17 November 2014

A-Line Skirt, and making my skirt blocks fit!

So I decided to enter a contest. I joined the Pattern Review website last year, but have yet to even set up my profile properly (still no photo!) I did decide however, to enter my first competition with them. I made a skirt to go in round one of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee - based on the British Sewing Bee.

Original Front
There are four rounds in the competition, and for each round you have about a week to make something based on the criteria that you are given. Round one was an A-line skirt, featuring lining, a zipper, a waistband, some kind of button or other closure, and a hem.

My initial thoughts when I first read about the contest was that I didn't have any lining that would go with any fabric that I had that was suitable for an A-line skirt. I didn't know if I would have time to complete either this, or any of the other rounds of sewing, so promptly put it to the back of my mind. Then, towards the end of the week I saw a few other bloggers talking about their entries, and as my week hadn't been as busy as I thought it would be, I decided on Thursday evening that I would go for it. That gave me just over one day to make a pattern, sew a skirt, do my review and get photos done.

I used some more of my printed linen that I made this dress from early last year. There isn't much of it left now, only scraps really. I had a brainwave on the lining, and pulled out some muslin that I had been going to make baby wraps from. I think I got it for my son, which would make it at least 8 years old. As it wasn't prewashed, that was the first order of the day.

The Back
The pattern was a bit of a no-brainer, although I am still having issues with skirts that I make from my own block coming out too big. I even measured exactly from the waist of the last skirt that I made, my cargo skirt, and made it about 4cm smaller again, and didn't try it on again until it was done. It was still too loose. I didn't have time to fix that before I needed to get it entered into the competition though, so had to leave it.

The Inside
I wanted to add some pockets that weren't conventional, so, drawing inspiration from one of my daughter's skirts, I made pockets that hang loose on the outside, stitched into the waistband and side seam.

Inspiration Pockets
I matched up the pattern on all layers, skirt, outer pocket and inner pocket. That took a lot more fabric to do, as the print repeat is about 60cm. I used my phone as a template for the size, but when I'd finished making the skirt, decided that in proportion to the skirt, the pockets seem a bit small.

Look how good my pattern matching was on the pockets!
Lining up the design as best I could on the CB seam
There were a total of 140 skirts entered into the contest, and only the top ranked 56 entries, or 40%, made it through to the second round. Sadly, my skirt in a day wasn't one of them. Hardly surprising given the amount of thought and time that I put into mine.

To make the skirt wearable I really needed to take those sides in, and decided to replace the pockets while the seams were open. There wasn't any more of the same part of the design, so I just cut the new pockets from any old piece of the remnants, and was able to cut them on grain.

My lining had beautiful french seams, and I didn't want to mess with that, so I added some tiny pleats in the lining rather than take the side seams in.

All fixed!
Making this skirt did give me the impetus to tackle my skirt block though, and once and for all and make it fit! It took me half a day of measuring and marking lines on the block before I was happy with it. It probably would have been quicker to start a new block from scratch, but doing it that way may not have fit anyway.

I had made a calico toile from my block, way back when I first drafted it (probably around 9 years ago). When I tried it on, the toile actually fit pretty well, which confused me even more. When I compared it to the block however, the two were clearly not the same, hence the protracted alterations that I did. I measured my waist, the waist of the toile, the waist of the block, drew in new hip lines, took out bits from centre front, centre back, put them back in again, measured again, did some more alterations. (You get the picture?)

After a few calculations
After a few more calculations
Then when I had the waist right I moved onto the hip and found that the block was smaller than my actual hip measurement. Uh oh! Should have done the hip first. More measuring and drawing.

Before I got ahead of myself to trace out a new cardboard block, I thought I should make a new toile, just to make sure. It fits perfectly, all the way through from the waist to hips with no ease! Now I can have a skirt on my true waist, slightly lowered or just above the hip, and not have to worry about how much ease to take out so it won't fall off! If I make a skirt that needs more room, I'll add the ease back in! I'm so happy with it I just want to make another skirt!

Side - those back wrinkles aren't really that
noticeable - I was trying to suck my tummy in!
Given my success with this block, the following day I was all prepared to spend another half day doing the same to my pants block. Much to my surprise however, not only did the toile for the pants fit perfectly, but it seems to match the block exactly. So I still have no explanation as to why all the pants I have made recently seem to have too much ease around the high hip area, when there is none in the block. My only possible explanation is the fabric choice. Too much stretch? I am planning some shorts soon with 100% cotton and absolutely no stretch, so we'll see how that goes.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had your skills - I am trying to resize a vintage pattern and it's doing my head in! I love your skirt and it's a shame you didn't make it to the second round. Next year!