Curvy Colette: My Mabel Skirts

This is my first post for the Curvy Colette Blog Tour. When you’ve finished reading, why not check out the rest of the posts:

Wednesday, April 16th: Jenny at Cashmerette
Thursday, April 17th: Mary at Idle Fancy
Saturday, April 19th & Sunday April 20th: Laurence at QuirkyPrettyCute
Monday, April 21st:  Tanya at Mrs Hughes
Tuesday, April 22nd and Wednesday, April 23rd: T at UandMii
Thursday, April 24th: Jenny at Cashmerette
Friday, April 25th: Mary and Idle Fancy
Saturday, April 26th and Sunday, April 27th: Sophie-Lee at Two Random Words (me!)
Monday, April 28th: Mary at Young, Broke and Fabulous 

There are some patterns that as soon as you make and try on, you laugh. Why on Earth haven’t I made one before??


Colette Mabel is one of those patterns. I used to have a black knit, princess seamed skirt that I loved, and wore all the time. At least once a week. One day a year or so ago it went missing and ever since I’ve thought “I should really make one of those”. I’ve half-heartedly tried a couple of times, using this pattern from Burdastyle, but they ended up going to my sister-in-law Tough Chick.

When Colette Patterns released their two new patterns, the Mabel skirt and Moneta dress, it took a bit of time to sink in. “Oh, some basic knit stuff, how nice” and on I continued with my day. Then I realised – this is EXACTLY the sort of stuff that’s missing in my hand-made wardrobe. With Me-Made-May coming up, I’ve really had to think about which garments I reach for more than others, and what kind of things I’m missing.


This pattern has definitely filled a gap in my wardrobe. It’s quick to make, quick to pull on and sooo comfortable. I would warn you though: be very careful what kind of fabric you use! Being so far away from any fabric stores, I bought this online and while it was described as a Ponti de Roma “knit wear, tops, skirts and pants”, it’s a bit thin for this kind of thing. I cut the XL size, grading to a size L at the hips, and it’s a bit clingier than I would like.

At first I thought I would have to give it away as it was showing all sorts of bumps and VPL’s, but I’ve found myself reaching for it quite a lot. Unfortunately the fabric has already started to pill, only a week after making it (and wearing it about 4 times since making it).


Thinking that the clinginess was a combination of the fabric choice and the pattern being slightly too small, I quickly made another one to test out the theory. Luckily I had just cut out a jumper for Mr. Guy and had easily enough of this wool blend leftover:


This second time I traced off the 2XL for the front side panels, giving me more room all around. I chose only that panel to trace bigger as I wanted the princess seams to sit further towards the middle, so they sit over the “fullest” part of my puku (stomach). You’ll also note this version is longer – while my black one has 2cm added to the length, when I walk it rides up to sit at mid-thigh. This version has a total or 12cm added to the length, and a 1.5cm seam allowance (for reference, I’m 178cm or 5’10”)


This is a much more “work appropriate” length, and is what I usually wear, although the shorter black version is nice to make me feel a bit like a babe (and it’s nice to finally have clothes that I can only wear out of work, rather than everything being work-appropriate – I don’t feel I can wear my ships or lobster dresses to work, for example).https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070615.jpg

You’ll see that this thicker fabric still shows a lot of lumps and bumps, so it’s nicest with a cardigan over it. It’s quite thick so I can’t really wear a top over it (plus I don’t have many tops that are for wearing untucked). This is the main thing to be aware of when choosing fabric for this skirt – the more stretch the fabric has, the more it’ll show what’s underneath (because the fabric will “stretch” over the lumps/seams rather than sitting flat over them). Thicker fabric will help alleviate that, as would a fabric with two “layers” such as a terry knit. https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070599.jpg

 I just love my facial expression in this photo.

What do you think of the new Colette patterns? I’m absolutely stoked that they’ve graded their patterns up – yes, I fit their standard block (although I would grade up in the hips) but so many women are stuck using Big 4 patterns because the indie patterns don’t go big enough. When looking at the patterns you can tell they actually did a fair amount of work getting a good “plus sized” sloper, as there’s some extra shaping in the 2 and 3XL sizes, to keep the proportions right. Well done Colette!https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070576.jpg

This is how short it actually wears.


