The Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee – A-Line skirt

I did it…I entered the Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee Contest. I must have been crazy or something because I am not a person that finishes a garment in less than a week. But sometimes you are doing things that might not be reasonable. Here is the finished skirt:



Below you can read about the process.

The Day before:

Actually I wanted to wait for the project announcment before joining the contest. But then I read that the people who had joined (more than 280 at that time) would get an email with the project description. In order to not miss anything I signed up on Friday evening.

Day 1 (Saturday):

I got up rather early. The whole night I was wodering what the first project might be. While drinking my coffee I checked the emails and there it was! Deepika had sent it already at midnight EST, great! Because of the time shift I had been afraid I would have to wait until noon or longer.

Now, the project was…an A-line skirt. It should have the following components:

  1. Zipper
  2. Lining
  3. Button/hook or any other closure
  4. Waistband
  5. Hem

An A-line skirt is not my favorite garment, but I felt confident to have this completed within the deadline. As soon as I decided to sew this up, a million thoughts started to pop up in my mind….

  • Fabric choice: This was quite easy. I had a red wool in my stash for some time I always wanted to use for a winter skirt. I took it out of my stash, was still happy with my choice and throw it into the washing machine
  • Pattern: I did not feel like browsing through my pattern stash and looking for an A-line skirt. I thought it might be easier just to change my self-drafted basic skirt block. The most part of the afternoon I spend with drafting the pattern.


  • Lining: I still have some Cupro in my stash that I probably will use.
  • Construction: To have only a week for completing the garment means, no time for fancy time-consuming techniques. However, it is only a skirt, so I should have the time to make an underlining with silk organza….
  • Deatils: I have some nice buttons, maybe I could use one of them. I would decide on that later
  • Waistband: The wool is rather thick and I was afraid that the waistband might get to bulky. And a plain red skirt might be too boring for a contest. Maybe I could do something with leather? I have an old winter coat that I saved because I wanted to reuse the leather….I have never sewn with leather before, maybe not a good idea to start now.

I made a muslin to test the fit of my drafting. I had to take out some width, but else was happy with it. While the fabric was drying, I cut out the silk organza and started disassembling my old coat. Quite interesting to see how it was done.

2014-11-06-old coat

The leather was interfaced, so I decided to do the same to keep it from stretching out. I removed the old interfacing and applied a new one. While working with the leather I thought about the closure. I did NOT want to make a buttonhole into the leather, so I would go for hook and eye. However, not sure how to sew that onto the leather, maybe I will do the inner waistband with the wool.

Meanwhile the wool was dry so I gave it a press, laid the silk organza on top and cut the front and back piece of the skirt. As it was already late, I wanted to baste the organza to the wool the next day. But I was too afraid about the time that I started basting. Then I basted the side seams together, just to test the fit. No changes needed, great. In between looking for a zipper in my stash. Then I sewed the first side seam and trimmed the seam allowances. After that I went to sleep at 1:30 pm (what is really late for me).


Day 2 (Sunday):

Waking up early again. Before breakfast I catched stitched the seam allowance in place.

2014-11-06-side seam

Then referring to Gerties book how to do a lapped zipper and basted the first zpper tape into place. After breakfast I finished the zipper. My overlap is rather wide, but with this thick fabric I thought this might be better.


Sewed the second side seam, trimmed the seam allowances and catch stitched them in place. In the afternoon I started with the waistband.I was still unsure how this would turn out. Sewing the leather was easier than expected. Luckily I had purchased some leather needles for my sewing machine a few weeks ago. As the leather is rather thin, it was no problem sewing it. I pinned the waistband in place and stitched. I was really happy with the result. For the inner waistband I used a linen, interfaced with muslin. I stitched both layers together and then attached them to the outer waitsband. I folded the inner edge under and topstitched around the whole band.

