Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Grey striped skirt muslin

I would like to make a skirt in a fabric with a bold pattern - a sort of statement fabric. Something big, bright, oomphy.

I am using Simplicity/New Look 6053, view E: the shorter A-line version.  I reckon it should be quick and easy, and contribute an item to my wardrobe that is desperately missing: I don't have a skirt that you could call bold, beautiful and out there. A definite gap.  In fact, I'm beginning to think that my clothes might be a little on the boring side.  Dressmaking to the rescue!

I'm using an old fabric to make a muslin, also called a toile.  That's a first draft version of a pattern, in fabric.  If you use calico or a fabric you wouldn't dream of wearing then you can drawn on the fabric to note any changes you plan to make, take it apart, and sew it up again.  If you make a muslin that you want to wear, it's a wearable muslin.  That's what this is, thankfully.

I'm glad I'm trying the fabric out as well, I had those five meters for yonks and only find out now that it isn't great to sew with at all. It is made of thickish white and black threads and if you pierce one the wrong way near the edge you might pop that end out of the fabric.  I no longer plan of doing 'proper' sewing with it - maybe I can use the rest to make the muslin of a coat, or something. I guess I now know why it was so cheap.

I want to transfer the pattern pieces onto lining paper so I can keep this to hand as a template. In aid of that I plonked a sheet of tissue paper on top of the commercial pattern and redrew the pieces.  Good idea right?  It might have been if I had kept my lines in the right place.

Having found that their measurement was narrower than my waist, I added an inch to the front piece. I knew that this would add two inches because you cut the front on the fold.  I really did know that and remembered it in my calculation. I really did.

So imagine my surprise when I tried the raw skirt on after I sewed the side seam. Yep, waaaayyy too big.
And I mean way.  Not just by two inches, but five?  What the hell happened there?

I think I must have cut that new tissue paper way too big, followed the wrong line.  Or something.

I had already overlocked all the edges and seeing as that uses up so much thread I really didn't fancy cutting the pieces narrower and starting over.  Instead I pinched off the excess material at the centre front and made it into an inverted pleat.  I reckon it looks quite good.

Isn't that what they mean by serendipity?  

I did cut the front facing to the actual width - more bulk is definitely not required near my tummy, no thanks. 

I sewed the centre back seam shut with a long stitch and attached the zip by sewing through all layers.  Then I ripped the seam back open.  It worked really well due to the thickness of this fabric. I tried this before on a much thinner fabric and ended up with wavy edges.

My pattern drawing and cutting skills were really not up to scratch: I also ended up with very uneven and skewy bottom edges.  I measured the same distance of 58cm from the top edge all the way round and overlocked this again.  Such a supremely useful thing that an overlocker cuts at the same time.

Then I used that trusty trick of sewing an edge stitch about 1.5cm from the edge in a slightly longer stitch length. Folded and pressed at that stitch line and literally only sewed along the edge again through both layers, this time at just over a centimeter.  That worked really well too: I am really pleased that I kept this stitch line at a very even distance from the bottom hem - I had not been able to be this exact before and the result is beautiful: really neat.  No mark of home-sewn, at least on the outside.

I had the most trouble attaching the side edges of the inner back facing to the zip.  There was too much bulk from the top seam and the overlocked edges.  I ended up cutting a corner off to reduce bulk.  Then I finger pressed the facing side edges, pinned and sewed them down to the zip sides by hand.


It took me about three weeks because I didn't muster a huge amount of enthusiasm.  When you're not all that keen on a fabric then you are not going to feel too inspired about getting it to the wearable stage. But I was so buoyed up by my previous project, the pink top, that I carried on with this and got it done in the same weekend. Happiness is when something works out.

I wore it to work today.  And would you believe it: it is still too loose!  It tends to slip slowly but surely and the front edge ends up below my tummy.  Not a great look.  When it comes to making this in a better fabric I will take it in by another inch or just under.  Good thing I am discovering this from wearing the muslin - if I hadn't I would only figure this out once I wear the finished article.  Then I'd have to redo something to rectify the problem with expensive fabric, and I would find that really depressing and discouraging.  I'm not sure if I'd feel as enthusiastic about sewing more clothes in future.

I reckon that going to the effort of making a muslin might just give you that extra motivation to keep going in a quest to learn and develop technical sewing skills.  It might feel like too much work to make a fabric draft version but when you get a second skirt out of it, it ain't too bad!

Now what sort of fabric shall I use for the 'real' skirt? Hmm...

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