• Trousers and skirts

    Easy pleated skirt

    Hello everyone and Happy Friday! Tonight is my work Christmas party so I’m all giddy and ready to celebrate the year!

    almond rock pleated skirt elephant in my handbag alice wonderland teapots

    Today I have a tutorial to share for a quick pleated skirt. All it takes is a bit of maths and some basic sewing skills to get a lovely printed skirt.

    I partnered with Elephant In My Handbag for this tutorial. They let me pick this awesome Alice in Wonderland inspired teapot print cotton by Blend Fabrics.its great quality and the colours are fantastic! Did you spot the little mouse?


    Fusible interfacing
    12” invisible Zipper

    Size Finished Waist Measurement Front width, cut on fold Back width, cut two Waistband width Waistband back width
    10 29” 51cm 52.5cm 20cm 21.5cm
    12 31” 52cm 53.5cm 21cm 22.5cm
    14 33” 53cm 54.5cm 22cm 23.5cm
    16 35” 54cm 55.5cm 23cm 24.5cm
    18 37” 55cm 56.5cm 24cm 25.5cm


    Use the above chart and your desired skirt length to work out your fabric requirements. You’ll need 2 x  the length plus another 50cm for the waistbands.

    Cut 1 front skirt on the fold that is your chosen length x the width measurement in the chart above.

    Cut 2 back skirts that are your chosen length x the width measurement in the chart above.

    Cut two waistband fronts on the fold, which are 6cm in length x the width measurement in the chart above.

    Cut 2 waistband backs which are 6cm in length x the width measurement in the chart above.

    How to make:

    1. Find the centre front of your fabric for the skirt front. Then measure 6cm in and make a mark at the upper edge for size 10. (Increase this by 1cm for each higher size e.g. 12cm for size 18).

    2. Next mark 15cm away from the mark you just made, along the upper edge.

    3. Next mark 6cm away from that mark for size 10. (Increase this by 1cm for each higher size e.g. 12cm for size 18).

    4. And finally mark 15cm away from the mark you just made.

    5. Repeat for the skirt backs (find the centre back of your fabric by folding under the 1.5cm seam allowance.

    6. Fold the pleats together following the marks that you have made. (See the diagram for help). An easy way create neat pleats is to bring two notches together and pin, crease the fold, then open out the pleat so the crease of the fold sits on top of the pin. Sew across the top of your pleats 1cm in from the raw edge (within the seam allowance) to keep them in place and press a short way down the length of the pleat. Repeat for the back skirt pieces.

    7. Join the skirt front and back at the side seams with a 5/8” (1.5cm) seam allowance and overlock or finish the raw edges.

    8. Interface one waistband front and a pair of waistband backs. Join at the side seams with a 5/8” (1.5cm) seam allowance, then repeat for the second set of waistbands.

    9. With right sides together, align the non-interfaced waistband to the upper edge of the skirt, matching the side seams. Sew in place with a 5/8” (1.5cm) seam allowance.

    10. Next sew the two waistbands together at the raw upper edge with a 5/8” (1.5cm) seam allowance then press the seam open. Press up the lower edge of the interfaced waistband by 1.3cm.

    11. Open the zipper and with right sides together align the top stopper just below the top of the waistband seam line on one side. Using your zipper foot (or my recommendation, an invisible zipper foot) sew in place. Close the zip and mark on the tape the seamline for the bottom of the waistband. Use this marking to line up the second half of the zipper tape and sew in place.

    12. Fold the waistband over right sides together, sandwiching the zip in between. Using your zipper foot, sew alongside the zip through the three layers, ensuring the catch the folded up lower edge of the waistband.

    13. Press up a 5cm hem at the bottom of your skirt. Sew in place and press to finish.

    Here’s a shot of the pleats close up. I love how neat the waistband is at this size and balances well with my almost midi length skirt. I made the 10 and used a long length on purpose.

    So many delicious looking cakes on this fabric too!

    almond rock pleated skirt elephant in my handbag alice wonderland teapots

    Here’s the back, you can see how the centre back falls evenly between the pleats. I used a white zip but if you’re scared you might not achieve a fully invisible installation, choose a zip that coordinates well with your fabric and will “sink in”.

    almond rock pleated skirt elephant in my handbag alice wonderland teapots

    Expect to see me in plenty more pleated skirts this winter!

  • Trousers and skirts

    Freehand Fashion Blog Tour and Review

    Hello hello!

    almond rock chinelo bally freehand fashion

    I hope you’ve been following the blog tour for Chinelo Bally’s new book Freehand Fashion. I’m the penultimate stop on the tour and hopefully I can say something about the book that helps add a little more insight into the composition and styling of the projects and approach. Plus you can have a nosey at my finished garment.

    chinelo bally freehand fashion

    Based on a traditional Nigerian technique, Chinelo’s book takes you through her innovative freehand cutting technique. Like many other pattern books it’s based around a series of standard blocks (bodice, dress, skirt, sleeve, and flare) that you draft using your measurements. But the difference is unique variations on the blocks and the way you plot the integral marks on your fabric. You cleverly take into account seam allowances (something normally omitted in pattern drafting). The bodice block actually covers the whole torso and hips (different again from many techniques). This lets you create 15 central patterns with a few variations to boot!

    chinelo bally freehand fashion

    I decided to try out the flared skirt block aka the double circle skirt project. This is a very approachable project (which fitted with my limited free time) but I also wanted to see how Chinelo would spell out this standard block.

