Wednesday, 7 October 2015

An Atelier Brunette Facet Skirt


I'm trying to remember the last time that I sewed something that wasn't a rope bowl and I think it may have been early August. A friend asked me recently what would happen if I didn't sew soon. The very fact that she asked probably suggested I looked close to the edge. But a mixture of work; not feeling quite like being pulled away from time with my family or friends in favour of sewing; and horrendous insomnia, colluded to mean that I just haven't had the time or the energy to sew in the evenings. What eventually propelled me into action was a gap in my winter wardrobe that needed filling. And sewing is a virtuous circle - the moment I started I felt more energised than I had done for months.


I took the photo above just before I began sewing - I think the excitement in the room is almost palpable!


It was a super cosy sewing session as it was pouring down outside, my daughter was doing her homework in the next room and we played our three current-favourite songs on repeat for a few hours. Because the loft is so small, listening to music up there always feels more companionable than it would elsewhere in the house. When she'd finished homeworking, my daughter wondered what we might have for dinner. And I realised how deliciously lovely it is to have a fourteen-year-old, because when I half-jokingly told her that her mother was too busy making skirts to make dinner tonight, she offered to cook something for us both and insisted on delivering it to my sewing room, so that I could have the fun of not stopping to come and eat at the table. I'd thought, with my youngest starting at secondary school, I'd find not having any children left at primary school this year a difficult mental transition, but actually it hasn't been that at all and I'm really enjoying their independence and just how much fun they are to be around.


So, the skirt. I knew that I wanted a light, gathered skirt to wear with winter tights like this one, but with a slightly longer hem line. I considered a simple skirt with an elasticated waist, but they can sometimes make me feel like a strange woman-baby when I wear them (even though the elastic is invariably hidden beneath a jumper), so in the end, I opted to draft a skirt with a curved yoke, side zip and gentle gathers front and back beneath the yoke. I studied the measurements of the waist bands and sweeps (the circumference of the hem) on various skirts that I already own for reference. As it was a fairly inaccurate science that I used for the drafting, I felt really pleased that the fit is pretty much perfect after pinching half an inch out of the waistband. The skirt is an a-line shape, although because of the lovely floppy material, it doesn't announce it's 'A' shape overtly, which I'm pleased about. It also has pockets. Does anyone else suffer from an unwillingness to support the weight of their own hands? I'd quite like a pot to put them in when they're not needed for anything. I think if I don't have pockets, I'm an ideal candidate for a hand muff.


The fabric is an Atelier Brunette Viscose and it feels like the perfect weight and drape for this skirt. It's not completely opaque, but that feels fine with black tights. If you order any, brace yourself for it not to feel very lovely straight off the bolt, however, as soon as it's been washed and dried, it feels like a completely different fabric. This is especially true of the fabric samples to the far left and far right in the photo below, however, the fabric sample in the middle retained its stiffness, I think because there's so much black printing ink used to colour the bluish base-cloth (which is just as soft to touch as the other fabrics on its wrong side). I'm wondering if this may soften with another washing and if it does, I'll report back. If not, I'd possibly still buy some (just because I love the print so much) but brace myself for it being a skirt that stands slightly prouder from the body.


Weirdly, after not wearing a single skirt or dress for the whole of last year, I can think of only three occasions that jeans have made their way out of my cupboard since the start of Autumn and I've even worn dresses for walking the dog (although maybe that will change as the weather becomes wetter). It's funny how differently we feel about clothes from year to year. Consequently, that means that there's room in my life for many more of these skirts. I used just under a metre of fabric, so the total making cost ended up being around £15 (£18 if you include postage costs, which for self-delusion purposes, I don't). It really thrills me how inexpensive dressmaking is when compared to quilting - a handmade quilt will often cost two or three times that of a shop-bought quilt, but clothing invariably costs far less.

While on the topic of quilts, several years ago I made a quilt for my husband, but he's barely used it [waaaahhhh] as the flannel that I backed it with feels stiff and not conducive to wanting to snuggle under. I'd always thought flannel would have perfect snugglability qualities, but for whatever reason, in practice the quilt is surprisingly unyielding, in spite of repeated washing in an attempt to soften it. I'd quite like to attempt Husband Quilt II (aka the usable version) at some point, but I'm stumped by what to back it with. I don't want to use Minky as that doesn't feel quite right for a man-quilt. Any ideas of what fabric might be suitable? Have you made a flannel quilt that does feel snuggly? Maybe with a different brand of flannel?

And back to dressmaking: are you planning to make any clothes for the new season?

Florence x

32 comments:

  1. Yay, more dressmaking! Excellent skirt. What a shame about the quilt - that flannel print is so gorgeous as well. How about using jersey for a quilt back? Might be tricky to quilt, I guess, but it comes in good widths. x

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    1. That's a really good idea - jersey bed linen seems to be a lot more popular now and I imagine it must be really cosy...I have no idea how well it would work in terms of being a stable base to quilt on. Reply to email coming in the next few days. Yours, Mrs Super-Tidy Organised Inbox Manager (sort of...I'm sure anyone worthy of that title would operate a rapid-response same-day reply policy, wouldn't they. Oh dear.) x

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  2. What a lovely skirt! And always love your detailed descriptions of the fabrics.
    I have a flannel backed quilt that is quite drapey, but I used a previously loved sheet that did never had much nap on it. That quilt is quite lovely to sit under, rather than a much earlier quilt that is awfully stiff. However, I had always set that fact down to the batting used rather than the backing.

