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Knit skirt Chapter 3: full waist and tummy adjustment

6 May, 2017

This is the real joy of sewing: garments that fit, rather than close enough. Is usually make dresses and tops, so I'm familiar with what I need to do, but the bottom half is fairly uncharted for me.

I've cut out size 16 of B6655. The pattern says it has a waist circumference of 31.5″. To fit a body waist measurement of 30″. Firstly, I prefer my waist bands snugger than that anyway. That will just fall down to where my body is 31.5″. Which is the next problem. Because no part of my body has a circumference of 31.5″.

My waist measurement is 35″. But that's not the whole story. My back waist is quite small, so the gaping waistbands on shop bought trousers tell me. But two children and a love of chocolate mean my front waist is a bit bigger. I like measuring an existing skirt that fits to find what measurement would be best. I don't have a knit skirt at the moment, so I used the tip from Iconic Patterns again and pinned my fabric around my waist. 33″ it is then.

I'm a little nervous that with stabilising etc that might be too snug. It's 2″ negative ease. I might make bigger seam allowances as an insurance policy.

I'm going to leave the back alone. It has a centre back seam I can take in if necessary. My measurement (33) take the pattern circumference (31.5) gives me 1.5″. So I want to add 3/4″ to my front pattern piece. I also need to add. More fabric in the front between my waist and hips. I found this fab tutorial by Maria Denmark on the By Hand London blog that I used to do this.

It's probably best to go and look at that tutorial, because I tried to make a short cut by tissue fitting rather than making a muslin. And of course, why try a new technique on a straight skirt when you can do it on one with interesting design seams that have the shaping in them. I got around this by pinning the bits together and working as if they were one. All my changes happened on the central piece.

The step where you slash across the front and just see where it falls doesn't quite work when you are holding a bit of tissue paper up against yourself, and I got cross with it and decided that what I've done will do, but I'm not sure if it will fit. I carried on anyway. I might have enough fabric for a take 2.

That slash that opens up to the waist you see up there, I closed to leave an additional 3/4″ at the waist seam, that's the extra I worked out I need earlier. Closing in the slash made my piece not quite flat, but it's knit so I don't think it will matter. If it were a wider wedge, or woven fabric, I'd make it a dart.

And then transferred all those changes to the lining and facing pieces. Finally ready to cut out! This is why nothing is a quick pattern for me.

Woo, the postman has just arrived with the thread to finish my woodland stroll cape. I'll be back later.



Knit skirt Chapter 2: which size?

6 May, 2017

Well, that's the question, is it? Which one of those four lines on the pattern will give me the end result I want? I can't just take three into to changing room and see which one works, and I'm certainly not going to make one, and think “Oh, it's too small. I'll try the next size up” (more like leave the offending item languishing in the corner of the sewing room, never to touch the pattern again).

Time for the tape measure. The fullest part of my seat measures 42″. According to the pattern envelope that makes me a size 18. My waist isn't, but I'll worry about that later. So, size 18, lets get the scissors out.

Nope. It took me many years and garments for the penny to drop, but many patterns, particularly the “big 4” have more ease (extra room for movement and the look of the thing) in their pattern than I like. Fortunately most patterns have the actual garment measurement somewhere. The nice ones put it on the envelope, but you can usually find it on the pattern piece if not. If it's not there, the hip point usually is, and you can get the tape measure out and measure on paper pattern much fabric there is around the hip. Don't forget that you don't want to include the seam allowance. My pattern had the garment measurement on the pattern.

45.5″. So that's 3.5″ of ease. That seems like a lot to me. The pattern is meant for wovens, and ponte has more give, so I don't think I'll need that much. I'm not sure I'd need that much for wovens. But what I want to know, is how much? I googled, hoping the blogosphere would provide the magic number. Instead I found this post on the Iconic Patterns blog. Why didn't I think of that?

I wonder if the size 16 hip circumference would work? So I measured 43.5″ on my ponte and held it around my hips. Yep, that should about do. It pulls in a bit under my tummy, but again, that's a fitting issue I'll deal with later.

Yay, size 16, lets get the scissors. No again. The earlier reports long abandoned blog posts here bang on about Swedish tracing paper. I'm still a fan. I'm going to do some fitting adjustments that are new to me, and with Swedish tracing paper I won't have ruined my paper pattern if I completely cock it up. Yes, I did buy one pattern three times before I realised this. And if I want to use the pattern again, and have changed size, or need different adjustments, I can. Swedish tracing paper is also great for tissue fitting, because if I can avoid making a toile/muslin I will.

