Monday, August 27, 2012

Simplicity 2211, TNT A Line Skirt

S2211 Thumbnail

I still stand by my statement that a pencil skirt is more flattering for a pear, but a pencil skirt is awfully difficult to ride a bike in.  So I accepted that I was going to need to find the perfect A line skirt.  When I saw Simplicity 2211, a Lisette pattern, I thought it had promise.  Darted skirts can be tricky for me because of my round belly in the front and caboose in the back.  The front darts are usually too much, and the back darts are too little.  The princess lines on this one take the place of darts, so there's no chance of pooching and poking and pointiness.

I've made this skirt three times already, and it got the royal treatment of being traced onto tissue paper and having interfacing fused to the back.  This is an awesome way to preserve a much used pattern.  As a bonus, the interfacing sticks to some kind of fabrics (does anyone else remember flannel boards?) making the cutting layout quicker because it requires fewer pins.  My one real change to the pattern was to add a center back seam and move the zip there.  I find an invisible zip to be tricky in a side seam because it can stick out at the end and make your hips look uneven.

Ribbon Waistline Stay-white
Ribbon Waistline Stay, SilkAs drafted, the skirt is unlined and the waistline is finished with a ribbon.  I prefer to line most of my skirts.  However, the ribbon is key to keeping the waistline from stretching out.  So when sewing the skirt and lining together at the waistline I run a narrow ribbon through the foot and catch it in the stitching.  Apparently, I felt the need to photograph this twice.

Silk Zip at LIning

To keep the waist looking neat with no lining peeking over, for the silk version of the skirt--with a heavier fashion fabric and a lighter lining--I understitched the seam allowance to the facing.

French Seams-White

For the white version, where the lining and fashion fabric were of about equal weight, I topstitched the waistline, catching both the fashion fabric and the lining.

Selvages at zipper

For both versions, I French seamed the lining, using the  selvage for the center back/zipper seam on the silk version.  On the silk version, I placed the lining seams toward the fashion fabric, as per usual.  However, for the white version I wanted to minimize the lining seam show-through and put the French seams toward the body.

White Denim Front
White Denim Back

The first version of this skirt was this disastrous white denim-ish fabric.  It's not my fault that the fabric wrinkles so badly that it's unwearable.  However, the terrible underlining is totally my fault.  Ugh.  This is why the Slapdash Sewist should not underline.

Suffice it to say, pin your underlining to your fashion fabric on a flat surface.

I am showing these photos (which are hot off the sewing machine without ever having been worn--trust me when I tell you how hideous this skirt became after a single wearing and washing) because the heavy denim shows the shape of skirt best.

I have been needing a white skirt forEVER, and finding the right fabric proved quite a trial.  I broke my fabric fast and ordered some online, which turned out to be winter white.  I also splurged on some white Bemberg lining.  Then I found this embroidered fabric at Joann of all places.  Then the Bember lining didn't add anything to the opacity so I ended up using my heavier rayon satin lining (almost gone, I should have bought more than 5 yards) in cream.  Saga.
Seam Samples

Because the fabric is somewhat sheer and the seams were going to show, I experimented with some stitch samples.  I first tried the flat fell, but it was way too bulky.  Then I stitched the seam as per usual, serged the seam allowances together, pressed to one side, and topstitched in place.  Still a little big.  Finally, I just serged the seam, pressed to the side, and topstitched.  Who would have guessed that the easiest and quickest method looked the best?

Pro tip:  Don't topstitch your seam allowances until you put in the zipper and fit the skirt.  You might guess that I am not a pro.

Hem Finish

I did a similar treatment at the hemline, just serged the lower edge, turned it up once, and stitched over the serging.  So easy and yet it looks so nice!

Silk after washing

Another pro tip is to remember to pre-treat your fabric!  I bought this silk suiting at PR Weekend in 2006.  Yes, six years ago.  The time had come!  Anyway, to pre-shrink it, I saturated but did not soak it with water and hung it to dry.  I noticed a couple of spots where the dye ran, but managed to cut around them.  For the rest of the piece, I threw it in the washer for maximum color change and subsequent washability (the joke is on me, because the project I'm working on right now with this fabric will not be washable).  The change was pretty significant.

My note to self was to be sure never to get the skirt wet.  So naturally the first time I wore it I got caught in a HUGE rainstorm and ended up soaking the skirt completely through.  Luckily the color didn't seem to run too much in the rain.

White Front
Silk Front

I still don't love an A line skirt, but this is a great pattern for it--enough hem width to bike in but not out of control unflattering wide.

It works better in a fabric with a little structure, and also with a shorter hemline (I may need to shorten the white one).

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


soisewedthis said...

I am definitely going to try your tip about fusing interfacing to the back of a tissue-traced pattern to preserve a pattern!

Guess i'm not as picky about wrinkles, because i like the version in white denim-ish fabric!! And with your top tucked in, i think it's cute and accentuates your super-tiny waist.

CGCouture said...

I too like the white denim one, but the other versions are very nice as well. :-) And I feel your pain on sewing drama. I've got that going on with my current project too.

Venus de Hilo said...

These skirts are pretty and flattering, and the white denim one is fine for casual wear. (I live in my white denim A-line all summer and it is usually far more wrinkled than your pics!)

Uta said...

Sewing chic yet bike-friendly skirts is as much of a challenge as finding chic yet walk-friendly shoes to go with them! Your skirts are very pretty, and I like the shape and style on you. I'm just glad we sew, and we can search for the best patterns for our bodies and lifestyles!

Virginia at A Sewing Life said...

