In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle

Guys, there’s a new kid on the sewing pattern block!

My Handmade Wardrobe patterns are the brainchild of Sarah from Crafty Sew and So in Leicester – owning a successful shop isn’t enough for this lady so she’s now taking on the world of sewing patterns too. She’s just launched a new range of patterns, and describes them as being the basis for ‘making practical, modern, well-fitting garments which fit your body shape and lifestyle’.

I was super excited to be asked if I wanted to be one of the first people to sew up her new patterns, and I chose the ‘All The Cute Skirts’ bundle.

Within the pattern envelope, you get four – yes FOUR – patterns. If you’re planning on building up your wardrobe you could definitely make quite a few items from just this one pattern, so it’s a good investment. The pdf is £9 and the paper version is £14 – I’ll always pay out for the paper version because I’d rather iron my face than spend time cutting and sticking pdfs.

I chose the gathered skirt from the four options – the pencil and A line skirts would have needed to have a waistband for me to consider sewing them for my body shape, and pleated skirts aren’t really my thing – so a gathered skirt it was to be.

I bought this beautiful jungle-y black and red fern print viscose from Stof and Still, which has the perfect drape for a gathered skirt. Lightweight is key for fabrics that are to be gathered around my middle – I’ve made the mistake before of choosing something too heavy for a gathered skirt and it was NOT a good look, I tell you. ‘Unflattering’ doesn’t even begin to cover it and it looked, to use the brilliant British phrase, bloody awful.

This fabric is nice and lightweight though, so I knew I wouldn’t be heading down that same road again. But not so lightweight that it’s see-through – nobody in the office wants to see your uber-cool pants with cats on them through your skirt when you’re 33 and work in finance. Being a grown up is hard enough without setbacks like that dragging you down.

The patterns are very beginner-friendly, so if you (or someone you know) is looking to go down the sewing rabbit hole, this would be a good pattern to try. They’re printed on white paper, not that flimsy brown tissue paper you get from the bigger pattern houses that rips if you so much as breathe on it, so you can clearly see the lines and the markings. There’s nothing worse than being halfway through a project and reading ‘stop sewing at the dot’ when you haz no dot. Cue the soul-destroying task of unfolding those aforementioned horrible tissue blankets until you find the piece you’re looking for, having to locate said dot and then mark it on your fabric before you can continue.

The pieces for the gathered skirt were easy to trace and cut from the fabric – two rectangles for each of the front and back, and then one piece for the waistband. You literally can’t get any easier than that.

There’s also nice little touches that don’t assume any level of prior knowledge – like putting the words ‘place on fold of fabric’ next to the arrow that means this. Yes, experienced sewists will know what this means, but newbies ain’t gonna have a damn clue. It may as well be written in some ancient code.

What I personally found really helpful was the finished hem lengths written by the two different cutting lines – I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to make the mini or knee-length, and I didn’t have to dig back through all of the pattern paperwork to find the finished lengths of each. They were written right there on the pattern piece so all I had to do was get the tape measure out and see which length fell at a decent height. I wasn’t sure whether the shorter length was *too* short – so being cautious I cut the longer version thinking that I could always lop some off if I thought it was too long. In the end I ended up leaving the length as it was.

All the pattern measurements are in centimetres – being of that generation stuck in the middle that still uses both metric and imperial measurements it would have been nice to have inches too, but it’s no biggie – I just got the tape measure out. I know what my bust and waist measurements are in inches but not got a clue what they are in centimetres.

*I apologise in advance for the absolutely shocking effort I made at tucking my jumper in. Words were had post-shoot with the husbeast who took these photos and failed to tell me that it looked crap*

The pattern recommends different fabric types for each skirt – because obvs you’re not going to use the same type of fabric for a gathered skirt as you are for a pencil skirt. However this is probably not obvious to noobs, and that’s why it’s included, to hand-hold you away from making rookie mistakes such as these. When I first started sewing, I had no idea that you shouldn’t use a loosely woven lightweight fabric for a structured item – fabric was fabric as far as I was concerned.

I swapped out the lapped zip for an invisible zip – purely for personal preference. I stabilised the edges of the fabric because I was worried that the strain of a zip might be a little too much for the lightweight viscose – better safe than sorry, eh. Usually, I stay well away from iron on interfacing but I made an exception for this as it really was the only option.

I think I should have checked my needle before sewing this, as you can see these little white threads where the stitching has pulled some threads out of line in the photos below…  A new needle might have helped, perhaps – mine could have been a bit blunt.  Anyhoo I ended up covering up the white bit with a black permanent marker, because I’m resourceful like that 😀

I was between sizes for the skirt, there being a rather large gap of 5cm between the finished waists – so went for the larger just in case a tray of Krispy Kreme found its way into my mouth while wearing the skirt. In hindsight, I probably could have sized down, because it’s a smidge loose and makes me look a bit bigger around the middle than I actually am (honest). It’s a straight waistband as well, which probably doesn’t help – next time I would use a curved waistband for a contoured fit.

 

You may have read recently on the blog that I bought a mahoosive tin of vintage buttons off ebay – well, it’s risen to the challenge once again with the button you see here. I did spy another one of these giant red beauties in the tin, which made me sort of reluctant to use it (in case I wanted to later use it as part of a set on a coat or something), but I just went for it as it goes really well with the fabric – second choice was a plain black one but I think the red one sets it off really nicely.

