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)
Lovely! The bonded lace was the perfect fabric, fabulous!
Thanks – it was one of those ‘aha’ moments in the fabric store!
Very lovely skirt lady! Pencil skirts are simple – but totally hot 😉
“When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on.”
I live by that quote, it was hanging over my bed in college!
You totally rock those pencil skirts and I think you the hem frill would look so good on you!
Thank you – that might be all the encouragement I need to make the hem frill version!
Phoar! You look amazing! The charlotte skirt looks perfect with the lace, and the lace matching is impeccable. You could pair it with your day to night top?
Thank you *blush*
I think a day-to-night top would be just perfect 🙂 I think it would look great paired with a coloured top too…
Lizzy, that is a gorgeous skirt and a stunning silhouette for you! You are so right – very stylishly sexy. The long pencil skirt is your friend.
Thank you – sometimes these demure lengths actually look better than a mini!
Both skirt look so great, but agree that the bonded lace one is just something
It’s one of those fabrics that’s pretty scary in store but sews up beautifully!
Oooh yes, a good pencil skirt does wonders for the sex appeal! Especially the smouldering longer, pegged lines of this skirt! I loved it the moment I saw it too! I have a black cotton/linen version under construction. Will probably go sans ruffle too…though I’ve cut it out to play around with…(definitely not doing the peplum placement…there’s enough going on there!). I particularly like your lacey version…the scalloped hem is inspired!
I just couldn’t resist the hemline, it was too good not to cut! Looking forward to seeing yours…
Entirely lovely 🙂 Lacey and lengthy are a good combo I think – they both hint at things and kinda balance each other out the same time. Looking svelte!
Thanks Mel, I’m pretty chuffed with this result and it wasn’t even a hard make!
Oh I love it!!
Ooh, this looks very classy-sexy! And squee indeed at the beautiful pattern packaging!
The packaging is perfect!
Veeery nice. Very nice indeed. They are all fab but I think personally I like that floral the best. And I love that ruffle, but then, I’m a ruffles kinda girl. I see it’s designed for an hourglass figure. YAY!!!
You and your daughter have curly hair? I do, but my mother has dead straight hair. It wasn’t until my mid-20s I finally figured out how to deal with it. Your daughter – and mine, who has equally curly hair – are lucky to have us mums who know what to do with it all!
The hem ruffle is so cute.
My mother has fine straight hair. I am fair & curly but usual blow-dry it straight as its easier to manage. I do give up on hot humid summer days – the weather defeats me!
My daughters both have curly hair. The eldest has waist length fine, curly hair. It’s very difficult. The younger one has thicker wavy hair, sooooo much easier!
That’s one sassy skirt!
Ohhh I like ‘sassy’
I love the fabric and the scalloped edge! Very classy look! I just finished a version with the ruffle and am very happy with how it came out. This pattern is so easy to work with even for a new sewer like me.
It is a brilliant easy pattern. I think it fits together beautifully which makes it a dream to sew. What fabric did you use?
I used a wool blend and added a black ribbon to the ruffle for some interest. My skirt is the last one on By Hand London’s Charlotte sewalong final post.
Oh I just checked that out! Lovely!!
Just because it’s simple…doesn’t mean it’s not fabulous. This is just perfect!
Awww thank you!
This pensil skirt looks great on you – Make this frill hem version definitely!
I think I will have many many Charlotte BFFs in my life soon…
I love the longer length. So classic yet still sexy. Go for the hem frill on the next one!
I’ve got some fabric that might just be perfect for that version…
Gorgeousness! That cut is just perfect for you- great fabric choices, I love ’em!!
and sooner to be blogged – the McCalls red dress!
Beautiful! I indulged in that pattern a while back but haven’t cracked into it yet.
It’s a lovely pattern – go for it!
You know I love pencil skirts, too, and yours looks gorgeous! Lucky you getting a pattern. That’s awesome! I wanna see some of this high speed struttin. 🙂
Thank you Leila (That was the name of my great grandmother BTW!). I’m so grateful to be offered the opportunity. Now I am searching for the right fabric for Elizalex…
I was named after my great grandmother… 🙂
I wanna see your next dress by them. I’m excited for your Elisalex
I’m looking forward to Elisalex as well 🙂
It’s a shame the first one was not of comfortable material, because on the monitor it looked sexy! #2 is very lovely, I love the hem. Thank your stars you actually have a good fabric shop to go to when you can. I live in a fabric desert! This is a great pencil skirt. It is obviously a style that flatters your figure. Can’t wait to see the wool crepe one!
Yes, the black is just too tough. It does look fabulous but it’s just too poly for my liking.
Doh! Now I’m going to have to put this pattern on my “want” list. Looks beautiful.
It’s a good investment, I have three more planned!
oh wow. oh wow oh wow oh WOW. if that’s your non fancy one the green is going to knock me unconscious.
That’s a whole lotta Wow from Oona! I have plans for three more. I really really want to make Elisalex now!
