I made a skirt in a day

Granted, compared with the 1-hour skirt claims on some patterns, this is terribly slow, but it's fairly quick for me. I think I could have been quicker, but I was trying Kathleen Fasenella's centred zip instructions and not doing things as I realised afterwards I ought to have done. There was some un-picking involved, but apart from that, I don't know why it took me so long. As a result of these events, sorry, but there are very few visual instructions this time for making the skirt. I'll just give you these instructions and tips:

  1. First stay-stitch all curve and bias edges. If you are sewing a loose-weave fabric, you may wish to stay-stitch all edges. To stay-stitch, lengthen the stitch to about 3mm and loosen the tension; keep the fabric flat as you sew it. Sew just within the seam allowance. The point of stay-stitching it so stop the fabric from stretching out of shape.
  2. Change your stitch length and tension back to normal.
  3. Arrange and hand-baste the box-pleat into place at the CF. You can hand-baste the pleats with several cross-stitches on top of each other. This is better than machine basting because it stops the pleats from shifting and not meeting.
  4. Interface the yokes; don't add the facings yet.
  5. Sew the back yokes to their corresponding skirt backs. Press the seam open.
  6. Sew the CB seam up to the notch. Back-stitch and then machine baste (with a long stitch) up the rest of the way.
  7. Sew in the zip. If you know the method Kathleen used, you can use that, but without pictures I can't show you in this post.
  8. If you are sewing Italian Pockets, sew the pocket facing (the once with the scoopy-pocket shape on it) to the front of the skirt, matching the raw edges. Turn trim the seam allowances to 1/4", neaten and press. Turn the pocket facing to the WS, clipping if necessary, but not too close to the seam.
  9. Pin the pocket bag (the other piece) into place. Match its raw edges with those of the pocket facing and sew them together to make a pocket. Baste the pocket to the skirt front along the top and side of the skirt. Repeat steps 8 and 9 for the other pocket.
  10. Sew the front yoke to the skirt front.
  11. Sew the side seams.
  12. Sew the front and back yoke facings together at their side seams.
  13. Pin the yokes together along the waistline. Turn the CB seam allowances to the WS of the facings.
  14. With seam tape, cotton tape, twill tape or the selvedge of the fabric along the seam line, sew the facing to the yoke. Trim, grade, clip and press. Turn the facing to the inside of the skirt.
  15. On the inside, match the yoke facing seam allowance and the turned-down seam allowance of the yoke. Pin from the right side. Stitch-in-the-ditch along the yoke-skirt seam line. If you prefer, you can sew the seam allowances together on the inside, or you can sew by hand with a slip-stitch or a hemming stitch. Neaten and press.
  16. Hem the skirt with your preferred method.
  17. Edge-stitch the pleats.
  18. Give your skirt a final press and then go and show it off. : )


How I cut to match the plaid

When cutting plaid you have to cut one side, then turn that over and use it as a pattern for the mirrored side (left for right). This is so that you can make sure the plaid is aligned which is definitely not guaranteed if you cut double as you would with plain fabrics.

I had a photo of the whole pattern piece, but the skirt piece I used as a pattern was nearly invisible so I had to use a close-up. You can just see (thanks to shadow and a few pins) the right-hand side skirt face down on the left-hand side skirt. The are right-sides facing with the paper pattern in between for support. You do this with all mirrored pieces, and with a bit of working out, you can do it with the pockets (which I hadn't enough fabric to make). The clue is that it is like a jigsaw; just go by the stitching lines and make sure the plaid aligns along them.

Making sure the CF box pleat stayed put

Arrange the pleats using the notches as a guides. Use your forked pins to keep the layers in the right place.

Then use several cross-stiches on top of each other. You will remove these when the skirt is finished.

This way of basting is much better than machine basting because you have much more control over the fabric, which means the pleats stay put.

Now for a review of my skirt

My skirt's not perfect, but it will do for now.

The zip is better (meaning less visible) than usual thanks to the new way I did it. As a result, I've been working on specs for zips and their linings. I think I've just about got it for centred, lapped and invisible zippers. I've just got to work out fly front zipper specs now. Looking at the jeans zips we've got in the shop, they are much wider than nylon dress zips and that would definitely affect the specs if I used them.

Incidentally, did you know that traditional men's tailored trouser fly fronts are made quite differently to the way we're used to doing them on women's trousers? Even the zip is different: it's curved sort of like a J shape, and the trouser pattern is adapted on one of the fronts which allows more room. The fly-extensions also have to be sewn on, instead of cut on like ours, because the fly-front zip goes lower than the curve at centre front seam. The whole point is to make the trouser front more 3D (for comfort I suppose). I learned a lot of this on the tailor and cutter forum. The sewing method (but not the pattern adjustment) is in Reader's Digest's Complete Guide to Sewing. The women's method in that book is the more complicated one. I don't know why. Maybe it's to give you practice with a flat trouser front first.

I didn't have enough fabric for pockets so I had to skip those.

I used the blind-hem on my Bernina 380 with mixed results. This may have been because I didn't use a matching thread and I sewed (very) quickly. I think it could be a lot better if I held the fabric fold flat as it went under the presser foot. I'll have to try it again. In most parts it's completely invisible from the right side on this loose, twill weave fabric.

To stabilise the waistline and stop it from stretching out, I sewed the fabric's selvedge into the waistline seam just as I would normally sew in cotton tape (or most would use twill tape, but it's hard to find in the UK). It would only have been thrown in the bin otherwise and it's silly to waste what can be put to perfectly good use.

My main complaint is that it seems a bit tight at the tummy and it keeps riding up a bit. I've measured my waist and that doesn't seem to be problem. I have two suspects: one is that perhaps I didn't sew the seams accurately (I know, more haste, less speed); the other is that my pattern's high hip measurement (about 10cm below my waist) is smaller than mine. I'll have to check.

Other than that (and the lack of perfect neatness) I'm quite pleased with it and have worn it several times since I made it a week ago. My only excuse for not taking a photo yet is that I've been in and out a lot this week because I now go to college an extra day and that really makes a difference with one is not used to it.

Something else I learned (which may have been obvious if speed had not been a priority) is that, if you are going to top-stitch pleats, do so after you hem the skirt. Otherwise the "pin-tuck" on the skirt will be going in the opposite direction to the one on the hem and they almost cancel each other out.

The plaid is fairly well matched up. I used both my Clover forked pins and my Bernina Walking foot. Together they did a fair job considering that my fabric shifted off grain when I was cutting and the second of every piece didn't match the first perfectly (and was a bit wobbly). I can't expect the machine to miraculously fix faults of cutting.

I haven't sewn since Monday when I made a birthday present for my brother: a quilted Mac Book cover with a picture of a games controller on it; but that's for another post.

The reason I haven't sewn is that the electrics have been acting up. The oven (which is now fixed) blew up inside. The plug socket near the kettle could have set the house on fire. The electrician was so amazed at the inside of it when he looked at it that he asked if he could take it home with him! Well, it's no use to us and we're probably not allowed to put it in the bin, so Mum said he could. We haven't got the rest of electrics checked yet and I don't want to risk my wonderful new Bernina 380, so I haven't dared to plug it in since Monday.

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