Sewing for Me: Linen Top + White Skirt

Sewing for myself is becoming addictive. I’m keeping it simple and am continuing with baby steps in building a handmade wardrobe as you can see. I have yet to have a seam-ripper-free experience and every project has had its share of snafus, but I am totally getting into this selfish sewing business.

For one, I’m learning about my body shape on a whole new level. The other day, K lovingly looked at my legs and said, “Mommy, you have the cutest legs!” “Really???” I responded incredulously. “Yeah, they look like giant squashes!”

…um.

Check out them giant squash calves. There’s a reason I wear almost exclusively jeans, preferably boot cut in dark washes. But I saw this skirt in this book (from which I attempted the top last week) and I really wanted to make a summery, white version.Β The midi length is probably not the most flattering for my gourd-like legs (which look oddly discolored in this photo), but with the pin-tucks and substantial heft of the linen/cotton blend, I love how the skirt feels.

The skirt sits low on my hips and I can see now that it throws off my body proportions when the top is tucked in. I still cringe at pictures of myself, but through sewing and these photos, I’m finding that I’m a little less critical. Just a little. And at this point, I’m truly having a hard time taking myself too seriously.

It’s called a “wrap skirt” in the book, but it’s not really. I think it just refers to the fact that the ties wrap around the waist. I have to literally squeeze and shimmy myself into the skirt because there is no button or zip closure. It’s kind of weird and the instructions may be wrong. Here it is from the back – the tucks/pleats look nice, right?

I found that the pattern pieces didn’t match up very well (this happened with the top from last week as well), and although I really like so many of the designs in this book, I am not loving these types of inconsistencies.

The linen tank top was an afterthought. I had accidentally pulled out this pattern when looking for another top, and thought, “Hey, this looks easy!” I had just enough of this cocoa-colored linen left over from the Belgian Style dress I made K, and I really love this fabric. It has a dart on the arm scythe pointing down toward the apex (in other words, a downward dart from the armpit to the boob), which I don’t think you see often, and I wanted to see how it would look on me. Eh. I like it fine though the neckline got a little wonky, and it might provide a little bit of a slimming contour. Because I didn’t cut it on the bias (not enough fabric), I just used bias binding to finish all the raw edges.

Here I am, gripping the fabric of the top to make it look less blobby.

I’m focusing on summer clothes even though it’s grey and rainy here in Seattle because in a few weeks, we’re going to the lake in Michigan and I had this idea of making a vacation mini-wardrobe. My goal is to have 10 me-made garments (that fit well and that I love) to take with me on the trip. I’m feeling ambitious…Not sure if this skirt and top will make the cut (the shimmying into the skirt leaves me feeling a bit undignified), but so far, they’re pretty comfy!

50 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: Linen Top + White Skirt

  1. Both pieces look super comfy! Good for you; sewing for yourself. My mind is so full of projects for my daughter that I never even consider making anything adult sized. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Tasha! My mind is full of kids projects too, but I’m starting to daydream more and more about sewing for myself…

  2. Both pieces came out so great and look great on you! That outfit does look very comfy and perfect for summer. Good luck in finishing up 10 garments for yourself….I’m sure you can do it!

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Meghan – not all 10 items are created equal and I figure 9 tee-shirts and a dress would count, right? πŸ˜‰

  3. This is a great outfit on you. I LOVE the top… have this in several colors and I’d wear it everyday! Mid-length skirts can be tricky, especially on short asian women (HI… that’s me!) but you pulled this off really well.

    10 garments, ay? Bring it! I need some inspiration for my wardrobe. Cheers to selfish sewing!!!

    1. It’s such a comfortable top, it’s great! I want to try making a few others in different fabric types too. This would be pretty in something silky and drapey…And hear hear on the short and Asian factor!

  4. sanae, the skirt is *awesome*! i really like the top too (who doesn’t like neutral, flowy linens?!), but the pleating and tie on the skirt are just lovely. i’m disappointed to hear the book seems a bit shoddily put together (i always wonder how that happens in pattern books…do they seriously not test every size of every pattern before publishing? seems like a glaring oversight…). what lake are you visiting in michigan? native michigander, here πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, thanks Ashley! I’ll try a few more patterns before I officially declare that the pattern weirdness isn’t user error, but it was pretty surprising that it happened twice. We’re going to Lake Leelanau, which we visited for the first time last year and we had so much fun!

