Greetings kangaroos! I managed to take some grainy, blurry photos last week to show all ya’ll one of my more recent endeavors. Fairly boring stuff, as I’m heavily into making-separates-for-fall-that-I-can-wear-to-work mode. That’s a mode, right? Like, an out of the box, everyone has it mode? Anyway, here it is…

I believe I dubbed this ‘secretary chic’ (right? I’m now using the full-screen drafting editor in WordPress and I’m too lazy to click out of it to see what I typed as the title for this post. Apparently, I need a blog-secretary.) ANYway, I’ve had this fabric for a while now. The skirt is a lightweight glen plaid 100% wool suiting that I got on sale for $3.00 a yard or somewhere in that neighborhood. The shirt is made from poly interlock from Hancock – the stuff that they have in every color and is around $5.00 a yard. I initially bought 3.5 yards, thinking to made another DKNY fake-wrap dress (ummmm Vogue 1027,) I’d STILL like to do that, so hopefully they’ll have more of the stuff in stock so I can replace the 2 yards I used for the shirt. I really, REALLY wanted a hot pink shirt and raided my own well-planned stash. And the title… secretary chic? I sort of thought it as a fun shirt, cute skirt and both Mr. Bug and dear friend tall-Cyle were all like “oooooo… executive lady” when they saw the outfit. I don’t know what the executives look like in their offices, but really? Hot pink shirt = executive?

Wait, where was I? Oh, yes. The fabric. Here’s a close up, since glen plaid, like teeny polka dots and pinstripes, looks silly when photographed from any distance…

Do you see why I couldn’t resist? Can you deny that these two fabrics were destined to go together? Like cool ranch doritos and campbell’s chunky split pea soup? Good lord, I love that combination. Isn’t that the worst-sounding mix of over processed food you’ve ever heard? I like the chips sort of crushed up like croutons. I can’t remember the last time I had a snack chip. I’m totally putting this on the grocery list for next week. Of course, it will probably give us cancer if we eat it!!

Until then, let’s get back to the post, shall we? Geeze, try to focus here.

First, the shirt. It’s another version of Butterick 4230, an out of print pattern that is a current favorite.

I made the view that is being so charmingly modeled in grey – in the upper right corner. I left off the tie. This is the SAME pattern and view that I used for my recent pumpkin-patch sweater, with two variations. First, I left the little gathering loop off of the center front. Secondly, I accidentally cut twice as much collar as I needed. I thought I needed FOUR cut on the fold to make the double-layer collar, but I only needed two. I didn’t realize that until I’d already serged the ends together and was concerned that if I cut to the right length and serged again, I’d alter the lines of the shirt. Instead I went ahead and kept all four layers for the collar. I used the rolled hem function on my serger and sort of stepped back the length of each collar layer.

I really like how the collar lies with this pattern. It LOOKS really wide and open, and yet it hides straps underneath. It’s a freaking miracle of pattern drafting and cheap interlock! Here’s the hanging-on-the-doorknob view. In bad light.

I did a rolled hem on all of the exposed edges. The quality of the rolled hem is probably my least favorite aspect of my new serger. The smallest stitch length is ‘1’, with a special ‘r’ setting for rolled hems. I assumed the ‘r’ setting was, you know, super close stitching, but it just didn’t look great. I realized while working on this shirt that if I leave the stitch length at ‘1’ the rolled hem actually looks much nicer. Weird, right?

I was pleased with the drape of the cheap, clingy fabric. I thought it might be too unflattering, showing every bump underneath. It manages to be fitted without icky looking, though!

Moving on to the skirt! This is Hot Patterns 1011, the 24.7 Plain and Simple A-line and Pencil skirt. I really like this pattern and am finally getting it where I want it. I scooped out nearly an inch and a half from the front of the skirt (a ‘tilted waist adjustment‘.) The pattern pieces look RIDICULOUS and setting in the shaped waistband is pretty funny. The bottom of the waistband is super curved and the top is much shorter, which makes the waistband come in quite a bit. It works, though, no super unflattering ‘smiles’ at the bottom of my tummy!

As you can see above, this skirt has a back vent instead of a slit. I’ve got a few more details on that below, but ewewwwww… note to self. Use grey thread to satin stitch on a 50/50 black and white print. That stitching at the top of the vent is HARSH, isn’t it?

