Making My First Circle Skirt

A circle skirt is irresistible. I have always loved “twirly” skirts, but I never remember owning a circle skirt. I’ve been making more of my own clothes recently, which constantly leads me down pattern rabbit holes. When I found the Sense and Sensibility circle skirt tutorial I knew the time had finally come to make a circle skirt of my own. I bought 3 yards of a lovely plaid wool flannel on sale from Denver Fabrics and got started.

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The first part of any project is planning. I had a vision of wearing this deliciously warm skirt with a cream long-sleeved T-shirt, my bomber jacket, and my wedding boots. In addition to buying the fabric for the skirt, I also needed to by a cream long-sleeved shirt and some leggings for a bit of extra warmth.

That done, I focused on fabric care. Since my fabric was wool I wasn’t sure how friendly it would be to laundering. I wanted a skirt that was easy to care for, since that makes it more likely that I will wear and enjoy it more. I followed in Morgan Donner’s steps, and tested my laundering methods on several swatches.

Swatch number 1 was my control – it didn’t get laundered at all. Swatch 2 was handwashed with Eucalan wool wash. Swatch 3 was washed in the washer on my normal cool water setting. Swatch 4 was washed with swatch 3 and dried in the dryer on my normal low heat setting. Each swatch shrunk a little more than the last, but the difference between swatch 1 and swatch 4 was minimal, so held my breath and laundered my whole length of fabric. The fabric came out of the dryer fluffy and wonderful, not the ruined felted mass I secretly expected. That bit of suspense over, it was time to draft my pattern and cut everything out.

I used wrapping paper as my pattern paper. It’s pretty and whimsical on one side, and has a very helpful grid on the other.

Once I had my pattern drafted and cut out it was time to cut out my fabric. In Jennie’s tutorial she mentions that the width of your fabric will determine the length of your skirt. I wanted a mid-calf length skirt, rather than just below the knee as my fabric would have allowed me. Since I am the boss of my sewing I chose to piece the bottom of both the front and back of my skirt. I made sure to piece along the plaid lines as much as possible. This is an excellent way to disguise piecing, but it can be a bit tricky to sew just right.

Because of this decision I had barely enough fabric. Another departure I made from Jennie’s tutorial was to cut my fabric on the selvedge. I did this because I wanted openings on both sides of my skirt – one for the zipper, and the second for a large pocket. Using the selvedge meant that I had to sew both seams (Jennie recommends sewing the full seam anyway), but that I didn’t have to finish the seams since there is little chance of the fabric fraying.

On to the construction! I started by piecing my front and back panels. I wanted this to be very exact, so I basted before sewing the panels with a running back stitch. Once the panels were complete I cut out my pocket and sewed that in with the corresponding side seam.

Then I mustered my courage, pinned, pinned again, and sewed the invisible zipper in with a back stitch. If I can sew an invisible zipper in by hand, I can do anything!

At this point I put the skirt away for a few weeks while we went to Phoenix for Thanksgiving. I came home with a sewing machine, so finishing the 2nd side seam and attaching the waistband were a breeze. I used a whip-stitch to attach the inside of the waistband to the skirt because I didn’t want any visible top-stitching on the outside. Then I began the long process of hemming the skirt. I started by making sure my hem was even when worn, which actually means that if you measure the length of the skirt it’s longer in the back than in front. My fabric doesn’t fray much, so I turned the hem up once by about half an inch and whip-stitched it into place over the course of several evenings.

The last thing I did was sew a button hole and button on by hand. The skirt was now complete.

Now that I’ve worn the skirt there are a few changes I want to make.

  • The waistband seems a bit big. I need to figure out how to shorten it without causing gathers in the skirt at the waist. When I do this I may add some interfacing for additional stability.
  • I have not yet finished any of the interior seams. I plan to do this like the hem by simply whipping the seam allowances into place.
  • The pocket is gloriously large, but about an inch too low. I plan to take this out and raise it.
  • I may want to take another stab at leveling the skirt.

I love how warm this skirt is. It’s like wearing a blanket! And I love twirling in it. I will forever love twirling. I definitely see more circle skirts in my future.

Pillowcase Renovation

Quite a while ago I bought a pair of pillows for our living room. They weren’t very expensive, and at the time they were exactly what we needed.

Recently we decided to change the colour scheme of our decorations, and realized these pillows didn’t go with our new colours. Armed with scissors, a sewing machine, and a couple of those fancy pillowcases that came with a comforter but never got used, I decided to make new cases for our pillows.

I was lucky that the existing pillow cases were the right width for my pillows. They were, however, quite a bit too long.

