Thursday, February 14, 2013

Burda Classics 2012, #0003 3/4 Circle Skirt with a Heaping Helping of FAIL

Burda Classics 2012 0003 Thumbnail

I didn't order the Burda Classics magazine from GLP--never got around to it--but while in Porto, Portugal I saw it--in French--in the window of a tiny newsstand on a little side street.  Apparently, Burda is not pronounced anything like "Burda" in Portuguese, because it took a bit of gesturing and explaining to indicate which magazine I wanted to buy (the window copy was the only one), but eventually it was mine, all mine!

I was happy to see a simple 3/4 circle skirt in the magazine.  I am just too lazy to draft my own pattern, and I had been wanting one as a bike-friendly alternative to an A line.  I thought I'd start with a silk chiffon version--it goes with a bunch of tops already in my closet and would work year round.

Well, who knew a freaking two piece skirt could be so much trouble?  I cannot even begin to describe how much fail went into this.


Fail #1:  Cutting.  This is totally, completely my fault.  The chiffon was not wide enough when doubled to accommodate the width of the skirt.  So rather than waste nearly half the width of the chiffon for each of the four pieces (two layers, front and back), I decided to just shorten the skirt.  Which might have been all good and well had I actually, you know, created a pattern that was shortened.  Because with a circle skirt you cannot mess around about length.  I have a good eye, but there is no way I can eyeball an even reduction in length across a circular hemline.  Oh, and have I mentioned I was cutting silk chiffon, which is impossible?  But yeah, I just eyeballed it.

The skirt was doomed from the start.  Behold the HORROR that is the hemline on those chiffon layers.  The HORROR.  (Note:  I did let the skirt hang before hemming and tried to even it out.  This is just bad cutting.)

Fail #2:  Fabric.  The lining layer of this is a silk/rayon from the Vera Wang collection acquired a couple years ago.  It was too stiff.  The 3/4 circle skirt of the Butterick 5315 Peter Pan Collar Shirtdress I made over the summer is cut in 4 pieces with a seam at center front and center back, so that the grain is bias at CF/CB rather than straight.  I think that is a better cutting layout for my body, as a straight grain at CF with extreme bias at the side seams can stick out at the hips rather than flow over them.

Mend on right side

Fail #3:  Cutting a Piece Out of an Existing Piece.  Judging from the blooper threads on PR, accidentally cutting a piece of a pattern out of a large "scrap"--which turns out, of course, to be another piece--is a common misfortune.  However, I generally lay out an entire pattern, then cut it in one fell swoop so I'd never fallen prey to this particular heartbreak.  Until now.  I decided to do a waistband, and though I had only tiny scraps left of my purple silk/rayon I found a nice selvage piece for cutting it. Except that this turned out to be one of my skirt pieces!!!!  Ugh!

I fused a strip of interfacing to the wrong side, carefully butting the cut edges together.  Then I zigzagged it from the right side, making sure the "zig" was on one side of the cut and the "zag" was on the other.  The resulting fix is not at all invisible.  Luckily, the two chiffon layers cover it up so it wasn't a tragedy, but boy was it annoying.

Fail #4:  Waist Measurement Fail.  I am a fanatical tryer-on-er during the sewing process.  Not because I am so fanatical about fit (although I am, a little), but because I'm so impatient to see what the finished product will look like.  I can waste a lot of time with this, and so I guess for this project I was like, "OMG, no!  Don't try the skirt on and twirl around after putting in the zipper but before putting on the waistband!  The waistband will take like 30 minutes, max!  Just do it!"

Before I put the zipper in, I sort of draped the skirt around my waist and it seemed kind of big.  So I put a line of ease-stitching across the top and gently pulled the ease stitching--nothing at all like gathering, just slightly reducing the waistband.

In which reduced waistline I could not, subsequently, breathe.

I think I would do well in a zombie apocalypse, because I jut don't know when to quit.

