A Fashionable Stitch » sartorial sewing

Danger! Curves Ahead Pencil Skirt

Here is number 1 of three pencil skirts fit to be made for my Self Stitched September-ness. This is the Jenny Skirt Pattern from Burda Style. Can I just say, Love at first stitch. As per usual with Burda Style patterns, this pattern did not come with great instructions. No problem, as pencil skirts aren’t really that complex.

Onto specifics. I made this from a navy blue polyester wool blend. Not my favorite fabric to work with, but it was on sale and that does the trick sometimes. I needed a skirt in a basic neutral color too. This definitely fit the bill. It’s lined in silk charmeuse, which was a thrifted skirt from just a little while ago.

Things I love: The shape is superb on this skirt. I’ll admit, I got this one just a bit snug, but you might be surprised to find out that not only can I walk, I can sit! Ha! And talk about comfort. For something that does not really look comfortable, it is. Especially lined with the luscious silk. Pajamas, more like. Pencil Skirt Pajama. I also love the zipper. For those of you who’ve been visiting here for awhile, you know I simply abhore invisible zips. I’ve never had good luck with them. NEVER! But I did some digging around in some of my old mags and found this article for putting them in. It was back in a Sew Stylish issue which is apart of the Threads empire. (I can’t find the article on the Threads website, I’ll keep looking, but maybe I’ll just give you my version of the zipper insertion) Ummm…have you ever seen a zipper look so beautiful? Yeah, me neither. I’ll admit, it is warping just a bit and I think this is because in general, I got the skirt a bit on the snug side. But this takes the cake as the most gorgeous invisible zipper insertion I’ve ever attempted. I also love the bias cut waistband. Normally I don’t take too kindly to bias cut parts to garments. I would rather have the whole dress, not just the silly lining cut on the bias, if you know what I mean. This waistband is different. The bias part of it hugs that curve at your waist, making you appear even thinner that you would think.

Things I don’t love: This brings me to the parts I’m not so crazy about. I do love the bias waistband, however the downside of this is the slight puckering at the back. This is caused from the bias. I know this for sure, because I’ve attempted this sort of look on a few other garments before and always had the same result. Drag. I also do not love the slit at the back. It cheapens the look of the whole thing and it was a little on the high side. It was a bit too friendly on the “hello” side of things, if you know what I mean. It really should be a vent or kick pleat, which for pencil skirt #2, you’ll definitely see.

And that, dear friends, is that. A seriously dangerous skirt, with more curves than I even knew I had! I was thinking it might be kind of fun to do one of these skirts together. Giving you some fitting tips and sewing tips that you wouldn’t normally get from the pattern and not to mention, it would be like a collective little sewing league where we could all share our problems, issues and tips. What do you say? Maybe a little flickr pool to boot. Come on, come on, it’ll be fun, it’ll be fun!

  • karen - I totally agree about the slit – it lets a beautiful skirt down. I feel a bit self-conscious walking around in mine, knowing quite how much upper thigh is being revealed. It would look far better with a vent or kick pleat. But seeing as I don’t quite know how to adapt the pattern … I would happily come along for a Jenny Skirt Ride!

  • Erica - I have been eyeing the Jenny Skirt as my inaugural return-to-sewing pattern and would be so totally down with a sew along! Count me in!

  • yahaira - this skirt on you = gorgeous.
    I’ve had my eye on this skirt for a while, but the thought of printing and taping it all up and the fact I can’t tell if it comes in my size have all stopped me dead. though if I’m sewing along with you I’ll definitely give it a go.

  • Alessa - What a wonderful skirt! Very nice curves and the lining is super-cute. :-) I’d like a sew-along, I could definitely do with a pencil skirt!

  • Alexandra Mason - Love your skirt, i have never made a pencil skirt so it would be great to join in a sew-along :)

  • Suzie - Its gorgeous – what a perfect fit! And the zipper really is super neat!! I LOVE the fact that you used a thrifted skirt as the lining material – why have I never thought of that!
    I commented on your blog before (on your pencil skirt inspiration post) that I’m planning to make a few pencil skirts so I would DEFINATELY be up for a Jenny sew-along…especially if the Burda instructions are a bit sparce!!!
    Bring it on!

  • Audie - I just bought this pattern and would love to do the sew together! Especially since I have never inserted lining OR successfully inserted a zipper (invisible or not). And the burda instructions are pretty confusing when trying to put this thing together.

