Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Daisy Half-Circle Skirt

My first garment attempt was a disaster. I picked a 2-yard length of fabric in a neutral abstract of olive and pink batik, and tried to copy the one remaining Blue Ginger sleeveless shift in my closet. The dress has shrunk a little over years of frequent washing. Yeah, I know you're laughing, but seriously it is several inches shorter that it originally was. The width issue I can’t duck, but it’s not like I’m getting taller at my age. So, I decided to make my version a little longer, add a little width through the hips and bust, and why not add a cute little 1.5" ruffle at the hem? Plus, although the original had a long zipper in the back, I never use it: I just pull the dress on over my head. Which I figured meant I could do without a center back seam altogether and just cut a front and a back.

I measured the original and drew up a pattern on a length of freezer paper, adjusted for front/back differences, marked darts, decided to lower the neckline an inch, etc. Cut, stitched, tried it on and -- gack! what an unflattering sack it is. I might post a photo of it some day, but only after I’ve produced some better-looking things to be proud of.

Oh well. I didn't expect much from my first effort, and it's fine for wearing around the house on a hot day in the summer, which was the main goal for that garment, anyway. But surely I can do better.

Garment attempt #2: Gerbera Daisy Skirt

I decide to make a half-circle wrap skirt following the instructions in my new favorite book: Sew What! Skirts.

My weight goes up and down a half-size all the time, and wraps are nicely accommodating to size fluctuations. For the fabric, I chose a length of cotton I picked up a couple of years ago, thinking I would re-cover a floor pillow that needs attention. It was on sale, which means everyone else thought the gigantic blue-green gerbera daisies were a bit much.

Cutting was easy, stitching pretty much of a breeze. Hemming seemed to take forever, but eventually was done. I did a double-turned small hem, basting first then pulling up the basting to ease the turned in part for a smoother hem. That turned out surprisingly well. Trimmed the angle of the edges to hang straighter from the waist. Didn't bother interfacing the waistband, which would have been a good idea, as it seems to have stretched a little. Figured out how to use the buttonhole attachment on the sewing machine (!) so I can stick the long tie end through the waistband, and voila, the skirt was done:

Perhaps not the most flattering garment I've ever worn, but it's not the skirt's fault I'm a little pudgy though the hip area. It doesn’t really hang lower in the front, although in the photo it appears to do so. It's incredibly comfortable and I like the way the fullness of the skirt moves as I walk. And, since blue is my favorite color, I've got several tops to go with it.

I'm going to make this pattern again someday, in a longer length. Tips to anyone following in my footsteps:

1) The waist edge of the skirt stretched when I stay-stitched it. (Since it's a wrap, this isn't a problem, but there's now a few inches more overlap than I'd planned.) Next time I am going to mark the waistline on the uncut fabric, then stay-stitch before cutting that curve.

2) A half-circle, when you wrap it, produces ends that angle out much farther than they need to. Measure in about 6 inches on the hem and trim off the excess; it will hang better:

3) Check how stretchy your fabric is. I don't remember whether I cut the waistband from the width or the length of the fabric, but perhaps doing it the other way the waistband wouldn't have stretched as I wore it. This is a totally minor issue, but why not do a better job than I did?

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