Tag Archives: project: skirts

Don’t you step on my blue suede…

16 May

…skirt!

That’s what I made out of that length of ultrasuede fabric I was given.

I went over a number of different ideas for it, but in the end thought I’d get the most wear out of a skirt, and I wanted to keep the shape simple to let the color be the focus. (I even, get this, made a practice version first…but don’t worry, I won’t get in that habit.) 🙂

The pattern is Simplicity2152, and I originally made the version with the welts, but decided I liked unadorned, straight seams better.

 

 

I’m still toying with the idea of adding some additional embellishment, but I thought I’d wear it out and about, first, to test it, and enjoy it at least once this way before I take it any further. I left the hem raw, just because with ultrasuede, you can, like all the 1970’s Halston dresses left with cuffs unhemmed.

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Shifting Biases

21 Mar

Since I took project photos as I made my silk skirt, I’ll post them, here, with step-by-step directions.

You could use any fabric with a significant nap, directional print, stripe, or texture running along the grain line.  (Note that I didn’t make up this idea, I saw a ready-made garment that had a similar feature.)

1) I started with a basic A-line skirt pattern, which I make as a front plus a back with a size zip. I also usually use a simple waist facing, as well, although on this one I chose an elastic binding for the waistband.  This is a skirt style I have made dozens of times, so I usually just trace one of the many skirts in my closet and make a few adjustments based on how long I want it this year, or whether I need an inch added to or taken in at the waist.

My basic skirt pattern looks like this:

(Curved waist, curved hem, flared from waist to hem but not hugely so.)

2) I cut my pattern in half, and then half again, to make strips. You could make as many strips as you like of your basic skirt shape.

3) I drew new grain lines on each piece, at a 45-degree angle from the vertical, each “slice” alternating in the opposite direction from the one next to it.

4) I used these markings to lay out my new pattern pieces, all the grain lines running in the same direction, and lined up with the grain of the fabric.

I drew my pattern without seam allowances, and then added seam allowances before I cut. Make sure you’ve given yourself not only adequate seam allowances, but also an edge to work with at both the hem and the waist, depending on how you like to do hems and waistbands.

5) Now you put the pieces back together to create a front and a back. I used flat-felled seams to join each segment, and I like these step by step instructions.

6) After sewing all your strips back together, you have a front and back of your basic skirt pattern.

See how the light hits the sheen of each slice of fabric slightly differently?  That’s the variation I was going for, that makes it all worth while.  Now you can just sew your skirt together (right sides together, sew up at the sides, insert a side zipper if that’s your style—you can add pockets, too. Then the waistband and hem. The waist can be a casing with elastic, or a turned-in facing, or I used a fold-over elastic.)

Here you can see how the grain meets up at the seams, creating a nice zigzag effect across the fabric:

The Easiest Skirt in the World (x2)

19 Mar

I’m the queen of cheap and easy sewing projects. If there’s a fun fabric around and I can make it wearable, in garment form, in an hour or less, I’m going to go for it. This weekend I found some fun printed upholstery fabrics at my local shop that suggested immediate and simple fashions with barely any effort required.

There’s no garment more simple to sew than an elastic-waisted skirt, and I’ve found that if I skip the casing and buy elastic that can serve as a waistband, unattended, I can simplify the “simple” even farther. This skirt takes only four seams to make, and requires no measuring.

Materials:

3/4 yard fabric of choice

1 yard (or waist measurement length) 2 1/2″ wide elastic

thread

Directions:

1) zigzag the top edge of your fabric

2) cut the elastic to be just long enough to fit around your waist and sit comfortably, slightly stretched, at just the height you want to wear your skirt.

3) fold the elastic in half and mark the center with a pin. Then fold each half in half, and mark each quarter point with a pin. Fold each segment in half once more, and pin for each 1/8 point. Then, repeat the same process along the top edge of your fabric.

4) You will now have the same number of pins in both your elastic and along the top edge of your fabric. Pin the elastic to the top edge of your fabric, overlapping the zigzagged edge by 1/2″, and matching up elastic pins to fabric pins.  Because your fabric is longer than the elastic, the fabric will bunch up between each pin.

5) Sew both layers together, stretching the elastic so that it goes through your sewing machine smoothly right on top of the fabric beneath it. Sew close to the edge of the elastic. The stretch will created a “gather” in the fabric.

This is what it looks like, front and back, when you have finished:

 

If you have trouble holding the elastic stretched while sewing, you can also run two rows of straight stitches along the zigzagged edge of the fabric (no backtracking) and gather it, first, and then pin it to the elastic, already gathered. Pin, and sew that in place.

6) Sew the side seam: with right sides together, pin the ends of the elastic together, and the sides of the fabric. Sew a 1/2″ seam across the ends of the elastic and all the way along the fabric. I sew back and forth across the ends of the elastic several times, to secure it strongly.  Press seam open.

7) Try on your skirt. Trim your skirt to the desired length, and hem it. I turn up and press a narrow edge along the bottom of the skirt (1/4″) and then turn up and press another 1/4″, folding the raw edge inside. I use the blind-hem setting on my sewing machine to stitch it in place. You can also just top-stitch it. Press seam.

In addition to being easy, depending on the fabrics you find, these can also be really cheap. I paid less than $10 for each of the skirts pictured here.

 

I also feel I was a little influenced, this day, shopping, by the fact that the Anthropologie catalog came in the mail that morning. I might have been slightly more in the mood for “spring prints” as I embarked, because of the layered patterns and textures I saw there.

After a long, long, wait: Cream Silk

18 Mar

I don’t have much of a fabric stash, particularly not considering how long I’ve been sewing. I usually buy fabric intended for specific projects, even if my intention arises right there on the spot. I buy fabric with a specific garment in mind, even if I don’t yet know the pattern.

Which is what I did nearly 15 years ago, when I bought two pieces of dupioni silk, one a very pale tan and one a blush pink, with pintucks.  I thought I’d make either a simple skirt or a shift dress, something smooth and straight, and then a little pink bolero jacket  to wear over it.  And that’s exactly what I continued thinking, for years and years, every time I saw the fabric on its shelf (or packed it into a box and moved it from one house to another). I couldn’t decide if it should be just a skirt, or a full dress. And I couldn’t decide which specific pattern to use to make it, either way…and so I didn’t make anything.

Until this week, when I decided the reason I couldn’t decide between a skirt and a dress was because I actually wanted both. And that I had enough fabric to pull it off, in a way.

I made skirt with just bit of texture, and a simple shell top, so that they could be worn together or separate, and used with other garments for infinite layering possibilities.

I used my basic A-line skirt pattern and divided into sections and cut it cross-grain, so that the slub and texture of the dupioni catches the light with just enough variation to give the simple shape some slight variation.

You can see that “shifting biases” effect best in this picture from my workroom. The sunlight outdoors floods out the variation in shading from the fabric’s nap. Also, you can see here that I finished the waistband very simply, with just a row of fold-over velvet elastic. The skirt has a side zip, and then the elastic smooths it off at the top. (I haven’t cut into the pink, yet, but I know just what I’m going to do with that, now, too!)

I used my “Wear the Shift” dress pattern for the top, and simply cut it off at the waist for a basic, sleeveless sheath-style blouse.  I think the two pieces together work well as a background when I want to feature hand-knitted layers.

This is my “Sophia” cardigan, from one of my very favorite pattern books, French Girl Knits. Which actually makes this yet another “head to toe handmade” outfit…a thing I am finding more common, these days, three months into this project.

One More Skirt!

16 Jan

Another long weekend, another skirt completed:

This one, I think, is a little better. I like the shape of it, straight through the hips and then with a little flare. It’s based on the skirt pattern from the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. This time, I just copied the pattern pieces and then put it together myself, bypassing any potential confusion in the directions.

Between my rust handbag, my olive-green shift, and now this skirt, I have now depleted my stash of all corduroy fabric. But it’s such a good wintery fabric, I will relish wearing each of these items.

A Skirt of Marginal Success

9 Jan

I made a skirt this weekend.

 

 

I was taken by the beautiful angled folds of a skirt making the rounds on the internet, but when I tried to duplicate it myself at home, well…it took about six tries and even now there are things both objectively “wrong” with its structure as well as things I would change, creatively, if I was making it again.  It’s too hard to discern the deliberate folds from the accidental folds, for one thing. For another, the waist fits funny, and I suspect that’s just additional proof that you can’t make a fabric tube and have it fit a not-tube-shaped person. This is a lesson I’ve learned over and over, and while I’m pretty clear on the concept, I’m still not always sure about the remedy.  “Why” is easier than “how”, in this case.

The one thing I did learn, though, is that if I’m going to do an extreme pleated/folded project in fabric, it helps to visualize it first by folding a comparable strip of paper. I probably won’t be remaking this design, but I might try a different “folded” style design just for the fun of it, using a similar process.