anja sew-and-so

This site is about crafting and other things for the soul.



XMAS // Alternative Tree

Hi there,

today I wanted to share with you what I did for an advent calendar last year. You see, I live in a tiny cosy flat with my dearest musician boyfriend with hundreds quite a few instruments so we haven’t got much room at all. So to decorate, we have to go vertical.

I had seen something done with Instagram pictures before and thought that could work well… I got some tiny clothes pegs and some string, and ordered prints of my 25 favourite pictures of us. When they arrived I tried to work out a nice order to reveal them in and wrote the numbers 1 to 25 on the back of the prints. (You can see where this is going…)

I then put some nails in the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree and attached the string to the nails. I then distributed the pictures with the number facing me along the string using the little pegs. I also put some pieces of candy later on as I realised that there is really no point to an advent calendar without candy! I got the little Celebrations ones and they worked brilliantly with the pegs.

So we got an advent calendar AND Christmas tree in one!

Here is a picture of it (before candy made it onto it):


Cu soon


Short Infinity Dress

Hi there,

amongst all the Christmassy madness I was inspired by the Infinity Dress. I had heard of it before but somehow forgotten. HOW COULD I FORGET this incredible feast of dress engineering?? Besides buying two online (there was a deal, and hey, it was my birthday) I was lucky enough to inherit some lovely cotton fabric from a friend who didn’t know what to do with it. Except give it to me… Good choice I say! If you’re familiar with the Infinity Dress you will know that it is not made of cotton but I don’t discriminate so I went for it anyway. It definitely means to dress has limitations as to how you can wear it whereas the original doesn’t but you still have a LOT of options as you can see in the pictures below. Essentially this dress is only made up of 3 pieces, a skirt and 2 ‘scarves’ as the inventor calls them. You can buy short to floor length dresses and then wear them about a gazillion ways.

For mine I intended to make a full-circle skirt but luckily realised early enough that I wouldn’t have enough fabric for this because I wanted to make double-sided scarves due to the way you use them. Either way I made a half-circle skirt and it came out nicely. I even inserted a couple of darts and a zip and it doesn’t look like a 3 year-old did it which is always a plus.

Anyway, to make this dress you will need:

  • light-weight cotton fabric
  • a zip
  • an iron

And his is HOW YOU * Craft It Yourself *

  • Skirt – Cut a half-circle on the fold (or 2 half-circles if you have enough fabric and want to go for a fuller skirt). To find out the radius of the waistband calculate waist / 2 x phi (e.g. 30in / 6.28 = 4.77in radius for 2 halves of a full-circle skirt, 9.54in radius for a half-circle skirt. I tend to round up the radius just to have some leeway later on and for the seam allowance. You can always take a bit off but adding any is difficult, not impossible but difficult.)


  • Sew the half-circle together right sides facing with a 1cm seam allowance, leaving a gap at the top for the zip to be inserted later.
  • Hem the waistband by folding over twice then topstitch along the outer edge. This will mean that the hem will want to fold back a little bit but this gets ‘corrected’ after the darts are put in. If you are not going to insert darts then topstitch along the inner edge to secure the hem.
  • Darts – Put on the skirt and pull it to your waist to see how much space you have got. If it’s too loose you can measure the overlap at the back hem to determine how to insert the darts at the side. e.g. My overlap was 6cm. From this I deducted 1cm for the seam allowance to figure out I needed to lose 5cm either side. So i laid the skirt flat with the right ‘side seam’ facing me (the centre point between front and back seam). I marked this and 2.5cm either side. I then measured from my waist to about the mid-point of my hip (where I wanted the dart to finish). This came out at 20cm. So I marked 20cm down from the centre-point. I then folded the dart right sides facing so that the 2.5cm marks matched. I made a chalk line between the 20cm mark and the 2.5cm mark on one side, then pinned along the line. I repeated this for the other side. As you have taken out 5cm on the other side, please measure the centre point to match the other side. I then put on the skirt again (carefully!) to see if the darts have the desired effect and you are left with a seam allowance to insert your zip into later.
  • Sew along the lines to finish the darts.
  • Sew along the inner edge of the waistband catching the dart overlap folded to the back. This way you finish the waistband and stabilise the darts. You will press these down later on.
  • Insert the zip as per this lovely lady.