I often do some basic adjustments while tracing. For example, I want a 17″ skirt length, and the pattern is for 21″. I'll trace the bottom edge 4″ higher. The distance between my waist and hip is pretty standard, so no alteration here, but when I'm making a top I'll often do the short waist adjustment at the tracing stage. Also, I must remember to take off the seam allowance at the centre back, since I'm taking that seam out. Actually, there's shaping in that seam, it gets to stay.

Oh, and I need to trace off view A front and back too, since that will be my lining.

Coming up next, trying to figure out what to do about fitting my tummy and waist.


Knit skirt Chapter 1: choosing pattern and fabric

6 May, 2017

If this is chapter one, then the prologue is that for ages I've wanted a black skirt to cover my bum when I want to wear leggings and a shirt, but the shirt just isn't quite long enough to wear with leggings alone. Yep, I'm in the leggings are not pants camp. I bought Butterick 5566 for this at least a couple of years ago, and some black ponte last year some time.

I'm going to use view E.

I want the skirt to be as comfortable as the rest of the outfit, hence going for knit. I've gone for ponte, because it's fairly stable, while still being soft and stretchy. I find it much easier to cut out and sew, and hopefully it will keep its shape.

You might have noticed B5566 is for woven fabric. I was originally going to make it as is, zip and all, as the ponte is fairly stable. Then I got my fabric out and I think it will be stretchy enough to be zip less, so I'll take out the centre back seam (I can always put in a side zip if necessary) and make the facing an elastic casing. I'll probably also line it with some tricot, to stop the skirt sticking to leggings issue. I usually wear a half slip, but it will be nice not have to bother.

Now to sort out what size to make, and then how to make that fit. That might be a whole new post of its own.

Me Made May: Week 1 ish

11 May, 2015

I’ve been wearing some things I made. I may even have learnt a little about what I like in a garment. I really thought I’d be wearing sewn dresses, but it’s been a bit chilly so it’s been more like woolly jumpers.

2 May was a lazy day lounging around at home. I tried to make some jersey trousers last year for days like this. Trouser fitting and me have never got on, and trying to tissue fit knit fabric turned out to be a laughable idea. The end result: my me made things were some knitted socks.

3 May was still cold, so cowl necked aran weight knitwear today. Short sleeved, in a concession to spring. It’s a stocking stitch version of Lawrence.

This jumper is definitely an Autumn/Spring item. Short sleeves is just too cold in winter, but it doesn’t take much to be too hot, which is not warm enough for no jumper at all. But when it’s Goldilocks weather (not too hot and not too cold) for this jumper it gets a lot of wear.

4 May we went for a walk, so out came a short dress to wear with leggings, and thick hand knit welly socks.

A little too short to be comfortable really, I would only wear it with extra thick tights or leggings. I’m not sure why I decided to take a whole 8″ off the pattern length. It’s McCalls “perfect knit dress” M5974. I do need to do a sway back adjustment on this if I make it again. And there is no reason why I couldn’t sew a little tuck across the back.

And to keep my neck warm a very loud scarf. Definitely out of my comfort zone with this colour, but I think it’s ok? Maybe?

5 May I was at work, so you get a selfie of me in my me made surgical hat.

6 May I still hadn’t warmed up from being out in a windy field the evening before, so coat and a crocheted scarf.

7 May was coat weather again, but hidden underneath was my new favourite skirt, recycled from a pair of wide leg trousers found in a charity shop. It’s McCall’s basic straight skirt (3830) with added lining and at 19″ length. The perfect length for me I’ve decided. Doesn’t feel too short when I sit down, nor too long when I stand up. The four year old was on photography duty again today. Not his best work.


8 May, no photos, but the skirt from yesterday and the cowl neck jumper again.

9 May another lounging day, and with my newly service sewing machine, I completely resewed my stretch trousers. They are M6571, view D; this time two sizes smaller, with the small front darts where I’d had none before, and let out the centre front seam a little in the middle (tapering to no extra fabric at waist and crotch). Too small now, but wearable with a suitable for leggings (i.e. butt covering length) top. I’ve never made a successful pair of trousers before, but I think I might be close with these if I made the next size up.

Yeah, think I should stick to skirts and dresses.

10 May: My first version of the McCalls perfect knit dress last seen in black cotton knit. This is a lighter viscose, and a much longer skirt. The neck is a bit open due to messing up the neck line the first time around and having to cut it off. Also this was before I discovered I should do a 1cm slope shoulder adjustment as a matter of course. I think with some bra holding clips to hold it on my shoulder ( not that it shifts that much, just enough to show straps), it will be fine. And looking at this unflattering photo, a chunky necklace might be a good idea.

I do love this print. And that’s my Cassidy cardigan, with a collar instead of a hood. I wear this a lot.

