Amelia Skirt: I Sewed With Corduroy

This week I finished sewing the Amelia skirt by the Pattern Stash! (NB. This pattern & the kit were sent to me in exchange for a post on Instagram.)

I was daunted by the corduroy as I’ve never worked with it before, but I found it surprisingly easy to sew with. Of course, now I’m daydreaming of sewing corduroy jackets and trousers. But I suspect I should probably focus on warm weather clothes, on the off chance we get a sunny spell here in the next few months. This is a short skirt though, so it should be versatile enough for the warmer season.

I actually found the lining quite hard to work with. It was probably because I focused so much on getting the corduroy right that I was blasé about the slippery viscose-acetate lining. I found it shifted and moved around a lot, and generally took on a different form every time I looked at it. I clearly need to invest a bit more time and care when working with such delicate fabrics in future. Still, it came out nicely enough:

Sewing to a deadline is never my favourite, as I’m very slow and methodical when it comes to sewing. The instructions for this skirt said it would take around 5 hours, but I must have spent at least 10, and that’s not even counting the toiles!

I’m taking a week or two off sewing now as life and work are super busy, but don’t be fooled – I’m still daydreaming and planning. I think I want to do an instant gratification tee out of fabric in my stash next, as I’m not very happy with my summer wardrobe. I like wearing tees but I generally have boring ones, so I’m ready to add a little more spice. (Read: block colours in my classic palette of pink and teal.)

In knitting news…

I had to frog the sleeve and start over! 😦 I misread the instructions and decreased way too early and too often. I don’t feel like I’ve lost much though, as this realisation coincided with my double-pointed needles arriving in the post – and I can knit a lot faster with those. So I’m not really that disheartened.

Last but not least! Cat pics!

Thanks for reading! See you next week.

My Week in Sewing, 22nd April 2022

I’m back after a week off! I skipped last Friday’s weekly sewing review as I was busy swanning around Vienna. We went to 5 art galleries plus another art exhibition in London and my brain was absolutely saturated by the time I got home. I probably could have done with more of a zone-out type of holiday, but I had a great time all the same – I just want another holiday immediately, please and thank you.

I got to wear my newly made Agatha dress to the opera and a fancy restaurant, all of which was fantastic. I love wearing me-mades in formal settings. It feels devious somehow.

I came across a huge fabric shop – but it was outside of opening hours, much to the relief of my wallet. I enjoyed this window display though. Are those enormous hams? What is that gigantic cheese shaped thing?

Since I’ve been back at home, I’ve been working on my Pattern Stash Amelia skirt (NB. project materials given to me in exchange for a social media post, but this is not that post). I was previously making a wearable toile, but as soon as I got the information I needed out of the toile, I parked it in favour of the real thing as I’m approaching the agreed deadline. I’ll return to the toile afterwards as it’s so close to done, and I really like the contrasting colours.

Wearable toile. Waistband not finished – but parked for now.

So I’m on the final project now. I’m going entirely out of my comfort zone with this fabric choice. Corduroy! Fiery orangey red! I had never worked with corduroy and this colour is not like anything in my traditional colour palette so this was brave/reckless. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that I made my fabric choice the morning after a big boozy work party. I may or may not have been thinking straight.

But. It’s working out well. I’m glad I didn’t play it safe, as I’ve already learned loads.

This colour is hard to photograph. Especially when you’re a bit lax with your lighting.

Honestly, I was daunted by the corduroy. I’ve read so many “how to sew with corduroy” blog posts over the years that I had the impression that it was a difficult fabric to work with. Well, spoiler: it’s not. I’ll write a bit more about that in a future post.

The pattern has come together quite straight forwardly. It has a few slipstitching steps that I’m going to do on the machine instead because sod slipstitching. I haven’t quite got my head round how the lining attaches to the vents yet, but it’s nearly done!

