Black and Gold Sequins become a Midi Pencil Skirt

I was very lucky to get a fabric store voucher for Mother’s Day way back when, and didn’t waste any time spending it, especially as the store was having a sale.

I came home with some things I had been eyeing for a while, especially this sequin number. Without really knowing what I was going to make with it, I purchased 1.5m, I’m not quite sure of the fabric content, it doesn’t really matter either.

Fast forward 6 months later I am finally making something with it. I didn’t want to over complicate things and make a dress, or a busy skirt, so decided on a maxi skirt. The fabric has a little stretch so I cheated by making something with an elastic waistband.

sequin skirt front

                            sequin skirt side 2 sequin skirt back 4

First I made a pattern using my waist, hip and length measurements. I used a black performance cotton lycra (90% cotton/ 10% elastane) as the lining, cut to the same measurements and constructed in the same manner as the outer fabric. I have read a million times that it is often better to remove sequins in the seam allowance before sewing but mine were not that densely packed together and I just used a heavy duty needle (denim needle) to sew and didn’t have any problems. There wasn’t a symmetrical pattern repeat so I just went with what I had.

sequin fabric

I got as far as attaching the elastic waistband and tried on the skirt and it just felt and looked BLAH!!!!! I slept on it, not sure what to do, and next morning chopped off the length to a midi version instead and narrowed the skirt by about an inch on either side seam and pegged it from hip down. I think the fabric had more stretch in it than I originally thought and just was a saggy hot mess. Probably not helped by the fact that sequin fabric has a bit of weight behind it anyway and drags.

Anyway, I cut the lining in the same way, attached a new, narrower 3cm wide black elastic waistband, and used hemming web for the sequin fabric hem. Oh my goodness, why have I never discovered this before for hemming tricky fabric, it made everything so much easier and I had a nice crisp hem. The knit lining was just cut across at the bottom and the hem left unfinished as I still wasn’t sure on how the skirt would go once worn plus it doesn’t fray, and more to the point I was finishing this up the night before wanting to wear it to a function.

Normally I like to serge the seams but I didn’t with this as I wasn’t sure if the sequins would blunt my serger blade. Also the knit lining doesn’t fray so didn’t bother with that either. For construction I used a narrow zig zag stitch with a slightly longer stitch length than normal.

sequin skirt side 3

It is a really quick garment to sew and fits like a glove once fitting issues are sorted. I feel so glamorous and glitzy for such little effort. The sequins are definitely more gold as seen in the fabric close up photo than yellow as they appear in the others.

Cover Your Eyes, There’s Two Fluoro Check Dresses

Two dresses in one post today because I used the same fabric for different versions. Both girls got something from this mix and match pin fluoro check poplin (65% poly/ 20% cotton) that miss 4 picked out. The bodice bow and straps for the smaller dress were made using white top pop poplin (80% poly/ 20% cotton).

fluoro check front

Starting with miss 2. Her dress was made the same way as the red mosaic dress. I added interfacing to the bow this time so it doesn’t flop around the place and top stitched the four sides. It was also hand tacked at the two upper corners to the bodice.

I lined the dress with white top pop poplin as the fabric is a bit indecent otherwise. I cut 2 x rectangles, each measuring 27 cm x 41 cm and did a couple of tucks at the waist seam rather than gathering the waist as I didn’t want to add too much volume here.

The hem was finished with a narrow machine hem.

And that’s it!

For miss 4 I drafted a pattern using a RTW dress she really loves. I say drafted but really it’s a bunch of rectangles and some shirring and I was under instructions that she wanted it to her ankles thus the addition of the extra bottom panel, because she has had a significant growth spurt since I started this dress back in June.

The bodice is made up of front and back rectangles each measuring 26 cm x 59 cm, using the same dimensions for the lining and treating them as one layer for the shirring. I folded over the top edge by 0.6 cm twice to do a narrow hem but first attached my straps so the ends could be concealed. The straps were each made up from a 2 cm x 15 cm rectangle, sewn right sides together and turned right side out. I tucked in the raw edge of one side and stitched closed and then tied it in a knot. I sewed on a white bow at the bodice front where the straps are attached.  I did 13 rows of shirring within 6 cm for the bodice, both front and back.

