Wait! Wait for us Jungle January!

Jungle January 2015
Just as the gate is about to close on another year’s Jungle January,
my pet Snakes finally slither their way into the party…

Thank goodness the party’s held in the Americas, affording me a few extra hours to get them ready. This year’s Jungle Pets are actually quintuplets. Or maybe that should be sextuplets since I manage to squeeze a couple of scarfs in too. Unfortunately two of the batch didn’t hatch in time. So all you’re getting are these two + scarfs.

I really must start next year’s Jungle Beasts early…Like in Jungle June or July?

Knitting Wadder no more (?)

Last of my 2014 make was a fix. With your encouragements I took the plunge & refashioned my Michelin Man sweater into a Wang S/S 2010 Wannabe. To recap….

I wanted to go from this:

to this:

And here’s what I ended up with

 

Alteration Notes

I didn’t bother with pattern this time. Just wing it as I went along. I did manage to take some photos along the way. Pictures worth thousands of words innit!

2-alter

The Verdict

As expected it’s still a brave silhouette to wear. Best on a feeling tall day. But because the sweater is so comfy I’ve been wearing it even on not my brightest days. So let’s call it a win even if the fashion police in you want to issue me a fine, okay?

Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second

Yeah! Second project from SWAP F/W 2014 done!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Design & Pattern

0-SWAP2014aw-dsgn

This was originally going to be a better fitting version of Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the First. But I got a bit off track while muslining the pattern. I also blame Pinterest which stuffed other ideas into my head. Trying high (front) low (back) on the muslin convinced me that it’s a more flattering shape and works well with the A-line silhouette. And I thought long skinny sleeve might be a nice counter balance to the voluminous bodice & cowl collar.

Now that collar, erm, it ended up a bit floppy because I didn’t think it through. I kept thinking I don’t want a turtle neck look & did everything I could to avoid it. But I went overboard & ended up with this floppy funnel. As it’s knitted with a sticky mohair yarn so too late to fix. I think I can live with it. But I’ll know better for next time.

Block Used:

Tunic Bodice + Sleeve Blocks

Design Changes Made:

(The pattern was done before I corrected the armscye height over-tweaking. So the shoulder seams are still lowered.)

  • Widened neck opening & lower front neckline. This is to ensure the knitted collar band would be wide enough to hang like a cowl rather than a turtle-neck.
  • Curved bodice hem from just below hip at CF to just below bum at CB. This high low hem hopefully gives my shapeless frame some hip curve!
  • Added 7-1/2″ knitted cowl collar. This was flared from neckline seam towards the collar edge.
  • Added 2″ bodice knitted hem & 1″ sleeve knitted hem. These were straight (rectangles).

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Cream Mohair Gauze (?) from Mood NYC. I was hoping for loose sweater knit in cream, but couldn’t find any. This has the surface texture of one, but sadly not the drape. Maybe I should have used it for underlined & unstructured jackets like Puu’s Gerard Coat (which looks like the same type of fabric): It certainly would have made the fabric less delicate to wear! Mine I will have to treat with kid gloves. I already had a seam rip accident (patched now). Plus underlining would have protected my skin from its scratchiness. But as I had bought the fabric with the sweater in mind I stuck with the course. Next time I’ll know better.
  • Rowan Kidsilk Haze silk & mohair yarn in Cream (634). No matching rib fabric to be found so I thought I could knit my own since yarns come in so many different colors! Actually, it turn out not to be a perfect match. But squint your eyes & it’ll be fine. Definitely softer than the fabric & marginally less scratchy.
  • Vilene Bias Tape.

