Thursday, July 26, 2018

Catching up and pattern hacking, Simplicity 4091 skirt and 1779 shirt

In the interest of being complete, and because I find some interesting details in most everything I sew, I try to blog things that I sew for others. Not everything from that category makes it onto the blog, but these two items received a lot of interest on my IG feed so here there are in finished form.
I started both these items way back in the springtime, and finished last month. These two fabrics were bought by J, who also was the owner of this coat, and this very interesting dress.  It kind of goes without saying that her color palette is not mine, yet her fabric choices are really lovely and work perfectly with her coloring. The autumn hues that I run from work out really well for certain people.

So onward with the details. I'm teaching a class this weekend at Hello Stitch on Pattern Hacking - which is the only catch-all term I could think of to describe this class. I'm planning to show a number of pattern manipulations, such as moving darts, changing darts to gathers, redesigning sleeves, changing necklines, adding pockets, creating color block looks, as well as merging two patterns together. Whew!

Consequently I figured it was time to blog about this outfit, as the skirt involved a lot of Pattern Hacking to make it work. Mostly due to the fact that I had about 1 yard 5 inches. To make a skirt with a flounce - and she wanted it long, to wear with boots in the winter. The pattern says 1.5 yards for the version I used so it was time for a pattern piece puzzle. Let's take a quick look at the back view so you can see why the skirt takes more yardage than the average straight skirt. Not quite finished in this photo - waistband is not done and it needs more pressing but you get the idea.

silk blouse back with skirt unfinished

The skirt fabric is SO gorgeous. An Italian wool with a touch of lycra.  Here's my improvisational cutting out for this fabric. And can you spot the dilemma?  This beautiful wool has a very large woven border with the name of the manufacturer, which unfortunately takes up a good couple of inches off each selvedge edge. So while your fabric quality is unparalleled Mr. Giorgio I am not pleased with that border.

maroon skirt cutting out 2

Pattern Hack - This skirt has seamed side panels, I eliminated that seam as it was kind of unnecessary and I could shorten the fabric needed by making it a one piece side. I reduced some of the width of the back flounce, removed the front skirt bottom width to make it just a straight skirt in front and then folded the fabric to create to folded for cutting out the center front and back pieces. The zipper is on the side seam. I cut the waistband out of the remaining blank area at the bottom.

Here's the pattern envelope for the skirt.

Simplicity 4091

Once it was cut out and I had enough fabric for the skirt plus waistband then it was just straightforward sewing (as I had made a muslin to test for fit and style already).

maroon wool skirt zip close up

maroon wool skirt side back view

maroon skirt with lining

I generally baste hems once I've decided on the length and pressed. It just keeps everything smooth, then I can trim the hem allowance evenly all around and set it aside for whenever I have a chance to to the hand stitching. For this skirt the hem was very minimal and I didn't want to add lace as I think it changes the texture and sometimes makes it a bit stiff (although it works well on a straight hem but this is curved due to the back flounce). And I don't like the look of a serged hem allowance plus I think the thread bulk shows through when it is presses (particularly at the dry cleaners, which seem to smash garments so you see every ridge and seam allowance after they have finished with it). So I cut bias strips of the lining which is bemberg rayon (from Stone Mountain  - they have Every Color! and applied those as a hem edging. Nice and soft and it looks pretty too.

Now for the blouse, which you can see in that photo above. The two fabrics were I believe purchased on the same trip to NY but not at the same place. The blouse fabric is silk charmeuse, and the print makes me think of a Watteau painting. For this fabric I had a good 3 yards to work with so plenty of fabric but I wanted to be careful with the placement of the flowers. The pattern repeat is actually about 25 inches so a very big print although it looks random unless you really scrutinize it.


That's a slightly wonky image of the fabric on my table, rumpled up a bit but you get the idea, some big floral elements, a few bright flowers like that red one in the middle so I wanted to avoid the bull's eye effect for sure.

Here's the pattern envelope and drawing. I made a test version of this a few months back and really loved it - I plan to make one for myself when fall arrives. I did look at the instructions and they are quite good, so it's a nice variation on the bow blouse.

Simplicity 1779 pattern envelope

silk tie blouse close up front

I'm really happy with the print placement, and I think the wine colored skirt complements the colors in the silk. Plus this silk charmeuse is just about the dream fabric for a blouse of this style.

silk tie blouse untied

I don't think you could wear this without doing up the bow as the ties are quite long. Underneath is an applied button band which creates a nice clean edge where the bow meets the band, and then the inside is finished with a bias binding that is understitched to keep it inside. A very neat and tidy finish.


Here's a closer look at the print and the buttons. Which are a brown tortoise shell look I bought at a big fabric and button clearout sale held by a designer at Hello Stitch a few months ago. I really like these buttons and kind of wish I had bought more for the stash.