Top tip: Distract your cats before you attempt to take photos of your sewing project

My knitting project continues to take several millennia to complete. I’m on the first sleeve now, and I really thought the sleeves would fly by – but this damn half brioche stitch is so slow! I’ve ordered some double pointed needles as the magic loop method is getting on my nerves, and any possible speed improvement will be valuable at this point.

I’m keen to get it done because knit club are starting on a new project soon and I don’t want to have two knitting projects on the go at the same time.

I shall leave you with some pics of cats – despite already having shared one. I’m absolutely spoiling you.

Thanks for reading. See you next week!

My Week in Sewing, 8th April 2022

I’ve been working on a skirt this week – the Amelia Skirt from The Pattern Stash. For full disclosure, I was sent this pattern (and a kit including fabric) for free in exchange for an Instagram post about the skirt. This post is not part of that exchange – I just wanted to share a little about the making process.

This is my second toile of the skirt. On my first toile I did a straight size 10 – I should have known that was a silly idea! My hips are less curved than most patterns are designed for, so I always have to do some heavy modifications to make the hip curve straighter. I took in the side seams and increased the intake of the back darts, but I quickly realised that my changes were distorting the lines of the pattern – the panels weren’t nicely distributed anymore. So I decided to trace off the size 8 at the hip, and grade to a 10 at the waist. I also picked some leftover linen to make this a wearable toile. You may recognise this fabric from my April dress!

The fit is far better now. I’m also very pleased with my invisible zip insertion. It used to take me a minimum of 30 minutes to get a zip in nicely, with multiple rounds of unpicking – but I’ve got the technique now, and I typically get it right on the first try. I freehand the first side and then pin the second side very lightly. My problem before was over-pinning – so my big tip is to let the zip lay where it wants to lay!

There is an invisible zip in this side seam. Truly invisible! Patting myself on the back.

I’m looking forward to completing this toile and getting started on the real deal. I’ve picked a bright fiery red corduroy, which is a bit outside my comfort zone in terms of both fabric and colour. But it’s good to push ourselves. I do have bits of bright fiery red corduroy all over my house now though.

Before I close, here are some cat pics from the week:

Thanks for reading. See you next week! 🙂

Fibre Mood Agatha Dress – Pattern Review

This is probably the prettiest thing I’ve ever made.

Behold, my Fibre Mood Agatha. I can’t get over how beautiful it is.

There’s a lot I love about the design of the dress. The curved waistband which rises to meet the V of the plunge neckline. The fact that the waistband is doubled, such that it provides a nice bit of structure around the waist to support the weight of the skirt. The floaty, breezy quality of the sleeves due to their being semicircles – and the way the hem of the sleeve lines up with the waistband. And that plunging neckline! I worried it might be too revealing for me, but I think it’s perfectly tasteful and just a bit flirty.

The fabric is some sort of synthetic jersey – I thought it was rayon at first, but it has a springy sponginess to it that reminds me of a scuba or swimsuiting, so perhaps it’s poly. It’s very soft and slinky, and has a good weight to it that gives it a superb drape. I bought it from Gillies in York with the intention of making some pyjamas out of it. Can you imagine if I’d wasted this gorgeous fabric on pyjamas!

It does have a directional print, and this pattern technically shouldn’t be made with a directional print, because some of the skirt is on the bias and the back of the sleeves are upside down. But I don’t really care – I think the print is abstract enough that you would need to look closely to recognise that they are palm trees. I’m OK with it.

I found the fabric a little bit tricky to work with, as it was both slippery and weighty so it had a tendency to slide around. But I feel like my skills at grappling with fabrics like this have come a long way, so I although I had to put a bit more effort in (i.e. more pins), I never got frustrated with it or felt out of control. Just takes practice, like everything else.

I must say I’m not crazy about Fibre Mood’s pattern instructions. They leave you to fend for yourself a bit, so I wouldn’t call them beginner-friendly. For instance, the edge of the front bodice needs to be interfaced, but there is no pattern piece for that interfacing, nor is there an explicit instruction to apply it. There’s just a note next to one of the diagrams stating factually that the highlighted yellow section is interfaced.

