Thursday, 31 July 2014

DIY: Floral button up skirt

It's been hot in the UK, let me tell you! Up to about 32 degrees C (90 F). It doesn't sound all that much if you are based on a different latitude, but around here, that's hot. And for a girl who grew up in a Nordic country, it's close to melting point. Some cool wardrobe pieces are most essential.

Despite this heat, yours truly acquired a cold. A bad one. Might have been the flu even. I was knocked off my feet for about 4 days, barely able to walk downstairs, yet unable to sleep. So what does one do? Well, there was a lot of whining and self-pity. There was also a lot of cuddling up next to the MacBook and watching movies. There might have been a few too many 1950s movies....

So by the time I emerged from this rather unpleasant vacuum of sickness none of my wardrobe would do. I wanted highwaisted ankle length full skirts, fitted bustier silk evening dresses, tailored blouses and pearls. In other words, Grace Kelly's wardrobe. I even played with the idea of cutting and bleaching my hair.

In the end I came to my senses, realised it's 2014 and that I can't really pull off that kind of elegance. But, it left a little idea...

For a button up skirt that works as a bathing suit cover-up. See instructions below.

There are quite a few steps, but don't let it put you off. This skirt is suuuupereasy. I made it in 2.5 h, and that's with writing instructions, photographing and Skyping my parents.


  • A dress or skirt a couple of sizes too large (mine is a UK 18, Europe 46, US 14 - the lady at the charity shop check out gave me an interesting look when I appeared with that)
  • Measuring tape
  • Buttons - how many depends on how long you want the skirt, maybe about 5 for a knee length skirt.
  • The usual suspects: scissors, pins, marker, sewing machine

  • Cut off the waistband if working with a skirt. If you have a dress, cut off the bodice.
    Give it a good iron to get out any creases.
  • Measure from your waist to where on the leg you want the skirt to finish. This is your skirt length.
    Measure it out from the hem of your skirt, mark and cut.
    Save the cut off bit, this will become the waistband.
  • Mark out the middle of your skirt and cut a straight line (through the top layer only).
  • On each side, measure 3 cm/1.2 inches from the raw edge.
    Fold in once and press with the iron.
    Fold in another time. Sew in place.
  • Measure your waist and ruffle the skirt so the top is that length when the two front edges are overlapped.
  • Now waistband. From the cut off bit in step 3, measure out a rectangle that is
    length: waist measurement + 6 cm/2.4 inches
    height: 12 cm/4.7 inches

    Zig zag all the way around the rectangle.
  • On each long side, fold in 2 cm/0.8 inches and press.
    On each short side, fold in 3 cm/1.2 inches, press and sew in place.
    Then fold the rectangle in half lengthwise.
  • Now marry your lovely waistband with your ruffled skirt.
    Open the waistband. Put the skirt on top up to the folding line. Then fold the waistband over and pin in place.
  • Now sew. Depending on how ruffled your skirt is you might end up with quite a lot of bulk in the waistband. I had this. I just sewed several lines spaced about 1 cm. It gave the waistband a quilted look but also pressed down the bulk. Go over it with the iron to give a neat finish.

  • Finish by making buttonholes (if you have not done this before, most sewing machine manuals actually have good instructions. Otherwise, Youtube, my friends.) and handsewing on buttons. I spaced them about 8 cm/3.1 inches apart. Since the skirt is loose fitting, there are no gap issues.
Last year I made a pastel blue skirt with pockets from a dress with a beautiful natural scalloped hem. I have worn it so much that it's now starting to look rather ready for retirement in the to-make-a-quilt-from-one-day pile.

I wish I could say I'm was off for a swim in Cannes, or even on the English riviera, but this gone weekend, dipping my toes in a lake, then heading to the outdoor pool had to do.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sewing: Colette Sorbetto polka dot top

When I chat to somebody about sewing and they express even a hint of interest in taking it up themselves, I pounce on the opportunity to recruit them to this wonderful, addictive hobby. It's like a tic with me, I can't help it. Admittedly, many people discreetly change the topic.

For those who don't, the conversation usually ends with me all excitedly and bright-eyed promising to send them "a link to the BEST beginner's pattern EVER!"

I am of course talking about the Sorbetto top by Colette patterns.