Construction Notes

  • Marking was difficult in such fluffy fabric. I tried cutting out without marking, but where I needed to mark I resorted to bad habit: the reliable if not always removable wax carbon paper – in red no less. Some cursing & stain scrubbing was unavoidable when the red marking refused to just disappear. Don’t do it. Thread trace if you need to.
  • The fabric portion was predictably easy. The neckline & shoulder seams were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked. The edges where I was going to add ribbing were overlocked to give the knitting something more substantial to cast onto.
  • Cowl collar and sleeve & bodice hem ribbings were knitted by hand.
    • Collar is 1×1 rib knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles (I avoided increases like the plague – too confusing – so made my way-too wide funnel by gradually upping the needle size.)
    • The hems are 2×2 ribs knitted with 3.25mm needles.
    • I started all with approx 8 stitches per inch, but ensuring I have the right total number of stitches for my rib pattern (ie multiples of 2 or 4).
    • Casting on was a bit of an experiment, none of which were entirely clean & successful. I forgot that unlike entirely knitted pieces there isn’t a well-formed edge here to hook my first row of knit stitches into. It didn’t help that this fabric is so loosely woven so wanted to fray with any tugging at the cut edges. Maybe I should have underlined the fabric at least at the edges. Or better yet, knit the ribbings separately then treat like purchased ribbing and overlock to the edges.

The Verdict

While not exactly what I had envisioned, it’s wearable. If only it wasn’t so delicate & scratchy then I’d feel comfortable wearing it more often. Next time I’ll wait for the right sweater knit to come along. Yeah, no chance of me knitting the whole thing from scratch. Way too slow & complicated & stressful!

Me-Made-Tote II

Yes, more straight line sewing coming up. And looks pretty much the same as the self-drafted tote I showed you a couple of years ago. How exciting right!

Me: Sweetie, how do you like my new handbag!
MR: Erm, isn’t that the one you already have?
Me: And? So?
MR: If you’re making another why would you make it exactly the same?
Me: Why because it was such a huge success! Why change something that ain’t broken!

I did not lie. The first one I’ve used almost every day for the last two years. I’m obviously no Fashionista. The same neutral handbag does me just fine regardless of the outfit.

the old girlBut that first one is now tatty. It was sort of a muslin. Most of the ingredients were from the Stash and not bought specifically for it. It frayed and peeled. The peeling got so bad that I cut away the bottom corner patches (only to discovered adhesive residue which now attracts all sorts of gunk). Even a Non-Fashionista has her limit. So sadly MMT the First was forced into retirement.

MMT the Second is the same basic design. But I took the opportunity to improve on a few details and on the construction process after learning a few tricks from Don Morin’s Making Leather Bags Craftsy class.

Mug Shots

Fabric & Notions Used

The Design & Pattern

1_pattern

The design is pretty much the same as MMT the First. The only changes I made were:

  • Made the bottom corner patches one-piece (rather than 3-pieces). This was to avoid really thick seams since the fake leather this time is thicker than the vinyl I used last time.
  • Simplified the lining pattern following Don’s example. So only front & back pieces that extends T-shape-like to cover the sides and bottom.
  • Simplified & change the internal pocket sizes. I found of the two pocket methods I used last time, the patch method with minimum ease worked better. And the phone size section was the most useful, so this time I went for 4 of those. I also added a section for a pen.
  • Added detachable elastic loops to hold the soup thermos upright on cold work days!
  • Used the fake leather for the handle this time to avoid unsightly fraying.

One change that I wished I had made was to have cut-on sides for the exterior pattern too so that there’s a side seam like Don’s example. It would have made sewing the zipper so much easier. I’m not sure the side front / back style lines are really worth the hassle.

Construction Notes

  • I highly recommend Don Morin’s Making Leather Bags Craftsy class. Even though I’m unlikely to use real leather (too heavy) I still found the class very useful and informative. The construction order was especially helpful. And the bag he demonstrated looks more like the type I’d buy. I find most other bag patterns a bit too crafty for my taste.
  • Orb Decoration: This should have been done before sewing started. But I didn’t have all the stamping bits then. So the illustrations show this step on a the mostly made tote.