I also got a little confused when attaching the sleeves, as mine didn’t match up to the bodice in the same way the diagram suggested – it wanted a 1cm seam allowance left on either side of the sleeve, but my sleeve consumed the full space, i.e. it was 1cm too long on each side. After a while, I realised that this was because the instructions gave two options for finishing the sleeve hem – either a rolled hem, or a 1cm standard hem – and my choice of rolled hem meant that only 0.2cm of the 1cm hem allowance was actually used. I wonder if they intended for that 1cm hem allowance to be trimmed when doing the rolled hem – but if so, it was not made clear at all. Never mind. I just sort of fudged it a bit under the arm, but I did it the same on both sides so who cares.

One final gripe about the pattern is that the skirt piece is printed in full. Yet it’s symmetrical! What a huge waste of paper and printing/taping time. I actually folded the pattern piece in half and cut my skirts on the fold anyway.

For what it’s worth, I managed to cut size 36 out of 2.5m of fabric, despite the pattern saying it needed 3m.

But. Please put all that aside. It’s all worth it. My complaints about the pattern are insignificant in comparison to how much I adore the final dress. I did enjoy sewing it, and even with the sleeve confusion it didn’t take all that long to put it together. It’s quite a straightforward sew – and creates a garment with a really stunning effect.

I feel ~fancy~!

The Hotel Sewing Kit

In lieu of this week’s “My Week In Sewing”, since I’ve been poorly and haven’t done very much of anything at all, I’m sharing some creative writing on the topic of sewing. I wrote this a couple of months ago in a 5-minute writing challenge on the topic of “an object related to my hobby”. PS. I’m just dabbling in creative writing, be kind 🙂

I often collect miniature mending kits from hotels and stash them in my handbags, because the time you need a mending kit is not when you are in a hotel room with your luggage – and therefore hopefully also with a spare change of clothes – but rather when you’re out and about, at a nice dinner, or in the office, with only the clothes on your back, and a significantly higher need to look presentable.

Once, I repaired a seam at the centre back of a grey pencil skirt while sitting, by necessity in my knickers, on a (closed) toilet in a cubicle in the loos on the fifth floor of an office block in central Leeds. Turns out you want a little more kit than just these tools to fix a broken zip, but you can do a temporary salvage, in a pinch. 

The zip had come away from the fabric just three quarters of an inch, and I suppose I might have been able to get along without repairing it, but I’m not really that sort of person. So I found myself perched in my pants on the cold toilet lid, making the burst seam worse before I could make it better, and not entirely convinced I could make it better in the ten minutes before my next meeting anyway. What would happen if I only made it worse, without making it better? Well, there was that flimsy gold safety pin – though I didn’t have a huge amount of faith in its ability to support the strain on the seam that holds my bum in. So I had to get it right.

I discovered it’s hard to thread a needle while sat in your knickers in a cramped space under fluorescent lighting and time pressure. 

And that my insistence to favour the sewing machine over any hand-sewing at all had robbed me of an opportunity to develop a useful life skill.

It also turns out there’s far less thread in these kits than you think.

What do you do when once you have miraculously managed to slip-stitch that seam back into place? Rip the thread with your bare hands like an animal? Yes, yes that’s exactly what you do. And then you sit there staring at it for a full minute, cursing the amateur nature of your handiwork and lamenting the fact that this toilet stall does not feature a steam iron so you could at the very least press out the crumples impressed into the skirt by your frantic hands. But now you’ve only got ninety seconds left before your meeting, and you’re still in your pants, so you hoick the skirt on – and thank god that the zip doesn’t immediately burst open – do a quick sanity check in the mirror, not that you have any time to correct any mistakes now. Then you step back out into the office, and say not a single damn word about any of it.