The second tier is 2 rectangles of 18 cm x 92 cm with the lining pieces slightly smaller at 18 cm x 70 cm. The third tier was made up of 2 rectangles of 18 cm x 134 cm and the lining was 18 cm x 70 cm. Other than the “bodice tier”, for the others, lining and outer fabric were sewn separately in the round to make a tube and then gathered to fit the tier above and attached.

dress measurements

She tried on the dress when it was completed and it was short for the length she had asked for. I had to scavenge another layer from scraps to “make it work”.  The final tier was 13 cm x 134 cm (same as the tier above and therefore wasn’t gathered, oh well) and was left unlined. The hem was overlocked first and then turned up 1/4″ and stitched.

Overall both dress are simple sews, just time consuming with the shirring and gathering and hemming.

Scrapbusting… Self-drafted Skirts, a Molly top and some Gathered Pocket Shorts

This post is a quick summary of what has been made using some of my scraps in keeping with my self-imposed “use up scraps” rule. I found out recently my daughters kindergarten will accept fabric for their crafts, so small, unusable pieces for me, are now re-directed to them, away from landfill. Anyway, that’s besides the point.

Today miss 2 is benefiting from the scrapbusting exercise.

First up is this ruffled skirt using DS picadilly medallion and ditsy in pink (100% cotton) fabric left over from miss 4’s circle skirt. Cutting the ruffle layers was okay but I had to piece together a few pieces to make the waistband due to my fabric shortage. As I didn’t have enough fabric, the connectors between the ruffles were made from white top pop poplin (80%polyester/ 20% cotton), as was the middle ruffle. For documentation purposes, the 2 connector pieces were 10cm W x 42cm L and the 3 ruffles were each 10cm W x 52cm L and gathered. I would have liked more gathered ruffles but when you have minimal fabric to work with it’s a “make it work” moment. The ruffles were finished with a narrow machine rolled hem. I cut 2 waistband pieces (outside and inside) with a final measurement of 5cm W x 42cm L. I top stitched the seam allowance at each connector and at the waistband and stitched in the ditch at the waistband side seams to keep the elastic from twisting.

Triple tier picadilly skirt

Second is a two tier simple skirt using this tutorial from The Stitching Scientist. The modern tribe poplin 9312 in ink (100% cotton) and white top pop poplin (80%polyester/20% cotton) fabric is what is left from this dress for miss 4 and one of my pre-blog dresses. I followed her tutorial but made my skirt 34 inch wide as that is all the fabric I had. Sensing a trend here!!!!! Not much else to say.

tribal 2 layer

Third is a chevron top using the Molly Top Pattern from Made For Mermaids. I followed all the measurements and directions provided as there aren’t printable pattern pieces, and it went together really quickly. The fabric, spots and stripes chevron #1 in orange (100% cotton), was left over from a dress I made miss 4 last year, obviously pre-blog, but that has since also had a refashion and I cut it down to a more practical skirt for her too. This pattern is so cute and I love the ruffles on the straps and the tie back that goes through a loop. It’s not obvious but I had to cut the back in two sections because I was short on fabric, turned out pretty well though!

                                             orange molly M4M frontorange molly M4M back

Fourth are these delightful pair of shorts using the free toddler gathered pocket shorts pattern from Little Quail. The fabric is cotton sateen left over from my cape project (stay tuned for that awesome pattern, next post on Monday). The black is premium cotton sateen (96% cotton/ 4% spandex) and the check is black printed sateen pluses (97% cotton/ 3% spandex). I followed the tutorial exactly and didn’t use the optional waist tie. Great wardrobe basic for her.

Black gathered pocket shorts

Black Boho Tiered Maxi Dress

I’ve identified some gaps in my wardrobe recently, but the biggest of all was the black/ dark coloured clothes, not to mention my every day wear. I went on a fabric frenzy to buy what I needed for a few of my projects.

