Reversible Double Layer Wrap Half Circle Skirt Tutorial

Say that ten times fast!

I wanted to put together a short tutorial on how I made the wrap skirt (you know, before I forget and then decide to make another and have to do all the maths again–aaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!).  So mostly, this is for my own (future) peace of mind, but feel free to try it out yourself if you’re so inclined!  Keep in mind, as this will be a wrap skirt, and thus infinitely adjustable, perfect accuracy is not a huge deal.

(Not my image, but this is an example of this type of skirt).

Step 1 – Determine your “wrapped waist measurement”.

The first thing you need to do is figure out how big to cut your skirt pieces, right?  So find your waist measurement (wherever you want the waist to hit, not necessarily your true waist), then figure out how far across your body you want the skirt to overlap.  I’d suggest 10″ for size S, 12″ for size M, 14″ for size L, and 16″ for an XL.  But this is just a guideline based on a guesstimate.  This is a pretty good amount of wrappage (i.e. from hip to hip at least), so if you’re short on fabric, or don’t want that much overlap, adjust accordingly.

Alternately, you can also determine how much overlap you’re comfortable with by measuring the front of your body where you’d like the overlap to land…I’d go with this method, personally.

Now take your overlap and double it, then add to your waist measurement.  So for a person with a 30″ waist who’s adding 14″ of overlap, that means your wrapped waist measurement is now 58″.

STEP 2 – Determine your “waist radius” based on the wrapped measurement.

Prepare for a modern marvel, seriously.  OK, kids, go to Google.  Type in “circle calculator” and BAM!  A handy dandy widget pops up and–get this–someone will now do the math for you!  Make sure it’s set to solve for the radius, plug in your circumference (that’s your wrapped waist measurement), and BOOM!  The calculator will give you a radius measurement…now since this is a half circle skirt, you’ll need to double that number to get your waist radius for pattern-making purposes.  So for our example, the calculator gives us a radius of 9.23 inches, which I doubled to  18.5 (as it’s a wrap skirt, I rounded up a smidge for simplicity).

STEP 3 – Determine the skirt length.

I went with a standard 24″ length on the longest layer, and 20″ on the shorter layer.  You can also measure from your waist to where you’d like the skirt to hit, subtract 2″ (for the waistband width), then add 1″ (for seam allowance & hemming). On the skirt I made, the longest length to cut was 25″ (24 -2 + 1), but since I ended up doing a very narrow hem, it could probably have been a little shorter…just remember you can always make it shorter, so measure conservatively.

Also determine how long you want the shorter layer to be.  I went with 20″ finished (so 21″ to cut), so it was only about 4″ difference between layers.

STEP 4 – Draw your pattern on paper.

Here’s where having a couple rolls of crap wrapping paper really comes in handy!  You need to make yourself a big ol’ compass before you start drawing (that way you can make a proper circle, easy peasy).  Take a length of string/twine/ribbon–anything that doesn’t stretch–and clip a safety pin to one end.  Measure the string to be the length you need for your waist radius and tie a knot to mark the stopping point.  Now take your wrapping paper and lay it out–if it’s not quite wide enough for the whole pattern, tape a couple pieces together.

Starting at the top corner (make sure both edges are squared off), hold the knot down at the corner.  Insert a pencil tip into the little ring on the safety pin and draw a quarter circle from one edge to the next.  (Red line below.)  The distance from the corner to the line (at any point) should be your waist radius.  Double check before moving on.

Now, measure along the string from the first knot (away from the safety pin) till you reach the length of your short layer.  Re-knot your string and repeat–draw another quarter circle.  (Green line below.)  The distance from the corner to the line (at any point) should be your waist radius + the short layer length (including seam allowances).  Double check before moving on.

And finally, measure from the second knot along the string till you’ve added in the additional length for the longer layer (in this case, 4 inches).  Re-knot your string and draw a final quarter circle.  (Blue line below.)  The distance from the corner to the line (at any point) should be your waist radius + long layer length (including seam allowances).  Double check before moving on.

