The Highs and Lows of Reaching One Hundred

When I joined the online sewing circle of Sew Weekly in mid-year 2012, I didn’t realize then that I was embarking on a tremendous challenge.  Sewing every week, pushing one’s limit’s, teaching one’s self new skills by accomplishment, and becoming 99% independent of all “ready-to-wear” (RTW) garments has been a very informative move that changes one’s outlook and knowledge in ways never expected.

Beginning my counting after my first blog posting, here it is exactly two years later that I have reached the number one hundred project!  Ya hoo!  This post is a combination of my quiet, unofficial celebration of my sewing feat and a project post on the garment that brought me to my century of ‘me-made’ items.

An unusual skirt with some neat fabric and the most current modern fashion is my #100 project.

100_3774THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a lightweight to medium weight rayon jersey knit, with a small percent of ‘Modal’ (a newer rayon-type) in its content, with the colors of ivory, grey, and rust orange. 

Simplicity 1429NOTIONS:  only a spool of matching thread was needed; everything else was on hand already

PATTERN:  Simplicity 1429, year 2014

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This pattern took me only 5 hours from start to finish.  It was done on September 12, 2014.

THE INSIDES:  the two side seams are in French seams, and the bottom is in a tiny 1/4 inch hem.

TOTAL COST:  about $15

This skirt pattern really impressed me.  It has a quality that I don’t find too much of in modern patterns, maybe only Vogue Company if anything.  The skirt’s design has a beautifully simple complexity, one which makes the construction very fun and happily intriguing to the mind (at least to mine).  Would you believe here are only three pattern pieces to make a skirt like this?  There is a waistband, the skirt back (cut on the fold), and the skirt front (cutting two).  All you need to know is how to do pleats and darts.  I know ‘hi-low hem’ skirts are not for everyone, but you must admit this skirt is unique and I like it that way.  The way I see it, if you’re going to make something, make it so much better and special than anything available to buy RTW.

100_3783100_4242b     Even though I can’t say enough good things about Simplicity 1429, I must vocalize a BIG complaint about the cutting layout instructions: they are completely wrong!!!  Following the layout the instructions show, one would cut out the back skirt panel with the stripes going horizontal (instead of vertical like the front sides of the skirt) – very big, very ugly boo boo!  Also, the total amount of fabric needed would be a ridiculous amount more over and above the 3-something yards already called for on the envelope back chart. Lucky for me, my mind was actually working so as to notice what was wrong.  I have never yet seen a cutting layout mistake this big and obvious.  Normally, any problems I do find in new patterns only have to do with construction details.  I can totally see someone, myself included, just going along with the layout, and trusting the diagram to be right because, hey, this skirt does look like it calls for some unusual things to be done.  I have done mistakes like this before, and they are usually repairable, learning experiences.  However, Simplicity 1429 cutting layout mistake is not cool – it makes for a complete waste of fabric, wastes money, and is not repairable unless you want (or can) buy more fabric.  Mistakes come easily enough in the experience of sewing without having to be tripped up at the very beginning of a project by a faulty fabric layout diagram.  Unfortunate sewing times shouldn’t come to anyone, and turn people away…the world needs all the interest possible in the fabric arts, so nothing gets lost.   100_4244a

It’s easy to avoid this cutting layout mistake.  At right you can see my own layout diagram drawing.  Start with the back skirt panel.  It looks like a very long and very skinny pattern piece – kinda strange!  Open up the fabric completely, single layer.  Next, take the one end of the cut edge and fold it into the rest of the fabric with selvedge to selvedge.  Don’t fold in too much, though – just enough for the back skirt pattern piece’s width because you’ll need most all of the fabric for the front skirt piece.  Now the back skirt piece should run vertical along with the stripes in your fabric.  Lay the ‘on fold’ edge of the skirt piece on the fold like my drawing shows.  You should be able to fit the waistband at the bottom fold, too, by folding the pattern piece in half, but you don’t have to do it this way.  I just always like to make sure I have enough room for a small but important piece like a waistband by cutting it out sooner than later.  Finally, the large and strange shaped front skirt piece can be cut out as directed, double layered, with stripes matching.

100_3785     The front panel pattern piece gets cut double layered, with fabric selvedge to selvedge, and there is a LOT of marking needed so expect to take plenty of time and space floor (or table) space for a successfully finished skirt.  The time you take to do all those markings is so very important with the front skirt pieces, even though it is hard on account of the need to match two layers and the fact that knit does not hold chalk very well.  I did the ‘tailor’s tacks’ style of markings with thread and, even then, had to keep out the front pattern piece and instructions to make sure I was matching the right sections plus turning them the right way.

Marking is the only hard part to this skirt, in my opinion, because the rest of the skirt (even the front) comes together easy-peasy as long as the construction instructions are followed.  No matter how strange the construction seems, just follow it, and as you do, it all makes sense because you see it suddenly looking like it should before you know it.  You dive right into doing all the front pleats, which get hidden by being taken into the folds.  The “pocket” over the belly created by all that fabric manipulation in the front is sewn together in a lapped seam inside, pulling the fit taught around the hips and waist (see below picture).  There is a very wide, basic casing sewn at the waist, to have very wide 1 1/2 wide ‘non-roll’ waistband elastic installed through.  I only wish I would have made the waistband casing double layered to help support the rest of the skirt, but sewing in the waistband at the front was thick enough the way it was, I’m not sure my ‘improvement’ idea would even work.

100_3953     I am very glad I switched between sizes for my skirt.  I noticed the model’s skirt on the cover envelope seemed very tight, plus I figured correctly that the skirt would be quite disproportionately heavy at the front.  Thus, I went down a size for the waistband, and up a size for the skirt sections, and, because you’re working with a knit, everything stretches to fit together to match up well.  The skirt seems to fit me perfectly.  It turns out snug enough the way it is, even with my going between sizes…it would have fit like a second skin according to the pattern – yuck!  Some amount of form fitting is appropriate to maintain this skirt’s proper styling and hot, figure flattering appearance.

This garment gives me something I don’t normally have – the feeling of being very tall!  I am on the average/almost petite height, and I kind of like the fact that merely wearing this skirt, with it’s vertical form skimming lines, makes me feel otherwise.  The high/low hem and the draping causes a sort of peek-a-boo effect with the bottom half of the legs when walking, creating a very complimentary effect to a lady’s gams especially when worn with heeled shoes.  If you have a booty, this skirt that part of your body a positive focus, too.

100_3778     I found my new skirt a bit hard to accessorize, in the way of finding the right top, shoes, and/or sweater to wear.  Any top worn with the skirt has to be just as tight as the skirt because there isn’t much room for anything blowsy to be tucked in at the waist.  On account of the bulky, pleated skirt front, I think any top worn with this skirt needs to be tucked in, which is another limiting factor…unless you have the gumption to wear a belly top 🙂  I think I found a few ways to outfit my striped skirt, and you see two in this post: 1.) my ivory short sleeve tee with studs and sequins, and 2.) my rust orange jeweled neckline tank top, layered with a tank underneath and grey long sweater.  Outfit #2 seemed to need a raw and modern backdrop so we tried out exploring a construction site (see below right picture). 100_3942

I love how the skirt’s appearance moves and changes as the wind blows and as I move.  When the four bias drapes hang just right, it is truly amazingly picture perfect.  Perhaps I’m just so happy with my new unusual skirt because it brought me to my ‘project #100’ in exactly two years!!!

Check my Flickr page for more upcoming pictures of this draped, unusual, and special skirt.  Happy Sewing!

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