The first one was a boho style maxi dress, something cool to wear in the humid weather. I have made this Burda style pattern 05/2010 tiered maxi dress #113,  in the past and really liked the fit but I don’t have the magazine with me at the moment. I didn’t want to purchase the pattern again, so drafted my own bodice. I believe I had mentioned a few posts back that drafting patterns isn’t my thing but I seem to be doing it a lot lately, probably more out of necessity than anything else. Regardless, once the bodice was fitting okay, the skirt was just some gathered rectangles sewn together.

Black tiered maxi front 2                           Black tiered maxi side 2 Black tiered maxi back 2

I made the dress up in premium black faille (100% polyester) and self lined the bodice. I used some trace and toile to draft my pattern, why have I never used this before? I thought all was good until I sewed up my fashion fabric and realised I had to take in another  1/2 inch from either side. My thinking is that fabric had a big part in this as my toile fit perfectly. Anyway, I fit as I sewed to get the look right. The model shot shows the bodice quite loose and I didn’t want that for myself so made it quite fitted.

I added three 12mm hexagonal black buttons to the front bodice for some visual interest. There is a 16″ (40 cm) black invisible zipper on the left side. Buttons closeTo insert the zipper, I attached the first tier to the bodice, leaving the left seam open and then serged the seam for neatness. I inserted my invisible zip as I would normally and then stitched the remainder of the left side seam closed. I was able to then attach the middle tier as per normal.

I cut 2 rectangles for each tier using the following dimension. My first tier was 13 inch x  26 inch, the middle tier 15 inch x 34.5 inch and the bottom tier 17 inch x 42.5 inch. I guessed the measurements I required based on the fit I wanted. Not overly loose but roomy, venturing close to the pregnant look from the side (NO I’M NOT!) and it can be worn with a belt if need be.

May_113_tech_drawing_largeI sewed the side seams together for each tier to make a closed loop and then gathered them before sewing to the layer above. All seams were serged as was the hem which was then turned up 1/4″ and then 1/4″ again and stitched. I hand stitched the bodice lining to the the seam allowance at the bodice-first tier seam and also to the zipper tape.

Black tiered maxi front 3Black tiered maxi back

I chose to omit a lining in this version as my fabric was dense enough. I may consider making this again in the future but just sewing the top two tiers and having more a midi version.

Royal Blue Self-Drafted Maxi Skirt

I have been wearing lots of maxi dresses of late but wanted some maxi skirts because dresses sometimes make me feel BLAH as minimal thought goes into getting ready in the mornings! Although that can be a godsend on busy days. At least with separates you can make it interesting and change a look more easily.

After confessing on my last few posts that I don’t like to draft patterns, surprise! I drafted a maxi skirt pattern. My theory was that I couldn’t go too wrong. The fabric I used was royal blue premium faille (100% polyester). For some reason I bought the same fabric on two separate occasions and can’t remember exactly why. Oops should have straightened myself up!!

royal blue maxi front 4

              royal maxi skirt side royal maxi skirt back 2

I followed this tutorial by Melissa Esplin to make my basic pattern.


I added the usual 5/8 inch seam allowances and allowed 3/4 inch ease at the waistline. My waistband was the length of my waist with an additional 2 inches and 5/8 seam allowances at both ends and a width of 3 inches. Ideally next time I will cut it so there is a front and back waistband to allow for curvature of the body rather than one long strip, not sure why I didn’t just do that to start with.

I measured down from my waist to hip and added 2 3/4 inch ease here along with my hip measurement and 5/8 seam allowance (not shown in diagram). I did a fare amount of research when calculating the amount of ease and looked at the Big 4 ease charts but ended up with this summary for myself and I normally tend to wear more fitted or semi-fitted clothing:

  • Bodice: 1 1/2″ – 2″ wearing ease at bust
  • Dress: 3/4″ – 1″ wearing ease at waistline
  • Skirts and Pants: 1/2″ -3/4″ wearing ease at waistline
  • All garments: 2″ – 2 3/4″ wearing ease at hips