  • Hem the bottom of the skirt by folding over twice and topstitching along the inner edge.
  • Give the skirt a press with the iron.
  • Scarves – I intended to make the scarves a bit wider than 1/4 of the waistband so that they would overlap slightly at the front (for a bit more decency but that’s optional ;)) I didn’t have enough fabric for this so I ended up with scarves that are 7.5in x LONG. I sewed them right sides facing along both long edges and one short one and then turned them inside out. I also sewed a sort of ribbon end to both scarves:


  • Give the scarves a good press.
  • Now attach the scarves to the front of the skirt. I pinned them on first, put on the dress and tried a few different ways to see which I liked best. e.g. I tried angling the scarves slightly as to be able to do more different styles. Also, in the end I didn’t overlap them as first intended which makes the dress a bit more riskey but it works well.

Here are a few ways you can wear this dress (once again though, the possibilities are endless):


Anyway, let me know if you get around to making one of your own! I love them and wanna see more of them 🙂

Cu soon xoxo

XMAS // Origami Gift Box

Hello again,

So after I had made approximately 20 paper snowflakes and stars (my partner can attest to that) I thought it would be nice to make my own gift boxes for a couple of smaller gifts I gave I came across hudnreds of lovely origami tutorials online made up of all these decorative papers. As I had all that A4 white copy paper I thought I’d just use that because I wanted the folded details to stand out and also to keep in in line with the snowy Christmas theme.

Here are a few nice tutorials I found:

Unfortunately, I just can’t find the one I followed last year but this is the result. I think it was very similar to the 2nd link above:


I hope you’re enjoying the Christmas build up as much as I am.

Cu soon x

XMAS Mania

Is anyone else really excited about Christmas already??

I can’t help but be really happy about autumn being here. It promises snuggly evenings and a lot of crafting on the weekends because I’m planning to make everything I gift this Christmas myself. My game plan is all written out and I’ve got some lovely projects lined up! I’ll probably end up writing about most of them so if any of my friends actually read this blog, they’ll probably see their present here sooner or later 😀 but they’ll have to keep guessing what they’ll actually get, harharhar.

Last year I started with paper snowflakes just like I had when I was younger. It was just something that you could do immediately with supplies you already had at home. It also totally transported me back to my childhood, the pre-Christmas excitement, the build up to a family holiday that is much more ordinary than you imagine it the entire time coming up to it. I always get most excited about the wonderful things you’re allowed to eat and drink without guilt (traditional German goose roast, cheese and crackers, Christmas pudding with Brandy butter; another time I’ll have a duck roast, ginger bread and port; sherry!). My mouth is watering.

Anyway for these sweet paper snowflakes, all you need is some A4 paper and a pair of scissors. Of course you could use any colour paper but if you want to make snowflakes white is probably your best bet. Unless you use cream, or light yellow (but don’t eat yellow snow!).

And this is HOW YOU * Craft Them Yourself *

Fold the shorter side of the A4 sheet over to the longer side. Cut along the edge to create a square. Fold the triangle in half again to create quarters, then fold again to create eighths. Now you can start cutting into the edges, making sure that you leave parts of them standing because otherwise the whole thing falls apart 🙂 You can literally create ANY design you can think off in minutes because all you’re doing is cut an 1/8 of the snowflake but it replicates on all other parts once you unfold it. And this is how they could look like:



I also made one of these wonderful paper stars. You can follow this video to make one yourself. This took a little longer than expected but the result is stunning. I still have this boxed up somewhere so hopefully it’s still intact.


Anyway, if you’re not into Christmas yet come back to the blog when you are because it’s gonna get all Christmassy up in herrrre from now on 😀

Hope to see you again soon and see your Christmassy creations xx

A Different Kind of Wrap Top

Hello there  –

by now you will know that I like all kinds of wrap (even the kind to eat). I don’t think I ever elaborated much on why… It’s simple, you don’t need to do much shaping in the construction of a top or skirt if you design it to wrap around you. It’s just easier for us sewing novices and you get quick results. Always an added benefit for the impatient amongst us sewing novices.

