Modded Fall Skirt

I need one of those nice multi-part German words to mean “adapted from an existing pattern with substantial changes”, because I didn’t draft this and I sure didn’t hack it (“I’m in!”), but I did adapt an existing pattern with substantial changes. Anyway! I wear skirts now, I guess!

I had less denim left over from my 1970s pants than I thought (if more than I expected). I’ve been considering adding skirts back into my life, mainly because my tights are underemployed, and the timing seemed right. ONCE AGAIN I started with the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, pretty much treating that pattern as a lazy woman’s block. I’m the lazy woman.

Searching how to alter a pants pattern to sew a skirt yielded some pretty dire refashions but not a lot of pattern manipulation. I went so far as to visit *the second page* of Google search results without success. In the end I felt my way through adapting the pattern on paper, which yielded a wearable but blah skirt, and finally altered the fabric directly, for a skirt I actually like.

Here are my initial changes:

This sewed up fine. The seams matched, the side seams hung straight, the hem was reasonably even (it dipped a bit in back – my rear takes longer to travel side-to-side than top-to-bottom,  I guess), though it was a little loose at the waist. But it was EXTREMELY uninspiring. It wasn’t really A-line, just a lackluster triangle. I thought about widening the back darts to fit the waist, but it needed a more dramatic change. So I added a back seam, taking in the skirt about ½” at the waist, and curving the seam extravagantly under my bum to remove a full 7” in width from the back hem!

This is what the pattern pieces looked like after my on-the-fly changes:

I added a grown-on placket to the center front. On the back, the little red filled-in areas reflect where more fabric was needed. I changed my paper pattern to include those, but since I obviously couldn’t add them back onto the already-cut denim skirt, there’s a funny little upward dip in the hem, like a gradual buttcheek curve (like so: ‿‿).

I didn’t think I’d be able to hem the skirt neatly when double-folding the finished placket, so instead I tried the following technique. It uses a 5/8” hem allowance and the downside is you’re locked in to whatever skirt length you start with, but it’s low-bulk and tidy!

I had a belated flap about the placket overlap (if my finished placket is 1” wide and the seam allowance is only 5/8”, then I’m going to be short by 3/8” per side for a total of ¾” too small at the waist!!) but in the end it came up a bit big, so I’m not sure what happened there. But I’m not mad.

Oh and did she add pockets? Yes she added pockets.

Even with adjusting on the fly, a simple skirt sews up so fast! I was recently given a bag of fabric by a lovely parent at my school which included this handsome autumnal floral, and I was so pumped that my skirt design kind of worked that I immediately made another one from my adjusted pattern. That’s called science!!

I was working with a leftover piece of sturdy cotton (?) canvas (?) so I’m glad I avoided both pattern twinning and floral cheek meat.

I was worried about a flower vanishing right into the crack seam (as all the best couturiers in Paris call it), but it’s a busy design and there don’t seem to be any terrible florivorous mishaps.  

You know what makes a simple skirt even faster? Rivets instead of buttons. Buttonhole placement, by the way, was determined by how many mostly-matching buttons I could find in the ol’ Tub O’ Buttons. 10, spaced about 1.75” apart, except for the waistband button and the first placket button, which are close buddies. 10 rivets too. It’s almost enough to get a gal to invest in an anvil.

This is shopping-not-sewing, by the way, but I’m very happy with my new(ish) Kodiak Low-Rider boots. They’re city boots from a hiking company, and they took about 18 hours to break in (3 6-hour wears) and now they’re super comfortable. My one complaint is there’s no back tab to help pull them on, but I recommend them to anyone else who’s constantly on the lookout for flat boots.

Now let me sit and ponder if I got away with this post without revealing the hole in my tights…

See you soon!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, in a way

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: D at waist, E at hips (again, sorta)

Supplies: scraps of Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed, scraps of floral cotton canvas (?); thread, buttons, rivets from stash; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 5 hours/3.75 hours

Total cost: $2.39

Fern Cryin’ Out Loud

How many times am I going to blog a pair of Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts? As always, Miss Swann, at least once more. Well, twice more, actually, since there’s two pairs in this post.

