Tag Archives: skirt

I don’t need no stinkin’ pattern

Once I realized the skirt from Vogue 1072 (hereafter referred to as the “maternity skirt”) was not going to work out, I came up with a new plan for the polka dot fabric. I knew exactly what sort of skirt I wanted to make: A six-gore A-line just like the Simplicity 3688 skirt I recently made, only with a contour waistband.

I had no luck finding what I wanted in the catalogs of the “Big 4” pattern companies — Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick and McCall’s. I was left with no alternative but to draft my own pattern, which I’ve never done before.

But I did it — and, I am amazed to say, it worked.

Using Simplicity 3688 as a guide (OK, so I did need a pattern), I drew the proposed waistband seamline on the skirt pattern pieces, then overlapped those pattern pieces at the side seams to create the correct shape to trace for my two-piece contour waistband. Then I traced skirt pattern pieces that excluded the areas that became the contour waistband. The skirt will open at the left side with an invisible zipper. It took three tries for me to properly account for all the seam allowances. But once the pattern pieces were drafted, I cut out the two waistband and six skirt pieces and sewed them together to check the fit at the waist and the fit of the skirt to the waistband. (I only cut the skirt pieces about 10 inches long because I didn’t need to check the length.) Fortunately, I was able to cut all the pieces from the two muslins I made for the maternity skirt.

And I’m happy and a little surprised to report that it all works just as planned.

In addition to changing the waistband to a contour, I wanted to make this skirt a little longer than the original 25 inch length. I still have the muslin I did for 3688, so I pinned some extra length to the hem and trimmed it to 30 inches to check the length. It looks perfect.

Next, I’ll trace off skirt pieces with the extra length added and some extra waistband pieces. This way I’ll have a full set of pattern pieces for the long version and the short version that I can file away in envelopes. Then I will have the first two patterns I created just for me.

I’m excited to have a custom pattern for a skirt I designed, as simple as it is. I can see sewing it up with tweed and wool for the winter and linen and eyelet for the summer. I’m hoping this will be the first of many patterns I draft for myself. It’s satisfying to know I am no longer limited to what clothing stores or pattern companies are offering. This is what garment sewing is all about.

Time to bail on this pattern

After finishing the second muslin for Vogue 1072, I have learned an important lesson: On my figure, a long yoke on a skirt looks like a maternity panel.

Which led me to the following conclusion: It’s time to bail on Vogue 1072.

Vogue 1072

The unflattering skirt pattern.

In contrast, the Simplicity 3688 skirt I most recently finished is quite flattering. It’s a true A-line that falls just below my knee. I was surprised as I worked on it to discover how well it works on my figure.

The Simplicity pattern that looks good.

With my straight shape, an A-line with a hem that falls at the narrowest part of my leg gives me as much of an hourglass look as I can get.

The Vogue skirt, on the other hand, was only A-line enough to facilitate walking without needing a slit or vent. When it was on, it looked more like a straight skirt for someone with bigger hips than I have, not to mention a bun in the oven.

So, this pattern and I are going our separate ways. I am thrilled at this point that only muslin lost its life in the attempt to make this skirt. My pretty coral cotton with white polka dots remains intact. It hasn’t even been laundered.

I think I’m going to move on to the intended blouse to see how it will look with an A-line, maybe something with a contour waistband. I WILL have a snappy new skirt and top from this coral fabric. It’s just not going to involve Vogue 1072.

Back to the drawing board

After my pattern alterations of the 1940s skirt went awry, I decided to start again from scratch. Since I had traced the pattern pieces onto Swedish tracing paper, the original pieces are intact. Good thing because I had to retrace the front yoke and add a half-inch of width to each yoke and skirt piece. I pulled apart the previous alterations on the waistband, put them back together and added more alterations. All together I added two inches to the waistband, in four half-inch increments so the notches would still match up with the ones on the yoke. There was lots of cutting and taping. The plan for tomorrow is to cut it all out again in muslin, sew it together and see how it fits.

I didn’t have the patience for all this starting-over-from-scratch business when I was younger, but I want to ensure I’ll have a skirt and blouse I’ll wear.

I saw a new-to-me phrase recently on my Internet travels: the “slow-clothes movement.” At this point, slow is an aspiration. My progress is more along the lines of glacial.

Premenstrual fitting syndrome and other lessons

Today, I learned several valuable sewing lessons working on the muslin of my 1940s skirt project:

❦ Never try to fit a waistband when you’re retaining water. I’m pretty sure my waist was an inch smaller three days ago. Ugh!

❦ Don’t bother to use pricey and quick-to-run out invisible marking pens on muslin. What was I thinking? A trusty No. 2 pencil does the trick.

❦ Put as much accuracy into joining the seams of the muslin as you would the actual garment. Otherwise, why am I bothering to use the muslin to check the fit? Lame!

I’m still trying to fit the muslin of this “simple” 1940s skirt. It has a yoke from waistband to hips with two front darts and two back darts. It was too small in the waist (expected for this size) but fit in the hips. To make the adjustment, I let the front darts out, which made the waist fit (well, three days ago anyway), but it turns out the abdomen was a smidge too small. I’ve remarked the darts a little smaller instead of opening them out entirely and widened the entire front yoke pattern, which will end up adding more fabric over the abdomen but leave the bottom yoke seam the same width so it will match the bottom skirt pieces. Once again, I’ve overthought my alterations. I should have probably left the darts alone and just added the width I needed in the waist to the entire depth of the yoke (and bottom skirt) front and back pieces evenly. Maybe I’ll go back and do that. It may be time to trace those pattern pieces again and start over.

If I were working on the actual fabric instead of the muslin, I’d be throwing in the towel right about now. As it is, I’ll be back in the sewing trenches tomorrow.

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