Down the Rabbit Hole

Welcome to the first Wanderstitch post of 2019!

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, however you spent it. Ours was quiet, as it usually is, and as always I am reminded on New Year’s Eve why I hate not living on a remote, isolated island away from civilisation. I’m not against fireworks on the whole, but when people start letting them off at 9pm (really, guys?) and it’s a constant stream until about 12:30am, it gets on my chimes a tad. It means my dog, who is petrified of them, doesn’t get a toilet break before bedtime, and not to mention the wildlife in all the nearby parks is probably running scared too. And do we really need to be letting them off in residential areas? No, we don’t, not really. Just because you can’t be bothered to haul your ass into the city for the official display, doesn’t mean the whole neighbourhood wants to listen to a display in your garden. I’m also not particularly comfortable knowing that my (probably slightly tipsy) neighbours have potentially lethal explosives in their hands, either ?

Am I a killjoy… maybe. Could be my age – I’m finding that my tolerance levels are declining with each year that passes ?

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But – annnnnyway, happy new year! ?

I’d like to start by talking about the overwhelming response to my post last week – so many of you took the time to comment and let me know how much you enjoy reading the blog. Those comments really, really made my year. I feel so happy that my posts have become a cornerstone for so many readers’ Sunday mornings. I’m gonna work my way through responding to each and every one of your comments, and take stock of the feedback that was given – you are definitely a readership divided on the gifs! The Handsome Husbeast is on the side of ‘less is more’ with the gifs too… so we’ll maybe balance out the gifs with a few memes instead, moving forwards ?

And I’m so glad that I’m not taking you all to snoresville with my lengthy posts ? Long may the longest-blog-posts-ever-seen-on-t’internet continue! ??

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And so onto the subject of this week’s post – I made a thing ??

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This thing is actually one of my 2018 Make Nine, and even though it’s only now hitting the blog in 2019, it totally counts as 2018 because I made it and photographed it in 2018. IT COUNTS, GUYS, IT COUNTS.

Skirts that I’ve made so far have not been altogether too successful for me – there’s been some disasters with gathers (see here) and I struggle to get patterns that hit at my natural – high – waist and fit in with my style (like this pencil skirt that wasn’t really ‘me’). I’m not really a ‘girly girl’ and aren’t a fan of skirts and dresses… much to the disappointment of my mother. She was so happy when I was born, to have a little girl that she could dress in cute little dresses and play dolls with… except that I wasn’t into dolls, and didn’t really like dresses either. So she may as well have had another son ? You’ll never find me in heels (except on blog shoots, and even then I don’t walk anywhere in them, I literally just stand and pose in them) and I don’t wear make up. Don’t even get me started on the whole society-making-women-feel-the-need-to-enhance-their-natural-faces-with-paint thing. Women shaving off their eyebrows in order to draw them back on each morning is a WHOLE OTHER BALL GAME TOO. It’s best that I don’t start talking about it ?? (Ooh, we’re starting off 2019 rather ranty, it seems. Told you I was getting older ?)

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So yeah, not really feeling all the traditional ‘girly’ stuff, which is why you rarely see me in skirts for everyday wear. Plus I’m always paranoid I’ve got the hem caught in my underthings and the general public is being visually scarred by the sight of my bee-hind ?

There have been a couple of ‘skirt successes’ though, despite the seemingly abundant failures – The Rosari Skirt was a good one, but the version I made didn’t have a lining so it’s no good wearing with tights in the winter. I will definitely make another of these, probably in corduroy again, but with a lining. Once you rule out skirts with gathers, and pencil skirts (and also circle skirts because I don’t like those either), there’s not a huge amount of styles left for me to choose from – but the Ready To Sew Jim is hovering in the sidelines just waiting for its turn ?

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I know I literally just said that gathers are the enemy, but it seems I’ve made a skirt with gathers that I actually really like ? ??‍♀️ Which means that it’s waist gathers that are the enemy, not all gathers. The underdog that you see me wearing here is the Wonderland Skirt by Lily Sage and Co. which doesn’t seem to have a huuuuge following in the sewing world but the couple of versions I’d seen on Instagram I really loved, and that’s a big deal when it involves me and a skirt.

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I almost didn’t sew it though, because I was trying to rationalise in my head how if putting gathers on the narrowest part of me (ie my waist) made me look frumpy, surely putting gathers on the widest part of me – my hips – was just a recipe to get a ‘wide load’ sticker slapped on me? Well, there’s only one way to find out yah? So IN I WENT. I figured that if it really was as hideous as I thought it might be, it could go straight to the charity shop ??

