Saturday, March 31, 2012

And the skirt is finally finished! (Well, OK. I still need to add hooks and eyes...but almost finished!)

My next step was to decide what type of pleats I wanted to use (I decided on unpressed box pleats) and then set in the zipper.

Since I wanted the zipper to be placed on the center of a pleat I opened my seamline to the depth of the zipper and pined it in place on the basting stitches from my first attempt at fitting the tube of fabric to my form. I then clipped the seam allowance as necessary and pinned the other side of the box pleat in place to fully expose the zipper on the inner side of the skirt.

Phase One

Phase Two

I also stiched on a small piece of fabric to reinforce the skirt at the bottom of the zipper.

All Stitched

Once I could use the zipper I tried the skirt on again and adjusted the angles of my pleats/darts as necessary. Remember that I said that my waist-to-floor length varies widely? You can see that take effect in the stitching lines below.

The stitching to the left is a side-back seam. Note that my waist is smaller and higher at that point than it is at the seam on the right. The waist continues to descend as it progresses around to the front of the skirt. (2 1/2" in total.) This adjustment (and my subsequent work with scissors to even out the built-in waistband to an even 3") is my usual skirt length adjustment needed to fit my figure.

I removed the original basting and tried on the skirt again, it fit well so I stiched all the dart/pleats in place, ironed them open into box pleats and 'stitched-in-the-ditch' to keep the pleats in place.

I used the same pink and white houndstooth ribbon to reinforce/face the waistband and voila!

I feel so Spring-y!

Just because I like you, here is the fabric for my next skirt project. Loud, isn't it? :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Skirt Progress

So, I've been meaning to write out my basic instructions for a drape-your-own pleated skirt for some time and today I decided to just go for it with this skirt.

In my last post I talked about pattern matching and sewing together a tube of fabric and hemming the skirt. Please note that for any skirt which is basically constructed from a straight tube of fabric I always sew the hem as one of the first steps. I have a lot of formal (pattern drafting class related) reasons for this, but it basically works out to this:

The Earth Is Flat.

At least it is for the purposes of dressmaking. Your ground line should always be level, and no matter if your skirt is floor length or just long enough to shock your neighbors, the distance of a straight and even hemline will always be a level line a set distance from this flat earth.

Clothes Will Hang Better If The Grain Line Of The Fabric Is Consistent.

Since I am making a straight skirt the easiest way to do this is to use either the warp or the weft of the fabric for my level line. Because of the way fabric is woven such threads should be square. I generally cut out my skirt to the appropriate length by pulling a thread and cutting along it. If a particular cut of fabric is out of true I simply pull it back into shape before I stitch the pieces together.

It's Easier To Hem While The Skirt Is Still Flat.

Seems pretty simple, but this is especially true if I am doing fancy things like embroidery or applying velvet bands to the hem of a skirt.

People Are Not Flat.

And this is the tricky bit. When I measure myself for a skirt I have vastly different measurements in my waist-to-floor distance at various points. This is absolutely normal and simply the result of being organic, bi-pedal, and curvy. Since I know the earth hasn't moved, and my grain line is straight, I know that I need to take my natural form into account and make adjustments to my fabric as necessary to get a good fit as I work up to my waistline.

To be more specific, when cutting a skirt I measure my waist to floor all around, take the longest measurement, add an additional 5/8 or more at the waist for seam allowance, add up to another 10" (depending on the weight of my fabric and the desired effect) for hem allowance, and subtract inches for the distance from the floor to where I want my hem to fall, ie, 48" + 5/8" + 5 5/8" -4" for an ankle length skirt with a 5" (after sewing) hem.

So all that part was already done before my last post. This week is all about my easy no-bake method of making a fitted pleated skirt with no pattern and a minimum of measuring.

Step 1:

Take your hemmed skirt tube and step into it (put it on) holding the waist up to an appropriate place and pin the fabric so your tube fits comfortably at the widest part of your hips. One pin should be enough. You're just trying to establish how much of the fabric will need to be controlled with pleats to get the desired fit.

