Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gabriola Skirt And Cowl Sweater

  Back in October, I had bought some brown suiting to coordinate with some brown medallion print fabric, with plans to turn it into a dress for my mother. When she changed her mind and decided on a blouse instead, I was left with three yards of fabric, cut as a two-yard and a one-yard piece.

  I've had the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt pattern for a long time... I bought it in a sale in early 2015, but I never made it because I was pregnant at the time, and ever since she was born I've been just outside the size range for the pattern. However, I took a look at the finished garment measurements and thought that the largest size might be wearable anyway, so I decided to see if I could squeak it out of the brown suiting. I had to cut the whole skirt on the cross-grain, but I managed it! It's supposed to be maxi-length, but I'm taller than average and didn't have an inch to spare to lengthen the skirt, so it's not quite that long.

  Unfortunately, the fabric is 100% polyester, which not only smells bad but presses horribly, so the result isn't fantastic. The seams are really bubbly, and the hem is pretty bad too! I'm thinking I'll try pressing everything with vinegar and see if it helps at all.

  The fit isn't great either, which I kind of expected since it's meant to be worn by someone smaller, but it's not tight or uncomfortable and I have a clothing shortage at the moment, so it's going to get worn anyway.

  I had the worst time with this zipper! I don't know if it was the fabric, or the fact that I usually use invisible zippers, or what, but this was the best out of... I think it was four attempts, all of them involving basting or glue-basting as well as pins in a futile effort to keep the thing lined up while I sewed it! At least the seams mostly match up, but I have no plans to put in this type of zipper in this type of fabric ever again! It's pretty obvious from this photo that the back of the skirt is riding up because it's too small too.

  I've got some odd bumps going on around the hips...I'm not sure why. I suspect I may have introduced a slight jog near the seam intersections, or maybe it got a little stretched when I was sewing it.

  The yoke is my favorite feature of this dress, but since I almost always wear my shirts untucked, it's not really visible. At least that means the lumpiness and zipper don't show! ;-) I spent a lot of time lining up the seams:

  I also spent a very large amount of time embroidering a rose on it! I got plenty of practice satin-stitching in, and I think it turned out all right. I didn't have it hooped, but I wish I had because I think it would have prevented me from pulling my thread too tight. Here's a close view. (Please excuse the lint... this was washed once before I managed to get photos and I didn't realize how much lint the embroidery had caught until it was too late!)

  And here's the whole thing... I think this would work better with the scale of the skirt if I'd made it larger, and there are a lot of other little changes I would make next time (like using long-and-short stitch instead of satin stitch) but overall I'm pretty happy with it.

  I had planned to make an Alma blouse from plaid fabric to coordinate with my daughters' dresses, but I ended up with just one evening to sew it so I turned to knit fabric and a very modified Lane Raglan (I would have preferred set-in sleeves but raglan sleeves are faster). I bought this beautiful textured double knit from Imagine Gnats on Black Friday, and since I wanted to wear it with this skirt (which I'd finished in November) I decided to turn it into a cowl-neck sweater. At least, that was the plan. Last minute drafting of the cowl didn't leave time for a muslin, so it ended up as a strange mixture of a cowl and a Bertha collar.

  I used the original neckline of the Lane Raglan, because I didn't want the cowl to be uncomfortably snug, and thought the added height of the cowl would give it enough coverage for me to not feel exposed, but with the collar ending up less like a cowl than I'd planned, it is a little too open for me.

  This fabric didn't have quite as much recovery as I'd expected (it was also thicker than I expected -it's described as medium weight but it's more what I'd think of as heavy weight) so the neckline stretched out just enough to be a problem as I sewed it. I initially sewed it with the seam on the inside of the shirt, but it showed, so I unpicked the serging, and sewed it with the seam allowances between the cowl and the shirt, and sort-of remedied the stretched out bits by adding some clear elastic in the seam.

  I added some width to the pattern to make it a slightly looser fit, but I should have also straightened the side seams some. I lengthened the sleeves too... I prefer slightly over-long sleeves on sweaters.

  This fabric lettuce-edged beautifully!

  My sewing for myself hasn't worked out very well for the past year or so... it seems like everything I sew for myself has multiple shortcomings and fit problems. Or maybe I'm just getting pickier? In spite of all of them though, I really like to wear these two garments... these are some of my favorite colors, and I love the textures, plus embroidery and swishy skirts make me happy.

  I'm hoping I'll be happier with the things I sew for myself in the coming year, but in the meantime I've got several other less-than-perfect things to blog about. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. I love this outfit, those colours are so gorgeous together and the lettuce edge is just so feminine.

    1. Thank you! I really love lettuce-edging... I rarely sew knits for myself that don't include it!

  2. The seams on that skirt are amazing! Any issues are probably due to the fabric being polyester--it reacts so weird, sometimes. I love the shirt--the fabric is beautiful! I'm a big fan of the cowl neck, but sometimes they're just broad enough to let in too much air and make me freeze, haha! I very rarely manage to sew something for myself (clothing) that I love. I'm not sure if I choose the wrong fabric for the pattern or if knit sewing is just not my area, but your stuff always looks nice!

    1. It's a really pretty skirt design, isn't it? Polyester is pretty icky... I'd like to try it again in a nicer fabric, but with a muslin first to figure out the fit a bit better.
      Thank you! I've always admired cowl necks, but I don't think I've ever actually owned any... I see how the freezing could be an issue! ;-)
      I think it's probably something that takes a lot of practice... some folks can churn out garment after garment and they all look amazing, but I'm just not to that point yet. Thank you!

  3. I've been meaning to make that skirt too! I haven't touched it yet because I know I'll have to grade between sizes from waist to hips.

    The new neckline looks lovely on you. I realize it's more open than you like but it's really pretty and is still quite modest.

    I'm getting more and more picky about my sewing too. Trying to get the fit and finishing perfect. I've gotten picky about ready to wear too. I'll look at an item and get quite critical...

    1. I really liked the skirt! The notches didn't line up where I thought they would at one point (they matched up to the edge of a seam allowance instead of to the seam itself) but I think it's worth the time it will take to grade between sizes.
      Thank you! Wider necklines usually do look better on me. This one is modest enough until I bend over, then all bets are off. ;-)
      Oh goodness, me too! I can't bring myself to buy ready to wear anymore... I tried to buy a sweater a few months ago and I ended up just nitpicking every little thing about it!