Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Inspired by a Shirt

This post could also be titled the Bias Bitch, but I don't want my experience with the pattern to scare off anyone from trying it.  And to be honest, for as rough of a time I had putting it together I adore this skirt.

First, the shirt.  As soon as I saw this bold beauty hanging in the store, I knew it would be mine.  Yes, I bought a shirt.  A criminal offense, right?  In my defense, I've been losing weight for the last year and my wardrobe is bare of things that actually fit, which is why I've been pushing my way through the skirts.  So why not rock through a few shirts?  Fit is one.  My shape has changed so much even in the last few months, that as soon as I stitch up shirt it ends up in the 'no longer fits' pile.  Sure, I could adjust the fit, but while I love sewing up a new garment, I absolutely despise resewing that same garment a few weeks later.  Maddening.  So I bought a shirt.

While standing at the register, my bold beauty in hand with matching earrings no less, my brain is bubbling away at possibilities for a matching skirt. Surely there is a length of black bottom weight languishing amongst all the yardages.  Boy was I wrong.  Worse, there wasn't even a khaki.  The best I could come up with was a grey sateen, which next to the intense blue just screamed "oh please, not me!".  What I did find, hiding at the very bottom of the third bin was 2 yards of white brushed twill.  WTH?  I mean, seriously WHITE Brushed Twill?  Where the heck did it come from?  Why would I buy white anything in a bottom weight fabric?

Having splurged with the shirt, I was committed to using fabric from my stash for the skirt.  Well, that and the hubs has recently discovered just how much fabric I own.  His disbelief at my need for yet MORE fabric was evident.  Best just to buckle down and make the best of it.  I figured, if I really hated it, I could dye it.  Right?  Thankfully, it didn't come to that.  I can't begin to imagine the horrors that would have invoked.

Determined to use the blindingly white fabric, my next quest was for a pattern.  I had 2 yards of 60" wide fabric, so my choices while not endless, meant I wasn't limited to just or two patterns from my stash.  I sorted through my options and consulted my favorite sewing peeps, Becks and Denise via text.  Rapid fire phone texting shot down my option of a third version of my new favorite skirt pattern.  I settled for a bias cut a-line skirt pattern from McCall's, 4258 which proudly proclaimed itself a 2 hour bias skirt.  Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.

I opted for View B, the more streamlined style with a narrow waist band.  Laid out the fabric, carefully checked and double checked each piece to ensure I had the bias line of the fabric perfectly  in line with the pattern.  Have you ever done this?
Measure against both ends of the grainline on the pattern
piece, adjusting the piece until the measurements match.
Every pattern piece has a grainline marked, generally in the center of the piece.  Measuring tape in hand, I check and double check that line against the selvages of the fabric, making sure that my garment will hang correctly when finished.  My first year home economics instructor was a stickler on this.  She would even double check your measurements before you were permitted to cut.  How many pieces did I have to unpin, adjust and repin?  After the first garment under her eagle eye, none.  But every blessed piece of that first one, a couple of them twice.  Even now, years later, I never, ever, ever miss this step. It is 100% worth the extra time and effort.  There is nothing worse than a skirt that hangs just a bit off. Nothing says this garment is hand made than one that hangs wrong.

Skirt pinned and cut in the quiet time when Thing 1 and Thing 2 have drifted off to sleep for the night.  Notice how much of a fabric suck bias cut skirts are?  Oodles of waste there, thank goodness.  Little did I know I was going to need a bit of it.  Initially, the sewing went well.  I mean how wrong can things go with a skirt that consists of 3 whopping pieces?  The edges were serged, the non-zipper side was stitched up, the waist band interfaced and that's where things started going sideways.  The waist band, was 4" too short for the skirt.  WTH?  Yes, that's a theme here.  I said it a lot while putting this skirt together along with that four letter word that starts with F and rhymes with Yuck.  I pull out the pattern piece.  Yes, I cut the correct size, the VERY same size as the skirt pieces.  F word.  I wrapped the waist band around me and contrary to all my measurements it didn't fit.  WTF?  (see the upgrade?)  I checked the pattern again for the suggested measurements for size.  Yes, I picked the correct size.  I measured me again.  I matched the suggested size.  I had the hubs measure me, yep, still matched.  WTBleedingH? (I'd calmed down by this point)

Time to regroup.  The waist band was obviously not going to fit either me or the skirt pieces.  The pattern offered up an alternate waist finish, with a facing rather than a band.  I dug out my scraps, cut facings and interfaced them.  The facings did not match the skirt.  WTF? (yes, we were back to that.)  I swore at the skirt and the stupidity of the waist finishes.  I was done.  It wasn't worth it, no matter that I was planning on wearing the combination to work on Monday.  Stupid thing.  Fifteen minutes later I had the facing pieces back in my hands.  I refused to let the damn thing get the better of me.  I measured it.  I measured me (yes, again). I wrapped the facing around me and it fit.  Problem must be in the skirt pieces.  I measured them and found I was only off 3" now.  Somewhat better than the 4"of the waist band.  WTBH?

At this point, I figured I had nothing to lose.  The center front and center back were marked on the skirt pieces.  I measured out 2" on either side of those center points and marked 3/4 darts.  Taking out 1 1/2" from the front and the back should get the facings to fit.  The facings fit.  By this point I was feeling daring.  I stitched in the invisible zip, i tacked down the facings.  I stitched up the rest of the zip seam, chopped 3" off the length of the skirt not because I checked the fit, but because it sounded like a nice round number.

I stopped caring about how the skirt would look.  I wanted it done and behind me.  A narrow hem finished it off.  Done.  (See the clips?  I love them.  Very best thing ever placed in my Christmas stocking.  No more stabbed fingers when I'm stitching in a hem!)

Seriously cool clips aside, I wanted to take the completed skirt and toss it on a bonfire.  Celebrate the completion of what I was sure was a total wadder.  The only problem...the damn thing fit. Perfectly.  Even the length was spot on.  WTH?  I am the proud owner of a white brushed twill skirt.  One that fits like a dream and gets compliments every time I wear it.  I was told that I looked 'professional'.  That rocked.

I love the skirt. I hate the experience. I will never buy another inch of white brushed twill.  I mean, good came of bad, but I'm not stupid. As for the pattern, I came across a nearly finished version of View C when I was doing some cleaning.  Maybe the next time I'm feeling the need for a swear fest, I'll pull it out and finish it.  For now, I'm pretty content to let it hang out in a bin and mock me.

Before you judge me by the wrinkles in the photo, I ironed the skirt prior to going to work, but this is end of day.  Sitting around at a desk tends to encourage wrinkles in the best of fabrics.

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