No Pattern EasyPeasy Gathered Skirt

Back in the mid-nineties I bought this fabric for about $17.00 a yard and I had sixty inch wide – 2 ½ yards of material.  It is a burnt out velvet chiffon with an intricate border and frankly for years I was too chickenshit to cut it.  I spent so much money, the fabric is so lovely, and my past experience with wadders so extensive.   

This year I am working hard to reduce my stash and finally decided to wear this fabric instead of being perpetually intimidated by it.   With such a gorgeous border I knew I wanted to highlight that detail making a skirt the best garment to meet that objective.

This fabric presented three problems. 

  1. The see-throughness had to be dealt with.
  2. Where was I to cut so I didn’t mess up the border.
  3. Avoiding choosing a design likely to be a wadder.

My Solutions

First the design: As the material was chiffon I thought that a simple gathered waistband would be easiest and would not compete with the skirt hem for attention.  The waist could be gathered with elastic, giving me gathers without needing a waistband or zipper insertion, thereby eliminating two techniques that offered me a chance to mess up in cutting, sewing and fitting.  Normally I have more confidence than this but as I said before this was very expensive, very lovely fabric and I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks.

The border: A gathered skirt required only one seam and gathers would hide any small imperfections in matching the border design.  Additionally, a woman my size needed the full yardage at the hemline.   I decided to not cut the fabric at all.  I sewed up the seam following the original cutline of the store worker who cut out my yardage.

The transparency:  I was going to need an underskirt and dreaded buying more material, making a lining from a pattern without one included, then inserting zipper and waistband around a slippery lining and equally ornery fashion fabric.  The burn out velvet was placed only at the bottom leaving pure chiffon at the top.  Any pattern would have me cut off that top portion of chiffon.  Instead I decided to fold the fabric in half and use the upper portion of the material as my underskirt.

Here is the process

Right sides together I folded the fabric in half and sewed it into a big tube.  I only had to true up a tiny portion of the seam edge at the top of the fabric as the original cutline from the shop associate was surprisingly straight.

Then I folded the tube in half pulling the inner chiffon a few inches short of the bottom edge of the outer skirt.  When I folded in half for my seam I put cut edges together.  This time I folded the selvedge edges together.

Basting the folded edge of the waistline.

I basted that edge at the waistline so it wouldn’t slip when I sewed on the elastic.  I made sure the skirt length kept the same measurements.

I sewed on the elastic.  I had 34/36 or so inches (can’t remember which) of elastic and it took all I had to stretch it over 2 ½ yards but I just made it.  I did not make a fold over band to insert the elastic into as this makes my waist look pudgy.  I laid the elastic on top of the skirt with both the skirt and elastic to the left of the needle.  Then the elastic flipped upwards creating the appearance of a waistband.

I Photoshopped the original so you could see the black elastic.

The skirt was technically finished here but I wanted to edge the hems which were the original selvedges.  I finished the underskirt with 1 ½ inch black lace, and the outer skirt with a simple black cotton crochet edging.

You can see the lace edging of the underskirt through the sheer outer layer edged in triangular crochet trim.

Now I have a lovely skirt for winter parties from a fabric that I dreaded for so long.  I think my worry got in the way of my thinking clearly about the problems presented and how to realistically confront them using my current level of expertise.   This skirt took no time and from now on I am going to try to let my panic go and concentrate on problem-solving.

I lightened the original photography so you could better see the design though it is still rather hazy.

Next Post: Tuesday, May 11, 2010; Gaping, but not Staring: Getting Rid of the Ghastly Armhole Gap


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sister
    May 15, 2010 @ 00:08:26

    Very pretty!


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