Some things in life are just meant to be. That last pair of shoes in the sale that are your size, the chance meeting with a future partner, being in the supermarket at the exact time they reduce all the bakery items so you can score the cheap donuts.
When I was browsing Etsy and stumbled across the amazeballs Opening Ceremony fabric that I used for my Catarina dress, it just so happened to be from the same seller as another piece of fabric that had been in my ‘favourites’ list for literally MONTHS. It was a 1.5 metre remnant of black and gold leopard print silk jacquard fabric, which I hadn’t yet bought because the shipping from the USA to London was a smidge on the high side for just one and a half metres of lightweight fabric. Amazingly, nobody had bought it throughout all those months I’d been watching it. It had sat there, waiting patiently for it’s turn. When I saw that the seller also had the Opening Ceremony fabric for sale, I knew that the long-term pup at the shelter who everyone else had been passing by had finally found it’s forever home. The gorgeous gold sparkly fabric was finally added to my basket as well, and the shipping cost was now spread over two pieces of fabric and became more justifiable.
When it arrived, it was a lot more gold than I anticipated. In the pictures online, it looked like a sort of muted, old gold colour. I guess it might have been kind of hard to photograph. But in real life, it was a BLING-BLING-LOOK-HOW-SHINY-I-AM gold. Proper loud. And it was a little bit sheer – depending on what I made from it, a lining might have to be on the cards.
The shiny threads in the fabric made it a little bit too itchy to wear directly against the skin – so a top was out of the question, unless it was fully lined, which I didn’t really fancy. I instead started thinking about skirts, but got a little bit sweaty at how flimsy the fabric was – would I catch it on stuff, and rip it? Probably, knowing me. But with only a yard and a half to play with, options were limited. A skirt it was.
I needed a design that was quite light and floaty, to match the fabric. So no pencil skirts, nothing that needs a bit of structure. The fabric has no stretch, so nothing too close-fitting. A bias cut midi skirt would have been a good option, if only I had enough fabric – I have a similar style RTW skirt in a lightweight silk jacquard which I would have loved to have copied. I started looking at dirndl skirts, figuring that I could just cut out the waistband then chop what was left in half for front and back – gathering it as necessary to meet the length of the waistband. Essentially, a dirndl skirt is just two rectangles gathered at the waist, so uber-simples to draft yourself or alter to the amount of fabric you have available. With this sort of pattern, every scrap of this lovely fabric would be used and nothing would go to waste. This thought made me happy. Simplicity 8211 was purchased.
Within the pattern envelope you get three different lengths – I’ve made view C. This design is more suited to lightweight fabrics due to the gathers at the waist – attempt it with anything too thick (denim, heavy cotton etc) and you’re going to end up with a very unflattering bulky mass of fabric around your middle. Cotton lawns, silks, and lightweight polyesters or satins are all good choices – I actually might make another one out of a nice rich burgundy satin, for evening wear. So long as I can trust myself not to pluck it.
I traced the waistband from the pattern and then just cut in half what I had left. As the fabric was sheer, I needed to have a lining – and I went about this by cutting the same two rectangles out of black cotton lawn but a couple of inches shorter. Everything was overlocked to prevent fraying – the leopard fabric especially looked like it would unravel at the slightest gust of wind. I overlocked the silk and the lining together at the top but left them separate at the bottom, and hemmed them separately.
Because the fabric was so prone to fraying, I decided to use bias tape for the hem – I thought that if I turned the hem in, all that handling would cause it to unravel even more. I found gold strands on the floor for weeks after making this – it shed worse than my dogs! I used half-inch polycotton bias tape and it turned out well, with minimal fraying.
I didn’t have the recommended length of zip, but I had some kicking about that were a few inches too long – so I went with my usual approach of sewing my own ‘zipper stop’ at the required length by making lots of stitches that loop around the zipper teeth, preventing the zipper pull from going any further. An easy, simple fix that I have used many times when I don’t have a zip that’s short enough! (note to self – stockpile 25cm zips, and stop buying zips that are ridiculously long).
I was a bit worried about stitching a zipper directly to the lightweight silk – I thought that the strain of opening and closing the zipper might cause the fabric to pull or even rip, so I used two strips of iron-on interfacing along either side of the zip opening. Usually I avoid fusible interfacing like the plague but in this case I thought it was the best option – attached CAREFULLY using as low a heat as I could get away with, obvs, so that I didn’t end up with melted sparkly bits on my iron or burned silk. Been there, done that, trying not to repeat previous mistakes.
Because of the interfacing, and the lining, the zipper area is a tad bulky and the zip pull has a little trouble getting over the seam where the bottom of the waistband joins the skirt. Usually I would just steam and press it in to submission but I was a little bit worried about treating the silk that harshly, so I trimmed everything I could from the seam allowances and pressed it as much as I dared. It was a little better, it could at least be fastened without *too* much grief. Then on the first day that I went to wear the skirt, the zipper broke. ARRRRRGH. Turns out there was a dodgy tooth halfway down. So I had to unpick all my hard work, and reinstall another zipper on my miniscule trimmed seam allowances. Which was very enjoyable and I hope to get the opportunity to do that again in the future. NOT. I will be opening and closing each zip at least 15 times before sewing in to a garment from now on as a quality control measure to weed out these inferior, soul-destroying zips.
So eventually, after the zip drama, I ended up with a wearable skirt. And it’s fabulous. I have worn it several times and so far have avoided snagging it on sharp things. Even though it is a lightweight material, I can wear it throughout the summer as it is, and also during the autumn and winter with thick tights, boots, and a black wooly jumper. And I forgot how QUICK skirts are to make! The feeling of being able to whip one up over a weekend and wear it to work on the Monday is awesome, I’m definitely going to break up my bigger autumn/winter projects with a few quick wooly skirts.
The Republique Du Chiffon Charlotte skirt (above) has caught my eye – I love the 70’s vibe. You get three different lengths and it’s nice and high-waisted which is what I now know suits me best. I have a lovely khaki green leather skirt from Banana Republic but it’s low-rise and sits right on my hips – I have to wear long jumpers with it so I don’t get that annoying gap between skirt and top, and if I’m wearing tights with it (which is nearly all the time, because let’s be real who wants to wear a leather skirt in the summer), they are pulled up to my natural waist so you can picture how sexy THAT looks with the top of the skirt 6 inches lower than the top of the tights. I bought that skirt a few years back when I hadn’t really figured out what styles suited my shape, and can’t bear to part with it because it’s so nice. It’s just the wrong shape. The best solution I can come up with is to wear it with a roll neck bodysuit to avoid the stomach gap, and in the meantime keep making myself an army of high-waisted skirts.
Last but not least, let’s all just take a moment to appreciate the amazeballs cat socks I found! When I visited Japan last year, sheer socks with patterns and shapes on them were EVERYWHERE. I really wanted to buy all of them, but Japanese socks tend to be made with slender, size UK4 feet in mind – not wide size 6’s. So I had to pass up on buying them, but promised myself I would get some appropriately-sized ones once we were back home. These cat ones are made by Leg Avenue, and I am so in love with them. The white bit of the sock is thin, like the same material tights are made of, which worries me a little bit because I will probably catch a nail on them and pluck them or wreck them some other way. The husband has already pegged them to the washing line not by their black cotton foot (which would have been the sensible thing to do) but instead by the delicate white bit – full marks for common sense mate. So I’ll enjoy them while they last, wich probably won’t be that long.
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a Deer and Doe Chardon skirt in an amazing manga print fabric ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!
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