white wool crepe dress – part 1

My latest project’s pattern comes from burda. I saw the magazine on a trip to Bavaria, and bought it. Amusingly, it is all in German, which makes making the dress a lot harder as I cannot follow the instructions!!

I loved the shape, so I decided to turn it into my holiday project. We’re in January now, and it’s still not finished, but I still think of it as my holiday project given I started it over the Christmas holidays. Maybe I’ll wear it to dinner for Valentine’s with The Man. We’ll see.


I bought a lightweight wool crepe from a shop on Goldsworth road in London, near Shepherd’s bush. Specifically, it was from Unique fabric’s, a really small place with some very good natural fabrics. While I was there I could not resist and I picked up a viscose-cotton blend that was obscenely soft and inexpensive! Curious to see what I’ll make of it. Most likely a summer dress of some kind.

Step one was, as usual, copying the pattern off the burda sheets onto new sheets. I did it with a small Sharpie I have, which writes in blue. I loved the effect on the paper and was surprised it did not bleed through onto the burda pages.


I then cut the fabric, both outer wool crepe and inner satin cotton lining (the light pink you’re seeing in the photo) together in one shot (across 4 layers), using pinking shears.

Assembly started off easily and quickly. First the required darts, then putting together the bodice, then the skirt, and then attaching them together. Getting the princess point in the waistline was a challenge. I think I managed. But attaching the bodice to the skirt was another challenge, which I decided to take in two steps. First, I attached the wool outer bodice to the wool outer skirt. And ideally I would then have sewn the lining sides together. But. I did not feel that the wool was strong enough to hold the entire weight of the skirt up on its own, so given I’d made the skirt with the lining thickening up the wool, I decided to hand-stitch the waist seam across all layers, in a neat little seam that would hold the weight. It took a while, but it wasn’t too hard to do.


The tricky bit was the sleeves. At this point I was on holiday at my parents’ where there are no working sewing machines as far as I am told. So I stitched everything by hand, much like I had to for the teal silk dress over the summer. Given I was just putting together sleeves, and it was going to be delicate pleating work anyway, I was happy to do that by hand. Now that I’ve come home though I’ll be taking the sleeve apart on the long seam, and restitching the lining and outer long seams separately along the stitching line I put in by hand. The shape is fine, and cuff works, I just need it to be fully straight and with a clean inside seam.



My next challenge, and which will be part of the next post, is to make cuffs to put on the sleeves. I have never made cuffs before. I am terrified. But it’ll be worth it I think. That dress looks really nice!!

Halloween Witch: The purple taffeta skirt

Purple WitchHalloween 2009. I didn’t know what to dress up as. Or rather. I was invited to a Goth Halloween party, so my original idea of Leeloo (from the 5th Element) wasn’t going to cut it. I went for the classic: Witch.

Step 1: The hat. I already had that.

Step 2: The wig. Not a requirement, but as soon as I saw this one I fell in love. The multi-dimensionality of the purple and black in the wig made it look amazing. The price tag? £10.

Step 3: The corset. Because this witch likes to look good. I had one already, in convenient black. In the picture I’m wearing a pink top and a black jumper under the corset. At the party I just had the corset for a lighter, more streamlined look.

Step 4: What to wear underneath!! I decided to make me a skirt. Thankfully our tiny Singer fabric shop had a roll of looooovely purple taffeta that fit the bill flawlessly. I took it home and in less than an hour turned it into a skirt! I must’ve gotten at least 5 compliments on the evening from random people absolutely loving the skirt! Not bad for an hour’s work 🙂

What you’ll need: 70cm of taffeta fabric, 150cm wide. Thick (3-4 cm) elastic band, 10cm less than the size of where you want the skirt to sit. I took 80cm, as my upper hips are 90cm. Thread that matches.

How to make it: Take the 70x150cm piece, and fold it with the good side in so you end up with a 70×75 piece. Sew along the 70cm length, to create a tube of fabric. This will be your skirt. Flip it so the good side is outside. Take the elastic band, and put it along the fabric’s looped edge, on the inside. Roll the fabric over it, creating a tube along the top into which the elastic can stay. Sew the fabric down. You will be sewing 3 layers of fabric, without touching the elastic. Bottom-most: the bad-side-to-you actual skirt fabric. Then the rolled inwards fabric for the channel, then the folded in (before it gets rolled under) fabric for the channel. If you can imagine this making a figure of “6” with the loop to the right, you’re sewing at the point where the loop meets the branch, and you’re sewing the loop bit flat onto the branch, with a little chunk of it rolled under. Once that’s done all around, you have a skirt. I used a rolling foot to finish the edges of the skirt in a straight line, but you could hem it properly if you prefer. I just couldn’t be bothered 🙂

Well that’s it. Great compliment-to-effort ratio!! I think the secret was in the colour of the skirt, and in using taffeta. I’d highly recommend making one of these to wear under a corset or narrow top for the festive season. Maybe in green or red? Hmm… Maybe I’ll make me one too 🙂

I think I like purple…

Akira skirt. Monsoon. £75 (sz 10 please!)