2014-11-06-before waistband

At that time I had some problems with my stomach. I think it is because I put myself under such pressure and always was afraid that I would not finish the skirt in time. Trying to relax a bit I spent the rest of the evening on the sofa, knitting my cardigan and went to bed early. Not sure if I would stand that pressure for 4 weeks….

Tasks left to do:

  • cutting leather for the band at the hem
  • hemming
  • cutting and sewing the lining
  • inserting the lining
  • attaching the closure (still unsure about hook/eye or button)

Day 3 (Monday)

The first skirt is showing up in the contest gallery…Before going to work, I cut some more leather strips from the old coat. First thing I did in the evening was attaching the hook and eye. I thought this would be the hardest part because I had to sew through the leather for the eye, but it worked better than thought. I tried the skirt on again and decided for the lenght. Hemming was rather easy, I just turned over the edge and catch-stitched it in place. Next, I sewed the leather strips together and tried to attach them to the bottom of the skirt. However, the leather stretched out, and the sewing foot of my machine did not glide over it, but crumpled it together. I ended up taking it off again and interfacing the leather band. While sewing maybe I should also try to lay some tissue paper onto the leather.

Time for bed…


Day 4 (Tuesday)

More skirts in the contest gallery..those ladies can relax now. I am a bit jealous. Before work, I ironed my lining fabric. I decided against the Cupro and used a blue/brown striped lining. It has been in my stash forever, I do not know the content. It feels rather strong and the colour goes with the blue silk organza and blue zipper. I managed to cut the back piece before I had to leave. In the evening I sewed up the lining. Then I took up the leather band again. I carefully pinned it to the skirt at the top side first and slowly started sewing. My machine had difficulties while sewing over the seams, but she was brave and we succeded. Yeah, great relief, and it looked good! For the bottom I just folded the leather under while sewing, no pinning here. Again quite slowly, encouraging my machine….Last thing for this day was pinning the lining in place. I should be able to finish the skirt on Wednesday.

2014-11-06-inside without lining

Day 5 (Wednesday)

This day was rather relaxing as I only had to sew in the lining. I started before work and finished in the evening when I was at home again. Last thing was the label. Completed! I could not believe it. I wrote my review and we decided to take pictures the next morning, the only time with at least a bit of daylight….


Day 6 (Thursday)

We took some pictures in the morning and I wore the skirt to work. The pictures were not the best, so in the evening we took some more. As I will not have time on Friday, they must suffice. Finishing the review, loading the pictures and hitting the button. Yes, I was excited…There are some really awesome skirts in the contest. Now all I can do is wait for Sunday.





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Blog Hop

Last week SarahLiz from SarahLizSewStyle nominated me for the Blog Hop. This really took me by surprise. First, I did not know SarahLiz before (check out her blog, she has really ambitious sewing goals), and secondly, I never thought that somebody would nominate me. But I am more than scared happy to accept this challenge.

Why do I write:

I have read sewing blogs for about two years when I started thinking about having my own blog. I have learned so much reading those blogs, and I wanted to be part of this amazing sewing community. I spent a few months debating with myself if I really should start this adventure. One question was in which language the blog should be. I wanted to reach many (possible) readers, but was not sure if my English is good enough. I am  was not sure if my writing would be good enough as I am not a person for many words and rather introvert. Eventually I just started. And it was much more work than I had anticipated.

With this blog I want to create my own little space in the internet. I hope that it helps me to keep track of my sewing projects and improve my skills. And if somebody may learn something I would be more than happy.

What am I working on now?

I have started with the Style Arc Sissy blouse. The fabric is a lightweight cotton. I debated with myself for a few days how to sew this, what kind of seams, marking seamlines or not…Mel from poppykettle reminded me of one of my aims in her comments of her last blogpost: “my sewing ethos-everyday clothes sewn beautifully“. I immediately cut off the seam allowances of the paper pattern and am now thread tracing. This means it will take some time until you may read the next post. But I feel much more happy with this approach.

