zip detail and the neat finish. It has two darts at the front and four at the back, with a tulip style shape so I really like the shaping it gives you. I decided to go with this but to omit the ruffle this time.

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I took the size down this time as I have been losing a little weight and it always goes from my hips first so my last skirt is starting to be a bit roomy. The construction of the skirt is a real pleasure and it comes together quite quickly. My lapped zip worked out really well and I’m happy with how neat it has turned out. The lines of the pencil even line up, even though they are not the same pencils!!

To finish the hem in leiu of the ruffles, I overlocked the hem and then turned it up (my new favourtie and most reliable way to hem a curve). Then I crossed the edges at the back, pinned them in place and ensured the stitching line met in the middle.

I absolutely love this skirt, I don’t want to be vain but it makes me really really feminine and curvy. I’m a little bit happy dance in it!

Simplicity Turns 90

It’s amazing to think that Simplicity have been helping sewers to create their own style for years. I feel like a real newbie in comparison as I’ve only been sewing properly for a year! I noticed the Simplicity Summer Challenge too late last year and I hadn’t been sewing long so I was super keen to get involved this year!

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I’m a Dressmaker above all else. I make other garments (avoiding trousers like the plague) but I mainly make dresses SO I assumed I would opt for Dressmaker but I loved the styling of the 8342 pattern so I chose that instead, which is for the Vintage Category. I absolutely love that they included a plus size model on the front of this pattern.

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I talked about my fabric choices on my vlog and I decided to combine two fabrics for the skirt after many people suddenly they would work well together and I’m really glad I did.

I opted for the larger of the pattern options which is sizes 20 to 28 to give me a bit of wiggle room (literally) but my measurements meant I had to cut a 26 which seemed odd. Anyway, the pattern comes together really nicely, like most of the Simplicity patterns I’ve used. I followed the instructions for an amazing lapped zip! I’ve never done one before and I was really chuffed with it. I usually have to check in to YouTube too but not for this. Hooray!!

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The fabric was a dream to sew too. The check fabric frayed more easily so it was a bit tricky to gather but I’m glad I preserved with it. The frill goes upwards at the back of the skirt to produce a great feature. I love a wiggle skirt and this one is perfect for me!

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The pattern calls for 6 buttons but I was going to omit them, then I remembered these black vintage bead type buttons I got from Tin Trunk, a vintage place near me and used them. Vintage style makes need Vintage notions.

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The top was a real worry for me but I wanted to make the whole outfit for Simplicity’s celebration. I was worried it would make me look busty and I’m also don’t like not having sleeves. I bought a plain mustard jersey to pick out the yellow tones in the skirt and with the hope that it would allow the pattern of the skirt to take the emphasis away from my chest!

The instructions for it were really easy again and it makes for a really satisfying sew that has a bit more about it than a plain vest or Tshirt.

Two things I had to alter were to take the straps in by a good 5 inches, or else it would have been ridiculous. I also hand sewed the hole under the knot together with a ladder stitch as otherwise I would have been too uncomfortable.

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I’m pleased the top fits well around my bust, usually patterns and RTW dresses or tops which have separate pieces for the bust don’t fit me, but this fits perfectly across my chest.

I shouldn’t have worried about the shape because I actually think it’s quite flattering, though I still don’t like showing my arms. I would love to be able to do a sleeve hack and still keep the knot detail.

Anyway, that’s all the construction details. I wore them together as intended and I love it, it makes me feel very feminine and definitely has an immediate Vintage feel. I hope that it’s pretty flattering.

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The other thing I love about these two garments is that they can be worn separately too. I put my top with a RTW black pencil skirt and cardi.

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I put my skirt with a RTW wrap grey body but it will go with lots in my wardrobe!

I can’t wait to see how everyone else has interpreted this pattern! I’ll be having a good nosey over on instagram this weekend!

Bloggiversary Post and Giveaway! 

I find it so hard to believe that it has been a full year since I started my blog! I spent most of that summer reading through others and I sheepishly started my own, thinking it would help me to record my improvements. I didn’t even tell my husband or family because I felt embarrassed.  I have been overwhelmed with the response, I remember being so flattered when I had 5 people following me and amazed that someone in New Zealand (yes you Naomi)  was reading my words. For statistical purposes I’ve now had a massive 7300 views so Thank You all. Wow!

