Tag Archives | skirt

November 23, 2015

Tilly Arielle skirt hack!

I’m not generally one for trends; I know what suits my figure, and most “fashions” are woefully not good on me. But, when I was in London recently I saw a trend that caught my eye: asymmetric wrap skirts with D-ring closures. So instead of dropping 300 quid at Reiss, I made my own, using the Tilly & The Buttons Arielle skirt!

Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

Here’s the style I saw everywhere on the high street. I did a bit of inspecting and realised it would pretty easy to recreate. Plus, I had the perfect plaid to use, which I also bought in London (clearly my roots are showing a lot at the moment).

skirt inspiration

After discovering there are no patterns out at the moment that are much like this (wrap, pencil skirt shape, high waisted and faced with no waistband), I decided to use the Tilly & The Buttons Arielle skirt as my base, and work from there. Arielle fans will notice my mistake immediately: despite appearances, it’s not a wrap skirt. Oops! But I was still able to use it, just with a bit more alteration than I expected. The key changes were:

  • I used the right hand side (wider) piece for both fronts, and didn’t use the left side
  • Shaved a big wedge off the side seam of one right front piece, so it would angle down. I kept the piece on the grain so the plaid would follow the diagonal.
  • Made the same changes on the lining and facing pieces.
  • I didn’t sew the darts on the front over-layer so it would hang straight.
  • Added an internal button to hold the underlayer closed at the waist.
  • Inserted a piece of grosgrain ribbon into the right side seam, about 3 inches down.
  • Strung two D-rings onto another piece of grosgrain and sandwiched it in the front wrap between the skirt and facing.

(Is anyone interested in a tutorial? Not sure if it’s just super obvious or whether you’d like step-by-step instructions!)
Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

Here are my D-rings! The combo of these rings plus the grosgrain unfortunately means it doesn’t stay held just through tension, so I have to put a little knot just behind the rings to avoid flashing. Yes, I did flash before I realised this. You’re welcome, strangers of Boston.

Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

On the inside I used this highly jolly raspberry Radiance lining! Forgive the creases – this was after wearing it all day.

Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

Though it was muchly hacked, I do like the fit of the skirt. However, I wonder if it runs a bit big – I made the size 18 despite the fact my waist is 3 inches too big, and it works well!

Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

So now I have an ON TREND skirt to wear in winter. How long before I get stopped by a street fashion photographer for being so ON TREND? Only a matter of time, I’m sure.

Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

Are you a trend follower? Or even a trend-setter?! Are there any other non-heinous fall/winter trends I should try?

September 28, 2015

Welcome to Twee Town

As a general rule, I try to avoid twee. I’m as drawn towards a whimsical print as the next gal, but I attempt to restrain my impulse to look like a 4 year old.

Sometimes you just have to give in, though.

Behold: a London map Butterick B5929 skirt! In London! (See what I did there?!)

Butterick B5929 skirt

I first saw this ADORABUBBLE print by Moda textiles when a fabric salesman popped by Grey’s Fabrics one day. A bit of frantic googling, and I discovered it’s available from NYC-based online fabric store Jones and Vandermeer. It’s a mid-weight quilting cotton, which in my book, means it’s suitable for a skirt (I’m not sure I’d cope with a full dress in it, and a top would be too rigid for me).


I pulled out Butterick B5929 which is rapidly becoming a new TNT for me. I used the same view as for my Caribbean skirt this winter. It has a deep box pleat at the front, and two side pleats, which I sew in the opposite direction from the instructions (otherwise it looks… odd).



It’s a quick and easy make and yes, I did get the joy/mild embarrassment of wearing a London map skirt around London for a day. No, it is not geographically accurate, though you can pick out roughly where my parents live now!

Butterick B5929 skirt

It’s probably good for the soul to indulge in a touch of twee every now and again. What do you think, lovely readers? Are you on Team Twee? or Team I Am A Grown Up Thank You Very Much?

(Photo credits go to my Dad, who was most patient, and even persuaded me to pose in front of the grey wall because it would go with my outfit… Good eye, Dad!)

Butterick B5929 skirt

March 30, 2015

Barely trying: neoprene skirt

When the neoprene craze first came along, I was quick to scoff. Wear a wetsuit, voluntarily?! My sole  experience wearing a wetsuit was scuba diving years ago, and because the suit didn’t zip all the way up over my chest 1. I looked like a cross between Pamela Anderson and a seal in a tube sock 2. every time I dove, it filled up with water. Shudder. Then it was gently explained to me that clothing neoprene isn’t quite the same as what wetsuits are made of… it’s more like a beefy doubleknit.

So when I came across this amazeballs lasercut neoprene at Metro Textile last year I gobbled it all up. I gave some to Katy who treated us to cross-over skirt loveliness, and finally decided this weekend that I should use mine as well.

And here we are! A neoprene skirt.


