Made by Me!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

By Hand London - Charlotte Skirt Finished!

My first make of 2016 - or technically last of 2015 - the Charlotte skirt is one sassy little minx. It has a bold and unusual silhouette with the addition of the ruffled peplum around the waist (one of three styling options). It kind of makes you feel like a lady when you wear it and its wonderfully slimming on the body. Yay for my post Christmas belly! It has a lovely vintage feel to it and is both elegant and fun at the same time. I love it! The By Hand London ladies have done a great job with this beginner pattern and it makes me wonder why I left this lingering in my sewing drawer for so long. It is in fact the first time I have sewn up one of their patterns although I do own three of them. Shameful I know and something I must rectify soon!

This was my New Years Eve outfit. My boyfriend said I looked very pretty (aww) and he rarely gets excited about the things I make! The pattern itself took a day - from cutting out to hand sewing the hem and waistband down. When I wore it round the house to test it out it was comfortable and I could move easily in it. I hate tight fitting things that make you feel constricted, especially around the middle. I easily ate a large meal and downed a few New Years drinks in this baby. As a side note the peplum can hide a multitude of belly sins which can only be a plus!

I had a couple of issues putting this skirt together. Firstly whilst I graded the pattern to my size as I am in between a 12 and 14 when I was trying it on during construction I quickly realised it wouldn't fit around my hips and so I had to reduce the seam allowance from 5/8's to 3/8's across the whole skirt. This also had an effect on the waistband as it didn't fit in the way they suggest (which is to overlap part of the waistband to create a nice lapped finish). I constructed a standard waistband and using a longer zip I just sewed it in right up to the top of the garment, as I wouldn't have had anywhere to put the requisite hooks and eyes or poppers to close it up without the lapped element of the waistband. I think it worked fine.

The fabric I chose wasn't long enough for the peplum either so I cut out two long sections instead of one long one and then I cut one of these pieces into two. One section was for the skirt front and the other two to cover either side of the back skirt sections. Again this worked fine and was a good solution. You cant tell it wasn't meant to be like that and it also saved a tonne of fabric. I only used about 1 and 3/4 metres in the end instead of the 3 and 1/2 yards (just over 3 metres) that they suggest.

My main issue was that I didn't use a stretchy fabric as suggested - I know naughty, naughty. Now in the main this is fine for this pattern but this skirt is not very adaptable for walking and without any stretch it kind of makes for a hobbling - or tip toeing walk which is soooo frustrating!! It may be considered dainty and ladylike on some but not on me as I like to stride London stylee! Basically I just need to add a walking vent at the back to help with this issue which wont take long but the photos here show it as it was made, sewn all the way down to the bottom. In honesty I am really not sure that a stretch fabric would have made much difference and in a lot of reviews I read prior to cutting into my fabric they all said it had loads of ease for walking so I wasn't too worried. Walking around at home I failed to see the problems a tight skirt like this would cause and went out without testing it further. But as I found out it caused problems aplenty - from bending down to put my shoes on which I discarded when dancing - I had to sit on a chair and get my boyfriend to put them back on again!! I looked like a little bit of a Princess at that point! Getting in and out of cars was also an issue and steps were a bit of a pain! So I think it should be no surprise that I wholeheartedly disagree with the ease of the skirt being adequate but I may just be the wrong person for this type of ladylike silhouette!!

Other than that this was a lovely item to make and I will definitely make it again, with the walking vent of course!! The fabric I chose was also wonderful to work with. Its a sturdy cotton with a vintage look to it which came from The Fabric Godmother and is called Fleq Cotton - there is still some left and it also comes in a blue colourway. I would recommend this pattern to you to try if you haven't already but I suggest a toile would be advisable. I never do them - I admit this is bad practise but I am far too lazy for this type of thing. I tend to just fit on me which doesn't always work and in this instance it almost didn't. Thankfully I have a little experience from past projects that made me aware of how I could save the day with this skirt and not ruin a whole 2 metres of gorgeous fabric. A total beginner, as the pattern is aimed at, may not be so lucky.

Lastly the jumper is upcycled from a Whistles jumper dress I inadvisably bought after a bad job interview last winter. It was really old fashioned, too tight and I had the figure for it for all of 10 minutes so I decided it would be better as a jumper. I cut it just below the hip line and then took the ribbed edge off the bottom of the dress and serged it on to the bottom. It makes a rather lovely and sparkly jumper now and I actually wear it!

What do you think? Have you sewn up a Charlotte skirt before? If so what did you think about it?

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