Tag Archives: McCalls 5811

FO (from the archives): leopard print circle skirt

5 Apr

Hello strangers. Well, really, I’m the stranger around here. It’s been a while. Why? Well, lately, my sewjo has been absent. As has my knittingjo, craftingjo, and bloggingjo. In fact, the only jo I’ve had much to do with is Johanna from Making it Well, who I have been lucky enough to have a couple of play dates with. Thank goodness for that Jo!

But it’s time to get back on the horse (completely switching metaphors there). So, here’s an overdue post on an overdue post. The photos were taken in January. The garment was finished 2 years before that! It’s a meta-archival post.

This is my leopard print circle skirt. I love it.

Leopardy goodness

Leopardy goodness

But it is a tale of woe. And a tale of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Settle in for the telling.

I started this skirt waaaaay back in October 2011, on the same holiday I started my blue top of adversity. In case you haven’t committed all my posts to memory (the shock!) and haven’t clicked through the link (the horror!) the short version is I’d booked a sewing holiday at my wonderful mum’s house, got bronchitis the day I arrived, and spent my entire holiday in an illness-induced brain fade, and attempted to sew anyway. This was a bad idea. Do not sew when oxygen deprived – it turns out you need your brain for sewing.

Everything that could go wrong, did. The top bore the brunt of it, but my simple circle skirt did not pass unscathed.

I still love leopard and blue as a combination

I still love leopard and blue as a combination

First the fabric itself. Wow, this project was a real stashbuster! Mama Magpie gave me this cotton for my birthday about 12 years earlier (yes, 12) and I decided I finally knew what to do with it. That, the blue fabric, and half a dozen or so other fabrics all went into my suitcase.

The first thing I did on arriving was throw all my fabric through the washing machine. That was the first of many bad moments over the course of that holiday. One of my pieces was red and all of my fabric came out pink rinsed! Argh! A quick trip to the pharmacy for run remover (and drugs) and two passes through the run remover mostly fixed it all up. The white on some of the prints still has a vaguely off-white cast to it, but not so much that you’d notice if you didn’t know.

In one of the few successful moments of the trip however, I decided I preferred the leopard with the pink rinse. It softened up the white in the print into something more flesh toned, which I thought went better with the caramel and gold tones, so I left it like that!

Twirling action!

Twirling action!

The next issue came with the cutting out. Being a craft cotton, the fabric was quite narrow,so I knew I’d have to check my yardage. I read the pattern envelop BUT – the pattern includes a version with a contrast band at the bottom, and that was the version my fuzzy brain read. I had just the right amount! Or so I thought. It was only when I went to cut out the second half circle on the correct line, and couldn’t fit it onto the fabric, that I realised what I’d done. So I cut both half circles at the shorter length too, but now I needed a contrast strip for the skirt!

Mama Magpie had to do a days work in Auckland, about 2 hours south of us, and my original plan was to go with her to Auckland and spend the day in  our Auckland office. Being too sick to do this, I lay at home for a day while Mama worked, and she very kindly fabric shopped for me in her lunch break! She couldn’t find a coordinating cotton, but did find a beautiful chocolate linen to go with it.

more twirling action!

more twirling action!

To ensure the contrast band remained the same width all the way around and wasn’t affected by the bias dropping, I left the skirt to hang for a few days without the band, and then Mama levelled the skirt for me. As the levelled hem isn’t perfectly even (given my uneven body), I then pinned the skirt out on a cutting board and painstaking drafted a band that was the exact same shape as my skirt. Except I forgot to add seam allowances. Which I only realised after starting to cut. So then I had to check I had enough fabric left to cut it correctly (which I did, just) and cut it out again. Then, Mama’s fella gave me a couple of items to use as fabric weights, but one of them was a box that had an oil container in it that he’d forgotten about, and it leaked oil onto my fabric. Luckily most of it was outside the cutting zone, but I was starting to despair ever getting it finished!

So Mama in her ever so helpful way offered to sew the bands on to the skirt for me – but I told her the front and back the wrong way around, so all of my careful drafting was for nowt, and the side seams didn’t match up!

Whats a girl to do with a twirly skirt but show off a bit off knee?

Whats a girl to do with a twirly skirt but show off a bit off knee?

To top it off, I didn’t have enough leopard print left over for the correct length waistband, so there’s no underlap – instead, the edges abut perfectly and there are 4 hooks and eyes along the edge to do the waistband up.

Sometimes, just finishing something is an achievement!