Akira skirt. Monsoon. £75 (sz 10 please!)

I have had an issue with purple since I had a professor who wore everything in that colour. We’re talking glasses, binders, attache case, shoes, hair, pen, ink of pen, the works. One day she walked into class in a blue dress and said “I’m sorry class, today is laundry day”. We all burst out laughing.

Thing is, she wasn’t the nicest teacher. Or the most accurate. And me correcting her didn’t help get me into her good graces (or good grades). So as a result I developed an allergy to purple of all shades. Until september 2009, that is. 09/09. A memorable date.

I think it’s the shoes and bags that did it. And now I am drooling over this skirt from Monsoon. At £75 it’s extortionate, even for wool. But even if it is a simple skirt to make (Less than 2 hours from tracing the pattern to walking out the door) where oh where might one be able to find such delicious fabric?!?!

Suggestions/tips in the comments (if there’s anyone reading this…) Ta!!

3-tiered skirt

Muslin 3-tiered skirt

Muslin 3-tiered skirt

This is a tutorial on how to make the most basic of all skirts: the 3-tiered / gypsy / etc… skirt. It’s a classic staple to be found in every woman’s wardrobe at one time or another. In mine, it’s generally for the summer. Although now i think of it, it’d be very handy to have in a winter fabric as well. And possibly quite warm… hmm… Well, while I think about that, here’s the instructions!

1 – Decide on where you want your skirt to sit (waist, hip, etc…) and how long you want it to be. Measure. In my case, I wanted it to be on the green dotted line below the waist (as opposed to being at the waist) so I measured that, and the widest point at my hips. For length, I wanted it to my ankles.
I ended up with: w = 1.05  h = 1.10  l = 1

So I bought 145cm of fabric (of 150cm width) and cut it into 3 strips:
– 1st tier – 76 x 110 (this would be folded over to make the waistband and double up the thickness of the topmost layer so as to hide my underwear better). The fabric being 150cm in width, you’ll have a 66 x 40 piece left over. Keep it.
– 2nd tier – 33 x 150
– 3rd tier – 33 x 190 (I made this by using the full width of 150, and attaching the a 33×40 piece I’d cut off from the first tier)Notice that the width of the tiers starts at the width of your hips, and then increases by 30 to 50% for each new tier.

Step 1 – Fold over the 76×110 piece so it becomes a 38×110 piece. Along the length of it, where it is folded, place the elastic for the waistband. This should be at least 3cm wide. I used 5cm. It should be 105cm long. Sew along the elastic to create a channel in which it will be placed. As you sew, pull the skirt fabric so it is gathered over the elastic, so you will always know exactly how wide you need to make the channel. Pin the elastic on one end with a safety pin.

Step 2 – Take the 2nd tier piece and using a needle, sew some thread along one of the long sides (the top one if your fabric has a pattern) using very loose spacing. Tie the thread at both ends so that its length is 110cm (the length of the tier above). Gather the fabric evenly, and lay tier 2 over tier 1 on a table, good sides facing each other, with the bottom of tier 1 level with the top of tier 2. Loosely hand-sew tier 2 to tier 1, while making sure the fabric gathers evenly. Sew it on the machine.

Step 3 – Repeat step 2 but with tiers 2 and 3. Remember to create tier 3 first (sew the 40cm piece to the 150cm piece on the machine)

Step 3b (optional) – Sew a small strip of lace to the bottom of tier 3. I used a small strip of crochet lacing in a triangular edge pattern, and it gave my skirt a better finish.

Step 4 – Skirt is almost ready. Gather the top of the skirt and pull the elastic through so it’s coming out from both ends. Sew it to itself, in a waistband loop, on the machine making an x shape in a square with the thread.

Step 5 – Flip the skirt “inside out” and sew along the back seam, straight down. Careful not to sew the elastic. Hand-finish the waistband so the elastic is properly encased.

Step 6 – Find the hem length for your skirt, mark it, and either hand sew it or machine sew it. If you did step 3b, this is no longer required!

Congratulations. You have a new skirt!

Download the instructions in PDF format: SeamstressSophie-3_Tier_Skirt