Tag Archives: Hummingbird skirt

Channeling Dita

It was a public holiday here in New Zealand today – Waitangi Day. And I had a pre-arranged half-day of sewing time, all to myself. Exciting!! *bounce*

Guess what I was planning to do with it? Finish off a top I’ve been making, cut out some trousers, and trace a couple of patterns.

Guess what I actually did with it? Finish off a top I’ve been making, and get all inspired by the Fashion Icon challenge at Project Sewn this week and make a skirt to go with said top.

Yep, that’s right – even with my sewing queue being crazy-long right now, I ignored it all and made a Dita von Teese inspired outfit today instead.

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I rather admire Ms von Teese. She’s not a classic beauty, but she knows what works for her, and she appreciates good style and good quality. (Plus, she’s got a throwback to vintage styles thing going on, and I do happen to be rather fond of that.) Wish I could wear red lippy as well as she does…. *sigh*

(Admittedly, it currently clashes with my hair, which may be part of why it doesn’t work so well on me…. Hmmm…)

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

When I think of Dita, I think of things like woven fabrics, black, leopard, collars, wiggle skirts, and 1950’s pin-up style. (Plus that red lippy, of course.)


The top is the Alma top from Sewaholic patterns. It’s the first time I’ve used a Sewaholic pattern – I have another one planned for this month, so I’ll hold off having a strong opinion on them until I’ve tried a second pattern. (I will say one thing though – the tissue paper they use is extremely flimsy and horrible to work with when tracing. Do not like.) (I do like the way the pattern envelopes are making a rainbow of colour though – very cute!)

Sewaholic Alma top

Sewaholic Alma top

My Alma is made of quilting cotton, with the contrast collar in a black cotton drill. (Which, as it turns out, shows up all sorts of fluff when photographed.)

Sewaholic Alma top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Originally, I made the Alma with sleeves, like so:

Sewaholic Alma top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But unexpectedly, the sleeves were waaaay too tight on me under the arms. (Yeah – follow the line of my arm below and you may be able to spot the complete lack of any decent amount of ease at the underarm area there.) Not a problem I ever really have when sewing, so it came as quite a surprise!

Sewaholic Alma top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So, those puppies had to come off. (If you look at the photos of the sleeveless Alma, you’ll see there’s no gaping around the arm sythe – good for sleeveless, not so good with sleeves in.)

The other key change I made to the Alma was the fastening. The pattern calls for a side zipper, but I kinda have a habit of getting stuck in garments with side zips. (Seriously. I’ve had some horror moments in changing rooms in the past where I’ve been stuck half-in, half-out of a dress or similar, completely unable to get it past my shoulders while taking it off, and in fear of bursting seams.) These days, I just avoid anything with a side zip that has to go over my shoulders. I changed it to a centre-back zip instead, a very easy change to make. Instead of cutting the back on the fold, I cut it with a 1.5cm seam allowance (5/8″ for you Americans). Used a 60cm long invisible zip and inserted it from the bottom, making sure there was about 3.5cm left between the neckline and the base of the zipper, to allow enough room to fold over the seam allowance.

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Deviating from the pattern a bit, I did a bias facing rather than a neck facing (it just seemed a bit odd to have a collar and a neck facing….). Believe it or not, it was the first time I’ve done a bias facing. Heck knows how I’ve made it this far without doing one! So easy that I used it again on the armholes. The hem is bound with a vintage cotton tape. (Bias and tape in green and brown – shades of the jungle coz, you know, that’s where leopards hang out.)

Sewaholic Alma top details | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The skirt is the “pink” Hummingbird skirt from Cake patterns. I’ve made this one before so it was nice and easy to put together (even without the instructions, as my copy of the pattern is away from home at the moment). I made it in the same cotton drill that the Alma’s collar is made from. And I completely forgot to take a photo, but the pockets are lined with the leopard print fabric I used in the top. Bringing the whole ensemble together, indeed.

Hummingbird skirt and top from Cake Patterns

Hummingbird skirt and top from Cake Patterns

I’ve changed size a bit since my last Hummingbird skirt, plus my last one sat lower than I’d like it to, so I cut one size smaller this time. (A bit of a mistake, as I haven’t lot weight around the hips – oops! Should have kept that piece the same size!) I ended up taking it in about one more size at the waist so it would sit on my actual waist (the pattern is drafted to sit about 1″ below the natural waist), and letting it out nearly a size around the hips.

