Thursday, September 17, 2015

Black watch tiered skirt #7

#1 Blue
#2, 3, 4 Hello Goth! 3 Gray tiered skirts
#5 Household sewing pink and gray tiered skirt
#6 Blue again

Is it a command performance if she isn't royalty?  How about a demand performance?

Anyway, I started with Bad Dad's badly frayed black watch plaid shirt.  Over the years, it had deteriorated from a lightweight canvas to a poplin-like weight and softness.
Auditioning fabrics.
While I was auditioning fabrics, I came across this 1/4 yard scrap of Jinny Beyer quilting cotton.  The last time I bought Jinny Beyer fabric, I was in grad school.  My JB purveyor back then was Elfriede's Fine Fabrics.

I bought this fabric nearly 20 years ago for a green + purple tessellated quilt that now lives with my SIL.  I saved the scrap, moved it to LA, and then moved it back to Boulder--only 1 block from the store where I originally purchased it.  The scrap, in the form of a finished skirt, is going back to LA.

Well-traveled fabric.
Enough about the fabric.  You want to see the finished skirt.  Notice that I swapped out the midnight navy pin dots for a solid black poplin.
Each side has a flash of white.
Another view from a different side.
Spread out on the floor.
I used a pleating foot, set to pleat every 6th stitch.  I made a test sample and got a 1.67 ratio of unpleated to pleated length using a scrap of the swirly quilting cotton.  That was a bit more than I wanted so I increased the stitch length from 2.7 to 2.8 mm.  Mistake.

Machine pleaters work best on fabrics with 'grip' such as quilting cotton.  They pleat much less effectively on slippery fabric such as the fine cotton poplin at the top.

I start with a 9" deep top tier cut at 120-125% of the hip width of the wearer.  The other 3 tiers are 8" deep.  After making the waist casing, I end up with 4 tiers about 7" deep.

Warning:  At a 1.67 ratio, that means a finished hem of ~200".

The recycled shirt fabric will wear out fastest, so arrange those on the bottom.  When they rip, it won't be a major embarrassment.  ;-)

Cut the shirt bottom 9" deep at the center fronts.  The sides curve up so your overall skirt length will be 29-31".  Reuse shirt hems to reduce the amount of hemming you need to do.  Hem the fabric strips attached to the shirt hems before joining them!

If the selvedges are an even tension, leave them in place.  You can use their non-fraying edges and the shirt placket to encase the raw edges of other pieces for a clean finish.
Reuse hem and plackets.
Clean finish in two steps:

  1. Sew the RS of the raw edge to the WS of the clean edge, with the clean edge extending about .5".
  2. Flip the raw edged piece so the RS is behind the clean edged piece and topstitch from the RS.

Pocket flap button resewn after assembly.
Cut the buttons off before assembly because they get in the way.  After assembly, I sewed the button for the pocket flap back on.
Interior view of pocket.
I think inclusion of the pocket is a fun detail.  When you leave pockets on, make sure they land at the unpleated bottom edge or else it will get too bulky.  Set the pleater to 0 when you cross seams and shirt plackets.  You don't need to add pleats and bulk at these places.
Clean-finished interior with one serged vertical seam.
I like the way the selvedge gives a flash of white.
Use selvedges, too.
I bought two t-shirts at Goodwill that perfectly match the skirt.  I plan to make a mock-wrap shirt to complete the outfit.
One of two thrifted shirts perfectly color-matched for top.
DD says that the wabi-sabi rips and frays are an integral part of the design of these skirts.  As they rip, I will layer other fabrics and patch it up as I did here.

This skirt took 5 hours of work time spread over 6 hours of elapsed time.  That's 300 minutes of work for a skirt that is already frayed and will continue to degrade.  This isn't clothing construction; this is performance art.

I've been following Handmade by Carolyn's One year, one outfit project.  She's making an outfit entirely made up of components sourced in her local environment of Western Australia.  That is not easy in this day of globalization.  Zippers and buttons are made in only a few places in the world now.  She's making everything from scratch--right down to carving her own shoe soles from local wood.  I am in awe of everything she does.

My particular performance art shtick* is to see what I can make from castoffs.  Bad dad wore the shirt for years until the visible fraying wasn't fit for public wear.  The small sprigged print is leftover from a quilt project.

The other two fabrics come from odd-jobbers in LA.  The black poplin appears to be a fabric sample used in a wash/shrinkage test and the swirly black/green quilting cotton has small printing flaws.  To most people, the components are textile waste.  To DD, this is her signature look.  To me, this is how I assuage my enviroguilt for living in two places** and flying back and forth.

* Carolyn, I don't mean to call your project shtick.  I'm only saying that my work is shtick.

** To be fair, two-PhD families have a very rough time finding jobs in the same place so this living arrangement isn't something we have control over.  That doesn't make the enviroguilt completely disappear.


  1. Shame it's fraying because it looks EPIC! I love the stories behind each fabric. Hope you are well xxx

  2. Anonymous10:59

    Great looking skirt. Bring on the wabi-sabi. Bring on the boro. The skirt will only get better as it wears out.
    Vancouver Barbara

  3. Anonymous14:03

    This looks like such fun, I wish I had a kid that wanted one! As it is I troll thrift shops looking for presentable shirts for my PhD in training to wear to be fair he's not a candidate for skirt wearing.


    1. I have seen man-skirts and the guys who carry the look off are fierce!


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