Cotton voile skirt – New Look 6155

I made a skirt!

2013-09-28 cotton voile skirt

I actually made this back in July, but failed to get a single photo of it until today. It’s view B from Simplicity 2368.
Simplicity 2368

This skirt is the easiest piece of clothing I’ve ever sewn. The waistband is super simple – it’s just a folded over strip that you thread elastic through.

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The two layers of the skirt are the same except that the bottom layer is a little longer than the top. Each layer has a narrow hem.

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The fabric is super cute. I purchased it in from fabric.com last year, and when it arrived I realized I had no idea what to do with it. My original plan was to make a dress, but the orange flowers and sequins became a little overwhelming with that much surface area. I would pull it out and admire it occasionally, and assumed that’s what I’d do forever until I ran across Simplicity 2368. The fabric is light and airy so it works very well with this pattern. Plus it’s a little see-through, so making a two layer skirt meant I didn’t need to make a lining.

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I love this skirt – it’s so light and summery! Of course, that means I won’t be wearing it much longer. If I can find the right fabric I’ll make a fall version, but in the meantime I’m working on my first wool skirt.

It’s been a busy few months, so I’m behind on my sewing projects. Maisie was at the vet for five nights and had surgery – she’s fine now, but that was very scary. I finished the first draft of my next book, which was exciting but a lot of work. And, of course, there was the flood. Our house was fine – we were very fortunate. We have friends who lost their homes, and friends who still have water coming in to their basements. The amount of devastation is amazing. Here’s a look at one of the local trails – a mudslide carrying huge boulders and tree trunks is blocking what used to be a simple dirt road up the valley.

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I did get to help out Rudy, a flood victim who shared my office one afternoon after being evacuated. He’s back home now and everyone at work misses him. :)

2013-09-16 Rudy

And yet another flower! Simplicity 1601 – view G

Today’s flower is the easiest one yet – view G from Simplicity 1601, designed by Andrea Schewe.

Simplicity 1601 front

I used some light cotton fabric that was left over from the 1963 shift dress I made last summer.

The petals of this flower consist of five squares with rounded edges. Each square is folded in half, then you gather all five sections using one piece of thread.

2013-08-11 gathering petals

Gathering the petals was very easy. View A and D were a little more work because they involve gathering two or three sections of fabric, then all of those gathered chunks must be hand sewn together. View G was much less work because there was only the one layer of petals to gather.

2013-08-11 gathering all five petals

The petals have a lovely curve.

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The next step is to gather a circle of fabric around a button for the flower center. This is the same as for views C and D, except the button is a little larger.

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The final step is to sew the covered button to the gathered petals. This is pretty easy, but next time I’d tighten up the gathered petals first. I looked at them beforehand and felt they were pretty tight, but when I sewed the button to the petals there were a few places where I had to add extra stitches in order to hide all of the gathers underneath the button.

I still don’t have green felt, so there are no leaves on this flower…the black felt didn’t seem appropriate. I had planned on getting some during the week, but we had a little too much excitement – Maisie spent five nights at the vet and had surgery. She’s back home and recovering extremely quickly, but it was a long and stressful week for everyone.

Even without leaves, the flower is super cute!!!

2013-08-11 the finished flower!
Maisie was completely uninterested in flower-making, but she did want to play with her ball, which made us very, very happy after such a scary week. She’s in the background here, since Jasper stole the ball (she’s not yet allowed to play with it anyway).

2013-08-11 Maisie and Jasper

Simplicity 1601 – Tote bag with flowers

Since I made my Christmas tote bag last fall, I’ve been wanting to make another bag – but I wanted to add something decorative. Andrea’s flower pattern, Simplicity 1601, provided lots of fun flower choices. I loved the pink gingham flower I made a few weeks ago so I decided to go with that version. I had some cotton fabric I purchased last fall during my apron-making spree, and came up with a plan for the bag and three flowers to sew on the outside of the bag.

The pattern calls for not sewing the edge of the fabric on the bottom of the flower (the part that attaches to the felt base), but I decided to sew this for two reasons. First, because I thought rough edges might be too visible on a bag, and second because the gingham flower was wider than I wanted this time around (since I wanted to attach three flowers instead of just one).

I started off by sewing the edges of the flowers except for a small hole, then I turned them right-side out and pinned them in place. Because I was stitching the gather (which I did by hand…this time…), it wasn’t necessary to finish off the unstitched portion. After the gingham flower, pinning these together was super easy – which was good, because with three flowers I had to pin/gather six separate rosettes.

2013-07-28 pinned flower
Gathering the flower by hand turned out to be pretty easy. I did end up breaking the thread a few times, but it was pretty easy to recover from. I think you could avoid that by either using two gather threads instead of one, or by making larger stitches.

2013-07-28 gathering a flower

I didn’t follow a pattern for the bag, which could imply something about my skill level, but really indicates a complete lack of patience. I went back to see what measurements I’d used for my Christmas tote bag, then looked at that bag and decided it was taller and narrower than what I had envisioned for this version. I went with the following measurements.

main fabric

exterior and interior: 16″ x 17″ on the fold

contrast fabric

straps: 3″ x 27″
interior pocket: 6″ x 6″

I changed the size of the pocket at the last minute because I realized I’d changed the width of the bag (to roughly 9″) and the pocket I’d cut out was much too large.

2013-07-28 pocket

I didn’t realize I was going to change the depth of the bag until I eyeballed it when I went to sew the bottom seams. My last bag was 3″ deep, but this one is 5″ deep.

2013-07-28 sewing the base

This time I put a layer of interfacing on the inside of the bag to make it a little sturdier. Next time I’ll do the same for the straps – I didn’t think of doing that until I’d already sewn them.

I laid out the flowers on the bag to figure out how they should be arranged.

2013-07-28 before sewing flowers

Since I had three flowers to attach right next to one another, I decided to sew one large felt base instead of three separate bases.

2013-07-28 before sewing the felt base

Sewing the felt base on was not too much work.

2013-07-28 sewing felt base

However, sewing the base on meant that the flowers were secured together on the bottom – I needed to do extra stitching on the top to make sure they stayed close together.

2013-07-28 tightening up the flowers

Maisie kept me company.

2013-07-28 Maisie

I then sewed the flowers to the bag and was very happy! But as you can see, I made one tiny mistake…

2013-07-28 oops

Oops!!! Fortunately it was easily fixed.

2013-08-03 finished bag

And here’s a close up of the flowers. They turned out beautifully!

2013-08-03 flowers!!!