How does my blog differ from other sewing blogs?

I haven’t thought about this. And do not try to be different. I just try to be me. I think every blog is different because of the person behind the blog. Everybody has his own personal style and that makes every blog special.

How does my writing process work?

I am still trying to find my style. Usually, when I finish a project, I clear my sewing space and start writing the blog post. Sometimes I have already taken the pictures, sometimes I take them now. After hitting the “publish” button, I remember all the things I wanted to write about and have forgotten. For my last post I have tried to establish a structure and took some notes during sewing. This worked quite well for me, so I tink I will keep this method.

And now for the fun part:

I nominate Amy from The Little Tailoress. Her posts are always eye candy for me.

And I would like to take the opportunity to let the Blog Hop hop to the German speaking blogosphere and nominate Trousse de Couture. She does not only sew beautiful garments, but also amazing historical costumes. Even if you do not understand German you should have a look at her blog.

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Burda Style Magazine 05/2006 Blouse


While browsing through my patterns and magazines looking for suitable blouse patterns for my work outfit, this pattern catched my eye. It reminded me of Vogue 8747, but the gathering is at the side front, and the collar is different.


2014-10-19-side view



The fabric is a stretch cotton which has a bit of shine to the right side. It is tightly woven with stripes, rather stiff and was a pain to sew. It was difficult to get pins into it and handsewing was not relaxing but hard work…I think this is due to the stretch content.


I made a muslin and did the following fitting alterations:

  1. took in the side seams 1 cm at the waist
  2. reduced the width above the bust of the center front piece by 2 cm
  3. decreased the width of the center front piece by 1 cm over the whole length at the seam

I also drafted a new front facing. Burda does not include separate facing pieces, they just have a line drawn on the front piece that shows how the facing should look like.

2014-10-19-front pattern piece

Due to the gathering the center front is not straight but curved. It straightens out after gathering, but the fabric is on the bias. I could not imagine that with a facing also cut this way there would be enough stability at the center front. So I drew a new facing with a straight center line. It was a bit try and error to decide how long it should be. I think this was the right decision to keep the center front with the buttons and buttonholes stable. You see how the stripes are changing their direction at the center front:

2014-10-19-front detail

Design alterations

The original back of the Burda pattern did just not work for me. Even with the center back seam, it was too much fabric that I would have had to take out at the waist. I started thinking about adding darts and changing them into princess seams to be consistent with the front. But then I remebered Vogue 8747, a pattern that I have sewn before and I knew that the back fit me well. So I exchanged the original back with the back of the Vogue pattern. To make this work, I transferred the armhole, neckline and shoulder line from the Burda pattern to the new back pieces. As a reference point I used the center back and the shoulder line. I also adjusted the side seam so that it would match the front piece. This worked out really good and I am happy with the result. Below are the old and new back pattern pieces:


2014-10-19-back new

A welcome side effect is that I could enter the blouse in the “Frankenstein Contest” at pattern review.

Construction Notes

All seams are flat felled seams, even the princess seams at the front. Due to the gathering here, they are not as neat. I always find it difficult to decide how to finish princess seams, and I wanted to avoid serged edges. I had however to serge the edge of the front facings. I thought a lot how I could finish those edges, but everything except serging seemed to add too much bulk.

The collar was quite tricky and I am not sure if I did everything correctly. I found a tutorial in a German forum with many pictures, but unfortunately for the important steps the pictures were blurred and the description rather short. If you know a good tutorial, how to attach a lapel collar to a blouse, please let me know! Here are some views from the inside of the blouse:

2014-10-19-front inside2014-10-19-back inside

Front edge, collar and cuffs are topstitched.


As the weather was so nice this afternoon we took the pictures in the botanical garden of Hamburg:

2014-10-19-front 1


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McCalls 6796

While waiting for some Style Arc blouse patterns I sewed McCalls 6796 pullover top. Originally I had planned for Butterick 5954 , but I did not have enough fabric for that. And I am still unsure if I really like the style. I had totally forgotten about the McCall pattern, but it seemed to be a good substitute. And I really like how it turned out.


