When you set out to create a new wardrobe essentially from scratch, as I did last year, you learn some things about yourself along the way. It’s impossible not to, what with the challenges you inevitably face throughout the process, the time invested into each stitch, the thought and care that goes into each garment. None of these concepts were new to me, as I’m sure they’re not new to you. When you’re creating something worthwhile with your own two hands, it’s a prospect that comes with its own set of uphill battles and special set of rewards and satisfaction. What’s still new to me–and an absolute delight, I must say–is having the chance to create something for myself, without the pressure of trying to sell it or worrying about deadlines or stressing out about consumer response. Design and fashion and sewing are fun for me again. It’s a reminder to never let this thing I love and enjoy so much become a burden, like it was for a long time.
Making clothes takes time and I haven’t yet met all my wardrobe needs, but I’ve made a big, healthy dent in my to-do list. Over the past few months, I’ve learned that there a a few things I like to do to help keep me engaged in sewing, and one of those things is creating collections of projects. I like the challenge of “playing designer” and putting fabrics together and thinking about texture and pattern and movement. It keeps me on my toes, and I don’t have to tell you how fun it is to spend a couple of days playing with fabrics and carefully choosing patterns. Anyway, I knew after Christmas that I wanted to do something that sort of cleansed my palette, if you will. No big, exciting color stories yet, no new fabrics. The first collection of the year would be simple and classic–and I would use only fabrics from my stash.
You see, my birthday is in January and, even as a grown woman, I still get a little cash for Christmas and my birthday. Do I save it like the adult in me says is the smart play? Do I buy legit things like groceries or gas or other necessary household items? Of course not, who do you think I am?! I buy fabric, because I am the person who cannot turn down the opportunity to freshen up my stash a little bit. Now, I like to balance the scales whenever I buy new fabrics, so I make myself use some of what I already have before treating myself with the new goods. That brings us to The Stash Collection, a group of projects I made using fabric I had in my stash. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that one fabric is new. In my defense, it was on mega sale for $4/yard, and it goes so perfectly in this group that I had to give it a pass. Had to! Coincidentally, it is the fabric for this first project, Butterick 6129. But first, the whole collection.
Right: Vogue 9197.
If making small collections for yourself is something you’d like to try, here’s a tip: choose your patterns carefully. Balance out a difficult or more time consuming garment with one or two easy pieces. In my case, the dress and converted skirt took the most time and attention, so I intentionally went with more simple blouses to keep from being too overwhelmed. I made all of these pieces in about 3.5 weeks.
In my stash I had some poplin shirting in white and navy with a bird print (from Amsterdam last spring), a striped sateen that I’ve had for ages, and a nice mid-weight dark denim that would make a beautiful skirt.
As with most of my projects, there were changes made along the way, and two items got edited out but, overall, I’m pleased with this group. Throughout the rest of the week, I’ll be spotlighting the other garments, but today I wanted to start with this skirt. Of the group, I think it’s the most interesting, and it’s the one garment that doesn’t follow the pattern exactly. It’s also my favorite piece, by a long shot.
I really, really love a good full skirt, and I’ve wanted one extra long and full for quite some time. This is not achieved in a snap. The fabric either has to be voluminous enough on its own or you have to pick just the right material and manipulate it to do what you want with the help of interfacing and horsehair braid. I got lucky with this particular textile. It was listed as a jacquard, and I have no reason to think otherwise. It’s 100% cotton, mid-weight, and very substantial. The technical “wrong” side of the fabric is essentially a mirror image which could classify it as a damask, but we’ll stick with jacquard. When the fabric was delivered and I saw the wrong side, I knew I was going to do something to show it off. Immediately I thought of a skirt with a hem band. And, bonus, I have about 4 yards left for another project or two!
I searched and searched through my patterns, but I kept going back to Butterick 6129, view C. The skirt is full, but not enormous, and it’s quite elegant and understated. Something more circular in design or with tons of panels and a huge hem sweep would have been lost on this fabric. It’s voluminous on its own, so I didn’t need a huge pattern. Just something to give it a little oomph. Originally, I wanted to do the pattern as is, so a dress, and also convert the pattern to a skirt but it wasn’t in the cards. I did attempt the dress, but the muslin was about two sizes too big in the bodice. I’m not opposed to adjustments, but there were just too many for me to want to tackle it right now. I may revisit it sometime, but I know I’ll make another skirt for sure.
Making the pattern was easy. Because the design is close-fitting around the bodice with a seam at the natural waistline (which is where I like my skirts to sit), I took the skirt pattern pieces, measured everything, and drafted a waistband. That’s it. The front skirt pattern is two pieces, which I put together as one. I also added length to the skirt, and then separated it to create the hem band. I used the hem bad to create a hem facing as well. The skirt is fully lined with an invisible back zipper and side seam pockets. This is one of the longest skirts I’ve ever made, at 35″ from the waist, which is almost ankle length on me. There is something so lovely about a skirt that length, especially when it’s nice and full. It’s an unusual length, so I don’t see myself wearing flats with this skirt anytime soon. A nice high heel polishes it off nicely. Remember, it doesn’t matter one bit what anyone else thinks about your projects. If you love it, go for it. I do!
On the left is the right side of the fabric, on the right is the wrong side:
Front pattern pieces, put together as one, and the waistband:
Here you can see where I’ve measured the waistline of the skirt, in between the pleats and seam allowance. I ended up taking out about 3/4″ of an inch from the waist.
The front skirt and hem band/facing pieces:
You can buy Butterick labels here.
This fabric frayed just by looking at it, so it was a challenge to work with. In addition to the waistband and hem facing, I also interfaced the edges of my skirt to keep it from falling apart. It was one of those fabrics.
Sometimes I can run a hem facing through my sewing machine, but this one is completely hand sewn with an invisible slip stitch.
You know how it goes–some projects are perfectly acceptable and some are just fantastic. This is not only one of my favorite projects to date because of all the usual factors–fabric, pattern, construction–but because it is beyond fun to wear, and I feel completely and totally myself and awesome in it. I have a khaki twill that I think would be beautiful in this design. A nice, elevated basic with personality. Expect that one in the coming months. Up next, we’ll chat about my favorite blouse pattern, Vogue 8772. A number of you have asked me about the fit, so we’ll get right into it on Wednesday. Until then, Happy Sewing!
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