surprise! it’s a jersey dress with zippered pockets.

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I usually have some sort of name for the projects I work on – what I refer to the garment in my head as I’m sewing it, or even what I plan for the blog post title to be, once it’s finished. For this project, I’ve drawn a complete blank. It’s a grey jersey shift dress and it has zippered pockets (same one seen in my UFO-round-up). And that’s it! But that is ok – I feel strongly that this is one my current, quite basic uniform dresses. During college in Chicago I wore alot of skirts+cardigans+belts-combos, and the first few years back in Bergen it was tweaked to dress+cardigans+belts. Cardigans are still very present in my wardrobe, but the dress-style has shifted (ha!) to a straighter shift silhouette with none of the waist definition I’ve done for years. Subtle changes I guess!

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I currently have four jersey dresses I wear a lot, three of them I made, and the last is a store-bought dress very similar to this one. I have the mint ruched dress from last fall, the Ikat Hemlock dress from last spring, this grey one that is the point of this post, and for good measure I’ll mention this first midnight blue jersey fitted dress since it was the one to start this streak of jersey dresses, and because it also has the zippered pockets.

Fabric: 1,5 meters-ish of heathered grey courtelle jersey from Stoff & Stil.
Pattern: Hacked, based on this dress pattern from (yet again) Stoff & Stil.
Techniques: Overlocking, binding, gusset, zippered welt pockets.

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This dress pattern is really one that keeps giving! I think this is my first tried-and-true pattern, since I don’t usually make multiples. But since I’ve now really tweaked the fit to suit my body and the fabrics I like using, it’s reliable and quick to use. You know, except when I decide to change stuff, and totally make a mess of it all – like with this dress. My intention was a looser shift style dress without a waistseam, so I butted the skirt and bodice pattern pieces next to eachother, and then added what seemed to me an appropriate amount of ease. I really missed the mark there – I tried it on after sewing up the side seams and it was sausage casing tight! To make the addition of a gusset in each side seam look a little more intentional I cut it on the crossgrain.

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Having learned from the midnight blue ponte dress, I didn’t even attempt sewing in the zippers by machine, but topstitched around the opening and handsewed in the zipper using backstitch to securely attach it. The pocketing is a nice woven viscose I’ve also used for a pair of pants I recently finished, and I like that it’s matches in color, but is patterned. I’ve noticed that the pockets pull down a bit when I fill them with stuff, which doesn’t happen with the other dress. I’m thinking the waistseam anchors and supports the weight in a way that is less noticeable – you know, it wasn’t a mistake, it is a design feature! 😉

grey_jersey_zippered_pockets (8)Pocketing fabric in a watercolor-like printed viscose. Also, disappointingly, a little pilling despite not having been worn that many times!

So yeah, I don’t have much more to say about the dress. Despite not gushing about it, I do like it very much – I’ve used it at least once a week since finishing it! (I also love the proper summer weather we’ve been granted here in Bergen, and the awesome park that is a stone throw from my apartment. <3 Expect to see more corners from the park in future posts!)

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i have plans… OAL-plans

I’m chipping away at my ufo-pile that I posted about last month… um, two months ago (how in the world did that happen?) – I’ve finished the Grainline Portside travel set and just need to stuff it with pillows and photograph it, tackled a few easy repairs, and gotten back into muslin making for the Robson coat. I’ve been telling myself to knock out these unfinished projects before starting anything new, but then Lauren and Andi’s Outfit Along shows up and disturbs all my plans! In the best way, of course.

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Lots of pops of pink on my sewing table! Really my family inherited dining table, but… um, covered in planned and potential sewing projects now. A lovely little corner of my lovely new apartment!

The Outfit Along is a challenge to, between June 1st and July 31st, knit one garment and sew one garment to create a complete outfit. Technically you’re meant to start from scratch, but reading Lauren’s post got me so very inspired to build an outfit around a half-finished cardigan (another Bayview Street Cardigan) that I’ve lacked the drive to finish, so I’m bending the rules as I see fit. :) It took me about ten seconds to decide on a pair of shorts, another ten to realize I had a pattern in my stash that would work well (Simplicity/Built by Wendy 3850 pants), a minute to dig out a fine-waled grey corduroy I think will be perfect, and (I will admit it) a whole day to land on a magenta crinkly chiffon underlined in dark brown-grey chiffon for a sleeveless Pattern Runway Pussy Bow Blouse.