    Ink-wise I tried stamping directly with the gold paint I wanted (on a scrap of course). But that left no mark on this fake suede. Neither did other pigment metallic gold inkpads I ordered nor fabric dye solutions from the Stash. The only ink that seem to work was the normal office inkpad I have lying around. I wonder if it’s a solvent based ink, which you’re not really suppose to with the polymer clear stamps that I got. I reckon once is not going to destroy the stamp. So I used it to transfer the design onto the fake suede, then paint over the design with the gold paint. Not perfect, but at least neater than my freeland drawing on MMT the First.
  • OK, I said I don’t do tutorials. But since I took some photos along the way to remind me how to make it next time I might as well share these…
  • Someone mentioned in Don’s Craftsy class that Fiebing’s Edge Kote + Mod Podge are used to create the professional sealed edge finish you sometimes find on RTW leather bags. I tried Fiebing’s Edge Kote on the trimmed Handle edges. But it didn’t create the sealed effect I was hoping for. Maybe it’s Mod Podge that does the trick. Or maybe my fake leather is too absorbent. Must track me down some Mod Podge next time and try again.

The Verdict

I’m fairly happy with the result. The sewing is neater than last time though by no means perfect. The orb design is also neater, less amateurish looking thanks to the stamped guideline. I do prefer the old bag’s coloring. But this one being brown again should still be neutral enough to go with almost everything. I’m hoping the furnishing grade fake leather will stand up to wear a bit better. At least I won’t have fraying handles.

So here’s to 2+ more years of unfashionable pairing of the same bag with every outfit days in & days out!

The Camisole Hunt…or BS 2012-04-128 was my Mom

When I was making the Georgette lace applique top I agonized over lining the see-through top or not. I’m not fond of the bra + transparent top look. Not so much because it’s risque as much as not liking how the horizontal band of the bra make my already short waisted torso look wider and squatter. Over a bustier or long-line bra would be OK though. But I wasn’t ready to tackle shapewear! So I settled on a more form fitting slip-like camisole that can also be worn on its own.

The Inspirations

My inspiration started out with the blue camisole above that I found on Etsy (can’t find it again). It turns out to be almost the same as a bias camisole that’s demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course, one of the draping books I own. I tried to follow the draping instruction. But couldn’t get it to be close fitting without horizontal draglines across the front. Maybe I was using the wrong type of muslin. But trying again with the China Silk yielded no better result. And the cowl drape wouldn’t work for a camisole that need to work under other tops as well. So I decided to adapt the pattern I used for the Snake Print Dress I made earlier this year. After all, it was originally designed for chiffon cut on the bias, and is slip like with waist shaping.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Pattern

Size Used

36, the recommended size for me according to the sizing chart.

Changes Made

As I’ve already made fitting changes when I made the dress, I used the altered pattern as a starting point.

Design changes

I recruit Q to help me with this.

  1. First I used style tape (1/4″ black twill tape) on her to figure out the neck edges, hem, and internal seam / style lines I want.
  2. Then I pin fitted the Burdastyle 2012-04-128 lining pattern tissue on Q and pin out the drape on the front neckline. I used the lining pattern because it has less drape than the shell pattern, so less confusing to alter. I marked the alteration, the style line, and other alterations I wanted to make on the pattern tissue.
  3. Next I made the flat pattern alteration by pivoting and tracing onto a fresh tissue paper. The changes are:
    • Transferred the pinned out CF bust dart to the french dart by pivoting on the bust point. Judging from the front armhole gap and comparison to my Fitted Top Block, I might not have pivoted enough. But it was hard to tell with tissue fitting. When I tested this new pattern on Q it was quite snug already. Maybe I should have made a muslin for such close fitting garments that have lowered neck edge since the whole chest-boob area is such a varied landscape.
    • Moved the back dart towards CB to match Q / my Fitted Top Block. I wanted the straps to visually continue the line created by the back dart seam. I also hoped that closer set straps would be less likely to fall off my sloping shoulder.
    • Moved some of the waist ease from the F/B darts to the side seam to create a slightly more nipped in waist look.
    • Reshaped neckline / top edge per style line on Q.
    • Reshaped hem per style line on Q.
  4. Added Georgette band details to the front neckline & the hem. The neckline band pattern is per the style line on Q. The hem band is just bias strips.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • China Silk from B&J Fabrics, NYC. It was a toss up between this & the Charmeuse I used for the lace skirt. But since I’m cheesed off China Silk after a jacket lining made from it became tattered way too quickly, I decided to try to use up my stash of China Silk asap & not get anymore. It feels so smooth & soft, but actually is a bit, erm, bouffant, floaty. So I really struggle to think of designs that would work well in it. Anything requiring voluminous drape probably won’t work. But a slip top might be fine. And this is a nice ivory color that goes well with the Silk Georgette…
  • Silk Georgette from Borovick Fabrics, London for front neckline and hem accent.
  • Notions: Clear elastic; Small snaps
  • Sewing Helpers: Spray starch; Fray Check