  • Pinkicing - I love your color sense! and I would love to try a sewalong.

  • Pinkicing - I love your color sense! and I would love to try a sew-a-long…

  • Sarah - You look sensational! Count me in for the pencil skirt group. I’m tackling one for my Hepburn Hepburn project.

  • Seemane - Great skirt & nice job on the zipper Sunni!
    Re: waistband puckering at the back, I’m a novice – but would cutting the front on the bias (as per instructions) but cutting back waistband pieces on the straight-grain cure this problem… but still get the waist-slimming effect on the front ?
    P.S. I bought & downloaded the Jenny skirt pattern ages ago but have not used it yet, so a sew-a-long/tutorial would be fabulous please !!! :) You could call it “Sew-with-Sunni” :)

  • Sandra - Love this! I have made up the Jenny and looove the shape. Unfortunately it was in fabric from old curtains in my house that didn’t end up looking as groovy as I was imagining. So I’m keen to make up another. The shape is so flattering and love love love the bias waistband. I’m up for a sew along. Already have the pattern cut out.

  • Shannon - I love the skirt! But I am seriously impressed with the zipper! It’s perfect. I would love to see the article you mentioned. I will have to try and look for it.

  • Seemane - I’ve found which issue of Sew Stylish magazine the article on invisible zippers appeared in – it’s this one :)
    SewStylish Spring Fashion, Vol. 2
    Published 2009
    Product #034007
    So I tried looking on the mag’s website (http://www.besewstylish.com) and it redirects you to http://www.craftstylish.com/sewstylish.
    I found a page on there, posted on July 18th, 2009 “How to Insert an Invisible Zipper into a Side Seam”(http://www.craftstylish.com/item/50357/how-to-insert-an-invisible-zipper-into-a-side-seam) by Jennifer Stern and they tell you to see the tutorial on her blog (http://jsterndesigns.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-to-insert-invisible-zipper-into.html). As Jennifer is one of “Sew Stylish”‘s contributors and her post came out July 2009 (after the magazine article came out in Spring 2009) I wonder if any of the info./content is related at all :) ?

  • Karin van D. - Gorgeous. You, the skirt and you in the skirt. Beautiful!

  • juebejue - i love it! perfect skirt and PUUURfect lining (can you tell that i love it?). great job on the zipper, i could tell that you hand stitched the lining to the zipper? I never thought of that. maybe i will use that method for the dress I am working on! :)

  • Angela - Oh my… fabulous and fabulous and more fabulous! Great zipper insertion!

  • Tasia - Hot! I love the lining and lace detail, the idea of using thrifted garments as lining is brilliant! You know, I’ve been eyeing this skirt pattern as everyone has such success with it.. I am probably too late for your sew-along but this is definitely inspiring!

Stitching Spotlights 8.6.2010

I’ve been doing some heavy duty cleaning out, which is why the delayed posts. The latest spritzer upper was going through my jewels. What a mess! I spent two hours unknotting and detangling some 20 odd necklaces. I’m rather terrible with jewelry and throw it all in a box, so it gets tangled and knotted and then I don’t wear it. Every few years or so, it’s time to clean it up. This time for good.

I made this handy dandy cork board jewel keeper. Rather simple. Bought a frame, some cork board and covered the cork board in blue silk, which matches my bedroom. I’ve seen this idea floating around the net these days and felt it was such a good idea because it keeps things detangled and you can hang up your jewels for inspiration and to remind you to add that necklace to your outfit on any given day.

I also made the top drawer of my dresser into a jewel keeper as well. The cork board can’t hold everything now. I made a blue mat from the same blue silk, cotton batting and printed cotton fabric and put some bias tape around the edges. Easy, easy. Surprisingly, the jewels really don’t slide anywhere. And it makes opening this drawer such a treat, kind of like going to a department store and getting some jewels out of the glass case.

I found that my silver pieces needed some real cleaning too. I didn’t want to mess with that silver cleaner garbage and so looked up some recipes for homemade silver cleaner online. I had no idea it would be so easy. I lined a bowl in tinfoil. Boiled some water, added that to the bowl. Sprinkled some baking soda and salt in the bowl and Voila! Silver Cleaner. Soaked my silver jewels in that solution for a bit, gave them a rinse and now they are silver again. Ha ha ha! This method works super well, would recommend anytime!

