Autumn skirt – with a temper to match

The story of this shirt started over a year ago when I first saw the fabric in my local fabric store. I immediately loved it, it’s wool, it has a lovely drape, and the colors are gorgeous. It was also rather too expensive to justify buying it without a plan, so I left it. A short while later though, I saw it again, but this time on sale. So I immediately bought all that was left. Just 1,10 meters, but I figured it would work for a skirt.

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So the planning started! I wanted to make a skirt with a pleated top, matching the tartan. But I also wanted it to be quite long, a little below knee length, and to have a narrower line than the ‘poofy’ skirts I often make.

So I started pleating along the 1,5 (width) edge. It was a large challenge to both match up all the stripes and end up with my desired waist measurement. I’d normally take 3 times the waist measurement, but this time I had a little over 2 times, so it just wasn’t working.

After re-pleating it about 3 times, I decided I could add a little width by taking off the length. I had 1,1 in length which was too long anyway. So I cut down the bottom 30 cm and re-sewed it to the sides, matching up the pattern. Doing a french seam, it again took me about 3 times to get right, but it worked.

This is an image of the finished skirt, which still has the french seams. Almost invisible, yay!

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So I started pleating again! Again, it took a while to get right, but at least I had a little more width. When the pleats were done, I stitched them together for about 10 cm deep. I then put in the zipper, and the waistband, made from the tiny bit of scraps I had left.

I hated it. It still turned out a bit too big. The very long pleats didn’t work, it just wasn’t flattering at all. So I took out about half of the length of the pleats, and I re-attached the waistband as facing. But honestly, it was still a bit too big, and not really what I’d had in mind. Because the fabric was so pretty, I didn’t want to settle for a shape which didn’t work. I’d also put in so much work in endlessly pleating and re-pleating, so I couldn’t quite bear to take it all apart yet. So I frustratedly threw it in the ‘todo’ basket and left it there for nearly a year. This is how it came out of the basket (including wrinklyness…)

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Speed up to a couple of weeks ago! I’d been looking at autumny skirts, and thinking back to the gorgeous fabric. I decided to completely re-do the skirt. Having only pleated, I still basically had a rectangle of fabric to work with. Pleats didn’t work, so it would be an A-line  model!

So I took out the waistband facing, the pleats, the hem and the zipper and ended up with a ‘loop’ of fabric. Carefully patterning on paper, I figured I’d be able to make an almost .45 circle with minimal waste.

This is what the patterning and cutting looked like. As you can see, minimal waste! The sides are on the fold, so those didn’t need an extra seam.

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This pattern worked a lot better. I also added a lining so it’d work better with leggings, and re-attached the waistband and zipper. I left the circle hanging to stretch for a week and finally did the hem.

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It took a lot of time, and loads of frustration, but I am finally really happy with how this turned out. The fabric is still stunning, and perfect for the changing weather!

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Inspiration – Edwardian tartan

After cutting the fabric for my Edwardian skirt, I realized I have enough left over to do something else with. I’ve been thinking on making a short jacket out of it, to go with the skirt. Not a full one, because the fabric is very busy, and I like the idea of showing off my blouse underneath. But it would make a nice ensemble. So I’ve been browsing for inspiration images, and additionally found some more images of Edwardian tartan/plaid/checkered ensembles. So it’s time for pretty pictures!

All images are from the 1905-1907 archive of the Dutch fashion magazine de Gracieuse.

 

 

Edwardian Skirt & Petticoat

It’s done! My high-waist Edwardian Skirt is done, and with it the petticoat to go underneath.

Both the petticoat and skirt were made with the 10-gore skirt pattern from Truly Victorian. I made the base of the petticoat first, to test the fit. After slightly correcting the fit at the top (it was a bit too wide, otherwise it fit very well), I cut off the top part to make the petticoat sit at the waist. I added a drawstring to close it, and moved this closure to the front.

After hemming, it was time to add some trim and ruffle. I chose to add a broad strip of bobbin lace and one row of ruffles. There’s 2 meters of fabric in the ruffle alone, cut in 4 parts and sewn together, so 8 meters to gather and hem. I used a small rolled hem at the top and bottom, and gathered and sewed the ruffle to the underside of the lace.

The finished petticoat:

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The hem of the ruffle.

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The lace:

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The cord and closure

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In the mean time, I also started working on the skirt! Cutting the fabric was quite scary. I bought the wool in Edinburgh, so no possibility of getting more, and tartan wool isn’t the cheapest of fabrics. I used black cotton for the lining.

 

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Cutting the wool. I now know my living room is 5 meters long, it fit exactly… I spent quite some time laying out the pattern pieces, trying to get the plaid to match at the waistline.

 

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I didn’t take a lot of progress pictures, so a quick walk through. The first step was to flat-line the lining to the wool. After that, I made the placket for the closure and sew on all the hooks and eyes. A quick (dark) phone picture of this step:

Then it was time to sew all the panels together. Always the most fun, because it’s quickest and it now actually looked like a skirt!