But despite the agony and the irritations and the tears (and between this and the blue top, oh there were tears), I love the finished skirt. And then for some reason I never got around to taking photos of it. So when Juliet of Crazy Gypsy Chronicles arranged and WSBN meetup at the zoo to coincide with Jungle January, and I was too busy to make something for it, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to get my lovely leopard skirt the photos it deserved.

The awesome ladies of teh WSBN at the zoo: L-R Jo, Juliet, me, Zara, Sophie, Kat, Sandra, Gemma

The awesome ladies of teh WSBN at the zoo: L-R Jo, Juliet, me, Zara, Sophie, Kat, Sandra, Gemma

I had a fabulous time at the zoo with members of the always-awesome WSBN. Ladies, it is always a pleasure and privilege to hang out with you!

And of course, there were SO MANY CUTE CRITTERS! (Other than us of course, hehe).

OK, not my skirt - but LOOKITHEMEERKATS!

OK, not my skirt – but LOOKITHEMEERKATS!

Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, I have no photos of it with the blue top, which I had intended to wear together – the blue top has already been harvested of its buttons and disposed of. One day I will make another beautiful blue top to go with the leopard (which we all know is a neutral, right?) but until then, I’m enjoying wearing it with blue tops that have given me much less grief!

FO: pink and white floral circle skirt

13 Mar

Finally! I’m sharing my first circle skirt. Which I first made in March 2011. Yep, 2 years ago.

Unlike my second circle skirt, which was a heavy cotton sateen with quite a lot of drape, my first circle skirt was a lightweight cotton voile. Despite being hung for a week before being hemmed, it quickly dropped in one place and sat around for months waiting to be re-levelled and re-hemmed. Then when it was re-hemmed I didn’t have anything to wear it with for ages, and it was too lightweight for winter besides. So this summer was my first chance to really truly wear it. And wear it I did. It was glorious to wear in the heat of summer. All of these photos are from my Christmas holiday in KeriKeri, taken on a day trip to Russell and Waitangi, where it was perfect.

Daintily arranged to show off the print, on the hillside just below Russell's famous flagpole.

Daintily arranged to show off the print, on the hillside just below Russell’s famous flagpole.

I LOVE the print on this skirt. I love the vibrant colours and the painted look of the giant flowers and the fact that it doesn’t look like a floral at first glance. I love this so much I have the same fabric in an electric-blue-on-white colourway, waiting for the right pattern to become a two piece full skirted dress.

Was thrilled to see a bottle of Mello Yellow for sale while in Russell! Limited edition, exactly the same label from my childhood. I had to buy one (even though I wasn't a huge fan when it was out.) My mum decided that the retro style bottle went great with the skirt and retro-ish sunnies.

Was thrilled to see a bottle of Mello Yellow for sale while in Russell! Limited edition, exactly the same label from my childhood. I had to buy one (even though I wasn’t a huge fan when it was out the first time and not much has changed.) My mum decided that the retro style bottle went great with the skirt and retro-ish sunnies.

The skirt (dropping hem aside) was easy to make, as all circle skirts are. I used McCalls 5811 again, put in an invisible zip and a lapped waistband with a trouser hook, and wham bam that’s a skirt! The second time around hemming, I used wide  white bias tape to give it a bit of support at the hem and that was perfect.

This giant sundial offers 360 degree views over bush and ocean with the Russell township nestled in one piece. But rather than show you the beautiful views, I'm showing you my skirt. Oops.

This giant sundial offers 360 degree views over bush and ocean with the Russell township nestled in it. But rather than show you the beautiful views, I’m showing you my skirt. Oops.

Because I had to level this twice, I got worried about it being crooked. Which was probably why I noticed, when folding it after finishing the hems, the the side seams were a good inch different in length. I freaked out – I did NOT want to hem this again! But I tried it on, and no,it looked all good, nice and straight. So on a whim I looked at my other two circle skirts, (my polka dot skirt and the third yet to be blogged about). And each of them also had an inch discrepancy on the side seams, with the same side seam short in each case. So either one hip is lower than the other or one butt cheek is rounder than the other but either way, my body is not symmetrical. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, and is why I always get my skirts levelled on the body rather than on a dress form!

Holding my skirt to catch the breeze

Holding my skirt to catch the breeze

The sky was that colour everywhere.

The sky was that colour everywhere.

Posing in the Waka House, Waitangi, where we had great fun exploring

Posing in the Waka House, Waitangi, where we had great fun exploring.

