Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


Grey Corduroy Moss Skirt

My makes have been a little on hold for the last few weeks. I’ve been working away from home and I didn’t fancy trying to lug my sewing machine half-way across the country. Think it may have got some funny looks in the hotel too! Anyway, it’s taken me a while but I have finally finished my Grainline Moss Skirt.

I chose a pale grey corduroy and decided to make view B, the slightly longer version with the additional hem bands. But as always I found myself making a collection of additional changes. First of all, I made some fit adjustments. I notice that on other blogs people have been calling their adjustment by three letter acronyms. So, FBA is full bust adjustment etc. So here I have the NWA , or “no-waist adjustment”! I don’t know anyone else who does this adjustment, but it basically means making the ratio between the hips and waist smaller. I might add more ease at the side seams like with this skirt, or I may make shallower darts – whatever fits with the pattern.

Moss skirt

Next, I decided to sew the yoke, centre back and centre front seams flat felled. I hadn’t experimented with this type of seam before, and after an initial wobbliness I think I got them reasonably straight. I also added some contrast top-stitching in a dark grey to the fly zipper and waistband. In retrospective, I think it would have been great to add this to the flat felled seams too, but I wasn’t feeling confident enough for that. After all, there is quite a contrast between my top-stitching and the fabric and this would have looked awful if it was wobbly. I think it was a good compromise. Looking at the end result, I would have liked some top-stitching on the pockets too.

Moss Skirt - close-up

Moss Skirt

I also added a skirt lining in cotton. I may add some belt loops, but I’ll see how I feel when I wear it. It is designed to sit below the waist so my usual problem of skirts sliding down and sitting at the hips won’t apply and the belt loops may not be needed.

Apologies for this photo. I tucked the top in so that it’s easy to see the skirt,  but the waist just looks weird. I’ll take some more photos tomorrow with a better choice of top.


Moss Skirt

And an extra photos here, as promised with a better top:

Moss Skirt - Autumn Day

Moss Skirt - Autumn Day 3

I think this will be a great skirt to wear over tights and just right for the approaching autumn weather. I can see myself making another couple of these, in denim or cotton sateen.  Perhaps I’ll even be brave with my top-stitching next time.


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Beautiful weather, skirts and sewing like crazy

I know that I have been a little silent in July. That doesn’t mean that I have been idle on the sewing front. In fact, I have been sewing like a woman possessed, but I think I’m going to let you hold on a little longer before I divulge what I’ve been doing………

You may remember one of my previous posts that I had had a very stupid accident while rushing to catch the train after work and had put a nasty hole in my left knee. Well, combined with that and the hot weather I have had to wear skirts for the last three weeks. This has probably been the longest stretch of time that I’ve been known to wear anything other than trousers since I had to wear school uniform! Sadly, I have noticed that I have hardly a great choice of skirt in my wardrobe. I have been rotating three skirts in all that time. So my next make is definitely a summer skirt. I’m rather enjoying the hot weather and my new look.

Anyway, just thought I’d share this beach photo. We happened to be in Weston-super-mare quite by chance when the airshow was on and got to see a spectacular display.

Weston air display

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Silk skirt hem

I did think that this would be a dull post, but I mentioned the hem on my silk skirt earlier, so for completeness I thought I’d let you know how I overcame the problem I had with the hem.

When I’d finished my “bronze” skirt, I was happy with it, apart from an unsightly puckered hem. Fortunately, the web has the answer to everything! It seems that my puckered hem is the result of some discrepancy between the “give” in the fabric and that of the thread or stitch in the hem.

I decided to try hemming using a catch stitch. It has a little more stretch. I also knotted the thread every few stitches without pulling it tight, so there was still some slack. This is such a good idea for a hem anyway. There is nothing worse that catching the hem of a skirt with your heel and the whole thing comes down.

Skirt hem (inside)

It was rather time-consuming, but in the end it was worth it and the puckering is no more! I can’t even see evidence of a hem from the right side. I couldn’t believe such a simple change in technique could make such a difference.

Skirt hem (outside)

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February Quick Make – Fabric covered belt

I decided to make a belt for my silk skirt as a finishing touch. I did look at a few tutorials online for making fabric belts. These suggested using “belting”. I looked in all my usual craft shops and then hunted on the web and found nothing for sale in the UK. In the end, the lady who kindly served me in Fabric Land suggested that I try using Petersham’s tape. It has just the right thickness and flexibility.

Belt - finished

You will need:

Petersham’s tape
Fabric that matches your dress or skirt
Paper for making belt pattern
Measuring tape
Loop turner

  1. Wearing your skirt or dress you wish to match the belt for, measure your waist (in my case, 85 cm) or the place where the belt will be worn.
  2. Add several extra centimetres to allow for the belt to pass through the buckle and be held in place by the belt loops. I allowed an extra 20 cms for this in my design.
  3. Cut a length of the Petersham’s tape to the length calculated in the previous step.
  4. Measure the width of the Petershams tape. (Mine was 2.5 cm)
  5. To create the pattern for the belt, draw the length of the belt and add 3 centimetres to that. Total length for pattern =108 cm. For the width, double the width of the Petershams tape (5.0 cm) and add a seam allowance (4 cm). Total width for pattern= 9 cm
  6. Cut out the fabric using the pattern piece created above.
  7. Fold the fabric in half and sew down the length of it, making sure that the seam is made to accommodate the width of tape (i.e. 2.5 cm)Belt close up
  8. Trim and press the seam allowance flat. Make sure the seam is in the middle of the belt.
  9. Sew a straight line along one edge. Trim the seam allowance.
  10. Pull to the right side using the loop turner
  11. Insert the tape. Make sure the seam is centre on the back of the belt. This takes a while!
  12. Sew up the end of the belt so it’s tidy.
  13. Iron the belting, making sure the seam is in the middle.
  14. Next, it’s time to add the buckle. Fold the end of the belt through the buckle and sew in place.