Cut the pattern out along the red and blue lines and viola!  Pattern complete!

STEP 5 – cut out your fabric.

Now, I used a really floaty, chiffon-style fabric and it was a pain to work with.  If you’re using similar fabric, buy some spray on stabilizer and apply liberally before cutting…make your life easier!

STEP 5.1 – Cut out your long layer.

To cut out your fabric, start with whichever fabric will be your longest layer.  Fold it into a square just a little bit bigger than your pattern.  Set one edge of your pattern along the fold (doesn’t really matter which unless your fabric has a directional pattern), and trace or pin, then cut.  You should end up with a half circle of fabric.

STEP 5.2 – Cut out your short layer.

For the shorter layer, trim the pattern piece back to the green line, then repeat the step above.  You should now have a half circle of fabric about 4 inches shorter than the first one you cut.  (To re-use this pattern, keep track of both pieces and just lay them out together for future long layers.)

STEP 5.3 – Cut out your waistband and ties.

When all is said and done, you will have a single continuous piece for your waistband and ties, so this needs to be about twice the length of your wrapped waist measurement (so it can wrap all the way around and still have enough length to tie off).  For our example skirt, that’s 116″, or a little over 3 yards.  If your yardage isn’t long enough, you can sew strips together to achieve the length you need.  For the waistband/ties, cut from each fabric a rectangle 5″ wide by however long you need it (I went with 108″, which was a little shorter than twice the waist, but that was all I had fabric for, and it worked just fine).

STEP 6 – Assemble the skirt.

Now you get to put it all together!

STEP 6.1 – Hem the skirt pieces.

There’s a loooooooooot of hemming on this puppy (circle skirt, you know?), so let’s get that out of the way, shall we?  Especially since every edge but the top waist will be exposed.  I tried a few options and didn’t particularly like the machine finished (either serging or using my shiny new rolled hem foot).  So I hand sewed that little beast.  All.The. Way. Around.  (Yes, both layers).  It took me about 6 hours (thankfully, Netflix exists).  There’s a great tutorial on hand sewed rolled hems here.  She’ll even walk you through getting around the corners.  However you do it, hem the sides and bottom edges of both skirt pieces.

STEP 6.2 – Create the waist band/ties.

Take your reeeeeaaaaaaallllly long strips of waist band (one from each fabric).  Working with one at a time, fold in half, wrong sides together, and press.

Now lay the two strips on top of each other, raw edges on opposite sides. (I did this so there would be a selvage edge reinforcing the inside of the waistband along both the top and bottom edges once it was assembled.  If you don’t care about that or don’t have selvage edges, lay them however you’d like.)  Find the center of the waistband on one side and mark it with a pin (green mark below).  Now measure half the distance of your wrapped waist measurement on either side of the pin and mark those ends (red marks).  Do not sew between the pins, this is the part where you’ll attach the waistband to the skirt.

Starting a few inches past one marker pin and sew your waistband pieces together all the way around to just before the other side of the pins (basically in a giant, partly-open-sided rectangle, see blue line above).  I used a half-inch seam allowance, which means my waistband turned out 1-1/2″ wide in the end.  If you want a wider or narrower band, adjust the width you cut above in step 5.3.  If your fabric is likely to fray, go back and overcast the edges to finish them.

Turn your waistband piece right side out (clip corners to reduce bulk) and press.  When you get to the bit you didn’t sew shut, turn raw edges up 1/2″ toward the inside of the waistband (as though it were sewn together anyway) to create a clean fold–this’ll help when you’re attaching the skirt.

STEP 6.3 – Attach skirt to waistband/ties.

If your fabric is likely to fray, overcast the top edges of your skirt to finish them.  Lay your skirt pieces out so the top edges line up.  Make sure you like the arrangement of the layers (is the “right” side where you’d expect it to be?).  If your fabric is really slippery, baste the layers together along the top edge.

