Humming along

The first WSBN event I ever went to was called “Sewing Cake”. Everyone was wearing a creation from Cake Patterns, and (needless to say) cake was on the agenda in more ways than one.

Wendy was wearing a blue corduroy Hummingbird skirt, and I knew I had to have one. Fortunately fabric-a-brac delivered me a length of blue pinwale corduroy, and so the Hummingbird was mine. In fact there was twice as much as I needed, so if anyone else wants to copy Wendy, let me know. Imagine a whole army of blue Hummingbirds!

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

I love it just as much as I thought I would. I liked the Cake fitting system, to make it easy to grade between sizes, and the instructions were easy to follow. The corduroy is lovely and soft, and I put some fun “travel the world” cotton inside the pockets.

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There were two things I didn’t like, though. One is the huge difference between sizes, up to five inches. Just as I was about to start this, I ran into Joy at the bus stop, and she was in the middle of fighting with her Hummingbird, which she’d cut out in the size bigger than her measurements, as directed. Which turned out to be FOUR INCHES too big for her actual measurements, which is a lot for a skirt. Cake is doing a great job catering for such a big range of sizes (35 to 57 inch hip measurements), but there needs to be a better way for people between sizes to get a good fit. I ended up sizing down, and using smaller seam allowances to give me the extra inch, and it fits pretty well.

The other thing I struggled with is the shape of the bottom of the flounce. Caveat: I did lengthen the pattern pieces before cutting out, and potentially this might have contributed, because people I’ve spoken to who didn’t lengthen it didn’t have this problem.

Anyway the pins in this picture were put in when I was standing up, so that the bottom of the flounce was even. Before leveling , the sides at the back were actually 9cm shorter than the side seams, and the centre back was 2cm longer.

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I redrafted the pattern piece based on these changes and came out with something much more like a semi-circle (original at top, new version below).

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Anyway, the bottom line: I love this skirt, wear it all the time, and will definitely use the pattern again. Thanks Cake! Thanks Wendy!

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Nailed it.

Well, I didn’t nail it exactly, but I did make a wee visit to the tool shed for this outfit.

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First, the blouse. I bought this so-called cotton poplin at Spotlight a while back, it is quite light and not my idea of a poplin, but Spotlight is not famous for being pedantic about these things.

I had got it into my head that I wanted a button-back blouse. After lurking on Trademe for months waiting for an appropriate pattern, I realised that I could just add a back placket to any old blouse. (Literally, this thought took months… lateral thinking is not my strong point). The blouse itself took only a couple of hours. It is LOOSELY based on Simplicity 7223.

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It’s kind of boxy but I will wear it tucked in. The buttons are some lovely old Woolworths ones that I had in the stash, still on their card. The buttonholes were made with my machine’s buttonhole function. It is embarrassing to admit, but it’s actually the first time I’ve used it – previously I’ve just zig-zagged buttonholes manually. Who knew that knob was there for a reason??

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And – the tool shed reference – I used a tiny 12mm chisel to cut the buttonhole openings. One of those clever WSBN ladies mentioned doing this, and it is ever so fun. It also has the added bonus of making a super neat buttonhole opening, with no stretching or ragged threads. My tip, though: don’t do it directly on your cutting mat. Next time I’ll put some newspaper in between. I just Googled it and guess what? You can actually buy buttonhole chisels! Mine was just from Bunnings. Good enough.

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The skirt meant another trip to the tool shed for cable ties. It has a high waist and I used a piece of cable-tie in each waistband seam, to stop the waistband rolling down. I used two at the front, and two at the back. I didn’t put them in the side seams as I thought that might be uncomfortable. It worked beautifully and I adore the high waistline.

Image(Scuse the wrinkles, this is after sitting at work all day.)

The pattern is a free download, the Favourite Frills skirt from Your Style Rocks. Friends, you must try this pattern, and I say that as someone who would generally rather go to the dentist than sticky-tape patterns together. It has some lovely details like the paired darts at the back, and is just the right width to be able to walk in without having to add a vent.

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Obviously, I didn’t use the outer ‘frills’ layer. I thought about lining it, but didn’t in the end as I wanted to be able to wear it year-round. I initially put in a centred back zip, but undid it and changed to a lapped one instead when this happened:

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Gaping can be a problem with a centred zip, but I think it’s a particular hazard when there is a seam midway down the zip. The lapped zip was much better.

The fabric is some kind of very soft synthetic, from a one-euro bargain bin in Madeira, where I had a holiday in 2012. Isn’t it nice to buy fabric on holidays? It’s such a good reminder of the trip. I bought a big piece of fabric, intending to make a skirt and jacket, but I was so frivolous cutting out the skirt (*one euro!* *snip snip!*) that there isn’t quite enough left. Isn’t it awful to buy fabric on holidays? You can’t go and get more.

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Anyway I can tell that both of these items are going to get a lot of wear, and that’s a good feeling.

The Murphy skirt

As in, Murphy’s law.

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Guess who:

  • Bought fabric from the Fabric Warehouse sale because it was kind of nice, and on sale?
  • Then decided to make a colour-block dress and bought the contrast fabric from Spotlight for five times the price?
  • Decided the contrast fabric wasn’t right and spent the whole morning trying to dye it with food colouring (fail) and then bleaching it (success).
  • Sewed nearly the entire dress – including seam bindings – and hated it. Cut it up.
  • Made a skirt instead (New Look 6106), cut the pockets wrong and had to use the contrast fabric for them.
  • Decided it needed piping, didn’t have cord so used hat elastic (worked fine!).
  • Sewed that damned zipper three times before the back piping matched up.
  • Has worn it only once, for the photos.

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Fine but totally not worth the effort. I am planning to have better luck this weekend.