Step 2:

Measure the excess fabric and determine your number of pleats and depth of pleat. I usually think about where I want the pleats to fall and look for a number which will divide into something easily pin able. The less fancy math the better! In this case I needed 8 pleats of 3 1/2" each (which removed 7" of fabric at each pleat.) I started at the center back, folded my fabric, and pinned in an even pleat from the waist to my hip line (based on the longest of my waist to hip measurements plus my seam allowance) then measured out 1/8 of the hip measurement of the skirt as I pinned it, measured the 7" for the next pleat, folded the fabric and pinned it in place and continued around the rest of the skirt, I basted these pleats in a straight line from waist to hip and then put the skirt on again--inside out this time--to pin baste the waist and darts to fit.

Step 3:

I happen to be making a high waisted skirt so once I had it pinned I measured the distance of all the new pins (seam line) from the original basting and averaged them out (to 1 1/2" in this case) I pinned and basted a straight line from the top of my fabric to the approximate waistline (3 1/2" down) and then a shallow diagonal out to the bottom of the original basting.

Below is a picture of my two lines of basting

And here are pictures of how it currently fits!

My next step is to put a zipper in the center-back seam so I can get in and out of the skirt more easily and then I will perfect the fit at each individual dart/pleat, make sure the skirt is hanging evenly, and finish the waist. I think I'll use ribbon on the inner waistband also...

ps: my good (and mixed blessing) news is that my half-time job is now a full time job! I hope to be back to blogging as I settle into the new routine

Thursday, March 8, 2012

All hemmed!

I got a sudden burst of sewing energy this evening so I worked on my new black, white, brown, blueish-charcoal-gray and pink skirt.

First step: pattern matching

For those of you who may be wondering how to do this, I folded back about 3/4" of fabric at the side seam, ironed it and then made a tube of my skirt fabric (I cut the fabric for this skirt with the selvedge forming the seam allowance at the waist so it is just one long piece) and laid the ironed edge on top of the other side. I made sure the two pieces lined up at the hem and waist and then moved the prepared (ironed) seam line around until the pattern matched. I then pinned it into place on the front of the fabric, pinned it again on the wrong side for sewing purposes, removed the original set of pins and stiched it together in the fold-line I had ironed in. After the seam was stiched I cut off the excess fabric which was lost to pattern matching (a skirt length piece about 9" wide, in this case).

The technique is pretty easy but I had to measure and try matching the pattern in different areas and ponder quite a bit before I cut the fabric because the pattern repeats didn't match at the edges of the fabric.

Step two: the hem

I'm a big fan of doing something interesting with the inside of the hem on skirts. I find it's kind of like wearing fancy underwear, I feel special and a little naughty, which puts a spring in my step, and since the inside of hemlines show surprisingly often I get to share a little bit of intrigue with the rest of the world. Anyway, my hem is faced with a wide pink houndstooth patterned ribbon--in a matching pink--which seems like it will have the additional benefit of rustling when I walk


When I showed off my new hem to my Clarence I flashed him a peek at the interior and he got a big smile and said "Well, aren't you the wild one?" So I guess it works!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Taking a break...

And working on things utterly non-medieval!

This weekend I've been working on two projects for my other life instead:

A needlepoint pillow for my Clarence's new office and a skirt for me.

The skirt is of Linen in a lovely wild pattern in white, black, dark grey, brown and pink. I've cut out the skirt and purchased some wide ribbon in a wonderful white and pink houndstooth for the hem facing. It's a real shame that the ribbon won't show more often but I think the surprise of the houndstooth will be amazing in the occasional flashes that will be seen as I move.


As to the pillow, it is only the second piece of needlepoint which I have ever undertaken but it's coming along well and super fast in comparison to the kit I made up for a stool cushion a decade or so ago. I'm making a giant ";" in black on a white background, perfect for Mr. C because, as he says, there is always more to say!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A veil with macramé edging in 29 days?! Hee hee hee.....

...hee hee...haw...Haw...HAW...Ha...HA...HA...HA...HAAAAAAA!

Such a funny girl I can be. :)

Not that I have given up. The work continues, but it's going to be a while. Don't hold your breath!

(Now back to that laughing......)