Polka Dot Skirt

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Wow, I’m already posting another project!  I was so impressed with the last skirt I made that I had to make another.  I used the same pattern (M5591), and the husband picked out the fabric, again.  Now, close readers of my blog may remember the last time I used polka dots…it wasn’t a good experience.  In fact, it kind of turned me away from polka dots.  I know…I know…  This polka dot project ended better, but the fabric is a slippery-ish polyester that proved a little hard to work with.  I was complaining to the husband about the fabric he selected slipping all over the place and his response was, “good…experience…”  Like I’m building character or something.

Anyway, I made some relatively significant modifications to make this skirt something other than a carbon copy of the floral skirt:

  • I moved the zipper from the back seam to the side seam.  This meant that I cut both the front and back skirt panels on the fold of the fabric (taking into account the extra 5/8″ seam allowance on the back skirt panel that wasn’t necessary).

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  • I also cut both the front and back waist band sections on the fold, again removing 5/8″ from the back band section since I wouldn’t be needing it.

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  • In place of the pleats, I gathered the front and back sections using ease stitching (a good tutorial here).  I kept the fabric near the side seams and pockets flat so that it would be easy to sew and so that the pockets would lay smooth.

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  • I actually inserted the zipper per directions this time, which, lo and behold, was easier than winging like I did last time.  The zipper is still a little messed up, but I only had to sew it in once.

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  • I edged stitched along the pocket and waistband in contrast (white) thread

And viola, a new skirt.

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A Skirt and a New Machine

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I know it’s been awhile, and for good reason.  The really awesome sewing machine my mother-in-law gave me broke.  Apparently, the bobbin gear is plastic and stripped, which is a common issue for the model.  I was super bummed and was going to have to take it to a Singer store, which was no where near my neighborhood.  Long story short, my really wonderful husband bought me a new machine (with metal gears)!  It’s a Husqvarna and is really great so far.

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Front View

I was really excited to sew again, so I picked up some fabric (actually, the husband picked the fabric) and I whipped up this skirt on Sunday.  The pattern is M5591.  This is view A, but I left off the bottom band, lengthened the front and back panels to make up for not having the band, and then ended up generously hemming to get the right length.  There’s only 8 pattern pieces, and it’s a pretty quick sew.  It took my probably a lot longer to sew the skirt than necessary, but in my defense I was getting used to a new machine.

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My Sewing Assistant

I was really impressed by the fit of this pattern, so I’m already thinking of ways to alter this and make it again.  The original pattern has pleats and a back zipper, and I’m thinking about altering it to a gather skirt with a side zipper.  Stay tuned!

Skirt Refashion

I’ve been reading several refashion blogs (ReFashionista and The Renegade Seamstress, to be specific) and I really want to be able to take something I already have and make it better – or at least different.  They all make it look so easy, so I wanted to give it a try.

Enter, the Crazy Dress of Elastic in All the Wrong Places.  I know, it’s a mouthful, but truly describes the dress.  Here’s the Before Front:

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Maybe it doesn’t look all that bad in that photo, but allow me to diagram the issues:

Elastic Everywhere but Where Necessary

So, you see, there’s elastic in all the wrong places – the straps and back “neck line” are elastic(ized) but the waist is not and doesn’t have a zipper, so getting it over the shoulders or hips can be a challenge. The entire dress is a pretty sheer, thin material, and the bodice is UNLINED, but don’t worry, the faux wrap skirt is completely lined…whaaa?

Anyway, I liked the idea of this dress, which is probably why I bought it but only ever wore it once. So, putting my thinking cap on, I began my refashion.

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And this is where I stopped taking pictures because I got frustrated. Oops.  This took me three afternoons, and many breaks to think things over, but I’ll explain what I did with finished photos.

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After picking out the gathered waist seam (which I discovered every seam was a French seam), I cut off the material from the original waist for the new length. I basted around the lining and faux wrap, and then pulled the ends to create a gather and pinned together. Then, I took the green wraps from the original, ironed aggressively, and cut them even to create the waist band. With the right sides of the lining/wrap and waist band together, I seamed the waist (the band hides the inner workings of the gathering of the skirt at the top).

Enter new problem: because my waistline was created out of straight pieces of fabric (in my defense, I really didn’t have a choice) I had a huge gapping problem a la Red Shorts.  However, my solution for Red Shorts wasn’t going to cut it this time, so I slept on it.

The next day I rummaged through my stash and found elastic that amazingly just fit in the green waistband I created the previous day.  YAY!  So in goes the elastic.

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Next: the invisible zipper.  Let me begin this part of the story by explaining that not only do I not have an invisible zipper foot for my machine, but I don’t even have a regular zipper foot.  Ugh.  In fact, this was the first invisible zipper I’ve ever attempted.  It took some creative problem solving and manipulation of the regular presser foot (and ripping the zipper out four times) but I finally got something that looks close to an invisible zipper (above).

How was I going to fasten the stop of the skirt?  I was originally thinking that I’d run the zipper nearly all the way to the top of the waist and add a hood and eye to close.  Fine on paper, but the fabric just did not want to do this.  I guess it was because of the elastic I added to the waist.  I came up with the solution below (please don’t mind all the loose ends – I’ll cut them later):

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I ran the zipper just past the green band and then tucked the ends in, seamed the ends of the green band, and then added a nice big, sturdy hook and eye.

Wow, not that easy of a refashion, but I’m pretty happy with the result and am happier that it’s over. And now, a curtsey for what I consider a job well done!

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Star Skirt

Star skirt

Skirt front

Front

I LOVE this new skirt.  It fits great, falls nicely and is keeps me surprisingly warm in this brutal Chicago winter.

This is a free pattern by Kira Dulaney from Knitty.com.  After the cable knit mock turtle neck I made in December/January, I was looking for a bit simpler of a project and thought this stockinette project in the round would be a quick and simple knit.

Well, I was right and wrong.  It’s true the mostly stockinette stitch was super simple, but the star pattern was much more difficult than I thought.  The technique is easy enough, but actually doing the technique killed my hands.

The star (and star increase) involves knitting stitches together and then yarning over, keeping the stitches on the left needle and repeating the yo, etc.  The problem was knitting FIVE STITCHES together, yarning over, and repeating the ktog on the same five stitches.  After a few inches of practice, the star process got easier, but it was still hard on my fingers.

Back

Back

Check this YouTube video for a demonstration of the star stitch.  The video is in purl stitch using three stitches at a time, and this pattern is all in knit stitch with three to five stitches used for the star.  But, it provides the general idea.

The other tricky part was knitting the waist band.  It’s a brilliant idea – knit a few rounds, purl one round, knit a few more rounds, and then fold and knit the next round into the first round creating a built-in fold through which to feed elastic.  Knitting into the first round was, again, more difficult than I anticipated, but I love the way this little trick created the waistband without bulky or unsightly seaming.

I used 100% wool yarn for this project, and actually cut about 1/4 of the length from the pattern to accommodate my (ahem) short stature.  It is truly the warmest skirt I’ve ever worn.  I think I’ll buy some crazy patterned/colored tights to wear next time.

View this project on Ravelry.