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But actually, I really like it – HOWEVER it’s gotta be styled right. I imagine that you could make this quite girly and frilly and delicate – in a pastel colour, maybe with a lace overlay for the bottom portion of the skirt (or indeed the yoke) – paired with heels and a floaty vest, but you ain’t gonna catch me in any outfit that has pastels in it. Black lace over red, maybe, to give it a gothic feel, but no sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice crap.

This is the first pattern I’ve used from Lily Sage & Co, and it was a pleasant experience. The pattern instructions were pretty easy to follow – no dramas – and everything came together fine.

I cut the waist size based on my measurements, but it’s at least a size too big. Probably two sizes, if I’m honest. Which means it doesn’t sit right on the narrowest part of my waist, but a couple of inches too low. Which in turn makes me look a bit thicker around the middle, because I needed it to sit right on my waist to balance out the poofiness of the gathers on my hips. In order to carry off this style I needed it to highlight the difference between my smaller waist and larger hips – NOT make my waist look bigger ? Ah well.

I lined the top portion of the skirt as per the tutorial on their blog (it’s a written tutorial – no pictures – but easy enough to follow) but it’s not the best idea I’ve ever had. She has you baste the lining and the outer pieces together at the edges, and therefore use them together as one piece – but this resulted in bum-wrinkles which I wasn’t too impressed with.

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Plus, if you line it, the lining doesn’t enclose the gathered edge at the bottom of the yoke – this remains exposed. Which narked me a little, I would have liked it to have covered that seam, but meh. You’ve also got to fix down the lining around the zip, which I did but it’s a bit dodge at the very bottom of the zip.

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A change I’d make for the next version is to use a curved waistband – the one that the pattern is written with is a straight rectangle, which unless your sides are straight up and down with no curve (ie you are shaped like a brick) means that it’s not going to lay flat against your body. And this is the EXACT problem that I have – it just gapes at the very top. And I’m not sure I’m 100% feeling the wool suiting that I used for it either – it’s a lovely colour, and I do prefer natural fibres over synthetics, but I think I’d prefer a corduroy or cotton twill – or even a lightweight denim. Wool suiting just feels a bit… corporate. Plus it’s not really as thick as I’d like for a bottom-weight fabric, which is why I added the yoke lining… but the lining has added a few ripples. With a thicker fabric I might not need to bother with the lining, and those ripples could just jog on.

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For the next version – oh yes there will be a next version, I think I might actually be on to a skirt-winner here – I will:

1. Draft a curved waistband

2. Not baste the outer fabric and lining together, I’ll figure out some way to keep them separate (or use a thicker fabric so no lining needed)

3. Try to cover that gathered seam at the bottom of the yoke with the lining, if I use one

4. Make the waist a couple of sizes smaller (note to self: before I go shortening the waistband, check the fit now that Christmas has been and gone… it might actually fit now that I’ve put on yet more weight)

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I’ll be quite keen to try the version of the yoke with pockets – I know it’s boring, but I’m actually thinking of making a plain black skirt (?) with leather pockets. Just to goth it up a bit, so that it’s not too girly, y’know. In the meantime, I’ve got some purple corduroy that I picked up from Crescent Trading that could very well work for a second version ?

I also think it would be quite cool to use a contrast bias tape to hem the skirt – something that you’d just catch a glimpse of, but it’d be there nonetheless. Like a neon leopard ribbon on a black fabric. Hemming this bad boy with a double fold took proper long as well – the hem just goes on, and on, and on…. ?

I did that trick where you first sew a line of stitching at an even distance from the raw edge of the hem, and then use that as a guideline to make the first fold – although I fast discovered that you can’t fold *on* the line because then it shows on the inside when you fold again – you have to fold just next to the stitching line.

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The skirt is closed with a hook and bar as well as a zip, which feels nice and secure.

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Overall, I’m happy. I’ve found a skirt pattern that I actually like. And that’s kind of a big deal.

What’s also a big deal is that I managed to survive this first (short) week back at work, but it wasn’t easy. Most of the first day back was spent in a blur, staring at my screen cross-eyed hoping that if I sat really still nobody would come and ask me any complicated questions. I thought it would be a good idea to go for a run along the Thames at lunchtime, to wake myself up a bit, but after about ten seconds of movement I was genuinely concerned I might die if I continued. I made it round the planned three miles, but it might have just been the slowest run on record – I’m pretty sure that there were tourists walking faster than I was running. But at least I went. I could have sat on my arse in the canteen but I didn’t. Yay me. A good start to the year. (Which, however, was balanced out on Friday afternoon when I discovered that the girl who sits behind me had a five kilo box of pick ‘n mix under her desk – the leftovers from the office Christmas party. I ate so many cola bottles I felt sick).

