You guys know how much I love Deer and Doe patterns, so I’m not gonna try to deny it ??♀️?
Let’s move forward from that and on to my latest make from their newly-released collection! ??
I remember when I first started sewing in my twenties, and the majority of patterns available were from the likes of Vogue, Butterick etc. I hadn’t even heard of pdf patterns back then (were they even a thing that long ago?! I’m not sure ?) The patterns I made were just so… un-stylish for a young person. I enjoyed the sewing process, but was always left disappointed with how the finished garments looked on me. Then, I discovered Deer and Doe patterns – and was gobsmacked that there were actually sewing patterns for clothes that looked trendy. I realised that sewing wasn’t just for grandmas and people who wanted to look like a 40-year-old corporate woman. It was a revelation.
The first patterns I bought were the Belladonne Dress and the Chardon Skirt – and I still have my copies of those printed patterns in the old design packaging:
The Chardon skirt pattern I still use, but the Belladonne dress I cut out in some way-too-optimistic small size which unless I plan on dropping maybe 25kg I don’t think I’ll ever get into again ? (I did buy a second copy of the Belladonne to make my more recent dresses, but I’ve still kept the original one because – well, nostalgia innit).
The Deer and Doe patterns just fit my shape so well. I think I have more me-mades from their patterns that get worn regularly than any other brand. In fact that’s almost definitely the case – I even have three more of their designs made up that haven’t hit the blog yet! There’s another Datura blouse which I made for a friend’s wedding a couple of weeks back, the Safrans which I made last year and photographed in New York, and a second Belladonne dress which I finished off at the end of last year once it was too cold to photograph it.
When the lovely Camille reached out to see if I’d be interested in sewing up a design from their latest pattern collection, I obviously jumped at the chance! ??♀️
The pattern was the Agave skirt – an asymmetric wrap skirt.
There’s two versions of the skirt, which from the line drawings on the pattern appear to be exactly the same ? The difference is on the inside – version A is reversible, and version B has an interior facing (and therefore isn’t reversible, unless you like the ‘inside out’ look). I don’t really feel I have a need for a reversible skirt, so I chose version B.
This changed my direction on some of the potential fabric options I would have normally considered for a skirt – this skirt wouldn’t be lined, so I couldn’t make it in any fabric that would be worn with tights, because of the sticking-potential (or I could wear a slip, I guess, but I still haven’t made my peace with that ?). I couldn’t choose anything itchy or rough either (like jacquards, for example) as it would be worn directly against the skin.
I deliberated for ages – literally forever – over what fabric to use for this skirt. And I knew the deadline was looming, which wasn’t helped by me faffing around looking at what felt like every fabric that was ever made.
It actually took me a little while before I remembered my self-imposed 2019 ‘fabric-buying-ban’ (?)… and so then I started delving into the stash instead. I had come away empty handed from the online search anyway, so I thought I may as well see what I’ve already got, right?
I came up with a couple of possibilities:
The leftovers of this Grainline Scout tee:
Could I make a skirt and then wear the two as either separates or a matching-set-slash-fake-dress? Maybe. But on presenting this option to the husbeast, he said it was horrible. So we moved on.
The repurposed fabric from this skirt? (yes, I’ve cut it up ?):
Nice, but not enough fabric.
Some Zen Charmer fabric? Maybe…
Some Corduory? Could be a bit too heavy, for what I think is actually a summer weight skirt.
Denim? It’s quite thick, so see previous comment above ??
I’ve got some wool suiting that I picked up from Goldhawk Road a while back, but it possibly feels a bit formal, especially after I made this skirt from wool suiting as well and had that exact feeling about the finished item:
I found some poly crepe which was also picked up from Goldhawk Road at the same time as the suiting (and is pretty much the same colour), but is it too drapey? ?
You guys, the struggle was real. Nothing really grabbed my attention. I delved deeper into the bag of Haribo that was lying around, hoping that the little gummy bears held the answer.
Good ol’ Alexander Henry came steaming in to save the day.
I found my leftover pieces of the ‘Las Elegantes’ print (from the afore-mentioned non-yet-blogged Belladonne dress) and decided that yes – this could work. But… there wasn’t enough. I’d need to buy more fabric to have enough to sew the skirt. Did this count as breaking my ‘no fabric buying pledge’? ? (Did it even matter, if I was planning on breaking it in the first place?) I already had some of the fabric, and as I was just buying some extra to put with it, I made the executive decision that the overall effect was one of reducing the stash – which is the whole point of the ‘no buying’ thing – and therefore it did NOT count as breaking the pledge.