Slip the top edges of the skirt pieces up into the waistband (where you left the gap).  Make sure there is about 1/2″ of skirt up inside the waistband, and make sure the waistband edges are folded to the inside by 1/2″ (or whatever seam allowance you used in step 6.2) where they meet the skirt (this is the “fake” seam you pressed after the rest of the waistband was sewn together).  Basically, you should see no raw edges.

Pin skirt/waistband securely, then topstitch all along the top skirt edge (about 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the folded edge of the waistband piece (orange line below).  Backtack at each edge of the skirt for extra security.  When you reach the far edge of the skirt piece, continue topstitching all the way around the waistband/ties.

STEP 7 – Final touches.

If you used a fabric stabilizer, be sure you wash it out before wearing!  Clip any loose threads, and go wear your fabulous new skirt!

* And, like the lazy blogger you know I am, I didn’t think to take a photo of the skirt before I mailed it off to my sis-in-law.  So while you have zero proof this actually works, I promise it does!

**Oh, and a note about fabric.  Circle skirts are fabric hogs.  For this skirt, I started with about 3 yards of each fabric, and I didn’t have a lot left over.  I used fabric that was 54″ wide and folded it in half cut edge to cut edge (not selvage to selvage as is usual) because then I got 54″ by 1.5 yards to work with, and the skirt pattern fit fine.  I took the strips for the waistband from a selvage edge after I’d cut out the main skirt pieces.  If you’re using narrower fabric, ymmv.

BFFs

Have you ever plopped down in front of your laptop in utter defeat, listlessly googling for the answer to all your problems?  Or at least the current problem of sewing this uber fiddly fabric into something with flat, non-lettuce-y seams?  No, that’s just me?

OK, well, I’m going to let you in on my little secret anyhow.  My sister-in-law has this skirt.  And it’s a really cool, double layer half circle chiffon wrap skirt (say that 10 times really fast?) in super floaty, fun fabric.  And she’s worn it to pieces.  So I took a look at it, saw it was a simple half circle skirt with a waistband that extends into really long ties, and foolishly said “I can totally remake that–just pick out fabric!”  (I’d like to tell you I’ve learned my lesson, but I’d probably be lying).  So she picked out two gorgeous fabrics and I drafted a pattern (if you can call it drafting) based on the first skirt and cut out the pieces. Easy peasy, right?

Ha! Hahahahahaha.

Then I attempted to actually sew the fabric together.  (Well, I started with the hem since approximately 110% of the skirt is hem).  And I got lettuce edges.  Holy bananas.  Even if I basted and then came back with smaller stitches–seems like smaller stitches were particularly lettuce-inducing.  And every tip I find for sewing chiffon says to use small stitches.  Or hand sewing.  Now, I’m no mathlete, but even I know that would be a LOT of hand sewing.  And I’m pretty lazy, it turns out.  So no dice.

So there I was, slumped disconsolately in front of the lappy, googling my heart out.  And that’s when I found this.  And I could tell we were soon going to be BFFs.

Spray on, wash out stabilizer.  Now, technically, I believe you’re supposed to spray it on before you cut, but, um…I looked at my skirt pieces in all their already-cut-outedness and realized that was not happening in this case.  I plowed ahead anyhow.  I laid each piece out as flat and well-aligned as possible (really, trying not to warp the bias-y bits), and lambasted it with my trusty new arsenal, then hung the pieces over my clothesline to dry and stiffen.

Kids–this stuff works.  It’s amazing!  Instead of overcasting my way into scallopy lettuce edges and letting my sewing machine eat fabric like there’s no tomorrow, I got lovely, overcast edges.  Lovely.

I will admit, it did not play nicely with my rolled hem foot (which was what I was hoping to use)–the stiff fabric just didn’t roll evenly, so I gave up on that.  The overcast method is obviously what was used on the original skirt, so after fiddling with stitch width and length and using ungodly amounts of magenta thread, I figured it out.  Mostly.  There’s a few places I may try to re-overcast (is that a thing?) before I declare it done.