Next up was making boning channels and inserting the bones and sewing the whole result to the seam allowances. Less fun, and loads of hand sewing. I used plastic boning, mainly because I’ll be wearing this over a corset anyway and it’s a lot cheaper than steel.

Next up, finishing! The top was finished with bias binding. Stitched to the right side by machine and turned over and hand-stitched down.

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The last step was the hem. After trying on the length with the petticoat, I sewed hem stiffener to the bottom. Then I cut a broad bias strip from black cotton and sewed it to the hem as facing. Finally, I hand-stitched the hem-facing down. And we’re done! Technically, I finished the last hand-sewing on the 2nd of January, but as I did all the other work last year, I’ll count it as a 2015 project.

So, some more pictures!

First a comparison of with and without petticoat. I hadn’t finished the hem yet on these pictures, but you can see the difference the petticoat makes!

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The closure:

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One of the bones and the facing at the top:

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And at the hem. The hem-stiffener is underneath.

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The whole thing! I quickly put my blouse on top for the effect. (I was lazy and didn’t do any underpinnings for the blouse, sorry!)

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My only regret on the skirt is that the center-back doesn’t line up. I matched up the pattern pieces, but made the mistake on doing it on one side of folded fabric. Turned out the fabric wasn’t lying completely straight. The other panels are fine, but one of the back panels was off. Ah well, better next time.

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It’s still very pretty though…

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Edwardian outfit – plan

No I’ve got the first layer done, it’s time to share a bit more about the Edwardian outfit I’m planning. This whole outfit was started by the antique lace I found a while back. It’s so perfect for a lace blouse, that I slowly started thinking about making one. I was inspired by blouses like these: (this is also blatant excuse to show lace blouses)

But to make an Edwardian blouse, I first needed the underthings! Edwardian underpinnings are meant to decrease waist size and increase bust size, so to get the correct measurements, I first needed a chemise, corset and padding. That’s done now!

So I’m now starting on the ‘second’ layer of under-things, the corset-cover, drawers and petticoat. But meanwhile, I’ve also been planning the rest of the ensemble.

Aside from lovely lacy blouses, the Edwardian period also has some lovely high-waisted corseted skirts. Think this silhouette:

So the plan is a high-waisted skirt, although it’ll be a bit lower than the one in the image, ending below the bust. A bit more like this:

From what I found, this high-waisted skirt was popular around 1906. At that same time, blouses were usually wide-sleeved, the narrow sleeve starting to appear around 1908, right when the skirts become slimmer. Because I want a wide skirt, I will also make a blouse with wide sleeves, something like this:

I haven’t settled on a lace design yet, but I’ll be using the Wearing History Edwardian blouse pattern, and adapting the sleeves to be wider.

 

I haven’t got the pattern for the skirt yet, although I’ve been eyeing the Truly Victorian pattern. The downside is that it’s not available anywhere in the Netherlands yet, and I want to avoid shipping, so I might try drafting it myself first.

It’s pretty though…

The fabric for the blouse will be thin white cotton, which I already have. The high waisted skirt I’ll be making out of the wool tartan I bought in Edinburgh:

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The picture is a bit bright, but it’s a mix of bright red, very dark green and white. I wanted something which would really stand out, but could be matched with both black and white easily. I’m really looking forward to working with it!

Finally, I’ll need a hat. I’ve never made one, but I’ve been eyeing this one:

I’ll learn how to make a hat, or find a good base to cover… I already have some black ostrich feathers though, so I think this’ll happen!

I made a sketch of the whole outfit:

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All-in-all, this outfit will consist of:

Chemise – done

Hip pad – done

Bust-improver – done

Corset cover – in progress

Drawers – in progress

Petticoat – todo (I have: fabric, pattern to draft)

Blouse – todo (I have: fabric pattern, fabric & notions)

Skirt – todo (I have: fabric fabric, pattern to draft)

Hat – todo (I have: feathers, base todo)

I’ve no clue how long it will be until I have it complete, but something to strife for!

Pink roses – Lolita skirt

This skirt was a birthday gift, inspired mostly when I saw the fabric. The girl it was for wears a lot of Lolita clothing, a Japanese fashion style inspired by Victorian and Roccoco fashions. The one of the main characteristics of lolita is the knee-length (sometimes calf-length) skirts, alwasy worn with a petticoat. The fabric I found was perfect for the style, so I decided to make her a skirt!

The base of the skirt is similar to most of my own cotton skirts, a pleated rectangle with a waistband and lace at the bottom. I wanted to make it a bit customizable as well though. Loads of lolita skirts have high waists decorated with bows and lace, so I decided to make a ‘belt’ thing to wear with the skirt. This way it seems high-waisted, but can be worn without the belt for more casual wear as well. Finally, I also made a big fabric bow which can be worn with the skirt or as corsage. (I just attached a safety-pin to put it on or off). The fabric is cotton I found in Edinburgh, the lace I already had but was pure white, so I tea-deyed it.

