Friday, March 6, 2009

One down..

I started working on this a few days ago, but forced myself to get the 'real work' done before going back to it. I'm grouping my items by color, which is how I like to manage my work sewing as well. This keeps me from having to change out the serger cones five times a day. So since I was working on a linen/rayon shirt and a cream sheer dress this week, it made sense to finish up my linen skirt.

A few notes about fibers; when sewing on linen, I really prefer to use cotton thread. It has a similar sheen to the fabric, and allows me to use the high heat when pressing. This was particularly useful on this skirt, since it's a 'crisp' linen and needed to be steamed and smashed into submission. I like to fool myself into believing it will be less wrinkly than other linens. We all know that it means when I sit down ginormous creases will appear and refuse to go away until the skirt is washed. hmmmph.
Also on the topic of fibers, I chose organdy to interface the waist since it has a great crispness which accents the hand of the fashion fabric. Why is organdy always twisted off grain? One of those mysteries I suppose. So after yanking it the other direction and steaming it back on grain, I cut the facing pieces and then 130" of 4" bias strips for the hem facing. Because this skirt will only occasionally worn with a crinoline, I wanted to give the hem some oomph to keep it from collapsing.

Enough about fibers, on to cutting. As I have said before, this is an adapted 1949 pattern. The original was a formal skirt which showed options for either floor length or mid-calf. I think this is why the pattern has been in my files for so many years; I love the waist detail but when would I wear a floor-length skirt? To shorten the skirt, I took a 4" tuck in the pattern pieces to keep the hem width. Also, since the original is extremely high waisted, I made the 'petite' adjustment at the waist. That's something I've never needed to do before! Because this is an eight-gore skirt, I marked each piece in the seam allowance to keep them from getting mixed up. This was a trick I picked up when learning to make corsets: number each seam. So CF is 1, CF to SF is 2, SF to SB is 3, etc. I did this on the facing pieces as well.

Once I had done the basic long seams, I found that the skirt was too large at the waist by almost 8 inches. I should have measured the pattern when cutting, but relied on the printed actual size measurements instead. Better than to small I suppose, since I had used up the fabric and didn't want to go adding gores or spending more. It was an easy enough fix; with eight seams on the skirt I simply increased the seam allowance on all seams by 1/2". I tapered that out to avoid loosing the fullness at the hem. Once I had tried on the skirt, I serged the seams and finished them with an edgestitching.

The other major alteration I did to this pattern was the closure. The pattern called for a front button closure, but I just couldn't find any buttons that worked well with the fabric. Because of the print, it would have taken some pretty bold buttons to stand out, and I was afraid that would make the skirt difficult to pair with a variety of tops. Since the point of the swap is to make versatile garments, I chose instead to use a CB invisible zipper. It was easy enough to disregard the front facing, and the zipper just sits in a regular seam allowance. I did leave the back seam open until all fitting was finished so that I wouldn't have to futz with the zipper once it was in.

After trying on the skirt, I found that the waist detail was still much too high waisted; the original would have made an empire waist effect. That would actually be stunning in a velveteen with a satin blouse, and I may one day make that. But for my purposes, I took another 1/2" off the top when I applied the facing. After trimming and turning, I pressed the facing and finished with an edgestich as with the long seams.

For the hem, I used a facing instead of a turned hem. With a circle hem, it is never fun to draw up the excess and I prefer to avoid that if possible. By using bias organdy strips, I was able to steam the facing to the shape of the skirt easily. Because edgestitching is a feature on the rest of the skirt as well as my other garments, I topstitched the hem to complete the semi-tailored look.

In all, I am very pleased with this skirt. I can't wait to wear it out and show off. Next up will be my white cotton shirt since the white cotton thread is still on the machine.


  1. Hi, I just came across your blog and love the way you plan out your sewing wardrobe.
    I think the skirt is beautiful and elegant. I love the linen print.

  2. Great skirt! The fabric is fun and I like the way you do the hem. Gotta keep that in mind when doing a skirt with a large hemline next time. Thanks for the info!

  3. This skirt is absolutely beautiful. That hem idea with the organdy is perfect and I love the shape of the waist. Wow!

    Karen aka Karendee

  4. I love, love, love that fabric! It's perfect for the skirt...can't wait to see what's next.