I’ve had the Madeline pattern for a few years now, since back when I was then starting to occasionally (and pretty unsuccessfully) dabble in sewing clothing.
I completed the skirt, and wore it I think only once – for many reasons that have since become clear to me. For one, I made it in blue denim. MID-blue denim at that – a colour I never wear because it doesn’t suit me. The skirt length was too long as well (I cut it as per the pattern template with no adjustments) and the waistband was waaaaay too big (possibly my shoddy measuring or a misunderstanding of wearing ease). Because of this the skirt didn’t sit where I wanted it to – ie on my actual waist – and I basically looked like a ten-years-older-and-20lbs-heavier milkmaid. I kept the skirt though, because I was proud that I had made it. And I had spent a small fortune on the buttons.
But I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t wear it again. The buttons and zip were reclaimed and the denim went in the pile of fabric offcuts that don’t currently have a clear purpose in life, so I’m sure it will be re-used someday for something.
I really loved the style of the Madeline and wanted to give it another chance, in the proper size and a colour that I would actually wear. Influenced by the beautiful autumn leaves, I decided that the next incarnation would be in an autumnal corduroy – which I spent hours searching for in just the right shade. In the end I settled on this one from fabricdreams.co.uk after ordering a sample of it plus one of a mustard shade. I decided that although I have a nice jumper in a mustard colour, putting this colour on my bottom half wasn’t the best choice.
I re-measured my waist, properly this time, and cut two sizes smaller in the skirt – I originally cut an 8, and this time I cut the 4. I had cut in to the tissue paper to make the original one (as mentioned I previously made it back in my rookie days, before I was tracing patterns). I could see most of the lines for the size 4 so I cut what I could and then kind of blagged filling in the gaps. The waistband was the most important thing to get right, and this was a clear cut. I cut out the pieces from the corduroy and we were off.
I put a vote out on Instagram and Facebook to see which were the favourite set of buttons out of a choice of five… and the buttons that I reclaimed off the original skirt (the top ones) won by a long shot – the clocks came a very close second. The copper tones of the buttons go beautifully with the fabric, and they were the ones I personally would have voted for ? There’s two buttons at the front of the straps (on the outside), two on the back of the straps (on the inside) and one at the centre back closure. The three buttons on the outside of the skirt all match and on the inside I have these jazzy little orange numbers…
The zip I reclaimed from the original ended up in this skirt as well as the buttons – although the zip is a very dark navy rather than black, which I would have preferred, but it’s no biggie. The instructions for the lapped zip are a little confusing, and it took me several attempts to get my head around how this would work. In the end I took a couple of pictures to illustrate this weird (but ultimately successful if you just do what you’re told) approach:
You stitch at 5/8 seam allowance as normal, but then you press one side at a smaller allowance – meaning your pressed fold doesn’t line up with the stitching line (see top pic of two above – you have a little flap). I read and re-read the instructions for that bit, and just couldn’t visualise in my head how it would turn out – but it all worked out ok so my advice is just roll with it and all will be well. I promise. In the picture above, this little flap you’ve pressed is on the right hand side of the zip and then the left hand side flap lays over the top of it for a few millimetres which helps to conceal the zip tape. Confused? Yeah, me too. But trust me.
You’re getting double prizes in this blog post because I’ve actually made the shirt too! Something I’ve not done before but have seen kicking around on the interwebs is making a coordinating set of things… On my trip to Goldhawk Road I picked up this piece of floral, YES FLORAL Liberty lawn. Not even intended for the hubbo, intended for me. Anyone that knows me will know that this is very out of character – florals and other girly things do not feature in my wardrobe or any other part of my life. But something drew me to the autumnal colours of this… and I love the 70’s vibe it has going on. I used it to make a shirt specifically to wear with this skirt – I’ll probably wear it with other skirts/jeans too (however not totally sure whether it’ll look as cool without it’s partner-in-crime Madeline) but I’m not gonna lie – these fabrics were just meant for each other. They are the perfect team. They are the Tony Manero and Stephanie Mangano of the fabric world.
The shirt gets additional bonus point because it’s hemmed with bias tape in a colour which I bought and then never thought I would get around to using, because I don’t actually sew anything in blue. So I’m not actually sure why I bought it… but it matches this fabric perfectly. I even managed to dig out some matching blue thread… I have no idea where it came from or what I used it for previously though!
So the connection between the two garments is *drumroll please*… the pockets. The Madeline skirt has these fabulous deep pockets on the front with beautiful topstitching (don’t panic – you get a template for the curve through the middle of the pocket), and these pockets are lined. Lined with what you say? Well let me tell you what – that they are lined with the very same fabric that the shirt is made from. BOOM! Instant grown-up co-ordinating outfit. It makes me so happy to wear the two together ???
