Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Lackluster Lustrous Skirt

First of all, thank you guys so much for all the congrats and sweet comments on my last post! You all are so encouraging; Walnut has been getting plenty of stroking. And if you haven't entered the giveaway yet, there's still time! I will have the winner posted on Saturday morning.

Grrr...those wrinkles!
In other news, it's been a trying last couple of weeks, sewing-wise. In an effort to challenge myself and stop sewing easy cotton sundresses, I decided to tackle a small piece of polyester satin in my stash. Because, you know, if you're going to practice sewing with slippery, slinky, misbehaving fabrics, the number one choice is a fabric that simultaneously wrinkles, but doesn't hold a crease. It boggles the mind -- you won't make so much as a vague fold when I iron you, but you'll hold that stubborn crinkle that came from Walnut accidentally (or purposefully) sitting on you for five minutes? Well, let me just say that this fabric is possessed with the spirit of Caradhras. Just plain old spiteful. (Here's a random question: what would be the fabric equivalent of the Mines of Moria? What's even worse than polyester satin?)

Hmm...both the mountain and the skirt are vaguely A-line, have silvery parts and bluish parts and darker parts...but so far as I know my skirt isn't on Saruman's side.

Knowing that this fabric would be tricky, I very carefully laid it out, tried my darndest to make sure the grain wasn't wonky, and then cut with a rotary cutter. I switched to a new needle for very lightweight fabrics. I pinned and sewed oh-so-carefully, made a lovely high interfaced waistband, and even took the trouble of seam binding everything (not industriousness on my part, actually, since this fabric frays when you even think about it. You know like how you sneeze when people are talking about you somewhere? This fabric just starts falling apart). And then I decided that what this fabric really wanted was an invisible zipper, so I put in the best one I had ever done. It was actually invisible and everything. Only thing is...

...somehow, despite all of my careful measuring and pinning and sewing, there were two glaring problems: 1) The center back zipper was off-center. 2) One side of the waistband was at least a centimeter higher than the other. What happened?! So I ripped everything out, re-measured and pinned and sewed, and while it was better, it was still off. Lather, rinse, repeat. Still wrong. Friends, I ripped this black, invisible zipper out of polyester satin THREE TIMES. By the end of it I thought I was going to go blind from trying to see black thread on a black base.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.
Now, if this were a movie, the previous scenes would have been a nice, short, two minute montage with some exhilarating music playing in the background, and then I would emerge with a beautifully finished skirt that made me look like a million dollars and then I would go out to a club and meet some hot billionaire. But instead, I ended up with a merely tolerable, not-quite-invisible zipper in a ripply seam (despite interfacing!), and then when I tried the finished skirt on for my husband, he said encouragingly (and I know he meant this to be a compliment), "It looks like you bought it at Forever 21 for $30!" Sigh. Although I guess he's right; Forever 21 is full of polyester garments with ripply zipper insertions and side seams that don't actually hit one's side.

Dubious smile.
Anyway, despite all these troubles, the skirt is wearable, even if it isn't my favorite thing ever. And the whole experience made me feel more confident even more wibbly about working with slippery, drapey, glamorous fabrics. But the positive in all this is knowing that I've matured just a tiny bit as a seamstress -- if this were 2010, I would have thrown the skirt into the trash and not bothered fixing the horrible zipper/waistband; if this were 2011, I would have thrown the skirt into the scrap bag after a second try at the zipper/waistband. But since this is 2012, I gave that skirt multiple tries and persevered, resulting in a wearable garment.

One could actually argue that this is the most wearable of my garments, being that it is neither impractically long and white nor made out of childish fabric. I actually look like a respectable grown-up! That is, if respectable grown-ups are allowed to have wrinkly skirts that hang funny. Although to be honest, when I asked my husband if he could tell what was wrong with it, he replied "It looks really high. Did you mean to make it that high?" So at least to the casual observer who knows that high-waisted skirts are all the rage now (are they really? I'm just declaring it to be so), the zipper and side seam aren't glaringly horrible.

Pattern: None; I sketched a quick A-line skirt with a "center" back zipper
Fabric: 1.5 yards (with a random square missing) of polyester satin from the stash, purchased three years ago (pre-sewing, when I just got fabrics because they looked pretty, or else I never would've gotten polyester)
Notions: Interfacing, invisible zipper, seam binding

I still need to add a hook and eye at the top, but I kind of don't want to look at this skirt anymore for a little bit.

Hours: I'm embarrassed to say I've probably spent about seven hours on this ridiculous thing.
Will you make this again? No way!
Total cost: I don't remember how much this fabric was, but the store I got it at usually sells stuff like this at $2/yd, so the whole skirt was probably about $5 with the zipper. But it was all in my stash already, so it feels free. And it dang well better be, for how much it cost in time!
Final thoughts: I love that it's high-waisted. I love that it skims nicely over my hips. When I'm wearing it I can't see the wonky zipper so I can pretend it's not there. Also this is the first garment I've made in a while where I can see my knees. All in all, not bad, but not great either. 

Turning my face away in shame. But hey, at least I've got fun hair!


  1. It's so pretty! I hate when sewing gets frustrating like that. I started making something and didn't like how it was turning out and there it sits. Need to go back to it next week and take it apart and finish it.

  2. Okay, when you mentioned Carahdras, I KNEW I had to comment. Just finished book one of LOTR! Like Book 1 and 2. Like Fellowship of the Ring. I am proud to say that I understood the reference! This has nothing to do with sewing.

    Secondly, how sweet and ignorant of Eric. =) Such an innocently genuine comment that you can't get angry!

    Also, I just love it. =) And I love watching you grow as a seamstress! In a year, Project Runway?? =D

  3. The thing is no-one will notice this. The fabric looks nice and you rock it.

  4. I saw a reference to your blog from another blog and am so glad that I did! A new follower and loving your blog! You will be my 2012 "learn to sew something I can actually use instead of a quilt!" inspiration haha.

    Ps. you are so stinking adorable no one is EVER going to notice the wrinkly seam, promise!

  5. I truly admire the 2012 you and will try to remember your persistence when I'm about to chuck a garment in the trash, a la 2010 you. Not only do you have swell fun hair, you have an awesome, flattering pattern that you can make up in, say, cotton lawn impeccably.

  6. Wow this looks great and well done to you for not using a pattern, I'd love to be able to do that. And you used a hard fabric to use! You are becoming a real sewing queen! I love your blog and look forward to seeing what else you are making! XxxX


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