Completed: Lady Skater t-shirt

Lady Skater t-shirt frontI could do with some new t-shirts to replace some old and worn ones and since I am very happy with the fit of the Lady Skater dress I decided to turn the bodice into a t-shirt pattern.

The shoulder seam tends to shift backwards when I wear my Lady Skater dress so I moved it forward on my t-shirt pattern and I think that this is an improvement as it now stays in place. This is an adjustment that I need to do more often so I am a bit surprised I missed it earlier.

The bodice of the dress finishes around the waist so I needed to extend it to t-shirt length. To do this I used the t-shirt pattern from the Craftsy Sewing with knits class. At first I simply overlapped the two patterns matching at center front or center back and the armpit (more or less, obviously they didn’t match completely at the latter). I then simply merged the side seams of the two patterns, making sure that they would be the same length on the front and back pattern pieces. In the end I ended up taking the t-shirt in quite a bit because I wanted it to be more fitted than the sewing with knits pattern was.

WLady Skater t-shirt sidehen trying it on I found the hem too long but I think I was a bit too enthusiastic when I chopped the excess length off. My next t-shirt will be longer.

Overall I am happy with the fit and the matching of the stripes turned out pretty good as well. The seams were sewn with my overlocker but because I was working with a stripe I first machine basted the seams that needed pattern matching to ensure a good match. This did make the process longer since I essentially had to do those seams twice but unpicking overlock stitches to fix shifted stripes would have taken even longer.

Lady Skater backI was very lucky to find this fabric at a fabric market last week. I was looking for stripes but most of them were the wrong colour or very narrow. I had almost given up hope on finding a suitable one when I spotted this fabric hidden at the bottom of a huge pile. I quickly realised it is exactly the same type of fabric as a grey/purple stripe I bought a couple of years ago that is very comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, the vendor only had 1.2 m left on the bolt and only this colour combination. Otherwise I would certainly have bought more! I don’t wear a lot of bold prints but I do love a good stripe.

I see many more t-shirts in my near future. In fact, I’ve already started cutting out another one. I also want to play a bit with different necklines to add variety.

Lady Skater t-shirt

UFO Busting: Self-drafted A-line skirt

I proudly present what may very well be the best fitting skirt I have ever had. I made the pattern following (most of the) instructions from Craftsy’s “Design and sew an a-line skirt” class. The fit of this skirt is so much better than any RTW skirt I have been able to find. The main reason I hardly ever used to wear a skirt is that I simply didn’t have any good fitting ones. Usually, when I tried on a RTW skirt it was either way too large at the waist or way too tight at the hip. Now I want to make lots more!

Denim A-line skirt

This quite simple skirt turned into an UFO because I probably used inaccurate measurements when I drafted my first pattern months ago. My muslin looked hideous. I decided to toss it and start from scratch. This time, I marked the exact location of my waist, hip and desired hem line on my body so that I would be sure to measure in the right location and also have accurate waist-hip and waist-hemline measurements.

I still had to tweak the side seam between waist and hip quite a bit in my muslin because the difference between those two measurements is quite large due to my pear shape. Perhaps I could get it to fit even better in that region in a next version but for now I’m very pleased with how it looks.

A-line skirt with inset pocketInstead of making a very basic skirt I wanted something a bit more special, so I added a facing, cut up the front and back to do some colour blocking and added inset pockets. How to draft this type of pocket isn’t included in the class but I very much prefer this pocket over the options provided in the class. For example, I detest inseam pockets. Seriously, they always gape and then stand out a little bit from your body and since they’re usually located in the hip region of a skirt or dress they draw extra attention to your hips. I think it is safe to assume that over 90% of Western women does not want to draw extra attention to her hips. So, my advice is to avoid inseam pockets like the plague. It’s not difficult to add inset pockets to an existing pattern, although with hindsight I should probably have made mine a little deeper.


For the skirt fabric I used pieces of cut up old jeans. I have collected a selection of old worn jeans that I occasionally cut up into pieces and use to make stuff. When I pulled out my stash I discovered I had 14(!) pairs that I hadn’t yet cut into, which, even to me, seems like a somewhat ridiculous amount. Most worn jeans still have areas where the fabric is in very good condition, most often the back of the lower part of the leg. You want to avoid using parts that are clearly worn and the knees. Most denim nowadays contains some spandex and the knees in old jeans have usually become stretched out and baggy. For this skirt I used fabric from 5 different pairs and I really like how they work together. For the facing and pocket lining I used a floral cotton. The facing is interfaced with medium weight woven interfacing.

denim A-line skirtSome of you may have been wondering when I was ever going to post a project for which I used my new overlocker and coverstitch machine. Right now! I finished the seam allowances with a 3-thread overlock stitch and I think the inside now looks very nice and it was so much faster than what I used to do before. The hem was finished with a 2 needle coverstitch and I also really like how that turned out.

Left: details of 3-thread overlock stitch. Right: 2-needle coverstitch on hem.

Left: details of 3-thread overlock stitch. Right: 2-needle coverstitch on hem.

