Thursday, September 3, 2009

Self Drafted -- Full skirt

Back in the 80s (or maybe early 90s) I bought a skirt and top at a boutique in San Francisco.  Some friends and I were hiking Coit Tower and wandering around that part of the city and we stumbled into this tiny little boutique.

This fabulous skirt was made from a coarsely woven rayon with good drape and was a bit knobbly. (The fabric was purple but had little black knobblies on the thread -- not sure the exact name of this type of fabric.)  The skirt was quite full and the top was cropped and boxy.  I loved that outfit and wore it to death.  I once studied the skirt's design and was surprised to see that it was basically a giant rectangle with a "slit" waist.  I've never seen that design, before or since.  It's basically a circle skirt, but not your usual circle skirt.

I wonder what happened to that outfit.  It certainly wouldn't fit me anymore, but I don't remember letting go of it either.  As much as I loved it, it had a few features I didn't like, namely, the top was too short, too boxy, and featured a boat neck.   (I have narrow shoulders so a boat neck doesn't fit me well.)  The best part of that outfit was the unusual skirt, but it had a non-stretch waistband, and I definitely prefer an elastic waistband.

I had some inexpensive fabric that reminded me of that outfit, from so long ago.  I think the fabric a poly/rayon blend but it has nice drape and a similar weave.  This fabric is fairly "sproingy", so I knew it wouldn't take to pleats or gathers well, but it behaves if you stitch it down.  This fabric absolutely refuses to wrinkle, which is nice, and it came through the washer/dryer like a champ.

I decided to copy the skirt, from my dim memory.  I'm not 100% sure I have it right, but I think it's pretty close.  I put on a partial-elastic waistband -- the elastic is confined to the sides.  I didn't want the fullness of the skirt to fall over the tummy area.  There is a horizontal seam that runs the full width of the skirt.  I decided to highlight that seam by "piping" it with the selvedge of the fabric (I love a good selvedge trim :) ) and I inserted a pocket in the seam.  (The original skirt had no pockets.)

I blogged earlier today about the cut/drape of the skirt, so you can refer to that for the details. Here is my final "copy":

Here you can see the shape of the skirt.  The corners have been rounded off so they don't drag on the ground:

The side drape:

The inseam pocket:

The final skirt reminds me, visually, of Sandra Betzina's OOP skirt, Vogue 2933.  This is interesting, since the two skirts are completely dissimilar how they are made.  When walking in a regular circle skirt, the fabric at the hem can get "in the way" of your legs, but not this skirt.  It is wonderful to walk in, because the fabric is primarily at your sides.  I just love to wear it. 

I am wearing this skirt with a grey sweater.  Originally, I was planning to make a matching top from the remaining fabric, but now I'm concerned it would be "too much" when worn together.  I have another couple yards of the fabric, and I just finished drafting a top, but I doubt I will wear them together.

And this is totally unrelated, but check out this amazing fabric in my stash.  It looks like a Yohji Yamamoto fabric, but I have no idea.  I am mulling and mulling over how to use it. It gives me fabrigasms. :)

Technique -- Draping Circle Skirt Fullness

Who isn't familiar with the dramatic effect of a full circle skirt? This is the skirt shape with the least amount of fabric at the waist and the most at the hem. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, so feminine. I made each of my daughters a dress with a circle skirt when they were young, but after one trip to the bathroom, the youngest declared, never again, would she wear a circle skirt. :)

Years ago, I wore to death a modified circle skirt (though I didn't realize it for a long time), that was very unusual in the way it was cut. I felt like a genius when I figured out how it was made and why it hung the way it did. I wasn't, of course, but I still want to pass on what I learned. :)

For a traditional circle skirt, a waist hole is cut out of the fabric, like so:

On the body (or, in the case of this demo, on the toilet paper tube) the resulting fullness is evenly distributed around the tube.

However, in this skirt I owned so long ago, the waist hole was cut differently. Instead of being cut as a round, or oval, shape, it was cut as a slit, like so (square on the left):

Now, this has a very different effect when worn on the body (or tube).

The front and back of the skirt fall straight, like a pencil skirt. The fullness falls to the sides of the skirt. This is a very flattering line for those who don't want fullness over the belly but don't mind it over the hips. Of course my TP tube demo uses a stiff fabric which is not very flattering, so I cut another in a knit fabric to show the drape better:

I made myself a skirt using this design to replace that one I had (and misplaced) so many years ago. I will post it when I can get some photos of it.

Oh, I should add, I was recently studying out of print (OOP) patterns, seeing what I have missed all these non-sewing years. I was surprised to find a Donna Karan pattern that uses this very design - Vogue 2540. Interestingly enough, according to the pattern reviews (I haven't seen it first hand), Donna's pattern just sews the waist elastic directly to the skirt opening). I put a waistband on my skirt which isn't that hard to do and results in a nicer finish.