Hollyburn Skirt

Yay, I finally purchased the Hollyburn skirt pattern from Sewaholic patterns and it was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be, :). The pattern is listed as being for beginners and it truly was a breeze to work through. The instructions are fantastic, the photo illustrations very helpful, and the pattern lines are just perfect. I went with Version C minus the button tabs.

I decided to make a size 10 after measuring my waist at 30″. I did end up taking the waistband out about 1″ so maybe next time I will make up a size 12. Other than that and cutting the skirt front out on the fold, I made zero alterations and didn’t even make a mock up. I usually do with new patterns but I was pretty sure this would fit from my experiences with the Thurlow trousers I had made previously from this designer.

The skirt fabric I purchased from a local vendor here in Nashville named Moondance Sister. It is a 100% cotton tapestry hand dyed in India. Loved the pattern and knew it would make the perfect skirt. The Hollyburn skirt had just enough curve to make it work out perfectly. I even managed to make the slip pockets match up with the pattern pretty well, :). I also decided to cut the skirt front out on the fold rather than 2 pieces per the pattern design in order to not break up the pattern as much as possible.

I decided to line the skirt to make it easier to wear over leggings. I neglected to trace back in the side pocket cutouts on the front skirt piece though, oops! It ended up working out just fine. I attached the lining to the skirt front at the top and sides through the pockets, then stitched the sides of the lining separate from the sides of the skirt from the pockets to the hemline. I also shortened the lining about 1″ from the exterior skirt hemline.

Here is an inside view of the skirt lining and the pockets.



The other adjustments I made were to insert an invisible zipper (good thing since I had to let out the back about 1/2″ on each side) and putting an hook and eye in the top. I plan to add belt loops later but may leave it as is.

And more pics!






Back view. Back seam is almost invisible, :).





African Wax Print and Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book

Ever since I saw that Gertie had another book coming out I knew I had to look it over and it is still currently in my Amazon queue for a future purchase someday… In the mean time I was able to find a copy of Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book at my local library, yay!

I must say, the instructions and information are amazing, as are all of the pattern pieces and combos available. I decided to go with the sweetheart neckline strapless bodice pieces, three-quarter circle skirt, and pocket pieces. Because, well, every dress possible should have pockets! For the fabric I ordered this gorgeous Ankara African wax fabric from Tambo Collection on Etsy. They shipped it to me very quickly and it looked exactly like the photos, :).

I saw Gertie’s green faille dress in the book and loved it but didn’t have enough fabric for the box pleats and as I decided to alternate the bodice pieces with teal I thought it looked better without the decorative bias tape across the front.

For the sizing I traced out and sewed up a straight size 10 other than making a full bust adjustment of 3″ to the bodice front. Always make a muslin! This one took me 2 tries but it looks great and I felt much more sure putting together 2 layers without worrying about fitting as I went. I did my usual full bust adjustment on a princess seam. So basically I cut a slash in the side front piece going from just under the front middle notch to the double middle side notch (you can see this in the photo in the bottom right corner). I spread this a total of 1.5″ and then I cut a horizontal line on the middle piece at the same notch point and spread that piece straight up 1.5″ keeping the front middle section straight as it is cut on the fold.

dress mock up

The I used the same muslin pieces I’d used for my trial to underline the front pattern pieces which I cut out of alternating patterned and solid teal fabric. For the top I did have to take in the top middle seams in a tad to make the top curve over my chest properly. Gertie has you stitch a row of gathering stitches which I might try next time. Then for the inside structure of the bodice I followed her inserting boning instructions to apply a total of 9 strips of rigilene boning to all of the top seams and a small bit in the middle front. Next time I will put some casing around the rigilene. Even though I melted the edges they still dig in to my skin a bit. All in all it looks quite lovely, :).

inside boning

Then I put the zipper in the bodice to try on the fit again before attaching the bodice to the skirt. At this stage I decided an invisible zipper would look nicer than a lapped zipper, for which Gertie goes over in great detail on inserting either option with and without lining. Then it was time to work on the skirt! I used her handy tutorial on inserting the pockets which was easy peasy before attaching the skirt to the exterior bodice pieces. Love it when everything is notched and matches up so nicely, :). I opted to not put in the 1/8″ edge stitching on the pockets since the fabric is so sturdy, I just pressed them really well with my iron. After I had attached the bodice I put in the zipper and then hand slip-stitched the lining in place.