But I’m really happy with the way it turned out (especially after washing the stiffening stuff out–it really does wash right out!).  And I think I’ll put a little tutorial together so that the next time my sis-in-law commissions a skirt, I don’t have to do all that pesky math again.  Because I’m pretty sure circle skirts are actually Dante’s 10th circle of hell, reserved specifically for people of average math skills.

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Tiny Sweaters

kps288These are still missing their buttons and need blocking, but I think I may be in danger of becoming obsessed with tiny things. Specifically making tiny things… It’s, well, it’s just that they knit up so fast! I’ve been working on a me-sized sweater for 8 months or so and have a solid 12 inches done. Don’t get me wrong, that’s awesome, and all, but there is something so, so, so satisfying about actually finishing a garment.

It’s also pretty awesome not spending 3 hours of your life figuring out where you left off last time you worked on it, because you made it one sitting (or even a few sittings, but close enough to each other that you can actually remember where you put it down!). And let’s be honest, baby clothes are freaking adorable. So yeah.

And there is the very real bonus of being able to work an entire pattern from a partial ball of yarn, discover where the pattern is wrong, or where you have no idea what you’re doing, muddle through it, back track a few rows, muddle through it again, finish, evaluate whether what you did worked, and, oh, still be out a mere half-skein for your efforts. The ability to do a full on test garment really appeals! (And yes, there were some problems I ran into with this pattern…so this is the voice of experience!).

So for these two darling little sweaters, I used the Knitting Pure & Simple #288 pattern. I actually saw a sample knit up at my (soon to be closed and dearly missed! sniff!) local yarn shop and figured it looked really pretty straight forward and would be perfect for the youngest niece’s birthday (which is just after xmas, so perfect timing even!).

I used Plymouth’s Worsted Superwash (oh my gosh, it’s just soooo soft) in a nice cranberry for the red one, and some Galway Worsted wool leftover from a different baby project for the tan one. Both yarns were great for this, though superwash is probably a better choice from the parental point of view (yay for low-maintenance washable baby clothes, I’m told!)

So, the problems. Well, maybe it’s just me, but I followed the steps exactly, painstakingly, even (never knitted anything top-down before this, and while I quite like the method, I was a bit befuddled for a bit until I got the majority of it done and could see where everything really was). So somehow I missed the instructions that result in the garter stitch border on the front placket the first time ’round. I had it on one side, but after 4″ of knitting down from the collar, realized I didn’t have it on the other! Oopsies!? So I ripped it out and started over (and now that I had a handle on where the front placket really starts, I had a much easier time) and just made sure I worked in garter for the first and last stitches in version 2.0.

That was the major issue I had. I also apparently can’t count to 44 (ha!), so I split the sleeves off 3 rows prematurely (eek!). There was a bit of back tracking there, too. But that was totally my fault!

I had also originally envisioned doing green and red colorwork for the lace border (green on the diagonal stitches, which would have looked a bit like ivy leaves, I think), but I couldn’t figure out how to work it out in the end (even after knitting some test swatches)…the double decrease kept popping the red back under the green, and it looked rather wonky. I might try again using the intarsia style (I did the standard fair-isle floats method, and it got super bulky and I worried it would be too snaggy).

I made a few changes for the second (tan) sweater. The yellow stripe and edging turned out pretty awesome (I wanted some color mix going on!). I also much prefer the seed stitch edging over the garter stitch and ribbing mix (I don’t know why, but garter stitch looks “sloppy” to my eye…it absolutely isn’t but there you go…knitting biases at work!)

I’ll probably make a few more of these while I’m on vacation in November (what with holidays coming up, I’d be foolish not to!!). I also think they could be easily boy-ified by adding a couple other buttons down the front (instead of just the one at the top) and replacing the lace edging with a simple rib panel. Maybe I’ll try that out next?!

What’s your favorite quick project at the moment?

Where we’re going, we don’t need patterns.