Going through my UFO-pile made me realize I tend to abandon projects when I deviate too much from the pattern or instructions, and run into fitting issues or problems that require a bit of effort to work through. I want to finish these garments that I’m planning, not add to my pile of stuff – so I’ve decided to really hold back on alterations I make to these patterns. For the shorts I’ll raise the center front though, as I’ve seen that is a recurring comment from others who have made it, and for the blouse I want merge the ties and the collar stand instead of having a separate tie. I’ll probably also raise the underarm slightly since the blouse isn’t drafted to be sleeveless.

So, I’m going to finish a longstanding UFO, make two pieces of clothing I’ve been wanting in my wardrobe, using fabrics and patterns from the stash. Win, win, win, win, huh? I’m excited! Anyone else participating in the Outfit Along?

cozy raglan sweater, sort of, finally

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Happy new year! A little belated, but I’m wearing my new (store-bought) sparkly skirt in honor of 2016! I think it will be a good one. I hope you all had a lovely holiday celebration, and rest and good company and good food. But don’t be distracted by the sparkles – it’s actually the black sweater we’re here to look at!

Fabric: 1 m black wool terry
Pattern: Raglan t-shirt, Design #4 in Ottobre magazine 5/2013. I cut a size 38.
Techniques: bias binding, understitching, overlocking.

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First off, pictures of this project is inspired (again) by Gillian’s newest post for better pictures, on taking indoor pictures. It is cold outside, even on my veranda, so getting good indoor pictures until it warms up would be nice! The main tip I took from this post was to find a spot perpendicular to the light source. This means however that my stuff is all visible in the background. Paired with the fact that even at two pm the light is fading here, I opted to use the aperture priority setting with a small aperture (f 1.8) that would let in the most light, and blur out the background the most. I don’t know if this affected the autofocus, of if it was where in the frame I was standing, or my sweater being black, but I’ve never had to delete so many totally out of focus pictures! This was a hard one for my camera, poor thing.

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This fabric is crazy cosy. I got a metre of this stuff at a school where I taught sewing as a substitute teacher this spring, and it’s from a local factory that produces wool clothing. I really like the slight horizontal striations, it gives what is really just black jersey a little bit of texture. The fiber is pure wool, and I would call it a terry – it has all those little loops on the backside,  so it’s super toasty! I knew right away that it would turn into a casual Grainline Linden-like sweater. (Or, as I like to put it, the fabric told me what kind of garment it wanted to be!)

I like to be able to use patterns from my stash when possible, so while I don’t have a huge stash, but I did find a raglan top in an Ottobre magazine that I chose to use. The pattern, #4 in the autumn/winter 5/2013 issue, is really a t-shirt pattern, so I knew I needed to make a couple of changes to get the casual sweater fit I wanted. For one, I had to add my own cuffs, hem and neckline bands, and I decided to size up to get a roomier fit than the t-shirt was intended for. Also, the pattern had a dart at the shoulder for shaping, which I didn’t want, so I slashed and spread. I messed this bit up. I ended up adding length at the front between the armpit and shoulder – length that wasn’t appropriate to add, and got a funnelneck thing going on! Not good. I unpicked, overlapped, and trimmed the neckline down, and that helped. I could not get the neckband to look decent though, so I finally just attached it as a binding instead. I eased the shoulders in especially during this step, which also helped, but I can see the binding makes the neckline a little bulky, and it still wants to stick up a little bit. I have the same thing happening on my ikat Hemlock dress – I’m thinking binding in a lighter weight jersey like on my recent Bettine dress is a good solution. Oh, and also note the little piece of ribbon I put in. It’s mainly meant to help me quickly tell the front from the back, but I also think it’s a nice little touch!

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Take notice of my face in the picture above – it’s my “seriously camera, will you focus and take a picture now, if I move a little to the left?”-look. But it also shows the back raglan sleeve, which I think has a nice line (nicer than the front, but that’s mainly my fault). While I was making this I was not really pleased with how the sweater was looking. I thought the sleeves were too slim, the neckline and shoulder fit was a mess, and the sleeves were really long after adding cuffs rather than folding and hemming them. And don’t I actually look better in dropped shoulder styles rather than raglan? The width of the hem band was due to how much fabric I had left, and it doesn’t look entirely proportionate in my eyes. The fabric isn’t the stretchiest, so cutting the cuffs and hem band from a narrower width of self fabric is only partly successful. I mean, it works, but not super well. For example – I can’t pull the sleeves up more than 2 inches above my wrist – the cuff is then stretched to its maximum! Oh well.

