Month: August 2013

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt MN2202

After seeing several striking versions of this wrap skirt on sewing blogs including the wonderfully colourful version by www.lladybird.com, I succumbed to ordering the Megan Nielsen Cascade skirt pattern.

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Megan Nielsen is an independent fashion designer who has branched out into selling garment sewing patterns for home sewists. This is the first of her patterns that I’ve tried and so far I’m really impressed.

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The Cascade Skirt is described by the designer as a ‘full wrap skirt with a graduated hem and attractive cascades along the hemline.’  It’s aimed at novice sewers and is perfect for every day but also dramatic enough for special occasion wear.

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The pattern itself is well packaged in a bulging envelope with a velcro closure, which includes an instruction booklet and a multi-sized pattern made from sturdy paper. The instruction booklet is really comprehensive and covers everything you need to make the skirt from the recommended fabrics and tips for their pre-sewing preparation to cutting layouts and sewing directions including how to make a lining if using a very sheer fabric. There are also suggestions for how you could customise the skirt by altering its length and adding layers.

At the end there’s space to sketch out your own ideas and record all the details of your make in a pattern log, such as the fabric used, size, modifications etc.  This is really useful and a thoughtful addition for people with sieve-like memories like me!

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I decided to make the version with the front tie and found this cotton/silk blend batiste in the Italian designer section of Anita Pavani Stoffe online shop www.naturstoff.de. The pattern suggests lightweight fabrics with lots of drape so I thought this colourful batiste was perfect for this pattern, with the added bonus that it is machine-washable – a definite must for me especially as I’m around little kiddies all day!

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The fabric was a dream to sew but in full sunlight it’s quite sheer – as you can see in the above photo but I decided against a lining because I wanted to retain the fabric’s floaty nature and with the cotton content you can’t really see completely through it so I’m not being too indecent!

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The main body of the skirt was super quick to make – it only has four pattern pieces and is really straightforward, with only two seams to sew.  I did French seams as recommended in the pattern.

My one sticking point with this skirt was the narrow hem which I really struggled with at first. The sewing instructions explain how to make one but I have a narrow hem foot so it should have been simple for me – right?!

Wrong!!

I’ve had two babies and many sleepless nights since I last used my narrow hem foot and I find that lots of things pre-babies have just been erased from my memory! It’s as though I had a mental re-boot when I gave birth so that I could become a mindless nappy changing, bottom wiping and feeding machine. Has anyone else experienced this? Anyway unfortunately the knowledge of how to use my narrow hem foot appears to have been one of the things that ended up in the trash bin of my brain!

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I turned to my trusted friend Google and found ‘BrianSews Hemming Foot Tutorial’ on YouTube which was the perfect remedy.  What set this online tutorial apart from the others that I came across was that it was long enough to get the full gist of what I needed to do and also showed how to do a narrow hem using the specialist foot on a curved edge which is what makes hemming this skirt tricky.

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After watching this, I realised that I’d had too high expectations of my little gadget and had expected the foot to do the hem all by itself and I didn’t appreciate how much continuous manual manipulation of the fabric was required from me to correctly feed the fabric into the foot. As I pushed the fabric through the foot it kept popping out again and refused to roll over. Once I’d figured out why this was happening, hemming became a lot easier.

The key to a successful rolled hem seems to be taking care to keep the width of the fabric being fed into the gap in the narrow hem foot roughly the same width as the gap. When it’s narrower the fabric tends to pop out of the foot and enough fabric doesn’t feed in for it to be able to roll over itself as it should. Once I’d practiced a bit, it worked a treat – well almost, the finished hem isn’t perfect but it’ll do for a first attempt.

Overall I’m happy with the final result and it was a light and breezy skirt to wear when it was baking hot here this summer.  I would like to make another version with a level hem but that’ll have to wait its turn in the sewing queue.

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To wrap this wrap review up, I’ll leave you with this photo of me and my dog – don’t you think that it looks like we’re about to be abducted by an alien spaceship!

Wishing you a happy sewing weekend!

Tiered maxi skirt Burdastyle 3/2013 #122 and #123

So far I’ve had a fairly productive sewing summer although I haven’t blogged too much about it. Autumn’s now looming so I thought I better cram in some pattern reviews of my summery makes before it gets too late. But where do I start?

I’ve made more skirts and tops than dresses and I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and start there because there have been some lessons learnt along the way with the progression of the patterns which may be useful to pass on. So let’s start with this maxi skirt pattern from Burdastyle magazine 3/2013.