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    1. Mmm. I'm wondering about that - maybe buying a bedsheet would be a good option and probably actually cheaper than buying yards of some kind of quilting fabric and then piecing it too. From memory, I don't think I used a peculiar batting for that quilt, but I may unbind part of it and investigate! Thank you for the suggestions. x

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  3. I always love your dressmaking! I am endeavouring to stretch myself this year (after my first garment jaking since school in July) and am about to attempt my winter coat!

    On quilts - I made my own husband his man quilt last Christmas and backed it with fabric from a flannel duvet cover. We fight over it because it's so snuggly! My own couch quilt is backed with a brushed cotton flat sheet from Primark. It's nice but not quite as soft as the duvet cover one.

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    1. That's a fantastically brave project - you'll learn so much by diving in at the deep end - good luck! And thank you for the quilty ideas. x

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  4. Beautiful skirt Florence, it looks very chic and totally wearable! I was actually looking at that fabric on misformake yesterday and wondering what I could make with it! I may have to shamelessly copy you, I'm thinking Simplicity 2451 might be a good pattern match... x

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  5. Thank you, Jane :) It's a really lovely fabric, isn't it. I've been quite shocked to find that it doesn't go with any of my navy jumpers though and I've been forced to wear black with it (I know you'll find that equally shocking with your love of navy, so I'll be really interested to see if you find a way of making that work - I'm wondering if I just don't have quite the right shade of navy!). Yes, Simplicity 2451 would be perfect - option D? x

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  6. Beautiful skirt. I love everything about it.
    I think the middle fabric is modal (which is slightly heavier than 'normal' viscose, I think) which may cause the extra stiffness (hence, less wrinkly?). It is a beautiful fabric, however, and I think it will make a beautiful skirt or blouse. I actually bought it myself a while ago, but haven't had the time nor the idea to sew with it. Thank you for reintroducing it to me: it is lovely fabric!
    With regard to your husband's quilt: have you considered backing it with voile? It is a little harder to work with (although I think I have seen you work with it some time ago) but very very soft, snuggly and drapy. I also like the look of it, and it is (feels?) usually less heavyhanded.
    Well, these were my thoughts to your lovely blog: sorry for the topic-hopping. I truly enjoy reading your blogposts.

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    1. I'd love to see what you make with it - it's actually my favourite print from the new range.

      I suddenly thought of voile in the shower this morning! You're right, I did make a voile quilt for my daughter and it's by far the lightest, but also cosiest, quilt we have. Thank you so much for mentioning it. x

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  7. I can remember hanging out with my mum and sewing when I was in my early teens, was great fun! Your skirt is lovely, so great you can self draft such well fitting patterns! I'm gearing up for summer here including some clothes for a resort week away.... So dreamy!

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    1. How lovely! It always feels quite unbelievable that there's quite different weather going on on the other side of the world when it's so cold/hot where you are, doesn't it. By the way, the Atelier Brunette fabric sample on the far right would be perfect for a summer dress/blouse/skirt! x

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  8. That's a lovely skirt. i wonder how hard it is to sew with this kind of fabric? I've only sewed with cotton until now, but that's a bit limited in terms of dressmaking...

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    1. I should have thought to mention that - I found it's identical to cotton to sew with. In my head, viscose is a slightly slipperier fabric than the Atelier Brunette fabric - this just feels like a very lovely, soft, drapey cotton, so shouldn't present any sewing problems :)

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  9. I would suggest double gauze for the quilt backing - and if you want it even more cuddly use it for the front too!

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    1. Really? I hadn't thought of that. I'd love to feel a double gauze quilt. I'm off to Pinterest in a moment to see if I can get a visual sense of its softness in quilt form. Thank you so much for the suggestion. x

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  10. Nearly all my quilts have been backed with flannel and none of them feel stiff and un-cozy! I've used Timeless Treasures sketch flannel and Anna Maria Horner's.

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    1. I wonder if it's a combination of batting, dense piecing and the particular flannel I used, as general consensus seems to be that flannel should be lovely and soft, which is what I'd been anticipating...but not quite what I've ended up with in this case.

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  11. That is the perfect style skirt for me I think. I would love it. Perfectly executed as usual.

    What a shame that sewing has taken a back seat, and you have so little time for it. I thought of it as your work, but slowly realised it had been put on the back-burner in favour of other things. It was lovely seeing your progress - being published in magazines, taking commissions, selling in your lovely shop (such a pretty shop you had) and then getting into pattern drafting.