For all my hesitations and second-rate solutions I have ended up with a perfectly wearable and undeniably cozy sweater. I actually like slim sleeves; the extra length is something I really love in sweaters; and the neckline would probably look a little constricting with the added band, as was the original plan. It’s not perfect, and this post certainly contains a fair amount of what Karen cleverly dubs ablogogising (oh how I enjoy Karen’s writing!) – pointing out the errors in my make. But, it is cozy and warm. And I’ve worn it for three straight days. Let’s call it reluctantly, eventually, finally a success, shall we?

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a floral cotton sateen Bettine

Starting the weekend with a 10 am sunrise photoshoot! Like I mentioned in my last post, about the jersey Bettine, I’ve been waiting for daylight and weather to co-operate so I could take pictures of the cotton sateen Bettine I’ve made. Waking up Saturday morning to the absence of sleet and hail and pouring rain had me dressed to the nines at sunrise to take some balcony photographs. The things we do for blog photos!

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Fabric: 1,3 m floral print cotton sateen from Stoff og Stil.
Pattern: Bettine dress from Tilly and the Buttons. I made the size 2, but used just 1/4″ s.a. for overlocking.
Techniques: bias binding, understitching, elastic casing.

I haven’t worked in a cotton sateen since my final thesis project in fashion school. The dark grey side-draped skirt is made in cotton sateen, and I remember creases setting in like crazy – once a wrinkle had appeared there was no amount of steaming or ironing that would get it fully out. Therefore I was a bit worried about the same here, but though the fabric does wrinkle (even just from sitting down for 10 minutes!), it is way easier to iron them out than my last attempt! So… maybe not all cotton sateens are created equal? This is still definitely a dress I’ll need to iron before wearing though.

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I really like the print of this fabric, and the colors! It’s bold, and watercolor-like, and it’s cream-colored rather than white-white, and I love it.

I wrote quite a bit about the pattern changes I made to this dress in my previous Bettine post, so I don’t need to repeat all of that. The only change I made to this cotton dress after sewing up the jersey dress, was to shave off another 1/2″ or so from the bottom of the back bodice, to make it pool even less. I also remembered to fold the elastic casing down into the skirt this time, as intended – which makes the bodice lay nicer over the waistband. In this version I cut the back skirt with a center seam. I did this partly for fabric yield, but mostly for fit reasons. By having a back seam I could add some width and length over the butt, and I think that helps the side seam hang more nicely as well.

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I know the pattern changes I wrote about were a little hard to visualize, so I took some pictures of my pattern pieces post-alterations. They’re a little worse for wear after travelling rolled up in my bag during a rain storm, but you can see the important parts still!

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This is the back skirt piece, where I first of all lowered the center back waist point, to shape the waist and get a curve going up to the side-seam instead of the original straight edge. You can also see where I opened up the pattern at hip/butt-level and added a wedge. This wedge gives the skirt piece extra length to travel over the shape of the butt, and also just a tiny bit more width. The side seam length stays the same though. You can also see how I’ve reduced and redrawn the dramatic side seam curve, which is even more crucial to a good fit in a stiffer fabric like cotton sateen.

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The back bodice skirt has length taken out at the center back waist seam to reduce the amount of fabric hanging over the waist. I took out a little bit of width too, to get a near 90° angle at the side seam/waist seam intersection so it would meet the front bodice piece correctly.

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The front bodice piece I’ve shown already, but I did an FBA by opening up a wedge from the shoulder to the bust apex. Instead opening up and adding length evenly across the bodice, as you usually do with FBA’s, I rotated it into the center front fold line. This adds length to the center front only, and the side seam stays the same length. By doing this I got a little bit of extra length to travel over the bust, which I think was needed to have the same amount of pooling in the front as in the back. So – added length to the front bodice, reduced length in the back.

