Monday, 24 August 2015

Purple Bamboo Agnes Top and Denim M6696 Skirt

Today I've got an outfit to share with your which has become one of my favourite combination of garments over the rather temperamental British summer. It's been great for the muggy heat but also good on a chilly evening, the perfect replacement for a floaty skirt when dealing with breezy tube escalators and also super practical for me a work! The two parts are the Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top and the skirt portion of the McCalls 6696 shirtdress. Let's start with the top.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Bamboo Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top & Denim McCalls 6696 Skirt

When Tilly released this pattern a couple of months back she also released 'Learn to Sew Jersey Tops', an online workshop aimed at people who have a small amount of sewing under their belt and want to take things a little further by getting to grips with knit fabrics. Tilly offered me a place on the course so I could see what I made of it and I was really excited to try out a new method of learning. My confidence sewing with knits has really grown over the last year so I'm probably not the exact target market for this course but I still picked up some great tips along the way. Plus it was fantastic to SEE someone else sewing with a knit and know that I hadn't got anything disastrously wrong!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Bamboo Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top & Denim McCalls 6696 Skirt

I've only ever tried a couple of free short Craftsy courses but I don't know why I haven't made time for more as I love the idea of being able to work through a course at your own pace at home whilst still benefiting from being able to see and hear the course instructor and watching demonstrations of a technique. Sometimes with sewing it's a little tricky to work out from an illustration or photograph whether you have got a step quite right; I know I would have found a video like this useful when I first tackled a lined kick pleat! I found the videos themselves to be really clear compared to some YouTube videos I've watched in moments of confusion when I've turned to Google for advice! They are very crisp and bright, as you would probably expect from Tilly's pattern branding and instructions, and it's obvious that what it would be useful to see has been well thought through. The course as a whole is very thorough and broken up into good sized chunks. It takes you right through from selecting your size to finishing up and includes very useful tips and practices to get into the habit of such as stabilising your shoulder seams. I also like that whilst the course uses a particular pattern the pattern itself is a good basic and includes all the main construction elements you might need to know about when working with knits so it would be a great guide to making up any other knit pattern.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Bamboo Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top & Denim McCalls 6696 Skirt

Tilly just focuses on how to sew knits with a regular machine which is great as I think it's very tempting to just jump on the overlocker for speed (of you have one) but actually over the last year I've found I get the best results when assembling with a narrow zig zag stitch and just using the overlocker for finishing. Particularly when just getting started with knits I think working on the regular machine makes it feel less off a foreign concept and also helps you to be more accurate than on the speedy serger. Despite not including instructions for it as seam allowances on knits don't need to be finished to prevent fraying, I did opt to overlock all my seam allowances together after assembly as I like being able to trim them down nice and small and get that professional looking finish inside.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Bamboo Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top

As for the actual top; I opted for the plainest design with the round neckline and slim sleeves as I just wanted a classic top that I could wear with a lot of things. I felt like the puffed, ruched sleeves weren't very me to be honest and the gathered, sweetheart neckline, whilst beautiful, was on a personal note giving me flashbacks to the shiny lycra leotards I wore for dancing when I was young and I'm not quite ready to welcome that into my wardrobe! Design-wise the sleeve length is gorgeous and something I don't have a lot of in my wardrobe and I really like the shape and size of the neckline. The proportion of the band width really works in my opinion too. I'm pleased with how flat and smooth the neckline sits.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Bamboo Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top

I cut between the size 2 and 3 as my measurements fall exactly between the 2 and I absolutely love the resulting fit. For me it has the perfect amount of ease, not too clingy, not too loose. Especially for wearing tucked into a skirt like this. I used a scrummy bamboo jersey which I have been stashing since one of my first orders from Mood. I'm a total bamboo convert, I love the stuff! It's so soft and snuggly with both a great weight and recovery. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's not the cheapest jersey option but I easily got this top out of a yard.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Bamboo Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top & Denim McCalls 6696 Skirt

The eagle eyed among you will probably recognise the skirt as looking very similar to my denim version of the McCalls 6696 shirtdress a little while back. (Sorry that it's looking a little wrinkled in these pics, I'd been wearing it all day!) This dress has been such a huge hit in my wardrobe (I think it's probably the handmade item I've worn the most) and I had such a great time sewing it that I decided I absolutely needed a skirt version so I could mix and match it with various tops and wear it even more! There's something about the practicality of those still stylish pockets and the slightly seventies style when made up in denim which has me reaching for it again and again.

