finished: working skirt

I’ve brought the good sewing machine from the city to the cabin. It sews like a dream. Tension is perfect. Still a foot threadle, ofcourse.
As I somehow dread to continue with the toile for the basic sheat dress which will give me at least five dresses for the winter season…. I made a bag and a new working skirt.

My skirt is from sturdy cotton (“keper katoen”, a sturdy twill cotton) and I made one five years ago which I still use. But it’s at its end now. Full of stains and ‘cat love’ (she claws at it with her nails when she’s happy. It’s ok, it’s a working skirt. I usually wear a half woolen tight under it and her sharp claws don’t hurt me. That’s how sturdy this cotton is.)

I used my working dress as a template for the new one. I had some of the same fabric left.
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Can you believe that used to be the same colour?

The top has a red ribbon and I just went over it a few times with the machine. I really had no idea back then. The center back zipper is curved outward here but when I wear it it curves inward, following my own curves.
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Here’s a look at the inside. Even though I did not secure the seams they did not ravel irritably.
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I cut around it, allowing a seam allowance. On the left the zipper I’m going to use. It is a contrasting colour but I’d rather use a zipper I have than a zipper of wrong length or having to go out and get one. Often I salvage zippers from garments that I throw out. Most of the garments I throw out cannot be reused, they are dead.

Back then I did not know about bias. That is why this time the skirt cannot be cut in one piece.
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That’s ok. I tried it on for difference in size and I actually don’t need the wide skirt my former working skirt has. I can easily use the less wider skirt.

Here’s the difference in width. And a sneak peak in how I finished my seams all those years ago:
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For the hem I just folded it over and then sewed a red ribbon to it.

This skirt has seen some serious wear! I felted dirty sheep fleeces in it; sawed trees in it; sat on all kinds of surfaces with it. I never once felt bothered by making it dirty or exposing it to all kinds of abuse. This is a working skirt. I love it. I also love that I gave it a red ribbon, it is a small everyday pleasure.

It’s only this week that this skirt has truely met its end. I was felting bright pink en bright orange wool and the dye was not properly set. It made stains on my skirt.

Well, having cut the skirt I sewed shut the center back seam. I clipped the waistband so it would fold over nice. Then I put in the zipper.
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I used the special zipper foot my machine has. Wonderful tool.
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I took special care to finish everything neatly.

The waist band I folded over, to the right side. I then masked the raw edge with a nice woven band.
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This band comes from Marken, a Dutch town known for its historic dress. Just like Volendam. Only different. I bought it there, on a day celebrating its traditions.
This band is used for people who have lost a distant relative. It’s colours are half dark, indicating ‘half mourning’.

I finished it neatly. Now all that was left was to finish the hem. But first: try it on.

It didn’t fit….

With all the years of wearing and perhaps being cut on the bias, the fabric must have been distorted. The center back was way too high. The zipper bulked up in the small of my back, it looked awful!

The zipper had to come out and the waistband had to be cut…
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On the right you can see how neatly I had worked *snif*
On the left you see how much debris tearing out a seam leaves. I decided to pluck away all those little threads. Because tearing out is bad enough, I don’t need all those little reminders making my work surface look cluttered.

This is how much I had to cut away to have the waist band follow my waist!
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The pins show the line. The whole dress is laying flat, you can see the front band peaking through the zipper slit. That center back is ridiculously high! No wonder it sat all weird and bulgy.
At least I feel somewhat good reworking this without all the little cut threads from the previous photo still hanging around. Like a fresh, new slate.

I cut the fabric, reworked the zipper and the seam and the edge and the ribbon. This time there was not enough ribbon but this is a working skirt, the top will be hidden under my shirts so I don’t mind how this looks. The ribbon is mostly for my own pleasure. A little wave hello when I put on the skirt. And some reinforcement for this somewhat stretchy fabric.
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The zipper looks alright.

The inside. At least the back is now in line with the front (a little nudge of it is peaking out).
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It has more loose threads hanging now as before. That’s a nuisance as they get caught in the zipper. I could thread them through the fabric and hide them. But I don’t feel like finishing that task at the moment.

I worked the hem as follows: fold over to the right side and sew in place with biastape. All in one go:
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Sew a line at the top of the biasband. Finished.
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The inside. Not very pretty but functional enough.
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I expect many years pleasure from this skirt.

