Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Plum Pencil Skirt and Just Wing It Blouse

Today’s projects are the result of a collision between limited fabric yardage and an ambitious imagination.

These two pieces weren't meant to be worn together, but it appears that they can be!

The skirt is from a small piece of brocade that I picked up at our local discount fabric warehouse. It was originally supposed to become a purse lining, but the more I looked at it, the more I wanted to it end up in a visible garment and not hidden away in the grungy depths of a purse.

The biggest issue was that I had only 30 inches of this 54” fabric, so it was going to have to be a very small skirt.

I grabbed my simplest pencil skirt pattern, which happens to be this one

And made view A, without any fancy pockets or panels. The pattern fit easily on the width of fabric and allowed me to make sure the diagonal stripes were all going in the same direction around the skirt. Of course with only 30 inches in length, it came up a bit short, at least for me. The waistband is made from a piece of crepe-backed satin in the same plum color, with the crepe side turned out.

The blouse (actually a tunic) really took some weird directions on its short path to completion.

It started as a poly georgette bolt-end from the same discount warehouse. It was a border print with the black-and-purple paisleys along one selvedge and the rest in a solid medium gray. It was discounted because of a number of dye splotches where the reddish-purple colors had slid off onto the gray. So the gray portion, which comprised about 2/3 of the piece, was unusable. Still, with 2 ½ yards of fabric, I knew I could use the wide paisley border strip for something.

I thought this would be perfect.

The straight, fairly narrow pattern pieces would fit perfectly on the good parts of the fabric, and I could discard or find another use for the bad parts. Well, I searched my pattern boxes, and my shelves, and my fabric piles, and several other places and I CAN’T FIND THIS PATTERN!!! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – even with all the recent destash activity, the sewing room is a warren of little hiding places and I may not find the pattern for years.

Frustrating, but after looking at the pattern picture, I realized that it isn’t much more than 4 big rectangles: front rectangle sewn to back rectangle, and sleeve rectangles sewn to the sides. I could definitely do that!

My next episode of inventiveness provided yet another idea: since I’d need to wear something under this sheer fabric, why not sew it together in double layers? That would also make use of the dye-stained gray parts of the fabric.

After all the cutting and sewing and muttering, I ended up with this.
The front and back are two very long rectangles cut cross-grain with the gray selvedge at one end and the paisley border at the other. Each long rectangle is folded at the edge of the border print, and the excess gray hangs down under the paisley. The tops of the folds are sewn together at each edge to create shoulder seams. Two more rectangles were cut at sleeve length and attached with the cut edge to the shoulder and the selvedge at the wrist. The side seams were sewn all in one go with the sleeve seams. The black selvedge of the border has a slightly fringed effect and I liked that as an edge, so no hem was necessary. The gray under-layer hung down so low it could have been a short dress, and I wanted more of a hip-length tunic, so I hemmed a couple of inches. With the hems finished and all the seam allowances beaten into submission by a vigorous zig-zagging, I did the final fitting and noticed…

Can you tell?I had sewed one of the sleeves wrong-side-out. I screamed, and nearly put the whole thing in the trash. No way was I going to remove all the seams and zigzagging from this stupid georgette! After feeling sorry for myself for a bit, I finally realized that the inside/outside difference is nearly imperceptible - at least I’m going to tell myself that - and so it is wearable.

So that's what happens when I try to just wing it. Never a dull moment here!


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