The Wannabe Hack Skirt

Photo by Martha Moreno

This academic year hasn’t been completely devoid of sewing activity. Sure, this skirt may have been progressing on and off for a couple of months, but I eventually managed to get it done in time for my interview for my postgraduate course in journalism, hence why this skirt will always be ‘the wannabe hack’ skirt to me – a nod to the Wannabe Hacks website, which publishes tips and advice for wannabe journos such as myself. I’ve even had an article featured on there before!

It was important to me to wear at least one garment I had made to the interview for several reasons. I’m sure any fellow seamstresses will agree, there’s a degree of confidence which comes hand in hand with wearing an item of clothing you’ve hand-crafted. Even if the outside world won’t necessarily notice, there’s something different about what you’re wearing, especially as you haven’t picked it out from a sea of different sized versions of the same shirt/skirt/dress/insert garment here. After such a long period of sewing abandonment, actually wearing something I’d made to such an important interview gave me a bit of a buzz.

Most importantly though, sewing has proven to be a large part of the reason I began blogging as extensively as I do now. Arguably, The Siren (a commentary blog about life at Swansea University) would never have happened had I not been blogging every seam sewn during my time in Germany. So I felt it would be more than appropriate to wear a self-sewn skirt to an interview I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for sewing.


Maybe it’s good luck to wear your self sewn items to interviews, because I got in! I can tell this skirt will get a lot of wear during the Winter months at the course, as it’s made from fairly thick woven fabric. A few months after my interview, I asked my friend Martha to help me out in taking some photos of the skirt. Our setting? Brangwyn Hall in Swansea, where I’ll be graduating in a matter of weeks! We took my ‘shoe-case’ (the suitcase I kept all of my shoes) for fun and popped out one late afternoon in May for some photo-fun!

Martha said all good modelling includes triangles... so I became a teapot

Using the Jenny pencil skirt pattern available on BurdaStyle, I created a black and white houndstooth skirt, fully lined with purple silky fabric I had in my stash. The skirt itself is comfortable to wear but a few problems have come up – namely, the fit. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a weird size, with hips only marginally bigger than my waist, creating some bugbears in how the skirt sits. It rides up quite a lot when I’m walking, and the lining insists on peeking out.


I think I’ve also shortened the skirt just a tad too much; a crime I’m often committing. This won’t be as much of a problem when wearing the skirt in Winter, as a pair of tights make an almost-too-short skirt somewhat more appropriate. I’m planning to create another pencil skirt in the style of Gertie’s orange bow skirt, but this time I plan on drafting my own pattern in the hopes it will improve the fit of the garment. Here’s hoping!

Want to see more photos from the day? Check out the photo set over on my Flickr!

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Better Late than Never…

I was very much mistaken when I thought I’d have a lot of time on my hands after exam season was done and dusted. The initial plan was to sew the lovely Mccall’s pattern mentioned in my last post in time for Swansea University’s Summer Ball. Alas, it wasn’t to be. In fact, I wasn’t able to make anything at all. Shamefully, I ended up wearing something store-bought to the Ball; a far cry from last year’s achievement of completing my vintage style dress in time to watch Florence and the Machine rock Singleton Abbey.

Yay feet!

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up completely on my Mccall’s 6350 project. I’ve set myself a new deadline: namely, to get this dress done and dusted in time for the graduation ball later this month. Initially, I was feeling dubious about actually finishing the dress on time, my track record with sewing has hardly been great recently! But with only 6 pattern pieces, if I manage to get past the bodice without a hitch, then I’m sure I’ll hit the deadline just fine.

The fabric is ordered and the pattern pieces all ready to be cut out and sewn together. I’m taking the slightly risky no-muslin path, considering this is a strapless dress which requires a close fit on the bust. Time is of the essence people!

Lush pots = lovely smelling products AND excellent pattern weights

While I’m waiting for my fabric to be delivered, I’ve begun work on a version of Vivat Veritas’ scalloped waist circle skirt, featured as a part of Grosgrain’s wonderful month of free patterns. It may well form part of my actual graduation outfit if it turns out well! Either way, it’ll prove to be excellent practice for the circle skirt on the Grad Ball dress. If past experience is anything to go by, I expect much in the way of swearing, finger pricking and wonky hemming along the way…

The perils of sewing when essays are due…

Procrastination is all well and good, but it’s even worse when your mind can ‘justify’ it by claiming it adds to a skillbase. Such is the relationship between me and my sewing right now. While I should be writing a 2,750 word essay on Anglophone Welsh literature, I find myself wistfully dusting off my beloved sewing machine, searching longingly for dress patterns for a possible Summer Ball dress… this is not the way to boost essay productivity!

View 3 of M6350

It didn’t help when Gertie of Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing posted about this fantastic pattern available from McCall’s. She remarked on its similarities to a dress she’d drafted herself – it just so happens that I’ve lusted after that dress of hers for quite some time! When I made my dress for last year’s Summer Ball, I spent an absolute age trawling through vintage patterns after having been bitten by the vintage sewing bug. My interest in vintage sewing is pretty much down to Gertie, whose insightful blog is full of vintage sewing tips, wonderful creations and thought-provoking posts about key issues relating to sewing, fashion and the wider world. Definitely worth a read.

I feel a future project coming on… after I’m done with this essay that is.

The Sewing Soundtrack – Wir Sind Helden : Nur Ein Wort

What’s the soundtrack to your sewing? I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to get my stitching action on the go without some motivational music in the background. For that reason, my sewing station wouldn’t quite be the same without some tunes to get me going.

Photo: xLucas

This week, it’s been all about Deutschland, with German music blaring from my laptop’s speakers on more than one occasion. Sad to say, but I’ve been neglecting my German these past few weeks, so it’s only been right to pump my speakers full of some aural delights from the land of bikes, Bratwurst and beer.

Wir Sind Helden is an old favourite, easy listening for when you’re having to unpick that seam for the seventh time. So when you feel like you spend more time undoing seams than you do actually sewing them, whack on a little bit of Nur ein Wort to calm your nerves. The video’s pretty adorable too, harking back to some classic Bob Dylan action. Even if you kann kein Deutsch, it’s a fun listen.

Getting back in the swing of things

It’s been a good few months since I last sewed something. It’s a time consuming hobby for sure, and between work, university assignments and other things, I’ve had no time whatsoever to sew anything at all.

A simple Jenny skirt is what’s on the cards this time around, a nice easy project to get me back in the swing of things. Still have a fair bit to go and hoping to get it done by Monday, in time for my interview! Stay tuned for pictures when I’m done!