Apply Petersham Waistband

So I ripped off the $*(@(& waistband.  This time I decided to finish the waist with petersham ribbon, which I had purchased at PA Fabrics Outlet.  I used the iron to press it into a curve.  I couldn't find any information on using petersham to finish a waist without a waistband, so I had to make it up.

Topstitch Petersham In Place

I put in a (non-ease) line of stitching in a contrast color 1/4" from the top of the skirt's waist, then used this as a guide for placing the petersham against the right side of the skirt.  Rather than line up the edges, I offset the petersham, so that when folded to the inside I would have only one layer of ribbon.

This actually created a really nice waist finish.  Though I am not certain it would not have stretched out.  Does petersham stretch out?

Now I finally really did try on the skirt, and OMG!!!  So terrible!!!!  The unevenness of the chiffon layers is bad enough, but it was way too short.  It looked ridiculous on me.  The shortness made the side-seam-sticking-out worse and the skirt is about 30 years too young for me.  I was so disappointed--what a waste of this beautiful silk chiffon from the Carol Collection!

Stich on both sides of marked line

The frustrating thing about this was the effort I put into doing *some* things right.  Like the zipper.  I cut the skirt lining with a CB seam, so I could put the zipper in the center back.  I have had enough stiff, sticky-outy side zips that I go to the center back whenever possible.  I didn't want to cut my chiffon layers with CB seams and interrupt the flow, so I created an opening for the zipper.

First, I pinned my two layers together and marked the center back opening line.

I stitched barely on either side of the line by first clicking the needle to the left and running the center of the foot down the line, then turning around at the bottom of the marked line and doing the same thing on the other side.

Fraycheck Zip Opening

I clipped down the marked line, fray checked the cut edges, and zigzagged them when the fray check dried.

Narrow Hem at Zip Opening

Finally, I rolled the edges under in the narrowest possible hem, and pressed well.

Completed Zip Opening in Chiffon

The resulting opening is really nice looking.

Violet Front

After thinking about this fail of a skirt for a while, and realizing there was absolutely no way to save it, I was like, "Wait a minute, 30 years too young for me?  I think I know someone more than 30 years younger than me..."  So I ripped of the petersham waistband (yes, three different waist treatments on this FAIL of a skirt), and turned the skirt down at the waist to create a casing.  Inserted a drawstring with chiffon ends and elastic in the middle, and sent it off to my niece.

While her hair is purple she has requested to be called "Violet."  Violet does not mind the unevenness of the chiffon hems, and the skirt is plenty long on her.  And the twirl factor is much appreciated.  So this fail was snatched from the jaws of defeat, but I am still licking my wounds. Seriously, of all the complicated, difficult things I've made, a simple SKIRT is my undoing?  

As far as I know, the actual pattern is fine.  But I am having a hard time making myself give it another try!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


A word of warning to Apple users who use Flickr for their photos:

I usually use the Flickr uploader, but occasionally it acts up.  So once in a while I upload directly to flickr through iPhoto.  Well, I was cleaning up my iPhoto folders a while back and deleted the Flickr folders; deleting a folder doesn't delete the photos and I don't need them in two places.

It turns out that when you delete a Flickr folder in iPhoto it deletes the live Flickr album!!!!  No warning or by your leave, just poof.  I figured this out when I went to my Butterick 5315 blog post to get the link and all the photos were missing.  So I clicked on the link to the Flickr set and it had disappeared.  And the Catch-22 is that because deleting a folder doesn't delete the photos, the Flickr set wasn't available to just restore from trash--the only thing trashed was an overlay of organization.  Ugh!

I had to re-upload the set and then extremely tediously replace all the URLs in the post with the new URLs and then do the same thing for the PR review.  What a useless way to spend an hour.  I can't remember what other sets I had uploaded using iPhoto; if you run across post from me with all the photos missing please let me know.


Anonymous said...

I so feel for you. My last disaster destroyed my sewing mojo and I have not successfully completed anything more than sewing on a button in several months. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful creations and your duds. We cheer you on to your next fabulous and perfect garment while we try to regain confidence with simple refashions and over- dyeing.

