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Ten Minute Skirt (Almost)

March 9th, 2012 6 comments

Rhonda, of Rhonda’s Creative Life, posts a free pattern — instructions, really — nearly every Friday.  In the midst of making my Minoru, I wanted something I could knock off fast, and call “finished”.  This skirt was perfect:  It’s made of eight bandanas sewn together, and required no hemming at all.

(If buying really cheap bandanas, as I did, check the hems carefully.  Many will be sewn badly, but you’ll be able to find eight that are fine.  Trust me.)  Here’s a (lopsided) close up of the lower skirt:

It’s pinned to my duct tape dummy; unfortunately, it and I are no longer the same size.  Or maybe that’s a good thing?  Anyway, there’s a new DDD in my future — just not now.

Stitch the bandanas according to Rhonda’s instructions, add a casing for elastic, and wear it.  What could be easier? And what could be better for those long hot days of summer than a weightless, airy skirt?

Rhonda’s skirt is stunning — she found, and used, much more wonderful bandanas than I turned up:

Kind of puts mine to shame, doesn’t it?  There’s the rub:  I had a terrible time trying to find bandanas that 1) didn’t scream “bandana” and 2) weren’t pink camo or covered in skulls.  Also, I was only willing to spend one dollar each for this trial run.

With Rhonda’s eye, though, and a little more dedication to finding the right thing, just imagine what you could do!

Shams, of Communing With Fabric, has a tablecloth skirt tutorial that is similarly wonderful, though different.  It’s on my list, too, but finding an appropriate tablecloth has proven difficult.  I want a plaid, and I’m picky about my plaids.

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Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

June 24th, 2011 8 comments

Jonson calls this an A-line skirt, but I wouldn’t call this an “A-line” at all.  The seams are princes-styles gores, and the skirt is very narrow by design, not flared like an traditional A-line.  Unlike an A-line skirt, this garment flows beautifully, and fits very nicely around the body, at least partly because there are no bulky side seams — also contrary to typical A-line styling.

The cjpatterns sketch, as usual, takes a few liberties.  There’s no doubt that the skirt flows wonderfully, but in no way does it achieve the proportions in the drawing, nor that width at the hem.  Also unlike the illustration, the actual skirt is quite narrow:

Construction couldn’t be simpler.  Stitch four seams, add elastic at the waist, and then hem.  I think Jonson has you fold and turn a casing for one-inch wide elastic; I don’t like casings made of knits, and I prefer wide elastic at the waist, so I altered my pattern to accommodate those changes.   My elastic is just attached to the right side, folded under, and “stitched-in-the-ditch” at the four seams to hold it in place.

Here’s how the skirt looks with the tank from Jonson’s BaseWear One pattern:

The fabric’s an ITY from Spandex House; I wondered what it would feel like in summer heat, but I wore this outfit in 95 degree weather in New York City recently, and it couldn’t have been more comfortable.  The skirt is very airy and light, and somehow the way it flowed made me feel cooler than I expected to.

I’m 5’2″, so I shortened the skirt, which gave me a length closer to what was illustrated on the pattern cover.  This is another piece in my planned wardrobe, and another perfect travel garment; it scrunches up into nothing, and comes out of a bag completely wearable.

Related:

Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

Christine Jonson Princess Dress 1117

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Top 622

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

Tunic/Tank Dress from BaseWear One Pattern 622

Wardrobe Wrap-Up

Categories: Christine Jonson, Skirts Tags:

Vintage Max Studio Skirt Mod

May 23rd, 2010 2 comments

This skirt belonged to my sister decades ago; it’s a vintage (just barely) piece from Max Studio, which is still around, and still doing interesting stuff with wrinkled fabric.  This particular skirt is made of acetate, pre-crumpled, and, until this week, had a heavy knit band with a drawstring attached to the top.  I’ve just laid the original waist band over the skirt to give the effect here; I’m kicking myself for not having taken a picture before I removed it:

The skirt goes to my ankles, and I’ve always loved it.  It feels like silk, and floats like a dream, all the while drifting around, and clinging to, my body as if I were a sylph.  But I’ve always hated that bulky waistband!  It  just seemed to me to weigh the skirt down, to no good effect.  (Yeah, yeah, I know — it’s “art”.)  Not to mention that all that rib knit was thick and lumpy under the tops I wore with it.  Or that I hate drawstrings.

So I removed the original waist band this week.