Also considering buying this book. Got the recommendation from Casey’s blog and though I have made some of my own jewelry, it’s definitely nothing fabulous. I feel I could use a little “training.”

I realize this is more of a jewelry spotlight than a stitching spotlight, but hey, us ladies need something to accessorize with them handmade clothes right?

Wishing you a fabulous weekend!

Pencil Skirt Love

A smattering of different ideas to fuss up a pencil along the top row of images

I decided to tackle a couple of pencil skirts for Self Stitched September. I had purchased the Jenny pattern from Burda Style awhile back and thought it was time to stitch it up. I just got rid of two ready-to-wear pencil skirts, boring black and brown ones, that had definitely seen better days. I’m always amazed at some of the things that I’ve chosen to buy over the years and how poor quality they really are. The brown skirt had this awful polyester nylon lining that clung to anything and everything. And the black one was completely unlined, made from some awful polyester junk. Both had side zips, both dug into my waist, and both were too baggy in the hips. Do you have that problem? I simply can’t STAND it. By the end of the day, I want to cut myself out of the thing. Uggghh….

I’m in love with the pencil skirt in the middle, that olive color is to die for and it looks beautifully fit

Well, onto more pleasant things. I needed some inspiration. Nothing like flying by the seat of your pants without a road map. I keep a creative inspiration journal with me and when I find clippings of things I like I cut them out and paste them in it. Surprisingly, I have a thing for pencil skirts. I find the silhouette they create rather clean, sexy and up town. And they are so feminine. They bring out all those curves. Bring out the firetrucks!

The two bottom images are fabulous, a mini pencil skirt and that gorgeous blue traditional pencil skirt

Tried making a pencil skirt lately? I’m also in love with the fact that something so sleek and sexy comes from 1 – 1.5 yards of fabric. That’s definitely something to write home about. Not to mention, you get to line it (or not, depending on your preference) in something you want to line it in, like silk. Or maybe even that bemberg rayon lining. Oh, the lush!

The image in the middle is a great idea, adding a border along the bottom to spice it up and bring it out of the ordinary

Just a little pencil skirt love for your Thursday morning perusal.

  • Belly - There’s nothing like a good pencil skirt, and nothing as annoying as an itchy pencil skirt (in fact, I’m all itchy right now, just from the thought!). I love the images you collected, especially the charteuse-mustardy one and the blue skirt, next to the mini. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  • Suzie - Oh I LOVE pencil skirts, they are just so flattering! And I’ve just bought a tonne of fabric that I plan to make into numerous pencil skirts so you’re post came at the perfect time. Love all those inspirational images, especially the bold colours. Loving the bright blue and also the red one at the top of the first page.
    I’m also trying to think of a suitable blouse/top to make out of a pink linen that would sit nicely tucked into these numerous skirts I plan to make…but no inspiration coming to me yet…..
    Really looking forward to seeing how your skirt turns out :)

  • Darci - I see about four or five pencil skirts in my future for fall… also, just read something last night about the need for underlining pencil skirt so that the backside doesn’t bag out over time. I’m planning on using silk organza for that.

  • Emilie - I also love pencil skirts. I want to sew me one for a very long time. Result, no pencil skirt to date… maybe seeing yours will motivate me :) I can’t wait to see it, I’m sure it will be amazing as usual… The yellow skirt and the olive one are my favorites!

  • Becky - I love the look of that yellow polka-dot one! Alas, my hips would probably love the look of that green vertically-striped one much, much better.

  • The Cupcake Goddess - Oh yes! Pink linen top would look beautiful in a top, all billowy and sweet over a fitted pencil skirt.

  • The Cupcake Goddess - They must be the easiest thing to pair with anything and look good. I was wondering if 3 were too many, but knowing you’ll be having 4 or 5, well now I’m thinking about 4 or 5. Ha. This underlining concept is a very good idea. The backside does get a little weak from sitting and walking. hmmm…great idea!

