Skirt-shorts (not skorts, ok?)

stripy skirt shorts

Anyone with a nine year old daughter will completely understand how increasingly hard it becomes to appease one’s little darling in the wardrobe department. My offers of handmade dresses and skirts are still mostly being politely refused but I’m ok with that because it keeps the project list nice and selfish!

skirt shorts

But every now and then she gets a bee in her bonnet about a must-have item of clothing that even Primani just can’t deliver. This weekend it was a pair of skirt-shorts. Not skorts, you understand. There is a difference apparently. I could see the little foot-stamp brewing when I Googled pictures of skorts and it was a while before the penny dropped. The rolling eyes of a nine year-old are a picture I can tell you!

stripy skirt shorts

Getting the picture was one thing. Getting the pattern was another. Only one thing for it. Had to self-draft. I’m not quite ready to share my winging-ways until I’ve perfected it. But suffice to say it worked, kind of. Well totally if you judge by the response of the recipient!

I’ve had this stripy jersey in stash for some time. Yes! Can you believe it? Another piece of stash successfully busted! Doesn’t appear to have reduced the pile any though.

stripy skirt shorts

I used the side-cutter attachment on my Brother Innovis to create some faux overlocked seams and I used a regular zig-zag stitch for the hem and the elastic casing.

The ‘brief’ was to create shorts that looked totally like a skirt. Mission accomplished though I think perhaps I made them a little too full – the waistband is really tightly gathered. Little Miss O assures me they are comfortable enough but I think they could do with a little less volume.

stripy skirt shorts

Who would have guessed that a pair of skirt-shorts would encourage such climbing skills? Making them was easy enough. Getting them off her to put them in the wash might be an entirely different matter!

stripy skirt shorts
Beautiful photos as always by my very talented fella, Daniel Selway.

Me Made May 13: My final days

So here we are. The final days of Me Made May ’13! I feel quite sad in a way. But relieved. And accomplished. And enlightened. So thank you SoZo for setting this brilliant challenge. I didn’t realize quite what a knock on effect it would have. Or how it would make me feel. I wholly recommend this challenge to anyone who has yet to take the plunge. 

I really didn’t think I would make it to the end of the month. For sure there were repeats and some days no photo evidence at all. In reality, taking a photo of yourself every day is really difficult. Easy at first with all the initial enthusiasm for the challenge but then harder each day as the sun disappears, the hubby sets of earlier for work and the outfits get more tight-fitting the older they are!

But the journey was worth it. It was fantastic to focus each day on each hand made garment and realise where I’ve come from and what I’ve arrived at. Confirmation on what I’ve learned and achieved was invaluable. I don’t have time to stop and think properly about most things these days, especially what I’m going to wear on any particular day. So this was a fantastic excuse for self-indulged focussing, on past experience as well as some future plans. Oh yes, of course the flip side of the coin has meant my project list has increased ten-fold. But hey that list always makes for sweet dreams, if nothing else!

So to wrap up… the final days of  Me Made May ’13.

Jersey cowl neck top

DAY 22: Silk touch jersey cowl top and wool pencil skirt
Neither of these are blogged, I made them so long ago. But the cowl top is made from a free pattern on Burdastyle by Ichigogirl. Its the same as the stripy one I made. The skirt is a Simplicity pattern that my mum gave me to kick start my sewing antics. It has a little vent on the front knee. I didn’t line it, unfortunately and this is something I would never do with wool now. I should really go back and line it. It would hang much better and not stick to my tights!

Day 23 black self-drafted pencil skirt

DAY 23: Black self-drafted pencil skirt
This is possibly the most worn and practical of garments in my wardrobe. It fits like a glove, because I drafted it to my exact measurements. It’s properly lined and the lining is even properly attached to the vent. The waistband incorporates a woven interfacing so it doesn’t roll and is fastened by a hook and bar instead of a rubbish ‘eye’! It was a fantastic learning curve making this skirt. So absolutely worth all the effort that it feels fantastic to wear. I always imagined a whole weeks worth of these to choose from and I still think that is highly necessary. They are perfect work skirts and glam up nicely for a spontaneous evening out too!

