Saturday, January 28, 2012

A sludgy little skirt

Hooo boy.  We are having an insane heatwave right now... been 37C or above for over a week now.  Australia Day was 42C, phew...  We all spent the entire day in bathers, in and out of the pool.  The fireworks teetered on being cancelled because of the fire risk, but luckily at the last minute some clouds rolled in, the temps dropped and we even got a few fat raindrops!  And then the fireworks competed with an amazing lightning display (pictured below)  Today is supposed to be another 42C-er, so I am in my bathers ... again!
But unable to resist a smidge of sewing, as can be seen.  And dyeing.
I've made a skirt.  Now, it probably doesn't look very exciting, but I know this will be a wardrobe staple that I will wear into the ground....  You see, part of building up a wardrobe that is well-suited to each individual woman, that you enjoy wearing and is versatile and comfortable, is recognising items of clothing that are indispensable for you and your own particular style.  For a while now I've been wanting to replace an item that I determined long ago is one of my own indispensables; a short straight sludgy coloured skirt.  I was pretty sad when my old khaki corduroy one finally died, it got all stretched out around the waist in an ill-fitting and ugly way, and for the last six months of its life I could only wear it with long shirts hanging out over the top, which was an utterly ridiculous state of affairs, so I finally said goodbye to it.  I tried to move on, do without it, but eventually conceded I really wanted another skirt just about exactly like that old one, and soon!
That skirt was thisclose to perfect, but of course a skirt does not qualify as actually perfect in my opinion unless it has pockets.  When I checked out the line drawing of the skirt in Vogue 1247; I was pretty excited ... Little skirt; check!  Plain and basic; check!  Pockets; check AND check!!!!  These are all the features adding up to the perfect little skirt in my book...  and it also has a waistband, something I am currently into in my skirts.... WIN!
I made the skirt from purple stretchy denim, the leftovers from my plum jeans here.  The waistband is black corduroy, with its wrong non-fluffy side out, leftovers from these jeans, and instead of folding the waistband in half so it is self-faced as suggested in the pattern, I pieced the waistband in half horizontally with a lightweight cotton (shot cotton in Ice, also a leftover) to reduce bulk around the waist...  just a personal preference.  The pockets are lined with the same lightweight cotton.

The waistband is a contrasting black; for the following reason....  usually I add a bit of length to my pattern pieces, but I was working with scraps here and could only cut all my purple skirt pieces to their pattern-stipulated length... and this skirt is short!  Now, I like my skirts short it is true, but this one was going to be really short... even by my standards.   So I didn't hem, but instead enclosed the lower raw edge of the skirt in the same black bias binding used for the HongKong finishes on all the other raw edges inside the skirt.   And cut a new black waistband, so as to have the colour of that black edge picked up somewhere else in the garment.
The HongKong seaming does constitute part of the pattern instructions and there is a pattern piece to aid you in constructing your binding.  I dutifully cut this out and make up the continuous bias binding as instructed.  However it was too skinny to work effectively on my thick denim fabric, so I ended up cutting a whole new new lot of 50% wider bias binding in black quilting cotton.  Which means I have 6.5m of skinny off-white bias binding now, to use in some other project  :)

I dyed the finished skirt using 1/4 tsp of iDye in Brown.  I'm very happy with this final colour.  It is very satisfyingly muddy and richly sludge-y, wouldn't you say?  I would describe it as eggplant, rather than either brown or purple.  A sort of deep n' dirty purple, that reads as a strong chocolate brown on first sight, but still recognisably has that warm purple-y base underneath when you look at it more closely.
(at left: front, before dyeing, at right; the back after dyeing)
Inside the skirt: at left; the front, before dyeing, and see the pale blue waistband facing? and at right, the back view after dyeing the skirt... that 100% cotton waistband really picked up the brown dye beautifully compared to the denim, which having some synthetic elastane in it didn't pick up the colour quite as vividly....

