This post may be a little long, not because it is a long process, but because I made an error in length of yardage I need and had to redo with a new fabric choice. I usually start with the bodice first on any costume I do, but since I wasn’t having any luck with a corset for Regina I have decided to go with the easier piece for now. Which will be the skirt. And on top of that I own all the fabrics for the skirt at this point.
I went on a mini shopping trip to JoAnn’s, I was planning on researching what I needed for this project. But instead just got what I liked, 2 yards of a chiffon, and 3 yards of a gorgeous cream lace. The lace has an intricate pattern on it, scalloped edges (once you trim the edge that is), and sequins, not the unsightly sequins.
With those brand new materials, I was able to get to work on the skirt. It took me a moment to decide if I wanted a traditional skirt pattern, a rectangle, or a circle, but since the edges of the beaded satin for the base were patterned along the edges I knew I had to use the rectangle method. I didn’t have to cut the bottom edge. Left the sides the same length but cleaned up the edges, and shortened the top. Because the majority of the beading is on the base of the fabric I wanted that to really show.
With the foiled chiffon, I tore the edges to make them the same length, trimmed the top. Following the same steps as the first, but be careful, the chiffon may tear well on one edge, but not all edges.
The scalloped lace was a little more temperamental to work with. One, I lined up the edges of the fabric, not in the selvage but the cut ends. Trimmed away the uneven edges until I had a straight edge left behind. Before I cut away the selvage on the bottom I was sure to fray check that edge of thread embroidery running through it. When it dried I clipped the selvage away making sure to leave a millimeter or two between the fray checked area and the edging. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. Because of the fray check if I accidentally clip the threads the fray check will hold it in place. At this step you can then trim the top down to the length you need.
I follow the same process with every layer at this point. Pin the edges together folding the edges down in the process. When you get to roughly nine inches from the top you are going to leave it open. Don’t pin them together. Fold back each edge and pin. If you look at it from the side it looks like a Y. Just like adding a zipper. You don’t want to sew this closed. Once all are pinned. Sew the open portion first. Start with one side of the Y, sew the whole way that isn’t pinned closed. Don’t forget to back-stitch. And then do the same for other part of the Y. [I hope I am explaining this part in enough detail because of lack of photos.] Do this for all of the layers.
Starting with the first layer again you need to sew the skirt closed. The length portion, not where the closure will be. If you sew the whole side shut, you won’t be able to put the skirt on once we gather it. I did the same to the rest of the layers, making sure to stitch just a half-inch past the stitches of the opening at the top.
Before I even gathered down the top, I pinned the layers to my body form just to check the progress. So far it looked great. The only thing I needed to do now is check it with the petticoat that will be underneath it. That is where I failed.
It looked like a giant tube at the bottom because the under two layers were on the small side and weren’t flowing like the outer layer.
With no way to fix it, I needed to start over on those layers. In my stash I have some cream peach skin. It’s not accurate but will work with what I need it for. Plus, it is soft. Doesn’t breathe worth anything though. And can get very hot very fast. I cut the length down to three yards by putting a notch in the fabric with scissors. Not just on one end but both. To get even edges, and then another at the top to make it the length I need. And then I proceeded to tear it apart. Until it was the correct length and shape.
[A little note: Test tear a scrap first. I don’t want you to think it can tear because not everything can and ruin your hard work. Even if it just ruins the fabric, that still took money. Test tear scraps. I can make a little list of all the fabrics I have torn on grain if you would like to know. But even if it worked for me it might not always work for you.]
Back on with the process, with that completed I was in search in my stash of an iridescent or a gold color organza. I couldn’t find any fabric I could use. But in another section of my sewing stuff is a little section of curtains my aunt has purchased from Germany for me to use. In that box was the perfect fabric. Nearly invisible white. Almost see through, save for the gold threads running through the pattern. It is exactly what I was looking for the first time. The only thing, the company who made the curtain panel hasn’t done a great job at hemming the edges.
I cut the loops off at the top from where it is connected to the curtain rod. Turned the edges under hemming it. With something this fragile, fold the edges under twice to encase the edge within the fabric. To prevent fraying. Then I sewed the edges of the curtain together folded in half. Because of the size of it I didn’t want to mark out the center of the fabric to cut and have it end up wonky when I am done. On one edge I sewed it closed like the previous ones, leaving a nine-inch gap at the top for the opening. But because it was still connected at the top it was a circle opening. I flatten the edge and cut out a line at the top. I only had to trim one area that was a little long. Otherwise it matched up perfectly.
I followed the same process as the first two layers that I am unable to use as I did with the peach skin. That left me with three fabric rectangles sewn into almost tubes. The first layer I gathered is the bottom layer, the peach skin. The reason I gathered this is because I wanted to smooth out the gathers. Get them where I needed them to be.
[The way I gather rectangle skirts is by either hand sewing the gathers and pulling the string tight as I go, or I use the basting stitch on my machine, leave the threads long so they are easier to pull tightly to gather them. I chose the latter method this time.]
Before I sewed this portion to anything I pinned the gathers to a waist tape. The waist tape is a piece of twill tape an inch in width and 34” in length. Even though my waist fluctuates between 32”-34”, I decided I can always add frogs further up the waistband to tighten if I need to. Then I gathered the organza to the length of the waist tape, pinned it on top of the gathers of the previous layer. Repeating with the final layer of the lace. It was a little boring to do. But at least I wasn’t messing up on this project. At least that I didn’t already know would mess up.
The next step is to sew the gathers down to the waist tape. Pretty easy, just avoid sewing over pins. [I have sewn over pins before and will again, but I am letting you know not to get into the habit of doing that. It can be dangerous.]
Prep the waistband. I am using peach skin as the outer layer of the waistband. It will be lined in cotton and interfaced to make it sturdy. Because my waist fluctuates I will make the waistband at 37 inches. Leaves an inch for the seam allowance. And two inches of overlapping, because I am using hooks and eyes to close this. When using hooks and eyes you need to make sure to leave a little part to overlap. Otherwise you will sew the hooks when you connect the edge. And we want all hooks not visible from the outside of the skirt. Even if the skirt waistband will not be visible from under the bodice.
Once all the outer layer and inner layer of the skirt waistband are cut, you will need to cut the interfacing a half-inch shy of all edges. You don’t want this to get caught up in the seam allowance, unnecessary bulk. Press the fusible interfacing to the cotton layer following the directions on the interfacing. Each one has different directions. Match right sides together of the waistband and sew the top edges down.
You won’t need to close the bottom edge; this will be closed later. To get a nice look on the outside, pin the waistband with right sides together to the top of the skirt outermost layer. Pin the cotton layer out of the way. You don’t want to sew this down accidentally. Sew the waistband down. With the cotton layer, unpin and fold the edge under. Press with the iron to get a crisp clean line. Here you have two options. First you pin the cotton layer down with pins on the inside of the waistband and you ladder or whip stitch the opening closed. Or you can pin the fabric down with the pins on the outside and stitch in the ditch to connect the cotton to the waistband. I chose the ladder stitch method, but I have machine stitched waistbands before.
The final step is to add hooks and eyes where you need them to be. This varies so I won’t tell you where to place them. I will place a few of both hooks and eyes down so I can vary where it closes. Albeit the bodice has boning in to keep the edges straight, but I don’t want to have to rely on that to make sure the skirt stays where it is at. And to be honest, the first time I wore it I didn’t make the waistband tight enough. It slipped around, so I will have to make sure to add a few more hooks and eyes.
Here are some almost finished pictures of the garment.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I hope you enjoyed it. The next post will be about the bodice. Which should be up next weekend.