Now there are lots people with pretty strong opinions about Amazon and sure, maybe they aren’t 100% ethical all of the time, but then neither am I. Sure, they make lots and lots of money and they dodged some tax and, as a person who doesn’t earn lots and lots of money and pays all the tax, this did piss me off a bit.
However Amazon Prime is a thing of wonder and if you’ve not stumped up the cash to be a prime member I recommend you do. It means that you can get stuff, all kinds of wonderful, helpful stuff, to your door,the next day INCLUDING SUNDAY! This means when beautiful sewing books are published you can order them in a mole like haze from your bed, in your PJ’s on your smart phone, on a lazy Saturday morning and then they turn up ripe for perusal on a slouchy Sunday.
One of these very books was Tilly Walnes ‘Love at First Stitch’.
Like many others I have been reading Tilly’s blog since she appeared on the Great British Sewing Bee and have always liked her style (a fellow breton addict) and her clear, beautifully photographed explanations. I certainly did not need another sewing book, I already have a shelf full, with their little neon stickies flapping about, full of expectation of projects yet to be tackled, but hey we all have our vices and sewing books are one of mine.
I was attracted to Tilly’s book because of the patterns included. I have a few books where either the patterns:
a) aren’t included and involve a whole download/ print/ stick shenanigan that is tiresome, when you’ve paid good cash for the book
b) patterns are included, but about five different patterns are all squeezed onto one flimsy tissue paper piece, which makes tracing off akin to navigating spaghetti junction in Birmingham (I don’t drive but have been assured this is a great analogy).
Tilly’s pattern’s are clear and on the sturdier thick white paper I prefer, being an impatient and heavy handed sewer.
I decided to trace off the pattern for the Delphine skirt- this is the skirt that appears on the cover of the book, a nice simple A-line skirt.
As mentioned in numerous other posts, I have been making a conscious effort to de-kooky my wardrobe, to become a sleek, sophisticated, parisienne vision of chic. I am even working myself up to a very ruthless winter wardrobe cull, which will be both cleansing and embarrassing.
Following my new wardrobe ethos, I thought a nice simple, but endlessly versatile black skirt would be a welcome addition.
The A-line skirt is a wonderful basic item and very flattering to those of us with plenty of junk in the trunk. I have several skirts in a similar shape that get a lot wear
I wanted a fairly stiff fabric to give structure and keep the ‘sticky-outty’ cut of this pattern. I had a think back to all the bounty I brought back from Mood in New York earlier this year and went for this textured black, polyester mix.
I thought this would add a nice detail to what would otherwise have the makings of being a very dull skirt. The material is very textured and I knew it would be scratchy and itchy against my skin- so for the waistband lining, I pulled out some soft rain drop printed quilting cotton I had left in my stash, from this little dress ages ago.
All of the patterns from Tilly’s book and those available on her website, don’t follow commercial sizes and instead just vary from between sizes 1-6. After taking my measurements I was somewhere betweens a size 3 and 4 (little waist, big bum).
I graded between the sizes on the paper pattern lightly in pencil and then traced off using a tracing wheel and carbon paper. With tissue paper patterns I find that tracing off can sometimes be so fiddly, I often just give in a cut them to my size, knowing I’ll regret it later when someone desperately asks me to make them one of my ‘bespoke’ garments.
However with these thicker paper patterns, I find it bearable to trace off, so trooped on knowing that I would be able to later fulfil any ensemble requests from blog fan-girls.
In this instance I used the end of a role of wrapping paper to transfer my pattern onto, my usual preference is brown parcel paper, but I had run out.
You can buy special Swedish tracing paper, or squared pattern paper for this task, but as of yet, it is something I’ve never felt the need to splash out on.
The Pros of ‘proper’ tracing paper
– you can sew through swedish tracing paper, meaning you can construct and do a fitting check before you’ve even cut into your fabric
– the squared paper means you can accurately transfer alternations between the original pattern and your fitting
The Cons of ‘proper’ tracing paper
– it is more expensive
– it will not be lying about in the office for you to steal
– not as amusing, as cutting patterns out of Barbie Christmas wrapping from 2 years ago
Going into this project, I decided that I would behave and follow the instructions (ALL the instructions) in their entirety- again a recurring theme here at FOB, is that, I do not follow instructions and this tactic is not a good one.
This project called for interfacing on the waistband, I have made many waist bands without interfacing and have suffering in varying degrees because of such. I try to avoid interfacing where possible and on some projects with stiffer fabric you can- but as I said, I was behaving and not being a sewing nitwit.
I just used a standard medium weight iron-on interfacing that I had in my stash (plenty left hanging round after all of the times I have bought it but never used it!)
This material is thick and has a high synthetic percentage so didn’t respond to pressing very well. I did continue to press all my seams, but they still stand up despondently, as opposed to neatly lying down-but I’m ok with that.
When I started working with this fabric I was worried that it would fray like a mutha, so again, being very well behaved I zig zagged around all of my edges.
The only gripe I have with the instructions (and a gripe I have with most sewing books aimed at beginners) is that the instructions for the skirt, are then interrupted by the tutorials for the skills you need- for example halfway through your flow you are then pulled back or forward a few pages for the ‘invisible zip’ how -to. Now this is a very very tiny gripe and know it only comes because I am a little more experienced and a little less patient than the audience the book is aimed at.
I am getting pretty good at invisible zips now, but I liked how Tilly explained how to deal with the bottom end of the zip, as previously I had fudged this a little, but this one turned out well with only a slight pucker.
I finished all my seams with zig zag stitch but the inside seams of the skirt still look a little ratty due to the type of fabric- this is only adding to my ongoing desire for an overlocker.
I chose to stitch the waistband lining in place by sewing in the trough- this worked well and I like the double stitch detail it creates on the exterior waistband.
Here’s the finished item. Overall I am pleased and this was a nice and simple quick make, to get back into garment construction after some time out of the game.
I even wore a breton for the photos in Tilly’s honour…and the Fender Jagstang was just for an extra splash of rock and roll from my helpful stylist come boyfriend come photographer .
As you will see, I still haven’t quite nailed the fitting and I have heaps of room left at the waist. At some point I might take the time to fiddle and take it in, but for the winter months it gives me room to tuck in some extra fluffy jumpers.
I look forward to experimenting with this pattern and the fitting. In these stiff fabrics, I worry if I reduce the waist too much, the gradient I would need to skim my hips would then create a very exaggerated cartoon A-line silhouette- so maybe trying something in a softer fabric would be worth while.
Due to the thickness of the material, the hem is a bit bulky and doesn’t fall as neatly as I would have wanted. I will give it another very stern go with the iron, but don’t hold out much hope for improvement.
Looking at these photos, firstly, there definitely is some weird perspective trickery going on, that makes my legs look like very skinny flamingo legs and secondly I might take the skirt up a little. When I do this, I might opt to finish the raised hemline with bias binding and turn over instead of a double folded hem, to reduce the bulk.
I think this is the versatile skirt I set out to make and a good use of this special fabric from NYC. I hope I will get some good wear out of it through winter with black tights, brogues and a breton of course.
I really enjoyed working with Tilly’s pattern and I am thinking either a Mimi blouse or Megan dress will follow shortly.