Peter Lappin said...

It sounds like you learned a lot, so the experience was not without value.

Plus the skirt looks so cute on "Violet"!

Lucia said...

Ugh! I'm sorry you struggled with this skirt so much. It did result in a very funny post and a very happy niece so not too bad after all. But seriously, I really do appreciate how detailed your posts are, I always learn something from them. This time your mentioning that bias at CF/CB looks better on us pears is a golden nugget, thanks again!

L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L said...

Chiffon is a lovely fabric, but your recent account further confirms my decision never to sew with this fabric. Ever. Okay, maybe not "ever." But pretty damn close.

I've never noticed petersham to stretch out and I've faced the waists of several skirts. I blogged about my method here:

Clio said...

"I cannot even begin to describe how much fail went into this" is one of the best/funniest sentences ever written on a sewing blog. Period. I hope you can laugh about it in the end, too. I think it was an awesome save - what purple haired little girl wouldn't love a flouncey skirt!

Seraphinalina said...

Oh, what a trial! I will say it made for good blog material, I was alternating between "Nooooo!" and "oh that's funny". A happy neice makes for a good ending.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's a bummer that this skirt didn't work for you (and FTR, the "simpler" the project the bigger the fail in my experience), but it looks adorable on your niece, so I think it's totally a win! :-)

Also, I got a "snippet" from Colette patterns talking about using grosgrain ribbon as you did because it doesn't stretch, but I don't know about petersham...but you can definitely keep track of the technique to try with grosgrain next time! :-)

Little Hunting Creek said...

It's on the "easiest" things that I make the biggest errors, maybe because I am working more mindfully on more complicated things? Or maybe it's hubris. Cute skirt, though :)

Carole said...

You certainly made lemonade out of a lemon with this one. Violet must be extremely happy with her new dress up skirt. And you learned that "trying on" is never a waste of time.

Venus de Hilo said...

Great job turning a horrible fail into a fabulous save! Adorable skirt for your neice and good reading for your blog followers!

Am personally acquainted with Fail #3. It's a tough one to recover from.

T. Sedai said...

All's well that ends well? It is too bad this skirt was such a headache to construct, but at least Violet looks super happy in her twirling skirt. I also liked this skirt from the magazine... Though I have noticed that is always seems to be the simple things in sewing that screw me up. Maybe with some different fabric and this experience under your belt you can have another go at it later.

anotheryarn said...

How nice to turn a fail into a save.

On Flickr, I use a mac, though I stopped using iPhoto and I've recently given up on the uploader too. But I was pleasantly surprised by the drag & drop flickr upload on their web interface the last time I used it.

Karin said...

At least someone is enjoying the skirt! Of course, had you known it's ultimate fate, you needn't have toiled over it so diligently. I wouldn't fancy giving this pattern another go either after all that. Although, thinking rationally, it would probably be fine with a more suitable fabric.
No advice on Flickr here, I hardly use it.

Adelaide B said...

I also have those projects where I continue on, even though I know from step one that is is going to fail. Something just turns off in my brain and I continue going even though I should know that nothing I can do is going to fix things. Sigh. I feel your pain.

liza jane said...

Well, I hope you try again. I think a 3/4 circle skirt is a great idea for biking. Glad Violet is able to enjoy the finished product!

Carol said...

What a lovely end to this story!

marysews said...

How cool that you had an appreciated save post-fail!

melissa paruzel said...

I remembered when I was younger and my mum handed me an almost similar skirt. How I loved it. Called it my gypsy skirt as I twirl and swirl, amazed by the fullness. I have to admit, it was worn to death, but it made me love circle skirts.

Lena Merrin said...

Having just sewn a silk chiffon 6-gore skirt myself, I feel your pain! Especially with hem, it just seems to grow, doesn't it

emadethis said...

Ugh, but I hate those days when everything goes to pot. I'm glad you at least found out the very important information about yourself concerning zombie apocalypses. Too funny.