DAY 24: Stripy wool mini A-line skirt
A miserable day. No sunshine at all, so the woolly skirt came back out. No photographer today I’m afraid. I’ve come to realise how much I wear this skirt. Mostly when I can’t think of anything else to wear. It fits; it’s comfortable; it goes with DMs… and it keeps my butt warm!

Day 25 mmm13 Elisalex shortened

DAY 25: The shortened Elisalex
Today was the 20th anniversary of the day my dad died. Always a sad day. But always a good excuse to don a pretty dress and catch up with my wonderful brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. The cemetery is a bit of a trek from the bus stop so I needed to sport something easy to walk in. Small heels means small skirt in my world so there was only one thing to do. And that was to chop the bottom off my test Elisalex dress! So glad I did. The duvet cover did good! Although I love my longer rosy version, it’s kind of ‘for best’ but this cheeky little version is now a great little throw-on when-the-sun-shines-and-go dress!

DAY 26: Grey pencil skirt
No photographic evidence today. I wore the first pencil skirt I ever drafted which still fits pretty well. Its lined but has no vent. I was taking things one step at a time back then and to learn to create a vent was information overload! I have to take pigeon steps but it still works. It’s a good staple, though a little boring. It’s days are numbered as soon as the others are on the cutting table!

Day 27 goat eating dress

DAY 27: First summer dress of the year
Today we went to the Surrey County Show. An ideal place to sport a full on flowery frock. Not such a great idea to wear in the goat tent though! Note that Mr O sought his photo opportunity before letting me know what was occurring! I still love this dress but I need to take some volume out of the back. I didn’t notice before but it gapes at the zip. I’m pretty sure its a simple fix. And hopefully it will fit better.

Day 28 Danielle dress

DAY 28: Danielle dress
Now here’s a blast from the past. Almost 2 years ago to the day. It was a bit of a squeeze, I can tell you. So much wrong with this dress but I still like the vibe of it. The fabric was a charity shop find, unsure of the content but it’s soooo itchy and scratchy. I thought I was being out there by using red lining but that turned out to be a no-no with the pale open weave fabric on the skirt! I can’t really breathe in this dress and you can tell by the pull across my chest but this dress is a lovely reminder that I should make another that fits in a much lovelier fabric.

Day 29 button back top

DAY 29: Button back retro top
I was fast running out on day 29 so it was a great propmt to rectify some issues with some garments I don’t tend to wear any more. This one in particular was really annoying to wear because I made the neckhole too small. I really liked the jewel neckline but in reality it kind of chokes you to death. Only problem was that the first buttonhole started right at the top, so to lob a centimetre off the neckline would halve my first buttonhole. My need to wear a me-made top spurred on a quick fix and I replaced the buttonhole with a press-stud and sewed the button on top so nobody will ever know!

Day 30 vintage pencil skirt with pockets

DAY 30: Vintage pencil skirt with pockets
Not yet blogged but again, a hurried make out of desperation but boy I’m glad. I’ve been meaning to make this for yonks! It still needs some fine tuning and this is really just a test garment but I will fill in the details when I blog it. But what’s more to say? Its a pencil skirt with pleats and front pockets… hooray!

Day 31 1940s shoe dress

DAY 31: 1940s shoe dress again!
A shameless repeat but one I’m prepared to wear again and again. This is by far one of my favourite dresses. It gets comments from total strangers as I stroll down to Sainsbo’s. It’s cool and comfy and is covered in shoes! This is the item of clothing that I need at least 5 more of. Along with 7 pencils skirts, my wardrobe should have at least 7 of these too!

And so we leave the month of May and venture on to pastures new. A prom dress for my friend’s daughter is on the go, FBA’s and all, a bespoke pencil skirt for my daughter’s birthday present and another that was bid on by my friend at the school auction. (Far too nervous to ask what she bid!)

