A Fashionable Stitch » sartorial sewing

The First 5 Days…..

I’ve decided to keep you abreast of my Self Stitched September adventures on Sundays. So here goes: the first 5 days. It’s fun to wear my handmade fancies and try and come up with new looks to wear daily. I’m finding that I’m taking more care in my appearance than I normally do, because I’m participating in this venture. That’s fun. I also love taking the photos. It’s fun for me to make faces at the camera. I really do love that. The part I do not love is finding a spot in which to take the photos. That’s become somewhat of a hardship. I work an 8 hour job that is 1/2 an hour away from home. The best time to take photos is on my lunch. The problem is the weirdos. I don’t want people looking at me, whistling, or prying into what I’m doing. I get rather annoyed and then I start looking weird in the shots. Aaarrrrgh! What do you do?

Moving on….

This was Day 1.

My first day of Self Stitched September! This is one of my favorite outfits. I have featured here this fabulous little silk skirt. It’s a skirt that I bought a few years ago, that was in need of altering to fit me correctly. It’s been included in my SSS gallery, because the alterations were not quick or easy. I had to unpick the waist, and the zipper, trim the waist down, fit the sides and put the invisible zipper back in. No easy feat, however, now the silly thing fits me perfectly. And that’s Day 1, September 1, 2010.

Skirt – Silk Cityscape Skirt from Harold’s altered to fit me like a glove
Shirt – Target from a few years ago
Belt – Target
Jewels – Kohl’s Vera Wang Collection
Shoes – Urban Outfitters

This was Day 2.

September 2, 2010. These are the Bella Slacks from Burda Style. I made them up in a heavier weight denim and can I just say, these make an unbelievable statement. Especially to the fellas. I got looks, cocked eyebrows, whistles while taking this photo shoot. Even the women at work give me compliments every time I wear these slacks. I adore the vintage feel, high waist and the how thin I look from the side.

Bella Trousers – Stitched in denim
Blouse – Banana Republic
Shoes – Miz Mooz
Cherry Pin – complements of my grandmother

This was Day 3.

My “Naughty Secretary” Dress. This is made from Simplicity 2724 and has proved to be one of my very favorite patterns, dresses and sewing experiences. The dress itself was rather easy to fit and make. In fact, I can’t wait to make another. It’s in my Fall line-up. I’ve loved the versatility of this piece. And the ease in wearing could not be better. I love the fact that this is a dress and not a shirt and blouse combo. I don’t have to deal with the blouse coming untucked or showing through the skirt. Throw this number on and the work is done. Voila!

Dress – Simplicity 2724
Belt – an old American Eagle Belt, that was too big, but add a few holes and there you go.
Shoes – Cole Haan

This was Day 4.

I don’t usually wear anything but pj’s on the weekends. But since I promised to wear a handstitched garment everyday in September, well you’ll at least get jeans today. This is a top that I made from a vintage 70’s pattern. I love this top for the fact that I did handmade buttonholes along the front. They are simply stunning, if I do say so myself. It makes this blouse such a treat to wear. I’m quite sure you’ll be seeing quite a bit more of this top, as I’m real low on tops.

Blouse – made from vintage McCall’s 6367
Jeans – Rock & Republic
Belt – thrifted
Earrings – Vera Wang Collection from Kohl’s

This is Day 5.

This jacket is an oldie but a goodie. I made a few years ago from McCall’s 5531. The pattern is now out of print but still for sale on the McCall’s website. I like the fact that the gather on the jacket sleeve takes place at the cuff rather than at the shoulder. I added the faux flap pockets and removed the extension in the front the disconnected the jacket top to the jacket skirt. All in all I like this jacket, though my sewing ability was a more novice at the time so the collar is having issues because I clipped it wrong.

Jacket – made from McCalls 5531
Blouse – Banana Republic
Jeans – Rock & Republic
Earrings – Vera Wang Collection from Kohl’s

I hope you enjoy these updates.

  • Thetwowindmills.wordpress.com - Wow! These all look great. The Bella slacks are on my list for next autumn/ winter, and I really love the pink blouse… I actually have a vantage pattern very similar to that which you have inspired me to use. I could really use a nice spring blouse. By the way those urban outfitter Orange shoes are awesome!

  • nicole - I really love the little jacket, and I think i may have to move the bella slacks up on my sewing to-do list :-)

  • Marybeth - I LOVE that jacket! You look great in every picture :)

  • stitchywitch - I love the jacket – so cute! All of your outfits looks wonderful, you have great style!

  • Sarah - So much awesomeness in one post. Wow! Love the cityscape skirt, the orange shoes, the cherry pin, the naughty secretary dress, and the jacket! Fab-u-lous!