if anyone needs me ill be under my desk in a food coma

I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions (because let’s be real, they always get broken) but this year I’m making just one – be kind to myself. Rather than saying negative things like ‘I want to lose a stone’ or ‘I’m not gonna eat pizza’, I’m saying – be kind. Be kind to my body, and my mind. Eat healthy food, as much of the time as I can, but don’t live off chicken and broccoli to lose weight if it’s gonna make me miserable. Exercise, even if it’s just taking the stairs at work. Be aware of my mental health. Make time for things that I enjoy, like cuddles with the doggos and the husbeast, and sewing and knitting. Making strict rules is just asking for them to be broken, so instead I’m aiming for a healthy balance, hopefully tipped slightly in the direction of good rather than bad. If I can achieve that, I’ll be happy. If not – well, there’s always next year ???

This post marks the start of the steady flow of NYC photoshoots that are going to appear on the blog – yes, I realised I was there like *months* ago but it takes me that long to sift through all the photos and remove all the ones where I’ve got my eyes closed (usually about 15%), and any ones where I’ve been caught at a bad angle and look like Sloth from The Goonies (usually 10%).

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But, it does mean that I can carry on living my trip through these pictures for at least another six months! These ones were taken on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. The husbeast-slash-photographer did good, yah?

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I hope you all had a wonderful new year and that your 2019 has got off to a good start! I’ll be back next week with a little something different… ?

Next week on the Wanderstitch blog… my Art Gallery Makers Tote ✂️ Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out! ??

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26 Comments

  1. Celia
    January 6, 2019 / 8:11 am

    Lovely skirt, and the photographs are fantastic!

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 11, 2019 / 8:43 am

      Thanks Celia! I’m definitely going to make another one of these, which will hopefully become a wardrobe staple! The husbeast did good with the photos didn’t he ?

  2. Cindy
    January 6, 2019 / 8:32 am

    Happy new year to you both too. Yes , I agree lets be kind to every one and all creatures 2 and 4 legs alike. Be kind and people will be kind back smile and they smile back. Every one asks me to return or moan about a broken zip on a dress from a shop or a mark on the new sofa as I usually get results, and why? Because I smile, Im nice and kind too. And they then return that action. Try it it works 99% of the time.

    You’re both very talented and you , and all of us must work together and I agree ban the sale of fireworks to the good old general public, only organised firework displays, a friend of mines son ended up in A and E when a rocket went sideways not up , when his dad set it off in their small garden , now poor lad is still in hospital after losing an eye. They said the organised display was 10pounds to enter, they would of paid 1,000pound if they knew what pain and distress the home display caused their son. And not forgetting as you said the animals. If you live near idiots who have home displays, buy a THUNDER JACKET for your dog, I promise you he will just lay by the fire totally unaware of the noise. But BUY THE PROPER ONE NOT A RIP OFF VERSION. Weve had our 12 jackets for over 6 years so at 30 pounds it’s a real bargain..and most of all a non stressed 4 leg xx take care xx cindy

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 11, 2019 / 8:48 am

      Happy new year Cindy! I agree, kindness breeds kindness ? If only everyone else saw it that way.
      Ah! You’ve just reminded me that I do actually have a thunder jacket… I must dig that out. Thank you for reminding me of it! What I was especially annoyed about was that a house like two doors down decided to let off REALLY LOUD fireworks at about 9:30pm. I felt like they could have at least done the decent thing and let us know in advance, because if I’d have been outside trying to get the dog to have a wee before the midnight fireworks, he’d have probably had a heart attack. ? (In fact, I nearly did myself).
      I hope you had a lovely Christmas and new year! x

  3. Margery Watson
    January 6, 2019 / 9:25 am

    I love reading your blog,it starts my Sunday off nicely. As for the giffs I whisk past them trying not to see them. I thought perhaps it was because of my age that I thought they were superfluous but it would seem I’m not the only one. I totally agree with the fire works I also have a dog who is terrified . It’s time they where restricted to certain times and days. The only people who benefit are the large supermarkets that sell them.