So, I’ve yet to make a wrap skirt – and I have multiple ideas for this! Unfortunately the summer is drawing to a close and I’ve been a bit broke so not been able to buy as much fabric as I’d like.

Also I’ve got a tiny quilt project coming up as another one of the ladies at work is going to have a baby and who could resist making something tiny for someone tiny?? Also, have you seen this? Must. Make. Immediately.

Nonetheless, I went to a little festival this past weekend – Together the People in Brighton. And there I saw, once again, one of these great tops that has two sort of half circles overlapping at the back… Actually, I can’t describe it. Lovely though, very floaty and festivaly. Anyway, I’d seen this before and thought that must be easy enough to make. (I ALWAYS think this, and it’s never entirely true.) So after the gig I went home and got to working. Sounds crazier than it is, I was back home at 9.30pm.

The idea was to just make a rectangle for the front, two overlapping halves for the back and have everything lined. I still had some plain black cotton but this wasn’t enough material, so I decided to line the back pieces with hot pink cotton I also still had. I love it when your leftovers dictate your project and it turns out so much better for it. The idea was to have the hot pink be visible as lining but not prominent. It turned out differently but, again, better!

I measured the width between my shoulders and checked that this width would also work to cover the front half of my hips. I adjusted the width slightly as I’m pretty pear shaped but it worked well. Apart from making a massive error of judgment regarding the neck (more about that later), I cut out all 3 pieces like this with a 1cm seam allowance around each piece:

FullSizeRender (2)

I then proceeded to stitch along the pieces ‘right’ sides facing (both plain cotton, so doesn’t matter really) as so (red):

FullSizeRender (1)

I turned the pieces inside out, pressed and top stitched over the same places with contrasting top thread (pink top thread on the black, black bottom thread on the pink). I then stitched the back pieces to the front right sides facing at 1cm seam allowance, but only up to the arm pits (orange).


This is when I realised I made an error with one of the back pieces, I made two identical ones but of course I should’ve made one the mirror image of the other. This way it turned out I would have the back pieces showing different colours – one black and one pink. I stitched so that the pink would be overlapped by the black so that it looked more like it was meant to be peaking out from under the black piece.

I then intended to finish the neck with bias binding as it solved a big issue about how to go about this. I applied bias binding to a very short V-neck I’d cut out (11cm from the centre point, 7cm down the front), then stitched the shoulder seams. After doing so, I realised there was no way I could get my head through the intended hole. So the seam ripper came out and I undid the shoulder seam, folded the bias binding over (does this make it trias binding? ;)) and restitched the shoulder seams about 5cm from the outside in.

After this, I put on the top and saw that the shoulders were really sticky-outy (of course, I’m not a rectangle, I’m a pear). I pinned them so that they’d sit more snuggly to my shoulders and stitched them in place.

In hindsight I should’ve thought a bit more about the quality of finish on the top and shaping (the inside seams are pretty rough/raw and the shoulder seams aren’t made well) but by the time it was complete it was past midnight and I just wanted to go to bed… Should I make this again I would attempt adding the circle neck line from the initial wrap tops (because it always works and is pretty), make it longer and maybe even in a more stretchy fabric to achieve the floaty, festivaly look.

Anyway, this is what it looks like:


Any tips for my next attempt at this?

Cu soon xoxo

Summer Top with Low Back

Hello there –

this week I’ve got another one of my creations for you. It’s one of these tops that started off as a ‘quick one’ but as I have now learned – nothing in dressmaking is ever ‘quick’. It is a fairly loose summer top with a halter neck and bow detail at the back.

I feel like the summer might be over but I thought I should be allowed one last glimmer of hope… I have also realised the other day that it can be worn very nicely over a long sleeve top.

