finished: two trial canvas dresses with continuous hem

handsewn canvas dress cabin pippi longstocking langkous pockets sewing

You remember I was pondering how to convert my dress shirt pattern pieces to a dress pattern that has one continuous hem so I could use fabric that has cars riding along the hem:
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

I finished it at home.

I added a facing to the neckline and arm holes. Tape pattern pieces together (mind the SA), trace and cut:
canvas proefjurk beleg vierkante halscanvas proefjurk beleg vierkante hals

Square neckline: reduce stitch length in the corners and back stitch a bit:
afwerking vierkante hals beleg canvas jurk vooral persen

Cut to the corner. Press. Clip where necessary. Understitch.
afwerking vierkante hals beleg canvas jurk vooral persen
afwerking vierkante hals beleg canvas jurk vooral persen

Somehow the pocket ended up too wide compared to the sideseam pattern pieces. We fixed it by making a design feature out of it. I love these pockets! The fold adds shape to the skirt.

My teacher took care to let all the vertical sewing lines end at the same place but I was not so careful with sewing so they are a bit off here and there.

She taught me how to put in a hand picked zipper. The SA at CB is 1,5 cm. Place zipper at 3 mm from the edge (because a zipper is 1,2 cm wide).

The hem was done with the hem stitch, on the machine.

I finished it and wore it again and again and forgot to take a picture. But here’s a picture of its sibling that I sewed the following week a.k.a. last Thursday:
handsewn dress sewing self drafted pattern bunka dressform continuous hem
This is my Butterfly Dress. It’s the same fabric as the car fabric: a canvas with a design called “Admiral” in colourway “Spring” by Prestigious Textiles Designs from the UK. It’s a 100% cotton, 214 g/m², and it’s advertised for cushions and curtains and bed coverings. This is ideal “Pippi Longstocking fabric”: add some pockets and you’ve got a dress you can USE. Wash a fleece. Chase a pet. Ride a horse. The dress won’t tear and if it gets dirty you just wash it and it’s ready for fun again.

For the Butterfly Dress we remade the pattern. Because after I finished the taupe coloured canvas dress I had pulled apart all the different pattern pieces we so meticulously had taped together. Don’t ask me why. I sometimes do weird things. I thought I needed the pattern pieces for another dress. Or that the tape would damage the paper. Or something.
vlinderjurk handsewn dress fitted continuous hem selfdrafted pattern butterfly fabric

So the next lesson, last Wednesday, we spend two hours putting the pieces back together again but this time we put them on a new piece of pattern paper and drafted a whole new pattern. This pattern I took home and the next day I sewed the Butterfly Dress from it, in one day, and I wore it to my party on Saturday. With facing and handpicked zipper. and reinforced pocket entries. Only the hem, I didn’t have time to hem the dress. It’s just a zigzag.

The only seam in the hem:
vlinderjurk handsewn dress fitted continuous hem selfdrafted pattern butterfly fabricvlinderjurk handsewn dress fitted continuous hem selfdrafted pattern butterfly fabric

There was a slight hickup on Thursday as I forgot that the darts were based on the pattern pieces and thusly had their SA = 1 cm still incorporated. With original 10 pattern pieces that’s a wearing ease of 20 cm
vlinderjurk handsewn dress fitted continuous hem selfdrafted pattern butterfly fabric

Luckily with darts extra width can easily be remedied: handsewn dress sewing self drafted pattern bunka dressform continuous hem
Such a away back…

I drafted the facing from the pattern pieces myself by tracing and taping the pattern pieces:
vlinderjurk handsewn dress fitted continuous hem selfdrafted pattern butterfly fabric
It did not fit neatly on the fabric. Who knows what I’d done to it. Maybe I stabilized the neck line too late and had ruined it when fitting the dress?
I did stabilize it, with non bias tape:
vlinderjurk handsewn dress fitted continuous hem selfdrafted pattern butterfly fabric

Not sure if that’s the correct way. Here’s how the pattern fitted on the fabric. It will be a puzzle for the car fabric because you want the cars to be continuous and there’s one pattern piece that’s apart from the others. We’ll see: vlinderjurk handsewn dress fitted continuous hem selfdrafted pattern butterfly fabric


Experiment: dress with continuous hem.

