Monday, December 17, 2012

Sparkle and Swish

About a month ago, I was at Vogue picking up a few bits and bobs, and I spotted a very pretty sequin-embroidered tulle.  I looked at it and petted it for a while, but since I couldn't think of a good use for it off the top of my head, I decided to pass it up.

The very next day, I received my December issue of Burda magazine in the mail.  And inside I saw this:


Hmmmm.  I had a little argument with myself:

"It's so pretty!  I could use that fabric I saw!"

"But it's so impractical!  I never go anywhere fancy."

"But it's so pretty!"

"But it's so impractical!"

"But it's so PRETTY!!"

The following week I went back over to Vogue and bought three yards, and some taffeta to go inside.

And a week and a half or so after that, I got busy making my fancy skirt.

The pattern is very basic, and this was one of those "deluxe" patterns from the magazine, i.e. one of the "sewing school" ones with step-by-step illustrated instructions.  I didn't have any qualms about the construction of the skirt, but this was the first time I'd used either taffeta or tulle, and I was a little nervous they'd be very slippery and difficult to work with.   But they really weren't!  I didn't even use any of my specialty feet, just my normal straight stitch foot.

There were only two pattern pieces, both for the inner skirt.  (The waistband and outer skirt were cut using a ruler.)  Those pattern pieces, however, were not made for hourglass-shaped ladies like me.  The side seams were completely straight, leaving any shaping to the 8 darts.  This time, I actually did measure my pattern pieces and compare the finished dimensions to those of my body:  witness this old dog learning a new trick!  I determined that I needed a 38 at the waist, and halfway between 40 and 42 at the low hip, and then got out my hip curve and adjusted my pattern accordingly.  My nifty double pencil made adding in the seam allowances a breeze!


After cutting and marking my pieces, I did one of my new favorite things:  sewing the darts! Crazy I know, but ever since I learned this great trick from Christine Haynes' Sassy Librarian Blouse Craftsy class, I really enjoy doing them!  It really works like magic, every time.

(click to embiggen)

Here's what you do:  place pins along the dart markings on each leg, then fold the dart to bring them together.  With your fingers, feel around until the front and back pins are aligned, then slip the back one out and pin it through both layers from the front.  Magic, I tell you!  I used to really struggle with getting my darts lined up evenly until I learned this trick. 

As I said, the skirt was pretty straightforward.  I serged all the edges of the taffeta before sewing because it's so prone to fraying.  Once the outer skirt is constructed except for the zipper and the back seam, you gather the tulle up to the same length as the waistline and baste it in place at the waist and zipper edge, then insert the invisible zipper through both layers.  I did have to trim the lace first though:  the scalloped edge wasn't cut, so I had to trim off the excess.  I used my small rotary cutter to do that, and it was quick and easy.


The only problem I really had was that after I attached the waistband, some of my basting was showing through on the outside of my skirt.  I got completely engrossed in picking out the stitches very carefully - I don't even know how long it took me!  But I was pretending I was a couture seamstress, so I really didn't mind.

Since most of the stitching doesn't show, it didn't really matter that I didn't have matching thread.  But I did use "invisible thread" to sew up the center back seam on the tulle - I think regular thread would have stuck out like a sore thumb no matter what color I used!


I took lots of pictures of it:  laying flat and hanging, and close-ups of the lace.


And then I took a little tour through my closet to see what I could wear it with.  I'd originally intended to wear it with a black silk charmeuse blouse I have, and it looked OK with that, but not perfect.  This dusty rose is a very difficult color, at least in terms of what I already own to pair with it.  In the end I liked it best with a dark olive green crew-neck and my dark green kitten heels with pink bows:


I've been waiting and waiting for some better light to take pictures, but I started to feel like that might be a very long wait, so I just went ahead and finally did it today.  Sadly, you can't really see the sparkles in any of these pictures, so I'm glad I took some pictures of the skirt last week when there was sun!  The good news is that the lack of light hides (to some extent) the fact that I need to wash my hair.  With all the rowing, I'm having to wash my hair a lot more than I normally do!  But I didn't have time today.