So let’s get the crucial things out of the way here:

1. It took 45 minutes to make! When you don’t have to finish seams, hem or press, sewing is goshdarn fast.

2. It’s streeeeeetchy. And we all know how much I like stretchy waistbands/wardrobes. So comfy!

3. It looks cool, right?!


I made it up as I went along: I started with my straight skirt TNT Simplicity 2343 as the base pattern, but I altered it by removing the pockets (I just placed the pocket piece over the front piece and cut around both of them), removing the back seam, and not bothering with a waistband. I underlined the neoprene with a lightweight merino wool from my stash, but I cut it about 2 inches shorter than the skirt so you’d get a peek of the neoprene at the knees. This just involved serging the bottom of the knit, then serging around the edges and waistband before constructing – easy peasy.


I tried it on at that stage, and it was a touch baggy because I used my regular size of 2343 which is meant for wovens – if you make a woven pattern in a knit fabric, you should typically size down. So, I whapped in two back darts, and then instead of attempting to make a waistband from perforated neoprene (a hopeless task, at least with my skills) I just serged on some 2 inch elastic, which gathered the skirt in ever so slightly. I love that the final thing is slim-fitting, but skims over all the bits that want skimming.


I think this is going to get a lot of wear! I dressed it up all fancy here (Always Be Fancy) with the neoprene necklace I got from COS years ago, but it’ll likely get worn most with tights and boots and a cardi. And I’ll get to feel all fashion-like.

Are you a neoprene convert? Does it make you never want to hem anything ever again? Expect to see more round these parts in the future…

March 16, 2015

Stripes for days: another B5929 skirt and a Renfrew to match

A final post to bring this Barbados series to a close. Never fear – we’ll be back to the lovely brick wall  and bright white winter light before the week is out.
Believe it or not, this is another Butterick B5929, though it bears almost no resemblance to the swooshy tea-length silk number I made last time. That’s because it’s a different view, I made it wrong, and it’s made out of yet more non-garment fabric (like the way I slipped that mistake in there? I’m a master of misdirection). Then because I was feeling like an overachiever, I made a navy short sleeved Renfrew to pair with it. As usual I omitted the cuffs and hembands and used the old coverstitch instead.
Butterick B5929 and Sewaholic Renfrew
Anyhow, back to the fun part of the outfit. Who could resist these red-dotted and navy stripes, even if they were meant to upholster a sofa in a beach house in Nantucket? Not me. This time round though I think it works better, because it does a great job at keeping all the pleats in place. Keen-eyed makers of this pattern may notice that I did the side pleats the wrong way round. Obviously that was just artistic expression.
Butterick B5929 and Sewaholic Renfrew


This pattern has that darling of the sewing world, pockets, but given the heft of the linen I converted them into two piece faced pockets with white linen on the inside. I also used that linen to face the waistband – I’m finding that non-waistbanded skirts are much comfier than traditional ones – has anyone else found that?
When I tried the skirt on it was already the perfect length, so I just whapped some hot pink bias binding on there and called it a day.


Butterick B5929 and Sewaholic Renfrew
I call this “Stripe Matching Like A Boss”

The only “downside” of this pattern, such that it is, is that if you used striped fabric you’re not going to be able to get a perfect stripe across the slightly curved waistline or hemline, no matter how hard you try. But let’s face it, only sewists would ever notice such a thing and I now think of it as my advanced technology “sewist identification device” (SID): if I see anyone curiously staring at the top of my skirt, I’ll be sure to introduce myself and strike up a conversation about underlining techniques.

Butterick B5929 and Sewaholic Renfrew

And so, my mini-summer-wardrobe will now get packed into a box and put in the top of my wardrobe until the snow mountains disappear from Boston. They’re taking bets on when that will be. But it does mean that I can get on with finishing (ok: starting) my Cascade Duffel coat, which will be eminently more useful for a couple of months.

Do you enjoy sewing out of season outfits? Do you get slightly over excited at the prospect of vacations and proceed to sew all the things? Please tell me I’m not alone.

p.s. you may have noticed we got a facelift around here! I finally moved over to WordPress (though I’ll still be at, and it was a totally painless process thanks to Sarah at SpunMonkey. In the meantime, let me know if you see any glitches, because I’m sure I didn’t catch everything!

March 12, 2015

Going horse racing in a pair of curtains

Traveling with my friend Biden is a hoot. No sooner had she turned up to join me on hols, but she declared that we were going to a horse race. I can’t say that’s something I’ve ever considered, but the prospect of a once-a-year Bajan event was too much to resist. The question, then, was how to dress for the “elegant” dress code (which was specified as “jacket and tie” because obviously the only people attending would be men /rant over).
The only thing to do? Wear some curtains!
McCall's M6436 and self-drafted skirt

OK, OK, they’re not *exactly* curtains. But this skirt was indeed bought from my favourite upholstery-come-garment fabric store, Zimman‘s of Lynn. I popped in recently with my friend to help her buy fabric for headboards and oops! I ended up with three lengths of almost-garment-quality fabric for myself.