Gathered skirts like this are ridiculously easy to make, but I’m not convinced they suit me. I really love the one I made from the black and gold silk, so maybe it’s fabric-dependant, or maybe because it’s slightly more of a summer weight skirt and I’ve just made it in the middle of winter. I dunno. I feel that the style isn’t really reflective of my personality – ‘light and floaty’ isn’t really me, I prefer things that are bit more structured and complicated. ‘Structured’ isn’t really descriptive of my personality either, but complicated? Yas 😀

On the Stof and Stil website there’s a model wearing a dress made from this same fabric that I’ve used, which looks really nice – and makes me want to make either a Seamwork Catarina or a Kielo dress with it but seriously I’ve got so many fabrics lined up for more versions of both of these that I really shouldn’t think about making more. Is there an acceptable level of duplicates to have in your wardrobe?! Surely it’s just also known as value for money, right? I’m thinking that I may use my leftovers of this fabric for another Ogden Cami (yes, I *always* manage to over-buy on fabric).

I’m off to Paris soon (in fact, when this post goes live I will actually be there, eeeeeep!) so I bought a beret for French-themed blog pics – obvs. However, I’ve discovered that I actually have no idea how to wear it. No matter how I put it on my head it just doesn’t look right on me. It was cold – and SO WINDY – on the day that we took these pictures, and I needed an emergency hat to keep my head warm or I was actually going to die. The beret was the only black hat I had to hand, so it’s debut got brought forward a little and relocated from chic Paris to freezing East London.

Expect to see lots of Parisian pics on the blog over the next few months as I’ve bought six (SIX!) outfits with me to photograph! (Four for me, two for the husbeast – including those awesome Panda Pants you’ve seen on my Instagram account). I still think the beret looks kind of cute, even if I’m doing it wrong – which I probably am. If you’re French and/or a pro beret wearer, please don’t hate me.

In the meantime, head on over and check out the full range of the new My Handmade Wardrobe patterns!

Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a totally AMAZEBALLS Kielo dress! I’ve finally made another one! Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!

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8 Comments

  1. February 11, 2018 / 8:47 am

    Stop saying you have a fat middle woman! Good grief, go look at my blog to get images of someone with a thick waist, FFS!
    Anyway, nice skirt, lovely fabric. Why do pattern companies bother to print paper patterns for rectangles though? Even the Big Four do it, and measurements would do, after all! Waste of paper.
    PS, I know you, like so many younger sewers, have a thing about tissue patterns [no idea why, I learned on them OK as have thousands of others, and they are easier to store] but again, Big 4 have always printed finished garment measurements on the pieces. Just sayin’ lol
    Looking forward to the Kielo

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2018 / 7:05 pm

      Haha, I was just saying that it made it look my stomach a little bit chunkier than it is!! 🙂
      Yes but it is much easier to cut out a pre-printed rectangle that you know is square – if I drew one myself it would defo be squiffy at one end.
      I think my thing with the tissue paper is that I’m heavy-handed and they tear so bloody easily! Plus it’s really hard to see those darts and notches through tracing paper when the tissue is on a cutting board – black against white paper is much easier! Agree that tissue is easier to store though, but I can never manage to get it back in the envelope the same way as it came out!!

  2. PsychicSewerKathleen
    February 11, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    I laughed my way through your post as always – such a treat on a Sunday AM 🙂 I love your skirt – but like the Demented Fairy I’m looking forward to seeing your Kielo too! I bet it’s going to be a beauty. I’m not a huge skirt fan – my favourites are made of a fairly robust stretch hemp/cotton with ruching down the sides. Pull on. This type of skirt is definitely NOT a flattering look for me – I avoid gathering, tucks around the waist like “ironing my face” :)))

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2018 / 7:10 pm

      Haha, I’m really glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂 Like you I think I prefer the more robust fabrics, I would much rather make a skirt out of a heavier wool or denim than a lightweight cotton. But then I guess that’s all part of the sewing game isn’t it – really figuring out what you do and don’t like! I’ve made a couple of shirt dresses from light cotton with gathering at the waist, and I must admit I’m not totally in love with the look. I have a pair of trousers to sew that have some pleats at the (narrow) waist, my first attempt at sewing – or even wearing – this type of style. I’m either going to love them, or they are going to make me look utterly hideous! Watch this space lol 🙂

  3. Alison
    February 12, 2018 / 11:37 am

    Great post as usual. We are in Paris at the mo so I will be most disappointed if I don’t see husbeast modelling said panda pants beneath the Eiffel Tower 😜

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2018 / 7:12 pm

      Ah really? Nice! Hope you’re having a fab time 🙂 We’re home now, and I am sorry to say that there was no pants-modelling under the tower 🙁 There was, however, pants modelling indoors and I have been given permission to use the pics on the blog!

  4. February 12, 2018 / 10:21 pm

    Your beret looks great! I would maybe flatten it a little more at the back, but other than that you wear it wonderfully.
    Source: am french, wear berets.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2018 / 7:16 pm

      Ahh, thanks Camille! When I was in Paris I examined a lot of berets on the Metro and I think I got it in the end! (People probably wondered why I was staring… 🙂 ) I found it looked better if I rolled the inside lip of it inwards. I took pictures of a few more finished makes while I was there wearing the ‘new and improved’ beret style, so you’ll have to give me your thoughts once they are up too! Also I finally got round to taking pics of my Bruyere shirt, in the Louvre courtyard in the snow – you’ll love it! 🙂

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