Pattern: Mabel by Colette Patterns

Fabric: Black ponti, $14 incl. postage. Grey and black wool, ~$15

Notions: Thread, stash

Total: $14 and $15

In case you were wondering, the photos were taken in Russel in the Bay of Islands, where Mr. Guy and I went for a few nights over this ANZAC weekend, for our first wedding anniversary. Damn but I love that man. You’ll see a couple more Bay of Islands photos in my next post for the Curvy Colette Blgo Tour – tomorrow!


The “One Day” outfit featuring The Afternoon Blouse

For a while now I’ve been complaining (in my head) about two things: I’m desparately lacking in nice blouses to wear, and I need some more plain skirts. I’m attracted to bright colours and patterns which sometimes mean that my wardrobe looks like a higgeldy mess of colours and I have to pick through everything to find things that match. I am quite happy mixing patterns but sometimes it just gets a bit much, you know?


So we’ve established that I can’t say no to brights. I’m also not to good at buying blouse fabrics – no idea why, but I think part of it is that lots of patterns call for almost 2m, and I figure if I’m going to buy 2m (and the fabric is usually in some way expensive), I might as well get a WHOLE outfit out of it. I can get a bit stingy with fabric, so I’ve been trying to get hold of cute patterns that use not-so-much fabric and don’t have lots of details that I’m not ready to tackly in delicate blouse fabric.

The Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren Vintage (from Dunedin, NZ, where I went to university) kind of meets both of those criteria.

ImageAlthough the “required yardage” is about 1.5m, I used vastly less than that – I had a 140x60cm piece and a much smaller piece that I was able to just fit the facing onto, so you should easily be able to get it out of ~90cm. The fabric itself is a rayon from one of the members of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (erm, I can’t quite remember who it was, sorry and thanks!). I’m not sure if it’s vintage or not, but it has a few small stains on it that look like the ones you get on vintage tablecloths. All I know is I snapped it up as soon as my beady eyes caught sight of it, and didn’t ask any questions.ImageThe fabric is looovely and drapey and feels really nice to wear, and I love how it blouses over the skirt. I feel like I’m wearing a vintage grandma blouse and I love it.


This photo is for Mary – this was the first photo we took! It’s damn windy here…

The blouse was SO quick to make. I even timed myself, and it took 90 minutes all up. In terms of construction, I basically followed the instructions (mainly I just glanced at the diagrams). The inside seams are finished with the overlocker and the hem and sleeves are all finished with a narrow hem. For the facing, instead of fusing the interfacing on and then finishing the edges, I sewed right sides together (using the glue side as the wrong side), trimmed the seam with pinking shears, then turned and pressed the interfacing down. This gives the facing a really nice finish without any extra stitching.

ImageFor some reason the only good photos from today were crazy photos.

In case you’re wondering about the skirt; yep, I made that as well. In the same evening as the top. Hence the “one day outfit”.

It’s from the Gertie’s high waisted skirt (previously made here, here, here and here). When I tried it on halfway through I decided I wanted it to be a bit more pegged than my other versions, so I took it in at the bottom of the side seams, and the bottom center back seam. BIG MISTAKE. I think that really needs to be a flat-pattern adjustment, because I can feel some weird pulling around the bottom. I was also left with a much shorter vent, which combined with the peggings makes it VERY difficult to get on (getting dressed may remind my husband of my pantihose dance). I also got some excess pooling at the bum:

ImageThis photo makes me wonder if there’s a fitting issue that needs fixing at the hips on my sloper, or if it’s just because I changed the bottom of the skirt. It’s not tooo bad but I do end up tugging it a bit during the day (and apologies about the wrinkles, I can only take photos after work and I do a lot of sitting-to-standing and back).

ImageI decided to straighten out the waistband, rather than using the curved one that I’ve done with all my other versions.

ImageI did an invisible hem and decided that it’s not the best idea on a vented skirt – at least, if you’re going to do it, do it before you sew up the center back seam! So it’s not the greatest black skirt, but it’ll do and I always have to remind myself that it still fits better than ready-to-wear.

ImageWhat am I doing here?

I actually really like the blouse – the funny fold-over front is cute although I will need to sort out some way to make it stay in place (it’ll help when I have hand-needles…I had to sew the waistband button with a sewing machine needle). It uses very little fabric and is quick, and the kimono sleeves give it a classy/casual look. I may use this pattern to make a plain v-neck kimono blouse for even more versions.