I love wearing circle skirts, even though I’m still not sure they suit me. But I love how they feel and that is the most important thing. The one downside of circle skirts is that I live in a windy city and the breeze can be a bit naughty sometimes. I get around this by wearing things of which I do not know the name. They’re like leggings but only come to the bottom of my thigh. When I was at school we called them bike shorts, but that can’t be right because these aren’t the hi-tech cycling shorts you’d see on people who are actually riding a bike. I still call them that in my head but what do you call them? Either way, they’re not quite right, the lace abrades a little and I’d like them a bit longer too, so I’m thinking of making tap pants or bloomers instead.

And I’m not showing you the photo of my skirt caught by the breeze, up around my ears, butt to the camera, white [insert name here] on full display!

Finished object: pink polka dot circle skirt

20 Mar

My first completed project post! I’ve been held up on posting by a lack of pictures of me posing prettily-ish in any of my finished works. But I’ve decided to plunge ahead with this post with only action shots and see how it goes. If I get around to getting some appropriate posed photos, I’ll add them in!

Pink polka dot skirt

Me and the pink polka dot skirt on the dance floor

McCalls 5811Pattern: McCalls 5811
Year: about 2010
Fabric: cotton sateen with a small percentage of spandex, in stash for about 6 months
Notions: zip, trouser hook
Made: Finished March 2011, started not much earlier (a fast make for a change!)
Techniques used: lapped zip, slip-stitching waistband
Time to complete: A couple of hours maybe?
What I learned: doing something for a second time makes it easier. I can do lapped zips afterall – and YouTube is your zip techniques friend.
Wearable? Worn as often as I can get away with it! But it’s not on high rotation as I have a theory that really identifiable garments shouldn’t be worn out all the time – otherwise people will think I don’t have any other clothes!
Likeability: I love it! 10/10
Unsolicited comments: “You look like Minnie Mouse.” Hmm, not sure about that one. But I get lots of other lovely comments, and my favourite was “you look like happiness.” Aww

This is my second circle skirt. My first circle skirt has dropped (despite being hung) and needs to be re-levelled and hemmed so I’ll post about that skirt (and more about actually making a circle skirt) when it is re-finished. Grr.

Circle skirts are already easy to make and being my second, this one came together in a cinch for a nice change. The heavier weight cotton was easy to work with and the project seemed to fly by. I did my first lapped zip in years (my last few zips have all been invisible zips) and even that turned out perfectly fine with no hassles, thanks to a quick refresh with the help of Google and YouTube. All in all it was a pleasant sewing experience!

I love circle skirts! As well as being easy to make, they are so much fun to wear, and (at least I think so) very flattering. And I love dancing in them! I do rock and roll dancing (at beginner level) and there are lots of twirls and spins, and circles skirts are the finishing touch needed for such frivolity. Of course, such spinning and twirling shows one’s knickers quite a lot, so before I debuted this skirt, MrsC at the Hectic Eclectic helped me make a ruffled, super froofy petticoat with built in slip, and did a great tutorial on it here.

The dance studio I go to for rock and roll (Feet with Heat) had their Christmas party and medal presentation in December 2010. I went with my dear friend Miss La Belle, wore my polka dot skirt and had a blast!

Me and Miss La Belle

Miss La Belle and I get a photo on the way into the party. My knees are bent as I am a lot taller than Miss La Belle (due only to my stomping heels) and the photographer needed our heads at the same height!)

Me, and the skirt, in action.

Pink polka dot skirt in action

Just starting or finishing a spin, with the skirt at almost full altitude.

Not the most graceful set of photos but they do show the skirt in full flight!

Pink polka dot skirt in action 2

More spinning!

The top is from a clothing swap, but I love it with its great flutter sleeves so may take a pattern off it one day.

Pink polka dot skirt in action 3

It's all about the spins!

Earlier in that day, I did something amazing, at least for me. I did a dance exam. Yep, I sat the beginners level dance exam for rock and roll. This is amazing if you knew my reputation (poor) for having any level of coordination, combined with my abject terror of any form of exam. For rock and roll the beginners exam is called a bronze medal test and if you pass, you get an actual medal. It isn’t quite as scary (and therefore cool) as it sounds though. The exam consists of one minute slow dancing and one minute fast dancing, with my teacher as my partner. But I shook like a leaf before, during, and after. I have to admit I didn’t wear my circle skirt for the exam – I didn’t want the examiner to think that I thought I was all that and mark me harsher for it, so I wore my birdie bridesmaid’s dress, still to be posted.

Not only that, but in between my medal test and the party, I did something else amazing, at least for the camera-shy me. A retro kitchen pin-up shoot, in my skulls and roses dress! I’ll post pictures from that when I do my skulls and roses dress post.

All in all a great day featuring a great skirt. Roll on more of my new wardrobe!

All photos courtesy of Julian Thomson