Say you have a fabric with a continuous line of cars. And you have a dress pattern with multiple panels but because you lack hips or a butt all seams are pretty much straight down from the hip line.
Could you line up the panels and cut the dress in one continuous pattern?
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

I asked my sewing teacher and she laughed out loud and then she looked at me strange and then she went to make us a cup of tea and when she came back she had a plan and we had fun pouring over a piece of trial canvas that I brought. End result first: naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

You can’t just lay down the pieces next to each other, that would add all the seam allowance (SA) to the circumference of the dress. So you’ve gotta be smart.
You also have to think about how you would treat where the fabric transitions from one piece to two pieces seamed together.
Thirdly my teacher came up with the idea of connecting the panels at the top, where you would otherwise sew them together, and treat the seam between them as a dart.

This is the line where the hips are. The SA of 1 cm should be sewn everywhere or this dress will be too floppy.
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

We connected the front side panel and the front side side panel. The “hole” will be a dart now. I am anxious what this will do for fit. This pattern fits so well and precise. naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

We did the same at the back panels:
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

Copying the darts onto the fabric and also to the other side. Mark with pins and draw on the other side. Work one dart at the time so you won’t confuse yourself with pins on the under side:

naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurknaailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurknaailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk
Working with this chalk makes broader lines than I like, because I pay attention to every millimeter. I should ease up, this fabric is on the sturdy side, it needs some millimeters for turn of cloth and the like.

naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk
From top to bottom: frontpanel on the fold, side panels but only the parts with the pocket, to the left of them the upper side of these panels (they will connect in the pocket), side back panels, back panels which will have a zipper.

One piece:
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

Next: reinforce neck line so it won’t stretch during handling. Sew in darts. Attach loose panels onto pocket parts. Add facing in neckline and arm holes.

Continuing next Wednesday.

Finished: a sturdy canvas skirt

Sewing skirts, learning to.

Using the same pattern as the Lilac Skirt on the Bias, with the straight pockets I’ve come to love and a VERY sturdy waist band. No lining. Double stitched side seams (lapped seams) with a zipper. A sturdy waist band with a sturdy hook and bar for closing.

Again below the knee.

The waist band is extra sturdy: it has curtain band in it. Talk about non-stretchy sturdy stuff! I sewed it on the inner panel and then topstitched through it from the outer panel.
Sewing skirts

The inside of the waist band takes “roll of cloth” into consideration. I prefer the fold not to be on the outer top of the edge, but just on the inside. I think it’s a neater look from the outside. Inside:
Sewing skirts

When sewing the waist band to the skirt I made a mistake. It doesn’t meet its other end at the same height:

Sewing skirts

Will have to redo one side (at least).

After readjusting the waist band all that had to be done was to attach the hook and bar:

Sewing skirts, learning to.Sewing skirts, learning to.

Not sewn in very neatly because I was done with this waist band and this is a usable garment primarily, not for pretty details. Prior to attaching the hook and bar I reinforced the ends of the waist band by machine stitching and pivoting and stitching some more.

The reinforced pocket openings and the sturdy waist band work like a charm. The sturdy side seams have proven useful too. I wear this skirt with confidence, no matter where I sit down or when I crouch down and put quiet a bit of strain on the seams.

Only one thing I’ve learned after wearing this skirt a couple of times: reinforce the point where the pocket opening meets the side seam:
Sewing skirts, learning to.

And something weird happened during pressing: the black thread melted. I had to restitch some parts of the hem and now the molten bits scratch against my calves when I wear it.Sewing skirts, learning to.

Don’t press too hot. Your cotton, linens and silk fabrics might not care but these polyamide threads do.