So I’ve finally capped off my “sewing for the neices & nephews” (which I started way back here) with a couple coordinating pinafores for the girls and a very fancy vest for the oldest boy.  The pinafores were a Favorite Things pattern I borrowed from a friend, and they were, quite possibly, the easiest things I’ve ever sewn.  It took about 3 hours from tracing (two sizes, mind you!) to cutting, to sewing, to topstitching.  Easy peasy (I looked at the instructions just once!), and they turned out so cute!

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I love that they’re reversible, too!

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I admit I was a bit stuck on what to make for the oldest nephew (he’s just turned 7 a couple months ago)…a button down shirt was tempting, but seemed like a LOT of work, but then a friend suggested a vest, and John did some leisurely googling to find a pattern, but nothing really came up proper-pattern-wise.  He did find a couple tutorials (here, and here) that were really helpful; but unfortunately, they were both for much smaller boys, so I took the general gist of them and improvised.

The last time I tried making something for the older boy, I ended up with a toddler-sized button down, so to avoid a repeat of that debacle, we snagged a t-shirt from Target in the proper size and traced the body to use as a basic pattern.

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From there, I expanded the arm holes a tiny bit to allow room for a shirt underneath, and decided where to put the V for the front.  Then (and I’m really proud of this step), I actually remembered to add seam allowances!!  I drew up some lapels and pocket pieces (yay for basic rectangles!) next.  The lapels were originally going to be two pieces like you’d see on normal men’s jacket lapels, but the geometric logistics of that defeated me, so I made them one piece and just reinforced the notch really well.  It seems to have worked pretty well, if I do say so my lazy self!

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I basically sewed it up just like the pinafores!  First, I sewed the lining and the outer bits together so each was one piece, then sewed the lining to the main fabric all around (except at the shoulders and the bottom), then sewed the inside pocket to the lining and the faux-welt pocket tabs to the front. I really like that it has a sneaky inside pocket, but also the styling of the welt pockets (thought the welts ones don’t actually have pockets attached, mostly because I’m lazy and welt pockets sound an awful lot like giant button holes, and we all know how fun button holes are…).

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Once the pockety bits were attached, I top-stitched to pockets and the lapels, then sewed the bottom mostly shut with just enough room to turn the whole works right-side out!  Once it was all right-side out, I ironed it into submission and top-stitched again around the outer edges.  I did some minor hand sewing at the shoulders to attach the front to the back, and then stuck 5 snaps on the front.  Not too shabby for a pattern-less project!

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I really enjoy the robot fabric, too! (It is blue and white, but my iphone does not do so awesome with low-light photos…)

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Now to get them all in the mail before the kiddos outgrow them!

Easy Does It

Let me start by saying: I have sewn myself a clown shirt.

It was unintentional, I assure you.  I set out to make an Alma blouse (one of Sewaholic’s new fall patterns, but if you’re reading a sewing blog, you probably already knew that!).  It looked sweet enough (I have a dearth of “romantic” garments in my closet, and sometimes, I really just feel like I’d like to wear something along those lines, but have nothing…so this blouse could potentially fill that gap!).  And I really liked their Crescent Skirt pattern, so I figured this wouldn’t be super difficult.  Plus (and this is really what sealed the deal), I found this really cute grey fabric with little red mushrooms all over it that seemed like it would make a very cute blouse.

I decided to actually make a proper muslin this time, since for one, I don’t really trust darts (I never seem to get them lined up properly on the first try) and for two, I’m still a bit unsure of my shirt sewing skills, and this one has a collar and facings and sleeves and a side zip oh my.  So a practice run was in order, especially since I knew I’d probably need to add a couple inches.  But in the spirit of making a useful object, I opted to use some stretch poplin in a nice bright turquoise from my stash.  (What’s that?  Using fabric I already own?!?  What what what?!)  I figured the stretch would be nice in case I accidentally made it a touch too small, it might still be salvagable.  Ha.  Not a problem in the slightest, as I’ll explain momentarily.

So I whipped out my trusty measuring tape and measured myself and decided to add a few inches to the largest size.  7 inches in the bust, actually, and 10 around the waist/hips area.  It seemed like a lot to add (considering I only added like 6 inches to the crescent skirt, and that fits pretty loosely (room for tucking in sweaters, I guess?), and these patterns are supposed to account for pear-shaped-ness really well) but I went with it anyhow.