  5. Hi Sanae,
    i think you just look lovely in this outfit. I own this book too, and the skirt is an my list. Now that i see you in this white version i think this might be ever cuter then the cozy grey one in the book. And, btw. who needs giselle bΓΌndchen calves? No one but gisele!
    Marit

    1. Haha! Giselle should consider plastic surgery to get giant squash legs – it’s sure to become the rage this year! πŸ™‚

  6. I love the skirt and how it looks on you! Just lovely. As I am a curvy girl I think this would be a perfect summer skirt. Off to find this book! I know I have it somewhere but with my recent move not sure just where it is now.

    1. I think the skirt is a flattering cut overall – if you’ve got the gams, I would go a little shorter (I suppose you could hike up the yoke up on your waist too) for the hem to hit a more pleasing section just above or below the knee.

  7. This skirt is very cute and worth the shimmy. I too have been inspired to finally start sewing for me. I am not as ambitious as you with my patterns though!

    1. I’ve been getting a lot of shimmying practice with this skirt! I’d love to see what you’re making for yourself Clover – anything from your recent Seattle fabric shopping score?

    1. Thanks Jams!! Oh, and to answer your question from yesterday’s giveaway, I do have a method to my fabric shopping madness. If I know that I’ll be using the fabric for K, I only ever get 1.5 yards unless it’s on super sale or is too amazing to pass up. In which case, I would get a max of 3 yards. If I’m planning on using the fabric for myself, I get a minimum of 2 yards but never more than 3, depending on the price. The only time I’ve gotten more than 3 yards of any fabric was when I thought I would make a duvet cover out of this cheap linen/blend. I also have a mother equally obsessed with fabric so she sends me a ton of stuff. πŸ™‚

  8. my first thought upon seeing the opening photo was “what a beautiful, breezy looking outfit!” Ahh, linen! I know you’re a fan as am I. For good reason! I truly love that skirt and the wrap around tie feature. My only problem would be that to properly show off that feature, you’d have to tuck in your top and I’m a “top worn out” kind’ve gal. But it’s so beautiful and I love the tucks as well.
    and then . . .Michigan?! Where do you hope to visit? Are you staying at a cottage on the lake or further inland? It’s stormy and humid here today – hoping for drier, sunnier weather when you come!

      1. Cool blog! I do like her style a lot! I hope to be able to participate in Me-Made-May next time…as for Michigan, we’re going to Leland/Lake Leelanau. This is our second time and we meet up with M’s family – so fun!

  9. Wow! amazing!. Love the colors and style. I think you look very pretty in them. It is so nice that you are discovering new things trough this new stage of sewing. I’m loving it, although I haven’t been brave enough yet to start my trip on the selfish sewing road.

    1. Thank you Maria – it took me a long time to build up my nerves to sew for myself too (and I gave up the first pass years ago because I couldn’t figure things out being too much of a novice). It’s really life-altering, I think, and I highly recommend it. I get very excited by the prospect of one day having enough skills to make things fit me perfectly!

  10. I love the shirt! Also: you are a superwoman, how do you find the time to turn out such lovely projects week after week!? Wish I had your speed :).

    1. oh, I’m so far from being a superwoman, it’s not even funny! But if it seems like I get a lot done, it’s because I choose really simple designs to sew and I don’t sleep much and I drink a lot of coffee. πŸ™‚

  11. Lovely outfit, perfect for a summer holiday! The skirt construction looks interesting, I am always keen on sewing that avoids zippers haha. But I can imagine the difficulty of putting it on. Maybe the easiest would be to put it on from the top, you know over the head. Having said that, it has a really lovely relaxed look when worn. And the best part is that you can adjust where you want the skirt to sit, high or low.

    1. Sadly, I tried from the top, and being on the “cups overfloweth” side of things, that didn’t work out too well for me…Once on, the skirt is very, very comfortable! Thanks for your sweet comment!

  12. Super cute! I think it looks great with the shirt untucked, you’re rocking that look. Hopefully by the time you get back from Michigan it will have turned into summer here. Maybe….

    1. Thanks, Robin! Apparently it’s a little touch and go in Michigan too in late June/early July right by the lake, but I’m planning for great summer weather!

  13. sanae seriously it makes me so excited to see you sewing for you! great separates – and really, that tank could be easily worn with jeans and a sweater, and the skirt with a more fitted top…they’ll totally mesh into your wardrobe! very nice.

