Monday, April 26, 2010

Unsuitable for obvious stripes

Actually, it says, "View A,B: Unsuitable for obvious diagonals, plaids, or stripes."
So why do they illustrate view B with a striped fabric?  The warning didn't deter me in Unsuitable for plaids or stripes so I plowed ahead.
That looked awfully short on the left side, so I took the triangle-shaped leftover pieces and sewed them to the selvedge edges of the skirt in an enclosed seam.  If you do this, bias garments take only a little bit more fabric than straight of grain ones.  But the drape is so much better.  I left the selvedge fringe on the outside for visual oomph.
Before I roughly trimmed the hem, I steam-ironed it strenusously, pulling it lengthwise.  Then I pin-basted the skirt, sprayed it generously with a mister, and left it on my dress dummy for a week.  You can see it on the dummy, peeking out under this vest that I knitted in ~2001 (from a circa 1983 pattern).

The linen just grew and grew.  In the end, I realized that I didn't need to sew the extensions on at all.  It would have been long enough on the left front side.
An obvious stripe would obviously not match at the side seam. I'm not really bothered by it. Unbalanced stripes and plaids are not for perfectionists because they will never match perfectly at all the seams.  Just aim for a visually pleasing effect.
Here's the back (with center back chalk marking).  Did I tell you how much I love the stripes in this skirt?

Bias Tips
  1. Bias garments do not have to be fabric hogs if you sew the leftover triangles to the opposite side.
  2. Use extra wide seam allowances, 1" if you have enough fabric
  3. Iron the pieces and stretch them lengthwise (with plenty of steam)
  4. Pin or thread baste the pieces together and hang them up to let gravity do its thing.  This works better on a three-dimensional form like a dress dummy or a human.  Dampen the fabric.  Add some weight to the hem.  Let it hang for at least a day, preferably a week.  This is why you should buy a dress dummy.
  5. Try the basted and stretched garment on for size, adjust the basted seams.  Roughly trim the hem.
  6. Fuse 3/4" wide strips of interfacing to the seam allowances from waist to below the widest part of your hips.  This helps prevent bulges and wavy seams at the hips.  I remembered to do this because I read this transcript.  It is well worth your time to read it, too.
  7. Now you are ready to sew! Sew the side seam up to the zipper opening.
  8. Insert a zipper using your favorite method.  I used Kathleen's centered zipper method.  Then I pick-stitched down both sides of the zipper by hand.
  9. Sew up the other seam and attach the waistband.  (This one has an easy and non-bulky grosgrain finish.)
  10. Put the skirt back on the dummy and mark the hem for real.  I serged 1/2" beyond the hemline, then ironed up the hem and topstitched it down.
Not too shabby for 2 hours of prep time, 2 hours of sewing time, and a week to allow the fabric to relax and grow.  I don't have much time to sew during the week anyway.

I made a matching top, Vogue 8657, and zero waste shorts with the rest of the 3-yards of 54" wide linen.  The full pattern review is here.

When I met Peter in NYC, I was surprised to learn that he really is a beginner.  He is so prolific and adventurous, I forgot that he learned to sew less than a year ago.  I tried to give him tips for working on the bias, particularly in rayon, and he asked me why I would bother if it was such a pain.  I was in such a rush, I didn't have enough time to explain.

Bias behaves differently than the straight of grain.  I had bought this fabric to make this sheath dress, but it didn't feel right to me.  It laid on the cutting table for two weeks because I couldn't commit to cutting it for that style.  I picked up the fabric, draped it around my body, and instantly knew I wanted to turn it into a bias skirt.  Home sewing is a journey, and constructing bias garments is taking the longer scenic route.

BTW, Peter said that I was a very focused shopper.  He didn't realize that I was shopping on deadline.  Bad Dad kept calling my cell phone to tell me his ETA with a hungry and cranky child.  I knew that I had a very short amount of time if I also intended to hit the FIT museum and get her fed before she had a meltdown.  I am not embarrassed to say I spent $150, including shipping, for 7 cuts of very nice fabrics.  When I am in NYC again, I will surely make time to visit Kashi at Metro textiles.  (Kashi, who has a BS in electrical engineering, claims that Quantum Mechanics never made sense to him in college.  Next time, I will have to allow enough time for QM office hours.)


  1. Thanks for the tips on working on the bias! This will be really useful for a vintage skirt in my stash. And $150 isn't bad at all. :)

  2. I love your striped skirt! Just the kind of thing I like. You're right, it really didn't want to be a dress

  3. $150 is nothing. One skirt could be $150, these days! It is a lovely skirt.

  4. It is a really lovely skirt, and it obviously did not want to be a dress. Using the leftover triangles had temporarily slipped out of my mind and the technique is lovely here. (I am sure my memory would have dredged it up as soon as I needed extra fabric on a bias garment).

    $150 is nothing and Kashi is great.


Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.