champagne skirt

Using Contrast Fabric for the Champagne Skirt & a giveaway

Well have I got a treat for you today!  I alluded to this when I shared my Champagne skirt with you – a guest post written by the designer of the Champagne Skirt herself, Sally from Capital Chic patterns aka CharityShopChic.

What do you need to know before I let Sally take the reins?  Well, apart from the fact that my Champagne skirt has become my stalwart office skirt, being the one that I opt for on a weekly basis because I really do love how I feel professional yet *hand designed* in it?  Yes, apart from that, when emailing Sally about possible ideas for a guest post, I was hopefully as interested as you could be to know how to approach working with different fabrics to great effect.  For my Champagne skirt I opted for rather a safe option- choosing the same fabric, but one that is reversible with different textures.  How could I be more brave?  What should I consider to create yet another memorable skirt with that designer look & feel about it?  So, have a read about what Sally’s thoughts are when she designed this skirt to give you just that level of freedom to let loose some interesting uses of fabric.  (Of course we are concentrating on the Champagne skirt here, but there will be other garments – skirts & dresses that some of these tips could be applied to!)

Hello and thank you for having me, Winnie!

Today I’m very excited to be talking a bit about fabric choices for the Champagne skirt pattern.

If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a pinterest board here  where I will be adding pictures of finished Champagne skirts from around the interweb.

Suitable Fabrics

Suitable fabrics for the Champagne skirt include most medium-weight woven skirt fabrics. You can choose a woven with lycra (less than 10% stretch) if you like a really close fit. You want something with a bit of drape for the hem band as it’s a flounce so it’ll need to fall nicely. In the shop, hold up the fabric to see what it’ll look like when it drapes!

Unsuitable fabrics include knitted fabrics, fabrics with more than 10% stretch or fabrics that are too stiff/heavy to drape nicely around the hem. It’s also not great for stripes/plaid/tartan, unless you use something else for the hem band (see ‘Different textures’ below).

Of course, you can make the skirt using only one fabric – like Alison’s , Nicole’s  or Katie’s  which are all stunning. But I think the real fun lies in choosing two different fabrics to complement each other. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Colour Blocking

Colour blocking is a fairly simple idea. All you need to do is find the same fabric in more than one colour and you’re set. For my blue and black skirt I used blue crepe, with a black crepe hem band. The waistband is made from the blue crepe.

Colour blocking

Consider what you’ll be wearing the finished skirt with and decide which colour should be on which portion of the skirt. Then you can cut out your pieces accordingly.

For the lining, I recommend using lining material that matches the colour of both portions of skirt, that is, two different colours of lining will be needed. However, if your colours are relatively similar, you might get away with using one colour only. An entirely black lining obviously wouldn’t work if you are colour blocking with black and white. Just something to think about!

How about Minerva’s poly triple crepe which comes in 10 colours?  My personal choice would be ‘Grey’ for the skirt and ‘Fuchsia’ for the band for a really fun look. You could go for ‘Grey’ and ‘Black’, ‘Royal Blue’ and ‘Black’… there are a lot of possibilities.

TripleCrepe-Grey TripleCrepe-Fuchsia

Or, you can choose a print for your hem band and match one of the colours in your print to a solid colour fabric. Note that this is best done offline – websites don’t always show the colours accurately enough to match them and fabric is non-returnable! As an example, I chose the ‘Royal Blue’ triple crepe  to match this rather fabulous animal print in black and blue but I could just as easily have chosen ‘Ivory’ or ‘Black’.

TripleCrepe-Royal Blueprint poly


Different Textures

Winnie and I both had the same idea when it came to different textures, that is, using the infamous Prada satin-backed crepe . This fabric is crepe-like on one side and shiny like satin on the reverse, and it comes in 11 colours. The shiny side can be used for the hem band and the matte side for the skirt for a really professional looking skirt.


I used the ‘Ivory’ for mine, Winnie used the ‘Purple’, but the colours include ‘Jade’, ‘Royal Blue’, ‘Cerise’ and more. The beauty of using a fabric with two good sides like this one is that the colour match will always be perfect.

The other option is to go for two different fabrics with entirely different textures. My personal preference when using differing textures would be to stick to the same colour, or tones of the same colour. But of course it’s totally up to you.

You could make a beautiful evening skirt using the black crepe  along with a hem band made from sequinned fabric like this one , for example.

black crepe


Or how about something really crazy like tartan for the skirt with soft pleather for the hem band, for that mid 90s punk vibe? I chose this one  and this one from Minerva to illustrate, but in reality I wouldn’t want to be choosing pleather without sampling it first to check it’s the right weight and drape (and quality) for skirts. Most websites offer a sampling service for this reason.


I hope that’s given you a few ideas for your Champagne skirts. If you have any questions, do leave a comment here or tweet me @capitalchic – I would love to hear your ideas for contrasting fabrics and see pictures of your finished skirts!

Thank you Sally- this has really given me loads of food for thought ….I am particularly drawn to the sequinned hem band….wouldn’t that be so classy for the party season ?  But I am also drawn to the tartan/ pleather in a Vivien Westwood kind of way ….Now, it’s time for you to get creative!!  Sally is very kindly offering a copy of the Champagne skirt to one lucky reader.  If you would like to be entered into the draw please leave a comment and your choice of contrasting fabrics!  Whilst the winner will be chosen at random, I will share the fabric combo that you suggest.  The fabric can be links to real live fabrics from websites or your own description (but if using words please do not forget to tell me what colours you are imagining!  I want to get a real picture of all these awesome ideas – let loose your imagination & creativity! )

The giveaway is open until the end of Friday 3rd October.

