A Nod to Spring

We may be deep into winter (technically, the first day of winter was just a couple days ago), but my fashion sense knows no seasonal bounds. I was also meaning to start a series of blog posts to give some tips on working with patterns, but I got distracted with too much writing and wanted to just sew something. So, to my stash I went and pulled out the yellow cotton I picked up in Austin at Bolt Fabrics while I was visiting my parents in early November.

A Nod to Spring

I managed to track down the fabric, and it turns out that it’s a cotton sateen designed by Valori Wells. (I picked up some of Valori Wells’ voile in Portland during the summer, so I guess I’m attracted to her prints). It’s a heavy enough weight that I could have left the skirt unlined, but I decided to line it anyway and picked up some China Silk (silk is a misnomer here, since it’s polyester) at Pacific Fabrics. Earlier, I decided that because of the lines from the birch trees in this print, I wanted to make a pencil skirt (but I had just enough fabric that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything else with it). I knew that out of my hundreds of patterns I have in my collection there HAD to be at least ONE pencil skirt pattern. I found a couple, most were paired with a suit jacket, but I found one pattern from 1989, which must have been my mom’s (because I know I wasn’t this size back in 1989), and it looked like she had used it at least once before.

Is this vintage?

Is this vintage?

It was kind of fun working with a “vintage” pattern. This skirt was super simple, and had five different lengths (I went with the 25″ length that comes down just below my knees, and I’m debating about shortening it, but it comes up just above my knee when I sit down, and that’s perfect for modesty’s sake), and the lengths longer than 22″ had a vent in the back. I’ll talk a little more about the vent in my pattern review. Had I been smart and gotten more fabric, I probably would have tried to do a better job of pattern matching on the waistband, but with the darts, it probably wouldn’t have made a big difference.

And, finally achieved a perfect zipper insertion with a lining, thanks to Craftsy’s free zipper tutorial! (I watch this class EVERY time I insert a zipper).

Pattern Description

Classic pencil skirt. Pattern actually contains two styles: one with darts and one that’s gathered for a little more skirt fullness, and in five different lengths (22″ to 41″ inches).  Waist sits at the natural waist.

Pattern Sizing

I started with a size 14 at the waist and graded out to a size 16 at the hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yep, although, I hope my styling is a little more modern looking than the pattern envelope, though :)

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Okay, I really tried to follow the pattern’s instruction, but this was a three piece skirt, so aside from making sure I attached the waistband in the correct way, I kind of ignored the pattern and did it the way I wanted to (using the techniques I’ve picked up over the years).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I’m very used to wearing my skirts a little lower than my natural waist, so that was different. It works fine, but it’s just a little different for me. I like the vent in the back for the longer styles.

Fabric Used

Cotton sateen (found in an upholstery store) with a Valori Wells print.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

The skirt vent, the instructions suggest just opening out, and to me, a more professional look would have been to sew it to the side. I found this tutorial for accomplishing this look on BurdaStyle from FashionSewingBlog.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Absolutely! This is a staple skirt to have in your wardrobe. Although, it might be hard to find this exact pattern, but if you have it in your stash, go for it!


Tried and true classic silhouettes are awesome, regardless of how old the pattern is! Don’t discount a pattern just because the pattern styling on the envelope is out of date, look at the line drawings instead.

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Gertie’s Vintage Inspired Wrap Dress


This has been one the best learning experiences I’ve had in a long time, so prepare yourselves, this is going to be a long post and hopefully I can make it coherent. :)

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Wrap Dress Muslin, Part II

When we last left, the muslin was in a questionable state. My biggest problem was how to handle the bust darts. They are in an nontraditional location for bust darts (darts normally “point” towards the bust point to help with the shaping of the bodice) and neither of the two (per side) were pointing where I would think they should point.

Bust darts are off to the side and go past the bust point

Bust darts are off to the side and go past the bust point

Oh, and there’s a ridiculous amount of ease in the bust area (about 4″ of ease for size 12), but since it fit when I tried it on with the bra I was using, I’m fine with it. Back to the “dart issue”. I mulled it over in my head for a while, posted about it in PatternReview.com‘s forums, chatted with another blogger who also created the same dress to see what she did about it. Ultimately, I’ve decide to leave the darts alone. It’s going to be a headache to move them around, and I’m Gertie placed them there for a reason. Far be it from me to screw up a design that she created (and probably make a bigger mess of it for myself) just because it doesn’t fit neatly into the box my engineering brain thinks it should fit into.

Next, I wanted to make sure (because of previous short waist issues) that the waist length really was fine. I went back to the muslin and drew lines for the waist position and even lines for the button and button hole placement.

Muslin with lines

Waist line drawn and buttonhole and button markers

The waist location was perfectly located at my natural waist, so no back waist length changes necessary (whew, that was going to not be so fun with this dress if I did). Also, I had the wrap backwards from the first time, so when I tried it on again, I made sure to pin it up exactly where the button would be. Fortunately, that lead me to another change I would need to make: the hip width.

It was actually a little tight. I haven’t been working out or eating as well as I was back in August (after I got sick in September, I pretty much fell off the bandwagon and am trying to find the motivation to get back on it). Since the muslin waist and hip are the pattern’s largest size already, I had to grade out a total of 3″ in the hip width. It was fairly easy, and I just slipped a piece of pattern paper under the pattern and extended the width at the hips. Should still have 2.5″ ease in the hips!

Widening the pattern at the hip

Widening the pattern at the hip

Well, I threw the fabric in the dry with a Woolite dry cleaning sheet, and I’m ready to start cutting out this pattern!

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“Vintage” Wrap Dress Muslin

Since it’s hovering around freezeing temperatures in Seattle, what better time to make a wool dress?

This is Gertie’s vintage inspired wrap dress, published by Butterick. I bought some wool and gabardine for this project from Mood a little while ago, so I didn’t want to start cutting into that until I had made a proper muslin. I finished the muslin last night and I’m mostly happy with it.

Front view

Front view

Ignore the crease that looks like it should be the waistline, because it’s not. I just didn’t do a very good job ironing out the wrinkles and creases in my muslin fabric. I didn’t follow Lynda Maynard’s technique with the lines (tsk, tsk, I know), but I had my husband assess the back for bagginess, which he said there was none (it didn’t look that way in the mirror when I tried it on, but it’s good to have a second opinion from someone who can actually see your back without you twisting to look in the mirror). So now I’m questioning whether my short waist really is THAT (3.5cm) short. I guess it’ll require a few more muslins to be sure.

Regardless of my short waist or not, the fit was pretty comfortable. What wasn’t okay was that the bust darts (and there’s four of them) go up and over my bust point by a couple of inches. Yikes! So, my plan will be to mark the waist point on the dress, make sure it’s where my waist is (and adjust where necessary), like I should have done in the beginning. Then, shorten the bust darts so they’re not going up and over my bust point.

Guess this is a good lesson on not skipping steps, too :)

Back view

Back view

I’m super excited to start this dress, but I want to make sure I achieve the right fit for this, because, this is why I sew :)

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