Mar
09
2010

  Skirt Is A Hit

I ran some errands on Saturday, including a stop by the fabric shop to get material to make a ballet skirt. I was in luck-- prom fabrics were on sale, so I picked out 1.5 yards in two different sheer fabrics. I figured I'd make a skirt in white as a practice skirt, since I already had white thread in my serger, I wouldn't have to fool with re-threading the thing. The other fabric I got is sheer pink with satin pink daisies on it-- very pretty.

Here's how my first skirt turned out:

It didn't take too long to make, but I can't say it was easy. Although it did turn out to be easier than I expected it to be, since I expected it to be a nightmare to work with the sheer fabric.

I spent a fair amount of time doing the math to figure out how big to cut the circle skirt, and then to decide how I was going to cut it evenly since it's not a true circle-- ballet skirts are short in front and longer in the back. And they are wrapped, with the overlap in the front.

Fortunately, I did the math correctly, and the skirt was reasonably close when I held it up after I cut it out. I did have to change the curve down from the front, and shorten the sides, but I purposely cut it out a little too big so I'd have room to make shape corrections. I also had to even it out the second time around. I guess the first time the fabric slipped when I was cutting it, since one side was way different than the other. That's pretty much the sort of thing I expect when working with slippery fabric, and so that part was as difficult as I expected. When I adjusted the cut, I put A LOT of pins in the folded fabric, and that worked. I did my best to pin in the parts that I would cut out, since I didn't want holes in the sheer fabric of the skirt.

I was just going to use the standard overlock until I read the manual for the serger. The rolled hem threading was the same as for the standard stitch, minus one thread and needle. Since I felt comfortable taking a thread and needle OUT of the machine (I am still not so sure about putting new thread INTO the machine, I don't have my owner's class until later this week), I went ahead and gave the rolled hem a try. I tried it on a scrap, and to my amazement, it worked perfectly the first time!

I put a rolled hem all the way around the skirt, then used my regular sewing machine to attach the skirt to a ribbon for the waistband (I used an overlock zigzag). The ribbon didn't want to stay lined up on my waist, so I then made some loops out of ribbon and hand-sewed them to the waist to keep the wrap-tie looking neat. I had wanted to put in a buttonhole for one side of the wrap, like on a normal wrap skirt or dress, but I tried sewing a buttonhole in the ribbon (practiced on scrap), and it was impossible for me to get it to look good, so I settled for the loops.

And that's it! I was able to put the whole thing together yesterday afternoon. It took less than an hour, excluding the hand-sewing. I think hand-sewing all the loops probably added another 30 minutes to an hour, I wasn't watching the clock so I'm not sure.

I wore it to ballet class tonight, and got many compliments. I think for the next skirt, I'll aim for slightly less overlap in the front, and I'll have the skirt come up shorter in the front as well, so there is more of a pronounced difference between the front and back lengths.

I think elastic would be better for me than just the wrapped ribbon, and I mentioned that to the other ladies in class when we were in the dressing room. The consensus from the ballerinas was that only kids skirts have elastic since it's much easier to put on, but all adult ballet skirts are wrapped.

I gave that some thought during the drive out to Bunko after ballet class. I figure that the main reason elastic is to be avoided is because it would create gathers at the waist that would spoil the look if it was a typical elastic waistband. But I had a brainstorm-- what if I could create a skirt with a hidden, floating elastic waist, underneath the traditional ribbon of the wrapped skirt? I might not even need elastic the whole way around, I might be able to just put it in the front, where the overlap is. And while I didn't think of this earlier, it just occurred to me I could still keep it a wrap skirt (rather than a faux-wrap) if I had a hook or button or something for the elastic. This may be something I might need to try several variations to see what's comfortable. I could just mock-up some waistbands without the skirt and wear them around the house to see if they stay put during normal activity.

I'm sure once I start playing around with the ribbon and elastic, I'll figure something out. Sometimes it's easier for me to just DO something instead of trying to work it out on paper or in my head. But I do know that having just the ribbon tied around my waist holding my skirt up was just a tad less comfortable than I had hoped. It's got to be reasonably tight so it doesn't creep up my belly to near my ribcage. I suspect slimmer dancers don't have the same problem, so the ribbon is fine for them. But I'm going to figure out a couture solution for myself.