A Simple Dart Throw

1 Skirt back

1 Back on dummyIf you’re playing around with your basic skirt block and thinking of moving the back dart from the waist seam where it’s typically found, there aren’t that many places it can go.  This is why so often we make the dart just disappear into figure-hugging princess seams!  In making this pencil skirt, I moved the dart onto the centre back, halfway between the lapped zip and the kick pleat.  It’s very long and the angle is sharp: not a particularly attractive feature.  So why did I bother?

The answer is: this is a muslin and the first step towards something more difficult.

1 fishtailA couple of posts ago, I asked for your ideas on skirts and Ruth suggested I make a close-fitting pencil with a fish tail.  I went straight to Pinterest to look for mermaidy images and found one particular design that appealed, which you see on the left. Unfortunately I haven’t the original source for the picture.  My version will, I hope, be subtler with less fabric involved: more like what you see here in fact.  But first I needed to be satisfied that the simple elements work and give a good fit.

1 Pencil skirt1 Front darts

Hm, I might need to make it longer and more narrow at the knees but that’s easy enough.

This makes a useful addition to the wardrobe and cost nothing.  The zip was salvaged; the fabric a leftover (from Vogue 1247) and the lining fabric just appeared as I was trying to stuff some drawers shut!

Check this out: something weird happens when I put the skirt front down on the table. See how it refuses to lie flat? It’s like this skirt wants to turn into a wok!

1 Skirt back on tableI suspect this dart placement is  good choice if you want to hug a fashionably big bottom.

It’s all about that bass, I’m told.

How to:

If you’re not familiar with moving darts using the slash n’ spread method, you might benefit from this crude tutorial.  The process is really easy.  You do need 2 large lots of paper.

Step 1.  Make a copy of the skirt back.  Extend the waist dart so the dart point is at the base of your bottom.

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Step 2. Draw a line from the dart point to the centre back seam.  Cut along the new line, then cut along one of the original dart legs.

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Step 3. Close the waist dart.  The new dart will open.  To complete the pattern, pin in this position onto another paper layer.  Draw around.  Remove original.  On the new layer, fold the dart closed and pin in this position (I like to pin darts down).  Draw seam and hem allowances all around and cut out pattern.  Unpin dart.

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1 Got it

Links:  Excellent Lapped Zip Tutorial: Part 1 and Part 2.

Basic to A-Line

Drafting and making a well-fitted A line skirt is so easy that if I hereby manage to make it sound complicated, do email me with your preferred choice of how you’d like me to die and I’ll do the decent thing….

The fabric: Michael Miller “Groovy Guitar”.  Can you spot the graphics mismatch in the Centre Back Zip and Seam?  What if you look really closely?

If anyone tries this in real life, I might just turn and give them a slap :-)

Drafting

You will need

a) some big paper, e.g. newspaper or wrapping

b) 1m approx of muslin

c) Your Basic Skirt Block

If you haven’t a BSB, follow Steps 1 and 2 of my tutorial to create a Back and a Front .   

Step 1 Draw a Line

On the BSB, draw a line from the point of each Dart to the Hem.  The line should be parallel to the Centre Back and Centre Front and at a right angle to the Hem.

Step 2 Slash ‘n’ Spread

Cut along the line then cut out the Dart.  Close Dart.  Do the same for Skirt Front.

Step 3 Complete the Pattern

a) Pin or stick to paper and trace around.  Ensure that the point D  (where the Skirt Side meets the Hem) is a right angle.  Fill in the gap in the Hem.  Drop the Centre Waist by 1.5cm and join to the Side Waist in a smooth curve.

b) Add instructions: Cut on fold for the Skirt Front, Cut 2 for the Back. 

c) Add seam allowances.  Mine are 1.5cm all around because I’m hemming with bias tape (tutorial below).  If you want a normal hem, 2.5cm is a good typical allowance.

Making a Muslin

Do if you can.  There are no darts so it’s super quick: mine took 10 minutes to cut and sew and I discovered that the back fit perfectly but the front could be narrowed by 2cm which was easy and made a big difference to the final fit.