I cut a size 10 extending to 12 at the hips. The pattern is described as close-fitting, but is has a lot of ease. However, for a pullover top this is just fine. The only other alteration I made was narrowing the shoulders by 1 cm as I found them a bit too wide.



I was a bit confused how to attach the collar. Firt I thought the instructions were wrong, but of course, they were not. I topstitched the seam to make sure that everything stays were it should.



The fabric I used is a heavy weight cotton knit (“Feinstrick”).

I like the collar and the button detail. This makes the otherwise simple top interesting. All in all easy to sew and easy to wear, this top is a real winner.

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Kwik Sew 3555: a Classic Tailored Shirt

After sewing knits for the last few weeks I looked forward to sewing with wovens again and made a classic shirt. I did not take pictures during the construction, I just enjoyed the process.


The pattern is Kwik Sew 3555, a loose fitting shirt without darts. This is the pattern that comes with the crafty class “The classic tailored shirt” from Pam Howard. You need a little patience when following the class, as Pam is really speaking slowly (even for me as a non-native speaker), but she explains everything very detailed and has lots of little tricks to show which help to get great results. This is not the first shirt I have sewn, but it is by far the best I ever made.



The shirt is meant to be tucked in. It has a collar and a collar stand with a button, a breast pocket and a double yoke at the back. I could close all buttons if I liked to:

2014-09-10-KS-3555-shirt-buttoned up


All seams are flat felled seams. The sleeves were set in flat, before the side seams were closed. This was something new for me for a woven. The shirt has a lot of topstitching and edgestitching. Some of the topstitching was done from the wrong/left side of the shirt. Unfortunately, the stitches my machine makes do not look as good from the “bobbin” side. Maybe I have to try different settings for my machine to get better results.

The seam allowances of the breast pocket are not trimmed but help to shape a perfect crisp angle:


The same method was used on the sleeve cuffs:


I did have some problems with the hem at the curves, but as the shirt is tucked in, nobody will notice this:


Overall I am really happy how this shirt turned out. It is also very comfortable to wear. Maybe I will sew one or two more versions, but I usually like a more fitted style. Nevertheless, I will use all the new techniques I have learned for the next shirt.

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Anima Pants meet Stripes

I stuck to my plan and have finished my casual wardrobe so far (except for the cardigan that I am still knitting).  The pants are the Anima Pants from papercut, the T-shirt is self drafted.

Tha Anima Pants are quite popular at the moment, but as I ordered the pattern I was not aware of this.  I was reading some blogs and came across the version from Devon from Miss Make which I liked very much. It was my first papercut pattern, and I ordered the paper version as I was not in the mood of printing and taping a pdf pattern. And I am glad I did. The pattern is beautifully packed and you can cut out the instructions and make them into a little booklet.

The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. I first made some shorts as a muslin before cutting my good fabric. They turned out very nice. I cut a size S and did not make any changes.


2014-09-01-shorts-backHowever, I did not like two things construction wise. First, the topstitching for the faux fly has to be stitched from the left side. For my next version I marked the stitching line on the right side, so I was sure it came out correctly. Secondly, I did not like the waistband finish on the inside: the lower edge is not turned under. I did this for the long version.



I am not sure if I am happy with the fit of the long version. There seems to be too much fabric at the front crotch and the legs are quite slim so that I have the feeling the whole pants are a bit unbalanced. I skipped the cuffs at the bottom, but honestly, I do not know how that would have looked like with the legs already tight fitting. The front crotch issue might be due to my body shape as I have this problem also with other pants.



Some details of the waistband and and the inside (and I hate to stitch in the ditch…):


2014-09-01-innenThe shirt is nothing special, I changed the neckline of my basic block to a boat neckline which I finished with an elastic. The combination is very comfy but I feel like wearing pyjamas….I had planned for a second striped top, but I am not sure if I want more pyjamas feeling at the moment.

