Muppet blue pencil skirt PLUS bonus Sorbetto

I have been sewing!

It’s true, even if you wouldn’t be able to guess it from reading this blog. I’ve just been too busy writing endless job applications, attempting to get our boiler fixed, and practising my new Ballet Workout exercise DVD (okay, I haven’t actually done that last one very much).

I’ve even been keeping my resolution of sewing with Burda patterns. This skirt is from 08/2011, made in lovely felty wool from Fabricland. The top is another Sorbetto.

I’ve pressed the heck out of these darts but they still look strange. Hmmm. I liked this skirt because of the lovely inverted pleat and petersham waistband, but I added a few details:

  • A lining (made from the mysterious American D-Kripp from Ultimate Craft! At 1.50 a metre you can’t go wrong)
  • Pockets, also from the enigmatic D-Kripp
  • A back vent, from this A Fashionable Stitch tutorial. I didn’t incorporate the lining. I had a look at an old RTW pencil skirt and there’s a big hemmed rectangle cut out of the lining back seam, so I did the same here. Well, if it’s good enough for M&S…

I’ve had NO luck with my stupid Burda invisible zip foot lately. The teeth just get stuck in the groove, resulting in little fabric puckers all the way down.

I put this one in with a normal zipper foot, but it’s less than perfect. Any top tips? You can see how rubbish it is here:

The Sorbetto is entirely stash-made, from fabric and bias binding left over from my birthday dress, as well as various random trimmings I found while having a tidy up. There are three tiny pearl buttons at the top. It’s a possibly a teeny bit too Per Una-esque, but I like it anyway.

I have one and a half metres left of this bright blue wool fabric, so I’m thinking another skirt might be useful, only this time one I can wear on my bike (Have you ever tried cycling in a pencil skirt? Not recommended).

There is a matching jacket in the Burda issue, but I’m not sure I could pull off a whole outfit in what I like to call ‘Cookie Monster Blue’…

Dinner-lady Sorbetto dress

My latest Sorbetto was prompted by a friend’s birthday party with a ‘literary character’ theme. I was completely stuck for ideas, until a more creative friend  sudden flash of genius suggested dressing up as the Borrowers.

Naturally my mind turned to the idea of massive buttons, and some kind of miniature looking dress to put them on. The largest print I had in my stash was some big check blue gingham I bought from IKEA for some reason lost in the mists of time (surely everyone stumbles out of IKEA with loads of stuff they have no recollection of buying? It’s something they put in the meatballs I reckon).

I only had about two days to make a costume so the Sorbetto pattern was the obvious choice  – I already knew it fitted and was quick to sew. To turn the top into a dress I just took a big ruler and extended the side lines downwards for each pattern piece. I did the front first and then matched up the back side so the flare was the same on both sides.

Here’s my boyfriend and me as the Borrowers. I’ve had to crop this photo because there was some unflattering gurning going on, but you can see my giant buttons, jumbo pencil (from Amazon! Everyone should have one), and the massive needle and thread belt I made. (p.s. – we are crouching to try and look more tiny, obviously it’s not working so well)

Borrowers Costume

The buttons were made from some thick cardboard – I traced round a flowerpot and cut out two circles, then traced round a glass and cut out the centre of one. The other circle had two little holes cut in the middle. I then glued them together and spray-painted them a shimmery blue colour.

I hot-glued them onto the dress because a) I am lazy, and b) I love my hot glue gun.

I was proud of this dress and optimistically thought it could actually be wearable in everyday life, so I spent valuable sewing time picking off the buttons, getting rid of the giant pencil pocket, finishing the seams, adding a little lace-trimmed pocket on the top, and bias binding the hem.

However as we all know, pride comes before a fall, and I failed to notice the glaring problem with this dress. It bears an unfortunate resemblance to a dinner-lady tabard, as you can see in this photo.

I’m trying to put a brave face on it. Without a belt the resemblance is unavoidable, but even when I cinch in the waist I feel like I should be standing behind a counter, ladle in hand, dumping mashed potato onto plates.

It’s home-decor weight fabric and rather reminiscent of a giant tea-towel, which doesn’t help. I think it could work in a more structured garment but not this one. Also, the pocket I added on top looks like a strange afterthought.