I started by measuring the width of the cases, and using that measurement to mark a cutting line along the length.

Next I used my seam ripper to detach the binding from the edge that would be cut off.

I bought zippers to make it easy to get the new cases off and on, so now it was time to install them. My first attempt didn’t go so well. I sewed the zipper to the front piece first, which made it impossible to sew it to the back piece. I ripped this out and started again.

Zipper attempt number 2 went much more smoohly. First I turned the raw edge of the back piece under and sewed it down. Then I turned the edge under again and sewed the hem over the edge of the zipper. This made a nice, neat inside with no raw edges. Once that was done I sewed the other side of the zipper down to the front piece.

My zipper was longer than my pillowcase, so I sewed a tack where I wanted the zipper to stop and clipped both ends.

Finally it was time to sew the binding over the edges. I won’t say my stitching is perfect, but it gets the job done.

The pillowcases fit perfectly, and work beautifully with our decor. This was a relatively simple project that was made almost entirely from stash. I’ve kept the pillow forms and pillowcases from the landfill, and saved money since I didn’t have to go out and buy new pillows. I call that a win!

2019 Year in Review

This is the time of year when so many of us take time to look back on what we did last year and plan ahead for the coming year. Here is what I made in 2019.

  • Knitting:
    • Finished Items: I finished 4 knitting projects in 2019, which is significantly lower than in past years. I’ve had a lot going on with work last year, which has cut into my crafting time. Also I’ve been doing a lot more non-knitting crafts and making a larger variety of items.
      • Cobbled Hat
      • Bounce Baby Blanket
      • Headset Hats for my work team
      • Secret Shawl (More details are coming later this year. Patience is a virtue.)
      • Various washcloths – this is an ongoing project as we wear through our existing stash of washcloths.
    • In Progress:
      • 3 shawls
      • 2 sweaters
      • A hat
      • Socks
      • Slippers

knitting in progress

  • Weaving:
    • Finished Items:
      • Hand towels – these were a log cabin colourwork pattern using worsted weight cotton, and I gave them to my mom before I got photos.
    • In Progress:
      • Handspun/mohair wrap

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  • Sewing:
    • Finished Items:
      • Checked Blouse
      • Sashiko Square
      • Plaid Circle Skirt (I have yet to blog about this, but rest assured, details and photos are coming.)
      • Regency era chemise
      • Small embroidery
    • In Progress:
      • English Paper Pieced Quilt
      • Burgundy Linen Dress – this is a mashup of a circle skirt, and a vest pattern that I adore.
      • Red Sleeveless Blouse – I started this before I got married. It’s time it was finished.
      • Converting a skirt to a tunic – I’m not sure if this project can be rescued, but I am determined to try!
      • Regency era short stays
  • Other Crafts:
    • Finished Items:
      • I have baked a lot of bread! My focus this year has been on sourdough.
      • My sister and I collaborated to make a Narnia-themed mobile for my nephew.

2019 has been a busy year! I can’t wait to see what 2020 holds!

Sashiko!

This year has had a bit of a theme for me: experimentation. I’ve been experimenting with spinning methods, with sourdough baking, and with sewing everything in sight. One of my experiments was with Sashiko: Sashiko is a Japanese method of quilting/surface embroidery that uses (mostly) running stitches to create interesting designs. Traditionally Sashiko is used decoratively as embroidery as well as to mend or reinforce fabrics in a beautiful way.

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I had a bit of an ivory linen-blend fabric left over from a previous project, so I cut it into 2 squares, drew a grid, and started sewing. I love the Persimmon Flower stitch pattern, and I used this blog post from Sake Puppets as a tutorial.

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The first pass of stitching didn’t look like much, but then I turned the piece 90 degrees and started the second part of the pattern, and that’s when the magic happened! It was thrilling to see these beautiful persimmon flower shapes appear stitch by stitch.

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I found this project to be very meditative, and the finished project is quite beautiful. The front and back look different, and both are quite lovely.

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Once I had finished the decorative stitching, I folded the edges of the squares to the inside and whip-stitched the edges closed.

Hexagons

I was introduced to English Paper Piecing a little while ago. For those of you who are not familiar with it, English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a quilting method that uses pre-cut pieces of paper as a template to make sure your fabric pieces are sewn together perfectly. It helps you avoid wonky edges and crooked lines.

When I first ran into it, I thought it sounded like a lot of fuss and bother, but it was rather pretty. I followed the hashtag on Instagram so I could see more beautiful pictures of this art form.