Thank you as always for your wonderful comments and support x

Me-made May’13: My first week
Me-made May’13: My second week/
Me-made May’13: My third week/

Me Made May 13: My third week

I did it. I actually made 3 weeks of Me Made May ’13! It wasn’t as desperate as I thought it would be and I’ve really enjoyed it! The only thing that has been a bit tricky is getting a photo when the mister has left earlier for work.

Most of the garments I have worn this week have issues. Mostly fitting issues. Things drafted either too big or too small and things that no longer fit because of some unwelcome poundage that crept up over the last year or so! I must learn to create things that fit in the now and not for when the pounds are shed. Because it doesn’t work like that!

Another revelation, which comes as no surprise to me, is that I need more skirts and tops for work. I’ve no shortage of ideas. Just got to pull my finger out!

So here we go. Week 3 of  Me Made May ’13.

pin dot jersey top

DAY 15: Pin dot jersey top
New Look 6753. This is one of the few jersey tops I’ve made. I like how it’s an easy-to-wear casual top but it’s not my favourite top to wear. Perhaps because I made it too big and its defied all my attempts of shrinkage too! I have since been advised to make a size smaller when using stretch fabric. I’m sure I’d love it more if it fit more snuggly. Still better than a Primani top though!

stripy cowl top

DAY 16: Stripy cowl top
This was a great free pattern from the Burdastyle website. Really simple to put together and really easy to wear. I’m not convinced I graded it up properly, or enough for that matter so the cowl isn’t as dramatic as it could have been. But I still like it.

pinstripe wool jacket

DAY 17: Wool pinstripe jacket
This is a pattern from Burdastyle magazine, issue 11/2010. It was my first venture into tailoring and is anything but perfect but it prompted me to delve more into the art of old school tailoring techniques which are now ready to employ when I embark on another. Once again I overestimated the size but that means it’s great to wear with a few layers underneath and boy I needed them today! The pinky mauve pinstripe means it doesn’t really go with much apart from a flooky pinstripe skirt that I owned already!

floral mini skirt

DAY 18: Floral mini skirt
I made this in march last year and it still feels good teamed with Docs and a cardi. Keep meaning to make more of these. They are so simple and so cute and so easy to wear. So long as its none too windy!

tartan shorts

DAY 19: Plaid shorts
I do enjoy wearing these. Despite the fabric going all bobbly on me. Only on the weekend, mind. Won’t catch me in the office with that much leg out! I wore them down to the river pub to meet some friends. The pattern I used was Simplicity 2659. A simple and satisfying overnight make. There will be more of these. It’s just a matter of time. However I will not be using the twill tape facing method. I will draft a properfacing this time. They do need a bit more structure at the waist and front. And I must make them a wee bit bigger next time!

black rose party dress

DAY 20: Black rose party dress
This is me and my lovely fella, the last of the party people, at the end of his spectacular 40th birthday party. It was taken in the wee hours of the morning and so I’m very glad the photo is such poor quality! The dress, which I just about fit into, was whipped up overnight for a party March last year. I have since found some very similar fabric which will be another one of these one day!

DAY 21: Wool check skirt
I didn’t manage to get a photo of today but rest assured it was a me-made kinda day. I wore the same wool check skirt I sported on the second week, day 10. Crazy that May has turned out cold enough to sport a woolly skirt more than once in the space of a couple of weeks.

Can’t believe there’s only one more week left. I think I’m going to have to dig real deep now!

Laters! x

Me-made May’13: My first week
Me-made May’13: My second week/

Scary Burda jacket!

I’ve got lots of little projects on the go right now, and lots of work to make sure I don’t finish them, so what’s a girl to do? I know… start another bigger project!

burda jacket 131

Burda Jacket 131, November 2010 issue

I did try searching for a jacket pattern – you know, one that comes in the right size, all ready with seam allowances, neatly folded in a little packet – but this one has stuck in my mind ever since I saw it and nothing else came close. It is Jacket 131 from November 2010 issue Burda Style magazine. This issue has proved to be worth every penny since I have already reaped the patterns for Little Miss Ooobop’s Snow Leopard Coat and her Pinky Purple dress plus there is another skirt and a dress pattern that I quite like the look of… bargain!