  • Tasia - Great, inspiring collection! I also have a sad RTW pencil skirt that’s falling apart yet I continually wear. Time to whip up a new one! I’m just getting caught up on your blog but it looks like you’ve written up some awesome pencil skirt posts over the month, can’t wait to read them :)

When Stars Don’t Align

Most of the time, when my sewing adventures don’t quite work out I don’t usually say anything. And I definitely don’t show you anything. Usually it doesn’t happen that often. I do try to keep a chin up and move on, not get too depressed about ruining an acre of fabric, but this past weekend was different. I was up for making my second, dark colored half slip out of this gorgeous navy blue silk charmeuse I found. And then I thought, “Let’s move onto the full version instead.” I had tested the pattern, because this is silk you know, not cheap and definitely not worth ruining. Surprisingly for a slip, there were quite a few alterations that needed to be made to the pattern. I felt rather impressed with myself that I took such care in testing the pattern actually.

Then, it was time to move onto cutting the blue silk. I made the mistake of cutting out the bra portion first and then turned my attention to the skirt only to find that there wasn’t enough fabric. I had bought the last of the bolt and was rather unhappy with only the yard and a half I got, but I was quite sure I could make the most of it. I determinedly cut out the back portion of the skirt and found that there was absolutely no way to cut out the front. I had purchased this silk from Hancock’s and since we have two locations here, I thought I could get lucky and find some more silk at the other location. Of course, they didn’t have any. Of course.

the very sad pieces of navy silk

So I came home, empty handed, and decided that the half slip version was going to have to work. I proceeded to cut out the back of the slip from the back I had cut for the full slip and again found that there was not enough fabric for the front half, even though this was the half slip. I tried cutting it out anyway, a little off grain, thinking this wouldn’t matter much. Ha ha ha. After cutting out the front and finding that it hung completely wrong, I’m here to tell you, I’ve completely destroyed an entire yard and a half of beautiful silk charmeuse. The loveliest part is that I’ve cut it up into little pieces that couldn’t possibly make their way into anything else garment wise.

It’s a pretty sad story, I must admit. There were no tears, which is surprising, but even worse, there is disappointment. Silly, silly girl. Tricks are definitely for people like Houdini. (I know you thought I was going to say “kids” huh. But I’m not a rabbit so what’s the fun in that?) Possibly even worse than all this, is that I actually “fff-ed up” on something so silly, a slip. A SLIPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!

Believe me when I tell you, all of us have our moments of utter shame and complete ineptitude on a very easy project. So, if you are having one of those moments, I’m here to say, you ain’t alone Sister! I recommend that you bookmark this post for future reference when those moments come along. Just remember, I messed up on a SLIP!

This heart wrenching story has been brought to you by:

  • $16 a yard navy blue silk charmeuse, which had the most beautiful purple tint to it
  • a very easy vintage slip pattern
  • Gingher shears, the likes of which you’ve never seen cut into silk
  • last, but not least, a silly disappointed red-headed girl
  • Cherri Porter - I understand. My life is filled with shame.
    I have a weird solution for you..
    Cut them into small shapes and sell them in your etsy store as silk quilt “squares.” Seriously. People use silk in fancy quilting projects all the time and like various kinds of shapes for that. You can get return on your money for it and buy new fabric for a new slip.

  • Belly - Och, the frustration! at least you have your sense of humor… i think I’m going to print this post and hang it on my bulletin board. I can cry days about suchh a mishap 9okay, but i’m a cryer all right.)

  • karen - Oh, the growing sense of doom as a project inches towards failure. I feel your pain! At least you have managed to keep your sense of humour and been brave enough to share.

  • RepurposedGirl - Oh, Sunni, I feel your pain! We’ve all done this… we may not have slipped on a banana skin or wandered out of the ladies with loo roll trailing out of our waistbands, but we’ve all ruined a beautiful piece of fabric (or several) before… think of it as a brief fling with a lovely but otherwise emotionally unavailable piece of fabric, that was never meant to be a long-term thing, but a short and sweet encounter… and thanks for sharing!

  • peter - Sad — but funny — story. At least the experience gave you some great blog material! LOL Surely you can make little flowers out of it or something. Don’t throw that silk out just yet!

  • ana - Poor you! I would be furious with myself if I did that. How about making silk roses from it?