Why did I feel in such a rush to post this skirt?  Well, I'm joining Gillian in her Top 5 of 2012 posts, and this one is going on my top five favorites!  I don't even care if it's a long time before I get to wear it - I just love it!


29 comments:

  1. this is so cute! i live in a moderately windy city so i can't wear many of my gathered skirts, except for one that's made of light see-through polyester (yeah, i don't know what it is really). it doesn't blow up when the wind comes by. i think yours would be the same as well (: now i feel inspired to make one!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle!

      I live in The Windy City, LOL! But if this one makes it out this winter, it will definitely have an ankle-length puffer coat over it!!

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  2. 1. Squee!!!!! Pretty shiny fabric! Win win win!
    2. Yay Top 5! That skirt definitely belongs in the favourites list. SOmetimes it is so nice to have something that makes you feel gorgeous and isn't remotely practical! :P

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    1. Yes, Squee!! That's the word I was looking for! Thank you!

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  3. It is so cute and whimsical! I absolutely love it! I want one in a dark orange or a salmon pink/orange. But I'm afraid if I made one of my own I wouldn't be able to stop spinning around in it. The dart trick is GENIUS, the next time I get around to sewing something I'm going to try it out.

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    1. And that would be dangerous at your house, with the kitty! LOL!

      Thank you - I do love it too!

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  4. Yes! This is gorgeous!! I really, really love it!

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    1. Thanks, Ginger! When you make it to Chicago next, we should get dolled up and go for drinks!

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  5. Gorgeous - you are very talented!

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  6. Gail, I'm so envious !
    We do need a frivolous, don't we.
    Yep, I would twirl and twirl, just like Ivy!

    Congrats on winning this debate with yourself

    Hugs

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    1. Thank you! It wasn't a very hard sell ;-)

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  7. aaahhhhh this is awesome! i'm loving the tulle/lace/sequins you have going on. everyone needs a skirt like this! invisible thread is genius. the few times i've had to seam tulle it just feels wrong. and the dart trick is really nifty. i'm pretty lazy about darts and only mark the tip and snip where the legs hit the seam allowance and just aim and sew. hehe...

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I'm very interested to read your approach to darts. Maybe I should lighten up a little?

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  8. Oh. My. It is just so fantastically gorgeous! What beautiful fabric! You were so right to go back for it. Bravo!

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  9. Gorgeous skirt! And I love it paired with olive--very chic!

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  10. Love love love! I want one too! It would do just fine for the school run I'm sure ;)

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    1. Hehehe! That would be awesome! Much better than pajamas, right?!

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  11. Oh! It's beautiful! :) And what a great tip about the darts- I so have to try that.
    Oh this fabric is so romantic and sweet. You've really done it justice! :)

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    1. Thanks, Jo!

      When I first saw Christine's method for darts I thought: "That can't work. It's way too easy!" But it really does work!

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  12. What a beautiful skirt. Makes me want to rush out and find some gorgeous sequinned tulle to make my own.

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  13. That is gorgeous fabric! Not only is it party wear but there are definitely ways to dress down sparkliness so you can wear it out and about during the day!

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    1. I agree - I've been looking for the perfect chambray shirt to dress it down. Still no luck yet, but I should be able to come up with something eventually!

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  14. Sorry I'm so behind... And you're in my favorites folder, imagine how not-current I am on the others! :-) Anyway, I had to tell you that I love this skirt, and I love that you made it anyway, even if it wasn't entirely practical. You'll have somewhere to wear it soon I'm sure. Actually, just wear it wherever you want to! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Susan! I did wear it for NYE, and I'm glad I did! Now I'm on the lookout for a chambray shirt to make a casual outfit with it.

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    2. Ooh that will be very cute!

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