Can anybody spot colossal mistake number one?  You, in the back!  Yes?  Indeed.  I mistook the body measurements on the size guide for finished garment measurements.  So I added waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much width to the pattern pieces.  Which is super unfortunate, because I followed these really awesome instructions from Casey’s Elegant Musings for grading up, which were way better than my usual slash-shoulder-to-hem-method (which usually makes the shoulders and underarms too big), and this post from Colette patterns for unevenly grading just the hips.  I learned so much!  And put it to use!  And was so, so wrong.  Ah, assumptions.

So I graded up the front and the back, and then remembered I also needed to enlarge the collar to fit the slightly wider neckline.  Easy peasy.  Took forever, but I had a Vampire Diaries marathon running in the background, so I didn’t really mind!

Anyhow, I sewed up the shirt following the instructions.  The only hitch was the collar + facings.  I really hate facings.  I’m not 100% sure they’re necessary, and they always seem to want to stick straight up, even if I under-stitch them.  Grrrr.  The darts (even the diamond-shaped ones!) were pretty easy (but I forgot to move the darts over after grading, so they weren’t really in the right place).  I also decided since it was just a muslin, and since the fabric has some stretch, that I would skip the zipper and just sew the side-seams shut.  I’d want some looseness anyhow for wearing so I could, you know, sit down and move and whatnot, so if I couldn’t get into it in stretch poplin without a zipper, I’d have problems when I used my real fabric.  (This was actually a great decision…you’ll see why).

So then I tried the muslin on.  It was miles too big.  A bit short, and a good fistful of extra fabric at each side-seam.  And the shoulders were a bit too wide.  I’m beginning to think I have somewhat narrow shoulders, because I had an extra inch and a half hanging over, and that’s about what I had added during my grading adventures.  But folks, the really distressing part: the collar.  I made view B with the swoopy Peter-pan-ish collar.  But instead of being a dainty little collar, it is HUGE.  Like 4 inches tall at the swoopy bits in the center front.  And on a bright turquoise shirt that’s four miles too wide, it was too much.  It was over the top.  My very helpful husband told me all I needed was a yellow flower that secretly squirted water at people.  So helpful, honey, thanks.

Oh, and the sleeves were really poofy like pretty pretty princess gown sleeves, because the sleeves are a bit gathered at the cap, but the shoulders were too long, so instead of having nicely gathered sleeves, I had comical Cinderella’s ballgown sleeves that stood up an inch or so from the shoulder seam.  And a collar that begged for a trick flower.  Sigh.

I took the side seams in by 2 inches on each side, and the shirt actually fit pretty well in the front then.  The darts were way too far to the sides, though.  I think the back darts could have been a bit deeper as it seemed to have a bunch of extra fabric in the center back, but again, the darts were way off to the sides, so maybe better dart placement would address that.

Here’s a picture of the offending shirt from the front:

And the back:

See what I mean about the collar and the shoulders?  Ack.  But the shirt is comfy.  I think I might make it with the shorter sleeves, though, as I liked it much better without the longer sleeves (plus, I’ll probably end up wearing it under a cardigan for the next several months, anyhow!)

I think I’ll need to re-do my grading though.  I thought about trying to transfer the changes to my existing graded pattern, but that just makes my head hurt.  So I will start over.  Sigh.  But this time, since I took out 8 inches overall (2 inches on each side, front and back, that makes 8 total, right?), I’ll just add maybe 2 inches to the existing pattern and see what that gets me. And of course, I’m going to do another muslin.  I’m a little scared to cut into my “good” fabric till I know I’ve gotten it right.

I also still want to have the curved collar going on, but I might just scale that down so it’s more like an inch at the widest.

Full Crescent Skirt

The crescent skirt that started slowly the last week of July came together surprisingly quickly in the end!  The scariest part of the project (so I thought) was the zipper, so I tackled that first off the bat.  It was a bit tricky since I used an invisible zip instead of a regular zip, but the zipper installation post on the sewalong is spot on!  I did end up with a bit of a gap when I got the thing installed, though:

Thanks to the miraculous powers of steam and general stubbornness, I was able to scoot the edges over to hide the zipper, iron it into submission, and topstitch it down before it got all uncooperative again!  Topstitching FTW.  The zipper was a lot easier than I expected, and sewing it first to the facing and then sewing that to the skirt proper worked much easier than I thought it would.

Ah, the facing, though…that turned out to be another can of worms.  You see, it turns out, seam allowance is somewhat important.  And by somewhat important, I really mean crucial.  CRUCIAL.  Especially when you need the facing and the waistband to be the same circumference.  So, my usual approach to seam allowance is pretty slack.  I do try to keep it close to what it should be, but I don’t lose any sleep over minor variations.  So I sewed my facing together (upside down the first time…sigh)…the seam ripper really is my friend…

So I re-sewed my facing, and sewed my waistband together, and when I went to put them together, it turned out that the facing was every so very slightly smaller than the waistband.  I discovered this while stitching in the ditch around the bottom edge of the waistband…I ended up with about an extra half inch of waistband.

Oopsies.  I picked out the stitches and tried again to sew them together again, but this time stretching out the facing to somehow accommodate my excess waistband…but since the pieces were interfaced, they didn’t stretch at all.  Hmmmm.  I tried making a pleat in the waistband to hide the extra fabric, but that gave me some odd high-hip baggage on just one side…it wasn’t a great look.

So I unpicked the waistband one last time and decided that if I stitched in the ditch down the center front and side seams of the waistband, it would tack the facing down so it didn’t flop about, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the different sizes.  It worked better than expected (I was getting pretty exasperated…by this point, I’d spent almost two hours sewing and unpicking and resewing this bit).  I tried it on, and the waistband fit really well,the facing seemed secure, and I said “good enough!” and topstitched around the top edge of the waistband.

Finally, time to hem!  My usual hemming m.o. is to turn up a quarter inch, stitch down all around, then turn up an inch and stitch down as close to the edge of the fold as possible.  That works great on skirts that are essentially rectangular pieces of fabric sewn into a tube…but this skirt has curved pieces, which made it difficult to turn up an even edge all the way around without getting wrinkly weird things going on at the hem.  Bah!  Maybe there is a sneaky way to do this that I don’t know (I’m sure there is), but I had a secondary problem, too…the skirt was in danger of being a tad bit short!  So I ended up doing a very shallow fold, stitching as close to the fold as possible, then trimming the strip of fabric between the stitches and the edge as close as possible to the stitches, then folding the line of stitching over once and stitching that as close as possible.  I think that should keep it from fraying, and it solved my length issues, too!

Overall, I really like the way the skirt turned out.  It was a bit of a pain to put together, but mostly because I can’t follow directions!  I would like to try making it in knit (could maybe do a pull-on version then, thought I’m not sure how to keep the waistband from getting all stretched out…maybe the interfacing would take care of that?).  Or maybe a woven waistband and a knit skirt?  We’ll see.  I also noticed that the gathers in the skirt are not exactly even in the front, so I’ll have to watch out for that next time.

And here’s the final skirt!

And the back…not too bad for my second attempt at a zipper, if I do say so myself!

Tokyo Story Mixed Media Dress

The first sewing class I ever took was to make the first version of this dress I ever made (OK, I’ve now made two versions, it’s not like I have an army of them in my closet…though that’s not a bad idea now that you mention it…they are ridiculously comfortable dresses.  Ah, I digress).  It might have even been the first sewing project I blogged about here, in fact; it’s one of the early ones, for sure.  Anyhow, I remember being very excited that I had created a wearable garment, but I had picked out two very “loud” fabrics for the dress (don’t get me wrong, I still love the green polka dots and orange bicycle fabric combo, but it’s …difficult… to wear to work, and the dress is so comfy that I’ve been sorely tempted to wear it to work on a number of toasty hot days).  So I bought some less “loud” fabric and decided to reprise my handiwork and make another one that would be a bit more work-friendly.  I think there’s a name for this Japanese-style print, but I don’t know it.  But I really loved the light blue & white fabric, it seemed perfect for a sticky hot summer day, and easily dressed up for work with a cardigan and some non-flip flop shoes.

