Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Knitted gifts

I didn't make as many things for others as I have done in the past - I thought I had plans for Christmas well in hand early, and then realised there was actually hardly any time left. Oops. I did make a couple of quick projects though: a cowl and mitts for my dad, and mitts for my friend, all of which are pretty simple, so not a huge amount to write about them.

The cowl is simply a tube knitted in the round in twisted stocking stitch (alternate rounds of k into back of loop and k as normal), with three rows of k1 p1 rib at each end. I used one ball of Rico Creative Bonbon super chunky. I chose this lovely variegated purply colourway (that was also half price in pre-Christmas sales...) as I thought it's vaguely masculine without being boring black or navy, and also would look good against his grey and blond colouring.

The mitts are coordinating but intentionally not matching, as I didn't think he'd appreciate a full on matchy-matchy look! I used this pattern, but since I was using a different wool (Lang Merino 70 Superwash), I needed to adjust stitch counts etc to resize it. My notes on these changes are here. I also made them shorter at both wrist and "finger"-length, as I intended them for him to use whilst working at the computer and didn't want them to get in the way. The photos here are actually taken by my dad, as I forgot to take any photos before wrapping them up!

The mitts for my friend are based on Café au lait. She's has two young children and also works as a childminder, so I thought they would be more practical with a st st palm, and I also altered them to make them symmetrical (full details of my changes are here).

I used a non-wool yarn (Lang Omega) as she has eczema, and also to make them easier to care for (I doubt she has time to faff around hand-washing stuff).

The colour is really hard to photograph, it's actually much richer, more jewel-like in real life. I bought two balls just in case (and they were also in the pre-Christmas sale...) but they took less than one, so I'm thinking I might make myself a pair too!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Christmas dress and Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge

As it's Twelfth Night, I better get a post up for my Christmas dress. I'd intended to use this fabric for a dress last year, but ran out of fitting time (so ended up making a dress in knit velour), so thought this year I could use the retro inspired print in combination with a vintage pattern to tick off another item for my Vintage Pattern Pledge. It's seen in these photos with a new Luxulite brooch, which was a present from my husband (he found amusing that I'd pointed out to him what I wanted, but had genuinely managed to forget about it!). Also all the photos feature the essential accessory of a champagne glass, what could be more Christmassy...

Pattern description

Advance 6338: dress with dropped waist, V-neck, cut-on cap sleeves and four-gore semi-circular skirt.

Pattern sizing

Size 17 (half-sizing), bust 35", hip 38". Having just looked up this sizing to write the blog post, it explains why this was so small on me when I made a muslin - I think I must have been at the pre-Christmas Bailey's as I'd misread the sizing as 38" bust.

Fabric used

Novelty-print quilting cotton, plus white poly-cotton batiste for bodice lining and red poly/acetate for skirt lining (can't remember fibre content as I bought it ages ago).

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Fairly similar, although it isn't as close-fitting between bust and shoulder as the envelope drawings indicate, or as low-cut.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

I didn't honestly do more than glance at them as the original dress is unlined with facings, whilst I was making it fully lined. It's a fairly basic dress so not particularly hard to construct, although the one unusual feature with this pattern is that the seam allowances were given as 1/2" (1.25cm) rather than the more usual 5/8" (1.5cm).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I really like the shape the drop-waist gives, especially on me. Since putting on a bit of weight, my natural waist has moved up a bit, due to what is euphemistically described in fitting books as a full high hip at the back. This throws off my proportions, especially with a fit and flare type silhouette which I find generally most flatting on me with dresses. However, the drop waist seems to visually lengthen my narrowest part, although I think in a less patterned fabric only a slight drop would be most flattering.

I didn't like the drafting of the neckline - it is a straight line from shoulder seam to lowest point, which always looks a bit odd on the body. I changed this on the back neckline, but for some reason didn't for the front neckline, I don't really know why! The drafting of the cut-on sleeves seemed a bit odd too - very narrow at the back compared to the front. However, this was exaggerated by fit issues, which I didn't really work on, plus fudging the alterations to un-petite the bodice as I was making it in a rush. The pattern is also unprinted, which I always find tend to be a little less accurate with the markings of darts and notches.