I just estimated the length of the skirt and that’s why it turned out a bit shorter than I would have liked but I did the length plus 2 inches and drew a vertical and angled line as shown. My pattern piece wasn’t quite as curved at the hem as is shown but I think it was something like an additional 15 inches of flare (in addition to the hip/4) at the hem which was the length of the line from the left vertical to right angled line.

royal blue maxi skirt width

Essentially you can use this formula for flare/fullness:

  • slight flare: 1.5 x hip measurement
  • medium flare: 2 x hip measurement
  • very flared: 3 x hip measurement

I decided to add a back seam zipper as I think with this fabric I may have got some buckling at the side seam. I used an 8 inch (20 cm) royal blue invisible zip for the closure. I first attached my waistband to the skirt and then installed the zip such the zip went up to the top of the waistband. Originally I was planning on adding a hook and eye but didn’t leave enough room in the end. The waistband facing was turned under on the inside and hand stitched down.

I finished all seams with french seams including the back seam using the tutorial from Handmade by Carolyn. I did however first serge the back seam of both pieces so that the edges under the zipper tape were secure and neat. I also added a 1 inch wide strip of interfacing to both back centre pieces where the zip was inserted to provide extra support. It does show on one side though and therefore isn’t as pretty on the inside as I would have liked.

I didn’t line my skirt but would probably wear a slip underneath because it may be slightly sheer in the sunlight. I probably should have let the skirt hang for a few days before doing the rolled hem but I was eager to finish it after having made a number of kids projects in a row to self-imposed deadlines.

This project is really a quick make and goes with many of my orphan tops.  I wish it was maybe an inch or two longer and I MIGHT play around with adding darts to the back next time to get a better fit and in seam pockets, which would possibly make it the perfect maxi skirt. Not to mention that it fits in perfectly with my SWAP 2015.

Big Bow Dress in Red Mosaics

I apologise for the succession of kids projects but they really are quick and easy to sew, no need for fit adjustments in most cases. I do promise some “me” sewing will be published soon, just some finishing touches to go.

This dress came about from my inspiration dress on Etsy. I don’t normally do the whole pattern drafting thing, especially not for myself, but I find it easier with kids clothing as there is less fabric wastage and of course less fit issues. Anyway this dress was quite simple to draft, just a whole heap of different size rectangles. My main issues came from construction because I wanted to keep the inside nice and neat.

I used the same fabric as the red Cartwheel shorts, I had lots of the “mosaics” one left, a cotton poplin (100% cotton?) and remnants of the red top pop poplin (80% polyester/ 20% cotton). I wanted the back of this dress to be shirred so that it could grow with my daughter and be worn as a tunic down the track as opposed to making a button or zip closure. My experience with shirring is very limited though and as you will see I made a rooky mistake. I shirred 8 rows in total, each one about the distance from my needle to the edge of the presser foot. This made it easy to measure without drawing physical lines on the fabric. Once the dress was complete I let my daughter wear it around the house for a test run and noticed 4 rows of the shirring had come undone. I believe what happened was although I back stitched and tied knots, I cut those off when I serged the side seam, ooops! Anyway, I went back and re-stitched them, even though the ends aren’t concealed by the lining anymore it’s a pretty good effort for my first time.

Big bow dress shirring

I Big bow dress bodice assemblyhad to scratch my head about how I was going to line the front of the dress and enclose the side seams from the shirred back and the straps. It may not make sense to you but it’s a good reference photo for me for future makes. 

I initially made the straps a tad too long but folded them on the inside and stitched them twice. At least they will be adjustable this way. The dress was hemmed by overlocking, and then turning up 1.5cm and stitching. I also went back and added a line of topstitching on the back skirt to keep the seam allowance down which was making the dress poof out at the back.

Big bow dress front

 Big bow dress backFor the bow I had to tack it down at the top corners as they kept flopping down, maybe some interfacing next time would sort this out. Overall I’m really happy with how this has turned out and now my oldest has asked for one too and has picked out her pink spotty fabric from the stash. I will be enlarging the pattern pieces for her version so fingers crossed it works out just as well.

Another goal of using up remnants achieved 🙂 and matching sister outfits. I am planning a peter pan collar top with the floral fabric left over from the second version of the cartwheel shorts.