Completed outfit below - although I'm not sure if the skirt is hemmed in this photo. But you get the idea and imaging it with tall brown suede boots - what a great autumn outfit.

silk tie blouse and maroon wool skirt

So that's the scoop on these beautiful fabrics. I do have a bit of trepidation on that first cut of the scissors when I'm cutting into someone else's very expensive fabric, but I always plan, double check, and then take a deep breath and review before starting. So far so good which is fortunate as I have a quite a stack of pricey fabrics to work with as fall approaches!

As for selfish sewing - i.e. sewing for myself, I have completed a super cute dress from the May Burda Mag and am just waiting to take some photos. Which might happen soon as I have a haircut appointment later today. Do my fellow short hairstyle stitchers know the feeling - when you realize you have passed needing a haircut and are into the mophead stage?  I have a bad habit of not planning appointments for stuff like this and then deciding that I need a haircut immediately. Luckily my stylist is flexible (plus she is near my size so has a few of my dresses in her closet).

Ok - time to finish preparing for this weekend's class. And maybe sew up that DVF wrap dress pattern I bought for a quarter not too long ago. In time for the following week's wrap dress class.
By the way - this fall we are doing a Cape class in October, which will be a great stretch into outerwear sewing for beginner-intermediate stitchers, and then a coat/jacket weekend in November.
Details to follow.

I just went outside to water some plants and we have a bit of a cool-down today. But I don't really have any complaints - last night I was out with friends and after vino we decided that since it was still hot out that ice cream was in order. We walked down the street to an artisanal ice cream shop (after all, it's the bay area and what isn't artisanal in the realm of food and cuisine?  ha ha) and had a few scoops of two flavors, roasted strawberry, and rose cardamom pistachio which were both yummy.
Wearing my Butterick 5455 dress.

citrus print dress

So that's the latest. Keep cool and sew on, right?  Slight laugh at the expense of my UK friends who are "sweltering" in their heat wave. you call that a heat wave?   Come back to San Francisco where the weather gives you 4 different seasons in the span of a few hours :)

Happy Summer Sewing,

Today's garden photo, a penstemon which might need to be moved into a better spot. If I could only find one. Things are getting a bit crowded in the garden these days. Plant overload!



  1. I want to hug that outfit. Can you want to hug an outfit?? Maybe because it's just beautiful...maybe because I love fall and fall colors/prints...but WOWZA!

  2. Gorgeous outfit! Funny, the first thing that caught my eye was the colour, as it is my clear favourite :) It’s a good thing we’re all different, otherwise the world would be a boring place!
    Now I really want to make a wine skirt and a charmeuse bow blouse...

    Regarding the heat, in a way yes. But no. I was in SF (East bay, Freemont) three months, late June to late September some years ago, and sure it was 100F or more entire July. But everywhere had AC, the houses were built for it. I live in northern Sweden, and our houses are as equipped for this 88F we’are having as yours would be for our annual winters of -4F and at least a yard of snow on the roofs.
    Neither is comfortable in a society not prepared for it (in Sweden it’s crazy this year, fans and AC are totally sold out. Wildfires in every part of the country. So dry we now have a national ban on all fires, including all sorts of barbecue, even on your own land/backyard).
    So it’s really all a question of perspective, right? :)

    1. Erika - I completely agree. And I couldn't survive your winter at all :) I hope it cools off for you soon.

  3. That is the most luscious blouse I've ever seen. Lovely skirt too. : )

  4. What a gorgeous outfit! Two very special fabrics. That print is really something.

    I am organised about making hair appointments but I find mine grows so fast that I’m annoyed with it at least a week before it’s due for a cut. I’ve been going shorter and shorter lately to try to keep it tidy.

  5. Great outfit! I love the blouse - esp these buttons are lovely:) That skirt goes well with the blouse.

  6. I have to agree with Erika, while we are a sad lot in our heatwave, AC is virtually non-existent except in new office blocks and department stores. At home in the UK we may have fans but they do little more than stir the air, so do forgive our complaints, it is absolutely horribly sticky and very humid.

    I do love to read your blogs and see what you have been up to. The Penstemon looks gorgeous, did you know that it is very easy to take cuttings from them, so perhaps you can move yours and get a few bonuses plants from it.

    1. I hope it cools down for you soon. And thanks for the tip about the penstemon, I didn't know it would grow from cutting but lately I have been experimenting and find that a lot of plants do grow nicely from cuttings. I never have any luck rooting them in soil however I have quite a collection rooting in water. So I will give it a try.

  7. That blouse looks so yummy and I want to reach out and touch it! Great flower placement and gorgeous skirt will make you client so happy! It's been smoke and soot and 102-104 for days in my neighborhood as we are surrounded on all sides by forest fires while my sewing friends back East are soggy with rain...Mother Nature is on a rampage!

  8. What a lucky client, I love both of these pieces. I did a muslin on the blouse last spring and loved it, then promptly put it away because it got too hot here in Texas. It's a great pattern, and now I can't wait to make it!

  9. Wow! First your skills are impeccable. I love this skirt and blouse combination. Both fabrics are gorgeous and love the drape of the skirt as well as the tie on the blouse.

  10. They really are a pair of beautiful fabrics and you (of course!) did them justice with this outfit, gorgeous!