Belt buckle close-up

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It’s raining again….yep, again. Any of you in the UK will know instantly why I’m about to have a moan about this. According to the BBC “parts of England have had their wettest January since records began more than 100 years ago, figures show”. Actually December wasn’t much better and I can’t claim I’ve seen the sun much in the last two months.

But, what has this got to do with sewing? Well, I’ve been having a real struggle over the last few weeks to photograph my projects. I would dearly like to snap all my creations in natural light. However, it is simply too dark inside during the day. Outside it is perpetually raining. I have tried to take pictures using the flash, but you get a lot of flash glare. I don’t have a very sophisticated camera or any decent lighting so I’m a little stuck. I was trying yesterday to take a decent photo of my silk skirt, the glare just made it look like it was made of PVC, not a delicate silk!

I made some items last year that I have yet to photograph. I’m promising myself that when this awful weather ends I’m going to create a gallery of all my projects.



I’m sewing a skirt – Part 3

Well, this is my skirt. I think in the past I’ve tended to feel a bit self-conscious in skirts as they don’t tend to fit me well. But this one seems just right, thanks to Deby’s instructions! I even used the toile that I made from cotton sheeting as the lining (waste not want not). It does mean that it too has darts rather than pleats in it, but I think that is fine.

I did make a few additions to the basic pattern; I like to give myself a challenge. I added a waistband and belt loops. The reason for this is that I feel more comfortable with the ability to hold the skirt at the waist.

For the waistband this Youtube video from Professor Pincushion helped me out.

I thought just to finish things off to make a matching covered belt. I think this makes the skirt extra smart. I’m hoping to use this for work.
I’ll post something extra for the belt, I think it deserves special attention!

All in all, this was a very satisfying project, with no real upsets or calamities. It certainly has increased my confidence. I felt particularly proud of the fit and my off piste additions!

Finished Skirt

Woman with no waist wearing a me-made skirt

There is one thing that I’m not completely satisfied with. The hem is a little puckered and I think I’ll give it a tidy up when I have a space hour in front of the telly.

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I’m sewing a skirt – Part 2

Before I started this project I did a search online to find out whether I dared to sew in silk. I found this excellent Youtube video on the web by Professor Pincushion (great name!) which helped enormously.

Here are the suggestions I used:

Use tissue paper
I actually laid the fabric on top of a sheet of tissue and cut the fabric out as a sandwich. This helped to stop it sliding around and helped stabilise the fabric. Also it meant that the tissue paper was in place and I could sew the fabric and the tissue paper together. This worked a treat. I tried, for a giggle, to sew without it and found that the two silk layers just slipped past each other all the time and it was impossible to sew a straight-looking line. Sandwiching the silk between tissue paper meant that the layers stayed put and it was possible to sew

Use sewing needle on the machine
The video recommends a 70/09 needle. I think this is a normal recommendation for sewing with silk.

Use thinner pins
There are silk and pleating pins, 0.5 mm in diameter. However, I didn’t manage to find any of these in the local shops. Having said that it didn’t seem to be a problem with the fabric, but it might have been necessary with a thinner, more refined looking silk.

Use silk thread
This was recommended by the Youtube video, but I found conflicting information about this on the web. Silk thread can cut through the fabric so I decided to stick with normal thread (polyester in my case, 100% cotton can also be used).

Cut out with pinking shears
Another top tip was to cut out pattern pieces using pinking shears. I didn’t do this, but actually I regret this as I found that the fabric frayed very easily.

I just used standard interfacing as I could use the iron on my fabric, but the Youtube video did suggest that sew-in interfacing or with a very sheer silk, organza could be used.

Other sewing tips
Starting away from the edge of the fabric and taping up the hole in the plate so that fabric isn’t pulled down into the hole, should make sure that the fabric isn’t sucked into the machine. There’s nothing worse than mangling your fabric in the sewing machine, so I took this advice/

Holding the fabric tight, but without forcing it through can also help stop it puckering. I think this may be necessary with thinner fabric as I didn’t find this particularly necessary.

Silk skirt close up

I’m nearly finished on the skirt as you can see. Next post, the finished product!


I’m sewing a skirt – Part 1

For my next project I have decided to sew a simple skirt. I’m keen to make a skirt that fits well and found that Deby at So Sew Easy has written a wonderful tutorial on this very subject.

I started out by drafting my custom fit pattern. This was relatively easy to do, but I did find I have so little in the way of waist that I had to adapt even these custom-fit instructions. I ended up making my front darts 1 cm smaller to accommodate my large tum. Next, I created my toile. I had bought, very cheaply, in a local fabric shop, some brown sheeting. I decided that not only would I use it to create my test piece, but if all was well it could double-up as the lining for my skirt. It seems usually that skirt linings seem to be made of horrible synthetic polyester or acetate, but why not make a cotton lining? After all, there aren’t any rules about this surely?

The toile worked out fine, I was so surprised that it actually fitted! I am so used to skirts, either being too tight in the waist, or fitting at the waist and having bagginess around the hips.

I decided that just to make life a little more interesting I would make my skirt from silk; I just can’t help giving myself a challenge! I found this lovely silk dupion in brown . It has a lovely shimmer to it…..actually I’m going to call it bronze, makes it sound so much nicer!

SIlk Dupion