The black skirt I’m 50% happy about – I will wear it a lot because it’s so plain it will go with anything else in my wardrobe (and is one of only 4 black items in my whole place), but the fit is a bit off.


Patterns: The Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren Vintage, $14 NZD, and Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Black stretch cotton twill, $8,60 and rayon, free

Notions: Pale blue button and white and gold button (skirt), zip, thread and interfacing all from stash. Thread, $4

Total: $26.60 all up


It’s a zoo out there!

Late last year Juliet had an idea for the January Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN) meet up: zoo at the zoo. The idea was to make clothes with animal fabric/animal themed, and visit the zoo to celebrate. Apparently it’s also Jungle January, although I’m not so sure what that even is.


January worked out well because there was two-for-one tickets at Wellington Zoo, and the day worked well because my sister-in-law was working and I was able to watch her try to excite kids in games about Australian animals (it was Australian day… Jo was not impressed with all the pro-Australian greetings from staff!)


My skirt is, of course, Gertie’s high-waisted skirt, made in a bottom-weight Zebra-printed cotton from The Fabric Store. I bought it on another WSBN outing (the Craft Crawl run by The Dreamstress) – Zara grabbed the bolt from a part of the store I rarely look at, and I immediately rushed over and nabbed some for myself. This type of fabric is one of my favourites – it’s not obviously crazy patterned from far away but when you get close you see how awesome it is.


(I hate this Glassons t-shirt; the seams twists like crazy which is uncomfortable and not nice aesthetically, but the slouchy yet fitted shape is exactly what I want to wear with skirts.)

Construction wise, the skirt has no surprises. I used my already-altered pattern (and have realised that I need to take about 2cm out of the front panel, as it’s a touch loose and the side seams sit a touch further back than they should). Everything is sewn then overlocked, with an enclosed waistband using my stich-in-the-ditch foot (I love this thing!). The zip is lapped and I used the last black button from my stash (my red Gertie skirt is still lacking a button and I have to safety pin it up).


I got clothing tags! The quality is so-so (they’re polyester and unravel so bad at the sides that I have to burn each edge) but it’s really cool having labels in my hand-made clothes – seems so much more professional. I’ve been adding them to newly made stuff but should go back and add them to clothes I made a while ago.


I only bought 0.8m of it (the PERFECT amount for the skirt – I usually end up rounding up how much I need but end up having annoying 20cm scraps left over, so luckily Leimomi convinced me I didn’t need more than 80cm). I therefore didn’t bother pattern matching (too busy to need it, I figure) but I did end up with a lovely two-headed zebra over the zip (the magic of fusible stay tape. I would also like to point out how nice my darts are sitting – a combination of using my tailors ham and starting the dark from the top and sewing off the edge (of the point) means they don’t bubble.


My husband tells me this is not what Zebra’s do.


Pattern: Gertie’s high-waisted skirt (from her book), used for the 6th time

Fabric: 0.8m or heavy cotton from The Fabric Store, I-don’t-remember-how-much, approx $16. Black fabric (for waistband) is leftover from another skirt.

Notions: zip, thread and button, stash

Total: about $16. Frick yes! This is why we sew, ladies and gents.


And, a WSBN group photo:

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/e54c7-dsc05336.jpgClockwise from top-left: Jo, Juliet, Joy, Zara, Gemma, Sandra, Kat and Myself.


Reaffirming my love for Sewaholic Hollyburn

You will have to excuse the wrinkles – I wore this skirt two days in a row (!) before taking these photos, and forgot to iron it first.


This pattern…. well. It is, in my opinion, expertly drafted, especially for me. It’s quick to cut and to sew – I cut it out during some down time at work, and it probably took 2.5 hours TOPS to make. The pockets are the perfect size and sit nice and flat. Both this and the other version I still wear (in silk, see here) are cut on the bias so the fullness of is spread evenly around. I’ve also made this a few others times – one was version C and too short for me (so got given to Tough Chick – photos to come), another I made in the wrong fabric and gave it away.


It’s also comfortable and easy to wear – it fits snugly around the waist (good) and flares out over the hips (good). This is version A and is my favourite length for a skirt, just under the knees (good). It’s a perfect work skirt as it’s modest, cute and, well, I could run to an emergency while keeping my dignity if I really needed to.