On the positive side, I’m keeping the Sorbetto dress pattern I drafted – it could work well in a lighter fabric, elasticated or with a drawstring at the waist. The sway-back adjustment worked out great in the dress form. Here’s what the (crumply) pattern pieces look like.

Sorbetto dress pattern pieces

The buttons have been more successful and have now taken up residence on top of the pinboard next to my sewing desk.

Giant buttons on notice board

I did learn a valuable lesson from this dress. Much like ‘poncho’, the word ‘tabard’ should never spring to mind when people look at your handiwork.

Just one Sorbetto (okay, two)

A bit late to the party as usual, but I’ve finally got round to sewing some Sorbetto tops from Colette Patterns. Apart from their lovely patterns, Colette are great at social media marketing, and have tons of free tips and patterns on their blog. They’ve played a blinder releasing the Sorbetto – it’s a perfect basic tank top, with a 60s-esque inverted pleat down the front, and has spread through sewing blogs like a particularly virulent strain of crafting flu.

If you remove the pleat, it’s also a dead ringer for the legendary Simplicity 2599, another sewing blogger favourite, which has tons and tons of variations, also applicable to the Sorbetto. Basically it’s a keeper.

I made the first version of yellow plaid seersucker, left over from making some pyjamas last year.Yellow Sorbetto from Colette Patterns

I probably should have ironed it before taking this photo but you get the general idea.

This version doesn’t fit very well – I sewed a 14 and it was tight at the chest and way too big at the sides, back, and armholes. Also the neckline gaped open (probably because of the tightness). I took it in a bit at the sides which solved the problem a little bit. It’s definitely wearable though as the fabric is lovely.

I made my own bias binding using this little gadget for the first time. It does make it easier, but it’s still fiddly and annoying to do. Somehow I managed to iron the bias tape THE WRONG WAY ROUND like an idiot, which meant ten minutes of swearing and burnt fingers as I ironed out all of those lovely bias folds I had so carefully ironed in.

I also used the Colette patterns tutorial for a continuous method of making binding which completely blew my mind, as someone who is incapable of thinking in 3D (bit of a hindrance when it comes to sewing). So thank you Colette patterns! The binding gives it a lovely clean finish and looks nice with the pleat.

Sorbetto close-up

I butchered the poor pattern up for my second attempt. It looks fairly drastic but the main thing I did was put in a FBA so it wasn’t so tight around the chest, and added a centre-back seam so I could take out some of the excess ease.

(I have an unhealthy addiction to doing FBAs as it makes me feel like a cross between a heart surgeon and a structural engineer. This may mean I need to get out more.)

Altered Sorbetto pattern

The FBA makes the top bigger at the waist, but it hangs well. I don’t think I did the swayback adjustment properly as I just added in the excess fabric at the bottom to make the seam straight, totally defeating the point. What am I missing here? However adding in a back seam and cutting quite a bit of fabric off it worked well and it looks better at the back.Blue sorbetto top from Colette PatternsThis is Ghanaian wax-print fabric, which I bought in a shop just off Brick Lane from two extremely nice women. You buy this stuff in bundles which are normally about 6 metres each, and it’s incredibly cheap – in this case just a tenner. It’s sold like this that you can get a full outfit of of it, including a skirt, top, headdress etc. In my case I’ve already made a dress and two cushion covers out of the same stuff.

African wax print Sorbetto
The wax-print stuff is quite thick cotton, which softens up more and more each time you wash it.

I also changed up the pleat in the middle, making one big pleat in the middle and two little ones either side, as you can sort of see in this photo. I just pinked the seams using my trusty rotary cutter blade. This is definitely the lazy girl’s way of finishing seams, and therefore I endorse it heartily.

I noticed that with all the blog posts about Sorbetto there were not nearly enough puns about ice-cream. I have attempted to rectify this oversight with my closing paragraph (see below). Colette Patterns, if you want to use this as marketing copy, please go ahead. It’s my pleasure.

This is a deliciously tasty pattern, and you definitely won’t get any frosty looks when you wear it! In fact, you’ll be icy cool! Whatever your outfit, it’ll be the perfect topping! Other patterns will melt away in comparison! So take a lick at the Sorbetto!

Sorry about that.