A-Line Skirts

I apologise for such a long break!  My wildlife blog as been super busy with 30 Days Wild where I was blogging every day throughout June!  But today I have a sewing project to share with you.  This was actually super simple and can be started and finished in an afternoon!

So I made a couple of A-line skirts from a self-drafted pattern.  Well, in truth I actually just drew on the fabric…but I did spend a while doing some maths!

Measurements taken (in inches):

  • W = Waist circumference
  • H = Hip circumference (note this is actually the measurement largest part of the body under the waist, it might not actually be your hips)
  • WH = The distance between the first two measurements (measured down the side of the body)
  • SL = The length of the skirt wanted

Mathematics:

  • A = (W + 3 inches)/4
  • B = (H + 3 inches)/4
  • L = SL + 2 inches

This gives you all the information to make your own simple a-line skirt pattern!  The 3 inches in lengths A and B are to allow for ease and 1/2 inch seam allowance.  The following picture shows you the pattern. To draw it, start with drawing a line for A, then measure a 90° right angle on the left hand side and draw line L.  At the bottom of L, draw a long line at right angles to it.  Next, measure WH and make a mark.  Then draw line B at a right angle to L.  To get the diagonal line, draw a line through the ends and continue it all the way down to the line you drew that was at right angles to L.

Two of these are cut, and the left hand side (length L) is cut on a fold.

 

Fabric

I suspect that you could make an A-Line skirt in pretty much any material you fancied…but today, I used a fairly heavy cotton twill.  I wanted it to have a weight to it and also be warm.  The intention is that this skirt is one that I can learn to Morris dance in (so that I can Morris dance in my wedding dress…obviously!) and I also wanted it to be in an easy to sew fabric.  It has a little bit of stretch for extra comfort.

Sewing

This is super easy to sew!  First, sew up the side seams (the long diagonal lines).  This is the point to insert a zip or other fastening in the seams, otherwise it might be tricky to get on!  The other thing you could do here is add pockets in the side seams.  I didn’t do pockets, but I did insert an invisible zip (which I’m super proud of!) at this point!  Try it on at this point…do whatever adjustments you need!

Second, either do a double fold hem for the waist, add a waistband (this is what I did), or finsh the waist line in whatever you’d like.  For my waistband, I cut a rectangle 3 inches wide and the circumference of my waist plus about 3 inches for an overlap for a hook and eye fastening.  I then attached it along the waistline in a visible bias binding kind of way!  I then added the hook and eye.  And tried it on again to check I liked it!

Finally, do a double fold hem at the bottom or whatever method of hemming you like best!  I also added extra lines of stitching for decoration (not that you’d actually bother to look at it if you weren’t scrutinising my sewing…but I thought it added a nice touch!)

Its very comfy and I can’t believe I’ve never made an A-line skirt before!  Even the more fitted ones involving darts look like they’d be easy enough to sew so I think I’m going to have to make more of these in a variety of lengths!

This post wouldn’t be right without some photos!  The photos aren’t brilliant sadly due to the colour of the skirts.  I haven’t worked out how to take good pictures of dark subjects!  The first skirt I made was a floor length A-line skirt.  It has a double hem, waistband and an invisible zip.

The second skirt was a knee length skirt.  It has a bias bind hem, a similar bias bind waistband (done with decorative ribbon) and a centred normal zip.

Mouse Toys

So, I haven’t posted here for rather a long time.  Yeah, sorry about that…however, today I wanted to share the first in a series of posts about some of the things I’ve been making recently.  You see, we got a pet mouse not so long ago…and a loved pet clearly needs some things making for him.  The mouse is called Colin and he is adoreable.  Here’s a bonus cute photo of him:

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I’ve made a variety of toys for my mouse, but for today, I wanted to share the most recent two, because I can currently get a nice photo of them without disturbing Colin!

First up, a cute little snuggle pouch.  He loves hiding in my hoodie pocket and running up shirts and generally hiding away, so I made him a snuggle pouch which is felt on the outside and fleece on the inside.  The thread I used is a transparent nylon because that’s safe for little mice!