Decision made, and extra material purchased from Frumble. Next day delivery, YAS ??
On to the pattern cutting. I’d already been super-organised and sent the file to Patternsy for printing, but then realised I’d run out of tracing paper so had to actually cut the printed tissue. Not the end of the world, and it does save a bit of time not having to trace, but usually I prefer to trace. Why? I don’t really know, actually ? Maybe I’ll quit that ??♀️?
On cutting out the pattern (I cut a 42, with slight reservations that it might be a smidge too big, but I thought it was better to cut the 42 and take it in than cut the 40 and not be able to get my ass into it), I realised that the skirt was WAY too short for me. Perfect if a shorter skirt is what you’re in the market for, but I personally prefer a slightly longer length – especially as I have a naturally high waist and that automatically makes things at least a couple of inches shorter on me.
The photos from the pattern envelope didn’t look that short, but holding the pattern piece against me it seemed alarmingly short. Like, barely-covered-my-bum kind of short.
I definitely do not want there to be any sort of risk of me flashing my bum to the rest of the world, so I added 10cm of length all round – but this did mean redrafting the side seam lines between the two halves I’d just spread apart, and also adding the same length on to the facing as well and making sure that the side seam of the facing matched the new side seam I’d just redrawn on the skirt.
The facing pieces are HUGE, guys. The pieces are a couple of inches deep, and basically a big L shape. They’re just slightly too big to fit on the fabric nestled in to each other (well, they were on my 45 inch wide fabric – you’d be okay with 60 inch) so you have to cut them separately with a big gap left between them. The yardage chart allows for this though (which is why the 2.5 yards suggested seems a fair bit for a skirt) so there should be no surprises or swearing. The interfacing for these pieces though was another matter – there was NO WAY I could fit those huge beasts on the interfacing I had available, so I followed the tip in the instruction booklet and cut each piece in two sections – joining them at the corner.
The size 42 did prove to be a bit too big in the end – I’d marked the buttonholes on the waistband but a nice snug fit around my waist moved those markings in about an inch. It’s totally fine though – because it’s a wrap skirt you’ve got a fair margin of error with the fit at the waist (although not too much, obvs) because you can just increase the wrap section or decrease it by a little bit. A little bit though guys, you don’t want to be reducing that overlap too much at the front or you’re gonna be the host of the Flashy Panties Party ?
The buttons and buttonholes are only meant to be on the inside layers of the waistband on version A (if you make the reversible version you’ll see buttons on the outside as well, though). Because I wanted to try my skirt on properly – ie with the waistband attached – and because my spidey-sense told me that the skirt might be a little bit big, I sewed the waistband on fully before stitching the buttons and their corresponding buttonholes. Which meant that I wouldn’t be able to sew these into just the inside layer, to leave a clean waistband on the outside – but I actually like the look of the buttons on the outside. I love a good set of buttons, so unless they have to be hidden, I like to put them on show. I get a little sad when I see hidden plackets on shirts, because I feel like there’s a missed opportunity to display some really crazy embellishment. I don’t really like the clean, minimalist look in anything really – I prefer chaos and colour. Buttons are like the frosting on the cake for me, and we all know cake without frosting is totes dull and not even worth it.
I didn’t hand-sew the facing down until the very last step – I wasn’t sure if I really liked the longer length or not, and if I didn’t sew the top of the facing down this meant that I could still raise the hem a little if I wanted to. So once the waistband was on, the skirt got a proper fit. I thought it was maybe like an inch too long… but I definitely could not muster up the will to unpick the whole of that facing, and just lopping an inch off the bottom kind of felt like a little bit of a cop-out. The facing is a nice even width the whole way round, and butchering the bottom of it and causing it to be shallower along the bottom than it was at the sides just didn’t sit right with me. So I left it how it was. If it looked super-frumpy, I’d have trimmed it fo sho, but I didn’t think it looked that bad. The design kind of fools you as well, because it looks much longer at the front than it is at the back.
So I stayed with the length, and hand-sewed down the waistband which – interestingly and unintentionally – is all about the boobs on the inside ?