I believe episode #114 (clean finishes for waistbands) on powersewing shows you how to do a petersham waistband. Sandra shows how to add this pretty little button tab at the top of the zipper that I've been meaning to try.

Uta said...

Next time will be perfect so you'd better get to it right away! (Akin to falling off a horse, or bike...) At least it makes for a very entertaining story, and "Violet" is lovely in your skirt!

McVal said...

THat is so much better than pitching it into a corner, never to see the light of day! And she SO looks like she appreciates it!
Good fail...

Mrs. Micawber said...

On the bright side ... the skirt would probably have blown upwards like a wrongside-out umbrella if you wore it for bike-riding. Your modesty has been saved. :)

I think I've had every one of those fails.... Honestly, the hem looks intentionally uneven and kind of boho-stylish.

Lucky Violet to have lavender hair and a silken twirly skirt.

Ripple Dandelion said...

Dear Lord! I feel for you. I bet if you try this one again it will be a raging success. I have a random Simplicity 3/4 circle skirt pattern that I just loves.

Summer said...

Nice save! But still disappointing, and a lot of work. The skirt had such potential on you, though I remember being a little girl with twirly skirts and I'm sure it'll be put to very good use by Violet.

Thanks for the iPhoto heads up, too!

Sufiya said...

I dunno...I actually rather LIKED the uneven hem with the lettuce edging...don't forget: when you cut a circle skirt, there are areas on it that are going to fall ON THE BIAS, so will start to stretch downwards, longer than the rest of the skirt! you must HANG it for 24 hrs to allow this to happen and then recut those spots to match up with the rest, if you want an 'even 'hem.

The diff between petersham and grosgrain ribbon is the fact that on petersham, the edges are not lockstitched so it can be shaped and curved with an iron. This is why it is used for hat headbands and waistbands, as opposed to grosgrain, which has a lockstitched edge and so cannot be shaped in the same way. The way to tell one from the other is to look at the edge; petersham has a 'scalloped' edge and grosgrain has a straight edge.

anne k said...

Sorry for all your pain. BUT! This is one of the funniest posts I've ever read.
Which really shows your sense of humor when facing the grim spectre of a fail. Thank you for sharing.

Marita said...

Kathrina, what a bummer, I know how this feels, just happened to me too with a Drape Drape skirt, in the end I had to toss it because I just couldn't get anywhere with it. I've been too pissed to check what went wrong, was it the fabric that was somehow out of grain or did I mess up something copying the pattern, will try it again soon 'cos dd loves the pattern and I ain't gonna swallow this defeat so easily LOL:)

Circle skirts are always a bit problematic, one always has to hang them before hemming, sometimes I even make them ready otherwise and finish the hem as is with zigzag or serging it then wash and iron it then let it hang and only after that cut and finish it.

Violet seems to be very happy with it so it was not in vain. .....chiffon is a beast, there is no way around it, so don't feel too bad about it.

decapod said...

Cutting chiffon == starch time! Soooo much easier... On straight-grain, I leave the starch in until the garment is finished, but with bias stuff, it would need to be rinsed out before hemming.

Kristy said...

oh dear, what a total pain in the butt (both the skirt and the photos). I feel tired and worn out just reading how much work you put into that skirt. But the good news it will be well loved by Violet, young girls know exactly how to work those twirly skirts!

panavia999 said...

With a new swirly skirt like that, I recommend your niece take belly dancing while the skirt is long. She can just keep growing into it, so not a bad fail.

My Brave True Hero said...

This post catches my attention and I can say that failure is really part of learning. I congratulate you for creating this new dress!

Tracey from Australia said...

Come on Trena!!!! Hurry up and put up another post!!! I'm going through withdrawal!!! Seriously, I've been checking every evening and there's nothing... X.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Hi Tracey-

I've published a few posts since this one! Maybe check in another browser? I know some Wordpress blogs are having trouble with new posts not showing, though I haven't heard it in Blogger.