After being convinced to also join Instagram by my sister, I have found a community beyond anything I could have wished for. I am so so grateful to each and every person who comments and engages with me. This community has given me an outlet beyond what I could have realised. I particularly love being involved in the Sewcialists because Gillian loves the community too and has allowed me to get involved in editing and preparing that venture too! This month is tribute month and I really recommend you check it out.

Anyway, not only do I blog my improvements but I get advice, encouragement and support on button decisions (how did I ever decide on buttons before? !) – though I wasn’t even good enough to insert a buttonhole before!

On that note, I cannot believe how much I’ve improved. Take a look at my first blog post.  I’ve learnt so so much; inserting zips, shaping, which fabrics to use, how to use patterns properly, FBA (absolutely crucial to my life now). Seriously though, I’m not going to list them all, it’d just be a long list of things I’ve learnt.

I have to mention my husband here too, I can’t believe I didn’t tell him when I started my blog because he has been nothing but supportive and he takes soooo many pictures for me. He is absolutely amazing and will do anything to help me, even when I have mini break downs! I’m very lucky to have him.  He is getting really good at taking pictures too so the standard of pictures has definitely improved over the years too. (he has some crazy ideas too- see the nectarine below!) 

I wanted to showcase my improvements instead so to do that I’ve returned to my very first dress pattern which my Mum bought me for Christmas 2015 and I tried for the first time in May 2016. The pattern is NewLook 6020, which is now New Look 6393 and it is a princess seam dress with multiple necklines and a clutch bag option.

It is also the subject of the terribly fitted bodice of my first blog. (now in a fabric recycling bin somewhere) My first one was also a nightmare; I used a horrible, strange fabric and the fit was horrendous. It took me forever and I thought I would never have the patience for this but a few magazine patterns and a LOT more patience later, I was hooked, as you know! Be prepared for horribleness.

Anyway, I have since returned to the pattern for my Christmas dress last year but, whilst the fit was better, it frayed and I didn’t even bother to insert a zip.

Fast forward to now and it has returned. I bought this amazing Harry Potter fabric from Frumble and because it is a little costly I bought a red polycotton to go with it and colour block. I wanted to make something which really represented me. I also saw the amazing Elle from Sew Positivity make a Harry Potter dress and I wanted to tribute her for Tribute Month because she is full on amazing, makes fantastic things and isn’t scared to talk about how much sewing has helped her emotionally. I really liked her section in Suzy Magazine Issue 3. 

Anyway, back to my Copycat dress. Here’s the amazing fabric.

I further tested myself by making another in this gorgeous Koi Cotton Poplin from Sewisfaction, who has also sponsored my Bloggiversary giveaway!

Here’s some things I have learnt (which I hope I have showcased in my makes)

1. I need a FBA for nearly everything, these princess seam dresses are perfect for this because you can adjust the front pieces easily… (year a go Blogger Emma would have barely understood this sentence!)

2. I have a dislike of facings, I can use them, as you can see in my Koi dress but bias is my way… Hence the lovely yellow contrast I used on my Harry Potter dress.

3. I can adapt patterns- Mr Harry Potter dress: I’ve shortened the length, ignored the side zip, added inches to the back pieces to create placket for a button up back.

Miss Koi Dress: I added sleeves, added pockets and added little tabs for the little belt tie to go in to.

4. I can insert buttons! See said buttons!

I can also insert zips! See said zip! (I’m still to master invisible zips!)

5. I don’t like baring my arms- BUT I can put sleeves in, the best thing about sewing my own clothes for me. I kept the sleeveless style for the Harry Potter dress so that you could see the intended pattern but I used another Simplicity pattern to insert sleeves for the Koi carp one.
All this means I have produced two dresses for me, which are unique, personal and I am proud to wear. I’ve still got so much to learn but I’ll keep going and keep getting support from this fantastic community

Hubby wanted a cake… I’m being good… Nectarine it is then…

Because I have been going for a year and it has been so much more well received than I ever imagined, I’ve decided to start a YouTube channel to go alongside my blog. I’m a reader by nature but I love watching the vlogs and I’m always last on the technology train so I am once again stepping outside my comfort zone. I will be keeping up with my weekly Friday posts on WordPress to share my makes, inspiration and ins and outs of makes (those with insight will realise that this sometimes dips in these being weekly,  usually the last week of term!) I plan to use YouTube for fabrics, pattern plans and thoughts, which are always whizzing round my head and I hope you’ll check it out. (please, please check it out- don’t leave me and my Mancunian accent on our own!)