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 11, 2019 / 8:54 am

      Hi Margery! ??
      I’m so glad to hear that you enjoy the blog!
      And I’m going to try and balance out the gifs with static memes, so hopefully that will make things easier for my readers ☺️
      Ah, your poor little fur baby. ☹️ I really think that there should be a strict ban on exactly when the general public can let them off, so that we can try and minimise the anxiety… there’s nothing worse than an unexpected display from your next door neighbour at 8pm on a Wednesday night in March ??‍♀️

  4. January 6, 2019 / 10:06 am

    Happy New Year kiddo! My year got off to a fabulous start with a visit to Everyman cinema [new experience, very nice] to see ‘The Favourite’, then an email a couple of days later to say I’d won the prize draw on ‘Goodbye Valentino’ blog! Woohoo! Having alovely 2019 so far, now I MUST get sewing that red coat for twirling on playground duty…

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 11, 2019 / 8:56 am

      Woohoo! That’s a fab start to your new year! ?? I’ve never been to Everyman cinema… but I’ve heard good things. I bet there were some good costumes going on in The Favourite? What did you win in the draw? Yes I’ve been following your red coat, it’s looking fabulous ❤️

  5. January 6, 2019 / 10:08 am

    Oh yes-GIFs. I haven’t commented on them, but I’ll throw in my tenpennorth. I use them occasionally on my blog too, with a couple of recurring favorites[Game of Thrones ‘shame’ bell ringer, and chest beating gorilla] but I do often find them very annoying when they’re flashing away at the edge of the screen while trying to read… but you do you missus, be kind!

  6. Donna Bartlett
    January 6, 2019 / 10:45 am

    Hurrah for Sunday mornings laying in bed with your weekly read ??? Totally agree with the fireworks thing, big displays only!
    Lovely work on the skirt & fab photography from Husbeast.
    Was very interested to read your non wearing of make up, I’m trying to head this way myself. You are blessed with amazing bone structure & good eyebrows though whereas I’m pushing 50 & my eyes & brows are totes invisible without a little help ? I know this is a sewing blog but I’d love to hear more about this subject ❤️??
    Brilliant read as always, Donna xxx

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 11, 2019 / 9:05 am

      Hi Donna!
      Yaaay I’m so glad that you enjoy the blog on Sundays ??
      The fireworks thing is just so frustrating… I’m amazed that they let the general public have access to what are essentially explosives ??‍♀️
      I’ve never worn make up… which is mainly down to my attitude of ‘if you don’t like me the way I am then that’s not my problem, and I’m not going to waste my life putting paint on my face just to make you happy’ ? It’s also partly down to the fact that it seems like a colossal waste of time applying it every morning and then taking it off again at night ???‍♀️
      This attitude I guess kind of defines who I am, and probably in some way affects my sewing too, so maybe I’ll delve into this in a post one week ??
      And I’m sure your eyebrows are totally fine how they are… They are there to catch dust and stuff from falling in to your eye (probably?!) so even if they are fair or light in colour, they are still winning at their one job in life ??
      To hell with what people think, I say! ??

  7. Emma - snowfrosch_sews
    January 6, 2019 / 12:54 pm

    I, too, love reading your nice long posts. It goes somewhat to finishing off my Sundays, as your email arrives a little after 7 in the evening. So, after dinner, with coffee, port and chocolate.
    And I love this skirt on you!
    I’ve been aware of this pattern for ages, and always liked it, but didn’t think it would work on me. A week ago I bought the pattern (to be lengthened slightly), and the fabric (on sale! :o>).

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 14, 2019 / 6:04 pm

      Ahh, yay Emma! I’m so glad that you enjoy the long posts ☺️ That sounds like a FABULOUS way to finish off your evening!
      I do – unexpectedly – love this skirt… I’m definitely going to make another in a fabric that’s more ‘me’. Corduroy is top of that list. I’m excited that you’ve now bought the pattern, and yay for fabric on sale!! ????

  8. January 6, 2019 / 1:09 pm

    Happy (and yes! KIND) 2019 to you & the Husbeast & your 4 legged loved ones!

    I always looked forward to a great Winter Solstice party a friend hosted every year (I moved 4900 KM away in 2013) and instead of New Year’s Resolutions, we would choose our word for the coming year. At Winter Solstice 2012 looking ahead to 2013, I picked “Magic” (which everyone claimed they would be grabbing ahead of the pack the following year 🙂 ) and it unfolded into a magical year indeed. 2019 my word is Sentiment (I’m turning 65 at the end of 2019) which is just going with what I seem to be doing more and more – reflecting, pondering, remembering. My partner’s word is “Kindness” which warmed my shackles anticipatig all that kindness coming my way 🙂 as I’m sure the love of your life is anticipating from you too 🙂

    Love this skirt on you! I agree this is your style for sure and so many fabrics would be lovely including maybe a drapey linen/rayon blend for summer? maybe a 4 ply deep purple for fancy? the possibilities are endless 🙂

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 14, 2019 / 6:07 pm

      Hi Kathleen! Happy new year to you and yours too! What a wonderful idea, to choose a word. I’m not sure what I’d pick for mine – regeneration, perhaps, or something similar about growth or rebuilding. Sounds a bit boring, compared to sentiment and kindness though!
      Yes this fabric would work in so many different fabrics… though I’m going to stick to autumn/winter fabrics I think as actually, I don’t tend to wear skirts in summer ???‍♀️ I do however have some drapey, soft burgundy crepe which I don’t currently have a plan for… which could possibly work for this pattern ?

