How my Elisalex ‘test garment’ happened!

So much has happened over this last week. Starting with last Saturday when Rachel hosted her massive meet up! There have been plenty of fine reports of that wonderful day so I am going to cheat big time and point you in the direction of here and here oh and here!

I will however post a few of the pics. Just because I think they are great and our photographer for the day, Digpal Singh deserves bigging up because he was amaaaazing!

Rachels meet up

Miss Demeanour and Me

Miss Demeanour and Me

Anyhoos. One of the meet-up missions was to shop till we dropped in the Goldhawk Road. By this time I’d been so excited to meet everyone, I clean forgot my fabric shopping list and got completely distracted by the presence of Elisalex dresses modelled so beautifully in real life by these lovely ladies:

Amy, Roisin (wearing Elisalex) and Nicole

Amy, Roisin (wearing Elisalex) and Nicole

Lovely ladies inc Tara (wearing Elisalex) on right

Lovely ladies inc Tara (wearing Elisalex) on right

So I bought this fabric with the Elixalex in mind. Got a great deal by tempting Roisin into sharing 5 metres of hefty, stretch-cotton floral with me. £12.50… bargain!

floral fabric for actual Elisalex dress

For those who have yet to discover this fabulous dress pattern (I’ve a feeling I might be one of the few!) It is so brilliantly and readily available from By Hand London. I loved meeting the brains behind this fabulous site on Saturday. Meet Charlotte and Elisalex herself.

Elisalex and Charlotte

Elisalex (left) Charlotte (right) also modelling the Elisalex skirt.

I ordered my pattern as soon as I got home that Saturday evening. A miracle given no of G&Ts that were consumed beforehand! And it arrived PDQ. I’m still so busy with work and there was little hope of me achieving anything else this week but I tell no lies when I say how quick it was to put together. The instructions are very clear and it really is such an adaptable pattern that will tranfsorm with any style skirt or sleeve option. And so here is my first ‘test garment’.

Elisalex test full length

I repeat ‘test garment’ because I had no intention of actually wearing this one out of the house. But Mr O insisted, if I wanted him to take the photos.

Elisalex test pleat

Why you ask? Because it’s made out of a Duvet cover! It’s a pretty 100% cotton, Ikea, duvet cover but bedding all the same! LMO insisted on an ice-cream so there was only one thing for it!  Elisalex test buying ice cream A trip to the local cafe, that sells what transpires to be the most delicious ice-cream ever!

Elisalex test licking ice cream

Elisalex test eating ice cream

I’m actually glad I wore it out. It was a good test drive. Whilst I’m completely smitten with this skirt style on everyone else, Mr O’s rendition of You Can’t Touch This, did nothing for my indecision! It does take a lot of getting used to. I kept the length… and it is quite long. But it does mean I have to take ladylike steps with a wiggly walk which I quite like. I also like very much, that despite the blustery weather, the wind could not blow this skirt up if it tried! Unlike my first summer dress of this year! Proper Marylin behaviour in that one! I Love the princess seams.

Elisalex test princess seam

And I adore the shape of the back… just pretend you didn’t see the bra strap!

Elisalex test back

And I just can’t wait to make the real one in the fabulous floral! I would now like to remove this song from my head. So please take it and enjoy!

Kiki’s vintage cushion cover

When my good friend Kiki asked me to make a cushion cover from her late mother’s Biba skirt, I kind of refused. Big time! I love my friend Kiki so much and would do anything for her but cut up a Biba skirt?! She was going to have to drug me first!!!

She texted to say she was on her way with said skirt. It didn’t look like I had a choice. In fact she was at mine before I got back myself! Mr O had a cuppa on the go. I went straight for the wine. This was going to be painful.

Luckily for me, Kiki gets things muddled all the time. (I really should write a dictionary of exclusive Kiki words and terms. I’m sure it would be a best-seller!) What she meant was that the skirt was a Biba-esque-style maxi skirt that her mum had hand-made in the 70s. She couldn’t see herself in it and to be honest, neither of us could get it over our thighs!

Jean's original skirt

Well. That was a relief but still didn’t make for easy cutting up. But I warmed to the idea that Kiki would get daily pleasure from it being on her sofa instead of folding it away in the attic forever.

There’s quite a lot of fabric going on in a maxi A-line skirt. Plenty enough for a 50cm cushion pad!

But there was a moth-hole. Typically right in the middle of where I needed to cut.

moth hole

I’ve not used the darning stitch on my machine before now.

darning stitch

It doesn’t mend totally invisibly but far better than a poke in the eye and a fraying hole!

darned hole

Nothing complicated about the cushion cover itself. Just two squares. Zipper sewn to top edges first. Seamed all round. And Bob’s yer uncle!