I don’t know if it was the thickness of the fabric or the multiple layers around the pockets, but I had the hardest time getting the elastic into the casing using a safety-pin! It took me 5 or 6 tries, after ending up between the wrong layers of fabrics. I actually unpicked a section in the front to get it all straightened out, and re-sewed that section with the elastic in place. A different way of getting the elastic in might save you some time!

Other than a woven fabric and the back skirt seam, the only difference between this version and the jersey one is adding the button tabs. The fabric is quite busy, so it’s not very easy to see – but it’s there, and it has a brass-colored button, and it’s a nice little touch. I think it works with this weight of fabric.

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Well, I managed to say quite a lot about a dress I’ve already said a lot about! It works very nicely as a party-dress (worn to my neighbour’s 30th birthday party), and I like the print and the colors very much. The end.

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a diamond jersey Bettine

Hey there! So, here is the first of two Bettine’s I’ve made – the second one I will post about as soon as I take the pictures, which will happen sometime in daylight when it’s not raining. That is a bigger feat than it might sound like in Rain capital here!

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Fabric: 1,3 m polyester and viscose jacquard sweater-weight jersey from Stoff og Stil.
Pattern: Bettine dress from Tilly and the Buttons.
Techniques: Jersey fabric, neck and pocket binding, serged seams, single-layer pockets.

First off, this is like socially acceptable pajamas. Made up in jersey, it is one comfortable dress! With pockets. I mean, pockets rule. Here is a close-up shot of the pocket:

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Ok, I’m going to back up here for a second. I taught a youth sewing class this fall (like I’ve done several times before), and I had the brilliant idea of combining all the demos I usually do into an actual garment.  Very smart. I had a laundry list of techniques I wanted to demo for the kids, and I found the Bettine dress to be the pattern that had most all of those techniques. So in between helping the participants with their jackets and skirts or whatever project they had chosen to work on, I would take 10 minutes to show them something different each class; elastic waistbands, or pocket constructions, or bias binding, or hemming. It worked quite well, and at the end I had a dress! Ahead of time I made this jersey dress as a test-run, so I’d be familiar with the construction steps and what-not.

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Now, some words on the pattern and the fit. Going in I was worried about the fit – I’d read several reviews that highlighted problematic aspects about the pattern (this one I found particularly helpful, with the side view), and Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow pointed out that the skirt front and back is cut from the same pattern piece. From the pictures I’ve seen around the interwebs this has a tendency to make the back hem rise up, since the back skirt piece hasn’t been made longer to compensate for the extra travelling distance over the butt. At the same time I noticed in pictures more excess in the back bodice pooling over the elastic waist than in the front, probably for the same reason – the front bodice is not made longer than the back despite the added volume of the bust.

After printing out the pattern and assembling I could see why these issues were happening. The skirt piece and the two bodice pieces all have straight waist seams. Being a beginners pattern I assume the same skirt piece is used front and back to make things easier on novice sewers, but I’m having a hard time justifying the non-curved waist seam. To my pattern-maker-trained eye it just looks wrong, and results in uneven amounts of pooling around the bodice (front to back, center to sides). Also, it makes the skirt hang unevenly. Frankly, I was disappointed to see this in the pattern. I also don’t understand why the sizing has to be unconventional and run as sizes 1-8 rather than the European or American sizing convention, but that is a mere annoyance that doesn’t really affect the outcome of the garment. Uncurved waistbands do, however.

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So, I made changes! I did a small FBA of 1″ total which also gave a little extra length in the front (shown in progress above – I finished by drawing a straight line from the center waist hem to the center neckline and cut away the excess). I’ve never done an FBA on a kimono-sleeve, so this was the educated-guess type of slash-and-spread. I think it worked out! I also shortened the back by 7/8″ from the waist up to reduce the amount of pooling going on in the back.  I used the pocket version skirt pattern as the front, and lowered both back and front pieces at the center by 1/2″ to get my beloved waist curve. On the back skirt pattern piece I added a 3/4″ horizontal wedge from center back to the hip mark at the side seam. This added some length back in, but also meant a center back seam (for the next version in cotton sateen at least, for the knit I decided I could just cut on the fold). Finally I reduced the exaggerated side hip curve by 1/2″ – I know this is a stylized design feature, but I have fairly narrow hips so I just don’t need all that much wiggle room.