Look at that pretty inside! And those things sticking out are the pockets.

inside of dress

And ta-da! I now have another gorgeous summer dress that fits like a charm, :). Love how the contrasting panels just add to the beauty of the dress and pattern.

ankara dress front view


anakra dress using the pockets

Side view

ankara dress side view

Back view

ankara dress back view.jpg

And of course I needed a spinning shot, or 2… 😉

ankara dress spinankara dress spin 2

Simplicity 2172, McCall’s 7335, and McCall’s 2447

Like I have mentioned before, I took one look at Simplicity 2172 and just knew I had to make it. I was thinking maybe for Halloween and then I saw Nashville’s The Cabaret Noir Collective hosting a Time Traveler’s Ball, perfect! The event itself was great and I was able to finish my outfit in time, :). 2 weeks of part-time work on these patterns was a bit over zealous but I managed, :). Even made muslins of everything but the hat! And there are so many gorgeous versions on the internet.

Now be prepared, this is a bit of a long post with lots of photos…

I have already blogged the details that went into the making of the corset here. So much work but it turned out lovely.



Next up was making my boyfriend a matching vest using McCall’s 2447. Cut out a muslin first and made a few adjustments to tailor the fit a bit more bringing in the top sides about an inch each. Then because I dislike welts that serve no purpose I created a pocket pattern using the top welt pocket pieces from Vogue 8890 as a reference. They turned out fine but far from perfect. I think the vest turned out quite lovely using the medium weight twill cotton from my corset. The directions were easy to follow and already working on another vest made from a nice navy wool for his birthday, :). Using the pocket pattern pieces from the Jason vest pattern this time and working out much better but more about that in another post once it is finished. For this one I used Bemberg lining for the back and lining.

Look at that fit! The one on the left was after all of the tailoring adjustments, you can see how the one on the right has some puffiness at the sides.


Then it was time to make the skirt! Oh my goodness, that pleated hem took so many hours. It was quite literally 9 yards of fabric to stitch the 9 panels together, then hem, then pleat. So the hem went from 9 yards to about 3 yards. The rest of the skirt was pretty easy, just sew together 3 panels, attach the hem and attach the waistband pieces. I made a size 16 and even then was a bit tight. So while the corset had too much ease the skirt had the perfect amount.



Then the coat. Again, not too difficult as the instructions were really good but time consuming. I cut out a size 14 for the coat but should have graded out to a size 16 at the waist. I only made one adjustment of adding 1/2″ of length to the waist. There were a lot of pieces and fully lined, so it took some time. Loved the pockets! They looked great and were a nice size, I could fit everything I needed without bringing a purse along, :). The neck ruffle took a long time to hem both sides but looked great. I decided to nix the sleeves for now as it was so warm out but might add them later for Halloween when it is cooler out.


Side View


And the back. Instead of making a tie from fabric I made one using some white faux leather and ended up needing 3 pieces instead of the 2 pieces the pattern said to cut out. I think it adds a lovely contrasting detail.


And to top it all off, literally, I made a hat! I used McCall’s 7335 Version C and it turned out like the picture pretty well. The hat is a lot of little pieces but goes together fairly quickly. I just followed the steps but instead of stitching my decorative feathers in place I hot glued them and instead of an elastic band to hold the hat on I added hair clips. These were a little fiddly and didn’t stay on very well. May hot glue them in or use combs instead.

I sewed on a few gears to the decorative holder holding the feathers.



And the happy couple! I had made Dan this suit a few years ago and the vest looks fantastic with it. The suit is Vogue 8890. We looked so old fashioned, ;). And of course we added some gears and chains here and there to finish off the looks. This photo is also using a vintage filter of course. I think everything turned out perfect!


Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing Pencil Skirt times 2

I purchased Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing awhile ago and have been wanting to try out some of the patterns. First of all, love her sizing chart. I took my measurements, measured to be a size 10, and I cut out and put together a size 10 with minimal adjustments needed.

I decided to go ahead and make The Pencil Skirt because I’ve always wanted a classic pencil skirt. And of course I had to make it all kinds of complicated by not only underlining and lining the fabric but also adding boning to the waistband. It took me much longer than I anticipated, 3 afternoon/evenings, but it looks and fits amazingly, :). I used a rayon challis from Gertie’s fabric line from Jo-Ann’s because it was just too gorgeous to resist. Because it was so light weight I lined it with polyester lining from Jo-Ann’s and then lined the skirt using Bemberg rayon. Honestly I find it difficult to line my clothing with anything else it feels so amazing.

The overall construction is fairly easy as there are only 4 pattern pieces involved: front skirt, back skirt pieces, waistband front, waistband back. I underlined my front skirt and back skirt pieces and interfaced my front and back waistband pieces. For the waistband facings I used hair canvas to which I attached plastic boning. First I marked my stitching lines and then measured the boning so it would be within the stitching lines and each 2″ apart per Gertie’s instructions in her book and also per her blog post here. I straightened out the boning per a post by Sewaholic. I put the boning in boiling water for a few minutes, re-bent it, put it under some heavy books for a few minutes, and voila, not as curved. While the water was boiling I sewed the empty featherlite boning casings to the hair canvas securing the sides and bottoms leaving the tops open. As soon as the boning was ready to go I filed the edges to take off sharp points, slipped them back into their casings, and stitched over the top openings. You can see below where I interfaced the waistband partly to add structure to the waistband and also so that the boning didn’t show through. Then I attached the hair canvas to the facing pieces. I did not add boning to the back waistband pieces as they didn’t need the boning.

Here is a photo of the boning:


Then the fun part, putting the skirt pieces together! I just followed the instructions for the most part except I hemmed the lining and exterior skirt portions before sewing down the waistband. For the lapped zipper I machine stitched the right side and hand picked the left side, then slip stitched the lining in place on the inside. I also slip stitched the lining fabric at the vent in the back to the exterior vent fabric so prevent the lining from peaking out.

It turned out perfect! Absolutely LOVE that fabric!!! It can be purchased at Jo-Ann’s and is one of Gertie’s fabric line. It appears to be on clearance right now. May need more…. ;). I think the fit turned out lovely and love the high waistband. May need more shirts to wear it with…



I had the perfect vintage button in my stash for this skirt.


Pretty lining, ;). Used blue for the floral and black for the grey one.


Then I had to make another skirt of course! This one was made using a grey polyester suiting fabric and also lined with Bemberg. I just love the feel of Bemberg rayon lining. I didn’t need to underline this fabric and had 2 days to put it together for an interview. Still need to make that wool suit…someday! This one went together much quicker as I had already made one and turned out almost as great. Not happy with the puckering at the darts, mostly due to the type of fabric used. Jo-Ann’s didn’t have any wool blends in the color I was looking for. Still looks pretty great though.

Love the high waist, its a good length, and so flattering. Very slimming, :).


So yeah…really can’t just make one, ;). Hope to make some more from her book. Love the dress variations.

Vogue 8543 Skirt Mock Up

So I finally got around to making this skirt! It’s the skirt off the Vogue 8543 suit pattern. LOVE the lines of this skirt and had read mixed reviews of the pattern. Honestly, I only halfway read the instructions and put it together using my own methods. The directions weren’t all that great anyway.

This is going to be a part of my fancy wool suit but I wanted to make sure my ideas would work out before cutting into the nice stuff. Per a previous post I should have just enough wool to complete it, :). For the trial skirt I used this cheap polyester suiting from Jo-Ann’s I had in my stash and gorgeous teal polyester charmeuse. Omg, LOVE this charmeuse. It feels so nice and the color is gorgeous. I’m glad that at least people will be able to see it when I make the jacket, ;).