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Finally, I also made him a fake friend!  This is basically a mouse shaped felt toy, again sewn with transparent nylon thread.  As he is a male mouse, he can’t live with other male mice because they will fight viscously.  He also can’t live with females unless baby mice are wanted or he’s neutered.  I don’t particularly fancy having tiny little mice and the neutering operation should only be done in rare circumstances because its dangerous for such a small creature.  To counteract this, he gets lots of attention from us, and also a mouse sized friend to snuggle up to and play with!

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As you can see below, Colin definitely approves!

Elegant Circle Skirt

I’m very excited to have finished a new circle skirt!  (Yes, another one – I love circle skirts they definitely suit be and are very suitable for dancing in!).

I realised that none of my skirts were really suitable for wearing to a wedding that had a ceilidh.  They were either too short, a bit too smart, difficult to dance in (**cough** rainbow organza – beautiful but delicate **cough cough**), or just not very smart.  So I decided to make a new skirt!  I also had the requirement that I wanted it to be long (around mid-calf in length), be suitable for playing gigs in – including playing the accordion in it.

With these requirements in mind, I decided it should be:

  • black (for playing gigs in)
  • cotton (hard wearing)
  • have a lining (feels nice, good practise of lining!)
  • invisible zip (again for more practise!)

So I happily ordered the material and cut out two semicircles of each fabrics.  I then put the lining to one side and worked on the cotton for a bit.  I did the side seam that didn’t have a zip in it, and then the seam with a zip.  I was using french seams (just for fun), so I had to do a work around to fit the seam around the zip.  It worked beautifully in the end.  I then used a petersham ribbon for a waistband and finally hemmed the bottom – hurrah – a perfectly wearable skirt!

Then I went back to the lining and did the side seams (again in french seams).  On the side with the zip I left a gap at the top.  Then I used satin bias binding to help me make a waistband to go alongside the petersham ribbon on the cotton (the fabric was beginning to fray inconveniently at this point!).  I pinned the lining onto the cotton and hit my first problem.

Problem No.1 – The lining’s waistline was smaller than the cottons

Actually, it turns out that I’d managed a wonderfully geometry calculation problem and they were both too large for me.  *doh*  We’ll get onto how I stopped it being to big for me in problem no.2, for now, we’ll make them the same length in the waist!

To fix this problem, I worked from the join at the zip to the opposite side seam and added a knife pleat in the cotton saying, “it’ll look pretty and have this cute bit of extra material on one side for variation.”

All well and good in the end!

After sorting out this little problem I went back to sewing the lining in place around the zip and waistband.

Then I hemmed up the bottom of the lining – its around 10cm shorter than the cotton so it doesn’t peep out!  Now to fix the fact that its too big – by a long way.

Problem No. 2 – Its too big!

I guess I could have just brought the side seam in – but that’s too simple.  I figured that I could use this to my advantage and find a way to make it pretty at the same time.

I made up some cotton ‘ribbons’ and attached these to the skirt and made them into a little tie up belt.  I added a couple of belt loops just to direct the ribbons where I wanted them to go!

The idea is that this inserts a large knife pleat around the little knife pleat added in the solution to problem number one!

Finally, to make sure I didn’t lose the inside of the pleat while dancing, I added a little button and a piece of elastic with a button hole on it to hold the pleat up.  I don’t really want to sew it up as it might be useful to have a skirt which I can change the waistline on really easily.

So, while similar in construction to my other circle skirts, its also quite different and a lot more suited to being smart, danceable and accordion friendly!  Have some pictures of my new elegant skirt!  Excuse the light – the skirt is black and didn’t want to be photographed – my boyfriend had terrible trouble getting a decent shot – I’ll give you some more if we ever get some!

Business Card Holder

What’s a girl to do with the business cards for her various interests?

Make a holder for them of course!

A simple holder made from a large rectangle with 3 smaller rectangles, snap fasteners and buttons sewn onto it!

Cloak with Pockets

So over the past few weeks I’ve been making several cloaks!  One of them had buttonhole fastenings, another was made using a velvet lining, but, the one I want to talk about today was one made with pockets for holding heavy objects.

I think it turned out well.  I made in the same way as the previous cloaks, except that I added an extra layer of strong material on each of the front panels to allow for holding the extra weight.  I also used flatfell seams to join these panels to the main part of the cloak because they are strong seams, and actually fairly easy to do, and I think they look good too!

Have some photos of the finished cloak!