Pattern and fit alterations or any design changes you made

The bodice fit was pretty good in terms of shape, it was just too small. Whilst muslining it, I found that it fitted pretty much perfectly just by adding width at the side seams, although I also needed to lower the armscyes and the side bust darts (i.e. fudging the de-petiting as mentioned above). I reshaped the waist darts front and back to fit closer to my waist, and lowered the dart tip on the front (although it's still a little high). I also added a little at the shoulder point on the back bodice, moved the zip to the CB as I prefer this to a side zip, and shortened the skirt (at the hem) by about 10cm.

Construction details

The skirt portion was made first so that it could hang for the bias portions to drop before hemming, and I used Trena's method for lining the bodice. I actually hand-picked my zip, as the only one of a suitable colour wasn't invisible, and I was concerned a lapped zip would look a bit odd at the top where it met the point of the V. However, I hate the lines of stitching with a machine-inserted centred zip, and also fortunately find handsewing rather therapeutic. I'd intended to put a hook and eye at the top of the zip (which is why it starts a little low), but ran out of time.

Seam allowances were pinked on enclosed seams in the bodice, and serged on the skirt. The darts and side seam allowances were clipped several times at the waistline to stop any pulling.

I'd always intended to add trim at the neckline, and settled on plain satin ribbon, which I applied by hand with a pick stitch. Whilst the skirt had been hanging I rather liked the peek of red lining at the bottom, so added the satin ribbon at the hem too.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

To be honest I probably won't sew this pattern again, certainly not in the near future, as it needs a lot of fiddling with the fit in the upper bodice. However, I will try a dropped waist again, plus it reminded me how much I like half-circle skirts.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed wearing this dress on Christmas Day - it was comfortable enough to eat and drink (lots of that was done)), plus was pleasantly swishy whilst moving around (not so much of that though), and certainly more comfortable to wear than last year's red velour number. However, it is extremely Christmassy, and therefore not versatile AT ALL, despite two or three days' of work going into it. Next year I'll still make a "festive" dress, but either make it a bit more simple (I really do love my novelty Christmas dresses - my favourite was an Elvis Christmas card print... Which I wore to work...), or try and keep it a bit more versatile - I'm loving the idea of a sparkly dress or something glamorous in green velvet.

I'm giving myself a pass mark on the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. I said I wanted to sew three patterns, and I did make (nearly) five dresses from three patterns, although three of those were from the same pattern, and one is languishing in UFO limbo.

Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge

I made three versions of Simplicity 5237: the original blue version, the Sew Dolly Clackett version, and the yellow wedding guest version. The blue version, embarrassingly, has never been worn. I find the sleeves a bit awkward. They make it too warm for a summer dress, but I can't wear a cardie or jacket over them for cooler days. Ooh, I've just thought - I can try it with long sleeves underneath. Need to check if it still fits first... The Dolly Clackett version hasn't been worn much, but mostly because it was a pretty crappy summer here so none of my summer dresses have been worn much! Before next summer I need to reverse engineer a lining (or possibly a sort of underlining) for the skirt as the quilting cotton I used is not the best quality so catches on itself and sort of rides up my legs when I walk. I also need to adjust the fit of the bodice, in the same way as for the yellow version, to shape the front waist darts (and seaming) closer to my shape, plus lowering the armscyes.

The vintage pattern that hasn't been seen yet is Simplicity 7981, which I've semi-made up in doubleknit - the photo below shows the bodice just basted, but I've since attached the long sleeves (all kinds of ugh) and skirt (which is rather nice). I didn't make a muslin, which means it needs some serious fitting adjustments (exacerbated by making it up in a stretch fabric rather than a woven), mostly in the armscyes/shoulders (I think a lot of the problems are also from weird 1960s drafting too). I will come back to this in the next couple of months though as it will be a nice cosy dress for the winter, if a bit Trekkie (not that there's anything wrong with that).

A photo posted by Dilly (@dibulous) on

As always, the "pressure" of it being a "challenge" has meant I've dithered about choices too much, but it's reminded me of the lovely patterns I own. I think this year I will make up some of the separates and jackets, as these are more versatile than dresses most of the time.

