The Meringue of Wisdom

Or more accurately, complete lack of it!

Sorry its a bit wrinkled - I should have ironed it before modelling it!

The pattern is, of course, the Meringue Skirt pattern from The Colette Sewing Handbook.  And it is truly one of the cutest and simplest skirt patterns out there – even simpler than the Ginger skirt.


You start making it the day you have one of your wisdom teeth removed.  This makes something as simple as tracing a pattern some what of a challenge!

You decide that you don’t want an invisible zipper (in part because you can’t be bothered to wait and go into town to get one and there’s a perfectly good regular zipper in your sewing room).  So you’ll do a lapped zipper even though you’ve never done one on a faced garment before.  And you’re not going to do the simple version either, but the more involved ‘pro’ technique in the book.

You’re going to add a lining, but use the most unstable, frays as soon as you look at it material you own.

Brilliant recipe, hey?

Here’s how it turned out…

The skirt itself went together smoothly.  I then sewed the facing and lining together.  Again, so far, so good.  Unfortunately by this point the chalk marking differentiating which was the front and which was the back of the skirt had disappeared.  In the future I’ll mark it from the beginning rather than from over half way through, with a safety pin!) I started to try and fit the facing making the incorrect choice as to which panel of the skirt was the front.  This was based on where I’d left the gap for the zipper.

By this point I became convinced that I’d screwed up the facing and so hacked the zip out as it was on the wrong side and I’d already served everything together.  Buh-bye facing mark 1, and the lining.

It wasn’t until I’d calmed down that I realised I should have just unpicked the zipper as I was having to do that anyway and I could have salvaged the facing too.  Gah.  I have to admit I walked away from it for a while when I realised just how stupid I’d been.  And to prevent myself doing anything else quite so stupid again!

So with facing mark 2 I went back to the skirt and it still wasn’t right.  I then got the pattern pieces out again and realised that I was back to front.  This also meant that the gap for the zipper was on the wrong side.  It was on the left rather than the right.

So I re-jigged the facing so the zipper was on the left and inserted it!  So, the skirt is now unlined, but does have a lapped zipper (albeit on the left, rather than the right).

Hand Picked Lapped Zipper

I hand picked the zipper to try and line the plaids up as well as I could.  A happy side effect was that I found it quite therapeutic and it put me in the right frame of mind for…

The scallops.  To my mind this is the area that makes or breaks this skirt.

I thought these would be the difficult bit, but after the facing  / which is the front, which is the back debacle, they were really straight forward!  I took a stitch straight across at the apex between each scallop which helped get a crisp finish. I also trimmed the seam allowances quite closely before notching and clipping using this Thread’s Tutorial on scallops.  I’m really pleased with the result as the scallops look pretty even and well defined.

This is the first time I’ve ever worked with wool and I have to say I’m converted.  It presses well and is a dream to sew.  The stitched sink in and disappear which is brilliant, unless you need to unpick anything!  The plaid wool was a swap with Annabelle and the zip was already being hoarded so it didn’t cost me anything, other than a small amount of my sanity.  I am wiser as a result though…

Adjustments for this version:
Tapered waist to hip for fit
Tapered hip to hem to give more of a pencil skirt silhouette

Adjustments for future versions:
Add a lining
Reinforce scalloped area with bias strips of organza
Try not to be so stupid!

Make Again?

Pattern Mash-Up: Taffy Jasmine

This top has an uncertain pedigree.  Part Colette Sewing Handbook, part Colette Patterns and part Farbenfreude.

Taffy Jasmine

The sleeves are from the Taffy blouse in the Colette Sewing Handbook.  I wasn’t keen on the bodice of the top as it stood and ties on the back plus a mischievous two year old do not make a happy combination!

I’d already sorted the fit of the Jasmine and liked the bodice which is cut on the bias like the Taffy.  I also like the open shape of the neckline.

Finally there is Farbenfreude’s sewing plans post which put the whole mishmash into my head!  As you can see though I have omitted the collar detail on my version and stuck with the sheer fabric and french seams of the taffy along with the bias bound finish on the neck and sleeves.

I traced my altered Jasmine bodice and the sleeve and armscye of Taffy and then spliced the two together.  I started trying to work the maths out and draft the armscye myself and then had the realisation that splicing the two patterns together would be about a billion times easier!

I love the colours in this!

The fabric is an ombre dyed sari my Mum brought back from India years and years ago on one of her journeys out there to help inoculate street children and children in the slums (she’s a nurse and quite incredible in a lot of ways).  I think she told me it was silk, but a burn test proved that she may have been had…  It’s synthetic and burns extremely well.  It also hurts like you wouldn’t believe if a blob of said burning fabric lands on your skin.  I’m gonna have a scar to commemorate this top!

The sari has the ombre effect along both edges and then the hand done block printing starts along one edge before being added to the second edge.  Finally there’s a solid panel of printing at the other end of the sari.  The front was cut from the area with no printing and the back where only one edge was printed.  The sleeves were cut from the solid block of printing.