Skirt; Vogue 1247, purple stretch denim and black corduroy waistband; dyed with iDye in Brown
Top; top "a" from Unique Clothes Any Way You Like by Natsuno Hiraiwa, of white cotton, details here
Sandals; Micam by Joanne Mercer, from Hobbs shoes, details here

Pattern Description:
Short straight skirt with deep front pockets set in a horizontal seam.
Pattern Sizing:
6-12; I cut the size 10
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished  sewing it?
Yes, except that mine is 5cm longer because I did not hem, but finished the raw lower edge with black bias binding.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I just love this skirt pattern; the slight A-line shape with a minimal flare, and the pockets most of all.  The smaller pattern pieces also enable you to make use of smaller leftover pieces of fabric, which is a big plus... 
I like the HongKong seaming in the skirt and the French seaming in the top; that the instructions are encouraging users to finish their garment to high standards.
The skirt is very short as it is, but that is the easiest thing to alter in a skirt pattern...
Fabric Used:
Medium-weight stretch denim, corduroy waistband, lightweight cotton for the waistband and pocket facings, quilting cotton for the bias binding.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I finished the lower raw edge with bias binding instead of hemming; this skirt is short!  In stead of the self-faced waistband, I pieced the waistband horizontally in two halves; the outer half is the fashion fabric and the facing half a thin lightweight cotton.  I thought this a better choice to face the thicker denim I chose for the skirt fabric.  Likewise the pockets are lined in lightweight cotton.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will definitely sew this again sometime!  Probably lengthened... :)
A short straight fitted skirt, AND with deep pockets?  it doesn't get much better than that!

For interest: the lightning vs. fireworks over Perth on Australia Day...
photo by Matt Titmanis; source


  1. What a great little skirt! I'm another who likes casual skirts with pockets. I also agree about garments that are indispensable. I'm currently sewing two rather basic, casual white skirts, but I know I will live in them over summer so one isn't enough. :)

    Love the fireworks and lightning display, wow! Spectacular! Thinking of you with the heat wave. Consecutive days over 40C is NOT fun!

  2. Your little sludgy skirt is marvelous. Could I wear this style? I might have to find out.

    I envy your heat, we are having the opposite problem here. -20 degree type foolishness with heaps and heaps of snow...sigh

  3. Every skirt I've seen made from this pattern is super cute, yours included.
    That must have been some show! I don't think fireworks would ever be allowed around these parts if there was a hint of lightning, but I do live very close to a large national forest.

  4. How lovely to have a "basic" with some interest. I love the colours you have achieved with your dyeing. The skirt looks terrific on you.
    Our fireworks were cancelled because of too much rain.

  5. Oh love the colour you have achieved - you look great in your new skirt. I like the pockets also - a winner.
    The skirt is certainly short - but you do have the legs for it!!

    I bought myself a just above knee length denim skirt a little while ago. it's the first time in 20 years (at least!) that i've worn anything showing my knees! Unfortunately, my legs are not so good- i blame my parents!

  6. This is a great skirt and one I am definitely keen on trying although possibly a little longer. The short skirt though is probably a good idea in the heat you speak of. Unfortunately our summer has been a little more subdued this year but lower temperatures do mean more time outdoors and less escaping from the heat.

  7. You amaze me! What a beautiful picture of the lighting and fireworks. I love your sludgy little skirt. I also want to thank you so much for your encouragement. You are such a kind and beautiful person. You sew pretty good too ;-) I would like to ask your permission to reference you and maybe use one of your pictures in a post for the Australia Challenge, if you'd like to email me at mysmichelle.crocker (at) gmail(dot)com or just let me know on my blog. Thank you. Great post!

  8. I love this skirt on you-your legs go on forever. That is a neat design for the pockets. I'm tempted to try this pattern but I know I would do better with a bit more skirt on me! I have a question about the dyeing-is it better to dye after sewing everything, or just dye the yardage?

  9. Very cute skirt!

    WOW, that lightning/fireworks display is fabulous!!!

  10. Great skirt - you make this pattern look very tempting to own!

  11. What a wonderful, wonderful skirt! Must keep this one in mind for summer. (Do we even have that season around here?)

  12. I'm impresed that you can get away with such a short skirt. Nice clean lines and fantastic with the white linen.

  13. Great skirt and I really like the colour. This pattern is making its way to me thanks to the recent Club BMV sale.

  14. I do so love how you use leftover fabrics to make new clothes. I think that's totally brilliant. Also, how you casually throw something you've just painstakingly made into a pot of dye. I've always read that one should never dye anything you love, because the results are always iffy. Brave woman, you are! Love the *aubergine* colour, which will be incredibly useful to you, I'm sure. Not so sure about the pockets, though. Given that the skirt is fairly short, I'm thinking anything you put in the pockets will make it shorter and - well, bumpy - not a good look. I'm sure you'll over come it somehow. You are amazingly creative, Carolyn!

