Getting restless…time for a change

e1

I’m ready for a change of season. It’s time to look at spring/summer dresses and tops. Light fabrics. Things that blow in the wind. After a winter of dental work (2 crowns), boring house fixes (new water heater), and another PITA issue that just appeared yesterday (busted pipe in the irrigation system) – I’m broke and ready to be rescued!

The last straw in the wintery loft was this skirt. I love this rayon crepe fabric, but I just couldn’t lay it out on a dress or tunic without risking orange headlights. So I made a skirt.

Incredibly, I don’t have a pattern for a gathered skirt, so I made one. It’s based on my hip at it’s widest point, 12″ below my waist, and drawn in a simple A-line from waist to hem.

Drawing the skirt patternThe interesting part of this project was trying a different technique for the elastic waistband. Normally, I either fold over the top of a garment to make a casing, or I attach a separate waistband. However – while trolling PInterest , I came across a link to a ’30-minute skirt’. Well, I knew that was an understatement of effort but I was curious enough to go look. The real time-saver is the waist treatment.

I tried it and like it!

Step 1: I decided to use 1″ knit elastic, mostly because I had a package I picked up in the grocery of all places. And because I didn’t want to risk the ‘good’ stuff that I buy by the yard.

w1

Step 2: And a great surprise – I measured my waist and found it’s 2.5″ smaller than it was in October (when I got over my diet moaning and and subsequent indulgence in everything delicious, and started a new nutrition plan. I’m down 20 lbs, and I’m feeling 100% better). I cut the elastic to be 1″ less than my waist, after an allowance for the overlap.

w2

Step 3: The skirt edge and the elastic were quartered and pinned, and I serged the edges together, stretching the elastic as I sewed.

w4

Last step: I folded the elastic one time to the inside and stitched it in place, sewing down the middle of the serger stitches.

w5

I bet lots of you attach elastic this way already, particularly on PJs and children’s things. It really did make a very comfortable waist and was fast from start to finish. Yes, old dog, new trick 🙂

It was easy with this ‘thin’ fabric, but I wonder if it would work as well with a hefty fabric. Has anyone tried it with something like corduroy, denim, etc.?

The skirt is headed for a re-make, because it’s just not my style. I may yet have those headlights! I’ve been at odds and ends since I finished it, reading a lot, and sewing infinity scarves from my overflowing stash of jersey remnants. It’s only 9 months ’til Christmas…

infinity

Bye for now – Coco

McCalls 6966 – nice skirt!

Way out…this fabric is neon!
I had no idea this cotton/lycra knit from Fabric mart was so bright when I ordered it…but it was kind of fun to find some way to use it 🙂
I looove knit maxi skirts. What a great excuse to be comfortable (as in pajama comfortable) and trendy at the same time. I’ve been making mine sort of free-hand from a pattern I drafted a couple years ago. Blogged here and  also seen again here
Enter McCalls 6966. It’s fuller than my self-drafted pattern, and it has piecing options. I just had to give it a go.

I really like the extra volume. Swingy…
I sewed the size Medium, which has a generous hip measurement of 46″, for my 41″ hip. I really don’t want cling at that particular spot. 
I made only a couple changes to this delightful skirt: 
  • I added 3″ to the length.
  • And changed the waistband!

Having read the reviews online (thank you, fellow bloggers), I wasn’t crazy about the upper yoke and waistband on the pattern. So – I left off the top ‘yoke’ piece, discarded the waist design, and drafted a yoga waistband instead.
It’s so easy to make a yoga waistband. Just cut a rectangle across the stretch of a knit, 2 inches or so less than your waist, and about 12″ wide. I use a 12″ width, because the resulting 4″ or so folded waistband fits well on my waist. You might like something different.
Seam the short ends together. Then fold in half across the length, and sew to the top edge of the skirt as a band, wrong sides together. If you’ve sewn a band onto a knit tee, you’ve done this. There are lots of online tutorials for doing this… just google ‘yoga waistband’ and find one you like. 
Great for knit skirts and pants and knit pajamas!
More pics (I’m wearing a cotton/spandex Plantain tee with elbow-length sleeves in all of these):

All those leaves in the garden – it’s our Florida version of fall, when all the mahogany tree shed their leaves. To compensate, the orchids in the guava tree are blooming…
Happy to respond to any questions on the skirt/waistband, just send an email. Bye for now – Coco

Bubble pocket shorts and ruffled skirts…

Did that title make you wonder what’s up? These are the cutest shorts I’ve ever seen. And they’re not for me, they’re for my almost-3-year old grand-niece 🙂  I came across the pattern one night at Elegance and Elephants, and just had to get it.

I made the size 4 in a mid-weight cotton jersey knit from Fabric  Mart. The pattern suggests wovens, but the knit worked fine. And I like the idea of knit shorts for little ones, so comfy.

Just a few little changes:

I used 3/4″ elastic in the waistband instead of 1″. Seems more reasonable for such a small garment and body.

The pattern suggests cutting the waist elastic so that it finishes 1.5″ shorter than the child’s actual waist measurement.

I checked with mom: J.’s waist is 19.5″, but her rtw size 4 shorts have a waist of 20.5″.  hmmm. A lightbulb – I found a great resource on the web,  childrens size chart. It has everything – all sizes, all kinds of garments, for boys and girls. And it confirmed that the waist on a size 4 is 20.5″. I compromised at 20″.

The pattern suggests sewing the cuff on as a band, as one would sew a neckband. However, that would leave a kind of bulky seam on the inside. 
Instead, I sewed the cuff to the outside, right sides together. Then I folded it to the inside, and stitched in the ditch on the outside along the seam line. The inside is nice and flat and smooth.
All the seams are sewn with an elastic stitch, then serged. These little shorts will hold up to lots of play!