Such a great geometric design on this fabric. It’s great quality cotton furnishing fabric of some kind.

geometric fabric detail

And I have to say – I think it looks great on my sofa! Kiki can take as long as she likes coming to collect it!

finished cushion

Old throw, new skirt

wool check skirtThe sun came out today. And the sky was blue. But it turned out to be a big trick and it was still bloomin’ freezing! But hey! Still managed to make good use of that light . . . in our ‘local’!

The ladies at the Thatched House were very accommodating and made us some lovely coffee. It was a genius plan.

wearing check skirt drinking coffee

The skirt is indeed made from an old throw that I got from and Oxfam shop a couple of months ago. I wasn’t sure if it would translate into a skirt because of its ‘blankety’ nature. But it turns out that it was completely the right move and I now have the warmest legs in town!

wool check skirt standing

I think originally it might have come from one of those touristy shops in Regent Street. It’s 100% wool for sure.

wool labelAnd even better still, there is just enough left to make a little vintage jacket (when I get a mo). Not bad for about £4!

check skirt sitting down

The pattern for the skirt is self-drafted and constructed pretty much the same as the black pencil skirt I made here, but I added a little to the length and hand picked the zipper. Although it was cut from the same pattern, it is noticeably larger and I think that is due to the nature of the fabric. It has a lot of give which was great for matching the checks but not so good at being the right size. Could easily have lost an inch from round the waist. Hey ho… lesson learned!

check wool skirt by the fireplace

What I did do, this time round was to document how I lined the vent. Now bear with! This might not be the clearest tute but I’m hoping it will give half a clue at least!

Prepare the back section of the skirt:
Sew the darts, iron fusible interfacing to the vent. Sew the back seam from the end point of the zipper opening to the top of the vent, pivoting at the corner and finishing about a cm before the edge (as shown). Clip into the corner. Insert the zipper by hand or machine.

back of skirt unlinedCut your lining the same as your back skirt pieces but add a bit of extra ease at the side seams. On one of the pieces, invert the vent shape by folding over the extended part along the centre back seam and then cut round it but give yourself about a centimetre extra at the top of the vent. So, for example the extended vent piece on the left will be a cm taller than the removed piece on the right. Sorry, I knew I was going to be bad at this!

lining piecesLay your pieces on top of the wrong side of your skirt as below. Hopefully it will make more sense. You might want to give them a bit of a press too! :-/

lining pieces laid out

Now take the right hand lining piece and flip it over onto the left side and pin down the centre seam. (See image below.)

lining pinned

Next, you need to sew from the bottom of the zipper opening, down to the red point as marked above.

Now, flip it back over so that the wrong sides of the lining are facing the wrong sides of your main fabric. You will begin to see how the vent lining fits now.

lining face downThe next part doesn’t translate visually well. So I will try to explain. You need to flip the lining back over again and pin the extended vent section of the lining to the corresponding piece of the main fabric, right sides together. Don’t pin through both vent sections. Just the top one.

pin vent lining to ventSew the topmost vent to the lining from the point where the vent seam ends at the top, straight down to the bottom.

sew ventWhen you flip the lining back over you will see it begin to take shape.

left vent sewn

Now, I’m not sure the following image is very useful, but basically what you need to do is attach the lining to the remaining vent piece. Again, right sides together, pin down the edges.

pin remaining vent edgeNow sew straight down from the white chalk dot as shown above. And clip all corners of lining as you will need to manipulate them to sit flat.

clip all corners of liningTwist the top part of the vent lining to sit flat and in line with the top of the vent. Make sure the matching piece on the other side is lined up too. Now pinch all layers together and pin securely:

pin top of ventStitch from the endpoints of your seams, through all layers of the vent section. When you turn it back over and give it a good old press, you should have something like this:

completed vent liningYou can see that mine is far from perfect. It really is a bit fiddly but it will undoubtedly improve with practice and patience.

So there you have it. Sorry that the photos are so confusing. It doesn’t help that the fabric is mostly black! I do hope it helps a little to demystify the process though.

Mr Ooobop is doing a fine job of schmoozing with the brides- and grooms-to-be  at Bluewater Wedding Fair this evening, to promote his band, The Redfords. I am immensely proud of him and so grateful for all the lovely photos he takes for me. It really is about time I made something else for him. It will come as no surprise to him that I am going to try a waistcoat. I say that because he has been giving me puppy dog eyes for soooo long and I can’t bear it any more!

I’ll leave you with a couple more shots from today. Night all x

check skirt standing

check wool skirt

ooobop thatched house