I must say this pattern is probably not as well suited for the fuller chested ladies out there, it would just lift the front up quite a lot and would probably look a bit off. At the same time, go for it! If it turns out awful you won’t have wasted much fabric at all! And you can always give it as a present 🙂

You can see I made the previous wrap top with the same fabric, I just love it, it’s so bold yet playful…

Well, anyway…

You will need:

  • 4-5 hours of leisure time
  • 1m of primary fabric
  • 1m of lining
  • ca. 1m of ribbon
  • ca. 20cm of bias binding
  • to be comfortable with making button holes on your sewing machine (goddess Minerva knows, I wasn’t at first!) – if you’re not you could always add some hooks and eye? or even a zip along the back…
  • a few measurements (diagram below)
    • neck circumference, under bust, hip, top of shoulder to under the shoulder blade, under the shoulder blade to hip (length)

FullSizeRender (1)

And this is HOW YOU * Craft It Yourself *

  • lay both layers of fabric together wrong sides facing
  • fold in half vertically – the fold is your centre front, so if you have a pattern on your primary fabric, try to line this up well
  • now mark your measurements as follows (including seam allowance)
    • as you will fold down the centre front – mark 1/2 of the hip measurement, 1/2 and 1/4 of the under bust measurement, 1/2 neck
    • to work out the correct radius for the neck – calculate: neck circumference / phi (3.14) = diameter, then diameter / 2 = radius e.g. 35/3.14 = 11 / 2 = 5.57cm (you only want about a quarter of a circle for you halter neck so mark 1/8 off the centre front)

FullSizeRender  FullSizeRender (3)

  • in order to get the arch under the arms right I devised a bit of a strange technique because I haven’t got a fancy curve ruler (or whatever they’re called):
    • find the centre point of the measurements you need to join and measure how far away this is from each end point
    • now substract the shorter distance from the longer distance e.g. 18-10=8
    • to find out where to make the mid-way mark between both ends divide the result by 2 e.g. 8/2=4, now add this to the shorter distance to work out how far away from the centre point you need to mark the mid-way point e.g. 10+4=14
    • then divide 4 by 2 to and add AND subtract the result to/from 14 to find 2 more points to mark along the curve e.g. 12 and 16
    • if necessary you can keep dividing 2 by 2 to get more exact points along the curve
    • I KNOW it sounds mad! here, have a diagram, that will hopefully help:

FullSizeRender (2)

  • pin your fabric pieces together along the markings you made
  • cut along the markings – be careful! your lining is longer at the bottom hem
  • turn your fabrics so that the right sides are facing before you pin them together again (sorry it might seem odd that you can’t just have them the wrong sides facing from the beginning – but of course you can. It would def cut out the whole taking-apart-and-laying-back-together part. I think that would work perfectly well if you’re using a less patterned or plain primary fabric but for quite patterned fabric I prefer to actually see where my centre front is going to be, and line it up properly with the design on the fabric. It’s your choice really…)
  • sew together with a 1cm seam allowance – only along the sides and neck though, you still have to turn it inside out and do the hem
  • turn inside out after cutting the seam allowance at the corners (this reduces bulk in the next step)
  • press (I know, I’m sorry! but it makes the edges so nice and crisp and really helps with that arm pit arch… what a description, yum)
  • topstitch along the same seams to secure them, try to get it as close as you’re comfortable with to the edge (I feel I’m definitely getting better at this, it’s thrilling! #topstitchporn is actually a thing on the line…)
  • now just fold over the bottom hem twice (this should be the lining fabric) and sew along it
  • now for the neck – as the edge is curved you can’t actually just fold over a piece of fabric as with the hem (trust me, I tried) which is why I used bias binding to hide the ribbon for the halter (neck)
  • [for the blog I have described to sew the neck together above (I didn’t do this for the top in the pictures because I was going to ‘hem’ the neck as the bottom hem. I had to cut the extra fabric off because it just wouldn’t have worked) so the bias binding becomes optional because all you’re going to do at the neck now is sew 2 pieces of ribbon to either side. No one will see the back but if you’re happier to have it all neat and tidy (like me, sometimes) then finish off the neck with a bit of bias binding after attaching the ribbon]
  • and now you only need to sew (at least 6) button holes (3 either side) along the back centre and feed a ribbon through them to fasten (if you do more button holes the back will come up higher/closer to the bottom of the shoulder blade)
  • and then * \\ YOU’RE DONE – SUCH WOW! // * Have a cupcake, you’re amazing 🙂
  • (Oh and just in case you wondered – I just leave the ribbon done up like that and slip the top over my head without undoing it. Ain’t nobody got time for that!)