I don’t have a stash (one part smug to two parts jealous of your sweet sweet stash) but I save aaall my scraps. Both these shorts were made out of leftovers, originally from a pair of Peppermint Wide-Legs and RTS Papao pants.

This first pair was made from a mystery fabric which, while not exactly right, was very available. I wanted a pair of longer shorts for work this summer, but they ended up a hard-to-wear betwixt-and-between length, so I re-hemmed them to about a 3” inseam. It’s an improvement, but due to the stiffness of the fabric they stand out from my body more than I like and the finished silhouette is on the edge of dorky.

If not exactly in dorky territory, they’re on the Dorky Trail, headed west. I need the space for thigh spread, though!

I’d like to say the wrinkles are for verisimilitude. So I will. They are for verisimilitude, and you are welcome.

The thing that sells me on this pair, despite the fabric, is that I did a really good job sewing them. (No one will match Hercule Poirot for his humbility!) I know I’m not supposed to say so but I did, they look nice inside! I had a perfect scrap of sandy glimmer cotton for the pockets (not pictured, oops), and the only zip I had happened to be a coordinating color, too. It’s so tidy in there, it makes my heart glad.

I used the selvage for the edge of the fly shield, which I like aesthetically though it serves no purpose that serging/zig-zagging the edge wouldn’t also accomplish. Also, I’ve finally started backing my waistband buttons with little flat buttons on the inside. It really helps reduce wear and warping. Luckily I have a tin of them harvested from Professor Boyfriend’s worn-out RTW shirts.

I also hang onto decent-sized singleton buttons like this one, the ecru cherry on this beige cake!

 My second pair, in known-quantity cotton twill, has many more wrinkles, even though I just popped them on for the photos. Also, PLEATS.

I converted the front darts to 1” deep pleats – why? Oh, um, no reason. I think I slightly overfit the waist. Not to the point of discomfort, but the snug waist + pleats do mean these practically bloom open. Someday I’ll actually use a drapey fabric like the pattern calls for but right now my legs are inside fabric balloons. Super comfortable, unsurprisingly!

At this point I was out of zippers (well, I had a 5” one for Professor Boyfriend – but me and my body getting in and out of fitted-waist pants with a five inch zip? Ha ha ha HA good sir). So I was grateful for my recent experience sewing hidden button flies! There are a lot of good techniques out there, but I gave this one a whirl and LOVED it. I did the short lines of stitching between button holes to keep everything in place.

My shirt is a Deer and Doe Melilot, which is the zippiest button-up shirt pattern I know. It has no yoke, dropped shoulders, and cut-on plackets. The bit that takes the longest is turning the curvy hem.     

I used cotton voile bias tape to hem. I’ve done it by double folding before, too, but I like this better. The fabric, by the way, is a vintage Italian linen tablecloth – it was basically Professor Boyfriend’s trousseau. He brought it to the relationship and I used it to make a short-sleeve button down for him, then foraged the scraps for myself.

I should wear my short-sleeve Melilots more often. I really like them so I have a bad habit of saving them ‘for best’. This isn’t the easiest-wearing one in my closet, because of the linen, but who can say no to a basic white shirt?

I pointed the collar but otherwise sewed a straight size 42, no changes. It’s a little snug on my hips but the bust fits okay. I might retrace as a 44 with a 42 collar, because the collar fits perfectly; this was the first shirt pattern I tried that I could button all the way to the top (though I don’t right now, because I don’t like high necks + coronavirus hair together).

Speaking of buttons, I actually sewed this last summer for the Sewcialist’s logo color challenge. I got white on the wheel but couldn’t resist a little pop of something-something!

Surprise!

Also, when this post goes live I will hopefully be in the Berkshires, Q-tip up the nose permitting. Time to pack!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts

Pattern cost: NA

Size: D at waist, E at lower hip + thigh

Supplies: leftovers of mystery TMOS fabric/leftovers of cotton twill; thread, buttons from stash; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.28

Total time: 4.25 hours/6 hours

Total cost: $1.28/$0.00

Pattern: Deer and Doe Melilot

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 42

Supplies: leftovers Italian linen tablecloth; thread, Michael’s, $3.75; buttons, Gather Here, $6.00

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $9.75

Buzzwords

Hi all! What’s the buzz?

