Saturday, July 15, 2017

My First Skirt - Chemistry!!

Project Runway is one of my favorite TV shows.  I love the fashion, the creativity, and watching the designers craft something so quickly.  When I started sewing, I swore to myself that I didn't want to create (adult) clothing.  However, when I saw someone share this "Chemistry Lab on Navy" fabric, I knew I wanted to make a skirt for myself to wear to the March for Science.  I love my GENEie hats but I wanted to make my outfit even louder.

I found myself searching for elastic waste skirt tutorials.  When I found the Perfect Summer Skirt tutorial and found that it had POCKETS, I knew that I fond a winner.  The instructions from the pattern are fantastic. I'm only taking detailed notes for myself here so that I can repeat this again exactly if I want to duplicate this skirt in another fabric.  I could see how I could end up with a dozen of skirts by the end of summer!

I purchased 2 yards of the chemistry fabric and 1/2 yard of complementary fabric for the pockets.  I considered trying to be a little fancy with a stripe of a solid color on the bottom but realized that I should first try the pattern.  I didn't have time to do a test skirt and then a real skirt since the March for Science was less than a week away!

I wasn't sure if I should follow the normal instructions or the plus size instructions.  I tend to fall on the cusp where I am too small for plus size but still a little large for normal.  I did the calculations for both sizes and then decided to split the difference.  If the skirt felt too bulky I could always take it in some more after the fact.  Plus, I needed to make sure that I can sit down in the skirt without any issues!

2 yards was a good length of fabric to purchase for this project.  Although I only need 27" * 2 of length, the pattern scale is rather large so to get the front and back of the fabric to line up I needed to adjust where I was cutting.  I crossed my fingers that the pattern would still be matched up in the final skirt.

I clipped all 4 pieces together before drawing where I needed to cut.  This would allow me to cut through four layers of fabric at the same time and result in all of the angles being the same. I hate cutting lengths longer than my cutting mat.  Someday I'll buy a larger one.

I used the measuring tape as a guide to sketch the angle line.  (Keith helped me hold it in place.  I wouldn't have been able to do this on my own.)   Then I used my quilting straight edge and rotary cutter to cut the straight line.

I unfolded one of the cut pieces and held it up to my front.  I liked the drape of the fabric, and I was glad (at the time) that I didn't do it smaller.  I wouldn't have been able to go much larger with the natural width of the fabric I had (without inserting any panels!)  Future Rebecca would have liked to remove some of the bulk from the top of the skirt, while keeping the dimensions at the bottom the same.  (I'll discuss what I'd do next time more at the end of this post.)

The pattern contained a rough sketch on how to make the pocket shape.  I decided to make mine a bit larger and so used a tracing of my hand as a guide.  I even extended the pocket a bit future from my initial sketch, requiring me to tape a piece of card stock onto my pattern piece.  I could always make the pockets smaller after the fact, so cutting pieces that are too larger would work nicely.  I would need to cut four pieces but make sure there were two sets of mirror images.

This was a really large pocket... but I sort of like it.  We'll see how it works out in practice and if I end up editing it down (thankfully that could be done on the full skirt!)

1/2 yard of fabric was plenty to create 4 pockets (or even 8), but a fat quarter wouldn't quite be enough and 2 fat quarters would be cut in the wrong place, too.  Maybe I'll have to use the remnants to be pockets in another project someday!

The last piece to cut is the elastic.  According to the pattern calculations; Plus sized elastic: 39-5 = 34" long and Normal Size elastic: 39 + 2 = 42"

I felt like the 34" waist would be a little snug, especially if I decided I wanted to wear the skirt a little lower on my hips.  I certainly didn't think 42" would be worthwhile.   Splitting the difference would be 38".  38" it is.  This would still have negative ease but be super stretchy.  A note from Future Rebecca - I wish that I had gone with a smaller waistband.  The skirt fits great but when I put my phone in the pocket it gets pulled down because the elastic isn't stretched very much.  Next time I'd go for the shorter length.  

Next it was time to put the skirt together.

I secured the pockets in with a straight stitch and then a zigzag stitch (stitch 8, width 3.5, spacing 4.0)

I pressed the pockets so they were folded along the seam, but the skirt fabric remained flat.  I didn't brother to press in the rest of that edge.  I clipped the two halves of the skirt together and then did the same straight stitch followed by a zig zag down each side of the skirt.

I now had a huge tube with pockets!  Wahoo!

I followed the instructions to insert the waistband into the skirt.  First, I pressed down the top edge.  Next, I inserted the elastic and folded it over so it would be completely enclosed.  Finally, I stitched along the edge, making sure to move the elastic as needed until I could have the skirt completely gathered on the elastic.

After the wasitband was done I couldn't wait to try it on.  As soon as I put it on I realized that there are a few things that I wish I had done.  I should have gone with the plus size measurements, or at least for the waist and the top of the skirt.  Maybe I'd do the hem calculation the same as I did today, but make the skirt much more of an A-line shape.  The skirt is staying on (even with my phone in the pocket) but there is a lot of fabric around my mid section and it is not the most flattering thing I've ever seen.  I still needed to hem the bottom.

I don't have a full length mirror in my house, so I had to stand on a step stool in the bathroom to get a picture of the whole skirt.  It still needs hemming, but I think that I should be able to manage that!

I hemmed the skirt over an inch, which means that I could have gotten away with less length from the beginning.  I'd much rather be in the position to have to hem a lot than end up with a skirt that is too short, so I'm still pleased with the length.

Will I make some changes next time I make this kind of skirt?  Sure.  Will I make another of these skirts?  Absolutely.  The quilting cotton skirt is so comfortable in the warm summer weather... AND it has POCKETS!  With the modifications I mentioned above I think that I will be really happy with the skirt.  I've worn it many times after the March for Science.  I even have plans to make a slightly more complicated version of this skirt, but I will need to do some sketching and calculations first.