Which was no small feat.  The ribbing wasn’t just slapped on; it sandwiched the top edge of the skirt perfectly, and ripping those stitches — rows and rows of them — took forever, and great care.  When I was done, I replaced it with a deep  stretch lace waist:

The lace can be worn all the way up, kind of corset-style, or folded double, and I can wear the skirt pulled up, or push it lower, depending on the length or effect I want.  Much better now.  Here’s what the whole skirt looks like:

(That wacky stretch lace?  From Jomar; it’s five inches wide.  I paid $5.00 USD for an industrial-sized spool.  How could I not??  If I never do anything else with it, it’s already been a bargain.)

Note:  I realize that I’ve just left a comment on Peter’s blog about my general disdain for designer labels, the current poor quality of “designer” apparel and accessories, etc., and my unwillingness to buy into the whole concept.  In my defense, I’d like to point out that I didn’t buy this skirt!  I did look it up though — now that it’s “vintage” I wondered what Max Studio was up to.  I can’t vouch for the quality for their clothing these, days, though.  You’ll have to check that out yourself.

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Skirt i: Japanese Pattern Book

May 7th, 2010 4 comments

This skirt (actually, it’s called “skirt/pant”)  is the cover shot on the Japanese pattern book We Wear Clothes Onself:

Inside the cover is a pattern sheet a lot like the ones in BurdaStyle.  Every pattern piece you need to make all the garments in the book are on one small sheet of paper that’s printed on both sides.

All of the instructions are printed in Japanese, but the illustrations are superb, so figuring out the construction of this skirt wasn’t particularly difficult.  The patterns are all named with English letters — in this case, the letter “i” — so it’s possible to locate the pattern pieces by looking for those letters as a clue.  I did end up checking the kanji to make sure I had the right pieces, though.  You don’t need to read Japanese to do this; just compare the figures to see where they match.

I marked each of the pieces I needed to trace in red pen before I started, which saved me a lot of grief.  No size was indicated (or at least, I had no way of figuring out what size the skirt was meant to be), so I checked the measurements, and then added a 5/8inch seam allowance all around.  That turned out to be perfect; however, the wench in the photo is clearly a lot smaller than I am, so I suspect that seam allowances were included for the intended size.  Here’s the front:

Wrestling the skirt onto Miss Bedelia was a bit of a challenge, and I see she looks a bit tipsy below.  A firm elastic waist and a dressmaker dummy are not necessarily the best combination.  (And, boy, did I crumple the fabric in the process.  Good thing I’m in love with wrinkled linen!)  The curve on the back is a different shape from the smaller arch on the front of the skirt:

There’s a center panel on the front and the back, both neatly top-stitched.  The hem arches are faced, but the rest of the hem is essentially straight, and just turned up and top-stitched.  My kind of finish!

The quirky curves in front and in back (below) are functional — kind of.  The skirt can be buttoned back to front to make it into “pants”.   The look is something like a gang-banger gone wronger than usual, but you gotta love the option:

The buttons and buttonholes are artfully designed to allow this, but you’ll have to figure out the placement yourself by referring to the photographs in the book.  They’re not marked on the pattern.

You can also twist the skirt a quarter-turn to the side and button each curve to itself to make the skirt angle inward at the ankle, too, but that doesn’t work quite as well, since the side seams do hug the hip.  This inevitably means that they bulge a bit when you rotate the skirt.  Or you can just button the arches closed for yet another look:

The variations are all photographed in the book; some of them might work better in a lighter-weight fabric than the the Jo-Mar mystery yardage I used.   (I think it’s linen.)

The pattern is drafted very nicely; I was really impressed at how well it went together.  It’s a whole different aesthetic from anything European/American, though, and that’s obvious even in the shape of the basic skirt.   In the most fundamental way, the design is conceptually  completely “other” from my perspective.  So cool!

The waist is supposed to have a drawstring, but I hate them almost as much as I hate skinny elastic, so I constructed the waistband the way I was supposed to, and then threaded the wide elastic through instead of making a channel for the drawstring.  The top of the skirt is a bit bulky, owing to the substantial fabric, but it’s very comfortable to wear, either at the waist, or further down on my hips.  I love this skirt, and expect it to become a favorite.

Related:  We Wear Clothes Oneself:  Japanese Pattern Book

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We Wear Clothes Oneself: Japanese Pattern Book

May 5th, 2010 Comments off

I fell in love with this book at Kinokuniya in New York last summer:

Google translates the title as “we wear clothes oneself“, with the subtitle “when you change from a three dimensional plane“.  (No wonder I loved it!)  To be accurate, what I fell in love with was the skirt on the cover, which has functional cut-outs on the hem that allow it to be worn a multitude of ways:  With the cut-outs in front; to the sides; buttoned together to form pant legs; buttoned to form pleats at the hem.  Whoo, baby, this is my kind of fun!  Which is not to say that there isn’t a lot of other interesting stuff in the book.  There is!