IMG_3259.JPG

Oh, is it the base of my Halloween costume? It is!

IMG_3151.JPG

One of these days I’d like to cut loose and make a COSTUME, we’re talking something that needs super specific underwear and maybe you have to crouch to get through doorways, but in the meantime (as in, as long as I stay in my beloved but closet-less apartment) I pull together costumes from daywear. You could be forgiven for thinking “This? A costume? No, no, sir” which, like, fair enough. Though there are more posterboard components for the night itself.

Anyway, I’m a Spelling Bee! (Professor Boyfriend, not pictured, is a Spelling Beekeeper. His veil is dotted with yellow and black striped capital letter “B”s.). Whereas I’m, basically, a nerdy bee? The sewn elements are a pair of Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, which I covered thoroughly here, and a Seamwork Natalie blouse.

IMG_3161.JPG

Nothing much to say about the shorts except that they’d match the concept better in black, but I found this grey linen locally for $3/yard, so yeah, SOLD.

One of the best parts of working in an elementary school is that you can have serious in-depth conversations about Halloween costumes. During one of these, a six-grade visionary suggested I add suspenders to my outfit, which: yes! They really cinch the Poindexter vibe! It’s just suspender clips and black ribbon, so only aesthetic, no support. I actually already had these – a couple years ago I got smitten with the idea of suspenders just long enough to order the clips, and I wore them maybe twice before the day I paired them with culottes and a leotard and had to reenact The Great Escape when I wanted to pee.

The ‘bee-siest’ piece is this top. I’ve been thinking about the Natalie blouse for a while and I’m glad I finally made one! In recent months I’ve been glibly converting regular collars to camp collars and then moaning that they don’t sit right, but actually following directions to learn a new skill seems to have worked better, TELL EVERYONE. I think the trick is in the width of the facing. The plackets curl open close to, but not over, the edge of the facing. It mildly stresses me out that it’s just tacked down inside and not topstitched, but maybe that’s an important ingredient too?  

I did add three additional buttons between the four recommended ones. More stitching is better stitching.

This top certainly fits, but I should have picked my size more wisely. I sewed an 8 bust graded to a 10 waist. Thanks to the boxy fit it’s not tight anywhere, but the shoulders are too narrow.

IMG_3239.JPG

Ideally, the shoulder seam would sit 1/2” – 1” further out. I think I’ll retrace the pattern in a straight size 12. The good news is I know already that I won’t need to grade for my hips!

Oh, a note on plaid-matching – I remembered to match the side seams below the bust dart, but completely forgot about the sleeves. Oh, well. Though, it’s been a while since I’ve set a sleeve in the round, not to mention I French-seamed it, and it is sitting pretty smoothly! So it might be in the wrong place, it might not match the plaid, but I’m calling it good!

IMG_3158.JPG

I probably won’t wear these bits as an outfit together after Halloween (contrary to everything about my personality, I’m not actually putting effort into being a nerd), but separately, yes, for sure. Do you dress up for Halloween? And if you do, do you try to keep the pieces wearable in daily life, or do you go wild?

Buzz-2.gif

Either way – Happy Halloween! 😈

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts

Pattern cost: NA

Size: D at waist, E at lower hip + thigh

Supplies: 2 yards of linen blend, Sewfisticated, $5.98; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread, rivet from stash

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $7.38

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: $3

Size: 8 at bust, 10 at waist

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman Sevenberry: Classic Plaid Twill Plaid Yellow, fabric.com, $24.24; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $27.24

Thick Thighs Save Lives

Several of our friends and family members are having or have just had children, so Professor Boyfriend and I took an international bambini tour! Plus we took advantage of this baby-greeting travel to revisit Oxford, a city we lived in for four years (him) and a year and five summers (me). This has nothing to do with my new shorts, but everything to do with these photos, since we took them in beautiful Port Meadow. I got nettlerash! Because I was wearing shorts. Sooo. Duh, I suppose?

