Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day7: The Carnival Skirt

Hooray! Skirt 7 is finished and I think I finally pushed away the fate monster that put up a sturdy fight against my finishing this 7-day-turned-2-week challenge. I broke three needles in 30 minutes last night, but the results are awesome. This Carnival Skirt is among my favorites in the challenge.

I had a hard time finding a name for this skirt. It's made of scraps, so I though about channeling Tim Gunn and calling it the "Make It Work" skirt. I figured that since the shape is so whimsical and the fabric possibilities are endless, it just seemed like a great piece to wear to a carnival. The wonderful thing about this skirt is you can make it from relatively little fabric if you're willing to get creative. There are many methods of making a ruffled skirt, including one that requires cutting strips of lining and sandwiching the ruffles between to enclose the seams, but since I'm offering simple skirts here this week, I'll show you a basic, easy way to achieve the same effect.

Supplies (for a size 5 girl's skirt)
1/3 yard of lining fabric
1/4 yard of top ruffle/yoke fabric
1/8 yard each of 3 ruffle fabrics
Thread to match (note: I used black thread on all of my fabrics because I like the contrast, but you may want to use matching thread on each ruffle)
1/2" wide elastic for waistband

Determine the desired finished measurements of your skirt. Mine were 14" long and 19" around the waist.

Make a yoke for your skirt by multiplying your waist measurement by 1.5 and divide it by 2. Since I hate math and try to keep calculations as simple as possible, I rounded my waist measurement up to 20, multiplied by 1.5 to get 30, and divided by 2 to get 15. You'll need two yoke pieces (that's why we divided by 2) that are 15" long and 3" wide. Place the two pieces right sides together and stitch the two short ends to make a wide tube.

Serge or zig zag around one of the long edges of the yoke. Fold it over 5/8" and iron it down. Stitch the edge down to make a casing; go all the way around but leave about an inch unsewn so you can insert elastic later.

Next, make your lining. Cut two rectangles of lining fabric that are your waist measurement by length measurement minus 3". This made my rectangles 20x11". Follow the yoke steps to sew the lining pieces together.

Now cut your ruffles. They should all have a length of 4 times your waist measurement. Cut the bottom ruffle 3.5" wide, the middle 2 ruffles 4" wide, and the top ruffle 6" wide.

Now do the same thing to each of the ruffles that you did to the yoke and lining and you'll end up with four really wide, short tubes. Serge or zigzag around each of the long edges except the top edge of the wide ruffle (so yes, that's 7 really long rows of stitching...sorry!) to prevent fraying.

Now iron one of those edges up toward the inside of the fabric and stitch around it to hem. If you prefer to have a rolled hem, add 1/4" to the width of the ruffles when you cut and fold it twice in this step. Hem all four ruffles.

Sew a gathering stitch (set your machine to its longest stitch length and don't backstitch) all the way around the non-hemmed edge of your ruffles and the top edge of your lining. Leave some long tails when you cut it from your machine and pull the bobbin thread to gather all of the ruffles until they are the same width as your lining.

Take your bottom ruffle and slide it over the bottom of the lining. Flip the ruffle up so you can see the wrong side of the ruffle and the raw edge of the lining meets the top edge (now at the bottom) of the ruffle. Align the side seams of the lining with the side seams of the ruffle and pin in place. Now, remember our mantra from the bubble skirt tutorial? Right sides together, gathers on top? Well...use that process to sew this ruffle on as well. Stitch around the edge of the ruffle and lining. Then flip the ruffle back down and you'll have this:

Grab a ruler and a fabric pen with disappearing ink (or if you're like me, a plain old ball point pen...I'm ghetto). Measure up 2.5" from the seam where the bottom ruffle meets the lining and draw a line straight across. Measure up 2.5" from that line and draw another line, and finally, measure up 5" from the second line you drew. Flip the lining over and do the same thing to the other side so you have guidelines all the way around the lining.

You should have about an inch left above the top line and that is a good thing. We'll use that later.

Pin your third (second-from-bottom) ruffle to the lining along the first line you drew. Be sure to line up the side seams like you did before. Don't flip this ruffle up, just topstitch the ruffle to the lining all the way around.

Proceed with the second and first ruffles the same way. Be sure your topstitching on the first ruffle isn't covering the gathering stitch at the top of the lining.

Now, gather the lining until it is equally as wide as the yoke you made earlier.

Turn the yoke inside out and slip it down over the top ruffle. Align the raw edges and pin, ensuring your seam will go over the gathered edge of your first ruffle. You'll have lining fabric sticking out beyond the seam, and that's okay. You can serge it off when you sew everything together or trim it off afterward.

Sew all the way around this seam and clip threads. Flip the yoke up, turn the skirt inside out, and iron the seam allowance from the seam you just sewed up toward the waistband. Stitch around the skirt, using the seam from the top ruffle and lining as a guide for your presser foot.

Sew about 1/4" from the seam and you'll get something that looks like this on the right side:

Cut your elastic 1 inch longer than your waist measurement and use a safety pin to thread your elastic into the casing.

Sew it together, pull it in, and evenly distribute the fabric around the waistband. Stitch the casing shut, trim any excess thread hanging from the skirt, and give it a good shake to make the ruffles lie smoothly.

If you've got an adorable five-year-old with a quirky but awesome fashion sense (she chose the pink striped top) who loves to climb, throw the skirt on her and watch the magic happen. Chances are she'll be spinning and shaking her booty and dancing all over the place, and she will love the skirt so much that she won't take it off.

Thanks for checking in each day of my skirt challenge and for being patient these last two days, er, weeks. I'm already working on my next challenge and it's going to be a good one!

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