New skirt: Seamwork Sawyer plus a new Maya top

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I can’t seem to stop making green things, but August has definitely been The Month Of Pink. This weird Covid-19 period has had a whole range of effects on different people, from what I can tell. Talking to my sewing friends, some people haven’t sewn much at all and have found knitting or crocheting to be more soothing during this time. For me, it’s almost the opposite. I’ve had little periods where I couldn’t muster up the creativity for anything at all, but then have almost-manic bursts when I just want to sew 24/7. This has actually proved useful in terms of wardrobe planning, because I’ve ended up making two things that go together, more often than not.

Such is the case for Seamwork’s Sawyer skirt, one of the new September patterns. As I said to Meg at Seamwork when she sent through the previews, I had just pulled out a bunch of midi skirt patterns from my stash as I had exactly this garment in mind for a two-piece late summer outfit and – bam- Seamwork read my mind. I knew exactly which fabric I was using too: this beautiful striped rayon challis I bought from the lovely La Mercerie just before they stopped selling fabric. Can you believe I got both garments comfortably out of 3 yards? Not bad, eh?

The Sawyer Pattern

As I mentioned, the Sawyer is one of two new patterns this month for Seamwork, the other being the Milo cardigan. It’s a midi-length skirt with shaped panels and button plackets. The bonus version omits the front button closure and adds a side zipper. I made the size 16 without any adjustments, although I probably took about an inch off the length.

While grey is not my best colour, this is a deep blue-lilac/grey, which just edges into my preferred colour palette and the bright accent red, pink and tangerine are absolutely great colours for me. I also knew that I wanted to contrast the stripes a little, to avoid looking like a rayon deckchair. I toyed with the idea of cutting the skirt on the bias to get a nice chevron, but since it’s a placket/button front I didn’t think it would be as effective. I settled for a horizontal vs vertical contrast and so cut the skirt on the crossgrain. It was wide enough that I could do that easily. Since the pattern pieces aren’t all straight-edged, it was impossible to get a consistent pattern the entire way round, but it’s still quite pretty.

Construction

The skirt is fairly straightforward to construct – but I did have a few issues with the placket. The challis is a fairly slippery material and I definitely got some slippage when I was topstitching. I would absolutely baste or Wondertape it down another time, because I ended up with two slightly different skirt fronts and had to do a quick fix to make the hem even, which is not the neatest finish.

I haven’t made too many fitted skirts, but, sewing the Sawyer, I came across some of the things that gave me a little headache before. Waistbands and plackets aren’t difficult, but I think I need to hone my skills a bit more in those areas, by making a few more. I still don’t get quite the neat finish I’m looking for, with little raw pieces poking out and not quite catching the waistband evenly on the inside. I didn’t care about it so much when I started sewing, but I’m now somewhere I didn’t anticipate being: I want the insides to look as neat as the outsides. Anyone who is familiar with my housework regime may guffaw freely at that sentence, but, when it comes to sewing, it’s true. Sometimes I get it right and do a good job, but other times I just can’t get it neat enough. I suppose the fact of the matter is that I just don’t do it enough, but I’m going to see if I can find some classes on Craftsy since the last few I watched really helped with finessing intermediate techniques. Any suggestions /recommendations – I’d love to hear!

Looking at the pics, I can see that my lower two buttons are slightly off, so I need to resew them (and I probably should have re-pressed the skirt), but you get the idea of what I was going for.

I feel slightly like a boiled sweet, or Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins, but the great thing is that both these items work really well as separates too and the Maya top is yet another garment I’ve made that matches my recent Dorian trousers, totally unintentionally. Score! Speaking of which, a few words about the top…

Maya top No. 2

This is my second Marilla Walker Maya top and I have waited overly-long to repeat this pattern. The first time I used the “Tessuti hack” that a lot of people go for and added on cuffs and lengthened sleeves, but this time I wanted to try the pattern as intended, which is with short grown-on sleeves. I retraced it and made a couple of other small adjustments from the first time:

First I lengthened the centre front by an inch. As there’s no FBA made on this top I needed to add a little length for my DD bust. The side seams were actually fine, so I curved the adjustment in before hitting them. This also avoided having side seams of different lengths. Normally you can just ease the longer one in, but with stripes you will never match them, so that was another reason to keep the seam length as per the original. It worked fine and appears level from the side.

I also wanted to bring the armhole in slightly, so I traced the 7 at the top, but graded to a 6 as soon as I hit the armhole. This is usually the opposite way to how my adjustments go (I usually have a smaller upper and grade out, but I had already sized down and this top has quite a bit of ease), so I was interested to see how it worked out on this occasion! I knew the rayon challis would have a bit more give than linen as well, so it was a good time to experiment. 🙂 It looks fine, but I’m not sure if I really needed to do it with this top. Keeping the armhole at size 7 might have been just fine (it still represents a size down), so I may revert to the original for the next time.

I matched the stripes at the armhole when cutting (the best place to do this if you haven’t tried before). I used copious amounts of pins when doing the side seams – which are all French seams as per the instructions, making the top all the nicer – and pretty much succeeded in matching this slightly slippery fabric. Finally, I used facings for both the neckline and the armholes as per the pattern and got a great finish on the armholes after I first secured the facing down with Wash Away Wonder Tape (God I love this stuff) and I only wished I’d thought about it for the neckline too.

Overall, the top turned out really great and my love of the Maya pattern continues… next time I really have to make the dress version. The Sawyer skirt is a perfect wardrobe staple of a skirt and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I make it up.

New top: Maya top from Marilla Walker

The second in my series of woven tees is another popular choice – the Maya top from designer Marilla Walker. It’s actually both a top and a dress and after this version I may well try out the dress.

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I have a couple of patterns by Marilla Walker and they have been on my to-do list for ages. The Isca shirtdress is absolutely up my street (check out this amazing version by Marilla herself) and the Roberts dungarees have also been super-popular, but I just haven’t quite got around to stitching them up yet. Autumn, here I come! Meanwhile, the Maya top is influenced by Marilla’s Central American background and is based on the traditional Guatemalan Huipil. It’s a cap sleeve dress or top that is designed to hang well from the shoulders and have a wide fit from the bust down. I made the most simple version of the top, with no button placket. Continue reading “New top: Maya top from Marilla Walker”