Friday, November 23, 2018

Deck the Closet in Christmas Clothes

It's been Christmas Carol costumes, Christmas Carol costumes, Christmas Carol costumes around here for the past two months. And now the end is in sight. The costumes are just about completely finished. (Which is good as the play opens in 2 weeks) So, with that, my personal Christmas sewing can now begin!

I have my lists, I have my plans, I have my fabric. Now that Thanksgiving is over and the play costumes are almost complete I just need to dive in and make some stuff! First on my Christmas sewing list, rather than a gift for someone or a Christmas dress for my sister, is a Christmas outfit for myself! (Don't worry, the gifts and sister's dress will still be done by Christmas!)

Why is my Christmas outfit the first thing to get made? Because today I'm participating in the Winter Wear Designs "Deck the Closet" blog tour, and Winter Wear happened to have just the patterns I needed for my 1950's inspired Christmas outfit.

The idea for this outfit started with an online fabric purchase that didn't turn out quite as I'd expected, or hoped. I ordered two yards of a green silk/rayon blend drapery fabric, thinking it would work for a historical project I had in mind. The fabric arrived and was absolutely beautiful, it just didn't have the right texture for a historical project. So, I stuck the fabric in my stash and figured I'd think of something else to do with it, eventually.

A few months later, inspiration struck. The fabric needed to become a skirt. A nice full knee-length skirt with some pleats. There, decision made. The fabric continued to sit in my stash, but at least I knew what I wanted to do with it!

November rolled around and it was time to pick my project for this festive Winter Wear blog tour. I could make PJs, a casual Christmas outfit, or a Fancy Christmas outfit to share. After a quick look through the Winter Wear Designs pattern catalogue my mind was made up. I would make a fancy outfit. The pleated circle skirt from the Bateau Garden dress was just what I had in mind for that green fabric. And is there anything fancier than silk?

I asked Suzanne if I could make just the skirt from the Bateau dress, and she agreed, even suggesting something to make my skirt truly fantastic - the contoured waistband from her Crop Dress pattern.

A contoured waistband has a slight curve to it, rather being a straight rectangle. A 1"- 2" wide rectangular waistband works just fine for a skirt, but, if you want a wider waistband, a contoured waistband will give a much better fit. Thus, when the ever gracious Suzanne offered to send me not only the Bateau pattern for the skirt, but also the Crop Dress pattern for the waistband, I gratefully accepted.

After receiving my patterns I printed off the pieces I needed and proceeded to cut out my skirt. Two yards of 60" wide fabric was just enough for a full circle skirt! (Though the back had to be cut as two seperate pieces, rather than one on the fold as the pattern directed). I cut out my skirt pieces two sizes larger than I needed so I could make the pleats at the waist extra deep and fabulous. When I said I wanted this fabric to be a full skirt, I meant a FULL skirt - deep pleats and a full circle!

Then I made a mistake. I wasn't thinking. I was on cutting autopilot. My thought process must have been, "Oh, I cut out the skirt this size, so the waistband also needs to be this size."
Yep, I cut out the waistband the at same size as I'd cut out the skirt. Two sizes bigger than I needed.
I didn't realize I'd made this mistake until after I'd sewn the skirt onto the waistband. The pleats were shallower than I'd expected them to be, given  that I thought I'd cut the skirt two sizes larger than the waistband, but I didn't think much of it. Then I tried the almost finished skirt on and it was falling off of me.
"Strange," I thought, "I didn't think I'd lost that much weight."
I re-measured myself. I double checked the measurement chart. The size I'd intended to cut was the correct size for my waist measurement. I was confused.
I happened to glimpse the waistband pattern still laying on my sewing table. I picked it up and looked at it. Then I figured out where I had gone wrong. The waistband was two sizes too big, no wonder it was falling off of me!
In my frustration I threw the too big skirt on the dress form and left it there for a week. Then, once I was less disgusted with my mistake, I ripped out that seam, cut down the waistband, and re-pleated and re-attached the skirt. I tried it on again and breathed a sigh of relief when it fit properly this time around!

Once the waistband issue was resolved, the rest of the skirt went together without incident. The pattern was meant to close with an invisible side zipper, but I decided to do a lapped zipper and buttons in my center back seam instead.

In order to do this I cut one side of the back waistband longer than the other so I would have an underlap for the buttons. It worked like a charm!

In my stash I found a green vintage zipper that matched my fabric splendidly and two bronze-colored plastic buttons which were the perfect finishing touch!

Now there's this thing you're supposed to do when you make circle skirts - leave them hang for a few days prior to hemming so if the fabric is going to stretch on the bias it can stretch and you can level the hem. This will give the finished garment an even hem that shouldn't stretch out of shape. Until this project I've been a bad seamstress and mostly ignored that step. Thus, I've made a circle skirt or two that are now no longer perfect circles and have uneven hems. Those skirts no longer get worn.

The chalk marks where the skirt needs to be cut for an even hem.
It stretched more than 4" in some places and none in others!

On this project, however, I let the skirt hang on the dress form for a week prior to hemming. (This was due more to the fact that the skirt was in time-out thanks to the too-big waistband, rather than any forethought about the hem on my part, but hey, it yielded good results!) At the end of that week, I used the hem-leveling apparatus on my dress form to even out the hem line.

Once the new, level, hemline was marked I trimmed off the excess fabric and hemmed my skirt using 1" single-fold bias tape. (1/2" bias tape was suggested in the pattern directions, but I decided I wanted the weight and body of the wider bias tape for the hem of my skirt.)

Once that bias tape hem facing was sewn on, my skirt was done! I just needed a top to go with it. I opted to use the Outer Banks Boat Neck pattern as my starting point for that.

Now, as I discussed in this blog post about my first Outer Banks Boat Neck, I have come to the conclusion that I do not like boat (or bateau) necklines on myself, but I do really like the overall fit of the outer banks boat neck pattern. So, it was the perfect starting point for a shirt to pair with my Christmas skirt. I just changed up the neckline shape a bit.

I cut the boat neck into a wide v-neck and added scallops to it. I continued the scallops around to the back neckline as well, and finished the new scalloped neckline with a facing. (The pattern already includes a facing as one of the neckline finishing options so it was really easy to alter the existing facing pattern pieces to match my new neckline shape.)

I made this shirt out of a floral knit crepe from JoAnn's - and I love the texture of it!

The large festive floral and the scalloped neckline make this shirt the perfect thing to pair with my skirt or jeans for that matter!

In fact, I wore this shirt with jeans yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner, and my aunts loved it!

So between my scalloped shirt and my green silk and rayon circle skirt, I'd say my closet is ready to go into the Christmas season!

Check out the rest of the Winter Wear Designs "Deck the Closet" blog tour for some more fun, festive, outfits! And, if we have tempted you to buy any Winter Wear patterns yourself, there is a 35% off sale going on through Monday, or, if you decide you need more than one pattern, there is a buy one get one deal happening, so head over to the website to check that out!

Get inspired to deck your own closet with all these inspirational posts!!!


Livia of Liviality

Meriel of Elli and Nels
Ilse of Sew Sew Ilse




  1. Beautiful. I am glad you persevered. It must be such a lovely feel to the fabric of the skirt.
    Maybe an encentive to level and regenerate the other skirts sometime.

    1. Thank you! Yes, After realizing leveling circle skirt hems isn't the nightmare I thought it would be, I'm definitly consiering going back and fixing other hems.