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July 18

Work in Progress: Mail Order 9169

To be fair, my Mail Order 9169 skirt isn’t so much of a WIP but a “waiting for the hem” project.

When I met Meg the Grand at one of her sewing parties she was as sweet as could be.  She sent me home with 4 of her patterns which I only had agreed to take on the understanding that I was only “borrowing” them to trace and give back.  This is the first pattern which I’ve traced, and have been working on over the weekend.

When I got the pattern out of the package I then realized that a buddy happened to come along for the ride.  Somehow an unmarked, unknown pattern had gotten mixed in with this 9169 skirt.  I kept taking the pieces out thinking these are all for this one skirt?!

What was another surprise is that this skirt pattern only contains 4 pattern pieces: 1 waistband, 1 pocket, 1 pocket facing, and 1 large skirt piece.  The skirt is all cut in one large piece!  There’s no side seams, only 1 center back seam.  The waist shaping comes from the two darts on the back and that’s about it.  Being a pear-shaped gal, this worried me, but I graded it up (aka added width to the center front and back) and started cutting my fashion fabric out, sans muslin.

Have you ever tried sewing inset pockets onto a skirt with no side seams????  Well this one has you do just that.  After struggling making these cute pockets, I can say there is an easier way and I’ll be sure to make note for next time.  As a result of the original directions, I have very small bumps at the outside corner of the pocket, which would normally be the side seam.  Ahh well…

Here’s the sneak peek of my new skirt:

I went and took some thick topstitching thread and did a hand-running stitch all along the waistband and on the pocket pieces.  In the end, the pockets aren’t really pockets since they’re only 2-3 inches deep.  They’re not deep enough to hold anything except chapstick, maybe.  As a result I stitched them closed both with my topstitching thread and again with the buttons.  I may (or may not) change this feature on my next version.

Closer view of stitching and pockets: 

I made this skirt in a really (really!) light weight denim.  I’m hoping it will be one of my go-to-skirts that fills several gaps in my summer wardrobe.

Now, if only I can get my husband to help me mark the hem so I can finish this guy up!  heh

  1. Charlotte / Jul 18 2012

    I have to admit that I’ve been so inspired by your blog that I went and…despite hating sewing…picked out a few patterns and ordered them online. Being in NYC, most of our fabric shops don’t have a pattern section, since they cater to the garment industry.

    Next stop – fabric!

    But…as someone who’s a really basic sewer and hasn’t taken a sewing class since 1992, what do you recommend as a good HOWTO handbook? I have real noob questions like – I want to trace this pattern, so what kind of paper do I use? How did you learn to go from “I can make pillows” to “I can make clothes that are sewn well enough that I’m not embarrassed to wear them”?

    • Rachel / Jul 18 2012

      Charlotte, if you head on over to Casey’s blog (Elegant Musings http://blog.caseybrowndesigns.com/ ) she has a series on grading and talks about all the stuff you need for tracing patterns etc there :)

    • Liz / Jul 18 2012

      Hey Charlotte! These are all such great questions! :) Yay for wanting to sew again after so long!

      There are some really great sewing books out there now, but honestly when I first was starting to sew and looking for tutorials the web is one of the best resources. I find nearly everything I need on my fellow seamstress’ blogs.
      A few good ones off the top of my head are:

      A Fashionable Stitch
      Sewaholic
      Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing
      Tilly and the Buttons
      Elegant Musings

      These gals all have extensive tutorials complete with images and/or videos. Diagrams in books are okay… but I really love having the color images and sometimes videos to accompany them.

      Some of your questions I actually haven’t seen answers to in regular books. :(

      As far as paper to use for tracing, there are really all different kinds. Everyone seems to use something different. I’ve bought some nice tracing paper-ish stuff from my local sewing stores, but I’ve come back to using regular tissue paper since it’s cheap and readily available everywhere. When I trace, I’m making changes from the original pattern (oftentimes many versions of it) so I like using something really cheap that I don’t mind throwing away if it doesn’t work out.

      As to your second question, that’s a bit more complicated. Transitioning from housewares to garment making is a work in progress. The more you sew, the more confidence you’re naturally going to gain. You’ll know when it feels right to tackle a more complicated project. :)

      The first skirt I made, I made in a sewing class. It was a basic A-line skirt with a zipper down the back. The teacher helped us fit it to our waist and hip and we stitched it up.

      On your own, I’d suggest making some basic skirts before delving into something more complicated like a dress or a blouse.

      I love the Linda Skirt that is on BurdaStyle’s site. It’s a basic 1/2 circle skirt and looks great. Even now I come back to this pattern time and time again. The most complicated part of the skirt is stitching in your zipper. But there are many ways to do this and tutorials you can use. When I started, I remember thinking zippers were scary but they only get easier the more you insert them.

      If you’re itching to make a top, tons of bloggers love the FREE Sorbetto pattern by Colette Patterns. I myself have never made it but others really seem to love it and make many versions. This may be after you make your basic skirt since there is a binding that happens along the neckline and armholes.

      I hope this helps. Be sure to stop back and ask me any questions you may have. I’m always happy to help and happy stitching! :)

      • Charlotte / Jul 21 2012

        Thanks so much for all the information, Liz! I’m off to go fabric shopping now…wish me luck!

  2. Rachel / Jul 18 2012

    The skirt looks like fun- but I am dying to know what the buddy pattern was? :)
    I need to make some summer skirts… I am avoiding grading one up right now ;)

    • Liz / Jul 18 2012

      Thanks Rachel!

      Generally for skirts and blouses/dresses where I only need to increase the waist or hip I just extend the side seams instead of actually doing a pattern grade. *Gasp* Right?!

      So far *knocks on wood* I haven’t had any style issues with doing this. :)

      • Rachel / Jul 18 2012

        Liz- I have done that too- only this time, where I traced it I couldn’t leave room for it ;) Instead I am thinking of slicing it down the middle to do it…

  3. Corinne / Jul 18 2012

    What a great little skirt, top-stitching on anything elevates its style. As does monograms, little bows, vents, embroidery etc. Lovely.

  4. Jo / Jul 19 2012

    Ooh so how did you make sure your top stitching was even? Did you just eyeball it? I’ve been planning to do this myself on an eerily similar skirt design actually :) Can’t wait to see it on!

  5. Kerry / Jul 20 2012

    I’m a mega fan of the one seam skirt (Simplicity 3983 FYI) having made 2 with more definitely in the future. I found the same thing with the corners of the pockets and it was hard to keep them neat looking. And weirdly, the pockets were much too shallow also! I had to change that for the second version.

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