Friday, October 9, 2015

A skirt, a top, a dress, with a tropical theme

It is safe to say there are some tropical or novelty prints that I find irresistable. Particularly palm trees, or as demonstrated earlier this summer, pineapples. Also I really like Girl Charlee fabrics, they hit my sweet spot of colorful, not too pricey, lots of prints, stuff I don't see in local shops and all around cheerfulness in their array of fabrics. I do find their emails baffling, what is a Knit Fix? OK - please don't answer, I don't need to know. But I have adjusted my email preferences so that I don't get every one of their promos. I guess it is some type of sale where you get a big bundle of fabrics without choosing what is in it, and then people sell/trade for the ones they want.  I suppose it works well but I don't need to get any fabric suprises, the stuff I already have is enough of a suprise. Evidenced by me looking at my fabric closet and wondering when I ordered that and what the heck was I thinking of making?

To get to the point - I ordered a number of things from Girl Charlee over the summer and have sewn up about half. They are pretty much summer fabrics,(** see footnote) or at least not fabrics I would choose in winter. So the remainder is put away for next year and here are the results for the ones I did decide to cut into.

Skirt with rounded hem

That photo appeared on my Instagram during the SewPhotoHop and got a lot of love. It is my beloved Vogue 1247 with a little modification to the hem because it seemed a little plain. As plain as a denim skirt covered with dancing pineapples could be.

This photo is a little bright and I did not wear my shirt tucked in but wanted to show the V1247 in all its  splendor, ha ha.

Pineapple skirt on me

Pineapple skirt front and back
Here it is on is the dress form.  I did lengthen the pattern as I usually do, and then also made it with my "no waistband" modification. Just cut a facing using the top of the skirt. I like a clean finish at the top of a skirt with no waistband, also then it doesn't come up so high at the waist. Although in that photo above it does - I think because that top is kind of a bulky knit. another reason not to tuck in.
I have now made this pattern 4 times with no end in sight. Here is the link to my first "no waistband" version with all the details.  A key to that turning out well is stabilizing the waist, and I don't think a seam binding is enough, needs some interfacing.

As for the hem, bias binding was fine for that. To get the round edge I just played with drawing on paper until I had a curve that would look good. Cut out the skirt as normal. left the bottom of the side seam unsewn, chose where the hem would be and then trimmed the curve sections using my paper template. Easy peasy :)

Pineapple skirt hem

By the way, I was out to dinner when in Hawaii and the hostess at a restaurant looked down at my skirt and squealed - OMG, your skirt is so cute - it has pineapples on it.  Yep it does :)

Second item in my summer of Girl Charlee is this tunic top I made for my mom. I saw these black and white palm tree prints all over this spring and summer in the fashion collections so I was really happy when I saw it on their website. This fabric is a rayon woven and I was pleasantly suprised at how nice it is. Sews beautifully. I did pre-shrink. Very light and floaty but not see-through.

Palm tree tunic on form

The pattern is my trusty self-made pattern, which I started by copying an existing tunic top which is also my mom's. My first post was back in 2012 and then last summer I made one for myself, 
I also did a 2-part post on Craftsy which details exactly how to make a tunic top from a shirt pattern - which I think is good - if I do say so myself :)  So if you are interested in creating a tunic top pattern here are the links to part 1 and part 2.

I love a good black and white item but somehow needed the proverbial "pop of color" so I used bias tape to make the edging. And glad it did, it just needed an extra something. Also it was slightly too low cut so I added the horizontal piece in the center of the V, which we will call a design element!

Neckline tunic top

Peek at inside because everyone likes to see that. I sew the sleeve edges on from the inside, flip to the right side and then topstitch down, which results in a nice clean finish on both sides. I think all that is described in the Craftsy posts.

palm tree tunic sleeve detail

Now last and perhaps least. I am not going to model this one - you will have to take my word that it fits and works well as a beach dress/swimsuit coverup. But maybe this fabric is just a little bit weird.  I'm showing you the side view because look how nicely I matched the stripes on this weird fabric.