There’s a little bit of pressure riding on this one as Mr Ooobop! brought me 2 lovely pieces of fabric last week and I’m determined to do them justice. There are precious few people whom I would trust to choose fabric for me but he gets it right every time and I love that he is so encouraging…and thoughtful. All is forgiven with regards the shrunken skirt!.

The first piece is a charcoal grey wool with cheeky lilac and white pinstripes and this will be the jacket. The second piece is a lighter weight wool in a gorgeous lilac/mauve plaid with a mint stipe running through. This will be a fitted dress to coordinate with the jacket. Well that is the thought for today.

jacket and dress wool

Jacket and dress wool fabric

Panic has already set in. There are 13 pieces for the outer but I am quickly adding the 7 pieces for the lining to make 20 in total and to make sure its not an unlucky sign from the start! Me? Superstitious? Yes! This is the most number of pieces I have ever put to use in one garment. Especially traced from the crazy spaghetti sheet from Burda Style mag. I have faith… honest I do!  I’m beginning to think Mr Ooobop! is right about me always making hard work for myself!

burda pattern lines

Scary Burda pattern lines

I am definitely going to embark on a toile. I have no way of even knowing what goes where at this stage to know where to add an extra inch or two! No semi-acceptable fabric to hand (for a possible wearable toile) either so calico it is but hopefully I can use it as the finished pattern pieces with seam allowances when I’m done. I’m trying not to think that I am effectively going to make this jacket twice!

Already the instructions make no sense half-way through so I am hoping that it will make more sense as I go along. And stand by all of you who have displayed lovely jackets and coats on your blogs, namely Amy, KatKaren, and Catherine to name a few, I will be wailing and pleading for assistance when it all goes pear shaped!

Snuggly stripy skirt!

As I dutifully hung the next laundry load on the clothes airer this afternoon I noticed my A-line wool-blend pinstripe mini skirt that I made last September. I didn’t remember washing that recently. Mr Ooobop! must have done…. uh oh…no… really? Lets just say it might now fit a small child! Bless him but grrrrr….!

It was my favourite go-to skirt for work, pub and well anything really. I don’t have many of those, especially ones that fit that well, so you can quite understand how I came close to a complete paddy! Luckily for him, Mr Ooobop! is working away in Gibraltar at the moment, and is blissfully unaware of his crime.

Well… this discovery proved to be a bit of a revelation. I felt pain at the prospect of buying a replacement and realised that I haven’t in fact bought a new item of clothing in nearly a year. And the truth is I don’t intend to anytime soon. I might have made a resolution to refrain from other people’s challenges, but that doesn’t count my own. And so the woolly glove was down:

2.25 hours to make a replacement skirt with half a metre of woolly fabric, hemmed and finished to wear for Monday morning… and here it is!

snuggly stripy skirt

Snuggly stripy skirt

The fabric, from Ditto, is the loveliest, softest Italian wool mix ever. It is 95% wool and 5% polyester.  It is a medium-weight double layer fabric with a slightly brushed finish woven horizontal stripe in navy and red highlighted with yellow and green. The backing is a fine twill weave in a blue/black which meant, best of all that it didn’t need lining…. hoorah!

I had bought half a meter on my last trip to Brighton, thinking I could get the same skirt out of vertical stripes (I was scared of the horizontal stripe) but I really and truly miscalculated how much I needed to do it that way round! And so it has sat in the stash waiting its fate. Waiting to be an even better version of the last, so it turns out!

invisible zip and matching stripes

Very nearly matching up stripes either side of the zipper!

It’s clearly not the most imaginative of garments and really there is nothing much to report on the construction, save a little tapering at the bottom this time, and redrafted facings, it is so simple. I do so adore those horizontal darts on the front. I relished the confidence I had in knowing what I wanted and that I could actually achieve it in given time. I love the fact that I used pretty much every last bit of the fabric. I absolutely love love love, how cosy and soft it is…and I think the stripes, contrary to my fear, look fab horizontally! What thinks you?