Construction Notes

  • China Silk is a bit thin & translucent. So I decided to double it up with a self-fabric lining. That solves my neck edge seam finish in one stroke. No fiddling with facing or binding.
  • The translucency also means you see shadow of the SAs. So I kept most SAs skinny with 3-thread overlock seams. But for the shell layer darts I kept the SA because I like how their vertical wedges create an optical illusion of a slimmer bodice. I had to trim the deeper french dart SAs down to match the other dart SAs so the shadows will look intentional, and not just an oversight.
  • I picked overlocked seams because I thought maybe their stretchiness would grow with the bias seams and avoid puckering. The jury’s still out on whether it worked or not.
  • For hem I left the edges raw. Then sew the bias Georgette strip on the fold line to the shell about 1/2″ from the hem edge. The Georgette is then pressed downward, giving me a nice graduated transition from more see-through hem to relatively opaque bodice. I love the airy effect this creates!
  • Because I will be washing the top, so will need to press out the wrinkles, I decided to keep the lining separate from the shell at the hem. It’s easier to press each layer separately. But for dressing & undressing, it’s easier if the layers function as one. So I added snaps at the side seam hem to keep the layers together but separable.
  • Now the Oops…
    • Oh you d*** straps! Unfortunately setting them closer together in the back still didn’t prevent them from falling off my shoulders. I tried inserting clear elastic in them, having read about this trick on PR. But it only hoist the whole camisole up and the straps slip right off again. Boo. Maybe it’s because my top is so light and not skin tight. Perhaps that trick only works when there’s horizontal tension (like bra band) and/or vertical tension (like swimsuit crotch or weight of a heftier dress) to anchor the bodice and activate the strap elastic tension.
    • Gap-ahoy becomes puckering-ahoy. I really needed that muslin! As I said above, I might not have pivoted enough from CF bust to the french dart. (There actually was a small wedge left. But Q said it was tight enough already.) I only discovered this once the two layers were sewn together at the top edge. My only option was to undo & add another dart from the front armhole, OR add clear elastic to the top edge SA. Both are ugly. One’s a lot less work. Which do you think I went for? Next time I swear.
    • Sharp turn ahead. The Georgette band at front neckline really doesn’t work because of the sharp turn where it joins the China Silk. The style line looked fine on Q. So not a clue. Live & learn I guess.

The Verdict

Well, I like the hem? And the idea of the Georgette neckband too. But the execution is really a fail. Not enough though to make this unwearable. After all, it’s first & primary purpose is to exist underneath other garments. It looks fine under the Georgette lace applique top, and under a jacket or open front shirt. In short with anything that will hide it’s warts. So mission accomplished is all I can say.

But the hunt for the perfect camisole pattern continues…

Yet another lace skirt!

First one for me, but obviously not for the internet. Skip if you’re already yawning! ;-) This one is the first of my self-drafted “straight” skirt planned for the Year of the Skirts.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

 

 

The Inspiration & Design

I normally don’t go for lace. They’re usually too dainty, or too mother of the bride conservative, or too boudoir for me.

But I loved the styling for Burdastyle 2013-03-109 Lace Skirt.

It’s so Spring like and “airy”. I know, it’s coming up to Fall. But I’m usually a season or a few years behind.