  • Suzie - Loving all your looks so much!!! Especially love your jacket – the fabric is FAB, love those little bees!

  • Uta - Very nice outfits! The jacket fabric is adorable – can you tell me more about it?

  • Tasia - Super cute and colourful outfits! The jacket is especially lovely, I love the secretary dress too!! And the Bella pants are awesome. So flattering!
    I also work 8 hours, with a 30-45 minute drive to work! I leave 10 minutes earlier and take my photos before work. I’m in an industrial park with lots of unoccupied units so that works out fairly well. You’re so right, it’s such a pain finding an abandoned spot to take them. So embarassing when you get caught!

  • Angela - Your outfits are so cute and I love the styling of the photos!

  • Sophie - Hi! What is the fabric on the jacket?? Gorgeous!

Stitching Spotlights 9.3.2010

For this glorious month of September, I thought it would be fun to feature those who were participating in the Self Stitched September madness. It really is rather wonderful to see those handmade creations being sported in everyday life. For myself, I get all dressed up, make-upped out, freshly pressed for a photo and now, I get to show you what I look like when I really wear something. You know, I get to work, things get wrinkled, the lipstick fades, the hair becomes flat. That’s real life, right? Oh if you tell me I’m wrong, I will most definitely feel jipped. Without further adieu, I give you two of my favorites this week:

This is Hillary’s beautiful Jenny Skirt. I love the fabric choice here and that green belt just pulls the whole thing together!

And this is Rhinestones and Telephones beautiful Love Dress. Simple, great fabric, lovely fit. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

So, I’m now going to take up needle and thread for my Katherine Hepburn Dress. It’s finally time and I have the perfect occasion for it this September, a wedding. Not mine, of course. Mr. S and I are actually legally wed. Some friends of ours will be tying the knot. I found this perfect fabric too. I’ll show you in upcoming posts. As I’ve been busily getting ready to cut fabric, I decided to buy this fit book. I have Adele Margolis book on fit, but wanted a second opinion if you know what I mean. This book does not disappoint. I’ve seen it on many stitcher’s preferred sewing book list and for good reason. This takes the jungle of fitting and puts it in terms that makes you feel like you were silly not to know about it before. It’s fabulous! So good in fact, I just bought the pants fitting book and am contemplating the jacket book too. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed.

Hope your dreams are stitch filled! Happy weekend!

  • Jennifer - OOH! I am glad you are featuring other people doing this too! I always love to find new blogs!
    That fit book seems to be a must own. I think I am going to need to buy it too. The cover really cracks me up though. Those ladies are so excited their clothes fit nicely! :)

  • Darci - I have all three of those fit books and use ‘em all the time!
    I’ll be working on my pencil skirt this weekend and using your tute the WHOLE time. Thanks again for putting that together. It’s just what I needed. :)

  • Tasia - I need that fitting book! It’s on my wishlist, although I’ve been buying a lot of books recently…
    Can’t WAIT to see your Katharine Hepburn dress – aren’t you glad we encouraged you to buy the pattern? :)

  • Angela - Those are great outfits that you’ve featured! Oo… can’t wait to see your progress on the dress! I need that fitting book, too… I need to put it on my wishlist.

  • Sarah - Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much for featuring my dress. :)
    I need that book, too.

  • Hillary - Oh my stars, that’s ME! Thank you for featuring me in your lovely blog, what a delight!

Self Stitched September Kickoff

So here we are. September. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. A full month long event filled with days and days of handsewn garments.

As you may well be aware, a rather sweet English girl set this fun up. The point of this is to show off and inspire others with the handstitched wardrobe you’ve built up over time. After thinking about this for a few months, I’ve come up with a few ideas. I decided that I wanted to continue my regular blog posts along with a few smatterings of Self Stitched September sweetness thrown in the mix. I’ll try to add the specifics like pattern numbers, fabrics and such.

I’ve decided not to exclude altered garments, as I’ve found that I don’t have a huge amount of clothing to work with. So, you’ll see a smattering here and there of clothing that I’ve bought that I’ve had to alter in some way to fit me correctly. Don’t forget to check out the Flickr Group to see what others have ensembled together. It should be a September to remember! For the participants list, have a look here. I, myself, am rather excited just to be inspired by the looks that everyone will be sporting. If its one thing that’s fun to me, its seeing the same garment in a variety of different ways. I’m very excited to be participating and I hope that in some way I can inspire you to participate next time or even oil up your machine and start sewing again.