I'll leave you with this lovely view from our flat of the sunset on Christmas Eve, featuring the traditional Firmenich building Christmas tree!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Jersey basics

Just a quick post to show my progress so far on my Autumn Sew-Along. It's a bit slow as I had a flying visit to the UK at the beginning of October (Sussex-London-Reading-Cardiff in six days...), and my sewing room is currently mostly packed away as my mum is staying with us for a couple of weeks whilst her bathroom is being redone, so the slow progress is likely to continue until the end of October. I do plan to do some pattern tracing whilst she's here (and maybe cut fabric), but actual sewing time will be a bit limited. At least with my plan I know exactly what I want to prepare!

First up is another drape-front cardi - my second version of this is one of my favourites, so it made sense to make another. This is made from a super-lightweight rayon sweater knit (possibly a rayon blend), and is really really really soft. I didn't have a matching grey thread handy, so instead of hemming it around the edge and on the sleeves, I used the rolled hem on my serger.

This attempt at a rolled hem turned out way better than previous tries, mainly because I realised my clever lazy trick of just unthreading the left needle rather than removing it actually meant that it interfered with the the action of the loopers, meaning the hem had a row of little thread loops along one side. Doh. The shoulders and back neckline are reinforced with fusible bias tape, plus top-stitching along the back neckline, and the corner points of the collar and front piece are reinforced with small squares of fusible tricot.

The second thing to show is a boxy slightly cropped top. This is a duplicate of one of my favourite RTW tops, and I made it in this blue slub rayon as a trial to test my pattern. It's actually turned out very wearable (although it's changed shape ever so slightly as I hadn't pre-washed the fabric, but I was expecting this to happen). The hem is level, despite it looking wonky in the photos.

I finished the sleeves and hem with a narrow twin needle, and also used this to add the sweatshirt "V" at the front neckline. There's a couple of missed stitches on the V (and my stay-stitching wasn't entirely within the neckline seam allowance) but as it's a casual top and a trial, I'm not terribly fussed. I might try stitching over tissue or tear-away stabiliser next time as a single layer of such lightweight fabric is a bit prone to doing weird things.

So, two items done, neither very exciting, but both extremely useful and already worn several times! I've also made some progress on a couple of knitting projects, but I'll save those for another post when I've taken some photos of them!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Fall AKA autumn essentials planning

I happened across Sarah's FESA (Fall Essentials Sew-Along) over at The Creative Perfectionist (formerly Rhinestones and Telephones), and this got me thinking about planning what I will be making over the next few months

I'm not a fan of cold weather dressing, I much prefer pretty summer dresses and sandals to layers of woolly jumpers and boots. It also doesn't help that here in Switzerland they really love their central heating so you're constantly going between cold fresh air and stuffy overheated buildings and buses. So, I need to sort out some separates and layers that fit me and can be mixed and matched. When I came across this sewalong, it helped me put my thoughts in order, which will hopefully give some structure to my sewing plans.

I really don't think I'll be able to make all of these, and certainly not within the sew-along time period, but I'm using this more as a reminder list to keep me on track and try and help eliminate those moments of "I don't know what to sew next".

Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather

Trousers, skirts, legwarmers and more! Anything that keeps your lower portion fashionably cozy fits perfectly here! The chilly weather necessitates the donning of bifurcated bottoms and sassy skirts!

This is probably the things I need to sew most. I tend to spend most of the cold weather in jeans and various tops, but one of my favourite pairs of jeans wore out irreparably at the beginning of this year, so I need to at least replace those. It would be nice to have some other non-jeans trousers (and some skirts) too, to break up the monotony of my winter wardrobe, although I think I will need to have a think how I want to style these.

  • Basic ponte skirts in various colours
  • Jeans skirt that fits me now
  • Blue denim jeans
  • Red twill jeans
  • B&W graphic sateen cigarette trousers
  • Woollen wide leg trousers
  • Winter midi- or maxi-skirt

Picture sources: knit skirts, zip-back pencil skirt, light denim pencil skirt, red jeans, b&w trousers, wide-leg trousers, winter maxi skirt

Chic Chemises for Cool Climates

Blouses, tops, vests, cardigans, and sweaters! These wardrobe essentials can carry you from day to night, not to mention provide necessary layering to keep out the chill.

I have a couple of hand-knits that are close to completion, both of them sort of transitional, so my next hand knit will be something a bit more wintery. I also really want to make some more sewn cardigans, as I like wearing these and they're super handy for layering.