I made this version out of a sturdy cotton twill from The Fabric Store. After making this up so quick I very, very much wanted to run off and get more but I’m trying desperately to restrain myself – I’m going AWAY damnit, and don’t need more fabric.

Mr. Guy and I went for a drive and took these photos at Island Bay, Wellington. I’m surprised none of the photos show the crazy wind and waves.


Although it took me so little time to sew, I did do it over a few days because I forgot to buy a matching zip at the store. I’m lucky enough to have an excellent friend that owns a craft shop, who will create a parcel of things I need, and leave the door unlocked 15 minutes past closing time so I can run and get it when Mr. Guy forgets to.


I did a lapped zipper and this time could actually get my head around doing one when the zip hits the top of the waistband (you just… fold it). I loved lapped zips, I never really did a nice centered zip that didn’t gape, so I’m glad I found this technique (as mentioned before, I use Scruffy Badger’s mothers technique).

My favourite bit is the hemline – I decided to use bias binding as a hem tape, because the skirt is quite full. Mrs C chose the bias binding based on my description of the colour as “grey-navy” and it is perfect. I just wish I could show it off to strangers more.


Even now my folding and stitching isn’t, erm, the straightest. If you’re looking at the binding side is looks a bit wonky, but I sewed it with right-side-up keeping an even distance from the edge, so it’s straight where it counts.



Pattern: Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt

Fabric: Cotton twill from The Fabric Store, $18/m with 40% off VIP sale, $21.60

Notions: Zip ~$4 and bias binding $7

Total: $32.60

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/p10506891.jpgI would also like to mention how amazing it is that someone found my blog yesterday by googling “erotica better than my husband”. It obviously directed them to this post but what were they really looking for?


Lobster lips

Sooo, guess what I made??

Yep, another pencil/straight skirt. ImageI’ve really gotten into this “tried and true pattern” business – I know this pattern fits well, and it’s such a daily wardrobe staple I could easily make and wear 20 of these. It’s flattering (I’m pretty sure 😀 ) and comfortable, with enough room for my badonkadonk when I go from sitting to standing all the time at work. Image This version is made from a cotton-polyester drill from The Fabril Warehouse. Medium-weight with a teensy bit of drill. Unfortunately it wrinkles a bit and does sit kind of weirdly, but meh. Don’t care.

In terms of construction, I trimmed the interfacing back to the seam allowances before fusing:

ImagePinked then trimmed the top waistband seam (the clippings look like little love hearts):

ImageI added my usual vent (next time I will try doing a kick pleat, for fun):


And, the best part, I added piping!


Green tartan piping.

ImageI love piping – such an easy way to add pizazz to an otherwise simple garment. And look how well it lines up at the back!


Lapped zipper, baby.

It, erm, may not have a button yet and is currently done up with a small safety pin. The button I bought (which matches the colour perfectly) is too big for the tiny flap I kept on the waistband. I’ve been thinking I might just put on one of those huge hook-eye-tab things like you get on pants.


Not much else to say, really. I promise I’ll put some more interesting stuff on here instead of copy pastas. But really, I could make and wear 20 of these.


Pattern: Pencil skirt from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing

Fabric: 1.5m of cotton-polyester drill, $24 (could have gotten away with 1m)

Notions: Zip, $4, thread and interfacing, stash

Total: $28

Mr. Guy took me up the hill for photos, rather than having them always in the back- or front yard. It also involved swings!https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/p1050220.jpg

.Location shots FTW


So – do you guys tend to stick to one pattern you know well or continue to challenge yourselves?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Gertie’s pencil skirt #2

Aaand, I’ve made this skirt again.

ImageI’m even wearing the same top as last time.

This Gertie high waisted pencil skirt is made from a stretch denim with leopard print (obviously). To be honest the denim is not the best quality (although you wouldn’t guess that when the original price was $39.95/m!! What the hang, Arthur Toye), but I loved it at the AT 50% sale and wanted another skirt.


The details are all similar to last time; I used the same base size (12 waist to 14 hips, I think) that I traced last time. This time around I actually cut the excess fabric from the side seams from my pattern pieces. Interestingly, although I feel like it fits quite well and definitely isn’t too small, I can see some diagnonal pulling lines at the back. Maybe it’s something I’ll never get rid of while I have curves (mainly my pansita) and a bootay. Although it might partly be the fabric, as my sateen one didn’t do it so much.