I’ll be back with more fun this month and dare I breathe it…..a GIVEAWAY! I haven’t had one of those since Spring. It’ll be real good too. Oh you just wait!

  • CGCouture - I’m so jealous…hopefully by March I’ll be able to join in the fun with garments that aren’t for kids/husbands/unmentionables. So did you make the blue shirt you are wearing, or is it RTW? If you made it, I’d love to know the pattern! :-)

  • Debi - LOVE the skirt! What a great outfit to kick off Self-Stitched September!!

  • Rachel - Very cute. Love the colour combo and especially love your shoes.

  • Sarah - That skirt is sensational! Who makes the fabric?

  • Becky - I love the skirt! So excited about this challenge, too.

  • Tasia - Love the skirt! You look fabulous as always :) Great colour combination and I’m a fan of those red pumps, too!
    And yay, a giveaway too!

  • Alessa - That skirt is so awesome… :-)

  • velosewer - Great skirt. Now to be just as creative:)

Pencil Skirt Sewalong – Finishing Details & My Summer in Italy Skirt

Believe it or not, this skirt has given me fits. I’m finished with my pencil skirt and I’m sure you are probably on your way to being about done as well, but let me just say, this skirt has given me fits. It started with the zipper. It ripped right out in the middle because I ironed it, putting the iron right on those coils. Yup. It’s been a little downhill from there. I’m also debating whether or not I really feel like taking up the hem for the lining. When I sit down, you can now see the lace. Ugggh….alright, alright, no more complaints. Let’s talk about the finishing details. I’m calling this one my Summer in Italy Skirt and yes, we took the photos in a cemetery. Thank you.

First off, let’s have a chat about fabric choice. For a pencil skirt, you have the world at your feet. Given the sophisticated nature of the this silhouette, it’s fun to play with by sewing the skirt in a playful fabric. For this version, I chose a colorful cotton sateen. But this skirt can also have edge in a simple solid. I say it should be something sturdy, something beautiful and something that can go with everything in your closet.

Moving on to a few construction details. I think that pencil skirts are fairly durable, but the back most definitely gets the brunt of the wear and tear. For this reason, I gave the back seam my organza stabilizer that I used in the invisible zipper tutorial. I ran the organza down the length of the back seam and the vent. This will help the skirt to avoid warping, tearing and it will stand up better in the long run. For next time, it might not be a bad idea to do this to the lining as well. In nearly all of my skirts, the back lining has finally caved.

Hands down, the back vent is fabulous. At least in my book. So easy too. The lining, maybe not so much easy, but still adds the nice touch of actually having a lining. Still, I’m in love with that back vent. Marry me….please.

When I saw this charming detail over on Gertie’s blog, I simply had to imitate. I’ve found that giving the lining a little lace along the bottom as the hem is marvelous. So feminine. So sweet. So lovely to catch a peek of. I don’t use anything real special either. This was a vintage find, but really it bears the resemblance of those stretch laces that you find by the bias tapes in the notions isle. I’ve used those too. This little detail is definitely not going anywhere anytime soon.

As far as the Jenny Skirt pattern itself is concerned, I made a change to the waistband this time. I cut the waistband on the cross grain instead of the bias. I like this quite a bit better. The more I’ve worn my navy blue pencil skirt, the more I’ve realized that the bias waistband really doesn’t work well with stabilizer. Bias garments in general, from those I’ve seen and worn, are meant to hang, sway and move. They are fluid and trying to stabilize them doesn’t really work so well. I also found that I didn’t need to alter the width of the waistband either to make it fit with the skirt. In fact, it fit just fine. Very strange as I thought the bias waistband was supposed to be stretched to fit the skirt. Hmmmm….

Just a few details for thought. How is your pencil skirt coming along? I really do hope that the tutorials have given you ideas. This has been seriously fun for me. Most definitely will be having another sew-a-long in the future. I would love to hear some feedback on what I could do better in the future too! Let me know and I’ll be dreaming up another sew-a-long for Fall. I most definitely hope you participate!

Friends, it’s been fun! You have all been such great sports. Let me know if I can still help. Please post photos to the Flickr Group whenever you like. Can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with.

  • Jennifer - Cute skirt! I love your fabric choice!
    Last night I did my muslin fitting for the skirt, but I am having doubts on whether I want to cut it on the bias or not. Maybe I will change fabrics. I am thinking that I might possibly make a wool circle skirt on the bias. Wouldn’t that be cute for Fall/Winter! I am thinking I will change fabrics now! Ha!

