Basic Black

I’ve been trying to take a good hard look at my wardrobe lately. There’s been a lot of talk in the blogosphere this year about thoughtful sewing (probably thanks to Sarai’s genius Wardrobe Architect series), and it’s really had me thinking. I’m determined to look at what I sew versus what I wear on a daily basis. Is there a lot of overlap? Let’s just say, not as much as I wish! I’d like to sew more items that I know I will wear, and that fit well with my lifestyle. Looking for holes in my wardrobe was the first step, and for me a basic, easy to wear black skirt has been missing for me.


Which brings me to this Hollyburn skirt!

photo-3I decided to go with the longer length this time, view A. Ever since I made this hollyburn, I’ve been thinking about making a version with a drapier fabric. I had this viscose twill from Télio in my stash, which ended up being a great drape and weight, pretty much exactly what I had in mind. The fabric is light and airy, yet opaque, so it’s a great summertime fabric for a skirt.

photo-6I realize now that I didn’t get any great back shots, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but I moved the center back zip to the side seam, and went with an invisible zipper instead. I made these choices mostly because I wanted the zipper to disappear into the fabric.

photo-10I really like the length of the skirt. I would call it “lady length” for sure. I don’t have to worry about the wind easily blowing my skirt up, and I can freely move about and just not think about it. Definitely an easier length for me, and my lifestyle. Plus, I think it’s pretty, and feminine.

photo-5Did you guys notice my Belcarra blouse? This one is view A. It’s actually the first one I made, before the sew-along. It’s out of the same polyester crepe polka dot fabric I used for these shorts. I squeezed this blouse out of just about 1 meter of fabric! I just purchased black bias binding for the neckline.


Since I made this version without any adjustments, the blouse is a little bit short on me, so it’s actually the perfect blouse to layer under a skirt.

photo-7So back to the skirt. I think my only complaint with this skirt is the way the pockets turned out. Since the fabric was quite lightweight, the curved pocket openings have stretched out a bit just from wearing and putting my hands in my pockets. They don’t lay flat. But even though I really notice this, I’m not sure if anyone else would. I think for my next version in this type of fabric, I will omit the pockets to get a cleaner look.

photo-8I’m pretty excited about this outfit. I feel like I’m getting warmer with finding my style and determining the types of garments that will get more wear! It’s always a struggle though, deciding what to sew next and prioritizing my personal projects. Like many, my personal sewing time is limited. I often just want to sew something exciting and trendy and different, even though I know I really could use a pair of jeans or some neutral layering pieces.

When time is limited, how do you decide what to sew? Do you go for the fun and flashy projects, or for the basic necessities?

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24 Responses to Basic Black

  1. Anne Shetty June 25, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Lovely! Would love the Holyburn skirt on pdf soon! :-)

  2. The Sewing CPA June 25, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    I really like how your skirt turned out. I also try to make clothes that fit my lifestyle. You can’t go wrong with basics.

  3. Clare June 25, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    I really love this skirt and blouse combination and think it looks perfect on you. Elegant but not to the point that you’d feel all dressed up. I have the hollyburn skirt and black herringbone linen so intend to shamelessly copy you. I often omit pockets but love the way they look on this skirt. I think after reading your comments on those I’ll stabilise the outer edge with lightweight interfacing, see if that holds the shape.

  4. Miss Crayola Creepy June 25, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    This look is perfection!!!!! I’m all about wearing black on black, so I really like what you have made :)

  5. Ruth June 25, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Your Belcarra and Hollyburn make a great outfit together! I definitely tend to go for sewing fun, pretty things at the moment, but I’m trying to sew some more basics as well – the only problem is that I keep getting distracted by lots of very patterned fabric!

  6. Cathi June 25, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Love it! Believe me, no will notice the pockets. Sewists are always so much harder on our own creations!

  7. Jill June 25, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    I love the look on you. Very classic and timeless. For your pockets, I’d check out the Palmer Pletsch books for some hints. They had a similar skirt pattern back in the 80s and I think they put seam binding in the seam to hug the body. They even do that on pant pockets that are similar. Also cut the facing with the straight of grain going parallel to the slant line of the pocket. Hope that helps.