It’s as if all the lines are pointing at my bum

I also took in the waistband a touch; last time I had to remove about an inch from the top of the waistband by angling the side seams. I wanted to keep the side seams at a 90 degree angle though, so snipped through the waistband piece from top to almost-bottom three times, and overlapped each piece by 5mm – so I ended up with 3cm less in total at the top of the waistband without removing any from the bottom. Perfect.

ImageWore it to work today and it’s comfortable for all the stand-sit-stand-walk-sit-standing I have to do.


ImageConstruction wise, it’s sewn with machine and finished with my overlocker. I did a lapped zipper using Scruffy Badger Time’s tutorial which I love, and it finishes with a button. Vent added like last time – see this post if you’re interested in how. This time I did no hand-stitching, instead using my MOST AMAZING NEW SEWING MACHINE FOOT, a stitch-in-the-ditch/edge stitching foot, which I picked up for $12 (I was expecting to pay $20-25) at fabric-a-brac. The stitching is perfectly invisible from the outside and just leaves a (very) straight stitchline on the bottom inside waistband.




Pattern: Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Leopard print denim from Arthur Toye’s sale, $20/m. 1.5m bought (1m used) = $30

Notions: Thread $2, button and zip, stash

Total: $32



First of many pencil skirts

I. Love. This. Skirt!

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1040948.jpgI’d been meaning to make this skirt for a wee while now, and had the fabric in my stash to do so (a black twill/denim – more on that one to come). Then, when I had leftover fabric from this dress I decided to make a polka-dot pencil skirt (ohhhhh yes). The pattern is Gertie’s high waisted skirt from her book – so it meets my November challenge for The Monthly Stitch to “sew from a book” – which, if I’m honest, is the main reason why I actually got around to making the skirt.


I didn’t have to do very much fitting; I traced off the pattern, grading between size 12 in the waist and size 14 in the hips (I think. I’ve leant my book to Jo from Making It Well so can’t be sure which sizes I did). I had to take a touch more out of the waistband, and took off about 1.5cm off each side seam, all the way down – so maybe I could have done a size 12 for the whole thing and stuff the measurements.


The construction went well. The insides are all overlocked, the hem is done using my coverstitch machine, and I followed her instructions for the majority, including inserting a lapped zipper (using her tutorial). I understand now why so many people like these! It’s actually way easier to do than a standard centered zipper (no basting involved), is easier to keep tidy, and hides the zip better. I’m pretty sure this is how my mother first taught me to do zips but I obviously forgot. Now I have the choice of lapped or invisible zips which have been my favourite ever since I got the foot for my machine.


Speaking of things I’ve forgotten; how is it that I forget really crucial skills that I had once learned – and have to have an “ah ha” moment all over again. Take this example:


This tangle of threads happens when you don’t pull the loose threads taut before starting stitching; the bobbin thread gets all caught up with itself and gets stuck. I learned this about a year ago (after years of having unexplained messes) and yet I still occasionally get lazy.

This top is not one of my own; it’s a poly chiffon thing I bought on sale several years ago. Rather shapeless number with one dart and kimono sleeves but looks good tucked in and I wear it quite a lot.


Silly sausage

As mentioned above, I followed most of Gertie’s construction steps, but I sewed curved darts and added a vent – I’m not a fan of slits, I feel they’re more dangerous.. that is, more likely to rip up the back seam, and more likely to show too much leg. I didn’t have any black zips so it has a pink zip which occasionally peeks its head out from behind the lap.


All in all, this is one hellovah skirt. It’s very fitted in the waist (tick), fits nicely over the hips (tick) and is an excellent length for me (tick tick) – I’m reasonably tall and have problems with almost all RTW being too short. My preferred skirt length is right below my knees. The one (one!) problem I have is that it’s a bit baggy under the bum (probably partly due to the sateen, after sitting for a while) which can… accentuate my generous behind, but not enough to worry about.


Pattern: Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Polka-dot cotton sateen (3% lycra) from The Fabric Warehouse/leftover from other dress. Approx $10

Notions: Thread, button and zip, stash

Total: $10! Suck it!