It is not as easy to stick to my sewing plan as I thought. I would really love to sew a dress now and I think I will soon. But first I need some basic shirts/blouses. And I am looking forward to sewing with wovens again.

Posted in garments, Serging, sewing, wardrobe architect | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Serging, Zipper Bags and Giveaway

Before starting on sewing my casual wardrobe, I wanted to get a bit more familiar with my serger. I own it for one year now, but I did not use it often. I kind of hated the machine. I always felt that I did not have control over it and consequently was not very happy with the results. But as the serger was too expensive to just sit on the shelf, I decided it was time to do something. So I took the Craftsy “Beginner serging” course. For me, this was exactly what I needed. Amy Alan, the teacher, explains in detail how a serger works, goes through all basic stitches and also shows decorative stichtes with different threads, yarn or ribbon.

I worked my way through the class and also prepared a sample book. The use of different colors for each thread helped me to understand how everything works together to create the stitches.


As I have a babylock, I do not need to make many changes to my machine settings, but even the small ones make such a difference. Now I feel much more confident about my machine and my skills.

One of the class projects are zipper bags. If you told me I would sew in a zipper with my serger a few weeks ago, I would not have believed you….But look at the result:


2014-08-17-Taschen offen


For practice reasons I made two bags, and the second one (the little orange one) was already much easier to make. All fabrics and zippers were from my stash. I also had some interfacing, but as it was not fusible, I quilted it to the outer fabric.

I use the green zipper bag now for my serger accessories, but I have no use for the little one. So I decided to make my very first giveaway on my blog!

2014-08-17-orange bag

The bag is 16x8x8 cm (approx. 6.25x3x3 inches). If you like it, or maybe have a little girl that would have fun with it, just leave a comment and let me know if you have a serger, and if you hate it or if you love it.

The winner will be chosen randomly. The giveaway is open worldwide and ends August 31, 12:00 pm CET.

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Butterick 6031

One basic I can not live without in winter are slips. The last ones I made are worn out by now and so I needed a replacement. Last time I used Jalie 2568. The pattern is quite nice, however, the neckline was too high for some of my V-neck tops, the armscye rather tight, and the lenght to short. I can’t stand a gap between the slip and my trousers. Before making changes to the Jalie pattern, I tried a new one: Butterick 6031, one of the patterns from Gertie.

Of course, I first made a muslin. The pattern comes with different cup sizes, what I really like. For the muslin I cut view B in size 8 and A/B cup.



The general fit was ok, however the side seams were a bit distorted, so for the next version I cut a size 10. I also lowered the edge of the cups a bit.


When I was happy with the fit I went into mass production. I cut fabric for further 7 slips. While sewing, I always kept the pieces belonging to one slip together, so that I would not mix up the little bustier pieces.

2014-07-26-zuschnitt Hemdchen

The construction was not difficult. Gertie also made a sew-along for this pattern on her blog. Applying all the lace is a bit time consuming, but it is worth it in the end. This is the inside of the front bodice.


My first items for the fall/winter wardrobe are completed!




I really love this pattern, and with the lace it feels like a bit of luxury.

Fabrics: white rayon jersey and white doted cotton jersey with elasthan, both from Stoffhandel Gädtke, Hamburg

Lace: Spitzenparadies



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Pattern Testing: Dolores Pocket Skirt

I have been a pattern tester for the first time! Some weeks ago, Beth of Ready Ruthie was looking for some pattern testers for her skirt pattern and I was lucky enough to get accepted. The skirt itself is an A-line skirt with or without pockets. Piping is optional. I cut a size 4, but had to do add a bit at the hips, and take in a bit at the waist.

