Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Perfecting the Pencil Skirt

Last month The Cupcake Goddess did a comprehensive multi-part tutorial on how to sew a perfect pencil skirt.  Her tutorial included adding a back vent.  I couldn't wait to try it out!

I'm using McCall's 3830; I have previously sewn this skirt, but after wearing the earlier version a few times, I've determined that the fit could be improved.

McCall's 3830

The fashion fabric is a very dark navy Vera Wang poly suiting (purchased from fabric.com last spring during its Vera Wang $1.95/yard fire sale).



The lining is vintage Aquascutum lining fabric snagged on Ebay (oh, the fabulously random items that can be found there!).



I am about half-way there, and am excited to see how the vent turns out (assuming I can determine how to attach the lining and fashion fabric vents together, which looks to be the trickiest part). 




I would like to draft a godet for my next pencil skirt; I think it's another elegant way to finish a hem slit. 



The classic reference book Vogue Sewing (which my sister fortuitously gave me as a gift years ago, well before I started garment sewing) has really good instructions on how to insert one. 

I actually learned about godets from Project Runway: a contestant was discussing her hem finish, and another contestant - who was not professionally trained - lamented that he did not even know what a godet was.  I didn't either, so I looked it up! 
  
* * *

It was a Wadder Weekend for me.  The second in a row, actually.  I planned to make a dress from an amazing graphic silk, but the bodice just wasn't working with the lightweight silk.  I used the silk instead for a simple shell with Simplicity 2599, which I've made before, but the armhole facings did not attach properly.  I had already trimmed the seams and understitched, and needle marks will not come out of silk.  It was time to just let this material go.

Argh.  Really, isn't it just awful - gut-wrenching -  when you spend hours cutting, stitching, trimming, and the garment does not work?  My husband noted that I can always learn something from a failed project; when I retorted that I knew what I did - I clearly did not mark the facings properly - he indicated that I can learn not to be sloppy.  Ouch.  But you know, he's right.  No more cutting corners on pattern markings!  Sad it's taken me over a year to internalize that...

22 comments:

Doreen said...

I looked at the pattern you used on the silk shell. What do you fail to mark correctly? The only thing I can think of is the matching dots or the notches. But in this pattern neither is actually needed. The shoulder seam and side seam should line up and can be used as such.

Couldn't you salvage the silk shell by using bias fold-over tape made either from the blouse fabric or coordinating silk rather than the facing. It would be possible to even cover the stitch holes if you placed the bias tape on the right side of the shell rather than the back.

Your skirt looks very nice. I love the fabric!

Rebecca said...

I feel ya on the wadder. I spent a couple of hours today cutting out a knit only to realize it was horribly printed off grain. And I cut it out in the wrong size. Oh well. We win some and lose some. Good luck with the pencil skirt. I have used that pattern too. Can't wait to see how the vent turns out.

MushyWear said...

Hang in there. The skirt and fabric you are currently working with looks lovely. Can't wait to see it!

AllisonC said...

Sorry about the wadder, like Doreen said though I often skip facings and use a bias strip to either bind or face it and I use no markings whatsoever - maybe its not to late to add a binding to your sleeves that covers the needle holes, or a ribbon trim? The skirt is looking good though!

Tasia said...

Oh no, a wadder weekend! It happens to everyone. I've made some real duds in my sewing history as well.. and even though you know you're not alone it still sucks!!
The pencil skirt looks totally lovely! And I like the godet idea, too. It's easy to sew and it will swish nicely when you walk :)

toy said...

wadders do suck, but it happens every once in a while to the best of us
I hope you skirt turns out great, I love a good pencil skirt.

Toria said...

Oh no, wadders are so soul destroying but your skirt's looking fab and the godet is a great idea, it'll look so stylish. Can't wait to see it finished.

Eugenia said...

Sorry about the wadders - it's SO frustrating when that happens! However, I'm sure that your pencil skirt is going to look wonderful and make up for your wadder weekend.

Karin said...

Never mind about the wadder. The pencil skirt will be fabulous! The fabric is great and it kills me that you got it for $1.95/yd. When I buy fabric at that price it looks like, well, it looks like I paid $1.95/yd! I have never seen a godet on a pencil skirt what a neat idea.

Sheila said...

Great pattern for a lovely fabric and just forget about that wadder because your skirt is looking good.

Margie said...

your husband and my husband sound very similar...lol. When I'm in the depths of despair over a project he'll tell me "you always measure twice, cut once". Wise yes, but usually just the wrong moment to mention.

Valerie'sownsewingblog said...

I feel for you and the disappointment over your wadder,on silk no less. Maybe you can save it. Who will look at a few needle marks?
I hardly ever bother with notches any more except on the backs of sleeves, bodice pieces, facings - the back of everything. Can you tell I've been there ;)

knottygnome said...

yeah i can be lazy with markings too but i'm trying to be better about it. i've recently learned that i hate facings in general, so hopefully the advice you've gotten from others will pan out?

love the pencil skirt!

[patty the snug bug] said...

Hey there! Good luck with the pencil skirt! I just wanted to comment that I (she of very lazy, not precise cutting) followed Cupcake's most excellent tutorial too and had a HORRIBLE TIME!! I attached the lining to the vent (it's magic!) but then when I attached to the waist, it hiked up the skirt. there wasn't enough length to the lining above the vent.

Of course, i 'thought' I'd cut out the pieces exactly the same, but you know how it is (this skirt had princess seams, allowing for more chances of fabric sliding around!)

I took apart, basted the lining and skirt together at the waist, and had to do some minor surgury to the vent cutting on the lining to get everthing to work!

Nancy said...

I know I know. It's heartbreaking when something doesn't work out, but your hubby is right. You do learn from your mistakes. Keep up the good work.

Angela said...

Your pencil skirt is looking good! I need to add more of those to my wardrobe. I know what you mean about failed projects, but you really do learn to not make the same mistake again because it's so painful! I'm sorry you had to experience that with silk!

Cennetta said...

Rats, wadders. I know your pain oh too well. I like I had about seven of them this summer. Just didn't share all of them on my blog. Like you, I'm adding pencil skirts to my fall wardrobe, with at least three planned for me and a couple for my DD. They are a great staple.
C

Karin van D. said...

I love the idea of the godet in the pencil skirt. I think it will be a wonderful touch. And so sorry to hear about that wadder. I hate it when that happens after you spent lots of time lovingly working on a garment. Argh.

amber said...

Ugh, I hate wadders! I had one right before our trip, which was such a bummer. The skirt is looking so good though and I can't wait to see the finished garment. Oh, and I fully support a godet in the next version. :)

Carolyn said...

The skirt pattern and fabric look really promising, I look forward to seeing your no-doubt fabulous result! I really like the idea of a godet in the skirt. It's so depressing if something is not working out the way you envisioned it, but taking it apart, studying it and MAKING it work (goddammit!) is sometimes how you really learn how to do a thing. Good on you for persisting with your project!

Miss Fitz said...

condolences. yes, i also hate it. and my sewing time is so small i find myself now hesitating to start new things that are only going, after many hours and bad words, to end up in the scrap bin. good job Learning though. and love your random lining.

Marisol Osorio said...

thank you very much, I sirbio much your advice:)