Threshold shorts

More groovy runners: Threshold shorts by Fehr Trade

She has done it again!  Melissa at Fehr Trade has designed another pattern for activewear/ workout/ running with the most amazing piecing to end up with the most wearable of running shorts- the Threshold Shorts.

Threshold shorts

I was thrilled to be a tester & it’s like Christmas when the new pattern arrives in your inbox.  Opening up the files & printing out the pages comes with a tingle of excitement as the crazy shapes are revealed (“How is that going to fit with that piece there“?) .  Whilst I wouldn’t ever dream of being able to predict what Melissa’s designs would be, you can rely on their being beautiful bold curves & the most clever fabric jigsaw puzzle  (think the sweeping flashes in the PB Jam leggings, the different shaped backs of the XYT workout top, & then there was the VNA top with its clever piecing ).

(Links to pattern at Fehr Trade)


Threshold shorts


Threshold shorts

The Threshold shorts are running shorts- you know- upper thigh length, elasticated waist, not skin tight (no negative ease in the shorts), with echoes of the traditional bound hems of ready to wear shorts (like the “Really good” runners wear !)

Threshold shorts (8)

There are options.  You can include front pockets & / or a  back pocket, there is also a pattern included with instructions to make integral or stand alone RUNDERWEAR.  Can I say that again, because it is the most comically correct meld of two words into the best sounding new word: Runderwear.  :-)  Yes, Runderwear with a full or thong variety.

So the pattern delivers up all these things- running shorts that you would not feel out of place in running around the track (if you were so inclined).  I am extremely happy wearing them for street running, or even off road running- they really do the job, whatever that might be for you.

Threshold shorts

Another thing about these shorts –   the threshold shorts are designed for making out of woven fabric (except the runderwear which needs a good stretch – requirements are detailed in the pattern).   The shorts can also be made using sports fabric such as this mock eyelet that I used – it does have some degree of 2 way stretch, is not suitable for leggings, & in the case of these shorts, the stretch does not come into play, but there is some drape going on (not all good in this particular pair I’ve sewn!)  The advantage for me making these shorts in this fabric is that I could use my overlocker for a lot of the sewing :-)

I wanted to show the different shapes in different colours, but was severely limited by what I had in my stash- mere remnants – hence the strange colour blocking with an orange rear & red front.  At least I managed to get the contrast pockets which was my intention.

Threshold shorts

Anyway, I would normally make several pairs for testing, but was short of time & opted to make a pair of threshold shorts with all the options: pockets & runderwear.  The advice is to make a plain pair first to check sizing, which is good advice, but time was not on my side.

Threshold shorts

But making these shorts up doesn’t take a huge amount of time even with the wonderful piecing.  I would be very surprised & in a huge amount of awe for anyone who could sew these without referring to the instructions!  OK, the steps might follow some degree of usual process for constructing pockets first before you sew side seams etc, but the many wonderful pieces obscure your usual vision for thinking you know what to do next (well it did for me anyway).  I like that sometimes though, don’t you?  I enjoy being led, instructed & shown something new & exciting.  I always learn a lot sewing Fehr Trade patterns – there are always new techniques. For example, binding the hem.  I used FOE (Fold Over Elastic) which I have used before, but getting the hems bound before sewing the side seams means some canny joins – I am afraid mine weren’t perfect, but since this is the first attempt (of many to come) I am not overly worried. However, as alluded to earlier, I didn’t quite get the FOE to fabric ratio correct considering the drape & slight stretch of the fabric so it’s a bit fluted.

Threshold shorts ( my binding is not particularly classy…)

Look at the curves.  There are curved side pieces & a curved back yoke.  And curved pockets of course.

Threshold shorts

The runderwear (I said it again!) was easy to construct & uses the burrito method for getting a professional gusset (hahaha- why is that funny?)- I used some remnants of wicking supplex.  Yes, even runderwear can have pretty lace edges but Melissa notes in the variations section that you could keep the edges raw as in RTW runderwear.   (btw all my overlocking shows that I didn’t use matching thread – any white showing is the looper threads).    I attached my runderwear to the shorts – as in the instructions –  but didn’t realise in my blind enthusiasm that this would limit access to the back pocket (der brain) – although it is possible to access the back pocket via your shorts leg !  (Probably something you’d only do in the company of very good friends).  The front pockets here would not be very secure, but there is scope in the variations to add zips, velcro to overcome this.

Threshold shorts

I cannot wait to make my next pairs as I adore running shorts.  OK you got me.  I adore workout gear, but particularly anything that gets my legs out into the fresh air.  I have bought some woven fabric for my next pair & have enough to be more in control of the colour blocking this time.  I am not 100% sure about how the fabric will behave so will not link to it until I can say whether it’s a success or not.  But it is purple & green.  Yeah!

So, you can buy the Threshold Shorts here.  There is a discount until the 28 of September if you use the code BERLINMARATHON (Good luck Melissa!!)  and also Melissa has arranged a 10% off  airtex mesh and 2oz technical nylon fabrics at UKfabricsonline with the code UK-FEHR-01  Have a look at what other testers have said about the Threshold shorts at Fehr Trade too.

