Friday, February 25, 2011


The problem with sewing for someone else is that it's as likely to fail as it is when you sew for yourself. Only, now you've raised someone else's expectations and the failure (such as it may be) is squarely on you.

I suspect this skirt will fall into the wadder catgory, despite the fact that I have worked very carefully on it and it looks really nice from the front:

My label was sewn into the inner waistband before assembly, so it doesn't show from the outside. And while I don't love these labels - neither the name (which will not stick) nor the quality - I'm still pleased to have sewn it in in this fashion.

I really tried to make the inside lovely. I catch stitched the hem because I didn't want it to show from the front and because I want to have the latitude to change the length without ripping out a row of top stitches.

See the slip stitched inner waistband:

Alas, this is the craziness that persists in the back - despite the fact that I've re-reviewed the instructions 4 times, to confirm that I didn't misread them:

WTF??? I've decided to leave the garment on my dress form, to see if the pleat will settle. I also think that maybe I've been to literal in my pressing. Perhaps I should have let it fall on its own. I'm afraid to do any more pressing than I've already done. You can see how the fabric is getting close to overworked.

One other thing you probably won't be able to focus on in light of the pleat horror: I am so addicted to my snap setter and pearl snaps. They are so much more fun to insert than buttons. And I think they're sturdier.


  1. Maybe a little steam will relax the pleat? But what will relax the pleater? Tea? Coffee??
    As always, I so admire your perfectionism and attention to detail.

  2. Hmm. Ironing it as it hangs might be in order (can you soften the existing folds with some spritzing with water or something? Alternatively, I know you can understitch pleats to get them to lie flatter/better (Gigi of Behind the Seams has a post on it), perhaps th would work... although it really looks like there's just not enough room for those pleats to lie flat if the skirt-wearer has any derriere to speak of...

    I hope you work it out... this skirt is too cute to lose to a couple of rogue pleats!

  3. Hopefully the pleats in the back will calm down after a couple of days, because the rest of this skirt is too beautiful to throw away. It may not help, but I've noticed that if I don't like the way something is acting I'll throw it in the wash. When it comes out, it's usually much better behaved. I <3 pearl snaps too, my hubby requested them for all of his work shirts, and they are just fun (and stress relieving) to make--and less likely to go wrong than a buttonhole.

  4. Sorry that the skirt didn't work out the way you wanted it to.

    I've been thinking about getting a snap setter. Where did you get yours?

  5. I love the front but I'm with you on the back WTF! I wish I had a suggustion on how to fix it but I wouldn't make it a wadder just yet.

  6. I think this looks superb, and I can't believe how far you've come in so short a time, K. Ease up on yourself! Pleats are difficult! :D


  7. Did you try letting the dog lick it? We hillbillies believe it's a cure-all. The fact that you can sew knocks me off my feet. Putting a sewing machine in front of me is like holding an M1A to my head. I think I'd prefer the M1A. Quick and painless. The sewing machine....not so.

    This skirt is gonna be thumpin'. Hang in there.

  8. It's so cute from the front! Too bad the back is so unruly.. how about steaming out the pleats and re-forming them at a nicer angle? It looks like it's mostly the angle that makes them pull open and not lie down nicely. You could edgestitch them down, but if they tend to pull beforehand, they might still pull at the bottom of the edgestitching.
    Or - always wear a long jacket! :)

  9. I would do the same thing, re-read the instructions 4 times that is.

    I'm sorry Kristin, it's a beautiful skirt but those pleats in back are not cooperating.

    I like the steam idea, and maybe pressing in place.

  10. In totally irritating fashion, left you all replies and then the internet ate them!

    Bel: Hard liquor, at this point :-) But I'm still sick - really feeling lousy - so tea it will have to be.

    T: Thanks for those great tips. I'm going to check out the link!

    CGC: Very good last ditch option but I think the fabric might not like being washed. It's a fancy wool.

    bird: and I totally recommend it!