This pattern is so easy! No closures, no sleeves, no ruffling, no nothing scary and off-putting. Just a set of fantastic illustrated instructions. And the very best part, this top is completely wearable! As in, it looks great! You'll want to wear it! The same cannot be said about a lot of 'beginner's projects.'

Oh, and did I mention it's free?

I made my first Sorbetto from fabric I salvaged from a charity shop skirt. It's a very drapey viscose that hangs beautifully on the body. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of useable fabric in the skirt, so I made no attempt at pattern matching. Because I couldn't get a large enough piece out of the skirt for the back piece, I had to make the back from two pieces, so there's even more pattern mis-match at the back.

I didn't do any measurements and ended up picking the wrong size, so it's quite loose. But it's a happy accident, because now there is plenty of breathing room on a hot summer's day. I also went for a bit of experimentation and cut out a low back. It worked and I love it.

I made this a good year or so ago, and I've been wearing it sooo much. Definitely a wardrobe staple.

If it seems from the photos like I'm in love with these sunglasses - I am! I accidentally dropped and stepped on my favourite pair of sunglasses last weekend and was devastated. Didn't think I'd find a new 'the perfect pair' so soon!

I'm dying to make a (more fitted) silk version, to go with straight leg trousers and high waisted skirts this autumn.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sewing: Deer & Doe Plantain T-shirt

Today's topic is free things. Freebies. Best thing ever. Especially free patterns! Omg, the Colette Sorbetto is probably one of the best patterns ever. And it's free!

With this introductory enthusiasm in mind, imagine my joy when I saw that Deer & Doe have released a free pattern? The Plantain T-shirt. (Admittedly, old news now, but I'm slow to catch on.)

I tried it a couple of months ago and really loved the pattern, really hated my chosen fabrics. But with some wine and music it was a delightful experience, and here is my very own Plantain T-shirt.

I choose two difficult fabrics. My jersey had way more stretch than recommended in the pattern, and I chose to have silk sleeves (old scarf no longer being used. You can give a girl a pattern, but you can't stop her upcycling ways). And we all know that silk is an fancy S.O.B. Try attaching it to slippery jersey and it's nothing short of a miracle that my sleeves look relatively symmetrical.

I only really have two comments on the pattern. The neckline band is too short. I had to reeeally stretch mine to get it all the way around the neckline, which resulted in some not-so-pretty puckering. Going over it with a steam iron made it all look fine anyways, but for the next T-shirt I'll add on a few centimeters to the band. It's easy enough to cut off any excess afterwards.

Sizes are always difficult when using a brand for the first time, whether it is sewing from scratch or buying something in the shop. I found with this pattern that the sizes are on the small side, so do your measuring carefully before picking up the scissors.

There are many opportunity for pattern hacks. How about a Plantain dress? Or using a contrasting fabric for the sleeves or back panel? Or adding patch pockets? I'm really keen on a long-sleeved Plantain dress in thicker sweatshirt jersey towards autumn. In fact, I am considering this pattern for the OWOP 2014 that Handmade Jane is hosting.

Behind the scenes photos. Girl's gotta eat, right?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sewing: Lionel Richie tea cosy

Inspiration can really come from the strangest places. Let me tell you. It would be super appropriate to sit down with a cuppa for this blog post. Also, listen to this.

Last time I went back to Sweden my mom gave me a tea set that I took with me back to the UK. Nice heavy stoneware. Better yet, huge tea pot!

If it's one thing I love it's lazy weekend mornings with a pot of tea all to myself. Yesterday I smugly instagrammed a picture of my Saturday morning tea bliss, professing my love for the tea pot.

My very witty friend Jasmin commented that I should DIY the pot to look like this:

I laughed, but also thought "No Sharpie is coming near this tea pot!"

Although...I could do with a cosy!

So I set to work. It just felt right. And I love it when you get some inspiration and happen to have all the material, and more importantly, all the time you need. Semi-recycled fabrics were used for this. The pink was an ugly table cloth from a charity shop. The red gingham from Goldhawk Road, aka my new favourite place in London.

I'd never made a tea cosy before. So I looked for tutorials online and really liked this one.

Very easy, very straightforward, and very satisfying. Thanks Jasmin!

I better start working on the 'Is it brie you're looking for?' tip next. ;)

So...who is coming for tea?