Horror Time

I find the most beautiful wool ever woven.  My favourite blues are all there with a dash of fresh, stripy lime.  I want this wool for a dress, a coat – nay, curtains and a carpet even, that’s how lovely it is – but there’s only a metre left so I clutch my remnant preciously and take it home planning its perfect future.  Something that will do it justice


Like a pencil skirt!


What could possibly go wrong…?

I  design from my Basic Skirt Block which I’ve used a good dozen times before.
At least I know it’ll fit me! 

The skirt must be lined as it’s for winter.  I find wonderfully matching sapphire blue acetate and  I imagine admiring this secret, deep colour every time I slip in and out of the skirt.

I narrow the block at the hem by 6cm all around.  I know the hem must be narrower than the hip because I have been stalking Boden again and studying the ‘garment measurements’ like those of the pencil skirt here.

I have enough experience now to know how to accurately align the design across the centre back.

I know to put in a kick pleat so I can stomp about when I wear the skirt.  I know how to line a kick pleat ’cause I damn well wrote that tutorial, didn’t I, so we’re all set to go but then, wait…  what?  Oh no….  

“Go directly to Jail.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect £200!  And if anyone asks, tell them you bought it in Primark!”

29 thoughts on “Horror Time

  1. I have done exactly the same thing with my plaid Zinnia skirt which is, at the moment, lying on my worktable in various stages of undoing. I don’t know whether to chuck it in the bin or hack it about a bit more but I do know, it will be a long time before I want to lay eyes on plaid again.
    You have cheered me up now I know that, even you, with a lined kick pleat tutorial to your name, can cock it up.

      • waay off topic but couldn’t resist… years ago I had a new door with glass panel built. At the time I ordered the glass I didn’t think about its name “Niagara”. I purchased the glass separate from the door. On the day the installer came he cut the door to fit the window etc. It was beautiful with the patterned glass. A couple years later my back was bothering me and, as prone to sometimes do, I lay down to stretch out the ‘kinks’. I wasn’t far from the door with my head near it and my feet were pointing away. As I lay there I glanced up at the window, watching the sunlight dance through it. AHA! For the first time I realized why the glass was called Niagara because it’s a waterfall. He had installed it upside down!
        Moral of the story, unless I am short on fabric I always cut as though on the grain. The second thing I do is mark the wrong side of the fabric as such. Sometimes is very hard to tell which is wrong and right side. If there’s a difference between the two it will certainly show up in your garment. It’s part of Murphy’s Law. Cheers!

        • It’s amazing what you can see with upside down eyes! Thank you, Canary, for making me chuckle with your anecdote.
          Your advice couldn’t be more timely. Just this week I was sewing at night and made jacket lining with the back piece the wrong way around. It’s a subtle difference in sheen, the difference being only noticeable the next day. No one will probably notice. But I will , the knowledge gnawing at me always!

          • Upside down, sideways and you make me laugh too. I USED to pick out little errors that would never show. No more! Especially after seeing women’s unmatched plaid shirts for $125. After making an incredibly unstable (wobbly) woven cotton flannel shirt in 2014 I am now marking Ws on the wrong side of fabrics. I had to wait to real morning light to figure out which was the right and wrong side of the cuff and pocket pieces. I was also glad I had placed the fabric on the back of the sofa to “get the feel of” at a few days as I noticed a few threads in the plaid that were different, thus making it directional. This might have been around the time I came upon your skirt. I’m just sticking with cutting the same direction unless otherwise impossible. {Cheshire grin}. Happy Spring!

          • Hmmm. What did you do with it? Hope you didn’t garbage it. At minimum it should be turned into a shopping bag or something. 😉

            Years ago – back when colours needed to match or coordinate, and plaids were always perfectly matched my mother came to visit. She bought me a new sewing machine. She’d come by train but was returning by plane so I drove her to Vancouver. While there we visited a woolen mill and I bought an orange and brown plaid. I told her I would want to make a shirt and she directed me as to how much to buy. It wasn’t enough. I still have the piece and have been wondering if perhaps, with todays trends etc. I could get away with either cutting part of it cross grain or make it so the “off” match was distinct and definite. I tried something once but was still a bit shy. I should dig it out. We are talking so many years that if I’m not going to sew it, someone else should. Wonder if there’s enough for a fly away jacket. There’s little shape other than the sleeves. I have a pattern. Thanks for triggering the funny thoughts that go along with it.

          • I wore it (still wear it sometimes) and enjoyed wearing it very much because it fit so well and the colours are great.
            I grew to like the accidental feature and like you said before, people pay good money for much worse. Go for it, Canary!

          • Thanks. I think I’ll get out the old orange/brown plaid and see what I could do with it with today’s styles. I picked up a couple nice tartan plaid skirts that were probably made c. 1980 or earlier. Nice wool! I took the bands off and have been thinking of combining them and making a multi-plaid winter shirt. If I can’t come up with something for the orange/brown I’ll take it to the flea market. At my age I see little purpose in keeping fabric I won’t ever use. Cheers.