And this is what mine looks like:



Show me yours??

Cu next Friday xoxo

Crochet // Chunky Yarn Accessory Holder

Hello (again),

this week I’ve got a little crochet project for you – an accessory holder. You can use it to store anything from scarves to ties to belts and you can adjust the size to suit your needs. And it comes up really fast. I just wanted to use up some of my big stash of surplus wool that I had left from other projects and was keen to do it quickly.

All you need is:

  • T-shirt yarn, or really chunky yarn
  • crochet hook size 10

The terms I use:

  • ch – chain
  • sc – single crochet (UK) – as in just sticking the hook through the stitch w/o YO
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • st – stitch

And here is how you * Craft It Yourself *...

Make a magic ring by wrapping the yarn around 2 index fingers and pulling the yarn through, secure by chaining 2 [numbers 1-4 indicate rows]

  1. Do 12 sc in the magic ring and sl st into the 1st st at the end, ch 2
  2. 2 sc in every one of the sc from the previous row, sl st, ch 2
  3. 2 sc in every second one of the sc from the previous row (sc inbetween the 2 sc), sl st, ch 2
  4. As row 3 until you have your desired diameter
  5. When you want to ‘turn the corner’ to build the height – sc in every back of the sc in the previous row (don’t increase). This feels unstable at first but every sc you do stabilises it further.
  6. Now you can just work in a round if you prefer. It doesn’t really make a difference. Continue 1 sc in every sc until you’ve got about 3/4 of the height you want. This bit is hard to measure so just experiment. Crochet is so easy to undo and alter so practice patience 😉
  7. Next we are going to decrease stitches in only the front half circle of the project. Just pick which side you want to be the front and sc in every st until the beginning of that half. Then skip 1 st and sc in the next one, skip 1, sc, skip 1, sc… until the end of the front half.
  8. Then sc in every st again until you get back to the beginning of the front half.
  9. Then sc until the middle point of the back of the circle and ch 10, then sc into the next st. The chain is going to be your handle.
  10. Then sc in every st until you get back to the beginning of the front half.
  11. Then skip 1 st and sc in the next one, skip 1, sc, skip 1, sc… until the end of the front half (decreasing further).
  12. Then sc until just after the handle (sc across the chain) and wind your yarn around the base of the handle about 3 times.
  13. Continue to sc until the beginning of the front half.
  14. Start the finishing row of sl st and break yarn and tie off at the end of it.

This is what it will look like:

IMG_8591   IMG_8592

I hope that this all made sense – if not, let me know in the comments…

And show me your creations! I’d love to see what you make of it….

Oval(ish) Crop Top #1

Hello there –

this week I’ve got a variation of the wrap top for you made from my favourite summer fabric – it’s a short top that is cut in a sort of oval and it will give you wiiings 🙂

This is what it looks like:

2015-08-02 13.14.25-1  Photo 02-08-2015 17 56 16 (with mascot)

You will need:

  • 1m of primary fabric
  • 1m of secondary fabric (plain lining or a reversible fabric)
  • 8 buttons of the same size
  • ca. 3m (ca. 118in) of bias binding (colour of choice that matches/contrasts both fabrics)
  • measurement for the width
  • measurement for the length
  • your waist measurement
  • circumference of your upper arm
  • an iron (I can hear you sigh, I know pressing isn’t the most fun but it won’t look as good if you don’t)