    Carla: I'm trying not to dispair :-)

    E: You are the voice of reason. I know that I get so caught up in outcomes, I forget to consider what I've learned - and what I'll take with me.

    Libby: Hilarious! And I wish I had a dog!

    T: Whatever I do will have to be without ripping out the waistband. I know that'll never go back together as it is now and I don't want to swap one problem for another. Steaming seems prudent.

    Susan: Oh, the joys of home sewing. You know what I mean :-)

  11. Hmmm, hard to tell from the pic. but I'm guessing the pleat isn't deep enough based on the width of the hips. Does that seem like a possibility? :-)

  12. Hmm, going to the Vogue site and looking at the back image of the pattern the back pleats look to be more pressed as an unsewn dart, not a full on pleat as you have. Pressed to a unsewn dart would allow the point to release it's fullness over the butt which would eliminate the pulls you"re getting.

    I coukd be totally wrong without seeing the directions but that's the way the line drawings look.

  13. Stacy: I really don't know. I've never come across this. I guess this is how seamstresses learn, huh?

    Debbie: Not sure I understand what you're saying but I want to. The instructions show that you sew the back pleats exactly as you sew the front side pleats. It's definitely not a dart scenario. Can you see a way of adjusting the back pleats without undoing the waistband and unsewing the back pleats? I'm not interested enough in the pattern (which has behaved the same for others, apparently) to try and fix it. I def won't sew it again. But it would be nice to salvage the skirt so that I can give it to my sister.

  14. what if you turn the pleats to face the opposite way or make them into normal darts

  15. I've made a few skirts that look fabulous in the front. And suck in the back. Could you rip it off and just make the back a-line?

  16. Anon: That would work, but I'm not interested in taking that extreme a step. I don't think the fabric will hold up well to being pulled apart and reworked. And I just don't love this thing enough to do so.

    Sewn: See above. It does seem likely but I don't feel motivated. I've already spent days on this skirt. If I can't fix it as it is, I'll ditch it. I know the issue isn't me. The skirt is badly drafted. And I'm never going to make it again so I don't feel compelled to solve its inadequacies with labour-intensive fixes.

  17. So beautifully finished -- I really hope you find an easy fix (I love Libby's suggestion -- any dogs you could borrow?)

    Thank you so much for suggesting Citizen Rosebud add my name to her list of over-40 fashionable bloggers -- you are TOO kind. I hope you're feeling better soon, but I'm finding this whatever-it-may-be to be a real bitch. Take it very easy resuming normal activities, I'd say . . .

  18. Without a full back pic I'll give my suggestion but beware it does involve more pressing on something that's already almost over pressed.

    I'll try to explain a bit better. Think of how a dart is sewn. Wide at the beginning and it comes to a point. That point is what releases the fullness of the dart over the bust, where it's needed. Now think of pressing the pleat to mimic the shape of a dart where the fullness would be released at the point allowing it to fit the butt and hang better.

    I know on the previous post you had the pleat pinned all the way down Is it pressed that way or just partially down the back length? My suggestion would be to use an extra thick pressing cloth and lots of steam to press out as much of the pleat as you can. Use a ham to drape the skirt over to press the dart shape (note it will curve to the side seam, not press straight down) and smooth it to shape the dart. By allowing it to curve it should remove what appears to be too much length at the top of the pleat and make it hang better.

    My only other suggestion would be taking the waist apart and pulling the pleat up until the extra fabric lays straight.

    I hope that makes a bit more sense.

  19. Debbie: Thanks so much for that info. Intriguingly, this afternoon I did something quite similar to your first suggestion (I haven't gone to the ham yet, but that will come next). I did steam out the pleat on the dress form and it's hanging much better. I mean, it's not 100%, IMO, but it is 100% better. I will try the dart shape and ham option soon. I really appreciate your comments.

    mater: I have to nominate chicness where I find it :-)