Friends, if your goal is to avoid starting a new project or hobby, following a related hashtag is not the way to keep yourself out of trouble. I resisted the lure of a new, shiny craft for quite a while, but I finally crumbled after my birthday.

I went to JoAnn’s and bought some fabric and some templates. I fussy-cut out a bunch of hexagons. I basted each bit of fabric around a template, and whip stitched them together. I was hooked.

What started as a quick project to see if I liked the craft has now become a plan for a full-blown quilt. Send help. And more templates.

Check that Box!

Hey Friends, February is almost over, but I have to show you one more thing I made before March hits us.

Will you just look at it? I am quite pleased with how it came out. Well, mostly….

The pattern is Very Easy Vogue V9151.v9151

According to my measurements (and my common sense) I made a size Medium. I don’t know why, but every time I measure myself for a commercial pattern the size I measure for ends up being quite a bit too big for me, so now I default to 1 size smaller. In this case I think I may have been able to go down another size. The fabric is a cotton/poly shirting I found at Hobby Lobby. I think it really makes the garment come alive.

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Since I was working with a check pattern I took extra care to line up the seams so everything flowed well together. In order to avoid a clunky look I cut the center front and upper back panels on the bias. Since cutting on the bias uses extra fabric I did have to piece the center front panel, but the check pattern does a fantastic job hiding the pieced bit. I have to feel for it to figure out where it is!

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I sewed most of the construction seams on my friend’s sewing machine, but the collar and the sleeves were sewn in by hand. I also finished all the seams and hems by hand, and I must say, I’m quite pleased with the low profile of the finishing work (even though it did take longer than serging or top stitching by machine)!

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The only change I made was to widen the hips a little bit. The pattern rather bizarrely tapered in toward the hips, and since I wanted to be able to actually wear the shirt, I cut the seam line straight down. Even so I wish there was a little more room in the hips or that there was a slit or a curved hem, or even that the shirt was a little shorter. It’s just not quite right. Also, the way the sleeves are set in cause the neck of the shirt to rise in front and fall in back – which is rather annoying, but just as well since the front slit is rather lower than I prefer to wear.

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All in all, it’s pretty good for a first draft, and it’s wearable and pretty. If I make this pattern again I think I’ll go down another size and possibly cut the front all as 1 piece. There’s really no reason to cut it as 3 piecesĀ (other than visual interest). I’m also thinking about adding a little waist/hip/hem shaping, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now I leave you with my hand-finished seams. Enjoy.

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Making a Tree Skirt (from Stash)

I love Christmas. It’s my favourite holiday of the year, and I get so excited about it. For me, the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving when we set up our tree. This year we put our tree up a little early, and my husband remarked that we needed a tree skirt, specifically a red one. I am always happy to show that my crafting skills are practical, so I told him I could make a tree skirt. Now I just happened to have about half a yard of red knit velvet left over from making my Renaissance Gown, as well as a similar amount of thick grey felt that has been in my stash for several years. I did some measuring and drawing and then cut my fabric.

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Since I was working with scraps (or “cabbage” as couture sewists call it) I did have to piece both the inner and outer layers, but this meant that I was able to use all but the smallest bits of my fabric. If I was making this again I would have paid more attention to the grainline of the velvet. You can see that the texture of the pieced section reflects light differently because the grain is perpendicular to the rest of the fabric instead of parallel. In the end it doesn’t matter much as the piecing hardly shows when the skirt is on the tree. (Please forgive the cat hair – my cat has decided that velvet is her new favourite texture.)

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I originally meant to sew everything on this tree skirt, but after a while I got tired of sewing, and I realized that the hem was massive and likely to shift, meaning that the more time I spent on the hem the more likely it was to become distorted. In the end I pulled out my trusty hot glue gun and glued the hem down – this way I was able to lay the whole skirt flat to minimize distortion while I worked on the hem. Normally I wouldn’t use hot glue on a fabric project, but this won’t ever be worn by a human and it will only be used for a month out of the year, so it’s not likely to have a lot of wear and tear.

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With the hem sorted, the last thing I needed to do was to attach closures. I had some “Merry Christmas” ribbon in my stash, so after sealing the ends of the ribbon I glued it onto the back of the skirt, and then tacked it on with needle and thread for good measure.

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With that sorted, I felt that my crafting was proven to be a life skill and I was ready to move on to my Christmas knitting.

P.S. Speaking of Christmas knitting, if you’re in the market for an awesome hat, I highly recommend the Drosseln hat. I may be a bit biased, but I think it’s a really fun knit, and you can get it for 25% off until Christmas with the code, “LoveMyLYS” Happy Knitting!