Happy running!

Sewing your own vs throwaway fashion

Happy Monday everyone! Fancy something to think about and make you feel *even better* about sewing? I know we all sew for many different reasons, and that’s a completely personal choice, but sometimes I like to think about how I’m contributing, albeit in a very small way, to the bigger picture. I was asked if I would like to share this infographic in time for London Fashion week, if you haven’t already seen it, here it is. No I am not trying to convert the non-believers, if anything I think this just gives us another reason to enjoy making our own clothes, so at the beginning of the week, with a weekend of sewing behind us & five days before the next, keep that sewing high going strong ….

PA Infographic

So you’re probably familiar with this concept – it’s useful to see it in fact form & get the latest figures, isn’t it?  Now the guys who prepared it (Plush Addict, who coincidentally are current sponsors of mine) also provided some words in the form of an article– and it’s worth a read. Generally I do not accept content from other authors except guest bloggers, but in this case, I made an exception – I am not receiving anything for it – just sharing the information which I think is interesting & certainly something I support by sewing – I have not bought any shop bought RTW clothing except a cardigan (plus shoes/ underwear) for almost three years now. OK, I have bought stacks of fabric, & I could probably improve the provenance of that, but one step at a time, do what you can with the means you have available to you, I say. So if you are interested to read more about the infographic, read on & say “hurrah” for your passion for handmade fashion & sewing your own clothes!…

It is London Fashion Week, which will surely make for a hot topic of conversation among the fashion media spokespeople this autumn. As much as we love to celebrate new trends we also feel it necessary to address the broader issues in fashion that contribute to current global issues.

Throw away fashion is a huge contributor to landfill waste and pollution. The UK, China and Hong Kong as the main offenders. In the infographic we explore how the growing demand for fashion is spiralling out of control and why sewing and other forms of handcraft, in combination with clothing recycling, can offer a sustainable alternative in 2014.

As a nation with a high demand for new, cutting edge trends there is always temptation to buy into throw-away fashion to suit personal cravings at every corner. Such actions, albeit short term guilty pleasures, have their downsides that produce mass waste, of which the environment bears the brunt.

Did you know..?

  • In the UK, an estimated 0.8 to 1 million tonnes of all textiles are sent to landfill each year.
  • In the UK, used clothing accounts for approximately 350,000 tonnes of landfilled textiles, an estimated £140 million worth
  • In China, the total annual production of textile waste is estimated to be over 20 million tonnes.
  • In Hong Kong, approximately 79,205 tonnes of textiles were sent to landfills in 2011.

Moving onto recycling within the textile industry, you may be surprised to know that choosing to upcycle clothing and reuse material can go some way to helping reduce environmental waste. It is heavily documented that:

  • Almost 100% of textiles are recyclable.
  • 1kg of re-used second-hand clothing can reduce up to: 3.6kg of CO2 emissions… 6,000 litres of water… 0.3kg of fertilisers… 0.2kg of pesticides.

The data contained within the infographic is cited from non-profit fashion oranisations and annual reports, it has been curated by online fabric retailer Plush Addict.

Plush Addict is a family run business which was founded in 2012 and born out of a serious fabric addiction. They are passionate about providing excellent customer service, fast delivery at a reasonable price, and try to offer a comprehensive depth of range. You can also get expert industry insight on bespoke handmade clothing via the Plush Addict website.

I hope you also found this interesting & will feel even better about the time and effort you put into making yourself something to wear – which is likely to suit you and fit you much better than buying disposable fashion. And due to the choices you made when selecting fabric and pattern, it’s going to last longer than this season’s hot trend. Enjoy being creative ! :-)


OWOP 2014 #Ultimatetrousers

I know….you don’t hear from me for nearly a week then all of a sudden I get active again!  What’s happening, well, what’s happened should be the question.  Time is of the essence.

So we have just had OWOP (One Pattern One Week) , the initiative started by Tilly & The Buttons & gracefully taken on by Jane of Handmade Jane this year. The aim is to take one favorite pattern & wear it throughout one week – showing its versatility in how you wear it in different ways.  I joined hundreds of others, putting their fave pattern through its paces between September 6th and September 12th.

Last time I chose Colette Violet blouse pattern.

Now this time I was a massive procrastinator, it has to be said. I think I only made my decision at the eve of OWOP itself, plumping to wear the Ultimate Trousers, a Sew Over It pattern, for the entire week. Why was my decision so apparently hard? It’s true I have lots of choice, & these are the patterns in my short list that I knew would see me through the week:

Simplicity 2154 – I have made two blouses (polka dot & black/white), a skirt as well as the cardigan (the Tweed skirt & sweet paper skirst would have been too hot)

The Deer & Doe Chardon skirt – I have made it in red denim, black & white polka dot cotton & pinstripe

Chardon skirtsThe Pavlova patterns by Cake– I have made a navy top, a red top, a linen floral skirt & my essential purple jersey skirt. This was actually second choice in the end.

PavlovaThe Laurel top & dress by Colette Patterns – I have the recent Liberty top here, my turquoise striped version here, then three dresses here.

Laurel dressesMaria Denmark Edith dress & tops – three blouses – a white, a blue & a striped plus the dress.

And Ultimate Trousers – having made a denim pair, a linen pair & a ditsy floral pair (but nothing work appropriate) but shorts if hot & at home!

