Sea Sirens Simplicity 1418 Skirt

Simplicity 1418 skirt with petticoat

Why yes, yes that is a skirt covered in sexy ass mermaids.

It seems to be becoming a theme of mine to combine Alexander Henry Fabrics with Simplicity 1418. First my hunks Christmas dress and now this skirt. I got the idea to make a Simplicity 1418 skirt from Kath of Bernie and I after seeing this version of hers, which I love. It’s so colourful and pretty. (That’s her old blog, her new one is here.)

Simplicity 1418 skirt with petticoat montage

I really love Simplicity 1418. I love the off the shoulder bodice and I love the pleats on the skirt and the way it flares. It also has side zip, which is great when you’re using a big pattern like this as it means you don’t have to pattern match on the back seam and you just get to easily showcase the print.

I made the skirt to wear on a night out and in typical me fashion was still finishing it off right at the last minute because I handstitched the hem. I did have visions of me stitching it on the train but luckily that didn’t happen. I just went out with rubbish hair instead.

simplicity-1418-skirt-montage

It’s a pretty simple pattern so there’s not a lot to say about it really. I bound the seams as my overlocker is on the fritz, it’s actually in hospital at the moment. Luckily, I found a man in my home town who does sewing machine repairs as the man in my work town is horrible and rude so I didn’t want to give him any business. I went in to his shop once looking for needles and instead of helping me he quizzed me on where I bought my sewing machine, sneered at me for buying it online and made out that the needles I wanted (twin ballpoint) don’t exist. So I bought them on eBay.

bound-seams

Choosing the pattern placement for the waistband was quite fun. I think I have three sets of boobs on it. I also topstitched it with metallic thread because I thought that seemed mermaidy. It didn’t come out as shimmery as I was hoping though.

topstitching

This skirt seems to have become my favourite thing to wear when me and the Manfriend go do nice things. I wore it when we went to the Swansea Gin Festival back in April and when we went to watch Taskmaster being filmed in May – the series has just started on Dave and we were in the front row for the last episode of the series if you want to try to spot us. We were just behind Doc Brown, I look like me but I’m wearing my glasses and Manfriend has a giant beard, but then half the men there did so that’s probably not much help.

alexander-henry-fabric-skirt

The details

Pattern: The skirt part of Simplicity 1418 with a self drafted contoured waistband

Measurements: Bust: 37″ – Waist: 30.5″ – Hips: 39″

Size made: 14 but sewn with 10mm/3/8″ seam allowance instead

Alterations: I took 2″ off the length before hemming. Really should have shortened the pattern before cutting out. I will before using it again.

Fabric used: 1.6m of 110cm wide Alexander Henry Fabrics Sea Sirens cotton in blue from Frumble Fabrics

Another version? Possibly as I really enjoy wearing this skirt, I love the shape of it. I’ll definitely make the dress again. It’s my favourite “dressy” dress pattern.

Any changes next time? I might make it a smidge snugger.

Final thoughts

I really love this skirt. I think the pattern and fabric are a good pairing. It was nice to sew with such a well behaved fabric. More Alexander Henry Fabric skirts! But maybe I should try to find one that I can get away with wearing to work, I think this one has slightly too many boobs on it.

If you’d like to see the skirt in motion it’s in my latest video about Me Made May, it’s about 5 and a half minutes in if you want to skip the rest.

jumping
My terrible attempt at trying to get a jumping photo

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. Mine has been fairly quiet, just a bit of housework, a visit to my mum and a tiny bit of sewing but that didn’t go well so I’m a bit of a sulk over that. Next up on the cutting table are a pair of Sew Over It Carrie trousers from the new online course. How about you, what’s on your sewing table?

A Hunky Festive Simplicity 1418

Christmas hunks dress
Christmas Hunks dress in action at my work Christmas party

This right here is the reason I started sewing. So I can own party dresses that have hunky topless festive dudes all over them. I am so obscenely pleased with it. Please excuse the quality of the photos, I don’t know why they’re so grainy and it’s too dark for me to bother retaking them now. I took one outside and it’s just as bad so it’s probably camera settings rather than lighting. I will fiddle before the next time.

The pattern is Simplicity 1418, one of the Project Runway line. I saw someone Instagram their version ages ago when stalking the #sewing hashtag (I can’t remember who sorry) and immediately knew I had to own the pattern. I haven’t seen that many versions of it online but the ones I have I really like and I love my own and can see myself making more, even if it’s not the most wearable of styles for daily life.

I made this for my work Christmas do on Friday and left it far too last minute due to completing on my own house in the beginning of November and spending every waking moment since being harried, painting things, moving things, assembling things and generally being stressed out and busy. I made my toile on Sunday, cut out my bits on Monday and then sewed the dress up Tuesday and Wednesday, and hemmed it (by machine rather than my hand as I’d hoped) on Thursday – nothing like cutting it fine.