Here’s the list of garments from Amazon Japan (as translated by Google):

a – scarf two yen (I think this name must refer to the shape of a yen coin: it’s a clever scarf made of two circles sewn together to form an “s”shape)
b – to be worn with a light bolero top and bottom of the cloth accents (a light bolero jacket that can be worn two ways, making two different necklines)
c – semi + c flared dirndl (a faux wrap skirt made in two different fabrics)
d – ribashiburuberuto  with pocket (a cute, decorative hip band with a hidden pocket)
e – double skirt (a tube skirt that can be pulled inside out to make several different looks)
f –  best open-back + stall (a scarf that can also be worn as a vest-like topper)
g -furenchisuribuburausu pleated shoulder (simple blouse with a fluttery, pleated sleeve and two neckline variations)
h –  bolero towel (a short bolero-style jacket – maybe possibly made from a Japanese towel?)
i – skirt + pants (my favorite, and the one on the cover)
j – best long scarf (a scarf with two armholes, and a pleat formed by a snap in back)
k – 1 of the marks sheet wrap skirt (a nicely-shaped wrapped skirt with mitered corners on the hem)
l – cloth accents – spiral corsage (OK, this is the only thing I ‘m not impressed with – it looks like a spiral of cloth with ragged edges stuck onto a blouse.  I can’t find the directions for it, either, but I’m thinking that’s no loss)

There’s also an item b1, which is a choker with a fabric “medallion”; the instructions are hidden on page 57 in the back.  And speaking of hidden, if you remove the beautiful dust jacket, there’s another  nice garment shot underneath.

This is one of those Japanese sewing books that have no English instructions.  All the patterns are included on paper sheets in the back of the book.  You fold out the sheets, find the garment you intend to make and trace the pattern pieces.  The saving grace for those of us who don’t read Japanese is that the instructions are beautifully illustrated.  This isn’t a book for a novice sewist, but assembling the garments here should be no problem at all for someone with a bit of experience — or a ton of patience!

We Wear Clothes Oneself was written by Natsuno Hiraiwa (that’s the Japanese form of the name; the surname is Natsuno); the ISBN is  978-4-579-11236-4.  You can order it using the ISBN through Kinokuniya in the USA, or see it on amazon.co.jp, where it can also be ordered.  These books are exceptionally beautiful.  The photos are printed on heavy, glossy paper, and they are a pleasure both to see and to handle.  Not to mention that the aesthetic is deliciously different, even if you never sew a thing and only feast your eyes!

Categories: Books/Magazines, Skirts Tags:

How to Carry a Baguette (or Two) in Your Skirt

October 26th, 2009 4 comments

Mr. Noile was kind enough to take these pictures of Vogue 8499.   This skirt has wonderful, deep side pockets, which can be very useful if you’re bringing bread home from the market:

Well, OK, I don’t really shop like this.  But it’s not a bad way of illustrating just how deep those pocket are, is it?

I added hidden, shallow pockets to this skirt when I made it, so I got the best of both worlds (details in the second link below).

Related:  Vogue 8499 Marcy Tilton Skirt ; Vogue 8499 The Skirt, in Black

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Vogue 8499 – The Skirt, In Black

May 31st, 2008 2 comments

Final piece for Mini-Wardrobe, 2008 — and it’s still an hour and forty-five minutes to the deadline! Whew.

I have a fantasy about this skirt. It’s constructed with long, narrow pockets attached to the side panels. I want to go to an artisan bakery, pick up a couple of incredible baguettes, and bring them home in these pockets. Or maybe put a baguette in one pocket, and a couple of smaller chunks of cheese in the other. This is a garment that seems perfectly suited to my favorite portable meal.

When my spouse saw these pockets on my muslin, he suggested sewing smaller pockets inside the large ones. I thought that was a brilliant suggestion, so that’s exactly what I did this time around. I love a little hidden, subversive flash, so I chose a cotton print for the secret pockets. Here’s how they looked as I assembled them:

I cut them to fit the side panels, added a small pleat in the middle, hemmed the top edge, and double-stitched the bottom edge before folding them up. Now I’ve got functional pockets inside the funky large ones.

Otherwise, the skirt is pretty much as suggested by Vogue, except that I shortened it by two inches, and used strips of grosgrain ribbon along the top edges of the zippers. The pattern calls for leaving them ‘raw’, but that’s not a look I fancy. At least not with ordinary zippers.

This is the final piece for my entries in PR’s Mini-Wardrobe Contest. Talk about a photo finish! Now, I’ve got to get the last two reviews onto PR, and get my pictures into the gallery.

Fantasy Realized!

