Look Mr Frodo, an oliphant! TMS “From a sewing book” challenge

Gertie's portrait blouse and pencis skirt 15

 

You don’t see it? come closer…

Gertie's portrait blouse and pencis skirt 2

 

I was given this cute elephant covered fabric for my birthday (thanks mum and dad!) and despite its desire to be made into a shirtdress I felt I would probably get more wear out of a top. Several months later, the Monthly Stitch November challenge was “from a sewing book” and I decided that the simplicity of the portrait blouse, from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing would be a great way to showcase the print.

I also wanted to make  a skirt to go with it, but did not think I had anything suitable in my stash until I remembered a rather fab gingery tweed which had been passed on to me, and I felt would be a great match for Gertie’s pencil skirt from the same book.

Gertie's portrait blouse and pencis skirt 8

 

When an old friend, Paul’s mum died she left quite the fabric stash, which Paul did not really know what to do with. Over the years I have lost touch with Paul, but he is very close to my good friend, Sue and she gave a home to the fabric (making some of it into cushions for his camper van). As Sue is not really a sewist, beyond repairs and halloween costumes, the other week she suggested I look through the stash to see if there was anything I could make use of.

There is something hugely poignant about the things people leave behind, and I especially felt it looking through this collection of fabric with Sue. Was there a plan for each piece? Were they impulse buys or considered purchases? There were a couple of unfinished garments in there, too. Abandoned as UFOs – a change of mind or a lack of time?

I had no plan in mind when I chose this tweed, but I do think it goes well with both my elephant cotton and my brown boots.

Gertie's portrait blouse and pencis skirt 12

 

I do own an iron, honest, but I had just put it away after a mammoth ironing session this morning when I realised that this could do with a press.

So, I have not been around the old blog much in the last few weeks, have I? I actually finished this outfit over two weeks ago, but then we just got hugely busy (which I will probably witter on about in another post) and I have not has time to get photos done. (This is also why I am super tired and look so shadowed of eye in these pics!).

So the patterns. I’ll try to make this quick (it’s not like you’re here about the sewing or anything, is it?).

The portrait blouse; great simple little pattern. Went together very easily. I should probably have done a swayback adjustment, as it pools a little in the small of my back, but you live and learn, eh? First go at a hand-picked lapped zipper and I was an immediate convert! Might add a bit of length to it next time.

The pencil skirt. Another great pattern, elevated above the simplest of pencil skirt patterns by its double darts and shaped waistband. Also went together very easily, even though I went to the trouble of lining it and using non-fusible interfacing for the first time. My second hand-picked lapped zipper and my enthusiasm remains. I added a couple of inches to the bottom.

So, Rach, I hear you say; if the skirt has such great waist details, how come you are wearing your shirt untucked?

Ha! Glad you asked! You know when you’re trying to lose a few pounds and how great it is when you do? Well, turns out the not great part comes when you make a well fitting pencil skirt and then drop those few pounds before you get around to even wearing it for blog photos…

Gertie's portrait blouse and pencis skirt 6

 

In the early stages of the make this thing fitted my waist (OK, so I didn’t exactly make a full muslin, but I did wrap various bits around me…) I must have been having one of those bloater days, though, because no way have I lost that many inches in the last three weeks!

Whatever – here are those cute details:

Gertie's portrait blouse and pencis skirt 5

 

So I’ll be fine if I walk around pinching it in at the back of the waistband! It’s not a disaster without me pulling it in, but my blouse does come untucked when I move…

Gertie's portrait blouse and pencis skirt 1

 

I might get around to altering it one day – or I might just wait until I put weight on again! Either way it is wearable at the moment and will be a useful addition to my wardrobe.

I hope Margaret would have approved of what I have done with her fabric. I wonder what she had planned (I’ll bet it would have involved an good press!).

Love and thanks to Paul and to Sue. x

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21 Responses to Look Mr Frodo, an oliphant! TMS “From a sewing book” challenge

  1. My Sewing Suite says:

    Wow! looks fantastic. I love these patterns and the elephants.

  2. Pingback: From a Sewing Book – Gertie’s portrait blouse and pencil skirt | The Monthly Stitch

  3. hi there. I always enjoy reading your posts for the monthly stitch, and this one is no exception. : )
    I’m intrigued with the gorgeous elephant print , it took a moment for me to pick them out , kind of like an Escher effect , it depends on which bits your eye focusses on , just lovely !
    the ginger wool is really nice too, and I think you have done a fantastic job with this design..
    when you pull the waist out I can see the extra room there , but unless you do this I think it looks fine. you will probably get the swivel thing happening, where the whole skirt starts to shift around your waist as you wear it , : ) hoolahoop style.
    thanks so much for writing about the lady whose stash you chose the tweed from. it’s nice to know the fabric is going to a person who will appreciate it,

  4. nx44 says:

    Looks great – both pieces really suit each other. It’s so annoying making things that don’t fit but at least you have something to wear after christmas dinner this year – haha :)

  5. Eeeh I love the fabric. I’m also a recent convert to lapped zippers – but I do them by machine, using Scruffy Badger’s tutorial. Easy peasy and pretty

    • rachsews says:

      I’ll take a look at the Scruffy Badger method, though I’ve found doing them by hand quite relaxing. I reckon it’ll depend on what mood I am in when I get to the zip… sometimes you just want that thing finished quickly!

  6. Nikki says:

    Oh my, what amazing fabric! I want those elephants! And what a fab blouse to make out of it. Looking good. The whole outfit is great. With the blouse untucked, the skirt doesn’t look too big at all.

  7. Gjeometry says:

    I saw your post over on The Monthly Stitch and had to drop by personally and say how fabulous I think your outfit is! I am currently at work on the Portrait blouse and it’s great to see it made up and working in person.

  8. sewexhausted says:

    The elephants are very neat! Seems like super special fabric too. And the Gertie skirt is great- love the waistband, the color and the length- very fall/ winter. Good for you losing some weight- Guess you can alter it!!! Or maybe with the holidays it is just waiting for you to fit back in?? (Thats what I do!- lol) ~Laurie

    • rachsews says:

      Hi Laurie, I love the elephant fabric; I was sure that I had seen it online last week at a really cheap price (£2.99 / m or something), but I did not get it at the time. I’ve since decided that I would love to have some more to play with, but now cannot find it anywhere, so am wondering if I dreamt finding it in the first place!

  9. Wendy says:

    I love the elephants! And both patterns look great too, I’ve been wondering about the other patterns in the Gertie book besides the pencil skirt and it looks like the blouse is quite a winner as well! I loved the story of the fabric. It’s nice of you to wonder about the intentions of previous owner and not just grab what you want without second thought! The skirt ended up really nice! And don’t worry, the holidays are just around the corner, so that skirt may fit sooner than you think ** insert chocolate ** ;-)

    • rachsews says:

      Thanks, Wendy. The blouse is great, as it is so simple to make. I have also made the shirt waister, which was more time consuming, but quite straightforward. I’m thinking of giving the sheath dress a go next (well, next time I turn to Gertie, anyway!) and hope to eventually work my way up to the coat dress.

  10. Ali says:

    Love the fabric, especially the elephants! Think I will have to look out for the Gertie book, judging by everyone else’s comments and posts in the blogging world I think I’m the only one who hasn’t seen it! Google here I come….! 😃

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