Make the Facing

I haven’t made a separate pattern for the facing.  Follow this shortcut instead:

a) Pin the pattern to your facing fabric (on fold for Skirt Front).  Cut along the top and the sides for about 10cm.

b) Using a sewing gauge or a ruler, measure to the depth of 8cm from the Waist and cut.  Do the same to cut the interfacing (if using).

3. Apply interfacing to facing pieces, sew the side seams then edge finish the lower edge (press under 1cm then zigzag).

Making up the A-Line Skirt

Sew the Sides, the invisible Zip (mine was 8″ but 9″/23cm is better) and Centre Back seam.  Finish edges: I like to press the seam allowance under and zigzag.

Add facing.  If you’re not sure how to sew the facing to the zip and waistline, follow the instructions in Step 4 of attaching the lining to Julie’s Dress

Then understitch the facing to the seam allowance.  You may topstitch if you prefer. Handstitch the lining to the zip tape.

Which just leaves the Hem.

Since the Hem seam allowance is wider than the seam, hemming an A-Line can be a pain.  But you can get round it by:

a) Sewing gathering stitches half-way down the seam allowance and easing.  Recommended for jersey fabrics.

b) Making folds in the seam allowance.

c) Hemming with bias binding.

Hemming with Bias Tape Tutorial

For my width of skirt, I’ve used 1.3m of bias made from a 5cm-wide strip folded to a finished width of 2.5cm.

Step 1 With right sides together, unfold bias tape and pin edge to edge to the hem, starting with 1cm of tape folded back.  Sew to the hem using the bias fold as your seam mark. 

Step 2 Overlap the fold from the other side

Step 3 Trim seam and turn skirt wrong side out.  Roll the outside edge inward so that the fashion fabric shows slightly over the bias tape.  Pin and press. 

Step 4 Stitch, enclosing the top fold of the bias tape. 

Looks better worn with the top untucked, I think, and perfect for a Saturday afternoon.  Which is what it took to make…. 

 

Polly Jean

New glad rags needed!  My daughter is going to quite a few parties this month (oh, to be invited to so many parties….) so I wanted to make her a couple dresses which she’ll wear with her usual happy aplomb and which will enable me to try out some design ideas I’ve been curious about for a while.  

In making this flower-printed dress, I was after a self-tutorial in the making of Leg of Mutton sleeves.  Now, some of my favourite sewing bloggers are doubtful, snickering even, of LoM ever coming back into fashion –  which might be a relief if your shoulders tend towards the broad.  But I’ve grown to love this look on PJ Harvey

As surprising in her costumes as she is in her music, for the last few years Polly Jean has worn long, narrow dresses winged starkly by Leg of Mutton sleeves and I’m quite admiring of how this transforms her slender silhoutte into one that’s aloof and  imposing.  

My version of the sleeve didn’t turn out quite so dramatic so no definitive recipe for Leg of Mutton yet, but here’s what I did to the sleeve block to get this high, slightly cupped version.  

Firstly, I made the dress block and the sleeve block by following Winifred Aldrich’s instructions in “Metric Pattern Cutting”.  I cut the sleeve block into two: the Upper Sleeve to cover the shoulder and the bicep, and the Lower Sleeve to stay in its original narrow form. 

The Upper Sleeve is the grey area in this image. 

This I slashed and spread to add 4cm of extra width to the original width of 21cm (I could have been more generous!).  I added 0.5cm to the top of the sleeve (marked “added fullness” in the picture) before adding the sleeve allowances. 

The other design idea I wanted to try is to add a scalloped line in a contrasting fabric on the dress front and back.  I tried to cut a pattern with a scalloped edge to join to another of the same but the result was rubbish.  In the end  I had two identical pieces of the blue satin sewn right sides together and the seam allowances clipped very close to the seam line.  This was turned, pressed, then topstitched onto the bodice which looks ok but is rather bulky and a bit trying on the zip in the back. If I were to attempt this again, I’d use appliqué instead.  I’d love to hear from anyone who’s had more success with scallops (do forgive another culinary pun).