Tag Archives: self-drafted

FO: Corazones pencil skirt

1 Jul

Some posts fight the writing. This is my third-and-a-half attempt at this.

First, I typed a massive draft into WordPress, which ate it, leaving me paranoid. Then I organised for a friend to grab some photos, but they came out rotten. So, more than a year after I made it, and benefiting from the magic that was sunshine plus skilled and willing friend Sarah plus camera, I finally started again! Except I got half way through THIS draft and had to dash to the hospital to collect punk-flatmate who’d busted his leg and when I came back, WordPress had mangled it again! Can I get to the end successfully?

Assuming I have, then may I present to you my Corazones heart pencil skirt!

So damn bright! And once again, massive thanks to the wonderful Sarah for helping me to pump out all these photos. She's awesome!

So damn bright! And once again, massive thanks to the wonderful Sarah for helping me to pump out all these photos. She’s awesome!

I’ve already told you about my seriously yellow skirt, and for those of you who obsessively commit my posts to memory, you’ll recall I hinted at a backstory to come. This is that backstory.

I decided at the beginning of last year to pump out a bunch of pencil skirts in a row. I figured that way I’d get to perfect the fit and the technique, and as I thrash my RTW pencil skirts I knew they’d be a winner. I managed two; this one and the yellow one. Best laid plans and all that. But I love them both so it was still a win!

My hem isn't quite that crooked, I simply have my leg bent.

My hem isn’t quite that crooked, I simply have my leg bent.

As part of this plan to assembly line some skirts, I decided to draft my own pencil skirt block first. And I did! I used these two tutorials to do so. The first time it didn’t work out so good as I didn’t get the hip point right. The instructions suggested that the hips, should be 20cm below the natural waist as this was about standard “unless very tall” but I had come to the conclusion that my natural waist was higher than average (a conclusion I’m not so sure about now, more on that another day) so I drafted my hips in lower. That didn’t work so I redrafted it following the instructions and the fit was much better! However it’s not perfect: there’s a slight tilting of the side seam (that I didn’t notice) and a slight puddling of fabric at the top of the zip.

While not a huge hassle for this skirt, I decided to correct for the puddling at the top for the yellow skirt by carving out a tiny crescent moon, in effect deepening the back waist curve. What I noticed on the yellow skirt though is that the waist fits better but the side seam tilt is worse! So, more fine-tuning of the draft to come.

My back seam is also not crooked and that is also more bent legs causing issues!

My back seam is also not crooked and that is also more bent legs causing issues!

What is a bit of a hassle on this skirt is that it is very snug. I did do a muslin, but didn’t stay-stitch the waist and I think that allowed jut enough bias stretch to disguise the firm fit. However, I still frequently wear this – just not if I’m going out to lunch or dinner, heh.

Again, I adjusted for this on the yellow skirt by reducing the seam allowance – and then took it all back in again! Then again, the yellow skirt is stretchy, and this most certainly is not, given the quilting cotton and lining.

The cotton is ‘Corazones Hearts’ by Alexander Henry from the Folklorico range, and depict Mexican sacred hearts. I don’t know much about Mexican sacred hearts other than that it is Mexican-folk-art-meets-Catholic-iconography, but neither of these was why I bought it. I bought it because I love the colours. It features many of the jewel tones I love to wear, including red, purple, turquoise and teal, and I pair the skirt with all of them. Sometimes at the same time! Note the red shoes, purple tee, and turquoise jewellery!

I like my pencil skirt to come to just below the knee, and that was one of the advantages of drafting my own. RTW skirts all seem to be far too short for my preferences!

I like my pencil skirt to come to just below the knee, and that was one of the advantages of drafting my own. RTW skirts all seem to be far too short for my preferences!

I lined it with what I think is an acetate, acquired from Global-that-was when they had a sale and I decided to stock up on lining. I liked the abstract print. Which turns out to not be an abstract print but “DKNY” in lots of different directions. I don’t like wearing branded clothing, so this won’t ever end up as a visible lining, but it’s great for skirts!

