One of my goals for the first quarter of 2012 was to make a skirt — something I did indeed accomplish, but never posted about it until now! I used this easy maternity skirt tutorial, but the only thing that really makes it maternity is the elastic waistband so you don’t have to be pregnant to wear it. Here’s the finished product:
I couldn’t find the ruffled elastic mentioned in the tutorial, so I just got 3-inch wide white elastic. You can’t see the waistband in these photos, but it worked just fine. (You also can’t see how the fabric is gathered a bit around the waist thanks to the elastic. You can see that better in the photos on the original tutorial, if you’re interested.)
The fabric is a “linen look” polyester/rayon blend that I found at Joann’s. (In retrospect, it perhaps wasn’t the best fabric to choose since even though it’s not actually linen, it still wrinkles almost as bad as linen. Oh well!) It’s stretchy, which is what I wanted, but the stretchiness presented a new challenge when sewing. I first sewed all the seams using a zig zag stitch, which was recommended on several sites and tutorials for stretch fabrics. But after I wore the skirt for the first time (to Easter dinner at Kelly and John’s house) back in April, I noticed that the fabric along the side seam had pulled apart in an undesirable way. This didn’t happen on the top seam where the fabric meets the elastic waistband; it only happened on the side seam, which sort of makes sense since that’s the part that gets pulled when I walk. The seam was still solid, but you could see all of the stitches:
See what I mean? That’s the outside of the seam, and the fabric pulled across each zig and zag! No good — I don’t want to see all those stitches on the outside. So after that first wearing, I put the skirt on my “to do” pile and it sat for several weeks until I finally decided to figure out how to fix it last week.
I took some scraps of the same fabric, consulted the manual for my sewing machines, and started playing around with some of the different stitch settings. I tried two overcasting stitches — one that I’d already used but only to neaten the raw edges of the fabric, and one that said it was specifically for stretch fabrics. I also tried what the manual called a “stretch stitch.”
I turned each piece right-side-out again and pulled on the fabric to see what happened. Each of these stitches produced MUCH better results than a plain zig zag stitch! (So why do all the tutorials say to use a zig zag on stretch fabric?? I doubt I’ll ever use it again for that purpose.) I thought the overcasting stitch meant for stretch fabrics looked the best — not surprising given the description of the stitch, right? — so I got friendly with my seam ripper, removed the old sewing, and used the new stitch setting to re-sew the side seam of the skirt.
Finally I had to re-hem the skirt, which was a pain in the butt. It had taken me several attempts the first time around to sew a blind hem I was happy with, and I had the same issues again this time. When using the blind hem setting on my machine, I just can’t get a consistently good finish — sometimes the needle grabs too much fabric and sometimes not enough. I always feel like I’m really fighting against my machine to get it to work halfway decently. This time around, I finally gave up and decided to just sew the hem by hand. It took a lot longer than using the machine and it still didn’t turn out perfectly, but I was a lot happier with the end result.
Though it didn’t turn out to be quite as easy as the tutorial advertised, I’m pretty happy with how this skirt turned out. Now that I’ve fixed the side seam and sewn a decent blind hem, my only real disappointment is that I don’t think it’s the most flattering skirt for my body. (An A-line usually looks better on me, so I wasn’t totally surprised.) But it looks good enough that I wore it to work last Friday, and could easily wear it on the weekend or out with friends.
Hooray for my first official can-wear-out-of-the-house item of clothing!