I stumbled upon this image of a Banana Republic polka dot skirt a couple of nights ago and was tickled at the navy dots with yellow combination. Fortunately for me, I had some fabric in a nearly identical print (though not a nearly identical weight) in my stash.

I downloaded BurdaStyle’s free Twinkle by Wenlan A-Plus A-Line skirt pattern, and was off! Oh, I wish I had a cute yellow cardigan now, but as I do not, I’ll model it with my lemony shoes:

The skirt has a front and back yoke, and a couple of pleats down the front.

The back of the skirt is plain:

I cut the yoke on the bias to mix the dots up a little so it wouldn’t be vertical stripes of dots the whole way up. The fabric is a heavy cotton (I believe the Banana Republic one is a lightweight cotton silk blend.), about the weight of cotton duck, and it’s cut a non-stretch ribbed weave:

I used a vintage white metal zipper on the side and some white rayon lining, leftover from the Guggenheim Coat.

My New Love

Best of all, I have no idea how I remembered this, but I found some navy lace hem tape in my sewing box. I don’t know how I ended up with this, but I’m guessing it was probably in a sack of random notions I found at a thrift shop ten years ago or something. Have you ever used this stuff?  I hadn’t until yesterday, and now I am IN LOVE! (That’s right, Dan was away for about 10 hours before I found a new object of devotion and affection.)

I handstitched  the lace to the edge of the skirt, and then I did an invisible hem along the edge of the lace, also by hand:

And not only does this make it pretty on the inside, it makes the hem sooooo invisible on the outside!

Look, ma, no hem! The zero-bulk of the lace means that the invisible stitches are really truly invisible and there’s no line where the edge of the fabric is attached. I’m going to be buying a LOT more of this stuff.

The Gripe (stop reading here if all you want is the warm, fuzzy side of the skirt story and don’t feel like hearing me complain yet again):

Because The Selfish Seamstress can always find something to grumble about, I do have a gripe with this pattern. I love the style and the fit was great (I made the size 0, and I didn’t edit a thing except to shorten it at the hem). But the pattern was FIFTY-ONE pages. It took more than a tenth of a ream of paper to print out a simple skirt pattern. (If I were to mention this on BurdaStyle, I would undoubtedly be assaulted with a firestorm of “Stop complaining, it’s free, and if you don’t like it, shut up and don’t download it!” type responses. I do love BurdaStyle, but a lot of people there sure seem to love picking fights.) But seriously, it’s not that I’m too lazy to do the work of taping it together or too cheap to buy paper. But I don’t care for the resulting resource waste:

Moreover, the pattern itself uses sooooo much more paper than it has to because the skirt front and back are not drafted on the fold! Instead of creating half of a skirt front and half of a skirt back and instructing the sewer to cut it on the fold, the pattern includes an entire skirt front and an entire skirt back meant to be cut on a single layer of the fabric, even though there’s no reason not to cut it on the fold. Also, the drafting is slightly off so the skirt pieces aren’t quite symmetrical down the center. If one were to use the pattern as drafted, one would actually end up with a less symmetrical end product than if one were to cut it on the fold. I folded them down the middle to figure out why my polka dots weren’t lining up quite right and found this with both pieces:

See how the sides aren’t drafted the same, and the hem isn’t quite symmetrical either?  I went back and shaved off the overhang so it was symmetrical and then my dots matched up after that.

I discovered this after also finding that the Sidonie skirt pattern used 26 pieces of paper because they included separate pattern pieces for the skirt and the skirt lining, even though they are exactly the same with the exception of a 1 5/8″ hem allowance on the skirt and a different grain marking.

Each of these patterns used nearly twice as much paper as they should have. I realize that they are patterns intended to appeal to the beginner sewer, and pattern companies assume less and less sewing knowledge as time goes on, and do more and more hand holding with patterns and instructions. But I think even a beginner can handle a very simple concept like cutting on the fold. Are the pattern producers worried that a beginner, confronted with only half of a skirt front pattern and asked to double it in a symmetrical fashion would misunderstand and put zippers on both side seams??

Anyway, this may seem like a petty gripe, but the truth is that task of assembling printed patterns doesn’t annoy me, even if it takes an hour an a half. What bugs me is that the assumption that even the most basic of sewing techniques, such as cutting on the fold, will be too challenging and discouraging for a beginner and the resulting repeated lowering of the bar (do we really have that little faith in people’s abilities and motivation?), combined with unnecessary environmental wastefulness which seems to run so very counter to the reasons why so many of the new generation of home sewers are attracted to making the idea of making their own clothes in the first place.

Oh well, I can’t say I didn’t get a fun skirt out of it :)

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