To be specific, I was wearing the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts. I experienced an interruption of shorts service this summer; my body got bigger and all my existing shorts were suddenly up my crack. I couldn’t think of a shorts pattern I *had* to have, so I used The Foldline’s Pattern Database and rustled up the Ferns.

Pros: turn ups, high waist with a traditional waistband (I’m not hating on elastic, I just don’t like sewing it), and I saw it modeled on plenty of bloggers with a similar heft to their hips and thighs to mine.

Cons: invisible side zipper.

OR IS IT?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the invisible side zip to a full pirate’s booty of front fly buttons. I needed this pattern to work with a front fly if we were going to be a thing long-term, as every invisible zip I’ve ever installed looks like poo and breaks immediately.

I was mildly hornswoggled to print and assemble my pattern and discover all sizes shared one outseam line. My most meaningful grading, then, would occur along the crotch curve and inseam, and that’s where I proposed to make major changes.

Luckily I had a long enough straightaway on the crotch, grading from D to E, to pop on a ‘self-drafted’ fly extension (it’s a rectangle with a curved bottom, I wasn’t exactly designing a rocket ship). I made a decision on the fly (HO HO HO) to use my crotch to display a golden rivet trove and then enjoyed this very excellent button fly tutorial and did so.

My fly is actually longer than necessary! I don’t have to unbutton the bottom button to get in and out of these. But if you’re going to have four shiny gold eye-catchers up your front rise, why not have five?

I extended the waistband by 4” to accommodate the over- and under-laps. It’s a rectangle, so, again, ‘drafting’ seems like a strong word. I also cut two belt loop pieces and divided them each into thirds, instead of one piece into fourths, as directed.

First try-on was a success. I was really very happy with the crotch curve! It’s comfortable and stays the hell away from both North and South Wedgieville. And hooray, the buttons buttoned. The legs were a smidge too wide at the bottom for my liking, so I took an additional ¾” seam allowance on the outseams, starting from the hem and blending at the hip.

Hey, why is no-one talking about front darts? Front darts are THE BUSINESS. My diameter changes by a foot from waist to hip, give this girl some front darts. I look forward to playing with these – there are pleated shorts in my future!

Basically, I’m a happy bunny! I made this trial pair in leftover rigid Cone Mills denim, and I liked them enough to immediately cut into my other large denim scrap.

I had less of this dark denim so these have a 3” inseam and no turn ups. Also, a traditional fly zip. On this pair I curved the waistband slightly, removing about an inch from the top edge. Sorry for the lack of detail in these photos – we had to run home to change (I wasn’t getting my pins out in Public Nettle Meadow) and we lost the light!

I do have a fun story about this pair of shorts. I got to England right before that series of record-breaking hot days and tried to change into these shorts right away, only my dang button had broken at the shaft. Not the thread, the actual shaft. So no more button! I was staring down the barrel of 97°F with only one pair of shorts in my suitcase when I remembered…OXFORD HAS A JOHN LEWIS NOW.  

I’m not sure anyone who DIDN’T move away from Oxford months before the opening of its John Lewis can understand the slow but certain blossoming of joy in my heart. To those not yet lucky enough to go, it’s like an employee-owned Mega Target. And crucially, it has a haberdashery! So I could buy a button!

THIS BUTTON!

Separately, before setting off for England I bought a new watch (I don’t have a smartphone, so it’s a pretty crucial tool, especially when travelling). My last one was a $15 stopgap that lasted two years while the band slowly dissolved like wet cardboard, so I’m pretty pleased with the new guy.

It’s from The Horse, for any other analog fans.

To sum up: I dig my new shorts, sewing them was a snap, fly fronts + front darts 4 life.

I’ll be back soon to talk about the top I’m wearing in these photos – with other, nearly indistinguishable photos!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts I & II

Pattern cost: $8.14

Size: D at waist, E at hip, with changes, above

Supplies: scraps of Cone Mills denim in Mint; scraps of Wrangler overstock denim; 1/2 yard of Dear Stella Aweigh North Sailor Toile Sand Fabric, Gather Here, $5.75; thread, Michael’s, $2.39; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40

Total time: 6.5 hours/4.5 hours

Total cost: $17.68 for both pairs