Welcome to the first Wanderstitch post of 2019!
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 ?
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! ??
And so onto the subject of this week’s post – I made a thing ??
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 ?)
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 ?
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.
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 ??
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
The skirt is closed with a hook and bar as well as a zip, which feels nice and secure.
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).
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%).
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?
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! ??