  • Knitted cardies
  • Finish up hand-knit yellow jumper
  • Finish up hand-knit blue cotton cardie
  • Sewn cardies, cropped and draped
  • Scarf-neck T-shirts
  • Tunic-length blouses
  • Pretty blouses/woven tops/T-shirts

Picture sources: grey open cardie, grey drape cardie, ikat cardie, black tunic blouse, chevron topblue lace sleeve pullover, dark grey textured cardie, grey v-neck cardie, red and purple top

Fabulous Frocks

Dresses of all styles; mini, midi, or long! Keep yourself warm in your modish designs, layering with tights and boots!

I really like wearing dresses, so would like to have a few more cold-weather appropriate ones (although I hate wearing tights, so this isn't the highest priority category unless I make some more leggings).

  • Chambray shirt-dress
  • Long-sleeved wrap dresses
  • Ponte/doubleknit dresses

Picture sources: grey seamed wrap dress, striped wrap dress, purple sequinned-sleeve dress, red and black dress, ecru sweater dress, chambray shirt dress, plaid dress, ecru midriff dress

Underneath It All

When you're spending months covered from the neck down, a glamorous underpinning of your choice adds a secret, luxurious touch that chases the cold away!

I'd like to make up some Netties as the bodysuits for some extra layers that won't bunch up or be draughty. I also need to replace a lot of my regular wear knickers, and it seems much more logical to make some rather than buy yet more (I even have some too-small vest-tops that I've been saving to recycle too).

  • Nettie bodysuits
  • Cotton jersey knickers
  • Leggings
  • Slips

Tender Tootsies

Let's not forget your frosty feet! Socks, slippers and the like are the order of the day. Keep those tootsies warm and dry!

I have a pair of knitted ballerina slippers that I bought last year that I really like wearing in the winter. I'm planning on making a second pair to alternate when the others are in the wash. Socks aren't a necessity, but are nice small projects to knit in the evenings or when travelling.

  • Knitted or sewn slippers
  • Woolly socks

Those Cozy Nights

Is there anything better than snuggling up in a cozy pair of pajamas with a hot drink and a book whilst Jack Frost works his magic outside? I think not! Sleepwear of all types are the way to go here!

Much of my sleepwear needs replacing, and I have most of the fabric I need for the garments on here from last year's plans.

  • Pretty nightie
  • Flannel pyjama bottoms
  • Dressing gown
  • Jersey sleep tops with shelf bras

Baby It's Cold Outside

Coats, hats, and mittens donned to keep the cold at bay, especially when out enjoying the spectacular fall colours!

My (RTW) winter coat is still going strong, so I don't really need to sew anything to replace this (although I do need to sort out dry-cleaning it and re-sewing some buttons). However, I do need some lighter coats or jackets, but I just need to decide which of the ones I have planned to work on.

  • Plaid flannel hooded jacket
  • Grey wool lightweight coat
  • Purple bouclé wool jacket
  • Green flannel swing jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Leather jacket
  • Parka
  • Jersey blazer
  • Finish up vintage hand-knit grey hat
  • Merino hand-knit hand-warmers

Picture sources: grey jersey blazer, purple tweed jacket, plaid swing jacket, moto jacket, parka

Some of these might seem a bit vague, but I have fabric and patterns in mind for many of them, just don't want to spend the time photographing/scanning these to add here. The pictures are inspirations of the sort of things I want to make and reminders for me. I've also recently just bought myself a (tiger-print!) Fashionary after waiting in vain several birthdays and Christmases for one as a present, so will be using that to plan the clothes in a bit more detail, plus I want to use a couple of vintage patterns for these garments to keep up with my Vintage Pattern Pledge. Fingers crossed, I'll be posting about some of these items soon! Although, as a Brit, I will from now on be referring to these as Autumn Essentials...

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Tropical pleated dress

We needed an excuse to tidy our flat, so decided to throw a party! And of course that then gave me an excuse to make a party frock... Given the terrible summer we've had, we went for a tropical theme - so even more excuse for a party frock.

Pattern description

Simplicity 2053 - dress with pleated front bodice and skirt, choice of sleeves and length.

