Monday, 20 January 2014

Easy Sheer Gathered Skirt Tutorial

I've had a whole load of beautiful fabrics from India sitting in my stash for a long while now. 

Some are fairly heavy and ok for general type sewing, but there's not a lot of these. The majority are gorgeous, sheer, silky fabrics. 

Which left me at a complete loss as to what to do with them. 

I was showing some to my girlfriends when they came over for Christmas dinner and ended up putting Dani into a sari. Which is what they're cut to be made into. 

Then I had two brainwaves! Not major lightbulb moments and probably terribly obvious to everyone else! 

1) the gathered waist, floor length sheer skirts I've been seeing all over the place for a while now. 

2) silk scarves and floaty wraps. Which will be perfect for holiday. The fabric's are so lovely you just want to wrap yourself in them, so why not do just that?! This option obviously only requires cutting and hemming to be finished. 

Option one I felt could be accomplished using only what I had at home. (And maybe purchased elastic at some point in the future!)

How To Make a Simple Gathered Skirt

1) measure your widest point at your hips/bum/basically anywhere below where you want the skirt to start. 

2) double this measurement plus a seam allowance. I used double as I wanted plenty of room for dancing, and no splits at the bottom of the skirt. 

3) decide how long you want your skirt to be. Mine was easy as my fabric was exactly the right length to go from my waist to the floor. If yours isn't or you want it shorter, measure. Then add two and a half inches for the top seaming and an inch (or smaller depending on your seams) to the measurement. 

4) you should end up with a rectangle of cloth. I like to start by hemming the long bottom edge. I turn it over twice to hide the raw edges then stitch right the way along it. 

5) then we deal with the top. As I have an old sewing machine that only does straight stitch I always make casings for elastic waists etc. if you're using one inch elastic (or ribbon as in my case!!) you need to fold your top line over an inch and a half, then turn the edge under twice to create a tube that's an inch wide when stitched down. 

6) I French seam my edges when I join them to hide the raw edge again. It's only straight stitching so it doesn't take long. Put wrong sides together and sew as close to the edge as you can, then fold back right sides together and sew down about a centimetre from the edge to encase the first stitch line. Hey presto French seam! 

7) if you're just using ribbon to fasten at the waist, thread this through using a safety pin, put skirt on, tie a pretty bow and you're done! If you're using elastic, measure a length to a snug fit on your waist and cut with a centimetre extra. Feed through the channel (safety pin again!) and then stitch back and forward a few times to secure the elastic in a loop. Hand stitch the raw edges of the channel together. 

8) wear your beautiful floaty new skirt! Preferably with a coordinating slip or skirt or shorts or leggings (you get the picture) underneath if it's sheer! 

Sorry for the current lack of photos. When I wear it later in the week I will take some of the finished product!! As I'm on holiday and supposed to be putting my feet up! 


P.S. have you got any fabric you don't know what to do with? 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Week One of Happy

I can't believe I'm through my first week of happy snaps already! If nothing else this challenge has already taught me that life will just speed past if you don't pay attention to it! 

I've managed a photo a day so far. Sometimes two! It seems that I enjoy making things a lot. And sunny days, but who doesn't like those!?

So here's my first batch of photos for you. As always, see them "live" on my Instagram (and twitter if it will play ball!) @ofavintageair 

Day 1) warm fluffy toasty socks. 

Day 2) Gammon slow cooked in cider then roasted!

Day 3) sunny days at the workshop with the doors wide open. 

Day 4) baking, especially for friends. And that cake was delicious. And boozy. 

Day 5) this was boozy too. Chocolate and baileys mousse that didn't set so became ice cream instead!!  

Day 6) sewing on my vintage vickers sewing machine. 

Day 7) making plum and cinnamon cake then eating it straight out of the oven with dad (made me happy) and forgetting to take a pretty picture (made me laugh because I'd intended to but we got too excited!)

Day 8) finding little gems in charity shops. Like this adorable sewing box table. With lift out tray, drawer, places for scissors and a giant pin cushion type thing. Technical, moi? It's gorgeous and I couldn't leave it behind. It's got some French polishing in its future and I just need to find some scissors that fit the cut outs!! 

