Monday, 14 April 2014

The Long And Short Of It

Hello friends! I'm just back from a holiday which was very special for me as I've been to visit my brother and his family. I've been too ill to make the trip for four years. I'm so happy I made it again at at last! While I was away, I didn't use the internet. I like the change on holiday, especially if I'm visiting. A side benefit is that I really look forward to having a week's worth of blog reading to catch up on when I get home - what a treat! Time for me to get blogging again, too :)

Today I'm keeping to my previous theme of 'how I'm getting on with my needs list'. These are some of the basics I've made - I can sling them on with virtually anything and walk out of the house looking vaguely respectable. Sorry, but it is unlikely I will ever I will never be a fashionista! 

I mentioned in a post somewhere I wanted try longer skirts (something I've rarely worn since a teenager), and thought one would be good for those days I didn't want to 'get my legs out'. My idea was to make the simplest possible then if I don't like and wear it, I haven't wasted hours of sewing time and fabric. In theory.

Here's what I made. It's Skirt 6a from 'Simple Modern Sewing' book.

It would have been more logical to extend my (already excellently fitting) vintage A-line skirt pattern, but I wanted to pretend I was this cool Japanese girl.

I also wanted to try using this book which I have had for a while, rather than just looking at it.

This is like a beginner's book for starting with Japanese sewing books. All the styles are fairly simple and there are instructions as well as the diagrams that come with the more advanced ones. (Personally I like diagrams, so I think I will enjoy graduating.)

Anyway the patterns are in an envelope in the back of the book and you trace them off like Ottobre (although there are less patterns per sheet, in this case anyway). You then add whatever seam allowance is specified, but I added 5/8ths inch as I would forget If I added a smaller allowance (1/2 inch suggested). I also added 2.5" length as I wanted a really long skirt and the pattern piece looked shorter than I was expecting. Bear in mind I am only 5'3", so if you are any taller you would need to add to/extend the pattern piece by even more.

Umbrella - check, huge scarf - check, showing decorative
waistband - nope. Career in modelling even less likely.

The fabric is corduroy from someone's stash they were selling off on eBay. I guess it's been folded a long time as there was a permanent dirty looking crease down the centre (not mentioned in the description, just saying), but fortunately I was able to cut around it easily, so I didn't complain. It was also a much wider piece of fabric than I had expected which had certain major advantages (see later). I've never sewn with corduroy before and really enjoyed it - it pressed so nicely, I will definitely sew with it again. 

The bias waistband is finished with a scrap of cotton from the charity shop which was too small to make into a garment but I really love and was saving for the right project. I didn't have any Liberty print like in the book, but this is a fine substitute I think. One day I would like to treat myself to some Liberty cotton as I hear it's really great quality.

finished the waistband with one of my daughter's old hair bobbles and a button - I got this tip from here but I am really sorry I couldn't find the link. Update: here is the link: You can probably figure it out! The advantages are it gives a perfect professional loop with a bit of added flexibility! The book said use a hook and eye, but as it would bridge a little gap and be near my skin I didn't dare. I am so very extremely allergic to nickel. Does anyone know if hooks and eyes and press studs contain nickel? I know vintage zips do!

That's the long bit.

Now for the short bit.

I cut the wrong size. I don't know why but I went by my hip rather than my waist measurement and as soon as I had cut out the pieces (not when I was tracing them) I could see that they would never, ever do up at the waist. (The hips fit fine.)

Please don't tell me that's what a tape measure is for (measuring pattern pieces).

So I retraced and recut the larger size and completed it as you have already seen, feeling grateful it was a fairly quick and simple make.

The too small pieces are the kind of thing that can languish for a long time (we're talking years) in my refashion/stash pile reminding me of my stupidity, so I polished up my halo and got on with making a short skirt from the fail. It was difficult to select a style as I hadn't desired or planned a shorter corduroy skirt.

In the end I made this:

Guess which pattern I used ;) Of course the fit of this one is just perfect! 

The length was dictated by my pieces as was the repositioning of the zip to the side, two piece waistband and faux pocket thingies. (Try as I might I could not find enough fabric off cuts to make any kind of real pocket.) Fortunately I keep two little wallets full of ideas and scraps from other garments (like interesting collars and pockets) and I found a sample of these I'd made before. I don't know where I first saw them, but they are very easy to do.

The large metal object I'm leaning against is a very old cannon.

felt as though it should have been in a museum! 

This is the tin I keep my metal buttons in, where I found the ones for the top of the pockets:

It was my grandma's, and one of the many treasures I inherited with her sewing box. It depicts a scene of the Thames bygone times. The writing inside the lid says it is a toffee tin. I think of my grandma whenever I use it. 

