Category Archives: Skirt

Midi Fumeterre

Deer and Doe sent me the Fumeterre skirt pattern as a thanks for testing the Safran jeans last year, and I finally got around to sewing it up in some nice plain black viscose.

To be honest, I was majorly put off for so long by the thought of cutting all those biiiig pattern pieces in my smaaaall sewing room. But actually it wasn’t that painful at all: the front and back use the same pieces and each is in two panels, so there aren’t a lot of paper pieces to deal with. I used the button-down front of view A and added the nice slanted pockets from view B (which has a fly front).


As you’ll notice my skirt is shorter than the swishy maxi as designed. I cut it at the maxi length originally and while I was really into how it looked, I didn’t think it would be a very practical wardrobe addition, both when dragging through London’s frequently-rainy streets and on my cycle commute. I took about 12 inches off, and yes it was a nightmare evening up the slightly-circular hem and I don’t think I got it perfectly balanced. I think it’s swingy enough that the unevenness doesn’t show too badly.

Otherwise the sewing was straightforward and pretty fast. I cut a size 40 and it’s just a little snug across the stomach, but I hope that’s because I’ve been ill and basically sedentary for two weeks. I added an extra button so it doesn’t gape (and um, ran out of black bobbin thread by that point so lazily switched to blue…). Like my recent 7017s, it’s got a back-elasticated waistband so it will stay nice and fitted.

I just realised this is a 100% Deer and Doe outfit: the tee is a Plantain! I think I’ll get loads of wear out of this as an alternative to the crop culotte-type trousers I’ve been making a lot of and living in lately (1,2,3,4,5). I might make another one in a dark floral per some of this inspiration I’ve saved:

La Maison Victor: Dolores skirt

Today I’m the first stop-off on a blog tour for DutchBelgian sewing magazine La Maison Victor, to promote the launch of the magazine in an English edition – hurrah! Each blogger on the tour, covering Australia, the UK, USA and Canada, received a copy of the magazine and selected a project to make up.


Previously only printed in Dutch and French, I have actually bought a couple of copies of La Maison Victor from the continent before because it’s got such a nice fresh, modern aesthetic. This inaugural English edition is no exception; above is a list of all the patterns that come included in this issue.

If you’ve been put off sewing from pattern mags because of thoughts of the dreaded Burda tracing sheets of nightmares, La Maison Victor thankfully provides a much more user-friendly experience. Yes, you still need to trace off as the pieces overlap, but each pattern is extremely well-labelled with which pieces you need and which sheets to find them on, and the pieces are additionally colour-coded per pattern so it’s really foolproof.

I went over the lines for my size in black marker to make them show up better, then traced onto dot-and-cross paper; it didn’t take long at all. The sheets aren’t huge, which does mean some pattern pieces span two sheets and need to be taped together, but this size is much easier to manage when tracing in a small apartment.

Also unlike Burda, every pattern has comprehensive and nicely-illustrated instructions. I didn’t really follow them as the project I chose is pretty simple but they are there to fall back on if needed. All the usual fabric and sizing recommendations are here too.

I chose to make the Dolores skirt pattern, a midi-length button-through skirt with an A-line shape and gathers into a fixed waistband. It was a super speedy afternoon type of make! I did make a couple of tweaks to the pattern: I narrowed the waistband a little and added some curve to it, as straight-cut wider waistbands don’t sit well on my frame. I also took about 4 inches off the length, and left off the pockets as I thought they might add unwanted bulk, although the pattern does include a way to anchor them into the front waistband which always help stop side-seam pockets from flapping about.

The pattern pieces all matched up perfectly and the only real fitting to do here is at the waist. I always seem to overshoot and make fixed waistbands a bit too large; I shifted over the top button here to make it snugger, hence the slight twisting, but I will go back and do a better fix; perhaps adding some elastic into the back waistband to keep it snug.

I used The Fabric Store‘s Clover rayon crepe which they kindly sent me to try out a while ago. Poor-quality versions of this crinkly, springy sort of crepe can shift off-grain if you even look at them funny (or worse, be PRINTED off-grain so you’ve got no chance at all), but luckily this one was very well-behaved and I was able to keep the print pretty much aligned. I double-interfaced the waistband to keep it firm, along with the button band, and had to trim along the hem to even up where it dropped on the bias at the sides. Otherwise it was very easy to work with and perfect for this pattern: it’s so light and swishy!

The Maison Victor site and online shop will be launching in English soon; for now you can buy the magazine online here (along with individual patterns and fabric kits) and find in in selected supermarkets and WH Smiths. I look forward to seeing projects from the other makers on this tour – including fellow Brits Thrifty Stitcher, Handmade Jane and Petite Passions coming up this week – and seeing more patterns from this mag in the future!

