Black Beignet skirt and a bias cowl top

It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing the Colette Patterns Beignet skirt for ages now, but it’s mostly because I’ve just been so busy with life (running, socialising, wedding planning, the boat, and my garden, mostly) right now that I’ve been sewing in tiny increments here and there! But it’s finally complete, and I even managed to sew up the bias cowl top from Patrones 292 (#19) to wear with it!

Even though these go so well together, I’ve actually got no shortage of other things in my wardrobe to wear with either, so there’s no “orphan coordinates” here! And I managed to sneak some mustard and navy into my wardrobe a bit earlier than I’d planned, too!

As we were taking these photos down at the other end of the mooring last evening, one of the neighbour’s cats came round to see what all the fuss was about, and I just couldn’t believe how sweet he was being! This one and his brother like to menace poor Bosco, but to us, butter just wouldn’t melt!

Here’s the back, which I think is just lovely in its simplicity:

The bias cowl top

Since it was my first time dealing with a garment entirely sewn on the bias, I figured I should research this and sew it properly, so I heavily consulted the Bias * 101 Threads article by Marcy Tilton. As a result, I went up to a size 48 (which ended up being a bit too big, but rather that than “painted on”!), used 1 1/2” seam allowances, thread basted around all the edges, and left the top to hang before hemming it.

I already showed you how to sew a nice, narrow bias edge on the neckline and armscyes, but the shoulder seams are also very nice and neat due to the cowl folding back on itself and allowing me to sew them “burrito-style”. And because the side seams are on the bias, you don’t have to finish those at all!

My other trick for cowl tops is to sew a thin bias tube and attach this to the bottom edge of the cowl inside at the centre front. When you’re wearing the top, place this tube down the centre front of your bra, and it keeps the cowl closer to your chest and prevents anyone seeing all the way down when you bend over (like when a surprise cat appears and you just have to pet him!).

The viscose (rayon) print fabric is from Totally Fabrics and cost me almost exactly £4 for the 1.5m length (and I have very, very little left over! yay!). Summer has finally come to London this week, and I really love the lightweight airiness of this top, which is similar in weight to a voile but without being so sheer. And being a natural fiber, it doesn’t get clingy and sweaty in the heat, either (Gertie is much more used to hot-weather sewing than me, though!).

The Beignet skirt

Sarai from Colette Patterns sent me this pattern (plus the Macaron pattern and some looooovely vintage ribbon embroidery supplies) when I was ill last year and I’m so glad I finally had the chance to sew it up, because I utterly love it! And I realised after I made it in black that this would be the perfect pattern to knockoff the Stella McCartney button-front jeanskirt (alt link) all the fashion mags are going on about right now (and it’s the height of fashion magazine giveaway season, so I’m reading LOTS of trashy fashion mags for the freebies right now – Benefit eyeliner for £2? Cowshed shower gel for £3.50? Yes please!).

Some details:

  • The square shell buttons were originally on an old duvet cover (bought from John Lewis and the most expensive duvet cover I’d ever bought, so it was used until it was literally see-through and then the buttons were cut off and saved!). I only had 11 instead of the 12 called for in the pattern, so I just re-jigged the spacing and it’s just fine. In reality, I only have to unbutton the top four to get it on and off, which is a relief!
  • The pockets are made from the houndstooth bengaline scraps from this infamous dressaster. I understitched the pocket openings to prevent the linings peeking out, a trick I picked up in making my silver tweed jacket, and one I appreciate every single time I wear it.
  • I made the belt endings tapered off instead of square, because I think that looks nicer, but it means you’ve got to be really patient in turning the belt right-side-out. I did mine sat around the campfire two weekends ago…
  • Since I opted not to line this, I made some bright red bias binding and bound the curved edges of the facings, just for fun! And then I forgot to take a photo of it, sorry!
  • The belt loops were really tricky to turn in this fabric so I instead folded the edges in and ran them through the coverstitch machine (you could do the same with a twin needle)
  • I said it before but I’ll say it again – the Collete Patterns instructions are fantastic. The patterns come in a little booklet with nice, big illustrations, and walk you through everything really clearly. This skirt would be a really great beginner project, and you’d pick up a lot of good skills from the sewing glossary at the back, too. My only real niggle with the instructions is that they have you press all the seams to one side, which results in a lot of bulk at the waistband. In future I’d definitely ignore this and press all the seams open to reduce the bulk if you’re using a substantial fabric like mine.

Oh, and the black cotton drill I used here? Not only was it stupid cheap when I bought it two years ago, but it’s already been used in Simon’s pirate coat and my black biker trousers, and I’ve used the very last little bit to make this skirt. I think if it wasn’t comprised so nicely of long, thin panels, it wouldn’t have fit in the fabric I had left! But the princess seams (and front buttons) are great if you have seasonal weight losses or gains, as it’s pretty easy to take in or let out the seams or move the buttons in and out. That, and the high waist and belt are really visually slimming!

And finally, here’s an extra bonus shot, looking out our front door:

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