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Vogue 7280 Reversible Skirt

May 21st, 2008 3 comments

This is one of a series of posts I wrote for a previous website.

I got inspired after re-reading and reviewing Kate Mathews’ “Sewing a Travel Wardrobe” recently, and wanted to make a reversible outfit. I decided to start out with the skirt — how hard could it be? — and to use Vogue 7280, a terrific pattern with three skirts to chose from. Naturally, to make it reversible, I devised a fourth skirt, but never mind . . . it’s still one terrific pattern.

vp7280-400.jpg

My fabric stash includes 10 yards each of a bright dark raspberry and a bright royal blue polyester. I’m guessing it’s meant to be a crepe de chine. I bought this fabric just to play with (the colors are fabulous!), but never intending to wear it — at 50 cents or so a yard, I could do a lot of playing without any risk.

I began with view C, which is an eight-gore skirt, no waistband, sitting below the waist, closed with a rear zipper. Because I had no intention of putting a zipper into a reversible skirt, I cut the pattern in a size 12, a size larger than I would normally make. I didn’t make any hip adjustment, because I intended that my skirt would ride a little higher, since I didn’t want to fuss with an elastic band anywhere my body isn’t naturally smaller. (I wanted that band to hug me gently without slipping or needing constant adjustment.)

This isn’t a fabric I’d normally voluntarily wear, but now that my skirt’s made, I might. In a single layer, it floats like a dream, and it’s still pretty floaty in two layers. . .

pinkreverse300.jpg

Making up was very straightforward — cut it out, sew the gores. I made both skirts, then joined them at the waist, right side to right side. Then I edge stitched the top — I’m not crazy about the way this looks, but it was the best way to keep one color from rolling to another.

Next step was fitting the elastic. I joined the elastic ends by abutting them, and then placing a small piece of the fabric across the join. I zigzagged over the join and the fabric, then trimmed to make a very flat joint — perfect where I didn’t want any additional elastic bulk.

Then I slipped the elastic between the two skirts, into the pocket formed against the waistband on the wrong sides of the skirts. I pin-basted all around the waist right under the elastic, and then stitched the casing with the elastic already in place, removing the pins carefully as I came to each one. Perfect! I was thrilled — nearly done, and it had taken no time at all. How hard could it be?

bluereverse300.jpg

Uhhh . . . the “hard” I had conveniently forgotten about was, of course, the issue of hemming two high contrast fabrics in a skirt when you don’t want to see either color from the opposite side. This skirt’s gores are cut on the grain, so it’s not as if I had a bias problem, but, nonetheless, there were a few minor issues to deal with to adjust the lengths so that I didn’t get the dreaded peek-a-boo effect. An eighth of an inch here, a quarter inch there solved the problem, but not without a lot of fingernail biting. I probably failed to treat this polyester with the respect I would have given silk — I pinned instead of using weights, for instance, which was not, in retrospect, a good idea.

The only other alteration I made was in the length, which I shortened to accommodate my height. And I just serged the lower edge, turned and topstitched for the hem. I wanted to eliminate the frustration of doing a curved hem with the poly, and also keep the weight of the hem to a minimum.

It’s a terrific skirt, and feels wonderful to wear. However, next time I’ll make my reversible with a couple of changes:

* I might actually use polyester again (great travelability), but I think I’d make both layers of chiffon, so the skirt would still feel more “floaty” with two layers
* Next time I’ll use consonant prints, or a print and a solid, so that contrast issues won’t be such a big deal.
* I’ll probably try to chose two prints that look very, very different from each other, so the skirt will have two characters. I bought a wonderful reversible skirt from Coldwater Creek several years ago which remains the acme of this style (in my mind at least) — the two side have two very different moods — one multicolor floral, one two color abstract

I did add one extra feature. Before joining the two skirts, I serged two 4 inch by 5 inch pieces of the fabric together, attaching about a 9 inch string to each corner to make a floating pocket. I attached this to the right side of the top of the waist of the raspberry skirt, and then went ahead and seamed the waist.

This very light pocket “floats” and is worn on the inside of the skirt, but can be pulled to the outside. It’s a security pocket for passport, and extra 20 dollar bill, or whatever. I closed mine with tiny nylon snaps, but a light-weight zipper would work fine, too. I don’t notice it inside the skirt, but it’s handy to have when travelling. It also tells me where the front of the skirt is!

It looks as if I didn’t pull the pocket completely out when taking the picture. The strings are actually a little longer.

My guess about the size was just right — the skirt gathers a bit at the waist, to allow for the elastic, but the rest of the skirt just skims across me — no bulky waist/hip gathers as with most elastic-waisted skirts. These colors are far more vibrant than my usual choices . . . but I love this skirt! I may have inadvertently tuned into a wild, suppressed side. This could be the start of something fun!