This is so gorgeous on you! I love the lines on you– it does make you look very tall and curvy. I had to put my Charlotte skirt on the back burner to meet a couple of other sewing deadlines, but I’m really anxious to get back to it now!
psssst, I’m actually five foot four but don’t tell anyone! I only use a metre of fabric for this… thinking it would kinda look awesome in a certain graphic print cotten sateen!
Looking great. Love the hem! And what do you mean “excuse my blue nails”? Blue is one of my favourite nail varnish colours. Wait. Does that mean I’m a child?
Oh blue nails were my signature last year – it’s just that these ones look like someone coloured in my nails with crayon!
Love your lacy pencil skirt…everyone’s been raving about this pattern…might have to give it a go on eday!
I think it’s simplicity is what appeals so much and it creates a gorgeous feminine shape. I’m in love!
I love the bonded lace, it made a fantastic skirt! I probably would have hemmed the black version and wore it too, actually. 🙂
You know I didn’t even notice untli last night the black motifs are going to wrong way – it was upholstery fabric which was 180cm wide!
See, I didn’t notice that at all….we seamstresses give away all our secrets! 😉
i LOVE your chinese tablecloth version – go and put the walking slit in and hem it and parade it around girlie! ps i don’t think i will be able to make the london meet up as have other committments, will be gutted that i don’t get to meet you (altho i am secretly also terrified at the thought of meeting up with a whole bunch of blogstars…)
I’m in London for a few weeks (although off to Madrid and possibly Paris as well) so there might be another opportunity to catch up which seems liess overwhelming 🙂
Ooh! If you are in or around Birmingham, give me a shout.. The rag market and Barry’s may beckon.
Love your pencil skirt. That lace fabric is really elegant. And the packaging for that pattern, so wonderful. Pretty in pink and with the label and the line drawings. It really makes it feel like you are working on something special :). I’m going to have to look at that company and see what else they have to offer.
They have a dress called Elisalex out too. It’s got a lovely bodice – I just made up a muslin for the top. Nice!
Lovely skirts. They look elegant and chic. Very nice indeed.
very elegant! love the lacey one! so sophisticated, sexy and fun in one! 🙂 I am starting to like this pattern! more and more great versions! and thanks for the links to other posts! hadnt seen those! 😀
Easy with a big visual impact – it doesn’t get much better than that!
What a beautiful skirt! I love the lace and the silhouette.
Beautiful skirt. And I love the scalloped hem. The pattern packaging is so cool, the new designers are all getting very creative with their packaging. And the addition of the label is a nice touch!
People often comment about how expensive an indie pattern is. However they are often beautifully produced and v.competitive with a full priced Big 4 pattern in Australia I think.
Wow, you really sell this pattern well! I want to feel sexy as hell, too!
LOL – go get it girl!
Lovely! Well done.
HOT HOT HOT!!! Sexy as hell definitely describes this skirt. I couldn’t agree with you more that simple is sexy. And long is sexy. It’s an elegant classy sexy, which to my mind and taste is much sexier than all out revelation. Comfort in your clothing is also sexy, and for me I’m not comfortable in a short skin tight dress, but I am in an elegant but still figure hugging ensemble. A simple design with good lines, shaping and fit in the right fabric is the pinnacle of fashion to me. You’ve hit all of the above…very well done 🙂
Thanks Kat! I agree I feel much better in something longer and more elegant. You only have to see the ‘young things’ down the street, out for dinner, at the races, pulling on their hems and pulling up their top to know that it sort of diminishes the sex appeal when clothes are constantly being re-adjusted to remain respectable!
Interesting comment, Lizzy, as I’ve been thinking about that lately. If a woman walking down the street felt completely comfortable in her skin tight short skirt, why is she constantly pulling it down? I’m all for comfort in yourself and your style…you shouldn’t have to feel coerced into wearing anything.
Flabbergasted. Amazed. Bowled Over. Damn you look AMAZING in that skirt – both of them in fact! Jeez Lizzy that skirt is bloody brilliant and you look bloody fantastic in it! The most almight win of all wins! Can’t wait to see the jewel toned wool number. Oh, and you would definitely be able to pull off the hem frilled version!
Some days I wish I would reach through the virtual world and give you a real hug VK xox
Super awesome! You look smashing!
Not such chop for roller derby but excellent for swanning through a theatre or gallery!
The presentation is very pretty for this pattern. It’s so unusual, funky and new. I think that was so smart with the hem on your lace number Lizzy. I’m going to remember that little trick. I could never pull it off, but your gorgeous figure does it justice in spades. Love it!
Thank you! I’ll let you in on a secret… trimming the lace was more fun than hemming it 😉 LOL
Pencil skirts are my very favourite kind of skirt – and yours are very very elegant!!! Love the longer length ^_^
Thank you! I think I’m a long long pencil skirt convert
This is gorgeous! I think I need to get this pattern
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I love both of these! The black has such subtle and lovely detail, and the lace pattern plus the length is such a winning combination! Truly, a fabulous pattern – I am definitely loving the simplicity.
Thank you! It’s gorgeous, the waist height and eights darts make it interesting without destroying the simplicity. I could make these forever!
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