I was originally going to use this Burda pattern. But since I’m sorting out basic skirt blocks for myself, I thought I might as well test the one closest to this Burda skirt. Then I won’t have to test and alter two lots of patterns.

The Pattern

Block Used: Straight Skirt Block

This is the one derived from a combination of Kenneth King moulage and straight skirt instruction that I blogged about here.

Design Changes Made

  1. Moved the darts slightly to work with the lace’s regular repeat pattern. The darts are still within my acceptable range.
  2. Moved the side seam slightly and widen at the hem slightly, again to work with the lace’s pattern.
  3. For the lace layer, joined up one side seam at the hem just above the scallop to minimize piecing required.
  4. Went for the above-knee length. I originally planned a longer length. But after trying out on Q, I decided the shorter length looks more modern when paired with my new I’m-A-Dress-Form top. As I had already cut the lace with scalloped hem, I had to shorten from the waist.

In retrospect maybe I should have widen the hemline a bit more. Mine is not as wide as the Burda pattern at the hem. I was worried that with a straight hem rather than a curved hem (to make use of the straight scallop edge), a wider hem would dip at the side seams. But the result of my narrower hem is that my skirt doesn’t look as airy as the Burda photo.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

Well the making this skirt was hell of a needless palava. I was hell-bent on making the skirt “airy (fairy)”. But I think my pattern and fabric combination slayed my effort. The result was a bit mother of bride-y to be honest and I could have arrive at this result with a lot less hassle.

  • Palava #1: To Underline or to Line. Almost all of the guipure lace skirt articles I found suggested underlining and even quilting the lace to the underlining with rows of loose hand tacking. That did not appeal to me. The examples all look too structured rather than “airy”. So after much agonizing I decided to treat the underlayers like linings, except the “wrong sides” – ie the side with visible darts and seam allowances – are inside / next to the body. The layers are joined at the waist but allowed to roam freely and independently at the hem. The two underlayers are also joined at the invisible side zipper.
    In retrospect I needn’t have bothered. The skirt pattern wasn’t wide enough for the underlayers to roam freely. The cotton lace didn’t help by shrinking on contact with water it seems, making the fit even more snug. So my attempt at separate closure for the lace layer with a row of eyes and hook also failed miserably with gap-ahoy. In the end I had to hand tack the lace to the zipper edge and seal off raw cut on the lace with Fray Check.
  • Palava #1.1: Lace Seaming.

    Because of my decision to treat the lace layer separately I suffered massive amount of hand sewing. I thought I’d try applique seaming that’s sometimes suggested for guipure lace. But the tiny overlapped edges looked bumpy. I was also afraid the machines will choke on the uneven bumps. So I ended up trimming away most of the seam allowances and then try to butt connect the cut edges by hand mimicking the lace design with tread bars and rather random overcasting stitches. As you can imagine it took ages for 4 darts and 2 side seams.

