Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Disastrous Velvet Skirt, or I Can't Have Nice Things


I had a hankering for velvet at PR Weekend 2007 and, in his magician-pulling-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat manner Kashi had the perfect color and texture for me.

So, an eternal mom refrain (or at least from my mom--maybe we were particularly destructive children) is, "Why can't I have nice things?" I don't need kids to destroy my things for me, I do a good job of it all by myself! It started with storage. I folded up the velvet not very carefully and put it on the shelf, where it got jostled around quite a bit over the past year and ended up looking more wadded than folded. A couple months ago I finally took pity on it and opened it up, pressed it from the wrong side, and folded it more neatly. It already had a few marks and shiny spots on it from bad storage.

Then came the sewing and the pressing. I really didn't/don't know anything about velvet, but apparently it does not take to the iron. LOL I'm sure this is common knowledge to everyone else. So this poor skirt has iron soleplate marks, marks that show the seam allowance, and random bad marks all over it. It was pretty much trashed before it was even done.

Then there was the pattern. I LOVED this skirt, BWOF 6/07 #113. This was one of the first BWOFs I traced off, from one of the issues Cidell loaned me before I got all subscribed and hooked on it. It's the perfect kind of skirt pattern--the seaming is interesting but the overall finished shape is plain and very wearable. In skirts, I like to see some unusual detail but a fairly traditional shape. Karen made it a while back and I was pleased to see that it looked just as good in person as on the line drawing.

Combine Back PatternI had actually already made it over the summer in navy but because it's a dark color absolutely none of the details show up in photos, and this was just my wearable muslin for the green velvet anyway. I couldn't find a line drawing for the back view, but the back has the same side yoke situation as the front. My observation on the wearable muslin was that the back yoke created unnecessary pouchiness above/at the bum so for this version I combined the two back pattern pieces, converting the seam into a dart.

Now, part of the issue is that I traced the wrong size. I traced a 40, and I should have traced a 38 at least, and probably a 36 at the waist transitioning to a 38 at the hip. This is supposed to be a snug-fitting skirt. I really don't know how to size down something with unusual pattern pieces and I returned the magazine to Cidell long ago. Anyway, I put it together and while the back view with darts looks fine the hip was a whole other issue. The side seam was completely sticking out like Mickey Mouse ears and I kept having to take it in and flatten the curve until eventually it was so tight it couldn't possibly stick out any more (I think this pattern pretty much requires fabric with stretch).

Another velvet-specific issue is topstitching. To take advantage of the seams in this pattern you really need to topstitch. I topstitched the front yoke seams and it looked horrible--I think it needs a walking foot or differential feed or something--but picking it out would have been worse because of how velvet gets marked up when you put a seam into it. But I didn't dare topstitch the lower front curved seam, so it's kind of lost (other than the iron marks, which clearly delineate the seam allowance underneath).

Then there's the waist. I figured I should line this, so I drafted a facing and cut that out of velvet, and then lined it from there. This created SO MUCH bulk at the waist, which was already a bit baggy. I thought I looked ok in person on my way to the holiday party I wore this to on Saturday, but in the pics I can see it makes me look thick in the middle. I am annoyed with myself about this velvet. It's a gorgeous color and this skirt is just a complete failure. I don't have enough of it left (plus it's trashed from the way I stored it) to do anything more except maybe some trim.

The only good thing about this project is the side view, which you can see in the composite above, but I can hardly walk around crabwise the whole time I'm wearing it! I wore it to a holiday party on Saturday just to wear it, but I'm not sure it will leave the closet ever again.

This was the project that got me to make the Knip Mode Gather Front Top just to clear my palate by making something easy, cute, flattering, and wearable (and that top turned out to be all of the above), so I guess that's the silver lining.

All photos are here.


Anna said...

I keep a children's toothbrush in my sewing aids pot for brushing the seams where I've topstitched or otherwise made velvet or velour look bad by not using a walking foot. I've found that just brushing over the fabric gets rid of the foot marks.

Sorry that the skirt wasn't what you'd planned!

Little Hunting Creek said...

I'm sorry that it didn't work for you. I iron velvet things on top on a thick towel, and only touch the tip of the iron to the seams. I have had good luck with fuller skirts and velvet. I've never made a more fitted one. Better make another Knip Mode top to console yourself :)

Carol said...

I've never made anything with velvet and I've just made my first satin dress. I think you can get needle pressing boards for velvet. I used strips of fabric under the seams for pressing satin so you may have to do something like that with velvet as well. It's still very pretty, though. I love the colour.

Lindsay T said...

Welcome to the year-end wadder club. (See my post of 12/15/08). I give you credit for working with velvet.

AllisonC said...

I haven't used velvet before either and I don't think it will be on my resolution list for 2009 either now you have scared me! sorry it didn't work out, the colour is (was) lovely.

Dana said...

Don't give up on the skirt yet! Check out Sharon's blog at Adventures in Sewing - and life... She recently had a similar problem with a piece of velvet.

You're right - the color is fabulous!

Sue said...

Lovely fabric - just put it down to a learning experience! The only velvet I have used was in a bag and much simpler to make so I didn't have too many issues.

-E said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the velvet- I just got some stretch velvet for that BWOF sweatshirtish jumpsuit. I will tread cautiously.

And say what you will about the skirt - that top is divine on you! LOVE the color :)

Linda said...

Love the blog! For velvet you really need a pattern with as few seams as possible, a needle board and a walking foot. The shrug is adorable.

Karen said...

My skirt looked more successful than it feels on - I love BWOF pencil skirts, but this one is just kind of awkward. You're welcome to borrow the magazine if you ever want to try it again. Shame about the fabric, it was beautiful. Maybe you can salvage it for something - I have a wadder bin under my sewing table with stuff that I have hopes of cannibalizing somehow.

badmomgoodmom said...

I had been thinking of making that skirt. Now I won't bother. The skirt looks so cute on the BWOF model. But her shape and my shape are not the same.