Burda linen maxi skirt

This is pattern #122 from 3/2013 Burdastyle.  It’s a maxi skirt pattern with a fitted yoke and side seam pockets and a tiered part on the bottom of the skirt attached with a piped seam.

I made the skirt out of three metres of linen that I bought from my favourite online fabric shop ‘Anita Pavani natural fabrics’ in Germany (see my ‘European Insider Top Tips’ for more details of the shop).

My fabric is soft and not too heavy but I would warn that the suggested fabrics for the pattern are ‘lightweight, softly draping skirt fabrics’ which my medium weight linen wasn’t really.  With three metres of it hanging there, as you can imagine it can feel a bit heavy!  This turned out well in the spring when it was still on the chilly side and a bit of extra coverage was welcomed but I haven’t worn it over the summer.  If you do go with linen, I would suggest using the lightest crepe type of linen that you can find.

One of the consequences of my needlessly heavy fabric choice was that the skirt pulls down a bit and I cut out the pattern size according to my measurements which I matched up to the Burdastyle size chart but the yoke was too loose and I can only wear it with a belt now. So for my next attempt I made up the smallest size and now the yoke fits snugly.

The pattern came together fairly easily although I did struggle with the inseam side pockets and side zip combo.  I’ve sorted this out now – it finally all clicked with a skirt pattern I did after this – you have to attach the zip to the edge of the pocket but more about that later.

The bottom tier was a nice way to finish the skirt off because it is basically just a big strip folded in half along the bottom of the skirt encasing the raw lower edge of the main body of the skirt and eliminating the need for hemming.  Not sure whether it was necessary to hand-make the piping that is sandwiched between this seam though – even though I did do it.  If I made it again, I would probably omit this or use ready made piping out of sheer laziness!

This skirt was my warm-up for this tiered maxi skirt #123 which I made out of three metres of Liberty Art Fabrics tana lawn cotton that I bought online at Shaukat in London, UK.

Burdastyle 03/2013 #123 maxi skirt

I’m really pleased with this skirt but it required a marathon sewing effort to make it!

It’s got the easiest sewing rating in Burdastyle aimed at a novice sewer and while there aren’t any complicated techniques needed to make it, it is worth noting that that bottom tier is four and a half metres long and needs to be gathered before it is sewn and then hemmed and I did French seams and that was a LOT of sewing!  Like cramp-inducing sewing – just keeping the foot pedal pressed to the floor for all those metres was enough to put me off sewing for a very long time.  You could maybe weight your foot pedal down with a heavy book or something and go off, have a relaxing cup of tea, come back and maybe your seam would be just about finished!

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I made a couple of adjustments to the basic pattern.

Firstly I lined the whole thing with more of my organic natural coloured cotton batist from www.lebenskleidung.com.  I did this because the Liberty tana lawn is lightweight and can be a bit see-through and also to extend the life of my skirt.  It was easy to do, I just cut all the pattern pieces out in the lining fabric and sewed them up as instructed in the main skirt instructions and then attached the Liberty skirt and lining together at the upper edge of the first tier.

I added in-seam side pockets.

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I also French seamed all the seams.

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Overall I’m really happy with the skirt.  It’s a nice simple pattern which results in a twirl-worthy multi-purpose maxi skirt that is equally happy dressed up or down.  Just be prepared for some long distance sewing and check the sizing of your yoke first as I found the pattern to have a generous amount of ease.

Can you recommend any maxi skirt patterns?  I’d love to hear about them.

Warding off the beasties!

Lavender bundles

Summer is beginning to draw to a close here and it was time to harvest the lavender in my garden.

So today I used the cut fragrant lavender to make some simple bundles tied with string to put in my fabric stash and my wardrobe to protect my growing collection of self-made clothes against moths.

Moth protection for my self made wardrobe

Do you have a moth problem?  Or other creepy crawlies that like to eat your precious cloth?  What action do you take to protect against them?

Munich Fabric Start 3-5 September 2013

A brief post to give you a heads up about the upcoming international fabric trade fair in Munich, Germany.

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What:  Munich Fabric Start international fabric trade fair

Why:  International suppliers to the fashion industry will be showcasing their wares for the Autumn Winter 2014/15  ‘Awesome Assemblage’ collections.

Where:  Thomas-Wimmer-Ring 17, 80539, Munich, Germany

When:  3-5 September 2013

How:  More info from visitor@munichfabricstart.com. Visitor telephone hotline – +49 (0)89 45 22 47 0.  Visitor passes can be ordered online at munichfabricstart.com

If you are interested but unable to attend the event, you can still buy a directory with listings of all the exhibitors attending or the colour cards and trends for the AW14/15 collections. These can be bought from munichfabricstart.com.

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