This was effectively my shortlist, but I had to make my decision based on weather (we had just seen temperatures that were a tad chilly) & a pattern that would see me through officewear, a flight & weekend to Newcastle, bumming around home & an evening out.

Choosing Ultimate Trousers, therefore, was conditional upon my ability to sew up a pair of work appropriate trousers on Monday evening. I have already extolled the speed of making this pattern up, once you have sussed your fit, so I just had to make sure that I had space & time. Funnily enough, I had cut some out of a mole-coloured suiting the week before, but had forgotten to get thread in town at my last opportunity to purchase it! By that time though I was committed & fell back on some other fabric I had in my stash to make, what I lovingly term as my “Contingency Pants” – not to be confused with incontinence pants.   I will share more about these darlings later on in a post of their own, but for now, let’s get into some outfit pics.

Day 1:


Off to Newcastle on the plane – denim Ultimates, my Breton Coco with elbow patches & a handmade scarf.

 Day 2:


Most of the day was spent in sweaty lycra, but once showered I turned again to my denim ultimates with my Great North Run t-shirt, plus a Named Blair top in sweatshirting to see me through the journey home.  The photo above was taken after all this fun & games (my excuse for the blur …)

 Day 3:


At home which meant wearing my linen Ultimates with a Deer & Doe Datura top ….sewing Ultimate trousers in the evening :o)

 Day 4:


The Contingency pants were let loose upon a day at the office with a black sleeveless Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape top. My McCalls cardigan seemed to match the blacks & beiges perfectly. (The Contingency pants are cream & black mini dogtooth check in silk.  Strangely I after a day at work they really felt too big, so I am still tweaking the fit – above are the un-tweaked with version)

 Day 5:


The contingency pants again – this time with an Edith blouse. I felt I was channelling Betty Draper in my ballet flats & my Julia cardigan. It was rather a warm afternoon, & my silk trousers would not have been first choice for that heat!

 Day 6:


Working at home in linen Ultimates with a Colette Violet blouse in dobby white.

And then, the evening out! Another occasion to revel in Ultimates!

OWOP 6 eve

My ditsy floral trousers, worn with that Satsuma Named Blair top – this top is such a brilliant evening top- I love it with a camisole underneath!

 Day 7:


Another working at home day, so I wore my denim Ultimates with a Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee (with birdies) & my By Hand Victoria knit blazer.

 What did I learn from the OWOP experience?

Well, the Ultimate trousers are incredibly versatile & were a good choice – except when it was hot & I would naturally have opted for a dress or skirt – but that’s the way it is. The Ultimates also see through different seasons – it’s end of summer now moving into autumn – & I have trousers that won’t get packed away at season change time. Lovely. And of course, if I had the time & inclination, I could have made up a pair for every day of the week, such a quick make are they- but I didn’t have the time & that would have been spoiling the spirit for OWOP for me, as for me, it was about making a staple piece work in different ways. I think I have shown that?

How have you got on? Did you survive OWOP?

SB Comino cap

Stripes, dots & flowers all in one – Comino Cap dress by Kitschy Koo

I was lucky enough to be asked to join a pot pourri of different body shapes testing the latest pattern by Kitschy Koo, the Comino cap dress earlier in the summer.   Assured that it was a very quick make, and having been super impressed ( like mostly everyone else who’s made it) by the Lady Skater dress I really could not say no!  In fact I probably gushed and whooped rather a lot!

Comino Cap dress

This dress and top creates a ‘grown on’ or kimono type sleeve for a knit dress/ top. You can choose between a plain bodice or a bustier style sweetheart bodice and the dress has an a line skirt. This really allows you to play around with contrasting fabric and trying to put two fabrics together from my stash was a challenge I took up with glee.  In the end I repurposed some red/ white polka dot that I had bought from Minerva (originally intended for other things) and paired it with some cheap striped/ floral jersey I’d bought from my previous trip to Abakhan.  You don’t need very much for the contrast, so I have enough left of that to make something else.
The red polka dot though has the most amazing drape and even though it is very polyestery, it is a quality fabric, and hangs beautifully and even as an a line dress has a degree of swing.

Comino cap dress

Ok the pattern- I was not disappointed and loved being part of a group testing the pattern via a closed Facebook group- we could interact with each other, see the fabric combos and read about any questions / potential issues encountered.  It was a very dynamic way to test patterns – everyone seemed to chip in and Amanda’s responses were keen, quick, responsive. A thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating experience! A big thank you to Amanda for bringing in me and my body shape, and to the other members of the testing group.

Comino Cap dress

Another huge bonus for being part of such a social media testing group was being able to see what others were making their Comino cap dresses out of- the way others had interpreted using a solid with a print.  There were tops and there were maxi dresses. It was / is inspiring.

SB Comino cap side

Now the dress, and top. I made the dress once, and will easily make it again since it is not only very quick to make is a knit ( and we know how much I love sewing and wearing knits, right) but it is also darn cute. That bodice with the sweetheart contrast- adorable with a capital A.  But at the same time how can something this cute be made out of a knit? It’s so easy ? The sleeves are just part if the bodice so not additional pieces to sew in. They are finished with a bound edge which I did out of contrast, as I also did with the bound neckline.

SB Comino Cap back


I am looking forward to making more- tops, plain dresses perhaps but choosing some contrast knits to really play around with which two fabrics to put together. But what I love about this particular combo is that I now have a dress that has spots, stripes and flowers all in one!!!