    It is lovely that your daughter is so lovely, helpful and accommodating. You are so talented it's a shame you can't do it more. Rude to say I know but I think your sewing is of much more interest than the phone apps thing. I wish your own skills were valued and rewarded as they should be.' Women's stuff' is so under valued. Your writing skills match your sewing ones. Please don't hide your talents. The world needs them!

    Not my business I know but I wish it was yours. I would be in! I'd buy this pattern for one. Superb fitting and a lovely design.

    I'm not sure how flannel could be anything other than comfy. I have new flannel fabric and it is lovely and soft, just like any sheets I have ever had. New or bedded in. I would leave the quilt as it is and give it to someone who appreciates it, if the current owner doesn't want it. I don't think I would make such a grumpy recipient another one. The princess and the pea does come to mind I'm afraid.

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    1. I think you may have misinterpreted my words, as I too think the quilt is quite unyielding and oddly stiff and I can understand why it hasn't had more use, even though it's disappointing - I think part of making something for someone is accepting that, just as with shop-bought gifts, sometimes it may not quite hit the mark. The nice thing about handmade though, is that often much of the joy comes in the process of making, so all isn't lost in the same way it is if a shop-bought gift isn't well-loved (although maybe there's joy in the choosing there too!).

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  12. Lovely skirt! I'm disappointed to hear that AMH flannel turned out stiff. I've backed several quilts with flannel with good success (mostly the cheapo stuff from the box stores; it's turned out well, if only a bit pilly). I've also used Michael Miller and Riley Blake flannels with good results. I'd say the Michael Miller has worked out to be the coziest of the two after several washings. I think a double gauze back or a jersey back, as another commented mentioned, would be nice. I'd never have thought jersey would work until I saw a quilter on IG use it with gorgeous results https://instagram.com/p/54rXxEGD0e/?taken-by=tiffanyquilts I think maybe the minimal quilting makes it work.

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    1. Yes, that's my thinking. We have some flannel bedding (actually bought on the basis of other instagrammers saying how deliciously soft it is!) and it's really lovely. I have no idea quite what went wrong with that quilt.

      Thank you so much for the wonderful link! I went back through her photos and found that the top is double gauze and the back is jersey! It looks beautiful, doesn't it. Definitely inspired by that (also the colour palette too - it's all-round lovely - thank you for the inspiration, Kate!). x

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  13. Lovely skirt and I enjoyed the glimpse into the future of older kids because right now my 10 year old is all about what *I* can do for *her*.

    I was going to suggest double gauze as a backing and see someone else beat me to it so I'll second that suggestion! I made a single bed sized quilt using Heather Ross' and it's lovely and soft and drapes beautifully. I won't lie though, it's a pain to sew because it's *so* drapey and shifts like a mo-fo and in the end I sent it out to be quilted after I pieced it so it became someone else's problem! But the result is scrumptious. If you quilt it yourself I'd highly recommend spray basting.

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  14. I used a lovely dark brown minky to back a quilt for an adult son. And a dark plaid fleece for backing (without batting) for one for my husband. Both are in regular use!!

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  15. That skirt is adorable, and I love how you post about the fabrics you use too. I think there isn't a point to owning skirts or dresses without pockets!

    Your blog has inspired me to start garment making! I jumped right in and made the Sylvie dress from Christine Haynes (thank goodness, in a course she was teaching), but have since bought Cal Patch's book (I'm awful at following patterns and find it easier to make my own, but I'm a quilter usually, so we'll see how it goes with garments) and some lovely chambray and double gauze, that I have so many plans for! Primarily, shirts in the chambray, pajama pants first for the double gauze, and then another Sylvie dress.
    What type of thread do you use for your dressmaking? I'm wondering if I should move away from cotton thread, in case my stitches shrink after I wash my newly made clothes.

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  16. This skirt is so great Florence, the fabric is perfect, I want one for myself and yes all clothes needs pockets and it solves the problem of me not knowing what to do with my hands!

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  17. PS meant to say how about using brushed cotton for a quilt back?

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  18. Personally, for a really snuggly quilt, I would back it in voile. But perhaps you are looking for something warmer?

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  19. Love the skirt - very flattering shape with the deep waistband. I too am lost without pockets!! Somewhere to put my hands, and my hankie. (How do people manage without them....?)I have sometimes inserted them into the side seam of a dress that hadn't got them.

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  20. I'd second using double gauze for the snuggles, softest quilt. My favourite quilt make, for texture and drape, is backed in nani iro. I guess best to be careful with seam allowances but my daughter's has been well used for 4 years and is still going strong. If you'd like some visuals search for 'sunshine quilt' on my blog.........not the best photos back then but might help! Julie forestpoppy.com

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  21. Another vote for double gauze; I've seen samples at shops before and it's lovely, snuggly without being stiff, warm, and soft.

    I let my mother talk me into using a satin weave silk-cotton blend instead of double gauze to back a throw quilt, and I regretted it -- while it's very drape-y, the satin side pilled terribly and I had to use the other side, which was not as soft.

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  22. A pot for hands when not in use seems eminently sensible to me. I'd like a jar to keep my brain in on the days when even thinking about what's for tea is just too hard.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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