  9. Mary Bart
    January 6, 2019 / 5:52 pm

    It looks great! I like the colour and the shape is nice. I also would do the lining separate and that way you could enclose the gathered seam into it.

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 14, 2019 / 6:12 pm

      Thanks Mary! I definitely think I will do the lining separate next time, now that I’ve had a bash at it I kind of know what I’m doing (ha! She says ?).

  10. Judith Tomkinson
    January 6, 2019 / 7:35 pm

    Happy New year.
    I’m going to be making more skirts this year too. Previously I have lived in trousers but after having been bought my first pair of red velvet doc martens for Christmas, i need to show them off. Love the colour of your skirt but i don’t have a waist (!) so that pattern wouldn’t work for me I’m looking for a pattern that does.
    Thanks for the inspiration. Judith

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 14, 2019 / 6:13 pm

      Happy new year to you too Judith! I hope you had a good one ☺️ OMG… red velvet Dr Martens?! I need these in my life!! They would look soooo good with a black skirt with some gothic lace trim ❤️??

  11. Lodi Srygley
    January 6, 2019 / 7:45 pm

    As a person ‘assigned’ pink as my “favorite color” I’m with you on the girly girly. Lol I’m also on team Pretty Inside and Out, and get frustrated trying to do so with some patterns. I had to change the order of construction just to French all the seams on a simple kimono. Redunculous! (Insert frustrated emoji.) Soooo….I’m 50/50 on the GIFs myself. The cat & his ‘broken door’ was hysterical. But sometimes I just get dizzy. ? And your long rants, said lovingly, include all the juicy details as well as interesting observations that make me think. Keep on inspiring me. Please. Wishing you a happy new year!

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 14, 2019 / 6:16 pm

      Happy new year to you too Lodi! I hope yours was a good one ☺️ Ah, I know what you mean – I just can’t BEAR to leave edges looking sloppy on the inside. French seams ALL THE WAY for me, and it makes me twitchy when I can’t do that ?
      Ahhh so the husband says that some of the gifs are a bit hurty on his eyes too… so I’m gonna try and choose the ones that aren’t so hyperactive ?
      And I’m glad you enjoy the rants…. I LOVE a good rant ???

  12. artcoopsville
    January 6, 2019 / 9:51 pm

    Happy new year. I love your new skirt. I have the same issue with a whopping 13 inch difference between my waist and hip. I love this style and not a floral print in sight. Yeah.

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 14, 2019 / 6:18 pm

      Happy new year to you too! Everyone always says that they’d love an hourglass shape but they don’t understand how hard it is to find clothes that fit ??‍♀️? I do love this style though and will defo be making more. I’ve got another Victory Patterns Madeleine skirt just waiting to be cut, I think these two are the only skirt patterns that I like (so far!) ?

  13. January 7, 2019 / 9:45 am

    Happy new year! I had to laugh at your description of being a tomboy as a kid. I was just like that (probably also due to having an older brother). I used to bury my dolls in the sandbox and -hated- dresses. Fortunately my mom wasn’t really a girlie-mom so she wasn’t bothered by it. Nowadays, after swearing them off for years, I quite enjoy wearing and making them 😀

  14. January 9, 2019 / 8:53 pm

    happy and kind new year to you both. it’s better to make a silky half-slip and unlined skirts than to make bulky seams on lined skirts. a vintage concept that still works. narrow elastic waist, any length, leopard print 😀 finish with purchased rayon turned-under seam binding or turn under twice. lace will stick to tights.

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 14, 2019 / 6:23 pm

      Happy new year to you Barbara! I hope you had a good one ☺️
      And while a leopard print slip does sound absolutely FABULOUS, I’d worry that the slip would sit at my natural waist and the skirt wouldn’t… and everything would be on show ? I’d need some way to keep the slip level with the top of the skirt at all times ? good to know that lace will stick to tights though, thanks for the tip!
      I was in a vintage clothing shop in London last weekend and they actually had some silk slips – which I had a rifle though. I *almost* bought one – I may go back and get one to see if I do get any dramas with the waistband levels, and if all works out well I may start making my own…. ?

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