First thing, piece 13 is mislabeled as “middle jacket back”. Nope, middle back skirt piece. Easy enough to figure out. Then I didn’t like that the skirt didn’t have self waistband facings. Nothing worse than having lining poking up from under the waistband. The front waistband facing was easy to do, instead of cutting the inner waistband piece out of lining I cut it out of the exterior fabric like pretty much any other pattern. Then for the back band I traced out a new piece using the front piece and middle back/side back pieces as guides and then taking that excess off the original lining piece.

First I traced off a half piece (as I will cut it out along the fold) using the center of the middle back piece and the side piece as guides for shape. I also measured out the depth of the front band facing pieces so it would match up better on the sides.

Then I cut it out along the fold and voila, a new piece, :).

Here is a photo of both the front and back waistband facings.

And then because I made a new piece for the back waistband, I had to take this off of the original lining piece.

Because I was in between the sizes 14 and 16, I used 1/2″ seams for the seams that go up and down leaving the more decorative seams at the 5/8″ seam. I originally did these as 1/2″ seams as well but they gave the skirt a weird pouffy look so I went ahead and made them 5/8″ seams. Then I went off pattern again. Instead of waiting to the end to hem everything, I hemmed the lining and exterior skirts before attaching the two pieces together. This made the process a little easier except I did make one error in putting the back skirt lining pieces together. I had forgotten to put the markings on the lining pieces and didn’t leave an opening in the back lining piece for a vent. So I took it apart and put one in…except I did this to the side seam and not the back seam. Oops! But it’s ok. I’ll remember to do this correctly for the nice skirt.

The other major change I made was when putting in the invisible zipper. I used Colette’s invisible zipper method and also used her method for attaching the interior lining to the zipper. I discovered this through her pants and shorts patterns and it is so much easier than slip stitching the lining to the zipper, it also just looks so much nicer too. Those steps can be seen during the Clover pants sew-a-long here or Lladybird’s photo tutorial of the process here.

When attaching the lining to the zipper I stitched the lining to the zipper I pinned the pieces together and stitched it just a little further over in the seam to allow the zipper to zip up and down easier.


And voila, a very pretty invisible zipper on both the inside and outside, :). My seams are a little off throughout this first make due to small errors here and there but not too bad.

Overall the skirt is pretty easy and quick to put together. The jacket will take a bit more time…

I don’t think the wrinkles will be there on he navy wool version, this polyester fabric is pretty light weight and wrinkles easily.


I look like I smelled something bad, haha. But look at that side view! Such cute pleats and great lines and shape, :).


And the back view of course. Again, LOVE those pleats! And the shape is so flattering.


And another back view. I feel like people never post enough pics of the back, for review purposes of course, ;).


Now onto the suit jacket!!!

WIP Vogue 8333/8543 Suit: Cutting and Pattern Adjustments

Woo hoo! Slowly making progress! I’ve begun the arduous process of cutting all the pieces out: fabric, lining, interfacings… Sometimes I’m tempted to pay someone else, ;). I’ve only managed the fabric pieces thus far and have decided to make the skirt first, then the jacket.

I’ve also decided that if I am going to spend all this time and energy making a muslin I may as well attempt to make it a wearable one. I discovered I had about 5 yards of this tan striped cheap polyester suiting fabric in my stash and a few yards of this gorgeous teal polyester charmeuse for the lining. I think that teal will look gorgeous inside the jacket.




So the fun began… IMG_2307



And I discovered….all the current pieces will fit within 3.5 yards!!! Which means I literally have JUST enough of my gorgeous navy wool for this project, ;). I believe I have the necessary suit adjustments completed on the pattern, possibly may need to alter the shoulder and perhaps take into account a sway back. Will know more once I start putting the fabric pieces of the suit together.

Another change I decided to make upon reflection of reading other seamstresses’ attempts at the skirt is to add a self fabric waist band facing on the skirt. Also, piece #13 is mislabeled. It is not a jacket piece, ;). I have made enough projects with the lining flush with the waistband that I know the lining tends to become visible from time to time and if I am going to spend the time making an expensive suit, that just won’t do.

The front waistband facing was easy since the lining piece is the same as the outside fabric. So instead of cutting 1 fabric and 1 lining, I just cut 2 of the fabric. Easy peasy. The back waistband took some more thought. As one can see, the way the back pieces are pieced together makes just tracing the top a little tricky.