Finished: Hoezee skirt.

self drafted pattern, based on a trousers block I learned to draw at Modevakschool Internationaal in Schijndel.

hoezee skirt finished self drafted pattern fly zip yoke cabvashoezee skirt finished self drafted pattern fly zip yoke cabvashoezee skirt finished self drafted pattern fly zip yoke cabvashoezee skirt finished self drafted pattern fly zip yoke cabvas

With the yoke at the back I managed to fold away all waist darts (and they were long! Because of skinny ass and sway back). The back panel is one piece, cut on the fold, which works well for such a bold printed fabric. The yoke and front panels look a bit weird, with the CF seam and the print repeat..
Sewing Hoezee skirt

I don’t know how it happened but the skirt is too wide. The trousers weren’t. Even though I cut precise and I fitted it before sewing I must have done something wrong. It’s not very flattering. But it does sit very comfortable and is a good skirt for daily use.
hoezee skirt finished self drafted pattern fly zip yoke cabvas

I prefer my skirt silhouettes more figure hugging:
hoezee skirt finished self drafted pattern fly zip yoke cabvashoezee skirt finished self drafted pattern fly zip yoke cabvas
I can wear this silhouette because I’ve got no hips nor upper legs. It’s not something to be desired particularly, it’s just the way I’m shaped and you have to work with what you’ve got. Skirt will need to have a vent in the back though.

Sewing Hoezee skirtSewing Hoezee skirt>

I indeed missed two pattern pieces: the upper inside of the pocket and another zip part.

Sewing Hoezee skirtSewing Hoezee skirt
I fumbled the zip until it looked like it does on commercial jeans we’ve got in the closet. There was a lot of crotch inspection last week…
Sewing Hoezee skirt
Fly zip, I’m not a big fan. Although I see how all seams are reinforced and how functional that is. Also the zip guard prevents the cold zipper from touching your skin and that’s a pre in any garment.
However, the position of CF and zipper threw me off completely and I still don’t have a clear idea of what goes where and in which sequence.

Oh, well. Next time I’m looking into lapped zippers as I have a feeling that’s more my cup of tea. A lapped zipper with a zip guard if need be.

Sewing Hoezee skirt
I caught the edge of the pocket in the zipper seam allowance, as instructed by my teacher. I had to cut off a large part of the pocket to make that happen. This shows me that when positioning the pocket parts, especially the little piece that’s still in shell fabric, it’s very important to use the paper pattern as a template. You want the top part, which attached to the waist band, to be very accurate positioned:

Sewing Hoezee skirt

Topstitching the left front panel, securing the zip piece. Not going all the way to CF though:
Sewing Hoezee skirtSewing Hoezee skirt
Then topstitch from the right side, this time catching the zipper guard at the back.

The waist band is so much more shaped than any of my bands before! Still it should be more narrow in my waist.
Sewing Hoezee skirtSewing Hoezee skirt
I put in a non stretching piece of band, because parts are on the bias now, with all that curving.

After finishing the waist band it became clear that the yoke from the pattern was way too high (sway back!) I had to unpick its seam with the waist band. Putting it back together was not that easy because now I had to secure it with one seam instead of sewing it into place from the inside, fold over, topstitch.
Sewing Hoezee skirt
I stitched it from the inside, to make sure I caught everything there, but used a purple thread that would stand out on the outside. With everything in place I could sew The One Line from the outside, being assured I would catch all the layers and all the parts.
Afterwards it was time to unpick the purple (and the staystitching that was visible here and there).

All seams were pinked and stitched twice (once when folded down). That’s one thing about jeans and canvas fabric: you want your seams to be sturdy.

In the waist band I put a hook and eye and the shop only had these ugly ones. That’s ok, by this time I was so done with this skirt I just wanted it finished.
I learned that I should draft the waist band longer at the right top. Luckily I had used the selvedge for this part and could work it right up to the very edge.
I’ve since changed the pattern.

IKEA skirt

made from curtain fabric…


I put the slab of fabric around me and bend ungracefully to the ground. This told me the amount of fabric I need around my hips, it is a width 104 cm (without seam allowances). They height I determined by eye.
I cut the fabric as a rectangle, including some extra fabric at the right for a vent:

Then I looked at putting in the vent, via this tutorial. But I used the selvedge edge so I did it easier.

I put in the zipper. It was a blind zipper but I put it in as if it was a regular one.
I put it in so its top is higher than the top of my fabric. The waist band will come on top of the fabric and the zipper will use the full height of the waist band.
First I sewed shut the seam, then sewed the zipper onto it and then topstitched it. Then I ripped the seam.