11 May: Today I haven’t worn any me made garments, but soon I will snuggle under this me made blanket.


Me Made May

1 May, 2015

Since I got back into garment making, and started using the wonderful resource that is other sewers' blogs, I've seen a bit about Me Made May. This year, I'm joining in. If you're still thinking “Me Made May?”, have a look here, on the “So, Zo” blog.

I haven't actually posted my pledge yet, but I'm aiming to wear some of my more neglected me made items, well as those already in regular rotation, and try work out what does and doesn't make for a successful garment for me. Better head over there and comment now.

It might be may May, but it's gone a bit chilly here. Just as well in a way, because I only just finished my winter coat last week. Still in the process of writing it up, if you want details. It's Vogue 8346. The weather gave me a chance to wear that this morning walking to school.

The littlest Tiger took some photos with my phone on the way home. Hopefully I'll get photo storage issues sorted out soon and better photos will follow.

I'm also wearing a me made scarf/shawlette, Damask.

Underneath, which you can't see is my Cassidy cardigan which no doubt you'll see more of because I seem to wear it at least every second day, if not more.

Finally, some me made mittens wore worn today, if not by me.




23 April, 2015

Right, where was I? I hadn't forgotten about this, just busy off getting a new job, and starting to plan relocation, so not much time for sewing. Sleeves.

Last minute, I had a change of heart about sleeves. All that work tailoring the front, shoulders, collar, and lapels, only to add straight sleeves? My cursory research on adapting sleeves to be tailored indicated it would e a whole lot of work. Luckily for me, my runner up in the “what coat should I make” pattern, and one that I also purchased was McCalls 6800. This has two piece tailored sleeves, and I figured being from the same pattern family would hopefully be drafted from the same basic shape.

The size 16 from M6800 had the same bicep circumference as the size 14 from V8346 (which was my starting point), so I went with that. Placing the two pieces together, the armscye line seemed the same so I went with it.

Because I had added in an extra 1cm at my side seams, I added an extra 1cm at the back seam at the armscye, tapering to nothing at the elbow.

For all my careful muslin making at earlier stages, I pretty much just with this and hoped it would work. I didn't have enough fabric for new pieces, so cut the upper arm out of the existing already cut sleeve pieces, and new under arm pieces. This left the upper arm a bit short on the hem, and I Hope I would either need to shorten the sleeve, or could get away with a shallower hem.

The photo shows the quite substantial change in shape, and it really made a difference to the finished coat.

Once they were set in, using a bias strip of hair canvas to both ease the sleeve cap and pad it (as per my for this project, the Tailoring book), I measured the sleeves to 1″ beyond my wrist one, and found I could lop an inch off the bottom. Yes, I had got very bored of muslin making by the time I got to the sleeves.

While I'm on the subject of sleeves, I'm going to talk about lining them here. “The Book” suggested inserting sleeve linings by machine by seeming the bottom edge together, pushing the lining inside and then hand stitching the armscye. It also suggests cutting the lining piece the same length as the garment piece, and adding an extra cm at the underarm.

I did this and had linings that kept wanting to poke out (and yes I did chop off the same amount I decided to chop off the outer). At this stage I wasn't going to restitch the armscye seam, so I snipped the lining close to where I stitched the hems together, chopped off and inch altogether of lining and handstitched it to my already handstitched in three goes with hair canvas hems. This is an awful lot of hand stitching for a machine tailored coat, and next time I will: 1. Make sure the lining is shorter than the sleeve, and 2. Insert the lining to the body lining by machine and handstitched the hem in place after. Or maybe follow one of the many tutorials in garment origami to bag the whole thing including the sleeve hems by machine.


Red Nose Cakes

13 March, 2015


Hungry? Here's the recipe for some quick vegan cakes. Makes 12 little cupcakes.


  • 75g raspberry jam
  • 50g (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 100 ml almond or other milk substitute
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the icing

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 1tbsp margarine
And 12 glacé cherry halves to decorate.


Here's what to do:

Preheat a fanforce oven to 160C. Place 12 cupcake cases in your bun tray.

In a bowl weigh out the wet ingredients (I zero the scales after each addition and weigh everything, even the milk. It saves washing measuring cups). Mix well.

Seive in the flour and baking powder. Gently fold in until combined. Unless your sous-chef is a four year old, in which case stir vigorously.

Divide mixture into the 12 cupcake cases, and bake for 15 minutes. Ice when cool.

For the icing, mix all the icing ingredients together. I dollop it on and spread it with a knife. Feel free to mess about with piping if you want to. There's a bit too much icing here for the cakes, to my taste, so the rest went on rich tea biscuits.

Add the red noses, and enjoy!