  15. Your new skirt is really cute, who doesn't love pockets? It helps that you have long pretty legs too!

    Your picture of the lightening with the fireworks is incredible.

  16. Oh I like that. I would be terrified of dying a finished garment though! Yours has ended up a really good colour.

  17. The skirt is so cute, and of course beautifully made.

    I really don't envy you the heat, quite the opposite in fact, where I live we usually have a week in August of high 30's and very occasionally low 40's, and it just kills me. All I am capable of doing is whining and complaining about it. My last car didn't like it either and wouldn't run with the air conditioning on if it was over 38. Hope the heat breaks soon for you.

    That photo is incredible! A once in a lifetime shot! Thanks for posting it.

  18. The skirt looks beautiful - inside and out! And I love it paired with that shirt. :)

  19. Do you think you can send some of your heat to us in Denmark? It's freezing and snowing here
    Nice skirt you,ve made, it looks very good on you

  20. your skirt looks as good on the inside as the outside. Looks like a useful skirt . YOu can so easily get away with teeny skirts as well.

  21. Isn't this just a wonderful skirt pattern that can be used by a variety of sized women in all walks of life! I love the changes you made to make it your own,as well as, the fact that you dyed it. Glad you found a replacement for a favored piece.

  22. Oh, I LOOVE this cute little skirt.
    Looks lovely and so summery (envy!) with the white top.

  23. Brilliant skirt - really suits you!!! Funny country we live in - you had heat wave Aussie Day, we had ours cancelled over in Brisbane due to floods...

  24. Great skirt and love the pockets, so essential when dog walking. That is an amazing photo of the fireworks and lightening.

  25. Very cute skirt, especially with the pockets in front. And what an amazing lightning and fireworks display. They timed that really well!

    It's never gotten so hot here in recorded history. 40.5 was the record, and that was very rare. If I ever visit, I think I'll come in the winter (:

  26. so versatile little skirt.... and amazing pic!

  27. Super cute style. The colour is great. I love the pockets and the finishes your used.

  28. That display in the sky is beyond stunning!!! The combined pyrotechnics of Ma Nature and humankind never looked so good together!

    And you skirt looks great too!

  29. That is a WONDERFUL skirt. Off to order my copy... Thank you for sharing.

  30. That last photo is simply amazing! I like the generous pockets and the color of the skirt.

  31. Very cool skirt, I love the contrast waistband and unusual pockets! Fun how you always make your clothes seem very "you". :) The color turned out beautifully!

  32. Hi mum this outfit looks really good i really love the new skirt pattern especially with the black hem and waist draws the line and really defines the skirt! As i always say i really like u in simple geometric clothes really suits you :D. Miss you heaps! xx

  33. Wowsers for the lighting vs. fireworks! What an amazing picture! I love your skirt. That particular skirt is really popular - I've seen a few made up in sewing blog-land - and every time I see it I really like it. The pockets are the selling feature to my eye.

  34. sounds like you are having summer temps like we did last summer, and the fireworks bans to go with it. Yikes!

    I like the skirt, and I have used the bias binding technique on the hem of a skirt to keep all possible length as well! I think it is a very nice finish.

  35. That skirt is absolutely lovely :) Though I wouldn't have described the colour as sludgy at all!
    PS: The fireworks and lightning photo is incredible, what great timing the photographer must have had

  36. Nice dye job! It looks like one of those great pieces that would go with absolutely everything. And that fireworks/lightning picture is awesome!

  37. I love your zero waste skirt and it looks fab on you. First time I heard the word "sludgy!"

  38. What a great skirt! Wonderful construction as always. I will be making this one but adding quite a few inches to the length.
    Amazing display of lightning and fireworks!

  39. Found your blog via Karen at Did You Make That?-- love the skirt! It's so cute and flattering!

  40. I bought this pattern for the top but after reading this blog I think I'll have to make up the skirt too!

  41. I'd call that purply-brown colour "puce" (which, as it happens, means "flea" in French).