And here is HOW YOU * Craft It Yourself *

  • lay your primary and secondary fabric on top of each other right sides facing, fold in half, then in half again so you have a quarter – the centre point is where your neck will be cut out, and where you mark the measurements from
  • pin the 8 layers of fabric together so they don’t move when cutting
  • mark 1/2 of the width measurement along the top angle
  • mark 1/2 of the circumference of your upper arm at a right angle to the end of the last measurement
  • mark 1/2 of the length measurement down the other side of the angle off the centre point
  • mark 1/4 of your waist measurement at a right angle to the end of the last measurement
  • join the end points free-handedly (it’s easier than you think) – if that doesn’t work as smoothly as you’d like just try again (I recommend using tailor’s chalk for this so any wrong lines come off easily later. I also recommend rounding off any strange angles where the lines meet for a smoother finish. I didn’t do it like that but I wish I had.)
  • mark a radius of your choice off the centre point for your neckline (mine was 11cm) – pin along the line so it’s easier to cut

2015-08-02 10.38.47  2015-08-02 10.44.03

  • CUT along the lines…
  • take the pins out and unfold your oval(ish) shape carefully – try to keep the 2 layers of fabric in place so that you can pin the neckline together easily. This is the first thing you’re going to sew together.

2015-08-02 10.44.39

(you can see I didn’t pin my fabric right sides facing which is why I had to painstakingly peel the layers apart then reassemble the other way round for sewing)

  • if you’d like a neckline as on the other wrap tops then cut a straight line of about 7-8cm down the front centre from the neck (you can cut longer, it depends on how much you want to reveal 😉 )

neck 2

  • now sew along the dotted line in the above picture, trying to get as close as you can to the lowest point of the neckline (this makes it neater when you turn the fabric inside out)
  • turn the fabric inside out, pushing the right angles of the neckline through crisply
  • press the neckline (it’s worth it and gives a neater finish!)
  • now topstitch along the neckline, doing a little V at the lowest point of the neckline


  • now fold your bias binding in half and press it before you pin it onto the edges (again, it’s worth it for a crisp finish! I learned this from the lovely Janice at the Walkaway dress workshop the other week)
  • pin the bias binding along the edges, starting from the centre back (it’s never absolutely perfect when you stitch the overlapping ends so at the back it’s less likely to be seen if it goes a bit pear shaped…) – once you get to the end tuck the raw edge of the bias in for about 1cm so that there is no raw edges showing
  • start topstitching the bias binding where it overlaps at the back and go all the way around
  • now for the trickier part… how to put it together….?!

If you have chosen to line the top with a plain fabric and don’t want/need it to be reversible (I’ve got an affinity for reversible at the moment – it’s like getting a bargain in the high street – 2 for 1? Why, yes please!) – anyway, it’s easier if you’re only going to wear the top one way around.

  • put the top over your head and pin the ‘sleeves’ together close to your arm
  • take the top off, lay it on the table and see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (basically you want sleeves that’ll be easy to get into, comfortable but still flared)
  • sew at the 2 points you marked, parallel to the top edge towards the neckline for about 10cm just to secure the fabric in place
  • put the top on again and overlap the front over the back piece at the sides, pin into a comfortable position here too
  • take the top off and again – see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (it won’t be exact because the back will be folded over but try to keep the front and back bottom hems level)
  • sew the ‘intersection’ in place (maybe a small triangle shape would do?)

If you want the top to be reversible, it’s gonna get a bit fiddly and I hope I can explain what I’ve done (it’s not a perfect solution but I’ve got an idea how to improve it, which I’ll share later on)

  • put the top over your head and pin the ‘sleeves’ together close to your arm
  • take the top off, lay it on the table and see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (basically you want sleeves that’ll be easy to get into, comfortable but still flared
  • sew 2 button holes at the points you marked (on the front piece), I did mine right next to the bias binding
  • sew 2 buttons for each button hole onto the corresponding points at the back, I sewed mine onto the bias binding for better stability
  • put the top on again and overlap the front over the back piece at the sides, pin into a comfortable position here too
  • take the top off and again – see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (it won’t be exact because the back will be folded over but try to keep the front and back bottom hems level)
  • the 2 button holes on the front might be slightly away from the bias binding (with mine it was 3cm) but I didn’t use my waist measurement to determine the bottom hem so it might be fine – either way, sew 2 more button holes on the front piece
  • then sew 2 more buttons for each button hole onto the corresponding position on the back piece

Whichever way you chose – you’re now finished! Well done, you! Do a little victory dance 🙂

Do up all the buttons before you put on the top, otherwise it’s a bit fiddly. It might be a bit tight at first but I’m sure that’ll wear in later on.

