IT’S OFFICIAL – COMMENTS ARE WORKING!! A whole choir of trumpeting angels has taken a break from carol singing & is covering a Stevie Wonder song in celebration (in my head anyway!) Those fab tech guys have persevered & have got it all sorted for me – thank you Page.ly. Now I am able to let loose some stored up posts, & have even recovered some (but not all ) of the comments you were brave enough to try for me – I will answer them shortly 🙂
So, onto the Charlotte skirt. Which way did I go? Peplum or hem ruffle. Let’s start at the beginning ….
I have to admit that I nearly passed out in a Victorian swoon when I first clapped eyes on the Charlotte skirt, a By Hand London design. I only had thoughts for the version with the hem ruffle, but but as we know, it also allows a peplum design as well as a super curvy unadorned pencil skirt. It was simply dreamy. I was imagining it made in suiting for work, a plain black one also for work & in peacock print for playtime. And I’m not revealing yet the most exciting variant I have in mind….
But hang on, isn’t it “just” a simple pencil skirt with a frill? I did wonder this myself, but with some self awareness knew that even if I could replicate this myself I surely would not get around to it in the near future & I was frothing with craving for a frilled skirt once I had seen the Charlotte. So as soon as it was released I swooped. It became mine. And let me tell you this is not “just” a pencil skirt with frill variations. Let me stop any such thoughts interfering right now & carry on with the love affair….
Here it is…..peplum or ruffle…first sighting…
As soon as I’d ordered, Charlotte, the co-founder was straight in email conversation chatting (I could gauge her excitement) – really approachable (nice to meet you Charlotte 🙂 ) When the pattern arrived it was packaged so thoughtfully, you could tell that this was an important element of their product: a sturdy cerise cardboard package with slip cover containing booklet & pattern (& I loved Charlotte’s character description on the cover ). Sadly Charlotte had the difficult job of trying to reign me in as a temporary glitch meant a pause before the tissue patterns were reissued. But, I could not wait! It is a skirt, not a complex dress. I was happy to make my own tweaks to the pattern by making a muslin & measuring pattern pieces in advance of cutting.
I took it slowly, as you know I have a number of things vying for my attention at the moment afterall, & plenty of Christmas makes I should be busy with (if I made it too quickly guilt would surely make its entry – slow make in between other projects = minimal guilt) . I used some wool mix that I had bought at a previous trip to Birmingham’s Rag market in a woolly plum mix colour. I didn’t have an invisible zip so sewed a lapped zipper, which I’m OK with, but I can imaging it looking a lot sleeker with an invisible zip.
Bit by bit I put it together & I tried it on as I went, adjusting the side seams & lengthened the darts slightly. This is not unusual for me sewing skirts, particularly such a style as this which is meant to fit well, hugging those curves. But it was a straightforward make, it is said to be suitable for a beginner afterall.
I left the ruffle & the length till last, having sewn the waistband, button hole & button before deciding on where to cut off the hem & where to place the ruffle. It was really fascinating messing around with ruffle placement – I had discounted the peplum thinking that it would make me look too hip heavy- but actually it’s cute (& Rachel totally rocks her peplum Charlotte here).
This pattern could be worn by someone far more leggy than me – I had a good 12″ to cut off, but not before I tried various lengths out along the way.
The ruffle is made on the fold so that there is no hem. Gathering is made through a double layer – it attaches to the skirt & the fold forms the hem. You saw here that I used a zig zag plus dental floss gathering method. I am really pleased how this turned out, but will not be able to recycle the floss for another ruffle (but perhaps it can still be used for flossing :-s – joke!)
The only thing I would say is that the instructions might not quite provide enough information for a complete beginner to attach the ruffle, & the method suggested for gathering was by making hand stitches- which I bet would give you lots of control, but not for me I’m afraid, there is a lot of ruffle to gather & if I hadn’t used the floss method I would certainly have used my machine for basting & I would even tempted to reinvestigate my ruffler foot on my overlocker….
But, before attaching the ruffle I had a dilemma about the skirt’s length & once again the approachable Charlotte responded to my query about the ideal length. I wanted to make sure that the wonderful siren lines created by the curves would not be ruined by me hacking too much off. I was interested to know about her sense of proportion in the design. Her advice was to cut the hem (of the ruffled variety) about 2″ above the knee so that the ruffle falls just below the knee when it is finished. But check out By Hand’s Blog for other hem variations such as this one by Elisalex.
Now, back to the style again. I have to tell you that there is some serious shaping going on in this design: it is no ordinary pencil skirt. This little number has CURVACIOUS written all over it. The double darts work really well, the designed ease at hips & sweeping curve to the hem highlight the hourglass. The hem is a hobble hem (not that I know if there is a strict definition to that, but I cannot walk in my usual stride). It was something else that I queried with Charlotte, you see my original plans to make this into a work skirt out of suiting required it to be possible to perform my customary 2 mile walk to & from work each day (with galloping great hills). Could this skirt fit the bill, or would it be destined for more genteel use (permanently adorned with a glass of bubbly perhaps?).
When I wore it to work it was a driving day to our offices in another town. Even getting into the driving seat requires more decorum than my usual ungainly split leg approach. But I tottered into the office with my heeled boots (not worn much these days due to aforementioned habit of yomping) feeling so girly & well fitted. This skirt is super feminine & making it in wool was very cosy. I did not feel “too fitted” as sitting down was fine & didn’t result in an urge to undo the waistband as soon as no one was looking. The pattern suggest using fabric with a little stretch & I do have some lined up for later versions, however, this wool mix doesn’t really have much give, & I can assure you it is comfortable, it really doesn’t feel like the kind of skirt you get “poured into”. The only thing that did make me smile was thoughts of the hem, & how it barely fits over your hips, when you need to, erm, raise your skirt in the “smallest” room.
Oh how I adore this pattern!!!! I want to make many many more. I want to make “the” one that I have in mind in time for party season, but first need to get gift sewing under control….I also fancy a mini version that could well possibly be better suited to hiking up & down gradients. I think there will come a time when I go peplum too, now that my paranoia about adding to my hips has been dampened. However I have to say that I am devoted to the hemline ruffle will I be able to make that departure?
With the Elisalex dress, what a fantastic first pair of designs from By Hand. Can’t wait to see what comes next (no pressure!!) And I wonder if my boys are brave enough to buy me this dress pattern for Christmas – it is on my wishlist!?! I so fancy making the long sleeved version …
Now if you do fancy leaving a comment, it should be working & the lovely ladies at By Hand will be able to see what you think …..Bye for now all – I am so happy to be functioning again! 🙂