Sunday, February 1, 2015

Challenge Accepted!

On November 19th, Rhonda Buss, a blogging pal (and we will meet in person some day, mark my words), asked if I would like to participate in a challenge/competition. In fact, here is a snippet from her email, which explains the situation more fully:

Janet Prey who owns the American Sewing Expo and Islander Patterns gave me a lovely bolt of fabric. It's a shirt weight barkcloth. The fabric is printed in panels. It's white with a black floral print running the length of the panel. It's really quite lovely. So, here's the may do anything you wish with the fabric, combine it with whatever you like. Whatever you choose to do must be finished no later than February 1st. I have 10 panels so there will be 10 entries. Each entry along with links back to your blog, will go up on my blog for voting. The winner will receive Islander's brand new pattern, The Motor City Motorcycle Jacket, along with the accompanying Craftsy class. Let me know if you would like to participate.

Rhonda is calling her challenge, "Get Your Motors Running."

I am really over competitions, but she seduced me by the challenge aspect of it. I love challenging myself. Let's hear it for frequent challenges, where we push ourselves creatively!

I agreed in fairly short order, and she mailed me a very interesting fabric panel. Roughly 24" by 60" (I forgot to measure it), it looked like this:

Since I received the fabric in November and the project wasn't due until February, I let the ideas start to percolate in the back of my mind while I put the fabric away.

When I revisited the project several weeks ago, I had developed some comments/observations/ideas. Here's a peek into my thought process:

  • I don't sew much with white, so I considered dying the fabric so that it would be, say red and black, or green and black. In the end, I decided not to bother with that, though I do think that it would have been a pretty effect.
  • There was not really enough yardage, by itself, for me to use *only* that fabric, so I immediately knew that I would mix it with a black fabric.
  • This woven fabric is *very* drapey and very ravelly. I should have serged the edges before throwing the fabric into the washing machine/dryer but I didn't, so I learned just how ravelly it was. I lost several inches along both (long) cut edges.
  • This fabric would be a natural for a top or blouse of some kind, particularly with its drapey quality. But, with my reverse-pear shape, I am more of a "bottoms" girl than a "tops" girl.
  • If I had had two of these panels, I would have made swishy pants with the motifs running down the outside leg.

I decided to use an idea that's I've been wanting to try for awhile: to use the panel as a "peekaboo" element in a faux wrap skirt.

There is no pattern for this. I used three fabric rectangles:

  • A rectangle for the main skirt. For this I used a black, drapey woven fabric that was a gift from Margy. (The black fabric has a bit of a greenish cast, which is why she didn't use it herself.)
  • A rectangle of the panel print. I needed this to be about 23" by the length of the skirt, plus a hem. I cut the panel print in half, lengthwise, placed the largest part of the prints so they were at the hem, and flat felled them together to get the width I needed. (Also remember that I lost some of the width of the original panel when it frayed mightily in the washer/dryer.)
  • A third rectangle of the black created a waistband casing for the elastic. Like I said, this was a faux wrap. ;)

(Note: If you were to make this for someone with a much smaller waist than hips, I would not use rectangles. In that case, I'd start with a basic fitted pencil skirt and alter from there. In that case, the wrapping feature might need to be functional so that you can put it on and take it off so I would eliminate the waistband/elastic. My waist and hips are virtually the same measurement, so rectangles and an elastic waist work fine.)

The skirt is constructed as a giant tube. It's as simple as that. Then it is folded. I folded it to expose the white panel to create a pleasing vertical line. I also realized, during construction (I love these happy accidents), that one edge of the fabric, with the attractive selvedge, could be used along the front as a further decorative element.

At Stone Mountain and Daughter, I purchased two sets of 3/4" D-rings and 2 yards of black cotton strapping, or ribbon - I'm not sure what it is called. I offset the faux wrap to expose about an inch of the white, and I used the ribbon and D-rings to create a decorative element. Note that these are more decorative than functional, as the skirt stays on thanks to the elastic waistband. Note that the cotton strapping tends to ravel, so I finished the raw edge with Fray Block, which I prefer over Fray Check. (I once did extensive experiments with both.)

(I admit it, not much hangar appeal...)

That's better!

And better still!

Thanks so much for inviting me to participate, Rhonda! It was a lot of fun. Rhonda plans to post a summary post Monday, Feb 2nd, with all ten entries and a poll for voting. As much as I shrink from the competitive aspect, I admit that I would really like Janet Pray's pattern and class so, what the heck. Please go vote for whomever you want to vote for!

And thanks to mem for the pictures!

And, yes, I was woefully overdue for a haircut, but I finally made it over to the hair college.

I predict that this student will go far!