Instead of using buttons I’m sure you could also feed a ribbon through the lower button holes (also do button holes on the back piece) – I’ll try that on my next one, just didn’t have enough ribbon to try it this time…

Either way this is a few details of the top:

2015-08-02 13.13.01  2015-08-02 13.12.56 2015-08-02 13.14.36

Hope you enjoy making this, let me see your creations!

Cu next Friday xx

How to Make a ‘Simple’ Skirt

Hello (again),

This week I’ve got something ‘simple’ for you. It’s in inverted commas because the idea was simple, but the project did not turn out as simple as I’d hoped…

The plan was to just copy a skirt that I already own into that lovely shiny fabric, have an elasticated waistband and some bias binding around the bottom hem. Simples.

That failed when I got to the point where I’d sewn together the side seams (right side facing) and then realised the waist was missing about 10cm of what I could squeeze into. Darn.  See the skirt I was going to copy was made of lovely stretchy material. My shiny fabric isn’t stretchy in any sense of the word. I think that’s where I went wrong.

The good thing is (and I’m always thinking positive) I LOVE errors in the creative process because you’ve gotta think again. I had to add at least 10cm to the skirts waistline or I could forget about my lovely new garment. Exactly, challenge accepted. And this is where it turned from simple to ‘simple’. But it is so much more beautiful now.

Ok, so the solution was *drum-roll* to just add a strip of fabric down the middle of the front. And because adding the same fabric would look pretty silly, I chose another. It’s my favourite so far – the floral print from wrap top #2. It was a bit of a brain teaser because you’ve gotta remember the seam allowance and the strip is going to be the focal point so you wanna make sure it doesn’t just show a random part of the pattern. So my love for numbers really helped here. Diagrams to follow below.

My error also meant that I decided to add a zipper. I’ve never done that on a sewing machine but you know, gotta start sometime. Luckily my machine came with a manual. In hindsight I probably still could’ve done the elasticated waist now that I added the extra cm on the waist but hey…

I was actually quite knackered throughout this project because I’d woken up at 8.30am (on a Saturday, hello!) with the idea pushing into my consciousness. I’d only gone to sleep at 2am determined to finish wrap top #3 but I can sleep when I’m dead, right?

Either way, this is the result:


To make it you will need:

  • About 4-5 hours leisure time
  • 3m of primary fabric
  • 1m max of contrast/highlight fabric (secondary)
  • 1m max of lining fabric (optional)
  • zip
  • measurement of your waist

And this is how you * Craft It Yourself *


  • Lay out your fabric and place the skirt you want to copy flatly on top of it. Most skirts should be a sort of quarter circle or similar shape. Draw around the edges of the skirt. To add seam allowance, draw a parallel line about 1-1.5cm away from what will be the side seams. Don’t worry about the waist band yet.

2015-06-27 08.59.24  2015-06-27 09.00.26

  • OR: If you don’t have a skirt to copy and like the look of this one, measure your waist and work out the radius you need to draw a circle with the length of your waist measurement minus 10cm as the circumference (r = c / (2 * phi)) e.g. if your waist (circumference) is 76 cm then calculate 66 / (2 * 3.14)  = 10.5 cm radius. Then draw a 1/4 circle on the fabric with this radius. Then mark the length of the skirt you’d like (mine was xxx) and draw a bigger 1/4 circle from the centre point of the smaller circle. (We won’t lose any length because we’re using bias binding to hem the bottom.) Draw straight lines to join the 2 1/4 circles. To add seam allowance, draw a parallel line about 1-1.5cm away from what will be the side seams. Don’t worry about the waist band yet.


