Sunday, June 12, 2011

How To Know When You Need To Update Your Blog

When you start clicking on it, idly wondering if there is a new post. Seriously. The last couple of weeks, I've been checking in, sincerely hoping the author has written something new. When you start reading your own blog like it belongs to someone else, you are way past due for a new post.

I was startled in to realizing that I HAD a blog when I read Isabelle's at Kitty Couture this weekend and found that she mentioned my Easter Monique dress in her very first podcast. Wow. I am a way beyond flattered and she said some really wonderful things about it, being the lovely generous person that she is. I loved hearing her (and not just because she said nice things about my dress) because her voice is beautiful, and I made my mother listen to her, too.

I have actually been working on some things, and even taking photos, but no great finishes to show. This weekend, though, I wanted something I could make in a day, and I decided on a skirt in a wonderful Kaffe Fassette rayon I got last summer. I made this dress in a different Kaffe Fassette rayon, and I found it to be high quality that didn't wrinkle very much.

I practically knew from when I bought it what I wanted to make: a maxi skirt. For the past three summers, maxi dresses have been all the rage, but I wasn't interested. I wanted, though, a long, flowing skirt I could wear with flat sandles and feel cool, but still be covered up. I had decided to look for the appropriate pattern.

But on Saturday morning, I remember I had this book that I found in a dark, and wonderfully musty bookshop near Threave, Scotland in 2003 with Eileen and Loy:
It was written in 1955, by Mary Brooks Picken. All of the 200 projects involve NO patterns, and it is full of timely advice such as:

Make yourself ready mentally and physically for sewing. First, assemble all your materials just as you would if you making a cake. Then order the groceries, make the urgent phone call, tidy the house and yourself so that you will not have other things on your mind while you sew.

Yeah, I'll keep that in mind, Mrs. Picken. My sewing process starts like this: Is it Saturday? (Yes.) Can I blow off all the activities I could or should be doing like working out, going to sewing guild, photographing the company golf tournament, and attending the required seminar at church? (Yes.) Do I have Diet Coke? (God, yes.) If there is no food in my house at supper time, can I convince The Carpenter to take me out? (Praise God, yes.) Did I shower? (Of course.)

The first project Mrs. P has in her book is a dirndl skirt. Pass. But the second project in her book is a semi-circular skirt which is a LOT of fun to make:

You can make this skirt any length you like, but the longer it is the wider it will be at the hem. Mrs. P gives you specific instructions as to how to cut the waist and the hemline, complete with a diagram. I have made this skirt three times before: 1) a short, above-the-knee cotton skirt; 2) a below-the-knee duchess satin skirt for a Christmas party; and 3) a long rayon skirt for summer.

First you fold your fabric on the cross grain as shown in her diagram. For your waist, the measurement you want is one-fourth of your waist measurement plus one-half inch. I wanted a 29 inch waist, so that came out to be 7 1/4 inches, and with the half inch, the total was 7 3/4 inches. I rounded up to 8 inches. So from corner A, I measured 8 inches to point B. I then attached string to a pen, held the string at corner A, and drew from B to C. That gave me my cutting line for my waist.

As for cutting the hem, I decided how long I wanted my skirt to be, and then I added the seam allowances. My total ended up 37 inches. I then added the previous 8 inches (which was my A to B radius). This ended up at 45 inches. So I measured 45 inches from A to D. I again took my pen on the string, held the string at A, and then drew from D to E. (This was a bit tricky since my arms were stretched for a very great length to make this happen. It would be a easier if someone else held the string at point A while you draw your mark if you are going to be making a very long skirt.)

I then cut out my skirt on those two lines.

The great advantage of this skirt is that there is only one seam - the back seam. And it is on the selvege, so techincally, you don't even have to finish the seam allowances. Just sew up the seam, and insert your zipper. (A handy tutorial on zipper insertion is here.)

For the waistband, I cut a four inch wide rectangle, about 6 inches longer than my waist (just to make sure it was long enough) and I interfaced it. I marked 29 inches on the waistband and attached the skirt to the waistband. You will probably have to clip the edge of skirt waist to get it to stretch to fit onto the finished waist size on your waistband. If the waist is too small, just move the skirt piece up, making the seam allowance bigger, to make it fit.

I finished the waistband in the usual fashion, but decided I was too lazy to go the button/buttonhole route, so I ended up just hand sewing a snap on it.

The only tricky part of this skirt is hemming it. Here's the thing: a semi-circular skirt, by it's very nature, is going to involve various grains of your fabric. Your back seam will be on the lengthwise grain, the front of the skirt will be on the crosswise grain, and the sides of your skirt will be on the bias. If you have a firmly woven fabric, this won't be a big deal, but if you have drapey rayon, for example, that bias is going to stretch, stretch, stretch. Here's an illustration:

See that? The sides of my skirt hung more than 3 inches lower than the front or the back. I figured this out by using a yard stick and measuring in the mirror how far from the floor the front of the skirt hung, and then compared it to how far from the floor the sides hung. At least three inches. I thought about leaving it alone and calling it a "design feature" but then I decided even I wasn't that lazy.

There is no exact science to trimming the necessary amount from the sides and blending the cut to nothing on the front and the back. I just laid the skirt down, measured 3 inches at the sides and gradually reduced the trimming to nothing as I approached the front and the back:

Ahh, that's better. You can see that the sides are still a little longer than the front, but that was on purpose. I have a tendency to over-correct when I sew, and the last thing I wanted to do was to make my sides shorter than they were supposed to be. A little longer, no big deal; a little shorter - ack!!!

The actual hem was just sergering the hem edge, turning it up a half inch, and topstitching it down.

Here is the finished skirt:

A better view of the waistband:

The back:

You can see that it did end up being ankle length which is what I was going for:

What the photos don't show is how wonderfully swishy this skirt is. I should have gotten a shot of me twirling in it. Also, the other nice feature of this skirt is that it is cut so that it lays flat about the hips and then flares out as it gets longer. This is nice because, unlike a gathered skirt, it doesn't bunch up around your hips and waist (where you DON'T want extra fabric).

Anyway, this was a one day project and I had it done before three o'clock. Mrs. P would be pleased to know that I still had time to run by the grocery store and cook dinner for The Carpenter. But by no means was my house tidy.

Parting Shot: One of Anne's quilts she made for her nephew - I took this at her annual Memorial Day party. It looked lovely lying near the tree, waiting for a child to get tired and cuddle with it:


gwensews said...

Well, hello there! Nice to see you pulled yourself away fromt the Carpenter long enough to make a pretty skirt! Stay well. Stay in love. Sew.

Audrey said...

Wow, that would have been a multi day skirt project for me. It is really pretty. The fabric you used has wonderful drape.

Mary said...

Well you lost me halfway through the description but it looks lovely! I bought a book with skirt designs thinking I might just try one but it was well over a year ago and right now I'm not really sure where the book is! Maybe one day I will feel adventuresome and give one a try.

Summerset said...

LOL! The skirt looks great!

Vicki W said...

I even think showering is optional for sewing. Great skirt!

Anonymous said...

Once you started in with that "math" thing, I was lost but it sure is purdy - of course, it's Kaffe Fassett and it just doesn't get any better than that when it comes to fabric with color! and you look fab as always!


anne said...

So glad you are back to blogging. I need to know how to make a skirt with one seam!! Already framed the picture of the quilt!