Summer Dress: Charles 2nd prevents finishing…

There were still two problems with the pink flowery dress that still needed to be solved: I had crooked up the neckline and something was amiss where the bodice was attached to the skirt (lots of layers and ugly bulging).

Since discovering I love handstitching I solved the neckline by stitching it by hand.
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For the bodice-skirt-problem I unpicked the seams. I opened the seam and pressed it. The pattern says to flip both sides to the top but that looked terrible. I now have one side looking up and one looking down.

In the back I could finish both seams using the lining. Here the lining was long enough to fold it under the seam allowance that was pressed downwards towardds the skirt. I had my sewing machine have a look at it and that was that. The last 3 cm I stitched by hand, making sure I did not have to undo the seam that holds the zipper (and the lining) but still protect the lower part of the seam properly.
The lower part is rolled a bit and kept in place by hand stitches while the lining travels upwards towards the zipper seam, also assisted by some hand stitches. No fraying. I put a pin in it to show you:
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Modeled by my lovely assistant Lillepoes who is quite opinionated when not snoring or shedding…

It is really weird, the dress was on the table for just a second. I turn around to get a pin, turn back and there’s a cat on it!

In the front the lining is not long enough to cover the lower part of the seam. So I just folded it under and sewed it to the upper part, protecting that from wear and fraying. I sewed it by hand. It only took one episode of Horrible Histories, a British children’s show about history and an absolute blast.

They have amazing sketches and songs based on modern songs, this is one of my favourites:

Charles the second, King of Bling!

The actors really are amazing, they can take on so many different flavours and personalities. Go look at a clip or better yet watch the series!

For the front part of the dress I’ll have to insert an other solution to keep that seam allowance from fraying. I have opted for binding with a piece of ribbon. I have not thought this through yet…
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Here’s a piece of purple satin ribbon (that came with a box of chocolates. Those are THE GOOD RIBBONS!).
It’s not bias band and I have to think about how many lines of stitching this requires. The idea is the edge of the fabric will be caught in the folded ribbon but I don’t want to make it too bulky or stiff.

But can’t think now, have to watch the rest of the series Horrible Histories nr4!

Wriggle Dress: finishing touches, ugly bits.

I am not very subtle with my finishing touches I’m afraid. Whatever got the job done I did. There are some truely ugly bits…. and I am going to show you them.

For the sideseams I got confused about how to combine lining and sewing back and front together and still get a decent finished sideseam. So I just did first things first and I lined each piece separately:
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Then sewed them together using the tiniest of seam allowances (on the inside)
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Then I got worried that one line of stitching will never hold together two pieces of cloth and seams would be bursting and I’d be running along the street clutching pieces my dress together while trying to hide my face at the same time…

So I sewed a second time over the side seams. Which made them rigid and will probably chafe my skin when wearing them:
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Also I could not figure out how to sew the shoulder straps together. How to fold them into each other, lining embracing lining while the interlining was too thick to fold double? Not while there was also width to adjust and those pesky folds on the right shoulder to keep in check.
So I sewed things in place by hand and then ran the sewing machine over it. And then sewed all the little bits and frays in place by hand.
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This one has not yet received a go over with the sewing machine. The underside is still running wild. The sewed line you see is a basting that keeps the interlining to the fabric. (too narrow stitch width for basting I know)

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Now here come the real ugliest bits:
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This is the side seam under one armhole.
I took in the side bust a bit but only √°fter I had sewn the side seams in my no-clutching-double-stitched-faux-French-seam style. After I took it in there was about half an inch of seam/fabric flapping on the inside so I decided to cut that away…

I’ll hand stitch over that to keep the fraying in check.

The other really ugly bit is the end of the zipper which the lining does not hide and the finishing of said lining. I tried a handrolled seam but … yeah… not easy.
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Also, this lining is such thin and delicate cotton, I wonder how long it will wear. This dress really makes me think about the thickness and sturdiness of the fabrics I combined in it. In a next dress I will be paying more attention to that: match them better.

Well, it is nearly a dress now. I will be wearing it. All that remains to be done is two little jobs and one big one: finish right shoulder strap, do something to that ugly side seam trimming and Hem The Dress.
I’d love to finish it to today, if I can find out a way to hem it by myself.