Topstitching cheat sheet:
Boo-yah: perfectly curved stitching.
This shirt is the fourth (fifth maybe?) I’ve made from this same V1462 DKNY pattern – and while I’m sort-of happy with the fit and the adjustments I’ve made so far, I think there’s still a way to go with it. I’m homing in on the armscye – it’s just a little bit too large which means the seam doesn’t sit right. I need to move it upwards, further into the armpit, because arm movement is a touch restricted and this then pulls on the button placket giving me boob-gape. All of the above is uncool and I’m attempting to fix this with the next version I make.
Talking of boob-gape, the button template guide for this shirt pattern gives you about five buttons down the front. Erm, say what now? Five? Where’s the rest? I marked them out as instructed, and then put an additional button in between the ones I just marked. Yep, that means twice the buttonholes and buttons, but no boob-gape. Win. What I guess I should really do is trace myself a proper button guide and just use it on every single shirt that I make. That would be easier. In fact I’m putting it on the to-do list for the weekend. Yas.
My piece of Liberty was under 2m in length, so I was unsure whether I would get both the shirt *and* the pocket lining out of it… I cut the shirt first and then checked out what I had left. Turns out I was a smidge short and had to sew two pieces together to be able to cut the second pocket lining but it’s right on the edge and I’m pretty sure no one is going to be turning the pockets inside out to check the lining. I could have pattern-matched across the join, but in all honesty I just couldn’t be bothered to spend time finding that exact spot amongst the cray-zee print.
The skirt is cut on the bias which means it hangs really nicely – but also means that a sharp whoosh of wind while standing on a subway platform gives your fellow commuters more than they bargained for. I finished the hem with black satin bias tape, as this was the best choice I had available when I went delving into the Box O’ Bias. My preference would have been to have made my own from the shirt fabric and been matchy-matchy all the way through (LONG but how amazing would it have looked?!), but as I was sewing scraps together just to get the pocket linings there was defo not enough to make bias tape with. It’s ok, I can live with the black satin. It matches my tights.
The waistband is sewn together ‘burrito style’ at the centre back – it is a bit fiddly and you have to be careful not to catch the skirt body in your stitching but I managed to do it without drama, and it does give quite a clean finish. You stitch along the side of the waistband where my pinheads are (in the first photo above) for a few inches, and then along the short edge at the side, and then turn the whole thing inside out. The rest of the waistband is secured down when you topstitch it, but purely out of habit I hand stitched mine down before doing the topstitching, just to make extra sure it wasn’t going anywhere.
Rather annoyingly, when I was poking out the corners of the waistband my poker-stick-thing went through the fabric a little bit and made a teeny tiny hole. I patched it up (it’s not actually noticeable unless you know it’s there) and am just hoping for the best, but still – it’s annoying. It definitely won’t be my last Madeline so I know to just cool it a bit with the poking on the next one – it might have been the loose weave of the fabric though because after wearing it a couple of times, the button on the centre back of the skirt had pulled away some of the fabric. This may have been shoddy stitching on my part, but might also have been the fabric… might also have been me shovelling in the HobNobs with my mid-morning cuppa and putting excess strain on the waistband. I dunno. Perhaps its cheap corduroy – although at £10 a metre it’s not exactly what I’d call cheap!
Just in case anyone is wondering – I didn’t line my skirt, and it doesn’t stick to my tights. I think the fit/hang of the skirt is loose enough to not cause a problem. The bag you see in these photos is a recent score off eBay – a vintage tooled leather bag. Isn’t it beautiful?! I knew it would be the perfect accompaniment to my autumn outfit. The design on it is so intricate, I wonder who made the bag, who owned the bag when it was new and where it’s been between then and now… I’m a bit of a weirdo like that though, I’m always fascinated by the histories of things.
I am totally in love with this skirt – I want to make so many more. I’m thinking a denim version and even a wool one would be awesome. I could totally take it in to summer too with some lighter weight cottons or prints – skirts can be quite plain so it’s nice to have something with some interesting details like the pockets and braces of the Madeline. This pattern definitely gets a thumbs up from me, and if you haven’t heard of Victory Patterns before go check them out as they have some really cool sewing patterns. I accept no responsibility for adding to your sewing queue though… #SozNotSoz
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you to enjoy these pictures of Greenwich Park looking beautifully autumnal ?
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… my super-subtle long-sleeved Kielo wrap dress ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!