For this version I went down to a size 8 as the dress I made in a 10 and it has a bit of ease around the waist which I wanted to fit snugly to keep the skirt in place. It is now ever so slightly snug around the hips so if I make the dress again I'll probably cut an 8 at the waist and bust (but go up a cup size) and stick with the 10 at the hips. As I did with the dress I took 3.5" off the length and used 1" for the hem, I'm 5ft 3" for reference.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Denim McCalls 6696 Skirt

I used exactly the same denim as I did before (from Unique Fabrics on Goldhawk Road, £9.50/m) but in the darker colour. The weight and softness of it worked perfectly for a dress so I figured if it's not broken don't fix it! I could just about squeeze this size out of a metre but I'd recommend getting slightly more to be on the safe side. Both the dress and skirt have seen a lot of the washing machine and this particular denim has washed really well and started to develop that slightly worn in look which I love.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Denim McCalls 6696 Skirt

I had to make a few small changes to the pattern and construction order to make this work as a skirt as on the dress the placket runs right up the centre, dissecting the waistband, but I wanted the waistband to run right around the top as it does on most skirts or a pair of jeans. It was fairly straightforward to do. I cut the front placket pieces shorter but didn't measure them. I sewed them to the centre front of the skirt before the waistband, then trimmed them down to the right length and followed the pattern instructions for finishing off the bottom edge. I cut the waistband and interfacing 3" longer than the pattern pieces which is approximately the width of the front placket x2. As with the plackets, because of the way I constructed it I didn't need to be super accurate with the length, I just needed to make sure the pieces weren't too short. This briefly explains how I did it:
  • Sew the interfaced waistband piece to the top edge of the skirt, right sides together and press the seam allowance up towards the waistband. 
  • Sew the waistband facing to the main waistband piece along the top edge.
  • Trim this seam allowance and press towards the facing. 
  • Turn in and press the seam allowance of the waistband facing along the long raw edge (by 1.5cm)
  • Fold the facing over the waistband, right sides together. Stitch up the small ends making sure catching the seam allowances you have just pressed in place. If like me you have just cut the waistband to roughly the right length you want to make sure your stitching line butts up against the edge of the front button band rather than using a specific width of seam allowance.
  • Trim the seam allowances at the ends and corners then turn the waistband right side out and press, using a point turner/chopstick/other handy implement to create a nice crisp corner. 
  • I then topstitched around my waistband which secured the bottom edge of the facing in place but if you don't want to topstitch you could slipstitch by hand or stitch in the ditch.
I'm delighted with how my skirt has turned out, it has been a really useful addition to my wardrobe. I did think perhaps it was a little silly to make as skirt pretty much exactly the same as the dress (even using the same buttons and colour of topstitching thread!) but I'm really pleased that I didn't change a thing!

9 comments:

  1. Thank you for making the simple version! I feel exactly like you do about the done-up Agnes--very not for me, right now--but I adore 3/4 sleeve shirts *and* Tilly. Time to pick up a pattern :)

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  2. I've just made a skirt from this dress pattern as well - Although I have to admit it's in my WIP pile awaiting the buttons :) Such a great pattern!

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  3. This skirt looks great, I've got a few skirts from dress patterns on my list for this autumn too. Love the colour of that top :)

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  4. The skirt looks great, and I love the buttons you've chosen. Great idea! I am making a chambray shirtdress just now, so if it works out, I might just steal your idea! :)

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  5. The two pieces both look excellent! Love the colours and the skirt is great! I have often looked at this pattern, but have never tried it. I have a few shirt dress patterns though, so maybe could make a skirt from one of them. Chambray is on my list this year.

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  6. Love the skirt! I got the 6696 pattern a few weeks ago, and I must try this skirt variation, it looks great on you

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  7. I love your outfit! The skirt is a great idea. I finally gave in and bought McCall's 6696 recently after seeing lots of lovely versions, so I must keep this skirt in mind. I'm a big fan of the Agnes top too, and have made three already. I didn't use Tilly's class, but agree with how great video classes are having bought quite a few Craftsy classes.

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  8. The skirt is perfection! I love those pockets. Why nit make a skirt like your dress? If it's not broken, then no need to fix it.

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  9. Great outfit! It was really good to read a review of Tilly's learn how to sew jersey course too as I've been considering it, having not sewn jersey before. Good to know the McCalls 6696 can be hacked into a skirt, as I have that pattern in my stash, thanks a lot for sharing how you did it!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!