Sewing a Knitting Roll

So as I’m beginning to knit and crochet more I’ve been gaining needles and hooks.  I decided to make myself a neat little roll to put my stuff in.

So here it is!

KR5

If we open it up:

KR1

It has 4 sections on the left for long, straight needles, 4 sections in the middle for double pointed needles (although I’ve put my scissors and pencil in two of them!) and also a section for my crochet hooks.  The little blue pocket is a pouch for my darning needles and any other small things:

KR2

Finally the buttons and the tags tell me what size the needles or hooks are in that section:

KR3

The buttons are also a pretty decoration!

KR4

So there you have it.  A knitting roll!

Starry Slippers

So some of you may remember at the start of the year I put up a post with lots of different things I’d made.
You might remember these slippers:

Slippers - Jan 2015
Slippers – Jan 2015

While they are lovely slippers, they have a few problems which can’t be solved without making a second pair.  The main problem is that they fall off my feet.  So I decided that I would make a second pair!

This time I also remembered to take photos at each stage so that I can show you guys what I did!

As the main problem was that I didn’t want them to fall off my feet I made them ever so slightly smaller, simply by using a larger seam allowance…I used 0.5cm for the last pair, this time I used 1.5cm and trimmed the seam allowance down afterwards to reduce the bulk at the seams.  I also extended the toe covering part to come further up my foot which will also help to hold it on.

Step 1 – Cut out all the pieces

These slippers require only two pattern shapes – the sole and the upper.  For each slipper I needed 3 sole pieces and 2 uppers.  Before we go any further I’m going to describe my fabrics.

  • Fabric A – Starry cotton, used for 1 upper (intended to be the topmost layer)
  • Fabric B – Pink cotton, used for 1 upper and 1 sole (this is my lining fabric)
  • Fabric C – Faux suede, used for 1 sole (the part that goes on the floor)
  • Fabric D – Medium weight, iron-on interfacing, used for 1 sole (goes between C and B on the sole to provide strength and an extra layer).

So with this information, I cut out all my pieces:

Slip1

As you can see, 6 soles, 4 uppers.  Fabric D for the sole is larger than the others because it will be trimmed to size once it has been ironed on in the next step!

Step 2 – Iron On The Interfacing To The Lining

So using an iron, attach fabric D sole piece to fabric B sole piece.  Easy right?  It’s amazingly easy to put one of the fabrics the wrong way up and end up with glue on the iron…oooppps!  Anyway, this is once I had success:

Slip2

Step 3 – Trim The Interfacing To Size

Grab the scissors…snip snip snip…end up with something like this:

Slip3

Wonderful.  We’re getting somewhere!

Step 4 – Make The Lining and Outer

This is wear it gets complicated.  Firstly, I’m just using the pink fabric at the moment.  Got that?  Just the pink fabric.
So I forgot to take a picture, but with each upper, the back seam got sewn up (remember remember Steph, 1.5cm seam allowance…not 0.5cm…I have this bad habit of using tiny seam allowances…and then wondering why my garment is too big!).  Anyway, that’s the easy big.

The next bit, I had to pin the upper to the sole (right sides together),  noting that the perimeter of the upper is larger than the perimeter of the sole.  This is called easing and is often used to attach sleeves and things like that.  I didn’t do as they tell you to for that, I just used LOTS of pins and had a few little tucks (unintentionally).  They’re gonna be on my feet.  If anyone’s looking that closely we have a problem!  Here is all my pins:

Slip4It looks a bit like a sea slug to me…just a very pink and spikey one!
The next task – SEW IT.  Remembering to leave a gap of about 4cm somewhere on the straight side to turn it right sides out later.  I forgot to leave a gap first time.  You can see where I unpicked it.

Slip5

So do this with both linings and voila!  Two linings.
Next, I repeated the same process with the outers – i.e. fabric A (the starry one) and fabric C (the suede)

Then you have 4 sea slugs:

Slip6

Step 5 – Reducing Seam Bulk and Curved Seams

As previously mentioned I’m going to cut my seams down to 0.5cm.  BUT, before I do that, I’m going to do a wonderful trick with curved seams that makes it sit better and makes it more comfortable.  I cut slits into the seams around the curves, this means that the fabric can go where it wants.  The slits go as close to the seam stitches as I could, without cutting the stitches though!  A bit like this:

Slip7

Then I cut the seams to 0.5cm and I turned the lining (the bright pink one) inside out (so that the right side is facing outwards now).