Since I was matching patterns it was a 100% requirement to put in the zipper by hand. Putting it in by machine would have warped the fabric too much. Also, you can’t see it, but the zipper is DARK BROWN!! I have a whole BOX of zippers, but could only find two 9″ invisible zippers in black. Ick. I would have liked the waistband to line up a bit nicer, but, you know. With a waistband like this, I will probably always wear my shirts untucked, so nobody will see except us kangaroos.

The skirt is lined with bemberg rayon lining. Such nice stuff. Also nice: rolled hems when finishing linings. I have HATED hemming lining fabric until now! I didn’t snap a photo, but the pattern has an unusual method for dealing with the lining around the vent. They just have you cut a bit upside down ‘u’ out of the lining!! Hey, it works, right? I always manage to twist the lining and vent when attaching them – something about how the wrong sides are together makes it so that I am completely incapable of figure out which way things should fold.

The pattern calls for a 2″ deep interfaced hem. Before turning up the hem, I fused 3″ strips of interfacing to the bottom edge of the skirt. Then I turned up 2″, so that the fold has a bit of interfacing in it. It really helps to make them hem look sharp and firm – not wavy. I had finished the bottom edge of the skirt with my serger and I hand catchstitched the hem. Is it odd that I totally was feeling a sense of panic over mixing two such different finishing techniques – serging and hand stitching??

Oooo! Bad picture! I took these after I had been wearing a day – wrinkle city! A few more notes on construction. The pattern mentions interfacing where the zipper will go in to help everything stay smooth, but I extended the interfacing all the way down to the vent (you can see the bit of white above, right at the top of the vent.) I think it helps the skirt to hang nicely throughout the day, resisting stretch and adding a bit of strength. I also stitched a 1 inch piece of stay-tape to the top of the vent to help strenthen it and keep it from potential splits down the road. Finally, I like to do a lot of my construction on the serger – EVEN if I’m using a lining. The exception is the seam where the zipper goes. I usually finish the edges individually and then stitch on the machine. I can’t figure out a nice way to transition from the vent to the pressed-open seam at the top of the vent, though. It looks fine from the outside, but it sort of bugs me inside! Obviously, I could clip the seam allowance to get it to lie flat, but I’d be adding weakness RIGHT on top of a high stress point and more importantly to kangaroos with OCD like me, I’d have that little unfinished clipped edge. What’s a ‘roo to do?? Any suggestions? Anyone have an RTW skirt that they can investigate??

And here’s my favorite part of the skirt! I used a fun stitch to hem the edges of the vent! Can you see? Can you see? Cute, right??

The Last Word: Hot Patterns 1011… the skirt.

Fabric: 100% wool. Glen Plaid. Hancock sale table (the Hancock in Bloomington, MN frequently loads up their value section with freakishly nice wool!)

Pattern: Hot Patterns 1011, Plain and Simple 24/7 A-Line Skirt and Pencil Skirt.

Notions: 2′ long brown zipper (I like ’em LONG!), interfacing, stay tape, silk thread for sewing in zipper, lining fabric

Time to complete: 30 minutes to cut. 2 hours to sew shell (lots of basting to match patterns,) 30 minutes to sew lining, 30 minutes to attach lining and shell, stay the waistband and understitch. 30 minutes to turn the top of the waistband by the zipper evenly, 30 minutes to put in the zipper, 30 minutes to press, press, press the seams, 15 minutes to hem the lining, two hours to measure and press shell hem and hand hem. 10 minutes to stitch in the ditch and the waistband. Seriously, eight hours for a pencil skirt? No more pencil skirts with pattern matching. And I have GOT to find a better way to get the tips of the waistband to match up than the super-manual way I currently use…

likelihood to make another?: High. I love pencil skirts and this is a great pattern if I just want a plain ‘ole pencil skirt. With the shaped waistband, this is NOT a style that I would tuck tops in to, but for everything else I like it!

curvy girl score: This is tough. I personally think pencil skirts are the #1 best shape for curvy types, but the key is good fitting. A copy of Fit for Real People is a necessity! I’m going to give it an 8.

…. and the last work on Butterick 4230. The shirt.

Fabric: polyester interlock from Hancock.

Pattern: Butterick 4230

Notions: serger (ha ha) thread

Time to complete: 30 minutes to cut, 30 minutes to sew. Easy! Easy!

likelihood to make another: Fairly good. There’s not a lot of knit patterns out there and I like knits in the winter. I really love the neckline!

curvy girl score: 5. As much as I like this pattern, it IS body-conscious, so it can pose some problems. I think the collar provides some nice balance for my narrow shoulders, though, and it shows off what collar bones are showable!



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