Category Archives: Vintage Separates Project

Separates project: A-line skirt, inside and out

The first item in my Separates project is complete, and this wearable muslin turned out to be the flattering basic I had hoped. Here’s the finished project:

This incorporates everything I wanted in a skirt, but now I’m wondering why I picked such a dreary fabric for my wearable muslin.

I like to line all my skirts. Isn’t it pretty on the inside?

Here’s what I wanted out of a classic skirt pattern:

  • A contour waistband, the better to flatter my not-so-hourglass shape.
  • Pockets. These days, a girl needs to take her cell phone everywhere.
  • A flattering sweep and length. A full circle would be way too much on me, and the 1940s skirt I made wasn’t quite long or wide enough to be well proportioned on me. This skirt is 30 inches long and has a width of 108 inches. (I don’t know why the patterns refer to it width. It’s actually the circumference at the hem.)

With a little redrafting, McCall’s 6438 fits the bill. I’m really happy with the fit and length. Now that I’ve found the perfect basic skirt pattern, I have lots of variations in mind:

  • I have a navy poly-wool crepe ready to be made into a skirt to go with the Sencha silk top.
  • I’d like to sew it up 2 inches shorter at some point.
  • I’d like to construct it with an inverted center pleat. The four gores are cut on the bias, so I’m not quite sure how I’ll work that out.
  • Speaking of bias, it cries out to be done in a stripe.
  • I also want to make a version in navy with red or white buttons on the pockets and matching topstitching.

Here are closeups of the details:

Here’s the invisible zipper and waistband from the inside.

This is my new favorite finish for a lining hem. The hem is overcast and turned back, then sewn down with a decorative stitch. I lucked out. This stitch matches the main fabric motif pretty well. (Please ignore the fact that I forgot to do a final pressing of the hem before I took the photos!)

Detail on the inside of the contour skirt. I hand sewed the facing with a variation of a fell stitch. I pulled the waistband facing to the inside a little bit along the top seam, so it ended up too long at the bottom. I think next time, I’ll trim the facing a little all the way around.

Pockets, so handy for a cell phone and whatnot.

Confession time: I always like to share what went wrong on projects. There wasn’t that much on this straightforward skirt, but here they are nonetheless:

  • I got so excited about trying out my drafted-by-hand pockets that I completely forgot my plan to edge them in a self-fabric piping. Lame!
  • I followed the zipper instructions exactly with regard to placement of the zipper stop and thus ended up with the dreaded hole between the zipper and the waistband. Gaaah! I HATE that. I’ll know better next time. At least the invisible zipper is invisible this time. That’s progress.
  • Pins and needles are sharp! I ended up with a couple smudges of blood on the waistband facing as I hand sewed it closed. Oops!
  • The pockets fit a cell phone, but I need to make them a little more generous in width so my hand fits comfortably.
  • The lining is a smidge too short. The stitching on the skirt hem shows under the lining hem in some places. I’m still not sure how that happened. Once the skirt and lining were basted together at the top, I trimmed the lining 5/8 inch and used the same hem allowance on both. Next time I’ll finish the hem on the skirt before doing anything with the lining.

Minor annoyances, really.

Now that the redrafted skirt pattern has passed the test, I suppose I should make it in the navy crepe so my Sencha navy silk top will have a friend to go out with, but I have enough of this fabric to make a wearable muslin of a matching top, and I’m excited about Simplicity 2151 view B, so I’m moving on to that next.

Views A and B would both make great vintage looks, and a well-fitting princess-seamed top would lend itself to lots of variations.

Is anything more motivating than a successful project?

Oops — “Facing” a mistake

My altered contour waistband for McCall’s 6438 is made of three pieces: the front, the back right (which extends to be an underlap) and the back left.

The waistband facing has the same three pieces; but because the two back pieces are asymmetrical, they are different from the waistband pieces.

After basting the skirt and skirt lining together at the waistband seam, I started pinning together the waistband pieces and the waistband facing pieces and made my frustrating discovery.

See these pattern pieces that look ready to go? Deceiving!

I interfaced the facing pieces, not the waistband pieces. Gaaah! The front piece is symmetrical, so the waistband and facing are interchangeable, but the back pieces are screwed up.

I am mulling over my damage-control options for what is only a wearable muslin anyway:

  • Use as is and have the underlap extend from the left under the right piece. Then the skirt waistband would open the opposite way. If I ever wore it with a back-button blouse with a correct overlap, it would look stupid.
  • Use the interfaced pieces as the facing and the noninterfaced pieces as the waistband. But then I’m afraid the hand sewing of the facing wouldn’t come out as well and seam allowance ridges would be more obvious at the front of the waistband.
  • Interface the back waistband pieces and cut new back facings. But that is a waste of resources since it’s not absolutely necessary.

I’m glad I made this mistake on the wearable muslin, so I can be aware of this issue when working on the good fabric.

The question is: Which one of these solutions do I dislike the least?