  • Cut out the fabric along the lines, then lay and pin it on another piece of the same fabric and cut a second piece out.
  • Sew together at the side seams right sides facing. Check how long your zip is and leave a gap about 2-3cm longer than the zip on one side. Remember, you will also add a waistband and will want your zip to finish flush with the waistband so consider that when you leave the gap. It’s better to leave a bigger gap and close it later, than having to unpick a bit of side seam.
  • Find the centre of the waist and the centre of the hem on one of he pieces (will be the front) and draw a straight line between them. Cut carefully along the line to ‘split open’ the front. The more precise you cut, the easier it will be a couple of steps down the line.

2015-06-27 10.24.44  2015-06-27 10.24.53

  • Now for your second fabric. the one you will insert – find the middle of the pattern that you would like to show down the front of the skirt and mark 7cm horizontally on either side. Repeat vertically until the desired length of the skirt is reached. Cut carefully along the straight line. This will give you a strip of 12cm wide fabric with a seam allowance of 1cm either side (14cm overall).  You have to remember that when you sew the fabric with a 1cm seam allowance you will also loose 1cm on your primary fabric that you need to make up for.
  • Pin your secondary fabric to your primary fabric right sides facing on one side first. Make sure you stick rigidly to the edges to ensure a straight finish. Sew together with a 1cm seam allowance.
  • Now pin the other side of the fabric to the other half of the front right sides facing and also sew with a 1cm seam allowance.
  • Press the seams inwards with an iron. If your primary fabric is much darker then your secondary fabric press the seams outwards/ toward the primary fabric so it doesn’t shine through the front.
  • Add bias binding to the bottom hem making sure the seams between both fabrics get caught the right way. It just looks nicer when it’s even.
  • Now for the waistband! How thick/ high do you want it? I’m toying with the idea of making myself a proper high waisted skirt soon but I reckon I need more of a thicker fabric to get the stability for that. Anyway, the waistband on this skirt was kind of dictated by the pattern, it came out at about xx cm. Cut a strip of fabric that measures [the height you’d like] by [your waist measurement], plus a 1-2cm seam allowance either side. Try to center the pattern horizontally as was done for the strip down the front vertically. If you’d like to line the waistband for comfort and stability then cut another strip of the same size from maybe a plain fabric, or your primary fabric.
  • Sew the pieces together ride sides facing with the 1-2cm seam allowance along the 2 short sides (start and finish 1cm away from the edge to allow overlapping with the skirt on the 2nd long side) and the long side that will be at the top later on.
  • Turn right sides out and press well. Then on the primary fabric turn the 1-2cm seam allowance on the 2nd long side towards the inside and pin along the waistline of the skirt (1cm overlapping). Start and finish 1cm away from the gap that you left for the zip. Turn over the 1cm seam allowance for the zip gap towards the inside of the skirt and try to catch this when you sew along the waistband. The seam allowance on the lining doesn’t need to be turned because this will be on the inside anyway. And this also makes for a comfy concealment of the seams on the inside.
  • Sew on the waistband making sure the seams of the piece that was added down the front get caught the right way again.
  • Press (if you fancy it).
  • Now for the zip – argh! I’d never done one before and it was easier than I thought but then there was this bit at the end of the zip that just ended up slightly bulky. Luckily, this skirt is quite floaty so it’s not that noticeable.
  • Lazy on my part >> Watch this video to learn how to insert the zip nicely! (Wish I would’ve had the idea to look on YT when I made my skirt!) Pin the zip slightly lower than the end of the waist band. Sew on the zip with your zipper foot. If you’ve never done it before maybe have a look at the manual of your machine. If that got lost in the depth of your craft boxes you can find most manuals on the line nowadays (movie reference intended), saved!
  • Trim off the bit of overhanging fabric at the top of the zip, and:
  • \\ YOU’RE FINISHED, WELL DONE! // Do a little dance, you’re a legend!

Let me see your creations if you get round to making one of these lovely summer skirts. And let me know if anything was unclear or needs further explanation, or maybe needs another diagram? Gotta love a good diagram!

Cu next Friday xx

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