This here is a fairly hefty but loosely woven curtain linen, with, let’s face it chickens, no drape at all. But how could I resist those stripes? So I decided to make like Maria and whip up a skirt. It’s very simple and “self-drafted” – inverted box pleats at the front and back, a side invisible zipper and a faced waistband. I went for a slightly-below-the-knee length which I’ve been favouring recently, though I’ve no idea if it’s actually on trend. The stripes ran cross grain, so across the grain it was cut, further exacerbating the drape issue. And in an effort to make the pleats stay in, I edge-stitched the inside pleats, a tip I picked up from Oliver+S patterns a while ago. It’s hardly my finest work but it’s cheery and fun, and that counts for something at Cashmerette Towers.

McCall's M6436 and self-drafted skirt
I paired it up with my chambray sleeveless M6436 and my new panama hat from Goorin Bros., and we were off to the races!
My first ever racing event was fun – I totally have a magic horse picking ability, or at least, I do the times that the horses win. Andrea on the other hand was doing complex mathematical calculations based on the form book, because apparently she knows about these types of things. I’m not the A1 biggest fan of watching sports but I will concede this was more fun than most, especially when the parade came out, because really, who doesn’t like some synchronised dancing with props?
But really what kept me going was the fact that there was afternoon tea. Oh yes, Barbados, you got me right in the heart with your scones with cream and strawberries. If only I’d known cream teas were available at horse races, I’d have been along much sooner.
Would you wear a skirt made of curtains to a horse racing event?  Or maybe trousers made from a sofa to the Philharmonic? I want to hear your stories of the most inappropriate pairing of fabric and event, so I can see if I can match it in the future.

February 9, 2015

Like mother, like daughter: Butterick B5929 skirt

Is there anything better than making a garment with fabric that quickly becomes your favourite ever… and then remembering that you bought some extra yardage, just in case?

While I generally try to keep my stash under control, sometimes I throw another yard or two into the (virtual) basket when I particularly love a fabric, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never come to regret it. In fact, it’s recently happened to me three times in a row: that stripy lace skirt from the other day? Got another 3 yards! The birdie knit from my draped top? Another 4! And remember the McCall’s M2401 I made from 4-ply silk from EmmaOneSock for my Mum’s Christmas present? Well it turns out that past Jenny bought an extra 2.5 yards. High five, past Jenny!

I’ve been petting the silk for a while, and after creating my new love, the stripy tea-length skirt, I decided that I clearly needed another one, given that I do indeed drink a lot of tea (yes, I’m a walking stereotype).

Butterick B5929

I was originally going to draft a half-circle skirt but then I realized it just wouldn’t fit on my fabric without creating lots of panels  – if your waist is over about 37 inches I think you face this if you want a skirt longer than a mini. Instead, I picked up Butterick B5929, a simple six-sectioned skirt pattern with options for a pleated and pocketed version, or a more flowy, faced verison.

Butterick B5929

Wanting the maximum flow and optimal tea-lengthi-ness, I went for version D, which has the waist facing. It was an extremely easy and quick make, helped by the gorgeousness of the firm silk – no shifting about there. I made up the 22 which was theoretically 2 inches too small at the waist according to the finished measurements, but I skipped the easing in the pattern instructions and it fits totally fine.  It does hit me at the widest point of my legs, but you know what, I really don’t care. I love it, and screw flattering!

And the final result is totally twirl-tastic.

Butterick B5929

Plus, I match my Mum! I feel like we need to have a “bring your Mum to work” day at my office so that we can parade around in matching outfits. Because that wouldn’t be weird at all, right?

Butterick B5929
Spot the difference!

Have you ever made your Mum and yourself matching outfits, dear readers? I’m dearly hoping so. And for photo evidence.

July 28, 2014

Cloudy skirt for a cloudy day

When I was fabric shopping in Vietnam recently, I briefed my non-sewing friend before we hit the stores. Key mission: stop me buying anything that’s whimsical and unlike “me”. You see, I’m hopelessly attracted to kitschy fabrics. If it is printed on quilting cotton, I probably love it. And yet… I never wear things like that, really ever. Nina valiantly did her job, and managed to help me resist buying peach cotton with ice creams printed on it, but I slipped through her restraints with this one: cloudy rayon! 

The reason I got away with it? From a distance it looks like polka dots! But up close, there’s no doubting there’s a veritable storm of clouds…

Such a floaty fabric demanded a floaty skirt, so I ordered up McCall’s M6931 which I saw on the McCall Company’s new Instagram feed. It’s a curious skirt: it has princess seams for no apparent reason (apart from colour blocking maybe?), and is pleated at the top, and then has an elasticated waist which effectively gathers the pleats. It works well in this very thin fabric, but my original plan to use it for a cool black square eyelet I have probably won’t work.

I wanted to make it quickly before summer was all but over, so I serged the insides, and used the 1 inch elastic I have rather than hunting down the recommended 2 inch. As a result, the waistband bunches a bit when the elastic slides down in the casing… which could easily be solved by making the channel a little smaller. But for some reason I am oddly resistant to changing existing makes… is anyone else like that?!

I am now totally in love with my Vietnamese McCalls Cloudy Skirt as I shall call it. VMCS for short. And thank you to the ever fabulous Katy & Laney for photography skills on this cloudy summer day! Sewing friends are the best. And we only got stopped for taking photos of a power station once.


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