So, pictures:

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The whole ensemble. Skirt, belt and bow

 

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The side of the skirt with belt.

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And the back. The belt laces in the back. The laces are still quite long, so she can cut them to the length she prefers.

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The front of the belt, with lace and 2 little bows.

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The lacing in the back.

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The skirt without the belt, as a more casual look.

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The zipper.

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And with the bow-corsage-thing to the waistband. Here it’s on the front/side.

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The bow.

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It can also be worn at the back.

Book skirt

I’ve always loved reading. As a child, I always read at least 30 minutes every evening and was constantly visiting the library. Nowadays, with a busy schedule and full job I do most of my reading in the train. The only advantage of travelling 2 hours every day is that I’ve plenty of time to read.

Combining my love of reading with my love of wide skirts, when I saw the various versions of book prints in Lolita-style skirts I immediately wanted one. Prices and shipping being what they are, however, I chose to make my own. The skirt I first found was by Juliette et Justine:

 

 

I spent a long time looking for the right fabric, but it was quite difficult to find a print. Not wanting to pay shipping costs from far away, I was limited to Dutch fabric stores and there aren’t that many. The only type of fabric with a book print I could find were upholstery fabrics, and I wasn’t sure if that would fit the style. But then I saw this skirt by TaoBao:

This skirt also has a coarser weave, but it’s actually quite nice. So I decided to just go for the heavier fabric. On a visit to Amsterdam I went to the store where I found the fabric online, and bought it. I’m glad I didn’t order it online, because I found that with natural light and scale it’s much easier to judge fabric than from an online image.

This was the fabric I bought. It’s not very supple, but it that also makes it stand out on it’s own quite well. It rarely needs a petticoat. I really like the pattern and colors of the print (or weave in this case).

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By now the skirt is done! Some progress pictures (all taken with my phone in bad light, so sorry for the quality).

I made the skirt in my standard bell pattern of a large pleated rectangle. I cut the rectangle, and then made box pleats of 2 inches wide each.

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Half-way with pleating.

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After everything was pinned in place, I sewed the pleats in place. Next up was the waistband and hemming. I wanted something contrasting, and looked at some black lace I still had for decorating the hem. It didn’t work so well, because all the lace was rather subtle and the book fabric is not. I finally settled on a black velvet border around the hem, and a waistband from the same fabric.

Then came making the closure, and this was also when the trouble started. I bought a blind zipper, but had loads of trouble putting it in. My sewing-machine wasn’t getting the tension right thus creating a very loose seam, and the fabric was so stiff that it just didn’t look right. After trying again 3 times, I gave up and removed the zipper again. The fabric just wasn’t supple enough for a blind zipper. Instead, I made a clasp closure and made a little panel behind it so it wouldn’t fall open.

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This shows the  eventual closure. This actually works quite well, so I think I’ll be doing more closures like this in the future, especially when working with heavy fabrics.

Finally, some photo’s of the finished closure:

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And of the whole skirt (in bad light, but the idea is clear!):

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Sewing – Simple skirts

Looking back at my sewing, by far the largest part has been simple skirts. I love skirts, and wear them most of the time, to where people actually comment when I’m not wearing one. As they’re easy and quick to make, I have quite a lot, mostly wide and knee-length. So it’s time for a quick overview.

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I think this was the first circle-skirt I ever made. I still like the  colour a lot.

 

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I love plaid, and this fabric was just too pretty to resist when I saw it.

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I love toile de jouy, so I simply had to make something with it. The only downside is that this fabric creases terribly…

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My cupcake skirt. I don’t wear it that much, but I love how cheesy it is. I think I’ll need to make a proper bell-shaped petticoat to wear underneath.

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A friend of my mother actually gave me this fabric. It actually had a half-circle printed pattern printed on it!

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The latest addition. This was left-over fabric from skirts made for my dance group. It’s an ‘almost-circle’ skirt, because I didn’t have enough fabric left for a full one. I’m really happy with how the lace at the bottom turned out!

All of the skirts above are variations of two simple patterns, either a rectangle pleated to a waistband, or a circle skirt.

As the name says, a circle skirt is made of a circle pattern. You can also use only part of a circle, such as 3/4, or even make a double circle. The basic pattern is as follows:

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You can calculate the diameter of the circle in the middle by taking your waist measurement and dividing it by the number pi (π on your calculator). I usually just cut a very tiny circle, see if it fits, and then make it bigger and bigger until I get it right. It’s a bit scary to cut out the whole circle in one go. For a double circle skirt, just cut out two circles (make the inner circle a lot smaller, the exact size would be half of your waist size using the formula), the cut both of them open from hem to middle point and then sew them together.

The other type of skirt is a rectangle, pleated to a waistband. The pattern would be:

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The width of the rectangle is the waist measurement times 3, with the only condition that your pleats will be done in such a way that there’s 3 layers of fabric. (there usually is). The height is the length of the skirt. I won’t go into pleating methods here, but there’s loads of tutorials online.