Burda skirt

Burda #119

I don’t blog nearly everything that I make these days – too many repeat patterns and boring basics to be interesting! But I did want to share this skirt, because I am pretty happy with it, because I don’t make many skirts, and also because have a question and I get such amazing advice on my comments that I may get some guidance here too.

Burda #119

It’s my second Burda #118 05/2102 – coincidentally I made my first almost exactly a year ago (and it does still get worn, although the brightness and print mean it doesn’t go with a whole lot). There are some pattern notes on my previous post if you’re interested. I didn’t alter the fit at all, and I used a thick crossweave denim which helps hold the nice bell shape.

Burda #119

It was a moment of pride because it was the first time I’ve sewn a fly front completely from memory! Usually I have to have the Ginger sewalong or this Sandra Betzina video in front of me, but I did it all by myself this time. Proud.

Burda #119
Burda #119

My question’s this – because I have quite an extreme sway back and a small waist/big bum, I often feel like my skirts ride up at the back and end up visually shorter than the front, which is more apparent in a fitted style like this. What should I do about that? Lengthen the hem at the back, grading to nothing where it hits the side seam? Or slash and spread the extra length in higher up? Has anyone else made that adjustment?

That aside, I’m pleased with this skirt – it’s very wearable and will be a nice autumn/winter workhorse I think as it goes well with tights and a cardi and is a good alternative to denim pants.

coat progress

Slow fashion coat progress update, while I’m here. I had a total change of pattern plan when Grainline Studio released the Tamarack Jacket – props to Jen for getting it out so quickly and straight to PDF. It’s bascially what I would have adjusted the RDC Bernadette to be like anyway, so I decided to use Tamarack instead. I did a quick toile in my usual GL size (4 shoulder, 8 everywhere else) and it was spot on with no adjusting. I’ve cut my outer fabric, applied the fusible batting, and after a few experiments with lining fabrics decided to go with a matching viscose twill which is on order. I have ditched the idea of making it reversible and will probably bind my inside seams. So now I’m just impatiently waiting for the lining fabric so I can get going!

Triple culottes

Vintage culottes

Apparently I only make things in threes now, ha ha. This weekend I busted out three pairs of culottes – all the same pattern but plenty of variation in fabric and detail.

Vintage culottes

This is a vintage pattern that I bought a while ago, I think on Etsy or eBay. It’s from 1984, the year before I was born! Obviously I was mainly drawn to the kicky button-down options, and I finally dug it out after getting culotte envy both from the sewing community and the high street. Some in-print culotte options: Itch to Stitch, Style ArcBurda.

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

I made this wearable toile first, from a mysterious peachskin/suedette from Myfabrics. I bought it with a voucher and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting – less drapey and quite thick and er, quite bright orange! This is view A of the pattern, which has buttons down the centre front of one of the legs, and halfway between the short and long length options included with each view. I was really happy with the fit with no adjusting – I must have a vintage-style figure because I rarely need to alter old patterns much at all – and they came together really quickly. But to be honest I don’t know if I’d ever be brave enough to wear them – orange suedette mega-shorts make quite a statement. Maybe if I switched out the buttons for some tonal ones? And handed out sunglasses?

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

Second go, in a really lovely lightweight linen cotton from Minerva Crafts. This is a mash up of views B and C from the pattern – view B’s front pleats and C’s fly front (but I used my own method to do the fly). These are delicious – SO comfortable and way more instantly wearable for me.

Vintage culottesVintage culottes This third pair is my favourite – view B again, with added slash side pockets and a centre back invisible zip instead of the fly. This is an ex-Whistles viscose which you might recognise from a previous make. I liked it so much I bought more during a recent sewcialist trip to Walthamstow (I think Fiona and Portia nabbed some too so look out for it cropping up, heh). It’s amazing to wear but a bit shifty when cutting – it was an effort to get those rows of scribbly dots nicely lined up all around.

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

Each view was super fast to sew up – like 90 minutes, tops. I typically don’t make many projects with fixed waistband and zips because in my head it seems really time-consuming, but it clearly isn’t really. I’d really like to find some nice drapey solid fabrics (crepe? Sandwashed silk? Any other ideas?) to make more of these because I think I’ll want to wear them all the time.  Cool, comfortable and cycle-friendly – what’s not to love?

Three Ilsley skirts

One thing that Me-made May is showing me is that I’m pretty good for dresses and tops in my wardrobe, but I still don’t have many options for spring-appropriate lower half separates. I’m not a particularly cold-blooded person, so when the weather gets anywhere above 20 degrees I’m much more comfortable in floaty clothes with a bit of skin out. Over the last bank holiday weekend I bashed out these three skirts using stash fabrics… they’re all the same pattern but I got a lot of different looks for no money at all.