Now I tested this earlier in the summer & have been catching up with posting about my summer makes – this does actually form part of my summer sewing bender .  Since making it, I have worn it heaps.  Not only is it super comfy to wear whilst rather girlie, it is easy care – wash, definitely no iron, & wear.  What a winner.

Thanks again ! I had a ball :-) AND you just wait till I get my next version organised, cut & sewn. What a blinder that promises to be J

champagne skirt

Minerva Make: Champagne Skirt by Capital Chic

Hey where’s the week gone?  I know just where…amongst the nerves & preparations for the Great North Run (of which I  am sure I will return to some kind of mention later in the month), plus sewing deadlines (I have had birthdays to sew for amongst other things) plus the havoc wreaked by the malfunction of domestic appliances I have had little time for blogging.  And still so much to share of my recent makes & exploits! Let’s stick to plan & I will get back on track later this week.  It’s time to reveal this month’s Minerva make.

I was lucky enough to have been given a copy of the Champagne skirt by Sally (aka Charity Shop Chic) when she launched her brand new range of patterns in the summer, Capital Chic Patterns. You can read here about my particular favorites and also visit her site here, but there are plenty that have been designed for a smarter day to night look- or in my case- just smarter office wear. (I would love to have the cocktails after work lifestyle, darlings, but *just don’t have time*).

Champagne skirt

So, with careful consideration I selected the Champagne skirt as I had been inspired by one of the versions Sally had made to try something a little bit special with the flirty hem.

champagne skirt

This skirt lends itself to working with contrast fabrics – the main skirt can be given a level of zing, or oooh, or even WO! By using other coloured fabrics, pleather, even fabric checks or stripes could look mucho interesting as a contrast. Or you can make it in a solid colour, all in one (like Nicole has so delightfully here).  Later this month Sally will be guesting here with some advice on choosing contrasts for skirts such as this & there just may be a bit of a giveaway – watch this space!

Anyway, my cunning plan was to go for a solid colour….but to make use of that awesome Prada reversible self lined crepe. Having used it before as a winter bow shirt dress I was all to keen to give it another go as I love its crepey “rough” side and think there’s some stylish contrasting that can be achieved by using the shiny side. The fabric sews up wonderfully & would be perfect for moving into autumn/ winter.

Champagne skirt

Minerva offer so many colours I was a bit stumped. Loathe as I was to opt for a safe black, I took a calculated risk & opted for purple. Yes I am going to not care & wear purple to the office.

champagne skirt

Choice made, I could steam ahead. Now, the Champagne skirt comes with instructions to line it, but in this case, the shiny side is my lining, so I omitted everything lining related & just sewed it up with the crepe. I went for view A – its contrast hem layer is straight at the front with, to quote, “a party at the back”. Cute flippy semi flounce. This transforms a “pencil skirt” in my view plus, having walked around in it, gives you a bit more room to manoeuvre whilst still maintaining a slim & sleek fit. No vents required.

champagne skirt

Wanna see that flippy party up close?  OK!

champagne skirt

Sewing the Champagne skirt up was really straight forward & I picked up the odd new approach. It’s a simple pencil skirt, darts, back zip with an extra piece sewn on the hem to make the flounce/ contrast. The new approach I followed was an interesting process for setting in the invisible zip. The instructions guide you through fine from using interfacing to stabilise the fabric (something I need to adopt as my own general practice for zips – I do think it helps create a better finish, especially for invisibles), to basting the zip in such a way that you get really up close to those teeth. This is potentially my most invisible of invisibles!

champagne skirt Apols about the shocking state of the top zip/ waistband area – you’ll see below I make mention that these pics were taken after a rigorous day at the office- with no iron in between!  But maybe I need to get the hook & bar placement better aligned….

And interestingly it is put in with the back seam sewn in advance of setting the zip. Hmm. It provokes me to remember to try it again, was this result a total fluke on my behalf?!?!?

Champagne skirt

I’d say that whilst in general Capital Chic patterns are not aimed at beginners, this skirt is a straightforward make. The instructions assume a certain level of sewing experience, but it’s a pencil skirt, with a zip. And a lining if you choose. If there is not enough detail in the instructions, it would be easy enough to refer to another pattern that does. But to be honest, apart from the invisible zip (which is explained perfectly well in my view, but I wouldn’t want to lead anyone down the wrong path here!) – I can’t see what else would need to be included in the instructions.

Champagne skirt

So the wearing. Well. I had a few attempts at getting the fit at the side seams just right – I think I’ve eaten too much cake this summer so had to let the side seams out a bit. This is the picture (with stomach held in & ahem, nothing underneath to add bulk! ) which clearly was not a look I could get away with on a daily / public basis!

champagne skirt

So I took out a bit more from the side seams to result in a skirt that was most successful at work: walking to work; sitting at a desk; climbing stairs; sitting in numerous chairs for my checks at the opticians and finally on the bus home.

champagne skirt

In case you were thinking, “slobby pictures with lots of creases” – well you’re right. But it was half deliberate as well.

Champagne skirt

These pictures were taken after putting this skirt through some  vigorous paces – with me trying to replicate at home (clearly I do have some strange office habits) – to demonstrate the minimal creasing of this fabric. What a show stealer. Maybe the black will find its way into my stash at some point, and the red too. In terms of extras – it fastens with a hook & bar plus I used waistband Vilene Fold-a-band – I do like that stuff – gives a nice firm finish & keeps folds neat & crisp.