  • Elle - I love your skirt! And with your dislike of those invisible zippers, why not try a lapped zipper on your next one?
    Anyway, I made my muslin. It had a bias yoke, and I think your thoughts on the bias waistband may just apply to my yoke as well. Nevertheless, I’ve put the making of a pencil skirt on hold while I lose the 10 stress pounds I put on this summer. Nothing a little healthy eating shouldn’t take care of.

  • Tilly - O.M.G. WHERE did you get that fabric???!

  • SueWis - Love this skirt! I made a purse out of this exact same fabric and absolutely love it — get lots of compliments on it.

  • Sandra - Yours is gorgeous! That print is ah-mazing. My skirt is sewn up, no zipper as I wanted to insert an exposed metal zip to add some interest to a black skirt. But encountered the problem that I have searched high and low to find a 30 or 35 cm closed end metal zip without success. So I’ll probably put in an invisible zip. But almost finished!!

  • The Cupcake Goddess - Hi Tilly!
    The fabric is from Anna Maria Horner’s Drawing Room Collection. I think it came out last year and was made in this wonderful cotton sateen. There were some fabulous pieces in this collection with this one being one of my favorite. Have a look here for it:
    It’s a dream to sew on too!

  • Tasia - Oh wow, this version is gorgeous!! You’re right, pencil skirts are stunning in just about any fabric. Love the little peeks of lace! I definitely have to try out this pattern too as it’s unbelievably flattering.

  • Alexandra Mason - Love your skirt its gorgeous….i’m on my second muslin now, i am determined to get the fit right before i cut my material!

  • Karin van D. - Very cute skirt. I like pencil skirts in unexpected fabrics. I recently made a pink one, and I love it! This one is fabulous and looks great on you!

  • learningnewtricks - Absolutely beautiful! What a great fabric choice, and one I never would have considered. I generally think of pencil skirts in wools or cottons, with sold colors. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to consider floral patterns. Love the skirt and how beautifully it came out. Also, I love your sew-a-long. I plan on using it make my Jenny skirt.

  • Erica - I LOVE that fabric! Never in a million years would I have thought to use something like that. My muslin is made, have decided not to use the waistband at all…I am just too short waisted and don’t feel like fiddling with dropping the waist. It fits though! Happy about that.

  • promotional - I found your post very interesting, I think you are a brilliant writer. I added your blog to my bookmarks and will return in the future. I want to encourage you to continue that marvelous work, have a great daytime!

Pencil Skirt Sewalong – The Invisible Zipper Tutorial

I’m actually not the biggest fan of invisible zippers, but at the same time, I love the way they look. It’s like there’s nothing there. When inserted well, they look amazing so I’ve got a few tips for these babies, because in my opinion, invisible zippers are a rather weak fastening. Weak in that, they seem to rip apart the easiest, get caught on fabric, thread, you name it. OK, ready? Let’s get started.

You will need the following:

  • a zipper opening (obviously something to put the zipper in, you know, like a skirt)
  • an invisible zipper
  • organza, fusible tricot or this fabulous fusible stay tape in the 1 1/4″ width
  • an adjustable zipper foot
  • an invisible zipper foot – optional. I have inserted a zipper using this method with an adjustable zipper foot, but I always have such mixed results. This however is totally up to you.

Step 1 – Cut two 1 1/4 inch strips of your stabilizer a few inches longer than the length of your zipper. Apply it to your zipper opening. Below I’ve used this precut fusible stay tape that I have in the shop.

Step 2 – You will need to mark the seam allowance for the zipper opening. I prefer to temporarily press/steam the seam allowance in place, however, you can also use your own method for marking the seam line. To temporarily press something just give it a little bit of steam and finger press along your seam line.

Step 3 – Open the zipper with the zipper pull pulled all the way to the bottom of your zipper (if you need to shorten your zipper, do that first) and with right sides together pin one side of the zipper tape to one free side of the zipper opening. Stitch in place. As you stitch from the top of the zipper to the bottom (or to the zipper pull, where you can’t stitch anymore) try to keep the zipper teeth out of the way of the machine needle with your finger. Stitch close to the zipper teeth being careful not to catch the zipper teeth. Backstitch a few times at the bottom of the zipper.

Step 4 – Pin the opposing side of the zipper the to the opposite seam allowance now. Repeat step 3 and stitch this side of the zipper from top to bottom.

Step 5 – Close the zipper. At the base of the zipper, pull up the free zipper tape with your fingers and spear a pin from one stitched side to the other. Stitch and backstitch in place with an adjustable zipper foot from just above the speared pin to the end of the garment.

Step 6 – Press your seam allowance open at the bottom of your zipper opening. Turn over and lightly press your zipper whilst closed. From here, you’re finished! Zip your zip up and down, making sure it doesn’t catch on anything and then sit back and admire your handiwork. You just inserted an invisible zipper!