Since I had so much fun with the shorts, I went looking for a little skirt pattern. And look what I found! This adorable ruffled skirt is free as an online tutorial from Tanya Whelan at Grand Revival Design.

It’s made with four bands of fabric of varying lengths and widths, and is super-easy to cut out and sew. What a nice tutorial – good illustrations and instructions.

Fabric measurements are given for size 5-6. I reworked the numbers for size 4 with a length of 8.5″ (above the knee). My numbers assume .5″ seams, 1.5″ waistband allowance, .5″ hem allowances, and 3/4″ elastic:
1 @ 4.5″ x 25″ Tier 1 band and waistband
1 @ 4.0″ x 44″ Tier 1 ruffle 
1 @ 2.5″ x 25″ Tier 2 band
1 @ 5.5″ x 44″ Tier 2 ruffle
 

It doesn’t take much to think of ways to use this skirt pattern – applied ruffles, lace trims – oh, my 🙂
So cute. I used fabrics I have in the loft, not terribly girly (although the green in the skirt is a pretty lime green, not sage the way it looks here). I’ll ask J. what she might like for her next shorts and skirt. Birthday in June!

Ciao! Coco

Knit Maxi Skirt a la Coco

I’ve been so inspired by sewists who draft their own great looking knit maxi skirts – I love all the variations by Autie at iCandy Homemade,  Lizzie at Cotton and Curls has a cute skirt with an elastic band waist, and Miriam at Mad Mim has a great tutorial that includes both flared and gathered versions. Just to name a few!
Having read and sketched and calculated – a lot – I realized that a flared maxi skirt is basically the same shape as the skirt on the knit maxi dress I just finished, Kwik Sew 3703…and measuring against the pattern  tissue proved it. Good fortune!

My Kwik Sew 3703 is already modified to be super long to the floor, not ankle length. Since I know that I wear my maxi skirts at 42″ from my waist, I traced a skirt pattern using the lower 45″ of the dress pattern.

The extra 3″ are for the waist seam and hem allowance.

For the waist, I used a yoga style band, which is simply a rectangle, folded wrong sides together, and applied to the top of the skirt. Both Autie and Miriam, in the links above, have great guides on making a yoga style waist band.
I used 2 1/2 yards of 60″ wide fabric. The flare in the skirt and the need to match stripes kept me from overlapping my pattern pieces in any way. But I did get a tee shirt out of the remnants!
This skirt is super comfy to wear! Can you tell the humidity is about 100% in these pics? But I promise the skirt really is comfortable. It’s a medium weight cotton jersey from Fabric Mart, with about 20% 1-way stretch. And it sews like a dream. I did everything on the serger except the hem, which is turned up, folded under, and topstitched.
Love the colors in the stripe…
which mirror many of the Pantone Spring 2013 colors in an interesting and non-floral way. Totally not by design! I just noticed this a couple days ago when Pattern Review announced its Colors of Spring contest 🙂
First of many, this was fun and I feel like Columbus. Do you make ‘your own’ skirts? 
Ciao! Coco

Kwik Sew 3914 Pleated Skirt – CurlyPops Skirt Sew-Along!

Knit top, Motto
Skirt, Khaki Weavers Cloth, JoAnns
Sandals, Chinese Laundry

I first saw this pattern in March, when BMV Club started announcing their plans for offering Kwik Sew – it was showcased on several of their email newsletters. Something about it just said Coco!

When CurlyPops hosted her ‘Make it in May’ Skirt Sew-Along, this pattern was my absolute first choice, and the sew-along got me going. I really enjoy a sew-along. Before I started my blog, I had no idea how much fun I was missing. I love the pics and camaraderie, enjoy reading the blog posts, and find so many fellow bloggers this way.

Back to the skirt! I think all the fun and style are in the long version (natch…). The pleats (ten on the front, ten on the back) and curved side seams are beautifully balanced by the yoke. While the skirt has a drawstring, the gathers and ease are conservative –  just enough for comfortable entrance and exit. This leaves a nice waist finish for tucked-in tops. The drawstring casing is a bit different  – it is finished on top of the yoke, rather than on the inside. A small change but it adds a bit of detail interest to the skirt top edge.

Does the pattern run large? Have been thinking about this. I have a 30″ waist, 38 1/2″ hips (low end of the Medium scale), sewed a Medium, and have a slightly large fit. I will probably sew a Small next time, being careful with the yoke measurements.

I enjoyed sewing the skirt! It was not difficult, but it had interesting elements that kept me involved. The pattern provided good instructions, particularly in managing the very long curves in the hem. The curves are prepped with both staystitching and ease stitching – with these and lots of pins, I did not have any fabric drag problems when I turned and topstitched the hem.


Often when I’m sewing, I think about what attractions a pattern might have for sewists at different skill levels. This pattern is a good opportunity to learn/practice a number of basic skills: drawstring and casing, curved hems, slit side seams, attached yoke, and flat pleats.

And I think the short version with the straight hem would be really cute and fresh to make and wear!

I did make two adjustments:
(1) Added 2″ to the length, to make it a true ankle length for me.
(2) Added pockets in the side seams – of course! I put the pockets right up at the top of the skirt side seam, since the yoke provided drop from the waist. Also, I left the seam allowance on the pocket at 5/8″ on purpose, to weight it a bit.

To me it is just such an unexpected and good-looking skirt! And fun to wear and style…

Jacket, Motto
Sandals, Dr. Scholls


For these last two you have to imagine that I have on my brown suede boots! I took them out but honestly…it was soooo hot by the end of this photo session that I just couldn’t do it 🙂 But boots would look great!

Jacket, Sunset Cove

Lemonade, fan…Bye! Coco