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I drew inspiration from Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’s fun and summery Bettine, and made single layer pockets. The jersey probably would struggle a bit with the weight of the pockets, so single layer it was! I’m pleased with how they turned out. I had the brilliant idea of using a thinner viscose jersey in a matching color (yey stash!) for binding the neckline and pocket edges rather than self-fabric, and mid pocket-construction, before turning the binding over to the wrong side to stitch down, I realized I really liked the bit of detail and variation of a contrastic fabric. So I left it. That means the binding on the inside of the pocket is exposed and unfinished, but it seems to be holding up just fine after several washes and lots of wear. I mean, as comfy as pajamas and ok to wear in public? Weekly usage. I’ve had one issue moving into the colder weather of late though, which is that I don’t find it an easy dress to layer. I guess I could layer underneath? The cuffs and slightly wider sleeves tends to look quite lumpy under my cardigans. So non-layering-situations-dress it is.

Yes, the pattern put me in a grumpy mood, and my ideal dresses can be layered, and I turned the elastic casing into the bodice instead of the skirt so the pooling isn’t as elegant as it’s supposed to be (oops! My bad, I went rogue on the instructions), and I only realized after struggling to get pictures taken during post-sunset low lighting that the cuffs were all askew after taking my cardigan off (and I really could not be bothered to re-shoot). It might not be the biggest hit, but I’m still pleased with the dress.

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midnight blue ponte dress a.k.a my new uniform

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Alrighty, I’m back – more pictures from the same photoshoot as the Belcarra blouse and my watercolor Hemlock tee! I was productive that day. Anyways – Happy New Year and all that! My school semester has started again, so I’m back to full-time-student living. I recently made two knit dresses from the same pattern, and I’ve used them tons already – I’m seriously (in a capsule-wardrobe kind of way) thinking of making them my uniform and make a couple more in different colors with a few different detailings, and just wear that all semester. How easy would that be!

Fabric: Navy blue viscose+poly ponte/courtelle jersey from Stoff&Stil.
Pattern: Dress #23099 from Stoff&Stil, bought in size 36 but probably closer to size 34 now after all the alterations.
Techniques: Sewing with knits, overlocking, twin needle stitching, neckline binding.

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I actually came across this pattern while helping my students in the sewing class pick out their own patterns – to make it easy on everyone (slash me) all the fabric and patterns came from this one fabric store chain, so the girls could fairly easily pick out fabrics and patterns from one place through the catalogue or website (which has been down a lot lately – sorry if the links don’t work!). I thought the dress looked cute, and like it would be easy to wear – how can you not love being fully dressed with just one garment, which is comfortable as well? I also liked the exposed zippered pockets – dresses with pockets, yey! I already had a length of what Stoff&Stil calls courtelle jersey, which I assume and suspect is pretty much the same as ponte or double knit fabric. It’s a stable, moderately stretchy knit, it’s kind of heavy, and it drapes well.

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 To make the zipper opening one piece of the pocket bag is sewn on with a rectangle, which is slashed and turned inside out with the zipper edgestitched on. Being the wise-ass I am, I thought the opening would be too small for the zipper, even though I bought the recommended zipper length. I made the opening longer only to find it stretched out during sewing and was too long! So – either interface to make it more stable, or trust the pattern and it will all work out. I also ended up basting in the zipper before edgestitching to make it easier on myself (not without attempting to sew it on with just using pins first! Whoa, no good.) The pocket is constructed by sewing the second pocket bag piece to the first – quite easy if we disregard my zipper blunder.

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This was the first time in many many years I’ve used a pattern from Stoff&Stil. They are sort of retro in their usage actually! There is only one size per envelope, and they are precut with seam allowance included in a non-fusible interfacing type material. There are no printed markings, so notches are cut into the seam allowance, and drillholes indicate grainline and other markings. It’s a bit of a puzzle, but a cutting diagram and numbered list of pattern pieces show you what you’re dealing with. I would find it extremely frustrating as a beginner to attempt this though! Being able to identify different pattern pieces (say, a skirt from a sleeve) is an advantage in working with these patterns.