Then I looked at putting in a pocket, in the right “side seam”. It’s not really a side seam, it doesn’t run all the way to the hem, it’s just a slit from waist to hip, shaping the top of the skirt.

Before sewing the “side seam” and the pocket, I marked how much width had to be taken in, a good 5 cm at each side seam (twice, so 10 cm per seam).
A couple of minor darts in the front and the back.

I sewed them all in, fixing the pocket in there too.

Tried it on. It’s circumference at the top is 84 cm. This sits not well in my waist but sits beautiful a bit lower. That’s were I’ll put it then.
The waist band will make up the difference up to the waist line.
For this I needed a waist band of 6 cm high (5 cm to make up the difference + 1 cm to catch the top of the skirt)
I had to be 84 cm circ. at the bottom and 74 at the top (my waist  = 73,5 cm)

I cut out a rectangle of 80 x 24 cm. That’s 74 + seam allowance. 24 = 6 cm folded over twice.
I sewed it in and realized my mistake. 80 cm accounts for the circumference at the top but not the bottom. I had some skirt left after I’d run the length of the waist band…

I ripped it free and attached a strip to the waist band to make it longer.
But now the top was too long. This band had to be trapezoid in shape: a rectangle with smaller width at the top then at the bottom.

Then I did a nasty hack: make some cuts in the folded band and make those cuts into trapezoids. Fold it open, sew together, fold back again, stomp on it to make it less bulky.

This is how a waist band looks that’s longer at the bottom then at the top. I sewed it to the skirt. Per miracle one of the corners sat at CF. Thank you sewing god mother.

It looks like something that’s better called “a design feature” than “a nasty hack”. But now I know: I like my waistbands broad. 6 cm is fine. And it has to be 84 cm at the bottom and 74 at the top.
Next time I’ll cut out a curved waist band, I think that would be wise.



Finished: Hoezee! dress

I combined the bodice toile I made earlier with the skirt pattern I’m now using for all skirts. I swivelled the darts around into princess seams and it resulted in this practice dress that’s quite wearable:


It’s an ankle long dress in a bold patterned canvas. Add cat for scale:

Zipper in the side seam, lined with an old sheet. Top stitched.
I took care there were no “bulls eye” patterns over the apexes.

The lining is attached to the bodice at the top. I practised lining a bodice with it.

A high neck at the back because I get cold there. Two long darts, also in the lining.

Wearing a skirt with pockets.

It worked! I now have a skirt with pockets.


In real life it’s more straight, I’m standing weird twice to take these pictures (and I may have cut the lower ends of the side seams a bit too flaring…)
Also: I did not press the skirt yet. I wanted to show it in all its natural behaviour.

Indeed, no extra wearing ease is needed when using the widest circumference in the method of Marina von Koening.
The darts work like magic. The fit of this dress is very good!

Look at how long those darts are in the back!
I cut the hem a bit round.
Pockets are neatly tucked away in the side seam.
Excuse the laundry in the back…

The front (and more laundry). With short darts.
Again the hem is cut a bit round. Next skirt I’ll cut the waist a bit round too.
In this one I thought I had to raise the back a bit because of the small of my back. You can see the difference between the front and the back panel.
In wearing I see this was not neccessary.


The darts did all the shaping.
They are very short in the front, just 6 cm (2,3 inch). Because I have a belly.

The darts is the back are very long! More than 20 cm. (8 inch!)
Two darts I put in before putting bias band at the top. Then I found out I needed more. I just put in two more darts without altering the bias band. I’m practical. In a next skirt I’ll do all the darts first and then finish the waist band. I’ll even do a facing!

On the left -in above picture- you see the side seam coming in.
The front panel has less width than the back panel. Because I have buttocks.
But at the waist the front panel and the back panel have equal width.

When wearing the side seam is perfectly vertical.
Or perhaps not… but look at that fit!

I thought the sideseam hung straight when I looked in the mirror. I may not stand straight in this picture. Or the seam might not be straight at all, after all it is weird to have the back panel wider than the front. Will check again.

goes to mirror

takes a picture

doesn’t alter it in any way, showing shamelessly the mess in “the wool room” and the ear muffles I wear most days and my handknit sweater.