Pattern sizing

6-22 (Bust 30.5-44"). After looking at the finished measurements, I cut the 16 at the shoulders, 18 at the waist and 20 at the hips.

Fabric used

A linen blend (I think with cotton), underlined with rayon challis.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Sort of. I made some design changes to the neckline at front and back, but the main difference was the front skirt - I found it super difficult to get the pleats here to lie as nicely as they appeared on Simplicity's sample dresses.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

To be honest, I only looked at the instructions for the pleats on the front section (the waist seam on the front is sewn before the pleats are formed, then the side seams are sewn.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Like: the pleats on the bodice. The drafting of the pleats is generally nice (even if I did have to alter quite a bit to fit them to me).

Dislike: the pleats on the skirt. Also the huge amount of ease. The measurements give a whopping 3"/7cm of ease on the bust. Whilst that might be fine on a loose fitting and gently shaped garment, it's totally inappropriate here as a tighter fit is needed to keep the pleats in place. I think that's one reason the skirt pleats don't sit well since I kept the ease in the skirt to give myself some sitting space, but that allows the excess fabric to sag, rather than form nice neat pleats. Heh, neat pleats. The skirt pleats might also sit better in a slightly crisper fabric.

I also think it's madness putting the side zip in the side with all the pleats, as directed - it would be insanely difficult to get a neat insertion. I know the left side is the "proper" side for a dress zip, but if Simplicity desperately wanted to keep that, wouldn't it make sense to draft the pattern with the pleats on the right?

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

I wanted a sleeveless dress, but with two straps (so I didn't have to wear a strapless bra), so I traced the bodice for the version with sleeves, but traced the armscye from the asymmetric sleeveless version onto both sides (mirrored obviously!). I also lowered the back neckline significantly to provide interest on the back and moved the zip to the centre back as I find these easier to get in and out of.

I pegged the skirt 6cm total, and increased the length of the back slit about an inch, as I felt it looked a bit stubby as drafted.

Hmm, the fitting was a little bit involved... Given the darts are all rotated into the pleats, I couldn't just do a standard FBA on the bodice - and I also didn't know how much the pleats would affect the fit. So... I made a muslin version of the unaltered pattern piece (unaltered for fit, it had my design changes), then figured out how much I needed to add in length and width by snipping into it and pinning extra fabric as required. Not the easiest thing to be doing to yourself, but I somehow managed not to chop up my bra or give myself any impromptu surgery...

Once I had my bodice fitting approximately how I wanted it, I unpicked the seams, laid it on my sewing table, and...

Yeah, it wasn't so easy to transfer the changes to the flat pattern - as I'd been doing the fitting on myself, it hadn't been possible to always cut and pin in a way that could be unfolded so I couldn't lay it out completely flat. After a little while staring blankly at the pattern piece, I went and had a cup of tea to contemplate what to do.

I decided to use the modified muslin piece as a guide for doing an FBA on the paper pattern piece. I could see how much length I'd needed to add at the bust point, and also how much width I'd needed to add on the plain (right-hand) side so did this as normal, adding a dart from the side seam (I wanted this as it would reduce the amount needed to add to the pleats and keep the dress closer fitting). For the left-hand side, I drew in approximate equivalent FBA lines (I'd marked bust points on the muslin), splitting the vertical length added between the pleats, and spreading the width the same as for the normal side.

Here is the unaltered pattern piece with the slash lines marked. There is extra width at the waist on the pleat side as the paper was difficult to fold and true so I did this on the muslin. The pale blue lines are the pleat fold lines and the other colours mark the equivalent cuts in each side.

After spreading it, I got this. The blobs are the hinge points - note that I made this alteration on a pattern piece with seam allowances, so the hinge points are on the seam lines, not the edge of the pattern piece.

After cutting this new pattern from muslin, I arranged the pleats approximately on Wilma, then adjusted the fit on me. My bodged FBA actually worked quite well, although I needed to take out a little width on the pleat side.

Other than this, I shortened the back piece, and took a small wedge out of each side of the back neckline after lowering it to stop it gaping. The skirt only needed minor changes, and a slight rearrangement of the pleats. I also took out about 1.5cm of length in the bodice - this put the waistline seam at the perfect place in the muslin, but I must have done something weird as this turned out to be a problem in the final version.