  2. But will anyone who doesn’t sew even notice? Shame, I know that you will now and forever only see the upside down. Hey, at least the fresh stripy lime matches up perfectly! Good fitting skirt too.

  3. Oh No! Haven’t we all done similar things? It is still a beautiful skirt and deserves to be worn. I too think no one will really notice it unless you point it out. But if it really bugs you the only option I can see is to take apart the skirt and move the front up so that the main cross lines match, even if the blue will join the green..

    • Oh, yes, it will be noticed by amateurs, your friends who don’t sew, and by anyone who has ever matched an uneven plaid that at first looked even. I hope you took the skirt apart, righted the wrong, and added a beautiful solid color match, making it a yoked skirt or whatever was necessary to get that gorgeous plaid on your body.

  4. D’oh!!!! SO CLOSE!!! Lol. It is still a beautiful skirt that fits your perfectly. You can always sew down a ribbon/trim down the side-seams to disguise the, well, you know. 😉

  5. You should wear it. I have seen far worse RTW ! Call it “Practice”.

    Tips: If you always cut plaids as though they have a nap – in one direction – you’ll never have this happen. Plaids are famous for having a thread or line of different colour that you don’t notice at first, or as in this case, the yellow. There’s only a few of us birds that would know you cut in opposing directions.

    IMO, it’s also a good idea to cut woolens in one direction. They often have a very subtle nap which can cause the fabric to look like different colours in certain lighting conditions, particularly darker colours. Saving the extra bit of fabric isn’t always worth it.

    • Thanks so much Canary. This is just the sort of advice that makes me very glad I started this blog.

      Re wool: I have wondered if it’s advisable to flip over wool as the weave seems to head on the diagonal. I shall do my best to remember this forever!!

      • Glad to have been of help.
        6 months later… hope you see this.
        Another thing I learned after numerous disappointments and pieces that sit unsewn is to buy plenty of fabric [when possible] – more than required by a specific pattern unless certain it will get made up right away. I used to buy exactly what a pattern called for, or what I thought I bought last time. It’s a bummer to want to make something and fall short because you need a bit more than you purchased. Perhaps time passes, you still love the fabric but styles have changed, or you’ve changed your mind and want something different. Nowadays, by habit, I usually buy plenty and therefore almost always can cut things the same direction.

        Plaids, and often prints, can appear the same from both directions but once you step back you’ll notice the difference… usually after you’ve sewn it. Sometimes it’s small but can really stand out later… like your skirt. I’ve commonly seen this in RTW. Say there are little penquins or birds. Most will be in the same direction and a lesser amount will be the opposite direction. You sew up your pjs and later discover the penguins in the back are up and the front are mostly down.

        I find it very helpful to lay the fabric over the back of the sofa where I can walk past it for a day or few. Later I’ll fold it into a me-sized piece and look again. With plaid I’ll refold it with a different centre. Then I’ll hold them up in the mirror. Where the vertical and horizontals fall can make a huge difference as to the overall effect of the plaid’s design, especially on shirts and jackets. Where/how the verticals fall over the bust and hips has as great of an effect as the bold horizontals and where they cross bust, waist and hips. A bit of play up, down or sideways can make you look taller, shorter, wider or slimmer.

        It’s worth it to take the time to truly look at your fabric and get a feel for the look you want to achieve. You also have far less chance of goofy screw-ups. It is easy to forget all these lessons learned. Time passes, we forget. You might find it helpful to write down your plaid errors and tips and review them before you make your next plaid item. Threads Magazine or its offshoot Sew Stylish had a good write up about matching plaids recently. I photocopied it from the library. With my recent plaid shirt I changed my mind a bit late in the game and didn’t have quite enough fabric to match the sleeves and bodice the way I would have liked. Still learning after all these years. Ha!

        One more. You mentioned “flipping” the wool. With wool or flannel I guess it’s your call which side you use but watch for knots and flaws in the yarns if you opt for the back side. Whichever side you choose, stick to it. I mark each piece with “W” on the wrong side. Kid’s crayola markers wash out but anything can be used within seam allowances. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the difference in under artificial light or on a gloomy dark day.

        Best wishes, Canary.

  6. As someone who has sewn the skirt she was wearing into the side seam of the skirt she was making and only noticed when I was up to my knicker line this made me laugh! We’ve all done daft things and I dare say a proportion of us will do the same again at some time! Thank you for sharing!!

    • OM! We must share these stories. And laugh in retrospect.

      And as you point out, we do sometimes make the same mistake again 😯

  7. Aww! LoL Brilliant post – didn’t know where it was going…..what a shame, we’ve all done it but when its your fav fabric and so lovingly made….feeling your pain! I still think its a great skirt. When I do things like this I call them my dog walking clothes – I have an extensive dog walking wardrobe!

  8. hahahaha I was reading this on my iphone on the tram yesterday and having a good laugh. Haven’t we all (been there)! My condolences-on the plus side the average person is unlikely to notice and, it is a very nice fabric. Love ‘horror’ photo too XD

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