And a straight side seam:

I’m sure this mystery will be solved in the future.

Also: see how low those pockets are. I’m on a learning curve, I am.

I still have to finish the ending of the zipper. Really, I had no idea what I was doing when I put it in without a seam. Still don’t.

Here are some other things I’ll do different next time:
– curve the waist band a bit
– no need to make the back higher
– a zipper without a seam needs a bit more planning than just slash & sew. Here are some good answers.. Ooh, here’s a good one too! With reenforcement in the back.
– make my own biasband. Found a lovely tutorial for people without a bias band maker tool.

I’ve already cut fabric for the next one. It includes a waist band facing. oooh, fancy
I found some nice tutorials how to put it in and get a nice finish at the top.
Tomorrow I’ll go to town to get a zipper (and bias band). And perhaps some more fabric for a next skirt? I dug through my stash today but there wasn’t really much fun fabric for a skirt. The good fabrics are all for dresses.
Really, I should just throw out all the fabric that will never make me happy… It would clear up at least 3 curver boxes.

Doing this skirt, I learned some new words that will help me in the future:
“exposed zipper”, I do not seem to mind them.
“in seam pocket”, I love those! I like them invisible too, with different fabric on the inside, like a little inside giggle.

One more illustration of my learning curve: the first run at the hem I thought I’d be smart, I’d stretch the fabric because it had to go round. Logic.
The result:
Not smart at all. I took out the seam and redid it, very gently and not pulling at all. Now the hem is straight. Albeit a bit flared at the side seams.

All in all a good practice skirt and I will wear it. It is in sturdy canvas and I enjoy that fabric very much when working here in the woods. Still have to fix the end of the zipper though.

my previous sewing experience: working skirt

waiting for my patterns to arrive:

Processed at USPS Origin Sort Facility

April 19, 2013, 12:07 am


A few years ago I made this skirt. It’s a half circle in one piece, ankle length. It’s the first thing I ever made.

It is my working skirt, from sturdy canvas. I’ve been using it around ‘the farm’ for years. Hence it rugged looks and spots. I pulled it out of the hamper just to show you so that’s why wrinkles. (also: I prefer my daily clothes to be free of the need to iron. After washing I hang them outside to dry, after I’ve giving them a good shake. I take care not to have clothes that needs ironing.)


I managed to put in a zipper without referring to the internet or books:


not bad, not bad.

I used the extra fabric from the shaping at the top of the skirt to attach the zipper to. This skirt has no darts for shaping. The canvas fabric is a bit stretchy too.

I remember how, at the bottom of the zipper, I could not imagine how you get from an open ‘pressed’ seam to hold te zipper to a closed seam (two sides together). I fudged it. And it held. I reinforced that bit too, I think.

I didn’t know anything about finishing seams, fraying or lining:

but I did sew the two parts of the seam together, to prevent it from fraying too much. Oho! I even flipped it to one side to catch it under the hem! And you will not believe what I found upon examination -well, do not believe it- I handstitched the seam before sewing it for real. To try it on and check the fit.

I remember: I did not need a whole circle skirt, it was way too much fabric and too much weight. Besides, I wanted a gradual flare. ‘Tight’ around the hips (‘semi-fitted’ or ‘fitted’ is the right dress jargon I believe) and flaring around my knees. More like a mermaid’s tail or whatever it is called. It is a style that suits ‘goblet’ shaped people very well.

I now remember trying on this skirt and taking it in and draping and shaping until I was satisfied. Then I sewed it. Then I ran into the thing that should finish it at the top, some kind of belt or waist band. I don’t have one. I just took extra wide satin band. Flip it over the fraying canvas and sewed 4 or 5 times around the waist.


I put red coloured band all around, just for fun. As an hommage to traditional folk dress. And to make myself smile every time I put on this skirt. Even if it’s just for boring old work around the place. It’s what people did, historically. They embellish the things they use daily. I recommend it.

The canvas is excellent, it stops the wind and I can just sit down anywhere I like. I live in a little cabin in a patch of woods and sometimes I kneel around mucky sheep’s fleeces to skirt them before washing them. I love good working clothes!