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and this time? I put the tail flounce on the right way round. 😉

Cake Hummingbird skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Even though this is the longer of the two Hummingbird skirt variations, it ends up rather short on me when I sit down. Whenever I get around to making up the straight “orange” variation, I’ll have to length it by a good 10cm or it may not be all that ‘decent’ on me!

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m pretty happy with this outfit. It’s not my usual style at all, but I think it has a definite ‘Dita’ flavour about it. And while I doubt I’ll wear the pieces together, I can see them getting a lot of wear individually. (In fact, I’m planning on wearing the top to work tomorrow with jeans. It’s a good, longer length for that.)

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Right, better go and work on those trousers I was meant to be making today! 😉

Lining the Hummingbird skirt

Remember that Pigeon skirt I made last month from the Hummingbird pattern from Cake? And how I made a lining for it, and promised to do a post showing how I did it?

Well, the time for that post has finally arrived!

Here’s how it went…..

(Note that this could be used for either the pink or the orange version of the Hummingbird skirt.)

I didn’t do anything special for the skirt back – since the only seams are the centre back (for the zipper) and the flounce (if sewing the pink version), I just used the original pattern pieces and cut ’em out of lining as well.

For the front though, I drafted a new pattern piece. The Hummingbird skirt front is in three panels – a centre panel, and two side panels with pockets set in them. Since linings should be as smooth as possible, there was no need at all for having a three-paneled front lining, so instead I used the pattern pieces to draft a one-piece front.

However, it’s not as simple as just laying those pieces down and drawing around them. You see, there is some subtle shaping going on in that pretty Hummingbird pattern. Where the centre front panel joins the two side panels is some shaping, as though there were small darts there but they have been incorporated in the seams. Which means, you need some darts in to match the shaping. Also, those pocket pieces need to be turned into one pattern piece.

Ready to draft a lining? Here goes….!

Step 1 – join the side panel with the pocket piece

Have a look at your pattern. See those dots at the pocket corner where you match the fabric while stitching it up? Well, those need to match when making the lining as well. Overlay the side panel piece and the pocket piece, so those two dots line up and the ends of both pieces are in a smooth line.

Line up the pocket piece and the side panel

Line up the pocket piece and the side panel

At this point, you have a choice, depending on what your pattern pieces are made of. Either pin those two pieces together, or draw up a new piece by tracing them as one continuous piece.

Step 2 – Mark the seam allowance on the front panel seams

By converting the front skirt panels from three pieces to one, you’re also removing two seams down the front of the skirt. Which means you’re removing the need for two seam allowances for each panel. So, let’s get rid of those!

On your new side panel piece (from step 1), measure where the seam allowance ends on the bit that would be attached to the centre panel. This will be 1/2″ in from the edge (see those faint yellow lines in the photo below? That’s where the seam allowance ends.)

Do the same on the front centre panel, on the edge that would get joined to the side panel.

Mark the seam allowance  (in this case, 1/2" from the edge)

Mark the seam allowance (in this case, 1/2″ from the edge)

Step 3 – Remove the seam allowance

Now that you’ve marked that seam allowance, it’s time to remove it! Nice and easy – just place your centre front pattern piece overtop of your side panel piece, making sure the seam allowance markings you drew in step 2 are on top of one another.

Overlap your seam allowances

Overlap your seam allowances

You’ll have a nice 1″ wide strip where the two pattern pieces overlap – which equates to 1/2″ seam allowance on either side being removed.

Draw around the outline of all the pattern pieces you’ve pinned together to create your new front lining pattern.

Step 4 – Marking the new dart

See how the 1″ overlap between the centre front and side panels tapers off towards the top of the pattern pieces?

Overlap tapering at the top of the skirt

Overlap tapering at the top of the skirt

Yeah, that’s where that shaping is that I mentioned earlier. It’s not a huge amount of shaping – just enough to make it a nicely fitted straight skirt over those curves us girls tend to have. 😉

But for the lining, since it’s going to be one piece rather than panels, we need to convert that shaping into a dart.

You’ll need to mark three points for this. Firstly, measure out the top width of your dart. This is the same place as where the seam allowance ends would be. In other words, measure 1/2″ in from the end of each pattern piece. (See those yellow lines near the top of the picture below?)