It was a complete nightmare to work with as it shifted about as soon as you looked at it!  Once I remembered the tip about spray starch though everything became somewhat more manageable (I can’t remember if that came from a Colette Snippets email or the Sewing Handbook).  In effect you spray the fabric with the starch and then press it which crisps the hand up making it much easier to work with.  I used Dylon Spray Starch as that’s what I could lay my hands on here in the UK!

Hand Printed pattern on the back of the bodice

Once that was done the construction was straightforward (apart from the usual mind meld effect that french seams always have on me).  I was going to use self bias to finish the edges but even with liberal amounts of starch, it wasn’t going to happen so I used purchased purple bias instead.  I also used bias at the hem instead of turning and stitching it as per the instructions for Taffy and Jasmine!

I'm really pleased with how neat the bias binding is at the V of the neckline!

This is definitely an evening top with a cami or vest style t underneath as its soooo sheer!  White (the only colour I have in the above mentioned garments) does not work!  It needs to be dark blue or black – something that closely matches the colour of whatever you’re wearing on your bottom half otherwise there’s a sudden change of tone and it just looks weird.  Hence no photos of it being modelled!  This will also be hand washed rather than chucked in the machine as I don’t think the printing would survive and the fabric is so delicate it would snag very easily.

Adjustments for this version:
Same as my Jasmine

Adjustments for future versions:
Maybe reduce the length a little?

Make again?
Maybe.  It would have to be an opaque fabric so I could get the wear out of it as unfortunately I have little occasion to wear such a flirty number these days!

Grey Pastille – Decisions, Decisions…

For the first time ever, I actually ordered swatches of fabric before making an online order.  Normally I’ll just take a punt on it and it’ll probably do.  I do seem to have a change in mind set though whereby rather than just seeing each garment as a learning experience that will hopefully be wearable, I now see wearable as the main goal!

This is probably how most of you sew, but as I’ve been sewing for less than a year (garment wise, anyway) I never had particularly high expectations of the finished garment.  I think it was my Sencha that has changed all that – every time I wear it, I get complimented on it and asked where I got it from.  My current response is to mumble that I made it and then make myself scarce!!

The Pastille Dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook

But, back to the point!  I would love to have a dress that I can wear to work.  Makes the whole getting dressed in the morning thing a little less of a headache.  In my mind it just means putting on a dress, tights and as sensible or silly pair of shoes as my heart desires and then off out of the door!  Pastille is in my sights for that dress.  Demure enough for the office but with an interesting neckline and pleating detail at the bottom of the skirt.

So with that in mind I went interwebs shopping as I’d got it in my head that I wanted a dark grey fabric.  I couldn’t decide and as I mentioned, my expectation have increased a wee bit.  So I ordered three swatches from Ditto fabrics.

From the Top: Wool, Linen, Cotton

The top plaid is wool
The silvery grey is 100% linen
The dark grey is 100% cotton and is the same tone as school uniform grey

The one I love best is the plaid wool.  But I have never sewn with wool before, and have no idea how to care for it.  I’m guessing that machine washing it would be a bad idea?  Can someone please give me some advice?!  I recently did a swap with Annabelle and have some gorgeous wools to use but I’m a little bit scared.  Partly because of the care issue, partly because I love the fabrics SO much I don’t want to use them and not love the finished garment (please say I’m not the only person who feels like that about bits of fabric…)  Also, would I need to line it?  Which would mean drafting a lining…  Any tips or recommendations for tutorials on that one?  I have a rough idea but would like to research the heck out of it first to make sure I was happy that I knew what I was doing!

The linen is gorgeous and I can see myself ordering some for a Rooibos and using the teal plaid I thrifted the other week for the contrast collar and piping

The dark grey cotton has a bit of stretch to it, even though it’s 100% cotton.  I think it may be due to the weave?   That’s a complete guess on my part though.  And it’ll be the easiest to look after.  Plus I kind of like school uniform grey!

So, what do you think?  My heart says the plaid wool, but I definitely need to do some more research to make sure I can look after it properly and that it’s comfortable to wear…

This Might Be A Bit Much…

I’ve been trying to decide if throwing my name in the ring for this sew along is a good idea or not! You’ve probably seen it on Coletterie, if not Rhinestones and Telephones or Miss Crayola Creepy‘s blogs as they’re the instigators.

The name of the game is to sew one item from the CSHB a month and January is the Meringue skirt. I’ve got a lovely grey cotton twill which I think would work well for this skirt. And Pastille is such a cute (and would be my first) dress. And the ruffle on Truffle and the airiness of Taffy! The only one I’m not so sure of is Licorice but then I could always veto that one?

Either way, I’m going to see if I manage it, along with all the other items I want to sew! The Minoru starts Monday and I have plans for a starry Jasmine… But tonight I’m going to bed early as I’ve been up the last few nights with boy and I need to sleep!