    1. My thoughts exactly! I actually tried a couple of different outfits with the skirt and top but that was just WAY too many pictures of me πŸ™‚

  14. Wow! I can already picture us with our vacation wardrobe in Michigan and Greece! We will probably be changing three times a day to display it all! πŸ˜‰ You made a beautiful combination and I love the linen of the shirt! I also made a skirt (Simplicity 2226) last night (until 2.00 a.m. – now my eyes look like giant squashes!) and it was fairly simple (first zipper! yay!), especially with the noodlehead sew-along. Now I am waiting for my nani iro fabric to arrive to try this version of it in gray http://nightknitter.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/simplicity-2226-in-nani-iros-painting-muji/
    I also like the way you lovingly analyse the fit and and your proportions, it really is a good new way to look at oneself, I would never do it with store bought things in such a way. Looking forward to lots of new outfits from you!

      1. So far I donΒ΄t…(too shy…) But maybe I will start a flickr account… and I will try and add it to Miss MatatabiΒ΄s pin board for creations made with fabric from her shop. I will let you know!

  15. I love this outfit. The colour of the top is beautiful on you and the criss cross ties on the skirt are really interesting/ lovely. I also think that your version is even nicer than the one in the book!

    1. Thanks Cate! The fabric I used is not as delicate and flowy as the version in the book, but I actually like how substantial it feels. Also, even though it’s white, because of the denser weave, it’s not see-through so no need for a slip -bonus!

  16. I think the outfit looks very nice! You could always alter the top a little for less ease (darts? elastic in the back waist?), the way you are holding it in the later picture.

    In my family, we call that leg shape “daikon ashi.” Humorous but accurate, I guess. My calves are very muscular (relative to my frame) such that even in my 20s, random strangers stopped me to comment about my well-developed legs and ask about my fitness regimen. (No one asks me that now, LOL.) I sympathize with your body image concerns – it’s something many of us share to some extent. You are making great strides. I’m cheering you on!

    Hope this isn’t a duplicate note. I tried to leave a comment earlier, but I think maybe it got eaten.

    1. Great suggestions on the top, thanks June! I’m very familiar with daikon-ashi! :-)Thank goodness K took after her dad (in fact she looks nothing like me). I was having some server issues earlier, so sorry! Thanks also for cheering me on – I can use lots of that πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Clare! I’m going to try to wear the skirt higher up on my waist with a more fitted top to show off the pleating, because I’m quite smitten with that part of the skirt. πŸ™‚

  17. Love that skirt!!! I love your descriptor of not looking very dignified as you shimmy into it….ahhhh, who can’t relate to that? πŸ™‚ And a breezy linen top is a must in every wardrobe I think. Your fabric selections are always impeccable. (It’s so funny the words I used in writing but not in real life…impeccable is one of them! Ha.)

    1. Impeccable is a great word, and so flattered that you’d apply it to me! I wore the skirt all day today and I tell you, it is so comfortable! All the shimmying stretched it out a bit so it almost slips over my hips…almost.

    1. Ah yes, my battered, beloved Cydwoq knock-off shoes…they are possibly the most comfortable shoes in the universe!

  18. I love this! You look great – when I started scrolling down reading this I thought ‘I recognise this skirt’, and sure enough, I made this skirt last year. It was a ‘working muslin’ which I’d almost forgotten about because I too struggled with the whole ‘wrap skirt, but not really a wrap skirt’ business. It’s currently sitting in my box of failures but you’ve inspired me to dig it out, hem it and give it a go. It’s an interesting book though. Thanks for the inspiration!! x

    1. Thanks Laura! I’ve worn the skirt a couple of times now, hitched up to different heights, and I’m liking it more and more. Would love to see your version!

      And thanks for linking to my zippered pocket tutorial!! What an honor to be included in your top 10!

  19. This is a gorgeous outfit and I love the colour of the top. I think you have lovely shapely calves…mine are awful skinny! We are never happy with ourselves…

    1. Thank you Evie! Shapely is such a nice way to put it…I think I’ll train myself to view my squash-y legs as shapely πŸ™‚

  20. Thank you SO MUCH for posting about the skirt. I have been sitting here staring back and forth between my pattern pieces and the book for 30 minutes and finally decided to look online for help. I couldn’t comprehend how it was supposed to make a “wrap” skirt – the instructions in this book are hideously lacking in clarity… But I take it as a way to learn construction using a lot of my own sense. πŸ˜‰

  21. I sew by hand for myself and others. Adding lace to make a short top longer and hemming alot of pants. I make little sundresses for girls from pillowcases. Sometimes they are antique pillow cases. Love the top and wrap skirt!

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