Stripey Summer Fun!

Zig Zags, stripes and all sorts of funky geometric shapes are all the rage lately. But I cannot even get close to one of those bold patterns without feeling a little weird and awkward. But somehow when we got in some new fabric samples I saw this one and just fell totally in love:

The wavy stripes and the saturated colors just totally screamed summer to me. (I can assure you the colors are so much prettier in person than on the screen.) So of course I had to order it but once it came in I didn't know what to do with it. I had already made a dress and a shirt with one pattern and now I had to find another one to make a few pieces out of. While flipping through the Simplicty's pattern book I stumbled upon this one: 

And when I saw the striped fabric they used to draw it up, I knew I had found the right pattern for this great fabric. My first challenge was lining up the pattern pieces so the stripes would line up when it was sewn. To do this I cut two pieces of a bit longer than what I needed for the skirt panels, lined up the design, pinned all four layers together and pinned my pattern piece down. this skirt only uses two pattern pieces. One for the outer skirt and one for the lining. Both are very simple shapes and very easy to lay out. But of course, we all know me. I screwed it up. I cut everything out and then realized I had layered the pieces incorrectly so the design was going one way on two of the pieces and another way on the other two. So it was time to start all over again.... I took two of the pieces and put them off to the side (never one to waste I held on to them to do some test sewing.). I then re-cut those two pieces after comparing them to the other two that I decided to keep (it was an arbitrary decision as to which two pieces would stay and which two would go.) And then once I had my pieces cut correctly this time it was time to start sewing. 

Now the version I wanted to do had only one slit, the outer skirt is long and the lining is much shorter. And of course the fabric that I love can be a bit difficult to work with so my first challenge was sewing the seam with the slit in it. So I marked the seam where the dot on the pattern was and sewed from the top down. I started at a 5/8" seam allowance- the typical seam allowance for garments, using a 2.5 stitch length- again the standard stitch length for most sewing. Once I got to the dot, I backstitched like I was ending the seam but left the needle in the fabric and changed my stitch length to about 4.5- a good stitch  length for basting. I basted the rest of the seam all the way down and then went to the ironing board and pressed the seam open. 

Once the seam was pressed. I went back to the machine and topstitched on either side of the seam where it was basted and then cut the basting stitched open. VOILA!! A nice and neat slit in my new fancy skirt. Now it was on to sewing the rest of the seams. And of course since the fabric is striped and stretchy, lining up the design was a bit of a challenge. Thankfully at the store we are an authorized PFAFF dealer and I have access to some pretty fancy machines. Of course I didn't use any of the fancy ones, I decided that I could just as easily use the new passsport 2.0. 

Why this machine you ask??? Well, a couple of things. 1.) it was on the table. 2.) it's the new machine and I wanted to play with it. 3.) It has IDT.

Now I know what you're going to ask, what the heck is IDT?? I think the best way to explain it is this: It's like having feed dogs ON TOP of the fabric as well as below it. It is essentially a built in walking foot. Quilters have been using a walking foot for years to feed the layers of their quilts through their machines. And couture sewers have been using the same tool under the name of 'plaid matcher'. It keeps the fabric from slipping and siding while you're sewing. So this one was my first and worst of my seams: 

Not one of my best jobs. But I don't think it's too bad considering I was using a new machine that I'm not used to and this was my first seam on this fabric. I wasn't really sure how it was going to behave. i can promise you they got better after this one.  

So now that my outer skirt was all assembled it was time to sew the lining. For this project I chose a dark grey 100% cotton. I wanted something that wouldn't alter the colors of the outer skirt too much and would also be cool and comfortable on my skin. This skirt is meant to worn in the summer after all. 

The lining piece was so darn easy, the one pattern piece was cut two times on a fold (think paper hearts from kindergarten. You fold the paper in half and then only cut out half the shape. When you open the paper up you have two symmetrical sides. Well, same thing with patterns and fabrics.) The two seams were sewn, seam allowances pressed flat and then the lining was hemmed. Now of course we all know I have a 'secret trick' to hems... On a pattern like this the lining hem allowance is only 5/8". How do I know?? If you look at the hem area of a pattern piece it's usually printed what the hem is supposed to be. Of course you can change the hem on most patterns but for this pattern I was planning on doing the hems as the pattern directed. So here's what I did. I basted 5/8" away from the raw edge that needed to be hemmed. I then folded the raw edge to the wrong side to meet the basting stitches. And then I folded it again to the wrong side along the basting. I hit it with the iron (**IMPORTANT** Do NOT use pins that have plastic heads if you're planning on ironing your project with the pins in. They will melt. I have learned the hard way.) Once the hem was ironed I just sewed about 3/8" in from the folded edge. As a matter of fact my lining was grey and I had black thread in the machine. I didn't care. It's the lining. No one is supposed to see it anyway. 

Then I had to start getting the skirt ready to add the lining. Again I deviated from the directions. I folded down about 1 1/2" from the top and then gave it a good press. Then I slipped the lining into that fold and pinned the daylights out of it and then used the 'triple straight stitch' to sew the lining and the skirt together. Why? I'm not 100% sure, but since the outer skirt fabric is stretchy it seemed like a good idea at the time. I don't think it was actually necessary, but hey.... it didn't take very long. But now I had to get the elastic in. I threw caution to the wind and pulled an old trick out of my hat... I marked the center front and center back on the skirt with pins. Then I marked the two side seams with pins. Then I cut a piece of elastic that fit snugly around my waist, sewed the ends of the elastic together to make one very large loop. It was larger than I wanted it to be but that's Ben & Jerry's fault! Once the elastic was sewn I marked it with pins where I wanted the center front to be, the center back and then again where the sides should be. Then I matched the pins on the elastic to the pins on the skirt and did the old 'stretch and sew'. 

The elastic was stretched and sewn right inside the skirt. No need for a casing!

And now for the finishing touch... The hem. A fabric like this can be a real pain to hem. It's loosely woven so it stretches as you're working with it and the stitches sink right into the fabric so if you screw up you can't take them out too easily without worrying that you're gonna put a hole in the fabric. And there really isn't much that's worse than getting that far into a project and ruining it during the home stretch.So I took the cowards way out. I used the serger and did a rolled hem. It looks GREAT!

A rolled hem is easily accomplished on a serger. It's quick and easy and really lends a polished look to softer or finer fabrics that can be difficult to hem.

Now I'm all ready for a stroll down the boardwalk, or an easy day out by the pool!!