Ilsley skirt

The Ilsley skirt is a free (freeeee!) pattern from the lovely Marilla Walker. It’s one of those magic patterns to me that’s basic but a bit special too – the yoked pocket and curved hem detail definitely takes it away from ‘gathered rectangle’ status. I’ve found Marilla’s drafting to be really excellent and perfect for my body shape, and the final bonus is this skirt only takes 1 metre of 54″ wide fabric. Winner? Winner.

Ilsley mod

For my first version, using a leftover scrap from my Style Arc Fern top, I was a bit worried that the straight shape was too far out of my comfort zone so I slashed and spread the pattern a bit to add more volume at the hem like so.

Ilsley skirt
Ilsley skirt

I added a couple of inches to the length and left off the pockets too just to test the shape. I really liked how it came out – swishy and swingy! Though I didn’t really need the extra length or volume at all; I went back and removed about half of it for the next version.

Ilsley skirt

This one uses a yummy ex-Vero Moda (isn’t it fun to find brand cast-off fabrics?) viscose found in Walthamstow. I LOVE the Ilsley in a drapey fabric – I was inspired by this Madewell skirt – and this is an utter dream to wear. It feels pyjama-comfortable and weightless and the fairly straight shape means it doesn’t fly about in the wind. Dream skirt.

Ilsley skirt

I took a tip from Meg and topstitched the pocket facings directly onto the skirt front to make it as light and floaty as possible.

Ilsley hem

I found it tricky to hem the curves on my first one, so I used bias tape on the hems for this one. The only other small tweak was to make the waistband pieces about an inch narrower to suit the width of elastic I had to hand.

Ilsley skirt
Ilsley skirt

Finally, I used up some special fabric: if you remember the hand-printed fabric swap that Marilla herself organised a while back, I received this beautiful hand-dyed and printed cotton linen from Lucy. I’ve been hoarding it ever since, unsure how to make the most of it, and ended up using nearly every last scrap, including some self-bias to face the hem. A trio of lovely skirts for MMM and beyond!

Testing testing: Arielle and Southport

Southport dress

I’m not asked to pattern test that often, but I have happily done so for a couple of my indie designer buddies. Two recent patterns which I tested have just been released – the True Bias Southport dress and the Tilly Arielle skirt – so I thought I’d share my takes on the results. I find pattern testing a really interesting process, which is why I’m happy to give my time to do it. Firstly it often lets me try out patterns that I wouldn’t necessarily choose or buy for myself, and secondly I’m quite interested in the whole process of pattern development and how best to optimise instructions for maximum usability. I love submitting my feedback and seeing it applied to the final product.

Arielle skirt

First up Tilly’s Arielle skirt, which comes in mini or knee lengths and offers a wiggle fit with lovely offset buttons – no zip, hoorah!

Arielle skirt
Arielle skirt

I used a brown twill for my skirt and it’s lined in black silk. Slight changes were made to the hip ease due to the testing feedback, but I actually graded up at the hip anyway because I’m between sizes – it’s an easy one to blend sizes and get a good fit. Pencil skirts aren’t a typical choice for me, but I’m pretty fond of this and it’s so easy to wear with tights and a little tee and feel a bit dressed up.

Arielle skirt

I really enjoyed testing this because it was quite a challenging sew for me – I think it’s the first faced-and-lined skirt I’ve ever put together so I really relished trying a new skill. For an easier sew the lining is totally optional and wouldn’t really be necessary in many fabrics.

Southport dress
Southport dress

Next up – I’m a big fan of Kelli of True Bias’s pattern line, so was really pleased to be asked to test her latest. The Southport is a casual summer tank dress with a half-buttoned front (YASSS, sew all the buttons) and drawstring waist. It’s got above-knee and maxi length options and is recommended for any breezy, drapey fabric. I used a fairly nutty archive Liberty print called Clara – Roisin has used it in another colourway and I scooped this 1.3m piece on eBay for pretty cheap.

Southport dress
Southport dress

Welp, this dress is pretty adorable, right? I love the overall shape and style. Tank dresses are super hard to fit on my body due to my narrow shoulders and hollow chest, but this is pretty darn close. I graded from 4 at the top to 8 at the hips, and Kelli has altered the armsyce/bodice fit a bit based on feedback (so don’t use this as a final fit guide). If we get more of a sniff of summer weather or I book a nice warm holiday I’ll definitely be making a couple more of these.

You can get hold of Arielle here and Southport here. Obvious disclaimer than I sewed up test versions so my review doesn’t apply to the finished fit or instructions, and I got the patterns for free in exchange for testing. Will you be adding either to your S/S sew plans?