Hmmm …

Aha! The process of writing and editing this post helped me think through this problem. My solution:

Use the interfaced front piece for the waistband. Attach it to the non-interfaced back pieces. For the facing, I can use the noninterfaced front piece attached to the interfaced back pieces. It solves most of my issues without using additional fabric or interfacing resources.

I definitely dislike this solution the least. It only took me two days to come up with it.

Gemini note (because sewing isn’t everything): After being on vacation and eating nothing but pricey and oversized restaurant food for a week, I just want to cook and bake every day!

An invisible zipper that’s actually … well … invisible

I hummed along so quickly during my afternoon of sewing today that instead of stopping before the invisible zipper installation (the better to steel myself for the battle), I continued right on through it.

Previously, I’ve had little luck with invisible zippers:

Zipper outside

The not-so-invisible zipper of my polka dot skirt. Sad, no?

But today was a breakthrough:

Can you see a zipper in that seam? Neither can I — whoo-hoo!

The trick was the ironing of the zipper before application. The directions that come with the zipper show a timid iron tip just crossing from the zipper tape over the teeth. That has never worked for me, so I gave up on the ironing and ended up with a very visible invisible zipper.

This time, however, I aggressively ironed that zipper tape and attached coils. Mashed the heck out of those suckers with my iron, in fact (at the proper synthetic setting, of course). The zipper tape flattened right out. I was a little concerned by how incredibly flat it was, but proceeded to attach the zipper, which was held to the fabric with Clover Wonder Clips. So much easier than pins!

This is the spot where I usually run into trouble. I have an invisible zipper foot, but the stitches would catch the coils. No more! The stitches glided right alongside. I was a little apprehensive when I tried to close the zipper, but it zipped up like a dream!

Yay! My first successful invisible zipper. Now I wish I hadn’t chickened out of getting the blue zipper. The zipper pull looked snazzy in that color, but I settled for a cream color in case I screwed it up again.

My self-drafted pockets also worked, and the length and fullness at the hem are looking promising. Just a few more hours of work are left on this wearable muslin. I’m sensing a success. Oh no! Did I type that out loud?

Gemini note (because sewing isn’t everything): We finished up my second-grader’s baseball season with the team party today. Such a fun season! Nice coaches, nice kids, nice families. We had a blast, made some friends, and my baby played in the AA All-Star Game. Love the opportunities the ‘burbs provide for my kids.

Separates: Changing a contour waistband from a side to a back opening

In my quest for the perfect vintage-style skirt for my Separates project, I found McCall’s 6438.

Although the actual sewn garment looks terrible on the model (Why is she wearing a contour waistband so high on her waist?), this pattern has the elements I wanted:

  • A contour waistband, which isn’t strictly vintage but works better on my not-so-hourglass figure.
  • A long skirt that’s full at the bottom, but smooth at the waist. (I don’t need any extra fabric there, thank you!)
  • A seam at the center back of the skirt, so I can easly change the skirt to a back closure. The better to add side pockets.

Today’s task was to redraft the pattern from a side to a center back closure and create the pockets. First up, the skirt pattern piece:

To change the skirt pattern for a back closure was just a matter of moving the circle for the zipper end. This looks a little fuzzy primarily because the pattern is under the Swedish Tracing Paper, though truth be told, some of that is operator error with my new camera!

Next was redrafting the waistband. The back waistband had the underlap extension on the side, so I used the front waistband for my base pattern.

I traced the front waistband pattern to create two back waistband pieces, one with an underlap, one without.

I had to add a seam allowance to the center back line for the left side. I added a seam allowance and 1.5 inch underlap to the right side.

Overlapped at the center back, the new back waistband pieces are the same size as the front waistband.

With that done, I moved on to creating slant pockets. I could have used a piece from an uncut pants pattern, but instead I drew it freehand with a few of the dimensions based on the nicely sized pockets from a pair of ready-to-wear pants with a contour waistband that I have. (Don’t you hate pockets that can’t actually hold anything? I at least want my phone to fit in there.) It was easiest for me to envision if I drew all the lines right on the skirt pattern and then traced those to create the separate pieces.

To draw the lines for the various pocket pieces on the skirt piece, I used a combination of freehand and my design ruler. I can use this whole pattern piece for the back skirt pieces and trim off the little slant area for the front skirt pieces.

Here are the resulting pieces:

My new slant pocket pattern pieces.

In my head, I know how all this will go together because I’ve sewn a slant pocket before. I THINK it will work just fine. (If you see a flaw in my drafting, please let me know!)

The pattern piece that won’t show on the outside, marked A above, can be done in a lining fabric. I have an idea of using a self piping for the slanted edge. The skirt will be done first as a wearable muslin (some quilting cotton), but I just checked my project bag and found lining fabric, but no zipper.

Now the question becomes: Invisible or regular …

Gemini note (because sewing isn’t everything): I am currently obsessing over the BBC production of Sherlock, gleefully egged on by my friend Kim!

%d bloggers like this: