Saturday, March 15, 2014

Quick-and-Easy Patternless Skirt Tutorial

So. It is rather evident that I have been very bad about updating my blog in the past year. I guess I had a very busy spring in 2013 and got out of the habit, and since then it has been hard to jump back on the bandwagon. Of course there have been changes: I'm back in America, making it easier to get in touch with family and friends, and I'm usually quite busy at school.

However, in this brief lull between opera performances

Photo credit: the amazingly talented Kimberly Feltkamp
I bring you...



We had a day off on Thursday, so I finally got around to making something out of this beautiful piece of Martha Negley fabric I bought last year in Toronto. (And look at this new design! I want to make a dress out of this new print!) I didn't measure the fabric before I started working, but I think it was about a meter. If you wanted to make a skirt with a coordinating waistband (and approximately these measurements), perhaps you could buy 1.25 yards?

Of course I didn't take pictures as I was going, but I've tried to supplement images of the finished product with a few drawings. Unfortunately I'm bad at drawing... 

It was a little bit too small for a dress, although it probably could have become a shift with a side slit (perhaps an idea for this other piece of fabric, which looks a little like a Wayne Thiebaud painting?), so I settled on a skirt. 

I cut the rectangle of fabric in half horizontally to make two pieces (each now about twenty-two inches high and 44 inches wide). I then joined the two pieces together with a seam along the side to make one long piece of fabric.

At this point I started pleating and pinning in 3/4 inch pleats. (This worked out to make a waistband large enough to sit on my hips, but the pleats could be sized to accommodate anyone.) I sewed over the pleats to hold them in place with a seam 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric. 

Next I took a waistband from another skirt which I had repurposed for scraps. It would be easy, however, to make your own: it's just one large strip of fabric, folded in half, with the edges folded over for seams. I took this waistband and attached it to my skirt.

Luckily this old skirt also had an acetate lining, which I carefully removed. This I sewed to the seam holding the pleats and the waistband together. I used a small zigzag stitch because I was worried about the integrity of the acetate, which has a tendency to fray.

Then, I folded the waistband in half twice, to make four layers of fabric (I didn't have any interfacing). I pinned and sewed this, making a 1/8 inch seam along the bottom of the waistband. Next, I sewed up the seam on the other side of the skirt fabric, leaving room closer to the waistband for a zipper.

I was lucky to also be able to repurpose the zipper from the old skirt. With the help of the handy-dandy instruction manual for my beautiful Janome sewing machine (thanks, Mom!), I used the zipper foot to sew on the coordinating zipper. It involves pinning and sewing and being sort of confused, but I did manage to persevere.

And with that, the skirt was almost done! It looked like a skirt, and quacked like a skirt, and all it needed was a hem on the bottom!

For that, I first sewed on a strip of Flexi-Lace Hem Tape (leftover from another sewing project--see below). Then I realized I didn't feel like hand-sewing the entire hem for my skirt, so I decided to brave yet ANOTHER foot on my sewing machine... the INVISIBLE HEM FOOT! And after quite a bit more experimenting than the zipper needed, I managed to figure out how to coordinate all the various pieces of fabric and get a really beautiful, and truly "invisible" hem.

Here you can see the hem tape and acetate lining

And here you can "see" the "invisible" hem!

And then it just needed a little hand-sewing and snipping to clean up the zipper, attach a hook and eye, and cut off loose threads.


Now excuse me while I go back to rubbing spirit gum (the glue that holds wigs to your head) from off of my temples...

But before I do, here is a dress I made last semester out of some fabric Comrade M gave me (from the thrift store in Toronto!):

Look at those button holes! And those buttons!

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