For my toile I sewed up a size 14 and it fit nicely on the bust but was too tight at the waist, the sleeves were massive and the neckline gaped front and back. So I:

  • Pinched 1.5cm out of front centre bodice piece
  • Took 2cm out of the back and then pivoted it into the waist dart, trying to be all fancy
  • Added 0.5cm to the side seams
  • Took 3cm out of the centre of the sleeve pieces
  • Cut the elastic and the elastic casing 3cm smaller too
  • I also took an inch and a half off the length to make the dress work better with my petticoat

Fit wise I think it’s okay but before making it again I will probably take a smidge more out at the front, it’s just a tad gapey still and the arms still feel a bit big but I think if the chest fit better that would help the sleeves too, without the risk of me taking more out and ending up not being able to lift my arms properly.

christmas hunks no petticoat
Minus the petticoat

I lined the bodice instead of using the facings for a tidier finish inside and because I didn’t really like the idea of finishing princess seams. This was my first go at sewing them and it went okay but not brilliantly. I am not very good at easing things in, just don’t understand it and can’t do it properly. The instructions with this pattern were really helpful for me as they get you to stay stitch the curve and then snip into it to release the tension and then the bodice pieces go together a lot more easily. And I know it’s a lot easier because on my lining I staystitched the wrong bit, which was no help at all. (I’d staystitched the wrong bit on the shell too, but quickly stitched the centre too before pinning them after discovering what a pain the lining was without the staystitching.)

I took lots of care with pattern placement but you wouldn’t be able to tell at all from looking at the finished dress. I cut out my lining pieces first so I had full versions of the bits that needed to be cut on the fold and then I used them as my pattern pieces on my main fabric so I could cut it out on one layer. I really wanted this handsome dude with the reindeer front and foremost on the bodice.

Bodice in pieces
Cut out and ready to go

I then tried to pattern match the bodice seams but failed miserably as I completely forgot to account for the seam allowances. I was quite annoyed with myself for that when it dawned on me but now it’s sewn up I still love the dress so I’m less cross with myself. I’m more cross with myself for chopping flasher hunk’s head off. When I did the skirt pieces I was starting to panic that I didn’t have enough fabric left and just cut them out without thinking about placement at all, which is really irritating as he only needed to be about an inch or two lower. Oh well, I shan’t be losing sleep over it.

The dress has a side zip so I got to have a whole hunk on the back of the bodice without having to faff with (no doubt failed) attempts to pattern match. I particularly like his defined thighs, I like a muscular thigh. (This is why I don’t whinge when the manfriend watches the rugby.)

chrismas hunks back
Hunky elf

It was my first side zip and it went okay, I got awfully confused at a couple of points but it went in okay and matches at the waist. I put in one side, did the zip up and then cut a little snip into the zip tape at the waist seam on the other side – having seen the tip on the Sew Over It Instagram account –  and then used that snip to match it to the waist seam of the dress, which worked loads better for me than trying to use a pin to mark the waist seam as I’ve done previously. It’s not really very concealed though.

I got loads of compliments on the dress when I wore it and one woman even ran after me to ask me where I got it from and excitedly asked me if I was a dressmaker when I said I’d made it. She actually seemed really disappointed when I said no. I wore it with a petticoat, which always makes me feel extra glamorous and awesome. Manfriend picked me up from the train station and I was feeling silly so I ran to meet him and kicked a leg back when kissing him hello to pretend I was in an old movie.

Oh I just realised that I mentioned altering the elastic and casing but didn’t really mention them and they’re quite an interesting feature so I probably should talk about them. A piece of 3/4 inch wide elastic gets its own little casing and then gets basted to the underside of the sleeves, I think to keep the off the shoulder sleeves a bit more secure.

Christmas Hunks dress

I love this dress so much. I love that it was a bit more challenging and I love the outcome. I’m going to wear it for prancing round the house on Christmas Day and manfriend is possibly going to wear a bow tie so he matches my fanciness.

Polka Dot Simplicity 2444

Simplicity 2444
Polka dot Simplicity 2444

I’m much happier with this dress than my first one. I never would have bought this pattern if it wasn’t for seeing so many lovely versions of it all over the internet. Fitting wasn’t quite as big a nightmare as with my Anna as it’s a lot easier to grade between sizes on this one. I did still end up making loads of toiles but I won’t bore you with all details. I ended up sewing a size 12 at the shoulders and bust and then grading out to a 16 at the waist. A 16 is a a bit too big but a 14 was too small and I didn’t really want to faff about with altering the skirt pieces so I just went with the 16. I also took about an inch out of the front and back neckline.

I lined the bodice because I don’t really like facings and because the dress is made from a polycotton that doesn’t feel that nice.

A surprise discovery since I started sewing is that I quite enjoy hand sewing. Which is lucky as I did bloody loads of it for this dress, what with slipstiching the bodice lining down at the waist and to the zip tape and that giant hem. I’m not very quick so the hem alone took me two hours.

Simplicity 2444
Ready for Uplands Market

I’ve worn it twice already. First to a lovely monthly market in Uplands in Swansea where I was glad of the extra room in the waist as I snaffled lots of delicious foods – a huge roast pork bap, a scotch egg and so many delicious samples of cheese and pies (Caws Cenarth Cheese is possibly the best cheese in the world). And then to work, where I’ve had lots of compliments on it, which is nice. I love being able to say, “Thank you, I made it.”

Cheese, pies, pickles and bread
My market haul.

Overall I’m much happier with this dress than my first one and I feel like I’ve learned more skills. There was lining the bodice, sewing pleats, staystitching the neckline and pattern matching – though I didn’t do as great a job of that as I thought I had and I have some slightly figure 8 shaped polka dots. I can definitely see me making lots more versions of this pattern.