Speedy Sewing

Although I enjoy working on sewing projects that require a long-term commitment I also like being able to create something quickly to meet a particular whim.

The company I work for sponsors a prize in a national art competition and last Wednesday was the exhibition launch and prize giving, with me presenting our prize (alongside none less than Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones!).  I had intended to make a skirt from this vintage fabric – I thought the paintbrushes were rather appropriate.  Here it is pinned on Doris in no particular fashion.


I couldn’t make up my mind what to sew with it but having finally settled on a Clémence Skirt from Tilly’s Love at First Stitch I had really run out of time to calculate the measurements and sort out the fit properly.  It was Wednesday morning at that point and I was due to catch a train mid-afternoon. Also my poor dad was taken poorly which left me in something of a panic for part of the morning but thankfully he was fine in the end.  Why didn’t I wear something I already had you may ask – which is a very good question but I like to make life difficult for myself!

I decided to stick with an old faithful which I know I can make up quickly and is pretty much a perfect fit.  I’ve had this pattern for years and really should trace a new copy from the original which is now looking rather moth-eaten with a couple of missing corners!

McCalls 3830

As it’s a very simple shape with just a couple of darts front and back I wanted to use an eye-catching fabric and this one, bought at the Fabric Godmother’s open day, fitted the bill.  It’s a sturdy cotton canvas which was fairly pricey but I only bought a metre (it is now in the sale  if you’re interested!).


To save time I decided to underline the skirt, having just learned this technique from making the Laurel dress, to avoid making a separate lining.  The fabric has quite an open weave and does fray quite easily so I finished all the seams with a zig zag which seems to be holding up well.  Once I’ve got the hang of my new overlocker this will all be so much quicker and easier.

Due to the time constraint I ended up hemming the skirt on the machine which I wasn’t happy with but I don’t think anyone noticed on the day.  From start to finish I managed to make this skirt in a couple of hours.

I found this fabric didn’t hold a sharp crease very well which made it difficult to insert the concealed zip as neatly as I would have liked.  I like to press in a really good crease to pin the zip against to get the best finish.  I’ve since been watching Karen’s short video on using a tailor’s clapper for pressing seams etc. and I think this would have been an ideal tool to have to hand.  I’m not going to try and improve on what I’ve done, I’ve tried that before and made things worse so I shall leave well alone.

Looking down at the skirt on the train home I decided I couldn’t live with the machined hem because the stitching was too obvious.  It would have to be unpicked and re-sewn by hand.  I’d also found as I was walking around that because the fabric is quite textured it tended to catch on my tights.  I’ve now used bias binding for a neat finish and to smooth off the inside of the hem.  I used the extra hour on Sunday for this hemming task!

Here’s the finished skirt – not bad for some speedy sewing!  I’ve already worn it a second time and I think this fabric is really striking.  Not sure Ronnie Wood noticed it mind you!