Attractive…

Finally, because it is my bloggiversary and I am so so grateful for this sewing community, I’m hosting a giveaway! The giveaway includes the featured pattern, New Look 6020,which is now New Look 6393.

AND… enough fabric to make said dress, which is 2 metres of a gorgeous Navy Poppy Cotton Poplin from the amazing Sewisfaction. Sheona has kindly donated the fabric for the giveaway, even though she’s super busy setting up her new shop.

You should definitely check her out. I’ve also used her fabric for my Riviera Ruffle and my Velo Culottes. The fabrics are great to work with and it’s so important to support small businesses. They’ll definitely be more to see using Sewisfaction fabrics on here!

One person will win the pattern, 2 metres of the cotton poplin and I’ll also throw in a matching thread and zip.

To enter, please follow me and comment below, additionally, see over on instagram or on YouTube where you can follow me and comment over there for an extra entry!

The giveaway entries end Thursday 31st August 2017 at 5pm, British Time and it will be drawn and announced in my post on Friday 1st September 2017. I’m happy to ship internationally so this is open worldwide.

The amazing Sheona is completely supporting this giveaway but Simplicity New Look are not sponsoring it. I am giving away a pattern I bought because I wanted to!

Yellow Needlecord ‘I could make that’ 

Today’s make is one of those makes that I was so proud of that I just wanted to look at it all the time. I don’t really follow designers but I was reading a fashion magazine and saw this Skirt By M.I.H. Jeans. It was a mere £425 but when I looked it up I found it was an even better bargain with 60% off at £170!

Since I have been making improvements to my sewing,  I often find myself thinking ‘I could just make that’ so I thought this time I actually would. I was especially motivated as I had promised Linda of Nice Dress Thanks I Made It an entry to her Designin’ December competition… Well, since December! So I grabbed my supplies and made a start.

The pattern is Simplicity Newlook 6346 which has 2 separate lengths and the options to make the skirt with or without buttons,  I knew it would have the potential to look really modern. I’ve seen a few skirt patterns similar to this but I like simplicity patterns.
The Crafty Pin-Up,  did a great version of it too on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network,  which I checked out before I started and was really inspired by.

The really cute Cloud Fabric is part of the Greatest Adventure collection by Natalie Lymer for Riley Blake Designs.  I wanted to use it as a lining for the pockets. Isn’t it so cute?!
I made the pockets by measuring the front panels of the skirt and drawing rectangles at sizes which would work, both in the yellow needlecord and the cloud fabric. I sewed them right sides together,  flipped them through a gap and top-stitched. I think it is a really cute detail but my one criticism is that you can see the lining at the edges slightly which takes away from the designer look,  though I’m not sure if I’m being overly picky.

The skirt came together really easily, the facings for the plackets are made using the fabric itself. I changed the waistband slightly to add the flaps for the pockets (I don’t know if there is an official term for it) I added these as I attached the waistband so it would look neat. I was rather impressed with my own forward thinking here!
I then left my buttonless, hemless skirt to hang. I see this in a lot of directions and I have to admit, I usually ignore this step but I’m so glad I did it. The skirt hemmed really easy; I’ve struggled on the curve of skirts before. I added my buttonholes,  which were pretty big in order to fit my big chunky silver buttons and I was done. I am so happy with it,  I think it is really modern and just like the original.

I wore it on my holidays up in Northumberland with a navy body and wrap cardi,  where we were so busy being blown away that we struggled to get a good picture but we got some in the end!

Being blown away!

I don’t usually do prices but in spirit of the Designer challenge:
Yellow Needlecord: 2 and a half metres at £13.50 from The Cheap Shop Tiptree. Though I think 2 metres would have done it.

Silver Buttons: 5 for £1.45 from Ebay.

Riley Blake Fabric: £3.50 for a fat quarter from Hollie’s Haberdashery

Pattern: Simplicity 6346 £5.95 from Simplicity Newlook

So the whole Skirt cost a mere £24.50! Plus I will definitely use this pattern again! Possibly on a denim. Winner!

I’m trying to join in some more challenges like this over this year in my bid to improve,  if you’re interested in more regular updates with this please follow me on instagram!

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