According to their size chart (I started with the EU36 size) I needed to add a few centimetres to the bust and the waist. I dutifully added them and then cut and constructed the dress. I barely even tried the dress on during construction since I had checked my measurements and eyeballed the non-interfacing patternpieces against my body, which looked fine. When the dress was done, it fit mostly ok, and I was really thrilled I was able to just quickly construct and have a wearable dress. Dressmaking made easy! The waist was a bit roomier than I prefer, so I ended up basically shaving off all the width I had added in during the measuring stage. Then I went to a friends surprise party, and revelled in all the lovely attention I got for wearing a handmade dress that looked like something storebought (yes, I totally eat those compliments up!). But it irritated me that the waist was still too wide and also too low. I finally unpicked the overlocked seams and took off a good 1″ from the front length, and 1,5″ from the back, and took in the sides by maybe 4″ total.

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After that I was much happier with the fit – the dress now sits at my natural waist, it is fitted but not tight, so it’s perfectly comfortable. Oh, and there is supposed to be a zipper down the front, but I didn’t feel like having it there, so I didn’t bother. While I took quite a bit of length off the back bodice, it still looks like it is maybe too long. Look at all these wrinkles!

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It definitely doesn’t feel like my backside is all wrinkly while I wear the dress (hah….), but I suspect that the wrinkles on the skirt is due to some static cling that could be solved with a slip, and that the wrinkles in the bodice is from some excess length, and maybe width? There is a swayback situation going on, but like I mentioned in making the muslin for my plaid shirtdress (which is just missing the buttons and the buttonholes, but I’ve totally stalled since I don’t think I will really wear the finished dress!) my back is quite narrow at the waist, and I think adjusting the pattern accordingly would be good. How informative taking back view pictures is!

I actually have another dress from this pattern, so I’ll be posting about that one soon. In the meanwhile, I leave you with this lovely outtake of what most of my pictures looked like, trying to get the wireless remote to work properly:

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twisted jersey skirt

twisted jersey skirt

John’s camera did some really wacky blurring on this photo, but I thought it was still cool! This weekend Bergen has been host to 70 sailing ships in this years Tall Ship races, the couple thousand crew members of the ships, and about half a million in visitors. It’s been a lively weekend, to say the least! There has been concerts, beer gardens, activities and open ships to visit. We took a stroll on Saturday and enjoyed the sunshine and the crowds, and I made a skirt for the occasion. This was seriously a 30 minute project from start to finish! It might look like a dress in the picture above, which is of course because I’m wearing my nearly perfect tshirt in the same fabric. A belt in a contrasting fabric helps the illusion that the two pieces are actually a dress – double duty garments are the best!

Fabric: A rayon jersey from Stoff og Stil, in a heathered blue.
Pattern: Totally and experimentally made up.
Techniques: None. Well, if you count overlocking and twisting fabric, then sure, those.

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That is the Russian vessel Kruzenshtern in the background, the largest participating ship. It’s crazy big! And that is me cooling my feet on a recordbreaking warm day for Bergen. It felt so nice.  So, the skirt! I’ve been wanting to make a jersey miniskirt to fill a gap in my wardrobe – I’ve realized I reach for my striped miniskirt a whole lot, and it’s the only miniskirt I have! I’ve seen these twisting jersey skirts several places, and think it’s a great way to make a jersey skirt more interesting. The tutorials I found on the webs were really confusing to me, so I sort of went with what I thought would work.

This is pretty much just a tube that has been twisted before being joined together along the short end. Let me explain: I cut a square about 1 yard x 1 yard (that is 2x the length of a well-fitting miniskirt x a little less than the hip circumference of a well-fitting miniskirt), folded in half with right sides facing in, and sewed the long edge shut. Then I turned the tube right side out, and before lining up the two short ends to overlock across the four layers, I twisted one side so the first seam intersection was nudged about 1/3 of the way down from the top. This means that the long, first seam runs from the top edge on one side of the center back seam, around the body but spiralling very gently downwards, and ending at the center back seam further down than the starting point. Yeah, so not the easiest thing to explain, but I can expand if anyone is interested! I did have to shape the back seam a bit, to hug the waist but not be super-tight across the hips.

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Later in the evening we went back downtown to sit outside and have a beer after it had cooled down a bit. We took these pictures right about midnight actually, so that tells you 1. how warm it still was, and 2. how much light we’re still getting here at night! Love that. I did an outfit change too, so you can really see that it’s actually a skirt, haha! I call this a success, and looking forward to wearing this well into fall with tights and boots. But for now, I’ll be baring legs for as long as I can. Happy summer!

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