Construction was mostly pretty easy as I’ve done lots of skirts and they all work the same way. I did have to look  up the vent in my trusty Reader’s Digest book, but what was very straightforward. I also had to do some Googling for inserting a lining into a skirt as I hadn’t lined a skirt before. This resulted in me cobbling together a bunch of tutorials in a rather daft way. Somewhere (Threads??) I read about a technique to not have to interface a facing by cutting the lining in full and inserting it between the facing and skirt, top-stitching the bottom facing edge over the top before insertion, and therefore using the lining as the strength layer. I thought that sounded clever. I also read in Sunni’s tutorial about lining  about not darting a lining, but pleating it, so as to give the lining a bit more room to move. That also sounded clever. And because I didn’t want to do any more measuring or drafting, both of them sounded easier than chopping the facing portion off the lining and attaching the lining to the bottom of the facing. But I foolishly tried to combine the two, which meant I ended up with all the extra give from the pleats being totally superseded by the overlapped facing! Whoops!

My accidentally DKNY lining

My accidentally DKNY lining

 

I also didn’t know how to line the vent, and although Sunni’s tutorial seem very comprehensive it seemed very comprehensive, if you know what I mean, and I couldn’t be assed, so I simply cut a vent sized piece out of one side of the lining and hemmed the edge! Lazybones! I will do it properly in another skirt, one day.

You know, when I get around to it!

 

FO and MOS 3/52: The seriously yellow pencil skirt

1 May

Being the terrible blogger that I am, I have a backlog of projects with no photos or posts to show for them; a backlog of drafts waiting for photos; and funnily enough some old photos that I never wrote anything to go with.

I had planned to tell all these stories in something resembling a sensible order, but this one got bumped to the head of the queue. Why? So that I could submit it to Cation Design’s stashbusting challenge for vibrant colours.

You see, my skirt, it’s yellow. Seriously yellow. Blindingly, happily, unashamedly yellow.

Outside a school in the inner city, with some amazing art etched into these support poles. paired with turquoise and navy becuase one vibrant colour is never enough. Photo courtesy Kat.

Outside a school in the inner city, with some amazing art etched into these support poles. paired with turquoise and navy becuase one vibrant colour is never enough. Photo courtesy Kat.

So, imagine if you will that I’ve already told you all about drafting my pencil skirt pattern from scratch (this one I actually wrote and WordPress ate it); and all about making my first skirt from it in a Mexican corazones hearts print; and you’ll just have to wait patiently (oh so patiently) until I actually do tell you those two stories.

So this, my second pencil skirt from my self-drafted pencil skirt pattern went together reasonably well. (Ok, fine, spoil the backstory post I have yet to release – the tutorial I followed is here).

It is made from cotton-with-a-hint-of-spandex sateen (one of my favourite fabrics) in yellow covered with a print of dragonflies, stars, and cursive French text in black and grey. This was actually a short turnaround from fabric to make – I think I bought this fabric in November or December! I was enticed by the vibrant yellow and just had to have it. Even though this is a short period (given my oldest stash fabric is 16 years old) it still fits my definition of stash – it was bought with no immediate project in mind and went into the cupboard for “later.”

Thank goodness for the kick pleat so I can bend my knees!

Thank goodness for the kick pleat so I can bend my knees! Also, what amazing school grounds to be right in the city. Photo courtesy Kat.

Overall, this was a fast make for me. I washed, dried, ironed the fabric, cut, and assembled it in the first three days of April, and THEN discovered that Cation’s challenge was vibrant colours! I was so pleased that I’d have this ready in time. But I had to wait for a while to hem it, then to get photos, then to write this up… you know how it goes! So hopefully I just get to slip it in, and I couldn’t have done it without Kat of Modern Vintage Cupcakes to take my photos.

Despite being a fast make, there were, as always, things to be learned along the way. After the hilarity of my first one (yeah, I know, telling it out of order, I’ll get there) I didn’t make any of those mistakes again. I made a whole new set though!

The pattern is straight forward, centre back lapped zip, facings, kick pleat, and it all came together well. This time I did a small sway back adjustment to my paper pattern after noticing that the waist on skirt-one sat high at the back. I did this by just dipping the waistline at the back from nothing at the waist to about 1.5cm at centre back. This has mostly worked really well, although it also appears to have resulted in my side seams now no longer being perpendicular to the floor and I have no idea why.