So I think I am a bit in love with this Champagne skirt.  It was just the tonic for moving into autumn clothing & beating those grumps at no longer wearing summer dresses to work.  It’s almost as if school’s started again & I’ve got my new uniform & a shiny new pencil case filled with felt tip pens all colours of the rainbow.

Ultimate Coco

Ultimate Coco weekending

Over the bank holiday weekend I was in Cornwall.  I know.  I get there a bit, don’t I?  Well it helps when your family lives there.   So, as usual, I kept back some recent makes in order to make the most of the scenery down there, & the availability of a tame photographer.  These photos are all taken by my Mum with my new to me DSLR.  It’s extremely exciting – but I feel so ignorant as well.  But, starting simple – the presets are already making me squeal with joy.

This weekend (rather a long weekend- I was there for five days) was only going to be casual- but not overly warm – and my newly made Coco top (my fourth now) was the ideal wear – not only due to its long sleeves & slightly heavier cotton fabric, but also due to its seasiding nature (oh yeah!  can’t resist some themes here!!).

Ultimate CocoThe fabric is genuine Breton fabric bought from Brittany, so kindly organised for me by my IG friend La Mouette Au Sec.  It’s a kind of cotton interlock (I think that is how you describe it), & has a real Breton shirtness about it.  I chose burgundy, as I have never had a burgundy Breton before, & believe me, in my time I have had a ton of Bretons, but only ever navy striped.

Ultimate Coco

I departed from the true spirit of the Breton shirt however, clearly using Tilly’s Coco Top pattern for all apart from the elbow patches.  For these I stole the size & shape from the Deer & Doe Plantain top.  The fabric is a cute ditsy jersey (no longer available) from Clothkits that I have since made another top out of – but more of that another time.

Coco elbow


How I love the Coco top – I can whip one up in less than 2 hours start to finish. It’s an overlocker make for me, with just the neck & hems that use either my regular zig zag or coverstitch respectively.

Ultimate Coco

But what about the natty trews? Way hey!  They are another pair of Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It – this time using a stretch denim.  Oh my but these are comfy.  I have to say that Ultimates are unusually comfortable for a fitted pair of trousers even without any lycra content, but when you add lycra, wow.  Super comfy almost like jeggings (I guess, never having worn any, but they must come close).

Ultimate Coco

Once again I made the Ultimates with a regular lapped zipper – my haberdashery’s invisible zips are ludicrously expensive compared to a 30p regular 8″ zip and in such limited colours too.  I like using lapped zippers so much, it’s so much more predictably finished than an invisible zipper too.

Ultimate zip

I am so addicted to this pattern- it’s another really simple make, once you are confident you know what you’re doing with the fit.  So I’ve got three pairs (& a pair of tester shorts) – but my Twitter friend @Ali_Goddard has 8 pairs!  Yes – she has fallen for Ultimate Trousers bad- but in a good way, clearly.  And that’s just for summer!!

Ultimate Coco

So this is my seasiding outfit for late summer.  I am still verging on Ultimates being my OWOP, but I would need to make a pair for work, & I am not sure I have the time (with other more pressing deadlines to meet).  And I know I need to decide like real soon, as it starts later this week!

Coco party

Tell you what, if I was on hols Coco would be my OWOP pattern – look- I took all four with me to Cornwall, & they all got worn!

As well as the one you’ve just seen there is:

Turquoise Merino CocoSpotty Coco and the nautical Coco Dress

Edith Edith Edith

Edith, Edith, Edith

The trouble with having had a summer sewing bender is that I’ve got lots of blogging to do to catch up with my productivity.  I mean, I’m being forced to cluster makes together in order to blog about them before the seasons totally change!  And why is that a problem?  Well, maybe it’s not, but you do end up having lots to read about & even more photos than normal….  Beware!

Edith dress

OK, today we’re talking about the Edith dress or blouse  by Maria Denmark.  Remember I made it previously here as part of my Oonapalooza outfit?  Well so enamoured of it was I that I hastily made up another in white repurposing a white formal ladies’ shirt given to me by my Mum – it has a lovely embroidered “bib” front & the quality of the cotton is too fine to hand over to charity when I could re-use it myself.

The shirtThe shirt

I had thought I would do a simple upcycle to it – maybe cutting off the sleeves, keeping the high collar, but after discovering what an essential style the Edith is, it felt as if a plain white version would be incredibly useful.   Effectively I cut out all of the Edith pattern pieces from an existing garment- there was no refashioning here – just unimaginative pin & cut.  There were elements that needed a bit of imagination to eek the shirt out to provide enough fabric – eg the front facings were cut from the sleeves but in two pieces & had to be joined (but that’s inside & doesn’t show).  The shoulders also do not extend quite as far as the pattern designs them to extend.  BUT I did manage to cut out two fronts with the embroidery placed in the mirror positions of each other.

Edith blouse details

There were not a lot of scraps left over from this shirt.  I even recycled the buttons – the cuffs & the collar both had fancy buttons with some kind of black centre & marcasite style detailing.  But I needed 5 for the front, so alternated them with the plain buttons also from the shirt.

edith blouse

This top delivers as a useful wardrobe addition – a sleeveless white shirt is always handy as a mixer & it’s so summery as well.  It seems to always be in the wash (or being worn).  So a hit there.