I'm not totally sure if this is in the realm of being happy with what you have as I bought it, but it's better than buying new and I intend to give it a new lease of life and treasure it for a long time! 

Day 9) Hair chalk. Literally what it says on the tin. Colouring your hair with chalk. I'm currently blue and green streaked. It is immense and washes out easily so yay! 

All the colours get in my hair!! 

Jo :-) 

P.S. are you doing the challenge? What do you have to be happy about?

January Aim - Halfway

First off, I can't believe it's halfway through January already. 

Time is flying along!! 

My aim for this January was sewing. Catching up on projects I've started, but not finished yet, and mostly getting things done for India. 

I'm leaving for hols on Friday, so there's not much time left!! This is the list I had in my original blog post. 

Things I'd like to finish for India:

1) Evening dress that's still on the mannequin. I finished this a couple of nights ago, but I've managed to see the side seams too tight, so my MUST DO job Friday morning is to sew looser new seams and seam rip the old ones! 

2) Halter neck top in Hawaiian print. No progress, the self drafted pattern is not helping matters. When will I learn!! 

3) Shorts in Hawaiian print. Just the (really aggravating) waistband and bottom hems to do. 

4) Wrap around circle skirt in Hawaiian print. Haven't started this, and may just make one of my normal circle skirts on Friday. They only take a couple of hours! (<that's probably the nail in its coffin though!!)

5) Denim shorts. Not gonna happen. No time. 

6) A couple of sheer blouses, time has not permitted, but I've got a half made silk top that I might find the time to put some bias binding on!

Knitting and Crochet

7) pink beret. Nope. Might take this with me. 

8) green headband. Done a bit more, again, might take it with me!

(Old picture, it's much bigger than this now!)

9) cream scarf. Nope. 

10) chunky blue scarf. Still nope! 

I would say I'm failing quite badly at this months challenge!! I think a) I'm better at sewing things I need and b) I got distracted by upcycling some of Eric's old jeans into a slouchy bag and some aprons. 

I have seen up a (beautifully easy) sheer, floor length, gathered over skirt though. Which is wonderful. I hope to share an easy peasy tutorial on it while I'm away! Internet dependant! 

That's all folks, wish me luck with manic sewing Friday morning! 

Jo :-) 

P.S. has your sewing pile shrunk any this new year? 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

100 Days of Happy

Bit of a random post today! 

I've read Jen's blog of her Make do and Mend Year ( ) for a long time now, although I rarely comment, (bad blogger!) today one of her posts popped through to my email box and I thought I might join in. 

It was all about slowing down and taking the time to appreciate the things we have more. The challenge is called 100 days of happy and details, plus sign up can be found at or search #100happydays. 

The aim is to take a photo a day for 100 days of something that makes you happy. No competing, no cheating, just little personal moments that honestly make you smile. 

As they say. It's the little things. 

I'll be doing the challenge on Instagram and Twitter ( @ofavintageair ) starting today. 

Here's my first happy photo:

My fluffy pink socks always make me (and my feet) happy! They're so toasty. And luminous apparently. They're perfect inside my steel toe capped boots which always get so cold in the winter! So I'm happy and grateful for these socks! Especially as they were a bargain in a sale about a year ago!! 

I'm hoping to do a blog update every Thursday from now on until April 17th 2014 when my 100 days will be up. 

Wish me luck with the challenge! I'm sure I'm happy at least once every day, it's just finding the time to photograph it. 

Which is the whole point! 

Jo :-)

P.S. will you be joining in? #100happydays

Monday, 6 January 2014

December Instagram Round Up

Or. An excuse for some pretty pictures! 

I normally do the top five most liked pics, but this time there's three tied at the bottom. So I'm going to do seven instead. 

Just think of it like a bonus!! 


Sewing on my wonderful Singer. She is the best. I never want to change her. 

The culottes I was sewing though. Failure. They need some work.... Or maybe a bin. Hmm. 


Draping a dress to go with some beautiful 30s deco items from my eventual mother in law. The fabric was £2.50 from a charity shop and it's just lovely. 

Can't wait to put this together. 


Making mince pies with my mum. And feeling like a child again. 

