Monday, August 1, 2016

Finished Object: Charlie Skirt (A Legitimate Saga)

Lord, people, I have no idea where to begin with this drama-filled skirt saga, except to say that I've spent 4 fucking days making a pull-on garment. A faux version of a real thing. And I want my money back.

For starters, do NOT buy this pattern. Not if you're experienced, not if you're a newbie. Buy any other StyleArc Pattern, buy any other pull-on denim skirt. Just stay away from this one. While I generally find StyleArc instructions to be benignly inferior, these instructions are actually harmful. In full disclosure, I eventually threw them away and started using my brain because a) they made NO sense b) the only 2 other online peeps who have written about making this corroborate my perspective (and these are experienced sewists who often sew StyleArc) and c) the instructions produce an end result that actually catches the waistband facing and the side seams and the elastic in the waist seam allowance. In what universe is this good construction?? Non-sewists: This means the waist area would be a bulky mess.

Having said this, I am in no way dissing the drafting, which I actually think is pretty great. Too bad.

Let me cut to the chase: This experience was a successful failure for 3 reasons:
  1. I made the skirt too big and I used the wrong fabric. The end result produced a skirt that was too big in a minimal, but most unattractive way - and unfixable, short of taking apart the entire fucking skirt for a third time. Not gonna happen. I also used the wrong fabric, as it happens. Too much drape, not enough heft. I'm going to need real denim to make this skirt work. The other 2 bloggers who've made this both indicated that the pattern is way too snug for size and that, as a result, it emphasizes the abdomen and hips. I don't quite agree. I actually would have had a perfect fit, minus 4.5" of length, with 20% stretch fabric and an unaltered size 14 (I made an altered-up version - let's call it a 15). Not to second guess these excellent, experienced sewists (and really stylish ladies) but I think the reason that they feel that it's snug for size is because it's a style that totally calls attention to the midsection and they, like I, used relatively light-weight fabric with more stretch than strength. I mean, this garment is pegged. Why on earth I'm making it is beyond me. I'm certainly not looking to emphasize the waist area. But my hips are fairly proportioned and my legs work well with this shape so I am committed - after 30 hours - to get this thing to work.
  2. The construction methodology was whack, but I prevailed! I figured out how to assemble the waistband/elastic such that the end result is as it should be - elastic free from seams, seams clean, facings folded over the elastic on front and back waist. Feel free to ignore this section but below are some notes on it because I've spent a lot of time figuring it out and now I want to see if I can turn it into something wearable. 
  3. Finally, I really learned a LOT. I mean, top stitching (which I'm not good at but which I'm so much better at than I was at the start). My workmanship was pretty good (best hem I've ever coverstitched). My on-the-fly fixes were considered and they worked! I'm better at this craft for having made this skirt. Let's look at a few pictures!

C'mon - this is the freakin' inside of the skirt!!

This is the interior of my coverstitched hem. I free-styled this!

Top stitching is far from perfect but it's acceptable...
FYI - I'm not convinced that I shouldn't just redraft the waistband altogether and affix it differently (like the version I use to make Hudson Pants - I've done a tutorial on this, fyi, just search for it if you'd like to know more). The reason I'm not going to do this is because I'm not entirely sure it would work with a back yoke. I think it would but no harm in trying my modified method one more time...

Readers, please skip over unless you're making this thing, in which case, you're welcome!

Charlie Skirt Order of Operations:
  • Sew darts. Attach back waistbands (yoke) to the top of the back pieces. (Could prob make this easier but it's likely easier to sew the patch pockets on with this order...) No need to serge. Press seams up. Top stitch.
  • Attach the pockets - use lots of fusible tape.
  • Serge back skirt/waistband units to one another, wrong sides together. Press right. Top stitch.
  • Attach faux pockets to the skirt front by sewing. Note: before sewing, serge the pocket curve for more neatness. Also, clip and notch before sewing to ease the curve. 
  • Attach the front left and right pieces: Carefully serge from waist, around the faux fly curve, down to the top of the split. Or serge in the other direction if that's easier...
  • Sew the faux fly stitching (chalk it for alignment). Top stitch the front down to the split.
  • Double turn and sew split on each side. Use tape to facilitate.
  • Cut elastic to preferred size. 1"-wide, use soft elastic... Stitch it into a loop.
  • Chalk 0.5" seam allowances on the side edges of the front waistband. Note: I've altered this piece so that it aligns with the back waistband (yoke) height. It's 1" less deep than the pattern calls for.
  • Fold the front waistband in half, wrong sides together, and press. Chalk the centre line for better visibility when sewing. Affix the elastic such that you stretch it slightly and STOP stitching at 0.5" seam allowance. This must stay free. This side of the waistband represents the side that will face in i.e. into the wrong side).
  • Sew the front facing part of the front waistband to the front skirt, right sides together. Top stitch with the seam pressed up. Note: The inside-facing waistband is left unattached. At this point you have the back yoke affixed to the back skirt and the front yoke affixed to the front skirt - but both "inside" halves of those pieces are still unattached.
  • Align the side seams of the front and back skirt pieces. Carefully ensure that the waistband top stitching is matched. Make sure that the front and back waistband pieces are open. Pin the right sides together. Sew each side from where the waistband is affixed to the skirt (topstitching area) up to the top of the fully extended waistband interior. It will fold over soon but now it's full-height. Avoid the elastic.
  • Serge the side seams from top of the extended waistband to hem.
  • Serge the long edges of the free waistband pieces (front and back). Do not remove any seam allowance. This is just to neaten the edge but you need the full depth. 
  • Ensure that the elastic isn't twisted. Fold down the interior waistbands with the elastic enclosed. Pin the inside waistband pieces (the ones you just neatened) with precision. Stitch in the ditch to sew down the waistband on the inside.
  • Top stitch the side seams.
  • Stitch in ditch to hold down the elastic at the sides and back seams. This will be invisible and will not add bulk.
  • Coverstitch or top stitch the hem at 1".
A few thoughts about the sizing: I actually find StyleArc very true to size. In the past I've made modified 10s and 12s when sewing tops or dresses in jersey. I'm glad I cut the 14, in this instance, because my denim has only 20% stretch and I'd prefer to use a firmer fabric with a larger size pattern than a stretchier fabric with a smaller sized pattern. I mean, I'm the same size either way and I want a firm fabric to support the protrusion of my stomach. In fact, next time I make this I'm going to use more robust fabric and I'll insert a fucking stay! Why not. This is effectively what they do with RTW jeans pockets to keep everything sucked in. I have no idea of what fabric to use for the stay (maybe a stretch twill that is strong but thin?) Anyone else done this? How does it work or where does one find info? I increased the size of the 14 because a) I'd read that this thing fits tight and b) I measured myself and estimated that I'd want 0 negative ease given that I don't like things tight. What I didn't consider is that a pattern that's a bit too big made from a drapey fabric without much heft is, well, inclined to exhibit one's stomach bulge.

So that's my long weekend in a nutshell - well, except for the knitting (which is the topic of my next post). You may be happy to know that the knitting, it went unreservedly well!

1 comment:

  1. That's too bad about the instructions for Charlie skirt! Don't they have to test the whole pattern AND instructions before it's ready to sell?

    Thanks for posting step by step instructions for us. Your skirt looks very sharp!