Glad to see your versions of this skirt! After you mentioned it in a comment on my blog my interest was piqued. It is a very nice style on you. Now that you are so slim and athletic, I think the pencil and the A line are equally flattering to your figure.

liza jane said...

Very pretty! I've only made pencil skirts recently and I've been feeling the need for an a-line skirt. They are so easy to wear. You think of everything when you sew. Smart idea to use the selvage for the seam with the zip. I never quite know how to finish that seam.

T. Sedai said...

Nice! I like the silk version - the fabric looks really pretty. Oh, and thanks for the tip about the ribbon waist stay - super helpful since I want to sew a skirt soon!

Sewing Princess said...

Great skirt. Funny you mention hiding your belly.. Looking at the pictures I was Thinking there's nothing to hide really!

Liz said...

Those skirts are wonderfully flattering on you! You look svelte and professional, but relaxed. A tough line to walk for me.

Thanks for showing the photos of using the ribbon and foot that way. I'm enough of a newbie that I think it's wonderfully cool. I'll be using it soon.

And I like the tip about using fusible interfacing under a tissue pattern. I usually trace all my patterns on examination paper, leaving the original intact, and this would give me a nicer "keeper" copy.

badmomgoodmom said...

So sorry about the learning curve, but you have two super-cute skirts to show for the pain.

I agree with you that a well-fitted pencil skirt can be very flattering, but an A-line is more practical. In fact, my physical therapist taught me that pencil skirts were a large contributor to my hip and lower back pain.

Fuller skirts let my thighs fall open enough to relieve the muscle strain of keeping the thighs close together. It's heard to explain in words, but try it (especially if you have wide hips/pelvis). The decrease in pain by the end of the day is dramatic.

Carol said...

I'm with you on the flattery level of a A line skirt but I agree there are times you need one. I have an almost identical pattern I've used many times over the years and the trick for me was finding the right length. I go a little shorter with an A line that I would a pencil skirt. Just shaving off a little length helped enormously. There is a great BWOF A line pattern with little pockets - I think it's 02-10-104. It's got the right level a A linedness, if that makes any sense.

Summer Flies said...

I think the skirt looks great on - all versions including the white one. I also think the length of the skirt makes a big difference - it looks funny lower than the top of the knee (or higher depending on what you are comfortable with). I have this pattern cut out since last summer so when uni has finished I look forward to making it up. I have to say I LOVE THOSE SHOES!! How cute!

Mrs. Micawber said...

The little silk check one is fabulous - and though the denim-ish one turned out so wrinkly I do like the look very much. Re serging and topstitching - sometimes the easiest way turns out to be the best. :)

What adorable red shoes.

Amy said...

I'm loving the silk check skirt. Great pairing with the shirt. I have seen some nice skirts made with this pattern but I like the versatility you show in the different material.

Sigrid said...

You've found a good alternative for your favorite pencil skirt. Like you said it just has enough width. I know now why a rtw skirt I tried was so horrible, being too wide. I usually wear pencil skirts too.
The fabrics you used are great basics too, the silk is so lovely.

Unknown said...

Your figure looks great, front and back, in the white denim. the Linen skirt looks pro city.

Karin said...

Sure, A line skirts probably aren't going to "set the world on fire" but they are handy to have. I agree the slightly shorter versions in stiffer fabric look the best. They also look best with your top tucked in, I think. Maybe because it shows the smallest part of your waist.

Linda L said...

Great looking skirts!

AnneK said...

Thank you for all the detail you always include. That helps me raise my sewing level. Also, fab red shoes. Are they low-heeled, for which I'm always searching?

Amanda S. said...

I am all too familiar with sewing drama. Sorry to hear about all the frustration but it looks like you finally got the white skirt you were missing. The other one is cute as well.

LinB said...

You could always put the zip in one of the side back -- or side front -- princess seams. There are no Fabric Police to dictate that you have to put your zipper in a center front, center back, or a side seam every time. I put my zips in a side back seam when I sew up this style, so I don't have to slice an accent panel in two (I like to make them with dark side panels, or with some sort of fanciness like a pleated panel or fishtail ruffle at bottom of center back).

Adelaide B said...

I agree that the stiffer fabric looks better, I really like that one a lot. I love an A-line skirt, but I live a pretty informal life. Pencil skirts seem pretty dressy to me, and I don't really have any place to wear them. Maybe I should make one and find out if I can integrate it into my wardrobe.

ReadyThreadSew said...

Brilliant idea for sewing in narrow ribbon as a waist stay. I have a bazillion metres of narrow ribbon from my paper crafting days that I thought was pretty useless for sewing. I've been buying 1" wide ribbon for skirts without waistbands but now I can simply use up some of my old stash of the narrow stuff.

Diane Lowe said...

I love that last photo of you with the A-line skirt and blue top. You look so slender!

Audrey said...

Based on your pictures, I'd say this A line skirt pattern is perfect for a pear shape. All of them look wonderful on you.

Karen said...

I think a line skirts look great on you. I especially like the silk one with the blue top, the detail on the top gives the outfit great balance (does that even make sense?)

pracownia-uszyte said...

I watched your blog and I'm delighted. Sew beautiful things, I envy your skills. I'll be a frequent visitor. Congratulations and ask for more. I know little English, I use Google translator now and hope that you understand me.

Meetzorp said...

I'm a habitual wearer of A-line skirts for that very reason. It doesn't add unnecessary bulk, but it does allow freedom of movement for riding a bike, running up stairs, and otherwise moving around.

I'm constantly in and out of filing cabinets at all heights, and on the run, and I find that moveable trumps flattering most of the time!