Knit stripe dressesKnit stripe dresses

and even thought it is a beach coverup I still made a neckline facing - using some recycled white t-shirt fabic. Because on a lot of knits using bias tape is too stiff and just gets misshappen. Plus facing is just as easy (easier to me).   and then lastly - a closeup shot. I looked at this fabric for quite a while before I cut it out and decided that it didn't have an up or down. THEN sitting on the beach watching the palm trees wave in the tradewinds I realized that yes - this fabric does have a vertical direction. and I got it wrong!

Knit stripe dresses          Knit stripe dresses

so now I feel like they look like spiders, not palm trees. Oh well............pass me another mai tai.

Mentioning Girl Charlee again, my previous dress was their fabric also. And thank you everyone who commented on that dress. I appreciate that you have my sewing satisfaction in your hearts. And will say that I don't feel as bad about the dress as I think was perceived. I do like it and I think it is one of those things that looks much better in person, the colors look better and the skirt moves nicely. The hem is a bit long and uneven but as I said, that will be dealt with come springtime. Quite a difference of opinion on the pockets - some said to get rid of them. Noooo! the pockets are maybe the best part, love a dress with interesting pockets.

** Footnote.  I called the stuff we sew Fabric. And always do a double take (auditorially) when I hear Tim Gunn say on Project Runway  "what are you planning to do with that Textile?"  Do they never say fabric in the academic side of the fashion world? It just sounds funny to me and I wondered if anyone else noticed it.

Speaking of TV - well I am speaking of it. I LOVE the British Baking Bee which is airing on PBS here now. I could have watched it on YouTube I suppose but it's just easier to watch weekly and then I can catch up with friends/family members who like to chat about it. NO spoilers please. and No idea which season it is. But WOW the stuff they have to make is so difficult, and in the time allotted. I am so nervous for them watching it. and hungry sometimes. anyway - a fun diversion.

Onward to new things grabbing my attention. I just taped together the pdf of a Burda jacket mentioned recently. And about to start on a dress for Heather using some of her Mood Fabrics. Using a Burda envelope pattern which I have never seen sewn up - for a wrap dress that has a difference and I can say Burda LOVE!   Highly recommend. Burda 6946.  Expect raves when I post. Great pattern.

Happy weekend sewing,  Beth

garden photo is from Hawaii.

Hawaii flowers


  1. I haven't had good experiences with Girl Charlee knits, but I"m glad you do!
    I need your help, O Pattern Whisperer: I'm looking for a pattern for a knit shift dress with at least some darts for bust shaping and swayback. Any suggestions??? Thanks!

    1. I've had some good stuff and some not-so-good from Girl Charlee......

    2. I stopped buying from Girl Charlee, because the knits I did buy were Much Thinner than expected. A matter of taste, I guess...

      PS LOVE the pineapple skirt!

  2. Love the palms and pineapples and everything - makes me wish summer wasn't over here (East coast) already! I like the baking show too, but it does make me crave things I really shouldn't be eating more of...

  3. These are all cute and I love the fun prints. I forgot to comment on your last dress but I thought that was really nice as well. My, you've been very productive lately! Someday I will have the time to really sew again...

  4. At least those palm trees are facing the right way when you look down;! The prints are fun and make cute garments. When I was younger we called fabric material. I probably still call it material on occasion.

  5. Love the coverup and the tunic. All beautifully sewn!

  6. I don't comment often, but today I have to say I really love your posts - such a brilliant combination of extremely fabric/pattern useful info and you're very well-put opinions. I always learn something and always end up chuckling too. Pass me another mai tai :-)

  7. I love the pineapple skirt... I wouldn't have thought to make that skirt in a knit. You are the only other person that I have seen keep the waistband off. I find the visual balance of the skirt is out with the waistband and prefer it without also. We love the baking show too... yum!

  8. All three pieces are really beautifully done! I especially like the extra details you added to your skirt and your mom's top, very nice!

  9. Your palm tree placement is perfect for sitting see them as upright, forget everyone else! Love the blue piping and pineapple skirt with the curved side vents. Is winter on it's way?


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