This set off a monumental amount of baking in my house when I got home. I've made mince pies, jam tarts, puff pastry for the first time, sausage rolls, pork and apple chutney pies, marmite swirls, and enough food to last months!!


My hair doing wonderful things for a change. Right before I went to bed. Ugh. 

Apparently my hair has a sense of humour. Which would explain why when I need to leave in five minutes, it decides its going to look rubbish and be completely unmanageable. 


The black satin that finally arrived for my Godmother's housecoat. It's lovely. Just need some pink fleece and we'll be in business! 


The housecoat pattern. Which has led to me lusting after one in blue and white stripes...

It's just so beautiful. I see many things being made from this pattern in the future!

1) The top liked post of December is.....:

A terrible selfie of me in a mirror! 

Really. Fitting myself for an evening dress I'm making using a top I don't wear anymore, a 25p zip from a charity shop, some fabric from India and mile upon mile of silver bias binding!! It's coming along nicely and is part of my aim for January. Can't wait to see it finished. 

Jo :-)

P.S. what were your December best bits? Instagram or otherwise!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

January Aim 2014

Well. I'm a day late with this which doesn't bode well. On the other hand, I had a wonderful day yesterday lounging with the other half on the sofa while he played flight simulator and I watched the TV series of Pride and Prejudice! Lovely. 

So. Hello January. 

My aim for this month is two fold really. 

1) to finish as many sewing, knitting and crochet projects as I can. Chunky blue scarf that's been on the needles for about a year, I'm looking at you! 

2) to sew more of my clothes for our holiday to India. I wanted to so this last year, I even have a pattern for some nice high waisted shorts, so I've got no excuses really. 

We're off on the 17th. So I don't have much time. I may take some crochet things with me, but that'll be it. 

Things I'd like to finish for India:

1) Evening dress that's still on the mannequin. Needs the side seams sewing, bias binding finished, the back of the skirt hemmed and a couple of straps adding if I get the chance! 

2) Halter neck top in Hawaiian print. Very pin up for by the pool! 

3) Shorts in Hawaiian print. To match. Obviously....

4) Wrap around circle skirt. In Hawaiian print. (Yeah I got some free fabric. Check for another blog post in a few days!) This is my own pattern, to go over the shorts with the top to look like a dress but still be practical! 

5) Denim shorts. Simple. Classic. To be used all summer!

6) A couple of sheer blouses (time permitting) for evening wear. 

Knitting and Crochet

7) pink beret. 

8) green headband. 

9) cream scarf. 

10) chunky blue scarf. Apparently I find it difficult to knit holes :-S 

Hmm. Ten things is probably enough for two weeks, with mostly just weekends to do sewing and evenings for wool work! 

Wish me luck! Otherwise my holiday wardrobe will be sorely lacking! 

Jo :-) 

P.S. how many unfinished projects do you have lying around? :-)

December 2013 Aim Finished!

Happy New Year everyone! 

And a happy Christmas while I'm at it! I decided (when everything became stupidly busy and I seemed to be spending every waking second cooking!) that Christmas was time off from the Internet at large. 

I've kept up on reading blogs via emails, but other than that, have almost wholly neglected my phone!

It's been lovely actually. 

We've had a wonderful Christmas. Full of friends, family and far too much food. 

I'm writing this between bouts of New Year Party washing up (Yes. It's taken two days) and then I'm going for a walk in this beautiful sunshine! 

So. December 2013. Hair setting. 

Well I think I set it more than usual. It looked fabulous for a Christmas party before I went to Scotland! I set it for new year as well. Looser forties style curls. 

Which then fell out fairly quickly as I got all stressed trying to put my damn corset on!! 

Still haven't used the scary setting lotion. I'm still on the lookout for a spray bottle to apply it nicely. Anyone got any suggestions?

All in all, not bad. The set I used of lots of tight pin curls looked great, and the few bigger pin curls for looser curls was quick, easy and fairly effective. 

But still. Must try harder!! :-S possibly should have tried a less busy month for this one, but hey ho! 

Jo :-)

P.S. what does your other half think of setting your hair at night? Mine doesn't like it at all!