A few things to consider:

Here’s some of my thoughts on invisible zips. These are things I’ve found out through experience as I’ve used this zipper application a bazillion times.

  • DO NOT press open the invisible zipper (I mean that part right before you sew it in, you know, all those instructions that tell you to open up the zipper and then press the coil open. Don’t do it). DO NOT put your iron directly on the coils either. I say these two things for two reasons. Every time I’ve pressed open the invisible zipper teeth, the coils have been stitched into the fabric and then they rip the fabric and have a hard time zipping up. Every time I’ve put my iron directly on the teeth coils to press out the wrinkles in the zipper, the zipper has come apart AFTER I stitched it into the garment and while I was wearing it. Yeah, just rips right in the middle of the zipper too. Rips right apart, I tell you! I’ve done this more times than I care to admit. Don’t do it! If you have to press an invisible zipper, only press the tape.
  • Invisible zippers have to be stabilized, in my opinion. They are so likely to warp. By that I mean that they bubble or the bottom jets out and looks really funky. Stabilize the zipper opening with the organza, fusible tricot, or stay tape and you’ll get a much better outcome.

That’s about all I have to say about invisible zips. I admit, I do like the way they look. Enjoy!

May the force be with you.

  • Faye Lewis - Oh, now I see! So pressing the teeth outward is what makes my zipper hard to zip up. Very useful information – Thank you very much!

  • CGCouture - Argh! I know what you mean about invisible zips being the spawn of the devil…that being said, I definitely love the way they look on the finished product. Thanks for the tips and tutorial! :-) I never thought of stabilizing the seam allowance that you attach the zipper to, but I’m definitely going to give it a try next time. :-)

  • Becky - Just wanted to say that even though I’m not doing the sewalong right now, I really appreciate what you’re doing with this series! Part of my fall plan is to make a skirt from a sloper I ended up with after an online class in fitting I took last year, and while I don’t know if it will be a pencil skirt persay (perhaps more of a straight skirt), I am going to have to adapt it enough to add a vent and all. So I will definitely be referring to this for the lining!

  • Jennifer - Your fabric is SOOOO cute! I must have some! Where is it from?
    I need to get on the ball with this sew along! I am going to try to catch up tonight! Well, as much as I can since I am cutting on the bias and won’t be able to sew any tonight. BUT, I will get caught up this week! I want to be able to post on the flicker page! :)

  • oonaballoona - i totally agree with you on the evils of pressing invisible zips. the first time i skipped that step was out of exhaustion– then it was so easy i never went back.

  • shivani - I love that fabric!! Where is it from?
    I’m starting my pencil skirt as soon as I get back from vacation!

  • The Cupcake Goddess - Hi Shivani,
    I wish I could say I actually bought this fabric. I did the invisible zipper tutorial on a skirt I had bought a few years ago. It’s one of those cityscape skirts and is the most lovely silk. The skirt has never fit me quite right and so I unpicked the zipper and the waistband, trimmed the waistband and gave it a fresh new waistband stay. When it was time for the zipper, I used it as the invisible zipper tutorial. It is one of my favorite skirts. I’m so glad you like it too!

  • Sandra - This is very handy! I have already sewn up my back seam because I was concentrating on the vent. So I’m going to try your technique for this one.
    My invisible zip technique is very rough and ready. After many many failed and annoying attempts, I now line up the top of the invisible zip with the raw edge of the skirt, eyeball the correct placement on the seam then sew to the end of the opening (marked on fabric). Then I start at the top again for the other side and repeat. Then, close the zip. Put in the regular zipper foot and line up the needle as close to the last stitch of the zipper as possible and stitch the seam. Works pretty well! But the key is to stitch the seam below the zip after inserting the zip. And the funniest thing is, the less I think about it, the better it turns out. As soon as I start worrying about it, I get puckers and other problems!

  • Liz - If anyone, I thought you could share my pain…
    I’ve been using your tutorial of the invisible zipper instalation quite successfully for 2 zippers now. Keep in mind there has been no pressing of the zipper of any kind…
    I was in the bathroom on day one of wearing new skirt, only to find that the middle of the zipper was gaping open. Eek, so I was able to get the zipper down and zipped it back up. So I thought I was all good. Well, I left the stall and did a slight bend for the soap only to have it gaping in the middle again. Noooo! So I then hunted down safety pins and have made the back of my new skirt look like frankenstein. Only to then have a snag on the back from the safety pins. I think my skirt is now for goodwill/dump, and I’ve only worn it once. :(
    I now officially loathe invisible zippers.