Step 6 – Attaching Outer To Liner

Oooo, this is a fun part!

Firstly make sure the right sides are facing and slip a lining inside an outer.  Then I pinned around the top to join them together, just like this:

Slip8

Its a bit of a pain to sew this, especially with pins in, so I got my little hand needle out and did some tacking stitches.  I don’t normally use tacking stitches, but it was so useful for this.  See my nice bright tacking stitches:

Slip9

Then I put this under the machine and very very carefully sewed the lining to the outer (on each slipper).

Step 7 – Turning It Inside Out

Then I turned it inside out (outside in?) through the little 4cm hole I left earlier, and sewed the hole up with as small a stitch as I could.  I still haven’t learnt how to slip stitch properly!

Slip10

Step 8 – NEW SLIPPERS

And ta-daaaaahhhh!  I’m now the owner of a brand new pair of handmade slippers:

Slip11

They are rather comfy, they stay on my feet, and they generally make me happy :D.  I’m pleased with these slippers, I hope they will last me a while!  If not, I can just whip up some more in a morning!

The Ins and Outs of Cloaks (And How I Made One)

Rather interesting title I hear you say.  Why would I be talking about cloaks?  Well, this all came about because one of my friends had a cloak given to her as a present.  Its made from dark green fleece, lined with a pretty, darker, patterned lining and complete with hood and a nice hook fastening at the neck.  I was very jealous of said cloak for several reasons, a) it looked amazing, b) it looked warm and snuggly (and perfect for going to sleep under) and c) it fired off my creative streak that instantly went “YOU HAVE TO MAKE ONE!!!!!” (in a loud, excited voice inside my head).

Continue reading “The Ins and Outs of Cloaks (And How I Made One)”

Creativity Strikes Again!

Hello,

I’ve come back to writing on my blog!  I had a break due to Christmas and life, it just all got in the way.  However, while I haven’t been blogging I have still been creating and I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to share what I’ve made with you!  I’m also introducing a new element to my blog, I’m going to be doing a little bit of a photography sideline and some of my blog posts will be about my photographic adventures!

Anyway, over my blogging break I made several things, partly inspired due a fabric swap with two of my closest friends and partly the need to use up some of my fabric stash before buying anymore fabric!

1) Starry Skirt

Yet again I wanted a new dancing skirt!  This is the same as most of my others, cotton fabric, elasticated waistband, pretty, and great for dancing in!

Starry Skirt - Nov 2014
Starry Skirt – Nov 2014

2) Pyjama Trousers

I had some leftover fleece from the scarf I made as a present and there was just enough to make these wonderfully cosy pyjama trousers!

Fleece Pyjama Trousers - Jan 2015
Fleece Pyjama Trousers – Jan 2015

3) Slippers

During our fabric swap I got this delightful lilac fabric and thought it would look great layered over some blue cotton as the outer of my slippers.  The lining is red cotton and the sole is made from a soft thin faux suede fabric.

Slippers - Jan 2015
Slippers – Jan 2015

4) Formal Skirt

Both bits of material were sourced during the fabric swap, difficult to work with as they were shiny and slippery!  Its a circle skirt design, with two layers and faced waistline with a zip to fasten.

Formal Skirt - Feb 2015
Formal Skirt – Feb 2015

5) Halter Neck Top

This is a lengthened and slightly varied version of the draped top in The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe Book.  I’ve had this soft red cotton ages and thought I should use it!

Red Halter Neck Top - Feb 2015
Red Halter Neck Top – Feb 2015

6) Sewing Machine Cover

Made from a material again sourced in the fabric swap.  It has a large animal print on it and I made it from one pattern piece and edged it with petersham ribbon.

Sewing Machine Cover - Feb 2015
Sewing Machine Cover – Feb 2015

7) Loose T-Shirt

A variant on the Simple Tee in The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe Book.  I lengthened the pattern, raised the front neckline and added a couple of tunic style slits in the side seams.  It’s a wide necked top and sits on the shoulders.

Starry Top - Feb 2015
Starry Top – Feb 2015

That’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll be writing again soon!

The majority of my creations you can find here!