  8. Leigh June 25, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Very cute! Next time, stabilize the pocket opening if it bothers you.

    I still remember going to sewing expo and Cynthia Guffey said that pocket openings did not need stabilizing because “a lady did not ever put her hands in her pockets. If she needed money, she put her hands in her husbands pockets.” LOL Funny (and not so funny) on many levels. :)

    I really like the hollyburn skirt – I made the short one in a denim, and it turned out super cute.

    • Tasia June 25, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      That is wild, that comment about how a lady does not put her hands in pockets! So all pockets on women’s clothing were purely decorative? Bizarre. Besides putting your hands in, pocket areas on trousers and skirts can pull and stretch just from sitting and moving! Funny, but not funny, and what an odd answer to a legitimate sewing question at a sewing expo!

  9. Jessica June 25, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Viscose twill, inspired! This is one of my favorite skirt lengths, truth be told :-). Gorgeous, versatile, classy skirt!

  10. Rachel June 25, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Love it! I have the Hollyburn pattern on my “to sew this summer” list. Can you let us know how tall you are? I love the length of your skirt (I like my skirts on the “ladylike” side!) but I’m not sure if Version A will be too long/frumpy on my barely 5’4 frame.

  11. Heather June 25, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    It’s SO hard to sew something basic like a black skirt, or you know, solid color shirts to wear with the fun patterned skirts. I’m loving this one though. There’s something really appealing in the length and silouhette.

  12. Lisa June 25, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Lovely :)

  13. Andrea June 25, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    Your skirt and blouse are both lovely! I love the Hollyburn and have made several, and recently got the Belcarra to try.

    I really enjoyed Colette’s Wardrobe Architect series, but I’m not at a point where I want to establish my wardrobe parameters (I think it helps that I already sew the shapes I prefer to wear, though). In fact, instead of learning to sew what I wear, I seem to be learning to love to wear what I sew, bright obnoxious novelty prints and all!

  14. Hanne June 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    I love this outfit! you look so good! I might have to copy it!

  15. Violeta June 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Oh, that’s lovely! I like the way the fabric hangs.

  16. Sue June 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Love the black plus black–so slimming when you have the same or even similar colors, not stark white against stark black cutting you in half in the middle. Very nice on you!

  17. The Kensington Gardens Seamstress June 25, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    A great outfit – the skirt is a winner in fabric with a bit of drape.

  18. Sophie June 26, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    This skirt is totally gorgeous and reminds me that I really should sew some more solids. One day. You are right about the length, it is lady like but not frumpy at all. The whole outfit is really flattering! I bet you feel great in it.

  19. Anne June 26, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    I’ve realised that I want to sew for me what I’d wear though I’m not there yet and I can sew the flashy or avant garde for my daughters! Maybe, like Andrea, I should learn to love and wear what I sew! My daughters are suitably enthusiastic and grateful, though, and I can learn new techniques to improve my sewing for me!

  20. Joanna June 26, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Caroline, this outfit suits you very much. I you add red lipstick and a flower in your knotted hair, you will look so … Spanish ;-)

  21. lisa g June 26, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    this outfit looks great! i love how effortless and ladylike it is. i recently took the skirt of the lonsdale dress to make a linen skirt, which i love! i did add fusible stay tape to the pocket edges to keep them from stretching, then i bar tacked where the pocket meets the waistband and side seam. helps keep it all in place. but, i didn’t even notice until you said so! i’m sure you’ll get much use out of these pieces.

    • Caroline Amanda June 29, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      Thanks Lisa! I think I’m going to try this on my next version.

  22. sonia June 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Thanks Caroline, I haven’t seen many styling ideas for the below knee hollyburn skirt, and it’s a great length for me. Printed a picture to put in my fitting notes file, inspiration for my next project (I don’t think I’ll be straying too far from your original :-) )