Largest revelations during the skirt drafting stage:

  • I do not need darts in the skirt front (which is actually a very good thing because it reduces the number of darts to sew by a whopping 50%!). Instead I lowered the top of the skirt a little bit at the centre front to ensure that the top of the whole skirt would be parallel to the floor.
  • Pinning a back dart on yourself while simultaneously trying to look in a mirror to see what you are doing puts you at serious risk of a strain injury.
  • My back darts needed to be quite a bit longer than I originally thought they should be.

140201_A-lineskirt4I did find this Craftsy class useful but I thought the teacher was a bit too happy. If you want to learn how to draft a simple skirt it is a good option though and if you start out with the right measurements you’ll most likely end up with a very nice fitting skirt. However, would I buy a skirt drafting class today I would most likely get the “Pattern making basics: The skirt sloper” class as that one seems to be much more versatile. I might still get it, I really want to learn more about pattern drafting, I thoroughly enjoy the process and dress making is even more fun when your finished garments actually fit well.

My sewing challenge for 2014

I have decided to join Sarah Gunn from Goodbye Valentino on her yearlong RTW fast. This means that I am not going to buy any clothes, except for shoes, socks and underwear in 2014. I will make what I need.

At first I thought, not buying anything for a year, that will be tough. Then I started thinking about the clothes that I bought this year and couldn’t really remember anything. I had a quick look through my bank account records and I’ve only bought something in a clothes store once in 2013 (unless I paid cash because then I don’t have a record, but I don’t think I did), so in fact, it probably won’t be tough at all.

Shopping for clothes is not something that I enjoy because I find it really hard to find things that fit well. Being fed up with RTW was one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to sew. Now that I can sew and adjust patterns, I am much happier with most of the garments that I made myself than with the ones that were store bought.

buy fabric not RTWDuring this challenge I will continue to wear the RTW items that I already own, but I plan to slowly replace almost everything by (better fitting) items that I have made myself. By the end of 2014 I hope to mostly wear my own makes. This means that I will have to conquer my greatest fear, trousers, because my RTW jeans are likely to wear out during the coming year and I better have some new ones ready before that happens.

It will be important to create a basic versatile wardrobe (and not 20 party dresses that hardly ever get worn) so I’ve made a list of things that I will need to make in order to arrive at this wardrobe. This list does take into account what I already have made and wear. For example, I already have made 4 cardigans that I wear all the time, so my efforts are better aimed at making items that I haven’t made before instead of making 4 more cardigans.

What to make for my basic wardrobe:

  • 2 casual skirts (The skirt pattern from Craftsy’s class “Design and sew an A-line skirt” is still somewhere in my UFO pile, I think that will be a good starting point.)
  • 1 fancy skirt (Adapt my A-line skirt pattern to a pencil skirt and use a suiting fabric?)
  • 4 pairs of trousers (I have a Sewaholic Thurlow muslin and a pair of jeans that I started to copy with the method from Craftsy’s Jean-ious class in my UFO pile so those will be good to start with.)
  • 4 basic knit tops (Some Sewaholic Renfrews? Lady Skater bodice transformed to a t-shirt? I also really like the look of the Papercut Ensis tee.)
  • 2 sweaters (Anyone has a good idea for a sweater pattern (not a hoody)? Or perhaps I can find one in my stash of Knipmode magazines.)
  • 1 cardigan (Plenty of patterns that I still want to make in my stash of Knipmode magazines. Probably will be hard to stop at just 1…)
  • 2 jackets (There is a jacket in my UFO pile that I really need to buy a lining for so that I can continue with the construction. I’d also like to make the Sewaholic Cordova)
  • 2 classic tailored shirts (I’ll probably use a pattern from a Knipmode magazine.)
  • 2 casual dresses (I suppose my next Lady Skater dress already fits this bill. Perhaps I should also make a dress with a woven fabric?)
  • 1 fancy dress (Good opportunity to finally try out the techniques from Craftsy’s “The Couture Dress” class.)
  • 1 bathrobe (quite urgent, my current one is threadbare and needed replacing 2 years ago (did I mention how much I dislike shopping?). I’m pretty sure I have a decent pattern somewhere in a Knipmode magazine.)
  • 2 pyjamas (Not very urgent)
  • 1 summer coat (I’ve had my eye on the Sewaholic Robson for a while now.)
  • 1 winter coat (Not urgent, my current coat is still in good shape.)
  • 1 suit (Not urgent, I hardly ever wear one and I think for most occasions you can get away with wearing something else. I’d like to make a suit one day though.)

Am I going to make this whole list of items in 2014? I wish… That would mean at least 2-3 finished items each month and some of these will certainly take a decent amount of time. With my current sewing speed that is just not going to happen. I also want to continue to make quilts and gifts so not all of my sewing time will be spend sewing for myself. I think it is really a good idea though to have some sort of plan and to have an overview of the things that I want to make. I think that will also make it easier to make items that will work well with the other items in my wardrobe so that I will be able to combine them in different ways.

Would you ever consider making all of your clothes?