Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 4: The Parlor Skirt

Hello skirt lovers. Don't forget to check out the tutorials from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

Wow. What a week. I'm having so much fun making these skirts; sewing has been like a sweet respite from reality. My kids must sense that school is upon us, because even the little ones are acting especially unruly and unpleasant. Additionally, I'm preparing for a new season of cheer (coaching all-stars is my occupation) which is busy. This morning, my oldest daughter had an ENT appointment to have her adenoids examined and ended up needing X-rays at the hospital (and the three other kids tagged along all morning...sigh).

To top it all off, my husband's sweet Grandpa Smith died today, which was expected but still very hard. He was a remarkable surgeon, WWII veteran, generous, sincere, and jovial. My husband was very close to him and things just won't be the same without him here. I know that we will see Grandpa again someday, so I feel comfort and peace knowing he's in heaven with Grandma and enjoying being free from his old, feeble body.

I digress, however. Skirts are why we're here and I'm happy to announce that today's skirt is fabulous!

I mean, I could swoon over these details all day! The little bows are my favorite, but the ruching, the stripes, that flat-front waist, and the ginormous sash in back all add up to a sweet helping of delicious cuteness. I can't wait for my daughters to see them!

1/2 yard of bottom weight fabric (45" wide)
2/3 yard of contrast fabric for trim (45" wide)
1/2 yard lightweight interfacing if your trim fabric is delicate
1/2" wide elastic
12" of 1/4" wide elastic
Thread to match

Find the measurements for your skirt. You'll need a waist and length measurement. I used 22" for the waist and 16" for the skirt. Since we'll be ruching, add 1 1/2" to your regular length.

Cut two skirt panels using these measurements (so you'll end up with a total skirt width that is twice your waist measurement). Then, cut the following from the trim fabric: cut a 6" wide strip from one of the short ends of the fabric for the waistband. It needs to be long enough to equal half of the waist measurement plus 2" (so mine was 13"). Then, cut two strips of trim fabric that are 6" wide and 30" long to make the sash. You'll also need a strip that is 2" wide and twice-plus-2" your waist measurement (so mine was the entire 45"). Last, cut four strips of fabric that are 3" by 12" for the bows.

Note: instead of using trim fabric for the hem of the skirt, you can use pre-made double fold bias tape. It's cheap and easy!

If your trim fabric needs interfacing to give it more body (mine did), cut interfacing for the waistband and the sash pieces. Make them 5" wide and as long as the fabric pieces. Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of your trim pieces according to the
manufacturer's instructions. Leave 1/2" margin on the long sides, like this:

Take waistband and sash pieces and fold the 1/2" margin in toward the interfacing. Iron the fold and continue down both sides. Then, fold the fabric in half to make a 3" band of fabric with right sides on both sides. Here's a helpful hint: when you fold the band of fabric in half, don't line up the edges perfectly. Leave a tiny edge peeking out on the bottom side. This will make it easy to catch the underside when you top stitch later. Use this technique throughout he process to make things quick and easy.

Take the sash pieces and cut one end at a 45' angle.

Unfold the cut end and turn it in 1/2". Iron it down.

Fold the other edge in 1/2" and iron. Trim the excess fabric at the point to reduce bulk. Refold the end of the sash and iron again to secure the new folds.

Stitch around the angled edge and he open long edge of the sash, being sure to keep the slightly wider side of the sash on the bottom.

Take the waistband and line up the folded edge with your presser foot. Topstitch along the top (folded) edge. Then take one skirt panel and make a gathering stitch along the top. Set your stitch length to the longest setting and don't backstitch.

Gather this panel until it is half of your waist measurement plus 2". On the other panel, fold and iron down 5/8" from the top to make a casing.

Stitch the casing down as close to the edge as possible. Cut your 1/2" wide elastic to half of your waist measurement and use a safety pin to pull it through he casing. Don't let the tail slide into the casing, but when it meets the edge, stitch it in place.

Continue threading elastic through to the other side and stitch it down as well. You should end up with a panel that looks like this:

Lay the waistband on the table and open it up. Sandwich the gathered edge of your front panel between the folded-under edges of the waistband and pin.

Topstitch along that edge, aligning the presser foot with the edge of the fabric to make all of the topstitching uniform.

