European Style

I cannot believe June, and in particular Indie Pattern Month is almost over. My goal this year was to enter every contest. I challenged myself to enter as many as I could last year and managed three, so I’m really pleased that this is my fifth entry this year, meaning I’ve achieved my goal and managed an extra bonus entry.

So that’s 5 entries, comprising 8 garments, using 6 different patterns, from 4 pattern companies. Phew! No wonder my machine is exhausted! I’m still hoping to attempt the bundle sale contest too, though that one is looking tricky  at the moment – mostly because I’m trying not to buy any more fabric, it’s been an expensive month!

Now, about the Ready to Wear challenge. Firstly, I had to figure out what RTW was. After that I had the idea I might try to do a cold-shoulder top as they are all the rage here in the UK this summer. When I looked for a source photo I could use though they were always styled with jeans or shorts, which I just didn’t really want to make.

However, my holiday, which came shortly after the RTW challenge announcement, provided ample inspiration. I took lots of photos of display models in the store fronts in Bologna and Verona, and had lots of ideas, some of which are now in my sewing queue.


I finally decided what I was going to make when I saw this woman in Bologna (see below picture).


When I got home I began the search for patterns and fabrics right away. I chose the Plantain t-shirt from Deer & Doe, because why wouldn’t I? – It’s free, which is my favourite price. And surely one t-shirt pattern must be much like another? How different can they be?


For the skirt, I initially picked Colette patterns’ Zinnia skirt, as that seemed like a fairly good match for the shape of the skirt she’s wearing in the picture. But I changed my mind at the last minute and went for Sewaholic’s Hollyburn instead. Partially because Hila from Saturday Night Stitch had posted several lovely versions during Me Made May, but also because I was worried the Zinnia would add unwanted bulk around the waist and hips. I think this may be another of my post plus-size hangovers.

I wanted to copy the image fairly closely, but ended up putting my own twist on the idea without even really realising it. I also found when wearing it that I preferred to wear the t-shirt tucked in to the skirt as it seems to show the shape of the skirt more. The hubby prefers it untucked though, I’m not sure on his reasoning.


I struggled to find a black striped jersey, but eventually got one from Brunswick Mills on ebay. It’s a jersey knit, but quite a thick one, so it’s a more structured shape than usual from a tee but it made the sewing easier, as my machine can be a bit wary of some knit fabrics. This sewed like a Ponte, which is to say it was no harder than sewing wovens but with the added bonus of no need to do fancy seam finishes. I just used my pinking shears, in case you’re interested.

I cut a straight size 42, which should have been too small according to my measurements but actually turned out too large overall.

If you look very closely you may also notice that I’ve been a good girl and made sure to pattern match my stripes. They’re not 100% perfect, but they are a lot better than anything I’ve ever made before. I usually make 0% effort in this area.

You might notice that my t-shirt doesn’t feature the epic lace border hers has, and this is one of the main changes I made. On my shirt all the party has been moved to the back:


To create this I carefully placed the lace motif (which I also got on ebay) on the back t-shirt piece and placed the front piece right side facing on top, essentially sandwiching the lace between the layers. I pinned the shoulders and sewed so that the lace was caught in the seam at the top. I then constructed the rest of the top as per the instructions and pinned and sewed the lace motif to the back of the top after the tee was finished.

On reflection, this was dumb. It would have been much easier to sew it to the t-shirt back without the sleeves getting in the way.

After I’d sewn it down I took my fabric scissors and cut around the edge of the lace to create a slightly interesting shape and a lower back neckline feature. I’m actually really, really pleased with how this has come out. I absolutely love the back of this top.


Having changed the neckline on the back of the top I also needed to change the front neckline to match. I re-cut the curve to blend it in at the shoulders. Unfortunately this made the shoulders quite wide and left me with an unfinished front neckline.

Having worn this top a few times now I’ve had time to reflect and realise that I ought to have cut the neckline higher (more of a boatneck than a scoop) to counteract the effect of the widening of the neckline at the shoulders.

You live and learn, am i right?


At some point I will try to re-cut the front piece and replace it, but I hadn’t time to do that before this post. In future I would also probably grade the sizing down more over the waist and hips as it’s quite loose everywhere except boob-town.

For the skirt I chose a linen blend from my local fabric store. I made View B in a size 12, but omitted the button tabs. I may at some point add belt loops but didn’t bother for the time being as I don’t often wear belts.


The Hollyburn skirt is designed to be suitable for beginners and the instructions are very good and detailed. It is a pattern I will probably recommend to my friends who are learning to sew. For the more experienced sewist it’s not at all complicated and I didn’t really need to look at the instructions much. I didn’t make many changes to the pattern, though I did use an invisible zip so my construction of the back seam and insertion of the zipper were different to the instructions. I didn’t do this deliberately, just didn’t read the instructions properly when getting my zip. 9.5 times out of 10 the patterns I choose use invisible zips so I just assumed. I’m not sorry I did though, I like the neat, unobtrusive finish of an invisible zip.

In case you care, my zip was from Minerva.

Here’s me attempting to recreate the street photo I took my inspiration from.


The only other ‘alteration’ I made was to the length. It’s supposed to be a knee length skirt but when I tried it on to check the fit on the waist I really liked the length coming to just below the knee, so I finished the hem with the smallest hem allowance I could.

I wore this skirt to photograph a wedding this weekend and I think it will be my new go-to uniform as it’s comfortable as well as reasonably smart, and the huge pockets are perfect for popping spare batteries, memory cards and lens caps into when not in use. I can even fit a small prime in my pocket if I’m using my zoom lens, which is super handy!

Here’s a photo of her in the wild, in which I am, ironically, wearing a belt after saying earlier how rarely I do!


7 thoughts on “European Style

  1. Great makes, loving your inspiration and think you’ve done a fab job in recreating and making it to your style. The lace is gorgeous and think it looks great on the back and think everybody needs one of those skirts in their wardrobe.

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