The puckering at hip height is due to my dress form, that is the point where it ends…

I am a bit paranoid when I sew a new pattern. I ALWAYS make a muslin or use some fabric scraps or whatever I find, even if the pattern is as simple as this skirt. Despite so many years of sewing I am still afraid that the result might be a failure. For this project I did not feel like making a “real” muslin from muslin, so I looked through my stash and I found one of my very first sewing projects:

2014-07-26-alte HoseThis were originally some kind of bloomers, the ribbon at the bottom got lost eventually. I did actually wear these, but now they were laying in my closet for some years. I still like the fabric (I LOVE embroidered fabric and can hardly resit of buying it), but it never was really suitable for trousers. As the legs were so wide, there was enough fabric for testing the skirt!

I made the piping myself from some scraps I had lying around. Here is how the piping is sewn in at the pocket:


2014-07-26-Tasche fertigI used an invisible zipper at the center back. I like them because they are, yeah, invisible. And the matching of the piping was perfect at first go! I was already prepared to unpick the zipper several times, but this was not necessary at all.


I used cotton batiste as lining. For the side seams I used a french seam. The lining is attached to the skirt by hand. I also finished the hem of the skirt with handstitches.


The waistband is interfaced with batiste. At the inner waistband I attached both layers with some rows of machine stiches to make it stronger. I do not like waistbands that wear out over time. I use this method in every skirt now and I am quite happy with it.


The skirt is really a lightweight and perfect for the summer. And an old garment got a new life.

2014-07-26-Rock Seite

When I had fnished the skirt, it occured to me that I had sewn a very similar skirt last year….nearly same color, same piping, embroidered fabric….

2013-05-20-Rock vorne_1

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Capsule Wardrobe – Silhouettes, Colors and Fabric Choices

I have finished the planning of my capsule wardrobe for fall/winter and already started with the first project. More of that later. First, I decided on silhouettes for casual and office outfits. Do you know polyvore? I did not. But this is a really fun tool perfect for this purpose. I came up with two silhouettes for the casual wardrobe and with four silhouettes for office outfis.


casual 1

Casual 1

casual 2

Casual 2

Office outfits:

workoutfit 1

Office Outfit 1

workoutfit 2

Office Outfit 2

workoutfit 3

Office Outfit 3

work outfit 4

Office Outfit 4

The shoes are not always what I had in mind, but I did not find something better. Next I decided on the colors and diveded them into three categories: neutrals, near neutrals and statement colors (As you see I did not put too much effort in creating a perfect designed picture, but it is sufficient for my purpose):


Color Palette

For the beginning I chose one causal and two office outfits and reduced the color palette:

casual 1            workoutfit 2             work outfit 4


Reduced Color Palette

I might change my plans during the process. For example, I found it quite challenging to decide the colors for the office outfit with the flared skirt and do not yet know how this will work out. However, I can always refer back to this guideline.

Now starts the fun part: fabric and pattern choices! As many of you, I have a big fabric stash, and I will, of course, use fabrics from my stash, if they fit into my wardrobe plans. However, I have decided not to use fabrics because I just have them sitting in my stash. I will not be happy with my new garments (and won’t wear them) if I do not like the fabric. This means I will have to buy some new fabrics (ok, that is not really a burden). I will also take my time and buy/use only fabrics, that are good quality and fit in my plan regarding color/pattern/fabric content. No compromises here! I have started with the casual outfit. For the shirt pattern I will use a self-drafted pattern. For the pants I will use the Anima pants from Papercut Patterns. Here are swatches for the long-sleeved shirts:


Jersey Swatches

First I thought the cardigan would be an item I would buy. But then I had the crazy idea of knitting it by myself. I am usually no knitter. The last item I knitted was a scarf and I needed half a year until it was completed. Nevertheless, I searched for a knitting pattern and found a quite easy one and the next day I was shopping yarn. I found a beautiful, cozy yarn, Merino Air from Lana Grossa. Now I am sitting in my small garden at 30 °C knitting a woolen cardigan!


Knitting Project

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