My first project from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual is the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt. The name says it all really. I made mine in a nice dotted Ponte de Roma knit. Sew it up, wear. The length hits about mid/upper shin/calf, and it is so comfortable to wear, but looks so smart. Will have to make more.

The book says to use 30mm elastic, but I couldn't find any anywhere. It's either 25mm or 38mm. I used 25mm, it doesn't seem to affect the outcome.

It also says to use a twin needle to hem. Which seems straight forward, but whether it was the fabric or the machine, this just refused to work for me. Used a stretch/lightning stitch instead.

Finished Easy Knit Pencil Skirt
Photo by chebegeek

Fourth skirt from the 'Sew What! Skirts' book, Short and Sassy (page 73), a simple square (a.k.a. handkerchief) skirt with elasticated waist. ... Well, almost. I added a yoke. I've added yokes before, but this time I was following the 'very simple low-waist skirt block' (page 134) from Winifred Aldrich's 'Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear'. This particular block is good for easy-fits and fabrics with stretch/elastic waists. The only alteration made to the general instructions from 'Sew What! Skirts' (SWS) was that the circle was measured as my hips, and the waistband left out (as the yoke took care of that).

Construction is very straight forward; sew up the side-seams of the yoke, make the elastic casing, insert elastic. Add yoke to skirt (slight gathering may be needed). Hem.

Okay, ready for the maths? Really pretty simple, promise.

In theory )

Adding yokes or not is simply another variation you can try. There are also other waistband and closure methods that can be used. There are so many possibilities you can make, and all without buying a single pattern!

In practice )

There we are. A little light twirly skirt perfect for dancing in. And I've learned a lot about how square and circle skirts are made so I'll be able to make the next one perfectly first time. I'm also loving the yoke block based on Aldrich's block and am looking forward to trying the other blocks.
See, I bought this dress several months ago, €10 on sale, and figured I might wear it for New Years or something. But I didn't. Eventually I decided that it was simply too lacey, and too short for me to really feel comfortable in it. So I did what any sewist would do; I fixed it.

Firstly I found a point where I'd be happy having the dress end, if it were a top; just a bit below the centre-back zip. I pinned the outer lace to the lining, and just cut across. And left the pieces (carefully) to one side.

Next, made a yoke. I have mentioned before about a straight skirt block tutorial from House of Marmalade that I'd followed. I was pleased with the result and used the top part of this block to make a yoke.

I picked a point low on my hips where I wanted the yoke to end, and marked that as the bottom. I followed the skirt block for a bit, until I felt it had narrowed sufficiently. Then I continued the line straight up from there to the waist (instead of curving in to my waist measurement). Also, because the block tutorial was for a high-waisted skirt, I stopped a fair bit down where I would prefer the top of my skirt to sit.

Then I added seam allowances, and allowance for an elasticated waistband (roughly width of elastic multiplied by two, plus seam allowance).
End result )

Copied it out onto some fabric I had simply laying around, which happened to be purple interlock/knit, placing the degree-of-greatest-stretch around the body/hips. Only two pieces; front and back. Sewed them together, then added the elasticated waistband.

Took this yoke, and the band of purple lace-with-lining I'd cut off the dress earlier, and with right sides together I matched up the side-seams, and sewed it all together. (Seams were finished on my overlocker/serger.) The lace/lining was already hemmed, so I was done! One quirky, casual/dressy skirt made-to-measure.
Pictures! )

What about the top? Well, that's another story.
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I've made skirts before, I've even drafted skirt blocks, heck the 'Sew What! Skirts' book is basically drafting custom patterns each and every time. But they have the same problem; they're too big. This baffled me for a long time, until I saw the House of Marmalade skirt block tutorial. It turned out to be simple; centimetres! I grew up using the metric system, got a feel for it, about when and how to round up, etc. Turns out that it doesn't translate all that easily to imperial (as all my previous instructions have been). I mean, 1.5 is a lot easier to remember, and add, than 5/8s, right? Guess it boils down to what you're used to.

So, I made the straight-skirt block, and tried it on for fit. (It's not a finished skirt/pattern, just the basis from which to create patterns.) Couldn't be simpler, one piece for front, one for back, side zipper. I followed the instructions closely, wanting to make sure I didn't miss anything. And I've ended up with a skirt that goes to my natural-waist. I do not like this style, I don't find it comfortable, or flattering. But it has just proven to me how well the block fits, and I can just lop off the top 10cm or so whenever I come to make a real skirt.

Speaking of which, the instructions say your hip (generally considered widest part) is 20cm below your natural waist. Well I seem to be shaped a bit differently. My widest part is 28cm below the natural waist. No, I'm not tall, actually on the short side. My natural waist does seem a bit high (even relative to other natural waists which by their nature are fairly high), but it seems I just have a long ... lower torso? Yeah, let's call it that. Anyway, end result being I marked in the 20cm measurement on the block, but also marked the 28cm measurement, and just joined the dots, to get a perfect fit.

And now we're on to fit. Well, firstly I really need to learn how to put in zippers. But allowing for that mishap, the skirt fits well, just not as snug as I'm used to, so there is some excessive bunching/gaping over the tummy. It's only a small thing, considering I usually have to lop 4-inches off the side seams! But it is something to work on.