After two such successful blouses,  I was desperate to make the dress & raided the stash to bring out some adorable lawn that I had been saving for *the right make* and at last I was able to release it from the cupboard & put it to use.  Bearing in mind you need enough length of fabric to cut both front & back in one piece there was just enough.  It’s just as quick to make it as a dress as it is the blouse.  Just slightly longer seams ;-)

Edith dressEdith as a dress

I rapidly constructed it & eagerly matched some buttons using the turquoise in the pattern to add a little bit of interesting contrast.

Edith dressI love this dress to wear!  It is the most comfortable hot weather dress ever – it looks cute & shapely, yet, since it doesn’t have a tight fitting waist (& remember I avoid waistbands in the heat) it is sooooo coooool.

Edith dress

I am a little disappointed that I made it later in the summer to be honest – as I feel as if I missed out wearing it through some of the hottest days & I would have loved to have swanned around in it more.  I reckon I could get away with this as a work dress too with different sandals.

Edith dress

I can also see this dress in linen, can’t you?  Particularly a lovely navy linen with red buttons?

Edith dress

Now the last Edith is the Edith blouse.  As a consequence of the white Edith success, I thought that another solid coloured Edith would be most useful & found some sky blue linen type fabric that I had recently bought from one of the Abakhan rummage bins.

Edith blouse chambray

You know, there is not a lot to say about this one apart from the detailing I added.  I used some self made bias (out takes from my Liberty Laurel ) to bind the armholes.  I also found some cute white flower buttons to strike a girlie contrast.

Edith blouse details

It’s also maybe come a bit late in the season as we are all surviving plummeting temperatures & rather a lot of rain.  Still, I have managed to wear it.  Now look out!  The following photos were taken by my very own David Bailey (my photographer father who now has a new camera!!)

Edith blouseI’m wearing a shortened version of my polka dot rick rack culottes too.

Edith blouse


This pose made my Dad chuckle, hahaha!!

I just didn’t wear them as they were, so opted to lop off the scallops at the hem to make them into “shorts/ culottes”.

Edith blouseHere you can see how the Edith nips in at the waist & has flattering & practical slightly extended shoulders.

Edith blouseGuess what people?  I adore the Edith blouse – it could be my OWOP, but I’m still vacillating ….I love its rounded turn back collar, its sleevelessness – its extended shoulders, its nipped in waist.  It is a doll of a pattern, but in terms of OWOP, I’m anticipating autumn…..  What do you think?

Hepworth dress

Mother’s Pride dress- my second Hepworth- THE summer dress of 2014

Remember last week I said I had two special dresses to share with you?  Well this is the second one.

Hepworth dress

I’d been given some money for my birthday back in February from my parents knowing that I would get most pleasure from buying fabric with it.  How well they know me! It was about the time that Roisin had shown off her Northland Row dress and I swooned over the fabric she’d used (Alexander Henry Golden Garden) .  This has an oriental feel to it- and being a lover of orientalise decorative art sought it out.  Strangely enough I found a one off seller on Etsy, in Canada, that was cheaper than buying it from the UK.  ( I can be such a skinflint sometimes!!)
I chose red because I love red, it is one of my basics, my neutrals.  And the fabric arrived and was kept with reverence, being accorded the privilege of space in one of my fabric drawers.  ( At the moment my stash cannot fit in the drawers I have, and subsequently, recent purchases reside in piles on the floor of my loft room. )

Hepworth dress

Once I had completed my whiteboard sewing programme, I fancied I would be inspired to make something for my youngest son’s graduation.  This was not planned for, it was not on the whiteboard- I had let myself off the hook since I’ve clearly got plenty of choices to wear to a graduation should I not feel like making anything.  Luckily I know myself well enough to realise that given a swatch of time, I would be compelled to make a new frock. And serendipitously the culmination of ‘special fabric gifted by my parents’ and ‘special occasion for a proud Mum’ formed into this dress.

Hepworth dress
This fabric being super special needed a plain fronted style I was thinking.  Possibly a Sewaholic Cambie.  But I didn’t choose that, I chose the Hepworth dress by Sinbad and Sailor.  Since making my first version of this dress I have probably worn it more than any of my other dresses to work as it is the perfect work appropriate summer dress: classic shaping, formal enough neckline, comfortable roomy but flattering a line skirt plus pockets.  And I get compliments every time I wear it.  So with this success in mind, the Hepworth was the ideal pattern to showcase the awesome fabric strewn with cherry blossom and the occasional Chinese character.  And I knew it would look a just a tad more formal for a graduation, but not be too formal that I’d wear it infrequently.

Hepworth dress

I cut the pattern pieces out carefully, with the fabric’s pattern in mind, especially the centre bodice piece ( remember the style has princess seams at the front but darts at the back).  Somehow though I cut the back pieces on the fold. I mean who cuts the back pieces on the fold? It meant that any pattern matching I thought I was doing went completely awry when I cut them up in half.  Thinking about it after the event ( aren’t we all so good at that- realising what other options we had when it turns out to be too late!) yes, after it was too late, I realised I could have had an awesome back and front with uninterrupted cherry blossom twigs if I had moved the zip to the side. But I didn’t clearly.  Which is even more galling considering I even cut it in error on the fold.  Der brain strikes again.

