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Monday, 1 February 2016

Back to work (almost) with the Joan Dress and Ultimate Pencil Skirt

As I had a 'Keeping in Touch' day at work last week, my thoughts turned to workwear for my latest project.  Although I'm usually in jeans at the office, I do wear smart clothes for meetings and when I'm interviewing.  My sister bought me the Joan dress pattern from Sew Over It for my birthday back in October, as I had been telling her how much I liked it.  I bought some grey and purple check suiting and lining fabric from John Lewis with a voucher my aunt bought me for my birthday with this project in mind.  I've never made a fully lined dress before, and felt nervous about getting this right, especially with the time pressure of an occasion to wear it.

The fabric was the most expensive fabric I have ever sewn with, and also has an obvious check which needed to be pattern matched, so I was absolutely terrified cutting into it:

I pinned and re-pinned the pattern to the fabric in my attempts to match the checks effectively before cutting.  I kind of got it right, although the side seams of the bodice didn't quite match (not sure how I got this wrong).

The fabric was really lovely to sew with, but I found making the lining quite a challenge because the lining fabric was so slippery (no-one has to see it though!).  The sleeves went in really well in the main fabric, but were much trickier to set in in the lining.  The fit was really good without much alteration.  I did reduce the back seam allowance to 1cm at the waist, but I think it would have still fitted well without doing this.  My one frustration is that the back waistband seam wasn't level after inserting the zip and I couldn't work out how to rectify it.  I am planning on wearing it with a belt though, so this will be hidden.

Attaching the lining started OK, but then I got into a huge muddle around the kick pleat.  After a mammoth unpicking session (and a bit of cutting), I had to ignore the instructions and attach it by hand.  The kick pleat itself was a bit uneven, but the finished dress looks pretty good, and I loved the dress being fully lined as it was really comfortable and meant I could wear tights (pretty essential in January):

I actually ended up going in to work for two days last week, and decided to make the Ultimate Pencil Skirt from Sew Over It for the other day.  This was a very last-minute make and I made it in one baby naptime plus one evening.  I bought this as a kit when they were on special offer for the bargain price of £15 before Christmas.  I went for the Royal Blue version and I absolutely love the colour and fit.  I wish that I had lined it, as it kept sticking to my tights, despite wearing with a slip.  I have now ordered some lining fabric and will make the lining as soon as it arrives.  It's far too cold in Manchester to have skirts that can only be worn with bare legs!  I will definitely be making this again - it is the perfect work skirt:

 I had a rather lovely surprise on Sunday when I sat down with a cup of tea to read the latest Love Sewing magazine and saw this:


  1. Both these makes look great! I have had that same pencil skirt kit sat in my queue for longer than I'm admitting to but it is definitely getting near the top now: like you I've finally lost some weight and suddenly my work clothes don't fit! It's a nice motivation, isn't it?!

  2. I love the pencil skirt - you can easily dress it up or down, I'm planning another in stretch denim for the Summer!