Next, you’ll need to mark where the dart ends. Look at your pattern – you should be able to spot where the overlap of the two pattern pieces starts to taper and reduces in width from the 1″ overlap you have for most of it. At the last point where it’s still a 1″ overlap is where you’re going to mark the end of your dart, right in the centre of that overlap. See where the yellow-headed pin in the photo below sticks into the pattern piece? That’s where the tip of my dart is – right in the middle of that 1″ overlap.

Marking the dart measurements

Marking the dart measurements

Step 5 – Draw your new dart

Now, connect the dots of your dart point and ends to draw in your new dart on your new front lining pattern piece!

Look - it's  a dart!  (Ooh!)

Look – it’s a dart! (Ooh!)

Step 6 – Put it all together!

And you’re done! You should now have one pattern piece for the front lining, complete with a small dart marked on it.

Cut it out on the fold, add it to the lining pieces you’ve cut using the regular back pattern pieces (remember to cut the tail flounce piece if you’re making the pink version of the skirt) and stitch it all up just as you would if it was the skirt itself.

Before you hem it though, remember that lining needs to be a bit shorter than the skirt shell, so it doesn’t peek through underneath. Cut a good inch off around the base, then hem as usual.

(And now you’re done. 🙂 )

Pigeon skirt

It’s a Hummingbird, but it’s grey.

Which therefore makes it a pigeon.

(Because I can’t think of any other grey birds.)

Hummingbird skirt

Either way, I made a Hummingbird skirt! Woo hoo!!! 😀

Hummingbird skirt

I’ve loved the idea of this pattern ever since I saw the teasers on Sewing Cake. 1930’s inspired! Flounce! What’s not to love?!?

And here, now, finally, is my first (note: first, but not the last) Hummingbird skirt.

(I made the version with the tail flounce, naturally. 😉 )

Hummingbird skirt

The verdict? I likes it!

(Although there are a couple of things I’d do differently next time. Like raise the waist so it sits at my natural waist, which I think it a bit more flattering for me, especially post-baby-belly. And lower both the hem and where the tail starts at the back, since I think the tail starts a bit high on me. (Plus, the tail starts higher than most of the zips in my invisible zipper stash end.))

I may have kinda changed a couple of things for this make. One was intentional. The other was accidental.

The intentional change – I lined it! This grey fabric is lovely, but it’s quite a loose weave, and I have a feeling it would stretch out of shape over time. (Plus it would cling to tights horribly and I’d be forever pulling it down again.) So, I drafted up a lining, and lined it in burgundy. (And then forgot to take a photo of said lining, but I promise you it’s there.) I have plans to do a post on how to draft a lining for the Hummingbird skirt sometime soon, in case anyone else is interested.

The accidental change – I attached the tail flounce upside down. Oops. (Remember one of my key ‘learnings’ from last year, to read instructions? Yeah, well, turns out I didn’t learn that one too well.) Since the fabric is quite a loose weave, and it was a lapped seam, I decided it looked fine upside down and just went with it. (I’ll make sure to attach it the right way up next time though, just to compare the effect.)

Hummingbird skirt

I love the way the pockets are done on this style – so clever, with the pocket lining folding over, and so neat and tidy! (And it must be admitted, the pockets are the main reason I see another couple of versions of this skirt in my future. They are too awesome not to make again.)

Hummingbird skirt

For the heck of it, I used some fabric I got in a swap for the pocket lining. It’s a cute white cotton with red zips and other sewing things all over it. And it makes me smile whenever I peek into the pockets and see it. Win!

Hummingbird skirt

We were down in Dunedin weekend before last, for a big family get-together. My lovely mother looked after the little guy so I could finish off this skirt on her sewing machine. (Thanks, mum!) Felt good to finally get some sewing in – it’s been a struggle to find time recently! And then on our way to the airport, we detoured through the Botanic Gardens, stopped off in the greenhouse to get some pics. After all, hummingbirds are tropical, and so were the plants in here – it seemed fitting, dontcha think?

My thoughts on the Hummingbird skirt pattern? I like it – the pockets are a clever piece of work, and the flounce combined with the pegged side seams is pretty and dressy yet also easy to wear. (I must admit that the seam allowance bugs me though – 1.2cm?!? Rather frustrating, since it’s non-standard and my machine doesn’t have 1.2cm guides on it. But hey, it’s easy enough to work around that and just a small frustration really.) So yeah, I’m gonna make it again. Both a longer version with a tail flounce, and the straight skirt version.

Hummingbird skirt