Literally, there’s boobs on every piece ???♀️
The Agave skirt was a really quick make – I had 90% of it done within an afternoon. It would have been quicker if I didn’t sew the two front pieces to each other rather than sewing them to either side of the back, as I was meant to ??♀️ And I’d french seamed it, which made the whole unpicking process just that little bit extra. I could have overlocked the edges and just left it at that, but noooo I had to do the French seams didn’t I ??♀️
The pattern, as per usual from Deer and Doe, is really well written with super-clear instructions. Some instruction booklets I find are really cluttered and hard to follow but theirs are always clean-looking and straight to the point. The only thing I struggled with was getting my head around which way round I had to cut the facings for the front wrap panel, as the front facing is deeper at the corner because of the extended length. Those facing pieces take up a lot of fabric and I didn’t want to be getting it wrong. I just took a moment to lay out the skirt pieces I’d cut, laid the facing template on top of them the right way around, and then transferred the template directly onto the fabric to cut before I forgot – again – which way around they needed to be cut. But this whole drama was just me being a bit special, and thankfully I cut them the correct way around on the first attempt ?
Whilst I’m happy with the way my skirt came out and how it looks, I’m not sure I’d make another. I’ve had a particularly rocky relationship with wrap bodices/dresses – followed by a brutal divorce – and although this wrap skirt has turned out WAY better than that wrap dress did, I’m not sure it’s really me. Although I don’t have any particular aversion to skirts, I struggle to find ones that I think look good on me. I keep trying, but I’m not sure that I’m a skirt person. Dresses I can tolerate much better it seems – for reasons as yet unknown – but skirts? Hmm. I’ll come back to you when I’ve figured it out.
The Agave Skirt is just one-third of the new collection – there’s also two more fabulous patterns:
I’ll be avoiding the Sirocco jumpsuit (for the ‘wrap bodice’ reasons mentioned above) but I do have my eye on the Pensee dress – I’m thinking it would look good in a silk, or rayon, as an easy-wear dress for summer… but I’m not sure on how bra-friendly the back is yet ?
Poor Camille (one half of Deer and Doe) posted on her Instagram that the launch of the new collection actually crashed their website – you guys must love their patterns as much as me ?
So let’s talk about these boots for a minute… cool huh? I picked them up from a charity shop in Camden purely for the purpose of using them for blog shoots (because let’s be real, ain’t nobody going to be actually walking anywhere in these ?) I had to loosen the laces, by a LOT – I forgot that knee-high boots are not your friend when you’ve got thick calves – and even then, when I pulled the zip up for the first time, the fake leather split a little bit ? Oh well. You can’t tell from the pictures, so it’s fine. Plus I left the labels on the soles – looooool (thanks, dear husband, for not spotting that and telling me).
Oh and don’t worry – I haven’t permed my hair, this is what I describe as the ‘I put my hair in boxer braids for spin class yesterday and didn’t have time to wash it afterwards, then slept on them, then got up and took them out and went to take photos’ look ?
If you expected my post in your inbox last Sunday at a specific time and discovered it was an hour late – soz. Yet again I can’t get my head around the WordPress publish times when anything weird happens with the clocks. The clocks went forward in the UK last week and it hashed up my usual 8am publish time. I think I fixed it for this post… but if this one was late (or indeed, early), I officially give up ??♀️?
Thanks to everyone that offered help with my hand-dyed yarn dilemma on Instagram recently – I’m pleased to confirm that I’ve successfully managed to (almost) complete the jumper without (m)any dodgy colour changes or stripes ?? I knit most of the jumper in a little lodge in Surrey where we spent a week with the dogs last month – it was SO GOOD to swap the concrete jungle that is London for some fresh air, greenery and rolling hills ??
I’ve just got half of one sleeve to go, then I’ll be attaching the sleeves to the body and forming the neck. I thought it had gotten too warm to wear the finished jumper now, but we’ve just had a couple of days of it being bloody freezing so maybe I’ll still get a chance! It’s on 9mm needles so I should be able to finish it pretty quickly – then it’s straight on to the Volt sweater which I’ve been itching to start ?
*The Agave sewing pattern was provided to me free of charge, in exchange for photos of my finished make to use at the time of the collection launch. I was encouraged to share my views of the pattern on my blog whether they were positive or negative. All opinions are 100% my own.
Next week on the blog is a little somethin’ new… I’m doing a first quarter round up ?
Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out! ??