Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Project - Summer Skirt

With the bit of cash my mother gave me, I went to the fabric store and got some remnants. One of the pieces was a mere 110cm wide and all that was left was 1.5m. It was a cotton twill in a black background with bright red, yellow and pink flowers on it - perfect for a summer skirt. I also found some more patterns for waistbandless skirts and decided to try one on this fabric.

The first photo is the pattern. The skirt is photographed on a real model so I know how it will look better than if it was just drawn. The skirt bells out so it is wider around the knees than my usual skirts. You can also glimpse the fabric underneath the pattern envelope.
skirt pattern
After I had got the fabric home and washed and dried it, I ironed it because I realized I was going to need every inch of it. Even the selvages had to be flattened so I could lay out the pieces as cleverly as possible. You can see (if you click on the photo and make it bigger) that the pattern pieces are laid out oddly, so that the skirt becomes mostly cut on the bias. Because the fabric is so narrow, I had to cut the pieces out without folding the fabric and so had to cut each piece out one at a time, as shown in the top drawing of the “cutting layout”.
skirt layout
In the next photo, one of the selvages is at the bottom and I am measuring each end of the “straight of grain” arrow to the selvage to make sure it is straight. I have turned the fabric wrong side up to make it a little easier to see it, rather than being distracted by the bold print. There’s a piece of blue chalk on the table because I have marked the corners of the pattern piece so that I can take it off the fabric and lay it down elsewhere. I only have one front and one back piece of the pattern, even though the skirt will have two front and two back pieces, so I have to shuffle them around. I suppose I could make two more identical pattern pieces but to me, that would be too much like work.
In the next photo, I have cut out three of the four skirt quarters. You can see that I have no material to spare, although I did cut the facings out of the odd triangular left-over bits with no problems.
cut out
With only four skirt quarters and two pieces for the facings, this is a very simple skirt. Plus it is a real pleasure to be sewing with plain old cotton again. Of course, I am finishing the seams by flat felling them. Since the zipper is going to be located in the fourth seam (on the left side), I sew the other three seams and finish them first. Here I have clipped off one side of the seam allowance in preparation for a real flat fell (not a modified one).
flat fell
Making seams is mostly about ironing for me. After sewing and trimming one side, I press open the seam on the wrong side. Then I turn it over and press it flat using the clapper on the right side. Then I turn it back and press the untrimmed seam allowance over the trimmed one. Then I turn it back to the right side and press the seam allowance that way from the right side, using the clapper to make it really flat. Finally, I turn it back to the wrong side and press the folded seam allowance over the trimmed seam allowance in preparation for sewing. Nice work when it‘s cold outside, not so great in the summer.
fell press
Next, I sew down the flat fell from the wrong side, getting very close to the folded edge with my zipper foot, especially because I can make crisp folds with the cotton fabric.
fell sew
Unfortunately, I failed to pay close attention on one of the seams and I sewed off the seam allowance. I decided to correct this rather than assume it wouldn’t affect the wearing of the garment later. My seam ripper is shown under one stitch, a little below the mistake.
fell error
Because the error was close to one end of the seam, I decided to rip it out all the way to the top. If it had been in the middle, I would have only ripped out the mistake plus a few inches on either side of it. I have picked out the threads and have pulled the ends in to the wrong side so they don’t get sewed over and make a lump on the right side.
error picked
In the next photo, I show the right side of the skirt, after I have sewed down the fell again. I am pulling the tail end of the thread I have just sewed with, to show where the mistake was corrected. You can see a little of the double stitching but I am sure no one else will notice once I am wearing it.
error fixed
These pattern instructions call for me to iron under 1/2 inch of the seam allowance on the back panel and 5/8 inch on the front panel, when I put the zipper in on the side. I zigzag finished the raw edges of the fabric, even though it is cut on the bias and won’t ravel much later. I’m going to flat fell the rest of the seam when I’m done with the zipper.
zip opening
Here, I have pinned one half of the zipper in place, in the 1/2 inch-under side of the seam allowance. I must say, I am having a much more fun time making this skirt than the last project. The only thing is, it won’t last and I’ll be done by tomorrow!
zip pinned


lori z said...

i like how you've done your seams. i don't have a serger and i often find that my edges fray. that looks like a good way to avoid the fraying.

JuliaR said...

Lori, I don't have a serger either and that's exactly why I finish the seams in a flat fell - to avoid the fraying and general untidiness. I liked your beads and earrings - one day, I am going to start embellishing my sewing with beadwork - some day. :)

Robin said...

Nice way of finishing the seams!

I've tended to zig zag stitch a pressed open seams on both of the edges, but I think yours helps the garment construction also.

JuliaR said...

Hi Robin - welcome to the blog! I love the flat fell in all its incarnations and use it everywhere I can. It is neater and cleaner too.

Kilty said...

I've done flat fell seams for years, but am unfamiliar with a clapper and how to use it. Can you explain in a future blog? Great work - I have enjoyed looking around your pages. kj

JuliaR said...

Sure Kitty - I'll put in a bit about the clapper in my next post. And if I forget, you can remind me then!

Kaelyn said...

Wow!! That's great stuff for summer dresses...

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