Gather Kits: Mortmain

Hi y’all.  Sorry for the absence on Monday it has been a crazy couple of weeks and this weekend there was just no let up.  As a result I have been floored by a cold (yep, a simple cold) and sore throat.  My body is telling me I need to give myself a bit of time for some R&R!  Long story short, work is busy, my Husband’s self employed status is turning back to employee and director as of the 1 April as we’ve taken the decision to change his business into a Limited company.  His business is stupid busy, which means behind the scenes I’m busy!  We’ve recently put in for a number of jobs and been awarded the majority of them which makes me incredibly proud of him but also brings with it a fair degree of stress as these are all on a commercial level.  Pretty damn impressive for a one man band!  At the moment I’m working a minimum of 32hrs a week in my place of employment, working 10-20 hours on Husband’s business and being a Mum as well as trying to maintain a clean(ish) house with food in the cupboards!  How I’m not crazier than I am I have no idea…

Anyway, please forgive my less than glowing face and somewhat grumpy expression, I wasn’t feeling exactly glamorous when taking these, but you’re more interested in the dress than me, so what the heck!


Back in 2013 Gather Kits were looking for pattern testers for their first pattern ‘Mortmain’.  I stuck my hand in the air and was lucky enough to be picked!  This is actually my second version of the dress as the first one is now too big (wahoo!).  I made it using a teal plaid wool (I think, it was from the charity shop and presses like a wool!).  I did my usual FBA (please forgive the bust darts that look like they’re heinously placed – I’m wearing a different bra to the one I fitted this in) and sway back adjustment.  I also chose to fully line this rather than just use the facings and also swapped out the exposed zip for an invisible one (but I forgot to take back view photos – sorry!).

Because I chose to line the bodice with white cotton, I didn’t want to run the risk of this peeking out around the neck or armholes.  So I carefully pressed the edge of the facing under and edge stitched it to the lining.  I’m really pleased with how close I got the edge of the facing and how close to invisible it is!  To get a really good finish on the lining I followed this tutorial.  I then catch stitched the lining to the waist band of the skirt.  This enclosed where the skirt meets the waist band too.  I lined the skirt by duplicating the skirt pattern piece and creating the box pleats with both the outer and lining fabric.  I think I got the plaid lined up pretty well!  The lining was finished with my overlocker and I overlocked and pressed up the skirt hem before catch stitching it by hand.

Mortmain 2

I love working with plaid – it’s a challenge but when you get it right it’s really satisfying too.  You can also have fun with the direction so I cut the waist band on the bias and used some lightweight fusible interfacing to stop it stretching out.  It gives this work appropriate dress a little bit of a twist and some added interest.

This pattern is a great basic and the box pleated skirt manages to have a full hem that I love with out being too bulky around the waist.  The separate waist band nips you in and gives a lovely shape.  I used the instructions to insert the exposed zip on my first version and they work really really well giving a fabulous finish.  All in all I’d recommend this pattern and not just because I was lucky enough to test it!  It’s a great building block and with the sleeve options with their cute cuff detail it has so many possibilities!

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…

Circle Skirt!

Wheee! Look at my lining!

Hey everyone, meet my newest wardrobe addition!  This is my circle skirt and I have to admit that I’m a little bit pleased with it.  You already know about my seam finishing, lining and zip.  And I have to admit I have really enjoyed taking my time over the construction of this skirt.


I love the pop of colour that the lining provides.

Being completely honest, when I first tried this on once I’d done all the hemming I was a little freaked out.  There is nothing like horse hair braid in our modern wardrobe and I was a smidge concerned that I’d made a bad decision in using it.

Full Hem

But nope, I love the fullness it gives to the skirt!  It helps to balance out my rather top-heavy torso and gives the skirt additional movement.  I wore it all day on Saturday, including a trip to the supermarket.  Admittedly in my brown tall boots rather than my gorgeous, vertigo inducing heels!  I was comfortable and felt confident in it.  And for me those are the two most important tests.  If I feel good in the clothes then they’ll be worn.

It’s fun packing it all into the car when I drive, but that just makes me smile.  I can see more of these in my future, particularly for the summer as it’s so comfortable and doesn’t restrict me in any way – great for running around with/after boy.