  • Palava #2: Underlayer fabric choices. The reason I chose Georgette on top of Charmeuse was to soften the transition from see-through lace to opaque lining, again for a more “airy (fairy)” effect. But it didn’t really work: the transition still looked quite abrupt when I hem the two underlayers different lengths. So both ended up about the same length at the top of the scallop edging. I’ve since been studying photos of some Dolce & Gabbana lace skirts & dresses I liked to see what I did wrong. But on closer inspection a lot of them do seem to show the legs, which even when paired with granny shorts seems sadly a bit impractical for real life. I love the look, but I don’t love the hassle & snarky remarks I might get wearing that sort of outfits :.( Maybe I should have gone for flesh colored China Silk instead of Charmeuse. That might have been a better compromise to preserve modesty without an abrupt transition from lace to opaque.
  • NOT A Palava: Taming the slippery underlayer beasts. For the Georgette & Charmeuse, I resorted to tons & tons of spray starch. Yeah, naughty me. But despite what the experts advice about silk (dry clean only), I plan to hand wash these. I have little space in my closet for Divas, and tailored garments have already reserved that title. So no fiddly tissue papers for me. The spray starch made these Diva fabrics much easier to handle. They still wanted to shift and slip, but at least not at a mere sneeze. It also helped to control fraying a little bit. And made it a bit easier to mark these fabrics with chalk. (I used Clover Chaco Liner. It’s the easiest of what I have that doesn’t leave a permanent mark. But I’m still on the hunt for even better marking tool / method. If you have a trick for marking slippery lightweight fabrics please do share!)
  • And the Rest:
    • The underlayer were french seamed by machine, and narrow hemmed by hand.
    • For closure I resort to my favorite – an lightweight invisible zipper.
      Mercury Handmade Fashion’s recent blog tutorial on  invisible zipper in a french seam came in really handy. I had two separate layers of french seams to deal with. So it was slow going with a fair bit of hand basting. And for waist facing I resorted to petersham + skirt eye & hook like with my other recent skirts.
    • And I finally took the plunge and tried out my hem marker. The white chalk powder worked surprisingly well on these ivory Georgette & Charmeuse. But to be on the safe side I thread-traced as soon as marked…using red threads. Yeah, me bad. But my aging eyes thanked me for it. But wait, what’s this, the Georgette layer still ends up with a crooked hem peaking out from under the lace shell! WTF!?!? I swear it was level when I marked. I’m hoping it’s my naughty ironing of the Georgette layer (yeah, me bad again) that maybe stretched that bit out. Hopefully a wash will relax the fabric and return it to the proper even length again. Worst case I’ll re-hem that bit.

The Verdict

The skirt is definitely wearable. But it sure was way too much effort for what it is. It’s nothing special design-wise — more of a team player than a superstar. Nor is it spectacularly flattering. I definitely could have simplify the process rather than let the lace bullied me into so much hand-sewing.

After I made this I checked out the fancy dress department at a local department store to gauge what seaming might work in the future. I think for a fitted look, the underlining approach is the way to go – ie handle the lace and an underlayer as one so the SA are all hidden by the underlayer. For a looser fitting look, I’d go with some sort of overlocked seam so that the SA sticks out from the seam and isn’t so visible from the outside (compared with being pressed to one side of the seam).

Flocked Denim Pencil Skirt

This is the second of my self-drafted pencil skirt planned for this Year of the Skirts. The silhouettes & patterns are basically the same. But I’m experimenting with different finishing details, fabric combinations, & maybe lengths to avoid making the same skirt over & over again. I want to see what sort of detail changes will give each pencil skirt a personality of her own.  So maybe I’ll do a comparison round up post after I’ve made all three. For now Pencil Skirt No. 2 wants her 15 seconds of fame!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

 

The Inspiration & Design

The inspiration started with this lovely flocked denim from Mood LA I bought 2 years ago. I was debating how best to showcase the large motif. Originally I was going to make the whole skirt out of it (like Oonaballoona did with her dress). But my Inner Scottishness took over. I decided to spread the love over multiple me-mades. So for this skirt, it takes center front stage. For a matching jacket I’m dreaming about it’ll take center back stage. And the bits & pieces left over will show up god knows when or where.

Now the coordinating fabric…well, it’s not as coordinated as I would like. The lovely flocked denim is the darndest shade of odd gray with a warm greenish tinge. Her sparring partner in the meanwhile is a bog standard gray denim with a cold bluish tinge, also from Mood LA. Any stylist would tell you to keep your warm & cold undertones apart. In fact, never mix them in the same outfit if you can’t resist wearing colors of different undertone to your own skin.

I searched high & low for a better match. But London yielded no result (Fashion Capital of the World my ***). So I made the executive decision that Sod the Stylists It Looks Fine Because I’m So Punk! I did make a concession and kept two fabric apart with a velvet rope piping boundary line.

0plans-skirts Silhouette-wise I decided to continue the flocked denim’s High-Low theme (formal damask pattern in indulgent velvety flock vs rough & tumble denim). Since the Substance is more rough & low, the Form went formal & high. A shapely princess pencil skirt it is then.