Construction details

The linen blend fabric is fairly loosely woven and lightweight, so I chose to underline with rayon challis to provide some structure and opacity whilst keeping the softness and drape of the linen. A cotton batiste or lawn might have been a better choice as the rayon has the same tendency as the linen to "grow" slightly when worn (although that made for a super comfortable dress). I cut the underlining first and put the markings on this, then used these pieces to cut the linen, which meant I could be careful with the pattern placement. I started off hand basting the markings and the edge, but after spending ages doing this on the first piece I realised I'd moved the underlining slightly whilst straightening it so had moved from where I wanted the pattern placement to be. ARGH. After that I hand basted the markings but machine basted the edges (having learnt from the yellow dress to make sure to keep these within the seam allowances so I didn't have to pick everything out...)

As for pattern placement, I managed to avoid bullseye flowers on boobs or butt! There's a bit of a crotch flower happening on the front skirt, but it's not so bad with all the pleats there. I also managed to match across the zip, and mostly match across the waistline seam.

All the seams were sewn on the regular machine and then pinked to reduce bulk. These pinked seam allowances could do with being slip/catch stitched to the underlining, but I only did that along the CB zip and vent seams, and will come back to that for the rest of them. The zip was machine sewn on the underlap side and hand picked on the overlap side as I couldn't find a perfect thread colour match. I couldn't find a good colour match for the zip either so I went with a contrast zip (plus I'll go for the opportunity to use yellow wherever I can!). I finished it with a hook and thread loop at the top.

I went for a combined facing to finish the armscyes and neckline. Because the straps are quite narrow I didn't use the burrito machine method as I wouldn't be able to pull the dress through the straps. So I sewed the shoulders last and finished the facing shoulder seams by hand. The facing is under-stitched, and catch-stitched to the underlining.

I mitred the corner of the vent overlap and hem, and did the stitching along the top of the event by hand pick-stitches to avoid visible stitching again.

Unfortunately, I didn't try on the final dress until after basically finishing the whole thing and trimming the seam allowances, assuming the fit would be mostly similar to the muslin. Oops. The shoulder straps were too short, the waistline was waaaaay too high, meaning the fit of the skirt (especially at the back) was completely off), and the bodice was too tight on the upper half. ARGH AGAIN. I had a little cry, had another cup of tea, then took a deep breath and channelled Tim Gunn. I didn't want to waste the fabric, and the basic idea of the dress was fine, so I figured I'd try to make alterations.

To add some breathing space in the bodice I let it out at the side seams from underarm to about halfway to the waist, slightly more in the back than the front. This left me with teeny tiny seam allowances, hopefully they won't entirely disintegrate over time. I'd trimmed the seam allowances of the facing narrower than the bodice pieces, so I patched in a spare bit of fabric. Not super pretty, but it's on the inside.

Because of the way I'd finished and trimmed the shoulder seams, I couldn't let these out, so I lowered the front neckline about 1cm at the front. This meant trimming through some of my stay-stitching, fingers crossed the seam stitching and under-stitching here will prevent it from stretching too much. I also couldn't lengthen the bodice as the pleats go over the waist seam, plus the zip was already in, so I just pretended it was always meant to be slightly high-waisted/empire line, and adjusted the darts in the back skirt to shape it properly at the natural back waist. It's really annoying that these alterations meant the dress isn't as perfect as I wanted, but at least it was wearable!

The slight tightness in the upper bodice meant that my bra straps showed a bit, so I also added thread chain lingerie holders, which worked well.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I might use the bodice again (after adding back in the length...), but will either take out most of the pleats in the skirt or draft a new front piece. I would recommend it to others, but just pay attention to the printed final garment measurements when picking your size, and make a muslin to check the fit.

Conclusion

Despite the mess up with fitting, I wore this dress for the party and it was actually really comfortable - the fabric relaxed slightly during wearing, and is also super soft (the photos here were taken after wearing, hence a few wrinkles - I did iron it before taking the photos, but apparently not terribly well). I think I will take apart the front of the skirt and redo the pleats - either stitching them down more, or rotating some of them out, as it's pretty poochy across my belly as it is. The party, however, was super fun, there was lots of food and drink, and colourful decorations. Oh, and piña colada cupcakes...

Cheers! (Yes, that is a straw with a flamingo on it).