  • Tasia - Oh nooo! We’ve all had our share of bombed projects. Just put it away (or cut it up into flowers or remnants) and move on. Maybe pull out one of your most successful projects to look at and remind yourself that you’re awesome at sewing, 99.9% of the time :)

  • A Sewn Wardrobe - Oh, I am so sorry about the loss of that beatiful blue fabric. And for your hurt pride! Isn’t a bad sewing project just *the worst*? I recently mentioned that to my husband, and he said that a crappy golf game is likely equally frustrating. I try to tell myself that sewing is a skill/hobby, and that one is going to have off days.
    You know, I appreciate hearing about sewing disasters. (Being a new sewer, I’ve had plenty!) I really think sewers learn from other sewers’ mistakes. I wouldn’t be ashamed to post about them. I think it keep a blog interesting and real, too.

  • Angela - Oh no! So sorry to hear! I wonder if you could make a chemise out of the leftover pieces… is that possible?

  • CGCouture - Definitely try to figure out something to repurpose the scraps into–maybe something for a future baby cupcake goddess? I’m sorry that you couldn’t make the slip though, especially when you spent so much on the fabric! :-(

  • oonaballoona - tap. pants.

  • Abby - I have felt this way too. Every time I begin to actually cut a project out, I feel so nervous. Cutting seems to usually be the part that is hard to fix if things aren’t quite right. I hate feeling that nervousness. I’m sorry.

  • kiraph - Oh no! That is so disappointing.
    I have done a similar thing except I had bought fabric which was just horrible to sew – my overlocker ate it and my sewing machine skipped that many stitches I had no seam and that was after trying about 5 different needles of varying sorts. I just gave up on it!

  • Hanna - Ouch, that´s bad. I´ve had my share of ruining beautiful silks in the past, too, mostly by cutting them wrong on the bias. It´s particularly bad when it´s vintage fabric (yes, I´ve ruined vintage silk crepes and satins), because, well, then I´ve destroyed something really unique.

  • gail - Do you have enough for just a camisole?
    Maybe some lovely silk pressed fabric flowers?
    I found this tutorial for silk roses.

  • Alessa - Ah well. My biggest messes have usually involved the most expensive fabric… The silk is lovely, though. Maybe you can make a little evening bag from the scraps?

  • Monica - Pants….lots of panties

  • Jamie Christina - Dang! I got kinda teary eyed =) Crazy thing is I have that pattern! I haven’t dissected it yet, but now I know I may need to make some alterations.

Stitching Spotlights 7.23.2010

This week has been a terribly good week for me. I’ve been able to get some sewing done and go thrifting, which by the way, I made a serious haul. Found a pair of pants, a sweet pink raincoat and a few more sweaters. I’m getting more and more excited for Self Stitched September and have so many ideas to put to use for that month. It’s most definitely going to be a September to remember!

Gertie’s half slip tutorial and Isaspacey’s version

Isaspacey informed me that Mz. Gertie has posted a most useful and perfect slip making tutorial. It’s just like the slip I made, except you make your own personal sewing pattern. Hands down, handmade slips are the way to go. From cut to finish (after having made the paper pattern) you are looking at about 2 hours, if not less time. Best investment I’ve ever made. And just for a few more ideas to throw at you, my pattern also had grainlines for slips cut on the bias. Don’t leave out that option if you are finding you would like to make one of your own.

Here’s a few places online that sell silks, if you are interested in trying your own slip version, but don’t have access to silk in town.

I even thought about that lovely Bemberg rayon lining fabric would work for these.

And did I mention that I’m in love with plush back elastic? If you are going to try making your own slip, definitely give the plush back elastic a try. It’s really soft against the skin and makes it so the slip doesn’t ride up, in fact it doesn’t ride anywhere, but stays right in place without digging into your tummy. It’s also known as plush finishing elastic. Definitely give it a Google search.

I realize I’ve gone a bit slip crazy. And it won’t be ending real soon either as I bought more fabric and trim for a dark colored version. Oh yes, and speaking of trims, definitely look here for lace for that bottom edge. Soon, very soon, I’ll be onto the full-version slip. Just you wait.

Alright, enough about slips already. Have a lovely weekend, friends. Many sewing adventures await you, I’m sure.

  • Abby - How fun! I’m so excited to see your September things! It will be fun to see all the awesome things you have made! I even thought I could do a mini version of it, maybe just 2 or three outfits, but everybody starts somewhere, huh?

  • Angela - Oo.. thanks for the lace link!

  • Tasia - Ohmygod, Lace Heaven!! That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing!
    One day, I’ll sit down and pump out a ton of slips. You’re totally inspiring me!