Hepworth dress

So sewing this up was great- I do love the facings, see what I wrote about them last time. I had some alterations to make to the centre back this time- not sure whether I did this last time, or cut it too big this time, whatever was the case, I still had too much going on at the CB bodice as well as a little but too much at the upper side seams.  And let me ask you a question.   Have you ever been caught out by lack of notions at critical points in the sewing process?  I was making this dress up at breakneck speed, only to discover that I had no red dress zips in my stash. What!! No zip?? no time for a special trip to town, I had to look around for a willing victim. A cushion cover sacrificed itself for the greater good, but to be honest,the zip is only just big enough and I could barely get the dress over Barbarella’s shoulders- mine are a little more squidgy, but I shall be swapping it for a longer one when I get the chance.

Hepworth dress

So for the ceremony itself I also paired it with my recent black velvet bolero & was that a match made in heaven?  I had no idea boleros were just so useful, but it certainly suits this style of dress I think.  And the black marabou peps up the special factor even more.

Hepworth dress

And I know the question you are dying to ask me, did I blub as my youngest born, dressed in possibly the smartest suit I have ever seen, with brand new haircut & shiny shoes, did I blub as he strode across the stage to shake hands with the Chancellor & receive his degree?  Well, not at that exact moment, but beforehand a slight moistening to my eye could be detected by anyone looking close enough (but no one did ;-) )  No, for that all important moment let me warn you…do not attempt to take a photograph to mark the occasion.  I fell into the same trap for this time as for my first born – too busy trying to capture the moment (& ending up with a poorly lit blurred back shot) – when I could have just enjoyed the moment itself.  But let’s be honest, that moment is just a symbol of the end point of all of the hard work, development of independence & confidence, new friendships & lots of new skills that studying at Uni 180 miles away brings.  The best part of the celebration was what we did as a family before & after, but it’s always lovely to be part of a little pomp & ceremony, a bit of a do, isn’t it?

Hepworth dress

OK back to the dress.  The good news?  This dress is also getting worn a lot during my work week, just like its predecessor.  Its cut & styling is smart enough for summer office wear & I love it.  So glad that I made it in time for a very special day & then for the rest of the summer.  I think this Hepworth pattern is possibly my dress pattern of 2014 you know …last year it was everyone’s favorite, Simplicity 2444, this year, the Hepworth, judging by how many wears both dresses are getting.

Hepworth dressYESSSSSS!

What’s your summer dress of 2014?

PS apologies about the trashy slip ….clearly I looked a whole heap better on the day!

VNA top feature

VNA Top the third

Hello you lovelies!  Another catch up post- this time for the third VNA top I made but forgot to photograph all those weeks ago.  I won’t up much about it, as that’s already done here.

VNA top

But suffice to say, this is my fave version & I have found myself wearing it the most.

VNA top

It’s got wicking blue lycra paired with non wicking drapey “mystic girl” fabric.  I’ve used this before for leggings as well as a running skirt, & I love its quirkiness.   But both of these fabrics have about the same amount of drape, and they are similar thickness – perfect to pair together from a practical point of view.

VNA top

I cut the top out with regard for how the pattern would be placed – here I have mystic lady on my belly, whilst at the back- butterflies & baubles – I like to think they are crystal balls!

I’ve written about the clever design of the VNA top & how you can get different looks in how you use contrast fabric & even mock piping here, if you are interested in more of the VNA top’s  sewing details.

VNA top

What’s it like to wear non-wicking lycra in the heat?  Well, with a style like the VNA that is sleeveless & racer back & with light weight fabric like this that drapes, I wouldn’t know that the mystic lady fabric is prone to superheat & super sweat.  However, some of my other tops, made out of slightly thicker lycra, non wicking again, fit closer to the body & for me are a tad too hot for the hot days – I like a little bit of air flow around my poor suffering bod.  Those I reserve for less steamy days.

VNA top

You’ll see that this version’s blue matches with my Duathlons – but in a subtle way.  Once again, despite the ability to match this top with the other leggings/ running skirt – that is not how I like to wear it – I can’t be doing the whole matchy matchy run kit.  Well.  Not generally.  But I could if I wanted !!

And I also have to add, that these Duathlons have been my most worn summer shorts- perfect length, I love the pockets in the sides too – just right for iPhone to be crammed in to deliver me my happy tunes.  I reckon my Fehr Trade wardrobe’s doing me well for my running style (groan!)

Oh yes.  I have done something insanely stupid.  I have signed up for three half marathons in September, starting with the Great North Run.  Looking back on it dispassionately to understand just why I did it, It seems that my lack lustre & excuse ridden  training over the summer required me to scare my veritable running pants off myself in order to get my lycra clad a*s in gear & get out there & get running.  It’s worked – nothing like fear as a motivator!

No PB predicted mind you, but hopefully I can be in a good place for training better over the winter this time ….we shall see.

Post post addition.  In response to some queries in the comments, this is where I get wicking lycra from-  Ukfabricsonline who just happen to be my sponsor, but I have been buying wicking lycra  from them long before that venture started – they have a mixture of different types- some solids, some animal print (oh yes!) & some less stretchy stuff that is good for looser t shirts & shorts (not leggings.

The blue fabric used in this top was from the Sewing Chest – also supplies wicking lycra.  The crazy lady fabric is not wicking & I bought it from some European site at a very good price (but memory fails me on that one for links, sorry!)