Anyway, I sulked my way through the making of this skirt. I kept thinking of all the other stuff I could/should have been sewing, and I still doubt I really need two blue corduroy skirts. Maybe I should have made a bag, or dyed it purple (would that have even worked?). Still, now it's complete I quite like it and have worn it twice, so that's something.

Any sewing saves round your way recently?

Happy sewing 'til next time,

Philippa x


  1. I've never tried a Japanese pattern, it looks like your had fun with it! I'm short too, and need to really play around with skirt lengths to find what looks good. Every once in a while I'm totally surprised by a midi skirt! I really like the loop and button closer. I hate hoe hook and eyes sit on my skin, and potent replace them with a closure like this. Using a hair elastic is kinda genius!

    1. I've worn the longer skirt quite a lot (OK almost constantly) since making it, so while I don't think I will only wear a longer length from now on, it is a success. It's quite a slim A-line in real life so it feels quite elegant. In the book the same skirt can be cut on the bias and made from plaid wool for the winter - I think since it's such a quick sew I'm quite likely to make that later in the year.
      As for the hair bobble - I highly recommend. It seems to always stay done up and is very comfortable!

  2. Oh I love both Philippa! Seriously cute in both the long and short. I love how you looked like the Japanese photo too. (I'm off to find that book for myself)

    I hope you enjoyed every bit of your holiday and I'm glad you were well enough to go this year - how relaxing!

    The tin from your grandma is breathtaking and I think it is so sweet and special that you think of her when you use it.

    1. Thank you :) I have inherited quite a lot of sewing things from my Grandma; all very vintage now. I really must do a post about them soon!

  3. Hee hee, "get my legs out"! I think both skirts are quite flattering and seem like they'd be versatile. It was quite saintly of you to power through and finish the short version. I suppose time will tell if you'll reach for both of them, but they both look like likely candidates! And if you find yourself favoring one, I'm sure someone else would be delighted to inherit the other one.

    Also, I'm so glad to hear that your health is good and that your trip was possible!

    1. Thank you. At one point I really thought I'd never be able to travel that distance again, so it was kind of amazing and relieving at the same time! Regarding getting my legs out - we do say this to each other round here, at this time of year we might say to each other, "It's the first time I've got my legs out this year!" Now I think about it, it is actually quite a funny thing to say!

  4. What a fantastic way to salvage a fail! Both lengths look lovely on you.

    1. Thank you! Two skirts instead of one I suppose!

  5. Isn't it fantastic to take a full on breather from the web every now and then like that? I mean, I love the internet to no end, but sometimes it really does the mind and soul well to unplug and just focus on relaxing and having fun in other areas of our lives, especially while traveling (which is why I left my computer behind when we went to Calgary last year).

    That is such a charmingly lovely vintage tin! I adore the iconic London scene and the fact that it's not just an old piece you purchased, but one that was handed down to you from your grandma. Aww! :)

    Tons of gentle hugs & happy Wednesday wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. I agree - I just really wanted to focus on my loved ones and I felt so refreshed when I got back. But I also really looked forward to catching up - win, win as they say! X x

  6. I am glad to hear you had a lovely break away. The two skirts look great - I was interested to read about the longer one as I have that book and have only made one dress from it so far. I am thinking maybe I should look at it again. I first saw the loop and button closure using a hair band on Angry Chicken's blog and I have used it for several tops. So quick and easy :) The vintage tin looks gorgeous and how nice to have a link with your grandma.
    I also wanted to add thank you for the great advice you left me on the comments section on the under eye concealer. Family events have overtaken me recently and I wasn't able to respond till now but I really did appreciate it :) x

    1. Busy times with little people :) I am going to make the jacket from that book soon (it looks pretty easy), so if you are interested in how stuff from it turns out there will be a photo on here. The only thing I'm finding difficult is determining what sizes to make. I think I might go with the largest to be on the safe side!

  7. Well I love them both! I have two dark blue corduroy skirts too, and I adore them both. One is straight and one is a-line, and they are slightly different shades of blue; and they both get worn a tonne! I'm sure you'll find your two very useful too :)

    1. I have been wearing them both, but there is a bit of a hitch with the shorter one (see next post) - I may need to replace the zip and the stitches have sunken into the corduroy really nicely, so unpicking it will be a right pain. However I quite loved working with and wearing corduroy - I will definitely sew with it again.

  8. I am a huge corduroy fan - I love the texture, the fact that it is a natural fibre, it sews really well - love it, love it! I think that your skirts are just perfect!

    The link to the hair bobble is