I kept the back details subtle & complimentary to the Diva in the front. But to stop the yawns I…

  • traded bog standard CB slit / vent for two princess vents;
  • topped these off with matching velvet buttons – my inspiration was sort of historical military jackets;
  • and tasked the CB invisible zipper with maintaining the formal symmetry.

The Pattern

Block Used: 1-Dart Pencil Skirt

This is the one derived from a combination of Kenneth King moulage and pencil skirt instruction that I blogged about here.

Design Changes Made

  1. Lowered waistline slightly (3/4″) to avoid optically widen the narrowest part of my waist with the horizontal waistline. Also remove tinsy bit of ease from the new lowered waistline so the skirt doesn’t hang even lower than expected.
  2. Convert darts to princess seam. Back princess seam is tapered below hip. Front princess seam below hip is style line only (ie seam added without tapering).
  3. Repositioned front princess line to work with the size of the motif on the flocked denim.
  4. Kept CB seam for shaping above the hip for a closer fit, and for the CB invisible zipper.
  5. Added extra seam allowance to back princess seam below mid-thigh for princess seam vents.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

One things that slows down my self-drafted me-mades is figuring out the construction & finishing details. The design details & fabrics I’ve chosen all call for anything other than the bog standard seam & seam finishing. Maybe with more design experience the selection of seams & finishing would be second nature & more speedy. For now you’ll have to put up with my glacial speed.

  • Lesson learnt: Overlock the edges before you sew the seams, especially if the seam allowances of such bulky fabric will be pressed open.
    In keeping with the formal silhouette, I wanted seam & hem finishing that’s more formal. So no jean-style bulky flat-fell. I was going to press open the seam allowances & overlock each SA separately. But I found it very difficult to overlock once the seam has been sewn because the uneven bulk the feed dog / presser foot has to handle: 1-layer SA on one side of the seam vs 3 bulky layers on the other (1 SA + 2 shell layers). So the fabric wouldn’t feed properly. Maybe if the SA was wider so the bulk is to one side of the presser foot…But then the SA might be unwieldy where the seam is curved. I end up having to overlock both SA layers together, then top-stitch in place. Thankfully top-stitching was virtually invisible, so didn’t detract from the formal theme.
  • No lining this time. I was tempted. My default is to line everything. But as the fabric has a bit of stretch, I would have to get stretch lining. Then I start wondering why I assume lining is necessary all the time. Many of my favorite RTW skirts don’t have lining and I still wear them loads. So I jumped. It seems in keeping with denim anyway.
  • Waist finishing: I’m experimenting with petersham ribbon as my go-to light-weight skirt waistline finishing. I could have used facing as well, but it would have to be a lighter weight fabric to avoid ridges. But, erm, petersham is easier? :-) The bottom of the ribbon is only tacked at the seams & CF to make it easier to press without the ribbon’s bottom edge striking through. The ribbon also act as a waist stay of sort with the addition of hook & eye. I find it easier / less taxing on the invisible zipper if the waist is already hooked together at the waist opening.
  • Hemming: The hem edge is simply overlocked, not turned under as that would be too bulky for a more discrete hem. I decided against top-stitching here to continue the formal theme. But this time instead of standard catch stitch I tried blind catch stitch. Since the skirt isn’t lined, I thought avoiding stretches of exposed threads (eg from standard catch stitch) would be a good idea – more durable with less exposure to friction. I should try machine blind stitch one day. Maybe even on the overlocker! I don’t feel brave enough yet though.

The Verdict

I’m pretty pleased with the result. It makes me look like I actually have a bum! Probably thanks to the combination of stiff fabric & back princess shaping.

Having worn this a few times now I think if I were using the same patterns for non-stretch woven fabrics then I might reduce the back princess below hip tapering to give me a bit more hem ease. These denims have a little bit of stretch, so the shapelier tapering is fine this time, but might be a bit risky with my unladylike wide stride.