A tale of two skirts

I’ll admit it, I have a tendency toward git ‘er done-ism. It’s always easy to feel like time is short and you just want to finish. Among many things I’ve promised myself this year is that I’ll try to slow down, learn some new techniques and focus less on quantity and more on creating things that are well-crafted at least some of the time. And so, the old and new habits, in the same skirt pattern, New Look 6032.

I found the pattern while rummaging through my stash and wondered why I hadn’t used it in a while–it’s got a nice shape and only uses a moderate amount of fabric for a full, long skirt, especially if you’ve got a 58/60″ fabric. I thought it would be nice in a wool tweed that I’ve had buried in my stash waiting for that rare LA winter where it actually makes sense to make something out of wool.  (Another promise to myself this year: work through as much of that stash as I reasonably can. Yes, I know those are contradictory goals. I’m complicated.)

First, I decided to make, essentially, a wearable muslin out of a quilting cotton:

Yes, more birds! (And our cat, Iggy.)  There’s nothing wrong with this skirt, it’s cute, it’s serviceable, I like it.  The great thing is, I could whip this version out in a little under two hours, start to finish, with some dawdling in the middle, and I decided this was definitely wool-worthy.

The tweed version, with better technique:

Look at how much more movement and drape there is to this! It just hangs so much better.  In addition to using a fabric with more body, stepping up the technique helped.  This version is fully lined; the pattern doesn’t have lining pieces, so I simply cut the outer pieces again out of lining, minus an inch at the hem, and attached them to the yoke facing.

I did bias bound seams for some of the seams. (Not the yokes, where I worried about bulk; I serged those.  Also, this technique is sometimes called “Hong Kong binding” for reasons mysterious to me.) This was my first experiment with bound seams, and there was a lot of swearing involved.  I tried both the method where you just do one pass on the machine, and the method that requires sewing the binding twice.  (You can also splurge on a machine attachment, which looks a little easier.) The one pass version worked beautifully on the first seam I tried it on.  “Too easy!” I thought….and then the swearing began on the second seam, which is why I switched to the two-step version.  That also involved serious swearing, so I honestly don’t know which technique to recommend to you.  Something that gets overlooked in tutorials is when to stop the bias–do you go all the way to the ends, stop 5/8″ away to allow for cross seams (or whatever for hems), what? I decided that it makes no sense to have extra bulk where the seams cross, so I stopped back, which seemed to work pretty well.  (I’d love to know if someone knows the right way to it, though.)
Also, I hand sewed the hem invisibly with a catch stitch.  The fantastic thing about this wool is that I could, frankly, be kind of sloppy about how much of the other side I was catching and still have it be invisible.  Even with all the added work, this skirt still probably only took 3 or 4 hours, and most of the extra time was swearing over the bias binding.  I don’t know if I’ll give this much attention to everything, but it’s a first step toward handmade rather than homemade!

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