Sunday, 7 April 2019

A top, a bodysuit and a pleated skirt

I've been trying to get some UFOs finished and repairs and alterations done. That's been successful. None are worth posting about, but I feel a sense of contentment, of a job well done. They include hems being let down and sewn up to make the trousers longer, buttons sewn on etc. I told you they were boring.

I had intended to focus on my trouser fitting (oh yes, that!) but I am actively losing weight so I'm going to put off for a bit. I'm delighted to say that (some of) my golf crops fit me again! (Well, they will all do by next month!) That's useful as I was going to rush and try to make some - or at least some skorts. I have a nice pattern. 

It was suggested to me that I should making skorts for a bit in view of my ongoing weight loss for a bit. I agree. I did make up the top shown in this set (skorts, top and jacket - I'd like to make them all) but find it a bit tight, especially at the hips; this older Kwik Sew pattern 3232 clearly had less ease than a lot of the big 4 patterns. It's also a bit short so I'll redo. 

It doesn't look too bad from the front

You can see how tight it is on Madame

On the whole though I prefer a top with sleeves and a collar, a polo shirt,  for golf, at least. I'm going on a girls’ golfing holiday next month. I'm looking forward to it but as I've only played a few holes so far had better get some practice in. Thankfully, my foot appears to be standing up to the strain of rotation on it.

I've cut out a slightly modified pattern for the Nettie body from Closet Case Patterns. I modified by giving my derrière a little more coverage (length) and cutting further up at the front. The original design is like a short and I prefer higher at the front and sides. The stretch in the fabric I'm using is a little less than I'd thought and the bodysuit will likely be a lot more comfortable in half a stone's time! I'll move on with it and hope to use my coverstitcher for the bands.

Yes, I'm using the same fabric as for the KS top

Again, rather too tight in the rear

Easter is quite close now and I'd hoped to have Helen's tartan skirt ready for fitting. Mmm. Not sure about that. I cut out a toile of a different style to see if it's more successful and easier than modifying the last pattern. Hopefully I can send it to her early next week. I need to get the tartan out from storage though to measure the set and see how much I need to vary the pleat placement on the pattern. I have lots of fabric and while I don't want to waste it on an unsuccessful skirt try, it wouldn't be disastrous, and I really need to use the real fabric.

The toile is from a 1991 pattern - Butterick 5712. Helen said she liked it, based on the pattern photos. There is one with two pleats front and back and the other with more. I decided to go with a shorter two pleat version, view B; I shortened by 4". The advantage of this pattern is that the sizes change only at the side seams, where there are no pleats. I found altering the size in the full pleated skirt I made her previously extremely difficult, and it was still not the perfect size. Pleats are quite difficult to adjust for a female waist, as I found out! Because all the adjustment is at the side, I can more closely match Helen’s shape. Assuming she gives me the thumbs up for the overall style, I will actually FINALLY get around to cutting into the fashion fabric - that is the medium weight pure wool tartan that we had to get specially woven. I can do the front and back (which are the same!) and adjust the side seams after she gets here at Easter.

Now, I know that a pattern isn’t needed for a kilt type skirt, like the last toile I made, but I didn’t really like the pattern - and Helen requested all sorts of changes that I didn’t feel up to making. This pattern is simpler. The thing I particularly like is that there is a lot of fabric cut away behind the pleat to reduce bulk - that was certainly an issue with the previous full pleated skirt. It’s important when the wool I’m using, although labelled ‘medium’ is actually pretty heavy for dressmaking. It should be pretty easy to adjust the pleat pattern width to match what I need for my tartan. I think I know how to do that.

I made up a toile and realised that, in deciding to make a size larger than I thought would be needed, to allow for later fine tuning, I’d be likely to put Helen off. It was much too large for Missy. So I unpicked my beautifully put in invisible zip and remade in a smaller size. According to the sizes Helen sent me, this should work although some tweaking for actual hip shape is likely to be necessary.

The pattern specifies a centre zip, but I have used a concealed zip in the toile. I need to think in advance of the type of zip to use as that will affect the waistband. I narrowed this waistband to 1” - the pattern is about 1.5” but otherwise didn’t alter length. Lyn advised against a centre zip. So either the concealed zip used here, or a lapped zip… The waistband is slightly different for these two types.

Many will ask why I've done as much on a toile - it really helps me to see where things might go wrong and when I need to do things and in what order. Helen might end up wearing it as she has with previous toiles. I also hope to be able to use the selvedge at the bottom of the fabric to avoid a bulky hem, so that would mean the pattern would have to be shortened further. Actually, on the toile, that’s the bit I’m finding most difficult. The instructions are fine, I just don’t see how to make up to a high standard and finish the cut fabric - they advise cutting into the seam edges as you make up the hem. If I manage to use the selvedge, that won’t be necessary, though. If I can’t use the selvedge, perhaps a thinner bias facing hem would be a better idea? What do you think?

The key issue is going to be finishing seam edges, which I haven’t done for this toile. I think I’m going to do a simple zigzag edge. Any other thoughts? I also need to consider a lining.

It’s ready to be posted off to Helen. I put it on Missy but had to pull in the waist at the back as Missy is 2” smaller than Helen around the waist. Do you like my new hem clips? I found then very useful when pinning up the 2” hem on the skirt.

Not much else to say at the moment!


  1. i love the fabric on the top! and that skirt is awesome too!

    1. Thank you. I like that fabric, too. The skirt pleats are sewn down too far for my daughter's liking - probably because I shortened from the length on the pattern by quite a bit. It's also too big for her - a matter of personal taste in ease but also because it seems her waist size has dropped by 3cm. I'm going to go ahead and make a short full pleated shirt, which I will do without a pattern, following instructions...


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