Stashbusting and last summer sewing: A Maxi-skirt

Today in London was absolutely gorgeous – blue sky, sunshine, lovely temperatures. Lucky me, I thought, that I’d just finished some stashbusting-sewing yesterday: my (summer-weight) maxi skirt. Totally appropriate for almost October, right?

My maxidress convinced me that I needed more skirts and dresses maxi in my life. And there were 2m of black jersey in my stash that I’d never gotten round to doing much anything with. It was quite thin and floaty, so really annoying to stitch necklines down in. Perfect though, I thought, for a maxidress. Originally I used the same principle that I’d used for the other one – only this one with the Birgitte T-shirt as a top, with a waistband with elastic inserted for strength, and a gathered skirt. After some misadventures in cutting (I cut the skirt with the stretch lengthwise, rather than width-wise – not a great idea for a long heavy skirt!), I assembled the dress and realized it looked… odd. Not bad, just weird. It just didn’t work together. So off I hacked the top, and the waistband, before cutting a new waistband, gathering the skirt section again, stitching it all together, and cutting the hem off to be straight. That was it.

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I have to say, I’m still not entirely used to wearing long skirts, but I do like that they feel slightly dramatic, so I think there might be more to come! I just have to figure out what to wear this with – I’ve sewn it so it sits just below my waist, which means most of my tops are actually a bit too long for it, and I don’t like the tucked-in look much, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out (or sew something to go with it). I’m hoping that with tights or leggings, this can transition into autumn.

The skirt is essentially a marriage of two rectangles and some elastic. The skirt section is 150cms wide and probably just over 100cm long, sewn into a tube and then gathered to the waistband. The waistband was twice the width of the elastic (so, 4cms in total) plus 2 cms for seam allowances, and the width of my waist. That’s it. If I hadn’t tried to make it into a dress first, it would have been superquick, but even as it is, this worked out fairly quickly. The gathering is a bit faffy (there’s a lot of fabric!) and there’s a few inaccurate corners, but that’s fine.

If I make this again, I’d probably cut the skirt panels a bit flared, so that there’s a bit less fabric to gather at the top (which then sits on the hips – not the biggest fan), and a bit more of an A-line shape to it. Even though I’m not sure how well a drapey knit-fabric would hold an A-line.

Overall, a wardrobe success (once I figure out what to wear it with) and a stashbusting success – one big piece of fabric less in my stash! Now, I only need to figure out what to do with the black crop-top I have left over from the dress…

Did you do any last-minute summer sewing?

 

 

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Successful summer sewing: Maria Denmark Tanktop-Maxidress Hack

Successful summer sewing: Maria Denmark Tanktop-Maxidress Hack

Readers, I’ve over-indulged in sewing this summer. I feel like I sewed almost manically, and for quite a few deadlines, and once late August rolled round, breathed a sigh of relief at turning my back on my sewing machine. This week, I’m mainly sewing very short, straight lines, if at all. I’m trying to not put pressure onto myself.

But, the positive of the frantic summer sewing is that for once, I had seasonally appropriate clothes to wear, and I really liked them. Score! This is one of my favourites. Back in spring, I went fabric shopping and fell in love with a black, but colourfully printed jersey which I decided would be perfect for a maxidress. I told myself I would sew it up soon, so therefore it didn’t count for the stash diet (har har har), and then I sat on it for three months. Since making the ‘just a tank top’-top by Maria Denmark last summer, I had the idea that you could make a maxi dress from the same pattern by just extending it for a skirt. The ideal plan would have been to make it during Indie Pattern Month (cough May cough), but hey, better late than never!

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There’s two things I spent a bit more time fussing over:

1. I actually put in a waist seam (which you probably can’t see, cause I patternmatched like crazy). I was slightly terrified that if I didn’t, the whole dress would just slowly pull out of shape due to the weight of the fabric. In the end, I traced the top (very very quick job!) and then tried on a tank top I’d already made to decide where I wanted the waist seam to hit. For me, it was about 20cm underneath the arm scye (? not sure that’s what I mean. Essentially, the bit under my arm pit where the tank top fabric starts. ahem). I marked this, put a curved line in with my lovely french curve, and added a seam allowance. Next, I traced the now bottom-half of the top, added a seam allowance to the top of that, and then calculated how long I wanted the skirt to be (hold a tape measure where you think your waist seam will be and drop one end to the floor. Step on it, retrieve and read. Crude, but it works.). I then calculated how much more hip width I needed. In the end, I only added 2.5 cms on either side (which adds up to 10cms in total). Then I measured how far below my soon-to-be waist seam this would have to hit, and again, drew this in with my french curve. Then I just drew a long curve down to the bottom. It really was fairly straightforward. If this makes no sense and you’re keen to know more, I can dig out the pattern pieces and take photos (at the moment, they’ve gone awol).

I meant to put some invivible elastic into the waist seam, and I even bought some, but then I misplaced it so thoroughly I only just found it again yesterday, so that didn’t happen, and I was on a deadline – to make this for a weekend with friends in Lisbon – and I ran out of time as well. Oops.

2. Pattern placement: I was terrified that I would end up with some strategically placed nipple- or crotch flowers. The terror that possessed me every time I thought of cutting my fabric, you would not believe. In the end, a friend came to the rescue. I held up the fabric, and she assessed whether there were any danger zones. Once I’d establish which bit of the pattern on the fabric could go where, I then marked the areas with pins and matched them to the paper pattern. Crisis averted!

Once those two things were out of the way, it was a really easy make. Having not worn maxidresses before (I guess the last time must have been when I was about, um, 11 or so??), I have to say, I love it. It’s great for weekends away and travelling, as it roles up surprisingly small, and is rather versatile. Score! It’s a bit dramatic though, so I can’t say I wear it all the time. When I make another one, I want to gather the fabric a bit more at the waist to give me some more room for movement (and to make me feel slightly less self-conscious!).

Overall – great success: It fits, I still love the fabric, and I’m incredibly impressed I managed to make the pattern alteration – even though it was relatively straightforward, it was a first for me. And I pattern-matched the fabric pieces!

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What’s been your most successful summer make (or wear) this year?