I rarely buy fashion magazines because they're too expensive, and then at the end I have a big lump of paper to add to a landfill. But when I am traveling, I do occasionally indulge and on the way back from Spain I bought the September 2009 issue InStyle magazine.
I enjoyed reading it, but wasn't inspired by much of anything I saw in it except for a spread on lace, one of those "at any age" features. Apparently, I am a slave to my generation because the item that most struck me on the page was a lace skirt for the 30s and 40s crowd. I immediately fell in love with it. When I got home I looked for it on the web so that I could study the details more carefully, but the brand has no web presence that I could find and of the few of their products being sold on retail websites none of them were the skirt. So all I had to go on was a small photos on the magazine page.
I already had the lace from Jomar in November 2008 (how time flies! it seems like that trip was just a few months ago); I paid either $1 or $2/yd for it. You might recognize it from my lace dress--and there is still so much left! The wool fabric for the underlay and the lining are both from The Carol Collection, so this was a very economical project. The only expensive part was the zipper, which was something like $2.50, and the magazine subscription. I learned my lesson with the lace this time and just sewed the lace and underlay fabric as one (and btw, I did go back and fix the horrible zipper on the lace dress--I unpicked the hand-stitching on the lace, trimmed off the seam allowances, and hand-stitched the lace back down; it now looks seamless).
Although looking at the closeup I can see that there are little vertical ruffles tucked into the pleats; I'm not sure I noticed that at the time. Even if I had seen the ruffles, I don't think I would have gone for them anyway. So I looked through old issues of Burda knowing that there plenty of variations on the tulip skirt in the magazine and found 09-2008-108. Not only was it nearly the exact shape I was looking for but I really liked the large center front belt carrier and the side-set belt, an unusual but interesting look. Although it has taken me months to post about it, I actually made it within days of seeing it in the magazine, I was so excited about it.
To get a look closer to the magazine, I moved the front pleats closer to the sides. I also added side seam pockets as pockets are so trendy in skirts and dresses. The combination of these two changes is a little unfortunate, as they cause the skirt to poof out over the hips a little. I hand-stitched the pockets closed for a couple of inches at the top, which helps.
I also moved the zip from the side to center back, adding a center back seam so that I could shape it instead of having a straight back for my non-straight booty. Because of this I split the back belt carrier into two.
I also decided to go all trendy and *finally* do an exposed zip. As with most trends, the first year exposed zips were out I hated them, the second year I got used to them, the third year I decided I wanted one, and the fourth year--as the trend is nearly passe--I finally made one. I like to think I have style, but I don't think I can claim to be fashionable!
I bought a navy blue metal jeans zip and then got it home. Ugh. The lace is very dark and looks black if it's not next to anything black, and the navy zipper looked ridiculously bright against it. However, you can see that a black zipper reveals that the lace is actually navy, and didn't look right either. I was frustrated; I didn't want to give up my dream of finally doing an exposed zip, but I didn't want a garish non-matching one either. After a few days it finally hit me, such a simple solution: I put the navy zipper into a black dyebath for about 10 minutes. Perfect! I cannot tell you how proud I was to figure it out. I always have a bottle of the Rit liquid black dye so I can easily do small batches; it is most convenient.
To install the zipper, I assembled the skirt and the lining separately; for the waistband facing I used the wool underlay fabric and stitched this to the lining.
Then I stitched the CB seam of the fashion fabric to the bottom of the zip, and basted the seam where the zip would be. Next I pressed it open and stitched the zip down from the top, having the top zipper stop just below the stitching line of the waistband/facing.
Finally, I stitched the waistband facing/lining to the waistband, catching in the upper edges of the zipper for a clean finish, and turned down the lining, turned in the seam allowances, and hand-stitched it to the zip opening. So basically, it was just like a normal non-invisible zipper, except the zipper was on the outside.
I was a little worried when making the skirt because my neutral is black, not navy. I was afraid I didn't have anything to wear with it. In fact, it has turned out to be a totally versatile skirt and I wear it all the time and LOVE it. When I was in law school and private practice and didn't have time to sew I pretty much only made skirts because they are so quick and easy. So I have had an unofficial moratorium on skirts for a while. I mean, ok, last year I still made 9 skirts but out of 60 garments, and considering how often I wear them and how many I *could*, it's not so many. But this project has sort of opened the floodgates of skirts! I want to entirely redo my skirt wardrobe. I really need to do a Great Closet Cleanout. If I get rid of some old skirts, can I make new ones?
All photos are here, including closeups of front/side/back, and the pattern review is here.
Gretchen the Household Deity