Simple is sometimes more sexy than complicated. Hello gorgeous pencil skirt simplicity in the form of Charlotte, from By Hand London.
I think stitchers can be guilty of overwhelming ourselves with delicious pleats, tucks, darts, bias cut stripes and more – me included! Coco Chanel is quoted as having once said “before you leave the house take one thing off.” Without the time to trawl the internet for the exact quote, I like the essence of the thought. I’m not saying rip off your blouse by any means, although you might have some followers that works for (who knows!). There is a lot of value in taking a moment to simplify a little, whether it’s accessories, clothing details – or even life.
I have been TRYING to exist on a pattern & fabric diet due to the upcoming London trip in April/May (two months away today!). This has been semi-successful (there have been some major slip-ups but I’m vastly improved on 2012). I had a moment of weakness in January and when I saw Oonaballoona’s fabulous Elisalex, I weakened. Oh, it just looked like FUN! I went to Sew Squirrel to order ASAP. It was OUTTA STOCK. Ah, saved by self-indulgence of other stitchers! Bless you Aussie stitchers. Then I got a DM on Twitter from the By Hand London girls asking if I would like to try their patterns. Yes Ma’am. So here she is – Charlotte.
OMG this is the CUTEST packaging I’ve seen. It comes in an envelope – with this gorgeous little peek-a-boo print on the back of the envelope when you pull the sleeve out. The booklet is cute as a button…
AND you get this label.
OK enough squeeing and let’s get back to the very serious business of sewing – cos it’s v.serious as we all know. No fun at all… ever… (OK I’ll let you squee just once more…. done yet?).
Do I like it? Yes. Do I love it? Yes.
Oh isn’t there like a million of pencil skirts out there Lizzy?
Well, yes there is. Some of them have tucks, pleats and all manner of wonderous frippery. I have several patterns in my stash and have not got around the making them up, they looked like a lot of work for a pencil skirt silhouette. I saw this and felt inspired.
I just love the simplicity. So simple yet it manages to pack a visual punch. I like the longer pegged length, the eight long shaping darts and I love love love the high high waist. Some have cut it shorter but the length appeals to me. I feel mighty fine. And in some cases sexy as hell. Yes it’s possible to feel this way without hanging my legs out for public viewing.
I’ll admit when Charlotte first popped onto the bloggin’ scene I was like ‘meh it’s a pencil skirt’, then I saw Rachel and Lladybird rockin’ the pencil skirt and I realised that hey Lizzy! Pencil skirts are actually one of your most beloved and worn wardrobe items – maybe you should make one. Durr.
I was once a huge tomboy, it was unusual to see me out of trouser/fitted shirts or jeans(I’m still addicted to jeans, I feel a million bucks in them). Over time I guess my confidence and self-acceptance has grown. I look the way I do and I’m OK with that. Along the road to physical self-acceptance (I think my personality is set in concrete, I fight it to no avail) I learnt to not take clothes too seriously (fabric yes, clothes no), to experiment and have some fun. I discovered dresses where not just ‘special occasion’ items, skirts were kinda cute and even accessories had a place in my life!
It was interesting that my eldest daughter – who is turning 10 next Monday… how did that happen – and she is just under my chin! She’s making me older and shorter every day she is alive!… anyway I digress. She asked me why the Charlotte skirt made me look so much taller than I really was. So we had a discussion about clothing styles, visual wardrobe tricks and more. She’s actually a really snappy little dresser. She’s got a sweet fey boho style which is perfectly appropriate for her age. I have no interest in her growing up too quickly but there is a place for a bit of sage advice. I often wish someone had taught me to master my curly hair…
This is my muslin because I was a little nervous about the fit – needlessly. This fabric is a random shiny upholstery jacquard. No give whatsoever. The Ever-Lovin’ Husband (ELH) commented that while the skirt was nice… but I looked like I was wearing a Chinese tablecloth. Hmmmm! I didn’t put a walking slit in the back and I was walking like a little hobbled but shapely lady! Skirts without walking slits are akin to crippling me. I’m rather famed for my short stature which doesn’t seem to match my stride or walking pace – be warned London ladies – I travel at high speed!
Here is Charlotte The Second (with walking slit) – aka Racy Lacy (I can hear you laughing Boris)
It kinda looks fancy. It’s just a bonded lace I picked up at Spotlight in a 40% off sale. I really liked the black/black version (much more conservative) but it had no stretch. This base fabric is stretch and perfect for a Charlotte experiment.
The lace was bonded slightly off kilter which made pattern matching the seams tricky. They are not perfect but they are OK. I still need to pull the waistband in a little. The fit is a little roomier than my muslin, I think due to the stretch in this fabric… something to keep in mind for next time. I think I will baste the side seams next time and nip them in as required before committing to ‘serious’ stitches.
I decided to have a little fun with the hem. This stuff doesn’t fray so rather than doing a straight hem I trimmed around the lace motifs. This decision meant the skirt was either going to be long or around knee-length. I like the contrast of long and lacy – a little bit sexy and a little bit conservative.
I didn’t line it. I’m saving that ‘fancy stuff’ for my emerald-green wool crepe. Oh I can’t wait to sew it up! An op/charity shop purchase at $2 for 1.5m of New Zealand Merino Wool Crepe. To Grandma wherever you are – I love you for stashing it. Yes I’m still punching the air with glee… oh and I have the loveliest lace blouse to go with it…
Elisalex… I’m so curious to try this pattern, I’m just waiting on some fabric… I have a vision…
Note: I would love Charlotte even if I had paid for it. In fact I would be stoked I had purchased it. I’m not inclined to make something over and over but this one makes me feel that way. Easy, lovely fit, flattering. Love. Love. Love. Thank you By Hand London for asking me to have a try!
I’ve kinda been in love with the Charlotte version with the quirky hem frill in the floral. *sigh* I think we are meant to be… don’t think I’m a waist peplum girl. I’m old enough to remember it – so I’m not going back there… I’m leaving that for the youngsters…
Pattern: Charlotte, By Hand London. Available in Australia from Sew Squirrel (where I go to indulge – so much more fun than chocolate). Or the UK types can get it direct from By Hand London.
Top: Grace Hill from Ezibuy (years ago, rarely worn cos it’s too racy and low-cut for demure me)
Shoes: Jane Debster (on sale a few years ago cos I’m a cheapskate who resents full price)