So I took the middle back piece and one of the side back pieces and marked the seam lines. Per 1 piece the finished waist is 29.5″, so to make it fit my 30″ waist better I am making all of the seams 1/2″ instead of 5/8″ inch which should add 1″ to the finished pattern pieces, or be 30.5″ in the end. Perfect. So I marked off the 1/2″ seam allowances, lined up the side back with the middle back and traced from the center back line to the end of the side piece like this:



I drew a straight line for the center back portion (the end that will placed on the fold). Then using the front facing as an example, I curve the bottom line to maintain a 3 3/4″ width along the new piece and cut out one on the fold. I will need to make adjustments to the lining portions but overall this should work out quite nicely.


Future Couture Suit Jacket and Bra Making Plans

So I’ve had both Vogue 8333 and 8543 in my pattern stash for some time. I even had the fabric picked out and ordered for 8543, but then the online store didn’t really have the fabric and the order was cancelled, :(. Well our local Textile Fabrics is still having their now moving sale (moving not closing now, yay!) with all fabrics 60% off! So I found a gorgeous navy wool suiting fabric, light gray silk lining, and grayish silk organza for the underlining. And my future plans changed. Now I want to make the Vogue 8333 version A couture suit jacket paired with the Vogue 8543 skirt. I think they will work well together and just pray I have enough of the wool! Original plan of the jacket and skirt of 8543 only required 3.25 yards and I got 3.5 to have a little extra. The new plan requires 3 yards and 5/8 yard, 1/8 more than I have. Hoping I have enough! I usually don’t use the full allotment, so fingers crossed!

The navy wool and light gray lining:  

First step: FBA adjustment and pattern trial. I went with a size 14 as Vogue tends to run larger and I preferred a more fitted suit jacket. As my upper bust is 34, I added the 2″ B cup pattern allotment and got 36″. Size 14 uses a 36″ bust so perfect. Then I just needed to add the difference between my full bust (39″) and the pattern full bust (36″) which is 3″, or 1.5″ per side. I matched the center front of the front pattern piece with my center front and the shoulder seam with my shoulder seam so I could mark my bust apex on the pattern. Please disregard my terrible drawing skills!

Once I had this new spot, I then drew a vertical line parallel with the front center line through the new apex and a horizontal line parallel with the waist line through the new apex. Now I had 4 quadrants which I labeled.

I cut apart the lines leaving a hinge at the shoulder seam and the bottom hem line. As this piece used princess seams I also separated the side front piece into two pieces through the waist line but leaving the paper attached just a bit at the side as a hinge. I labeled these 4 (left top), 3 (right top, 2 (left bottom, and 1 (right bottom). I first taped down quadrant 3 to a piece of tracing paper. Then I measured out a vertical line to the left side of this quadrant 3 piece 1.5″ out and a horizontal line to the bottom 1.5″ down. I matched up quadrant 1 (bottom right piece) to the horizontal line keeping it parallel to the top right piece and taped it down. Then I moved Quadrant 4 out so the bottom right corner matched up with the vertical line while staying even with quadrant 3 along the bottom. Then matched up quadrant 2 to both the vertical and horizontal lines keeping it parallel to both the top left piece and the bottom right piece. Then did the same with the side piece. After everything was placed correctly I taped everything down.

Then I pinned all the seam allowances together to “try” half the jacket on. Pretty good for! I’ll have a lot of couture methods to learn and sort out as I go along with this project. I’m excited! 

Better pics taken while on my dress double:   


The other major project on my list is: making my first bra!

After my disappointment of being unable to find a strapless bra at Victoria’s Secret that fit right I decided to finally delve into this realm.

I’ve purchased the Kindle version of Orange Lingerie founder Norma Loehr’s book Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. So far has been full of super useful advice. I have plans to purchase her newest pattern, the Boylston bra as well. I feel that this is the best pattern for my 34DD size and best option for attempting a strapless version. Still researching fabrics, etc. 


Obviously I have my work cut out for me for a bit, ;).