Why are we running backwards and forwards to the camera?

On the next go round though I will make a couple of changes.  The biggest being taking about 4 inches off my waist.  I can get my whole fist in between me and the waistband – I did err on the side of caution, but I feel I was a little too cautious!  I may add some belt loops later and remedy this with a belt, or a tuck at the side seam.  I’d also like to try using some gross grain as a waistband facing – so there’s no visible waistband, if that makes sense?

A more robust fabric may be in order too.  This will be hand-wash only as I don’t think it’ll cope with being shoved in the washing machine!  The fabrics would but I don’t think it’d do the hem any good at all.

Can you see the zip?!

I’ll definitely do a lapped zipper again, I’m really pleased how it came out and I like having the zip in a side seam.  I’ve really enjoyed this sew-along and the skirts really are very quick to make.  So thank you Casey for hosting the sew-along!

I wish I was a better clothes hanger for my skirt, but I’m getting there (very very slowly!) and I quite like how my legs look.  Do any of you guys feel very self conscious posting pictures of yourself?

Matching Plaid

OK, for a long while I thought you said plaid so that it rhymed with fade.  Apparently it rhymes with fad!

Yesterday evening I cut out my circle skirt and I thought I’d share how I (hope I’ve) matched the plaid design on the pattern.  And I unashamedly credit the Selfish Seamstress herself in educating me in this method…

First I used my paper pattern piece to cut through one thickness of the cloth.  I then matched this cut piece over the rest of my fabric, carefully pinning so that the lines ran seamlessly across the cut and uncut piece.

Mostly uninterrupted lines between the cut and uncut fabric

I hope the above photo helps.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words?!  I used a LOT of pins around the outer curve, the waist line and each straight edge!  I tried taking an over view photo showing the whole cut piece overlaid on the fabric but it just looked like a big bit of fabric with my magnetic pin cushion plonked in the middle of it!

Even more pins!!

The Selfish Seamstress does a much more thorough explanation of this, please go and have a look if this is something you want to do.  I also checked out the tutorial on Coletterie which focused on stripes.

One thing though, I have not unpinned my two skirt pieces!  They’re staying pinned together until it’s time to do the seams as I think my head will explode if I have to match it all up again, and the fabric is very fluid and shifts quite easily.  But thinking about it, I’ve got a right side and a wrong side together so I’m going to have to!!!!  Definitely a job for another evening.  I’m not sure either that I’ll get a chevron effect on the seams as they’re parallel to the selvedges – instead the pattern just wont be interrupted?  I can’t envisage it at the moment, so I guess time will tell!

I’m going to have to think about the seam finishes too as the fabric seems to fray quite easily.  I’d decided not to line the skirt, but due to the fluidity of it I’m wondering whether a lining might save it from being pulled out of shape when I sit in it.  Last thing I want is a saggy bit of circle skirt over the derrier!

Sewing Progress

This evening I’ve graded the waist band of the crescent skirt, and hope to make up a muslin to check the fit tomorrow.  I may even be able to cut the fabric tonight!  So I’m a little bit light headed from over exposure to Sharpie marker pen fumes…  I’ve been following the Snug Bug’s method, but wont be grading the pocket, just moving it over to the new side seam.  I’ll then follow Tasia’s sew along posts on her Sewaholic blog.

I’ve also been fabric stalking for Casey’s Circle Skirt sewalong!  I love the colour combination of chocolate and turquoise, so I really like this fabric! As it’s a plaid / tartan I’ll have to be careful matching the seams, but it will give a really pretty chevron effect!  I think quite a wide waistband will also be a good idea – 2 to 3″ probably.

I think a lining in turquoise and the skirts seam binding in the cerise would look amazing.  It’s a polyviscose though which is good for the pennies, but means the lining will have to be anti-static! I’d like to find some horsehair braid to give the hem some fullness and I may even invest in a crinoline / petticoat to give it that added woosh…

I’ve also faffed with the Pendrell I made last month in preparation for some production line sewing.  I’ve taken an inch out at each side seam, so 4″ in total which makes it look a lot better.  I’ve also taken a good 6″ off the bottom as it was way way way too long!  Even though I’ve lopped all that length off, it’s still plenty long enough to tuck in, but wont look daft untucked either!