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The pattern is from Kwik Sew, and I have to say, it’s really easy to alter.  When I went to sew dress 2.0, I had a few adjustments I wanted to make from version 1.0 (someday, I will just follow the pattern as written and simplify my life greatly, but not today).  The overall fit of V1.0 was OK, but the waist was incredibly high on the first dress, so I wanted to fix that, and the armholes were really low-cut, so I wanted to raise those a bit.  I also wanted the skirt to be a tiny bit longer and hit just at the top of the knee.  And the pockets needed to be dropped by about an inch so I could comfortably stuff my hands in my pockets without having my arms sticking out all akimbo.

All of that was relatively easy to do, so I just eye-balled it and it worked out fine.  No, seriously, I did!  And somewhere the stars aligned and rainbows appeared and cherubs smiled benevolently and everything worked out.  It probably shouldn’t have, but it did.

For the waist, I just added 1.5 inches to the length in a straight shot across the bottom.  For the armholes, I put a dot 1/2 inches higher than the center underarm on both front and back pattern pieces, then followed the general curve of the armhole, reducing gradually until I reached the point where the pattern piece turned vertically.  (The blue line below is the new armhole height).  This worked like a dream!

Adding the length to the bodice also added the length I was looking for in the skirt (which was a very good thing as I’ll explain in a moment…), and moving the pockets down was a matter of, well, moving the pockets down.  Easy peasy.

So, all that glowing GoodnessGraciousItActuallyWorked out of the way, this pattern was a tad problematic…you see, to make my preferred version of the dress, I combined the skirt and belt from View A with the (sleeveless) top from View B.  And both times I’ve done this, I’ve discovered that their fabric recommendations are off for the skirt requirements.  Maybe this is only if you’re making the XL size, and it works out OK on the smaller ones?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that, if you’re making the XL size skirt, you can have the stated length, the belt, OR the pockets, but not all three.  There’s just not enough fabric to make all three out of the same 1-5/8 yard piece.  I had vaguely remembered this from dress 1.0, but had chalked it up to my sub-par layout and cutting skills.  Turns out, my layout/cutting skills are just fine, but without serious alteration to the laws of geometry, there is no way that all the pieces will fit on 45″ wide fabric.  Rats.  I solved the problem with a scrap of orange fabric I had in my stash (please note, it makes me inordinately proud that I was able to actually solve a fabric conundrum with stash fabric!!).  So the dress has bright orange pockets.  It was either that, or a bright orange belt, which might also be fun and might also still happen…

Anyhow, that’s about all I did with the pattern.  Once I solved my fabric shortage, the dress came together pretty quickly (well, for me it seemed quick)…I think it took me about 2 hours to adjust the pattern, discover my fabric shortage, fix the fabric shortage, and cut all the pieces out, and about 3 hours to sew it all together.  At least 45 minutes of the “sewing” time was spent picking dark grey top-stitching out of the belt, though…I thought it would look really nice, and it might have if I had sewn it in a straight line and not accidentally changed stitch length partway through.  I think top-stitching is one of those things best done when one is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (lucky for me, I bribed John with a currant scone and didn’t have to do all the stitch-ripping myself!).

So this is the dress, sans belt (which is very cute and comfy!)…(pardon the clutter in my sewing/living room!)

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And here it is with the belt…a bit more polished, I think!

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And here are the pockets!  Such pockets!

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And here’s the back.

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I think the accidentally-orange pockets are one of my favorite things about this dress.  That, and it’s really nice and cool and comfy, just the thing for this beastly hot weather we’ve been “enjoying”.