I have a “new to me” twofer to share: the Madeleine skirt from Victory Patterns & the Henrietta Maria top from Scroop Patterns. As I sewed the skirt, I couldn’t shake the thought of making a top to go with it…The Monthly Stitch challenges always seem to inspire an unreasonable degree of ambition in me. My little family is moving in three weeks & I should really be packing & taking a Magic Eraser to the masterpieces my daughter has scrawled on her bedroom walls, but I just want to sew!
The Madeleine skirt has been on my radar for years. I remember the first time I ever saw it, as a paper pattern for sale at Grey’s Fabric & Notions (now Mercer’s Fabric) in Boston in 2014. It sucked me in like a tractor beam. A full skirt with pockets & suspenders! Exactly the kind of thing I’d always wanted in my wardrobe, but not a style that is prevalent in RTW, especially in larger sizes.
The only reason it took me so long to sew it up is because I couldn’t settle on a fabric. I purchased some bold floral print denim for it, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I really wanted something more neutral & versatile. It wasn’t until LAST WEEK that it occurred to me to use one of the lengths of black denim languishing in my stash. I was actually still planning to use the floral denim while I was doing flat pattern adjustments. I had it on the cutting table, rotary cutter in hand, when I was like, “Wait! In all my years of sewing, I have never made a basic black skirt! Now is the time!” I even beat down my magpie instincts & went with black topstitching (of which there is a LOT) & black buttons. Ordinarily I’d be looking for a way to add some pink or rhinestones or something!
I sewed a 16, & added an extra 2″ to the waist. I couldn’t be happier with the fit! It’s absolutely perfect, & because the suspenders have three buttonholes in the back to adjust their length (or can be removed altogether), the skirt can be worn with any kind of top.
I did shorten it A LOT–like seven inches. It’s drafted to be a mid-calf on a height of 5’7″. It was close to ankle-length on 5’5″ me! I decided knee-length would work best, given the fullness of the skirt. I used a denim with a lot of body, so anything longer would have been veering uncomfortably close to antebellum cosplay.
Next up is the Henrietta Maria top (also available in dress length) from Scroop Patterns. I wanted a light summer-appropriate top with some volume-related design element to team with the skirt. I was envisioning a modern riff on the classic peasant blouse.
This blouse is drafted for a B-cup, so I took a chance & cut a size 38 (to fit my proportionally narrow shoulders) & did a 2″ slide & pivot FBA. I kept the width through the waist & hips because I definitely am not a 38 in those areas. The blouse is pretty loose & unfitted through the waist & hips, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
The pattern comes with both very detailed directions for sewers who need a lot of hand-holding, & more streamlined directions for people like me. Too much detail just confuses me sometimes, like when Google directions tell you to “go left to stay on Hawthorne Street” & you get confused & turn left, but you were actually just supposed to stay in the left lane. The fitting tips suggest cutting the size based on your bust & just making more or bigger pleats at the neckline if you have a larger-than-average difference between high & full bust, but I’m glad I did the FBA. I only wish I had added maybe another 1/2″.
It was an inadvertent stroke of genius to sew this up in gingham. Each check is 1/4″ wide, which made it really easy to gauge the width of depth of each pleat. I zipped through all 70+ of them (they finish the sleeve as well) in under an hour. I did cut a few inches off the sleeve length. The original pattern is kind of three-quarters/bracelet-length hybrid, but I wanted mine to finish at the elbow. I also employed the pattern suggestions to finish my facings with lace (it looks really gorgeous inside with the pleats) & to add bra strap holders. It’s definitely a wide-necked design, which frames my chest tattoos quite nicely!
The whole time I was sewing, I worried it would look like an early 1960s maternity top. I was picturing Francine Hanson (Betty’s best friend) on “Mad Men”. Thankfully, it turned out pretty cute, & is a perfect compliment for the skirt! The whole look is giving me a modern-day Dorothy Gale vibe (hence the post title, from when Dorothy is introducing herself to Glinda the Good Witch).
You can see more of my sewing over on my blog! Thanks for reading!