P.S. Apologies for the unimaginative photos. As I said, Mr Ooobop! is away in Gibraltar!

ooobop! review: Burda Style February 2012

burda style feb 2012 cover

Sometimes its good to judge a book by the cover!

One might think that given my day job as a designer who works mostly in publishing, that I would have read the cover lines before I grabbed this issue off the shelf and literally ran to the checkout desk!

I am doing a bad job of hiding my disappointment BUT I am not going to cast an unnecessary slur on my beloved Burda, which I have been faithfully purchasing, every month, for over a year now. For there are always without fail at least 4 or 5 patterns which I would definitely bookmark for future and sometimes instant projects. And at a cover price of £4.75 that’s a bargain in my book.

I do like a fitted dress and I really must get round to making a couple of LBD’s and I think both these dresses (1&2) would be great. Nothing too fancy. Ability to dress up or down. Relatively simple to put together and easy enough to line. Not sure about the yellow or beige in version 1b, would probably exchange for red and grey, but this one illustrates how it is constructed. A fitted pencil skirt (3) is a good wardrobe staple too and this one is constructed the same as dress 1.

burda style feb 2012 likes

Burda Style February 2012 issue: likes

Little Miss Ooobop! is seven and a half (so I am constantly reminded) and definitely at an age that requires her approval before I waste my time on sewing anything for her. She hasn’t seen these yet and would, without shadow of a doubt give a bit thumbs down without hesitation or even waiting for an explanation on how much cooler they would look in a different fabric. Actually who am I trying to kid? She would hate them, however I dressed it up…. but I think they are quite cute:

Burda Style February 2012 kids

Burda Style February 2012: kids

Now I have tried to be fair and I have thought long and hard… but nope… I’m afraid I can’t see a gap in my wardrobe for these little beauties, as much as I love that fashionable orange colour!

burda style february2012 dislikes

Burda Style February 2012: dislikes

And in this instance I will be giving the Asian look a miss…

Burda Style Feb 2012: Asian style

Burda Style Feb 2012: Asian style

Though if it makes you feel this good . . .

Burda Style Feb 2012: asian

Burda Style Feb 2012: Sexy Asian look!

Never one to wish my life away, but roll on March issue… before I lose the faith!

Danielle at the Tate Britain

As promised, here are some colour pics of the ooobop! Danielle I completed this weekend. Though there is actually not much colour to be seen… its a monochrome dress in any case! We had such a lovely day out at the Tate Britain on Sunday and a perfect opportunity to showcase my new dress! More remarks about my shoes than my dress but that was to be expected! I was approached on two separate occasions by visitors asking to photograph my feet and by many others who couldn’t help but to smile and pass comment. Attention seeking? Moi?!

danielle at the tate gallery

Cerith Wyn Evans' Chandelier. Morse code has never been so cool! The children loved drawing this one.

danielle with damien hurst butterflies

Damien Hirst's butterflies

danielle and stained glass

A girl can never have enough stripes!

zebra shoes

They are surprisingly comfortable . . . honest!

ooobop! Danielle dress

Danielle close up

The empire line of the Danielle is a winner for me!

danielle dress full length

Danielle dress hemmed just above the knee

Well first I must apologise for the incredibly bad photography. I just finished sewing and was  determined to make the post this evening! Really not a great idea to shoot under the low watt energy saver lightbulb at midnight! But hey ho, I hope you get the idea all the same. I will of course make an effort to get some daylight pictures soon.

I dutifully made a muslin for the bodice before I charged in to this one. I got the linen-like fabric from a charity shop… not seen it in any of my local fabric shops… and I really didn’t want to mess it up. The pattern was another of Burdastyle’s fabulous free patterns. And once you get over the mundane task of sticking all the pieces together, it really is a fantastically easy dress to make. I feel comfortable in an empire waist. It gives some much needed emphasis to my bust and takes the attention away from my more generous waistline!

