Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Era Challenge: Mad Men-inspired Pencil Skirt and Top

I was so excited for this challenge, I've had my skirt done for weeks!  And yet, here it is on the second-to-last day to join the contest at Project Sewn and I'm just now uploading photos and writing my post!

But, I'm done now.  And starting on Friday, you can vote for me HERE! Just scroll down to the sewalong contestants and look for the photo shown below.  I'm really proud of this look, so I'm totally going to grub for votes this time around.  I'll try not to be too annoying about it!

It's been a busy couple of weeks (I'll share some pics of the wedding I made these outfits for soon), but the real reason I'm behind is because although the skirt came easily, I struggled with what kind of top I should make to go with it.  I ended up making two, since I didn't like the first one.

Shown with the second top

I was at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago and came across this cool vintage sweater knit fabric.  It was $10 though--more than I could justify on an unnecessary fabric purchase.  There was TONS of it, but I REALLY didn't need several yards, and since it was Goodwill and not a fabric store it's not like I could just have them cut off a yard for me so I could buy it for a couple of bucks.  So I sighed and left it at the store, but...I couldn't get it out of my head. I knew exactly how I wanted to make it into something perfect for the era challenge, but that I would love wearing any old day as well.  I bet you can guess how this ends--I went back and bought it.  So if you like it, I've got some extra for you!  About three yards worth!  I didn't realize when I saw it folded on a hanger that this fabric was actually a really long tube.  Have you ever seen that before? I hadn't!

So anyway, my skirt!  I absolutely love it.  I followed the tutorial from Adrianna (Crafterhours) on making a knit pencil skirt to your own measurements, and it fits like a dream.  But for the top of the skirt, I modified the Milkmaid skirt tutorial (also from Adrianna--how did I not realize that until just now?  She's competing in this round of Project Sewn, so I guess that's appropriate that I'm using all of her tutorials!  Her Era Challenge Audrey Hepburn inspired look is DARLING--go vote!), adding the pockets on top instead of hidden behind the front skirt panel, and narrowing the waistband slightly.  I like the added snugness that the elastic inside the waistband gives. I had a vision of piping with this fabric.  It gives a nice definition on the pockets--my thinking is, if you're putting pockets on a slim-fitting pencil skirt, there's no way they're going to be hidden, especially if you've got anything in there!  So you might as well draw attention to the pockets!

I also really wanted piping as an added detail above the hem.  But I started thinking about it, and realized that since it's a stretch skirt, I didn't want non-stretch piping going all the way around and making it more difficult to move in the skirt.  I was sad to abandon my vision, but then it came to me--the piping didn't need to go all the way around!  I added the piping in the front, then just past the side seam I curved it down into the hemline.  It reminds me of the door details on classic cars, or something--I like it even better than if the piping had gone all the way around!

I have to admit, this skirt makes me feel pretty damn good about how my butt looks.
If you'd rather just look at the piping and not my butt.  Fine.
Oh, and because I know you care about this kind of thing--I lined it with a soft gray-and-black striped knit--even the inside of the pockets.  I'm kind of sad that it's all hidden because I love the way it looks with the sweater-knit!
Pocket lining--and possibly the only time you will see my nails painted
Now, I'm not sure what era this fabric came from.  It feels a little late '60's-early '70's to me, but the silhouette gives it a slightly earlier feel. I thought it would be fun to make a little cardigan to go along with this.  Sort of a Mad Men sassy-secretary look. I had some mustard-colored knit fabric that I thought would work, and so I made a pattern based on one of my all-time favorite cardis.

BUT, whomp-whomp.  The slightly empire waist of the cardigan and the natural waist of the skirt just didn't work together.  The proportions are off, and it just looked unflattering.

I still like the cardi on its own, so it wasn't a total waste.  The color was terrible with my skin, so I used scraps from an off-white t-shirt for the binding. It's much better on me when that caramel color never comes in contact with my skin! I will totally wear this, just with something else.  It's good with jeans.

I just let the fabric roll at the bottom hem

I love the sweet fabric, despite the fact that it makes me look diseased.

Luckily, I already have a cardigan that I bought at Target that looks way better with it.  This outfit still has a quirky retro vibe while feeling casual--I wore it to meet with the other kindergarten room parents and felt totally comfortable.  I wasn't sure beforehand, but it turns out I am totally a pencil skirt kind of girl--as long as it has pockets!

Dressed down--the contemporary version
But that still left me without a top to use for the Era Challenge!  I went the easy route--I refashioned a dress that I never wore into a top, basically by cutting off some weird button-tab details on the neckline to turn it into a more classic cowl, then cutting off bottom so that it was shirt-length instead of dress. I really think the top and skirt suit each other, again giving the retro feel without totally looking like a costume.

Had to have fun with the styling!

Couldn't resist the kick pose--but my balance is so bad this is the only one I got where I'm not falling over!
So there it is!  My "Era Challenge" outfit!  I would really, really love it if you'd hop over to Project Sewn and vote for me--I'm number 12  in the sewalong links at the bottom of the page!  No email required, just click a button and you're done :)


  1. Great job on 60's look pencil skirt! You look super cute! Love that fabric so much.. Can I have the leftover? :)

  2. I think it looks great! Everything in my life is coming against me getting my look submitted in time... maybe I'll be in for next week.
    Kristi -kopykat

  3. Beth - this looks awesome! I love that fabric too and would have done the exact same thing and turned around to snatch it up. You basically got an awesome skirt for $10

  4. This is incredibly flattering, I would be proud to show that rear too! Thanks for all the shout outs and for voting. I'll return the favor ;)

  5. oh i love it! and you look amazing in it!! must go check out that tutorial!

  6. Great skirt - the pockets and piping are awesome. Definitely love it with the black top and super cute hair!

  7. Adorable! I love the fabric and the combo with the black top is my favorite! I also just picked up some knit fabric, at a warehouse sale, and its in a strange!

  8. um, I'll buy the rest of the fabric! If you are serious, let me know. I'll happily pay for shipping, handling, whatever. And I LOVE this skirt and the ways you styled it!

    1. Amy, I can measure and let you know exactly how much I've got to spare--I've come up with a few projects to use some more, but there really is more than I can use. You can send me an email at sewbabycrafts at gmail dot com so I can send along more info! I'd be shipping from Portland, OR.

  9. Super Cute Outfits!!! Great job!!

  10. This is stunning! Really beautiful

  11. That fabric is so freaking was totally worth the $10 I'd have gone back and bought it to!!! LOVE IT!!! And your skirt is fabulous!-liZ

  12. I wish I could sew - awesome skirt!


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