Take the back panel and lay it on the table right side up. Then, take a sash piece and align the non-angled end with the top corner of the elastic panel. Place the front panel on top of the stack right side down. Match everything up in the corner and pin in place.

Follow the same procedure for the other side of the skirt. Sew down each side seam, making sure to catch all three layers under your needle. Trim off excess seam allowance if necessary.

Turn the skirt right side out and lay flat. Trim off the bottom of the front panel so it's even with the back.

If you're not using bias tape, you can make your own (it technically won't be bias tape because the fabric isn't cut on the bias, but for ease of description, I'm calling it bias tape here). Iron the 2" wide strip of trim fabric. Fold in in half lengthwise and iron the fold. Open the fold and fold one edge into the center line and iron down. Continue on the other side. Once your sides are ironed in 1/2", fold the strip in half and iron it down again (remember to leave the bottom layer hanging out a bit). Now you have (not)bias tape to trim your skirt edge. Yay!

Start at one of the side seams on the bottom of the skirt and sandwich the raw edge in the bias tape. Stitch all the way around the skirt and when you get to the starting point, turn the tail of bias tape back on itself to enclose the raw edge of the trim fabric. Stitch it down and trim threads.

Lay the skirt flat again and measure in 4" from the side. Mark the spot with a pin in the bias tape. Mark the front and the back of the skirt with separate pins to make things easy.

Cut your 1/4" wide elastic into 4 equal pieces. Turn the skirt inside out and place one of the pin markers under the presser foot. Lower the needle into the fabric and lift the foot again. Place the end of an elastic segment under the foot and lower it to hold the elastic in place. Zig zag stitch down the elastic while you stretch it as much as you can. The fabric will begin to ruche behind the presser foot, so use both hands to keep everything smooth and tight.

Continue around the skirt. You'll have this on the inside...

...and this on the outside.

You can stop at this point, or you can add bows. To make them, use the 3x12" strips and sew them into long tubes with right sides together. Turn them right side out (this tutorial by Ashley is an awesome trick for turning tubes) and iron them flat with the seam in the center.

Tuck each end in on itself and iron.

Stitch the ends closed. You don't even need to clip threads between tubes, just loop the other end up and keep on sewing.

Clip the threads once all 8 ends are sewn. Lay the tube on the table with seam side up, find the middle of the tube and loop each end in toward the center.

Pin a bow at each ruching point and sew it on with a straight stitch right through the middle.

Like always, iron the entire skirt, tie that billowing sash, and enjoy the darling, parlor-esque charm of this delightful creation.

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  1. LOVE. The bows just *make* this! Visiting from the TT&J linky. I like your blog; gonna look around a little! :)

  2. Cute! I like that it doesn't look like every other skirt out there!

  3. This is adorable! I love the fabric you chose! Your tutorial was right on. Fabulous job!

    I would love to have you share this at my first link party--

  4. Very cute! Love the striped material... and the big bow!

  5. SO adorable! I'm thinking I must make this in MY size for back to school! I just bought some fabric for a skirt and have been looking around and what kind of skirt to make, and I just may have found it! :) Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

  6. This skirt is so adorable. I don't know if I could get one skirt in seven days. You are one busy sewing bee.

    Sorry to hear about your tough day and for your loss.


  7. Natalie - this skirt is simply adorable. The pulled bows are super cute. Fabulous job. Hope you have a wonderful week. ~ Stephanie Lynn

  8. Just wanted to let you know that I featured this today from the Show & Share party! Congrats! Make sure to grab a button!

  9. Love love love this skirt!!!!! I have 2 girls that this will look adorable on! Also your newest follower.


  10. so darling!! i love the colors of the fabric and the style.
    thanks for sharing!
    {love} lauryn @

  11. So adorable! great job! New follower!

  12. I love this skirt!! thank you for sharing :-)

    I have a question though, what type of top are you pairing with this? I think it would be great for our ten year old daughter for her birthday portraits and I'm thinking of using a flat front satin with some lace/ruffle detail but I'm undecided lol

    1. Hi Misty,
      Thank you! My girls have worn this skirt with a fitted turtleneck (in white and in ivory) during the cold months and a fitted cap-sleeve knit top with a small ruffle embellishment at the neck when it's warmer. I also think it'd be adorable with a white, short sleeved button-up shirt (with a Peter Pan collar, maybe?)tucked into it. A simple fitted tank would also be very chic. Good luck!