    Firstly it’s true of all the projects in this book but I really like the way the pages are laid out. Everything is clear and consistent and gorgeously crisp looking. The flared skirt is nicely broken up into how to achieve various amounts of flare but I fancied a full on circle. Chinelo advises using a regular less full skirt as the lining which was interesting. I chose a pink twill with a pink polka dot lining to compliment my uber polka dot set up! And I hemmed the skirt using bias tape since it takes so long to hem a full circle. Phew.

    chinelo bally freehand fashion

    It’s a pretty fun skirt and that’s probably because it’s a pretty fun book. I confess I’ve had a copy for a little while – the perks of doing book reviews in Love Sewing. And I love some of the dresses like the hot lace number. Woah momma. And the peplum flippy hem dress is all kinds of cute. There’s plenty here to find a few garments you like and plenty to learn from re-imagining the way you approach sewing patterns. I’ll throw it out there and then won’t mention it again. If you subscribe to Love Sewing during November, you’ll get a free gift copy of the book. Something to think about – maybe even suggest to your relatives as a good Christmas present? heehe.

    chinelo bally freehand fashion

    chinelo bally freehand fashion

    So I hope I lived up to the challenge and gave you a good spin on the book with my review? I’d like to encourage you to try and pick up a copy of the book and take a look for yourself. I think the key thing to remember is that if you’re the kind of person who gets a bit nervous cutting straight into fabric without a toile, this book isn’t suggesting you do that. It just means you can cut out some of the time consuming steps of tracing and cutting tissue sheets. But if you’re still feeling a little concerned, you can try this circle skirt for an excellent easy win.

    Right – toodlepip! I’m off to party in my new foxy skirt! You should check out Rachel’s blog tomorrow for the last point on the tour.

    chinelo bally freehand fashion

  • Trousers and skirts

    Jean Genie

    There’s nothing like sewing the last stitch on a big project. I finished my jeans and immediately laid them out on the floor to gawk over. (I’m a loser.)

    almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

    Where shall I start… this yummy denim is from Birmingham rag market (from that day I went insane and bought ALL THE fabric). It feels very good quality, has a slight sheen with gorgeous orange undertones. The fabric is almost completely orange on the reverse – the magic of a twill weave. The denim might be a touch thin for jeans but I think it works ok. The fit is good enough for me too.

    For my topstitching I actually used two spools of regular thread fed into one needle as I had an orange I wanted to use rather than a thicker topstitch weight. I love my pocket arches!

    almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

    This is my (sort of) second pair of jeans. My first pair never made it onto the blog because the denim was awful quality and I never wore them. When I finished this new pair I threw the old pair out.

    I used Kenneth D King’s Jean-ius course on Craftsy which is absolutely fantastic and educational. To put it simply, you make a pattern by copying your favourite jeans and get the chance to make fit adjustments and customisations! My original jeans are the Topshop straight leg “Martha” style which they dont make any more. Thanks to KDK I don’t have to stress about that anymore!

    almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

    In case you don’t know, Kenneth is very well mannered with a no nonsense attitude. He points out that sewing shouldn’t be a series of rigid rules you must follow; there are lots of ways to get things done.

    So it wouldnt surprise him that I did my own thing a couple of times during the making of the jeans!

    1. I changed the construction order so I could topstitch my inseam, NOT my outside leg seam. My RTW pair had this styling and I think it makes them look smarter.

    2. I made a larger fly shield compared to the one KDK suggested and I honestly regret not making it even bigger! It’s about 1cm smaller than I would like.

    In terms of the course modules, the drafting of the copy was pretty easy, if a little time consuming. I’ve done rub offs with tracing paper before (using Steffani Lincecum’s technique – she’s also a Craftsy instructor but I have her book) but organza is best if you can afford it every time!

    almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

    FACT: KDK’s fly front zipper tutorial is impeccable. Seriously good stuff.

    But that said; I would have liked to learn a bit more about topstitching. Namely there’s no mention of topstitching the outer edge of the fly, just the curve and crotch seam (from below the zip). I couldn’t work out at which stage I should be topstitching that part – possibly just after installing the fly facing and stopping where the zip should stop? I think that element being missing sets of a little niggle in your brain that the jeans don’t look 100% right but you can’t put your finger on why. Or is that just me?

    almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

    And I know how to do flatfelled seams from my shirt making, but we didn’t learn them in the Craftsy course!? That’s jean-making 101 in my mind.

    Also I’m mad at myself for choosing my zip poorly. The pull is too large so it peeks out a little and also makes the fly bulge. At least I’ll know for next time and it’s easily resolvable.

    Oh yes there will be a next time. There is some lovely quality denim online at The Splendid Stitch, with a good dark navy colour and small degree of stretch. I have plans for pockets with flaps this time too. And a cute coin pocket which I do like seeing on jeans though I have NEVER used one haha. Have you ever used yours?

    almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

    I suppose I ought to add that I used two machines for this project. I had my Toyota jeans machine threaded up with black and my Janome SMD4000 threaded with orange. This made things much quicker as I could jump between the two machines without the delay of re-threading.

    But I don’t expect everyone out there to have a second machine. I just hung onto my original machine when I upgraded, in the hope I’d one day have space for them both. I do recommend it if you have space. It’s very useful to have a machine threaded up with another colour for random emergency sewing or projects like this.

    almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

    So who else has tried the Jean-ius course? There’s a good review on Amy’s blog. I know a lot of people have made the Ginger jeans as my feed has been full of great versions and Katie wows me on a regular basis with her jean sewing!