The stripy bodice and sleeves are a bit AliceinWonderlandesque, don’t you think?

I lined the dress with some red poly lining and a jolly good thing that I did because the fabric is a little itchy. But in any case, it’s also a lovely feeling to slip slide a dress on without any ugly seams waving at you! I have some of the lining left over and have half a plan to make one of those lovely fabric flower corsages that keep popping up on Burdastyle. Sorry, just realised I’m talking about colour and teasing you with rubbish black and white photos!

Preparing for Danielle (and the burn test)

I have been making a Danielle dress, in my head, for well over a year! It was one of the first dresses I ‘favourited’ on Burdastyle. Since then there have been literally hundreds of amazing renditions, like these little beauties:

vivat danielle

Danielle cut-out dress by Vivat Veritas


Tartan sleeveless Danielle by Virginia Argumosa


Bubble Danielle by Ophelia K

I had long toyed with the idea of a stripy version, sans bubble, like Ophelia K’s. I bought the fabric and everything but bottled the idea of such extreme plagiarism! And so, one sunny walk to work, I was drawn into one of the few charity shops I know that has a small but regularly updated fabric selection. Two pieces screamed Danielle at me . . .

mystery fabric

mystery fabric intended for Danielle

£4.98 for the pair. More than enough with a bit left over, which will always be put to use. (Or put in the scrap box, intended for good use!) Was thinking stripy bodice and plain skirt with plain band, giving the impression of a very high waisted skirt. Perhaps with a stripy bow on the waistband.

It feels like linen and I would normally let sleeping dogs lie but since finding out about the ‘burn test’ it’s now a need-to-know-basis. And in any case. Im a stickler for pre-laundering nowadays and need to know how or if to wash it.

The Burn test

Before setting about this test it is important to have a bucket of water at the ready just in case! In a nutshell fabric burns differently according to its different fibre content, namely natural, synthetic or blend.  It takes a very experienced tester to define an exact fabric but with the basic knowledge its easy to tell synthetic from natural fibres. Make sure you use a small strip of material and burn over a fireproof dish.

I compared my mystery fabric to a piece of green linen and this is what happened . . .

burning fabric

The Burn Test

The mystery fabric took light immediately and the flame was high. I had to take the camera lens away quickly . . . close shave! It created lots of smelly black smoke and left a really hard crumbly residue, some which stuck to the plate.

The green linen took a while to ignite and then burnt with a steady flame. It left a really soft smudgy ash.

And so I have assumed that the mystery fabric is a blend with some cotton or wool content. It is a little bit itchy to the touch too so I think a little wool content is a better guess.

You can find a more comprehensive explanation of burn test findings at and here is an interesting chart if you want to get really specific

So here we are . . .

  • Fabric classified √
  • Fabric pre-laundered √
  • toile made (from ex curtain lining) √
  • kids in bed √
  • real work done Χ
  • miffed that I can’t finish it off this evening √
To be continued . . .

ooobop! stripy cowl top (and the white falcon!)

stripy cowl top

ooobop! stripy cowl top

stripy cowl top

ooobop! stripy cowl top

This very easy little top was created from another great free pattern on Burdastyle. Ichigogirl is the clever lady behind the design and she kindly supplied the downloadable pattern and simple instructions for the top and a dress version. Click here for the link.

I used a cotton jersey and welcomed the chance to practice with some stretchy fabric. I don’t have a serger but I do have some stretch stitches on my trusty Janome and I won’t be beat! I have recently sussed a good few stitches to use but still have to do a test run on offcuts before I trust that stitches wont be missed or that unintended pin-tucks appear.

I have also entered this one into Made by Rae‘s springtop sewalong 2011. Didn’t think I’d get one done let alone two!

Thank you once again to my lovely fiancé for taking the photos. Though I think really and truthfully it was a good excuse for him to include the other love of his life…

me and my love rival

me and the other bird!