Oh, and no pictures, because straight skirts are horrible on me. I do have a black cord I reckon would be nice in a slight pencil-skirt, but really I'm only doing this block so I can get a decent yoke onto which to add flared skirts. Because once I do, once I have that holy grail of fitted skirt yokes, then, then I will take over the world! *ahem* Sorry, then I'll reclaim my wardrobe from the pit of jeans it has fallen into. Well, I can dream at least.
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Third skirt from the 'Sew What! Skirts' book, Got No Ties (page 67), a wrap made from loose-weave fabric. Funnily enough when I first looked through the book this was one of the skirts I was sure I'd never make. I'm not sure why exactly, just have little experience with loose-weave fabrics, so they just seem to be not my thing. But then, I was in Hickeys during the stock-take sale, and found this purple/black/white tweed for only €8/m. It sat there, looking at me, all soft, warm, and purpley. I figured I should at least try the skirt.

Got the fabric home, discovered it's polyester and acrylic, and dry-clean-only. "Nuts to that," I said, and chucked it in a 30-degree wool wash. Put it through the tumble-drier (seemingly losing half of it in the process), and then discovered to my delight not only that it survived but that ironing is not required.

I did up a pattern on paper this time, instead of directly on the fabric. Basic A-line, fitted-waist layout, but no zipper. I made sure to use my low-waist measurement, and while I curved the front waist, left the back waist straight. I also increased the extend/overlap section to 8". I think I settled in the end on a 19" length, which hits me just above my knees. A nice length on me. However, it's extremely hard to photograph.

Skirt photos )

I didn't have snap tape, so I used two little metal snaps, one on the end of each of the wrap edges, and then secured with a kilt-pin. Then I enjoyed fringing the edges, and now have plenty of material to stuff my next pin-cushion.

I have complained about the clarity of instructions in this book before, and I'm saddened to see that the trend continues. For this skirt they never mention what to do with the waistline, you're left to infer that it's the same as for the hem, yet a close inspection of the photos shows that this isn't true. Other than that though, the instructions are fine.

Okay, I 'fess up. I mostly started this because I'm so unhappy with my sew-along mock-up. I think I'm going to have to make up another one, because simply, I'm not cutting the fashion fabric until I'm happy with the mock-up. So, my apologies to anyone waiting on me to go through the next few steps, it may be a while. Starting in to another mock-up is daunting, and messing with my sewing mojo, so I needed to do something fairly straight-forward that would give me almost instant gratification. That's how this skirt happened. I also have the pieces for a top cut out, but I probably won't get to sewing that up until tomorrow.

Hmm, I feel this skirt needs a pocket or two to give it more interest...
My second skirt from 'Sew What! Skirts', the so-called Breezy Beach Wrap. I mentioned earlier that I found the instructions hard to follow, and the resultant skirt is not great.

Here, let me show you. )
Take a rectangle of stretchy fabric, a little longer than your waist measurement, and as wide as the length you'd like.

Fold this rectangle in half length-wise, so you end up with something more square like. Right sides (the future outsides) together / against each other on the inside.

Sew the two halves together down the side with no folds at either end. Being stretchy material chances are the stitching will break, so re-enforce the seam. I sewed a straight stitch, then beside it a zig-zag stitch, then finished the edges (remind me to write a post on this later, but if using t-shirt like material it can be left raw.)

Find the top of the skirt, finish the edge if you like, then turn down a distance the width of your elastic band, plus a little bit. Make sure the outer edge is tucked in under the fold. So, one little fold (along the very edge), then another fold, the size of the elastic.

Sew all the way around (straight stitch is fine), at the bottom of the fold, through the three-thickness of fabric. But leave a little gap for adding in the elastic.

Take the elastic, pull it around your waist, stretching a little, until it is snug, and over-laps a little. Cut this length.

Add a large safety pin to each end of the elastic, and thread one end into the gap you left in the waist band. Use the safety pin to work it around, making sure the other end doesn't get pulled through.

Take out the safety pins, and sew the two ends of the elastic together, with a little over-lap (about an inch or two is good). And let sit back into the waist band.

If you're like me the bottom/hem of your skirt is the selvage of the fabric, or t-shirt fabric, so you don't have to do anything. If you need to hem, do the same as you did for the waist, only make the amount of fabric folded over less.

Turn right way out, and wear.

There you go, one straight skirt that will shape to your curves; casual, light, and non-restrictive. All without having to take out a pattern, or a ruler, and a great way to use up extra pieces of fabric.

I am working on real content, but work and health are keeping me distracted. Hope to be back soon.

EDIT: a small pic! )
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I made a skirt yesterday. One from the book 'Sew What! Skirts'. I'm not sure if I mentioned this book here before or not, but I like it, and recommend it, even if none of it is metric, and it says you need a sewing machine. It basically teaches you how to make skirts to fit you, without patterns. It involves a little bit of maths, and some rulers, and really what you are doing is drafting your own skirt blocks, for one time use only, directly on the fabric. I made the first skirt, called 'Singing the Blues', a drawstring A-line skirt, only I didn't add the pocket or the rickrack.

It took me about four hours, including re-threading my overlocker, and learning how to sew a buttonhole on my machine. I ended up making the skirt a bit too big (I have to stop rounding up my measurements!), but I think it still works in a Summery kind of way. I actually wasn't too sure about the fabric, it's floral, and reminds me of Hawaiian shirts. Yet the colours are striking and bold, and the flowers themselves remind me of blood-red splashes. It's certainly not the sort of pattern I'm used to wearing. But it is a medium-weight cotton, and the selection was poor.

I wore it to work today. That was quite a bold move for me. I have never worn anything I made myself out-of-doors, except costumes. I suffer from thinking that nothing I can do is good enough, for whatever that means. But I did, and received several compliments on it, none of which were 'Did you make that yourself?'. I aim for a handmade look, not homemade. And, I say this with relief, I think this a step in the right direction.

Photo behind cut )