We found this fantastic old car parked in front of these brilliantly painted doors and decided that more colour was even better. Plus this shows how well this skirt fits my rear. Photo courtesy kat

We found this fantastic old car parked in front of these brilliantly painted doors and decided that more colour was even better. Plus this shows how well this skirt fits my rear. Photo courtesy kat

But, I don’t think I’ve ever combined a lapped zip with a facing. My other lapped zips have all had waistbands, and my faced skirts have all been invisible zips, both easy combos. On an invisible zip, it is really easy to fold the facing to the zip tape. I usually do this with machine and then turn, giving it a beautiful neat finish. But you can’t do this with a lapped zip as the facing would join to the overlap, neatly sandwiching the zip teeth and making them impossible to reach. I spent time Googling and poking at it and getting frustrated at the incomprehensible instructions online before I stuck with my normal facing method and sort of poked the facing out of the way when hand stitching it down. This has left a weird little tuck in the facing but I can wear it and that is what counts. The waist is a little uneven at the very top of the zip but I couldn’t quite get it any better and I’ve decided I don’t care. I did add a wee hook and eye to ensure that there is no gaping at the top of the zip.

Unlike skirt-one which had a vent, this time I tried a kick pleat. I’ve since decided that this wasn’t the best idea as the sateen doesn’t hold a neat crease at the edge of the pleat so it just sort of sits open in a weird way. I might top stitch a pleat into it to give it some definition or open it out into a vent. Or maybe I won’t. Whatever. It was perfectly easy to make though, so yay for making my first kick pleat!

Finally, skirt one, despite being drafted with some wearing ease, was very snug fitting. So, thinking I had learned from that I sewed this one with an extra centimetre at each side seam. But after wearing it once or twice I discovered that this was too much and painstakingly took it back in to the original size. I am not sure if the different in comfort and fit between the two is because this is a stretch fabric where version one was a solid cotton, or if it’s because I forgot to interface the facing (sigh). The reduction in side seam was perhaps the most difficult part of the whole make – I had to unpick the hand stitching where I’d anchored the facing to the side seams, unpick the under stitching on the facing, unpick the facing from the skirt, unpick the turned-up edge on the facing and unpick the overlocking that I’d turned up, take in the facing, take in the side seam, re-overlock the side seam allowances, re-overlock the edge of the facing, re-turn up the edge of the facing, reattach the facing, and re-understitch the facing. I have yet to re-anchor it to the side seams with a couple of rehand restitches.

Totally worth it. It fits so much better now!

Aiming for a pin-up look. Pencil skirts always make me feel slinky. Photo courtesy Kat.

Aiming for a pin-up look. Pencil skirts always make me feel slinky. Photo courtesy Kat.

I also took advantage of the time I spent dicking around with it to peg the skirt, so it tapers from hip to hem. This worked great although there is now a tiny bit of puckering on the side seam that there wasn’t before. But only I can tell (I hope) and I definitely prefer the pegged shape.

Because I drafted this I did something odd with the hip curves and so the hem doesn’t quite match up, so I decided to get it levelled from the ground up and the awesome Sarah and I did a levelling swap (I did the hem on her amazing Victorian skirt). This has resulted in a really weird hem when lying flat; the back is about 3 or 4 cm longer in the centre back than the centre front. Worried that this wasn’t right, I conned Mechanic Man into double checking it and got the thumbs up. So I tried on a RTW skirt that I have and got him to check that. Sure enough, even though the RTW skirt is perfectly level when flat, when on it is shorter in the back than the front. Levelling for the win!

This made me think though about skirts with interesting hem details like gores or godets (my RTW has box pleats the whole way round). One couldn’t really level that from the floor up as the features would all end up out of whack. Then again, I’ve never noticed that my RTW skirt looks terribly odd being longer in the front than the back either. So I’ve decided that all featureless skirts will get levelled from the ground up, and any featured skirts will be hemmed on the flat on the basis the differential isn’t that noticeable, I hope. We shall see anyway!

Vital statistics
Pattern: self drafted
Year: now
Fabric: cotton spandex sateen from Global Fabrics in Wellington
Notions: zip, thread, hook and eye, and forgotten interfacing
Made when: April 2013
Techniques used: lapped zipped and incorrect facing method,
Stash duration: about 4 months
Wearability: comfy, bright, fits my aesthetic love it – it will get lots of wear.
What I learned: don’t forget to interface your facing; a sway back adustment might mess up your side seam angle; the amount of stretch in cotton spandex sateen might be enough to require less wearing ease than an identical skirt in non stretch fabric
Unsolicited compliments: so many at Fabric-a-brac I started to blush!

I do love this old car! Photo courtesy Kat.

I do love this old car! Photo courtesy Kat.

My only remaining gripe is that I think I would have liked it longer, but this was as long as I could get. So overall, I’m pretty pleased with this, and expect to see some more vibrant pencil skirts soon!