I’ve planned a reversible top, but am having trouble overcoming my fear of wearing two layers of this kind of poly next to my skin. Still, the skirt cries out for the same flamboyant colors in a top, for mix and match.

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Vogue 8499 – Marcy Tilton Skirt

April 11th, 2008 2 comments

See this fabric? It’s ugly. What was I thinking? I don’t even remember when I bought it, but I must have thought it was a stupendous deal, because I bought a lot. Not only is it boring, but it’s also a little on the heavy side – perfect for a really durable tablecloth or something like that. No matter how hard I try, though, I don’t see a beige-flecked-with-brown tablecloth in my future. So this stuff got nominated for the muslin of Marcy Tilton’s new skirt pattern.

It wasn’t a great choice, but it did the trick. I’m ramping up for PR’s Mini-Wardrobe contest and wanted to make sure this skirt would work for me before the first cuts begin on May 1. I’m happy to report that it does, but here are a few notes for anyone else who’s tempted by this pattern. My fabric’s a slightly loosely-woven blend, maybe of linen and rayon. It has drape, which is nice for this skirt, but weight, which is less nice. Vogue’s fabric recommendations (stretch woven, double knits and silk dupioni) are just about right: you want a fairly light fabric, but also something with a bit of substance, so that you don’t lose that nifty shape at the hem.

The front of the skirt is sewn in three panels: you hem each one before assembly, and attach deep pockets to each side panel before putting the front pieces together. The pockets are anchored at the top with zippers, and would-be sewists be warned: one side of the zipper tape shows, in all its bare glory, at the top of the pocket. That might not matter, depending on your fabric or color choices, but it became an issue for me. I found an interesting Mahogany Brown zipper that picked up the flecks in my fabric, and coordinated with the shirt I’m making to go with this skirt. I wasn’t sure I’d like the effect, but I figured that adding a band of color to the skirt couldn’t hurt, given the essential blandness of the fabric.

The zipper tape is an issue to keep in mind; however, there is a an actual error that everyone who uses this pattern should be aware of. The notions list on the pattern envelope calls for “three 7″ zippers”. WRONG! Even for the smallest size skirt, a seven inch zipper will not fit on the pockets: Buy two NINE inch zippers, and, for the third zipper, use whatever size you want to close the skirt. At 10 PM, it was disappointing to discover that my zippers were too short. In my stash, I found two nine-inch Ecru zippers, and quickly realized that they weren’t going to work. In place on my pockets, they looked like lingerie straps gone wrong. Wracking my poor tired brain, I remembered that I had a half yard of an embroidered ribbon tucked away, so I applied that over the exposed zipper tape before setting the pocket into the skirt. I think it was a good save, but boy, am I happy this was only a muslin.

I put the zipper pulls next to the side seams; Vogue’s line drawing puts them toward the center panel. I think I’ll do that next time; they seem to add a little bulk at the sides, which might be less noticeable if relocated. The photo on the envelope is quite deceptive. If you look closely, you can see that the manikins are standing on their toes. This appears to elongate their legs, and makes the skirt look as if it’s much shorter than it is. The back skirt length is given as 34 3/4 inches, well past my ankles. I didn’t check this little detail before making the skirt, and did only my usual 2 inch alteration to shorten it. I think I’ll shorten it another two inches in the next iteration. The waist is semi-fitted with both elastic and a back zipper. I did a placket insertion, because I think they look a lot nicer. The casing for the elastic is cut in one with the skirt, but I trimmed it and used bias tape for the casing because my fabric was fairly bulky, and I wanted the waistband to be a bit sleeker.

Though the design is really interesting, with curved hems, those pockets, and great lines, construction is actually very simple. The trickiest part is forming the bottom of the pockets, which requires mitering the corners, and then edge stitching the bottom edge to the skirt panel.  Vogue’s directions are very clear, though, and even a novice should be able to get through this without too much difficulty. Basting the pocket sides is a must, though, since there is a tricky notch at the bottom of the pocket that must line up properly if the pockets are going to look as they should.  (Ed. 4/12/08 – lower edge of pocket above.)

On my dummy, this skirt looks like a particularly unflattering apron from another age. (That’s why you’re seeing it here with a purchased t-shirt, which somehow makes the skirt look more like actual clothing.) On me, it looks much better (partly, maybe, because I’m now somewhat smaller than my dummy.) This skirt begs for a more interesting fabric, or maybe even just the causal crispness of a black stretch cotton. I can’t wait to make it again!

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