WIP - Charlotte Skirt - By Hand London

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm getting married and its not too far off (about 8 weeks). I'm a bit concerned though as my love, my husband-to-be, my alleged best friend/ally/partner in life has ALREADY worked out my achilles heel, my kryptonite - a pretty much foolproof way to yank my strings and make me dance like a monkey. Yes fellow sewists, last week I was cruelly controlled by one very simple act. My sewing machine pedal and cord was hidden from me. I received a text message at work one evening pointing out a little kitchen task I had been promising to act upon had yet to be done, and my machine pedal WOULD BE HELD TO RANSOM until it was done. What? WHAT?!! I can't tell you how agitated it made me - how would I finish the cuffs on my Renfrew? What if he didn't give it back straight away? Strangely those I told in real-life thought this was pretty damn funny.... And the perpetrator was killing himself laughing by the time I got home! Oh the manipulation! (and yes the task was done that night, loudly under vocal sufferance and protest, and whilst on a quick visit to the loo the pedal materialised as promised.....)

Anyway. I digress. I have been working on my By Hand London Charlotte skirt this weekend. I already knew, but have had it confirmed by the first half of MMM 13, that I am in desperate need of self made items for the bottom half of my bod. I have been wanting a pencil skirt for ages. I currently have a WIP from Burdastyle which is decidedly meh and has been discarded for at least 3 months now. Once I saw the Charlotte skirt with its very vintage double sets of darts I was smitten. There's not many versions out there on the interwebs, but most of them are fabulous and well fitting. So I snaffled myself a copy of the pattern with a stretch denim version in mind as my wearable muslin imagining that soon I will be as slinky and swanky as Rizzo from Grease.

The fabric came from The Fabric Shop in Ivanhoe, and is quite a stiff denim with a little bit of stretch. It was 150cm wide, and I only needed 1 metre (far less than the pattern states). I think if one's fabric was not as wide or a bigger size was needed one would need a bit more (and of course if you went with one of the peplum/ruffle options you'd need more - I'm not sold on peplums, I suspect as soon as I cave and invest in a peplummed piece they will be SO LAST SEASON!).

I cut a US 8 based on hip and waist measurements. I also added a kick pleat because I am one fast walking lady - I'm tall and I take big impatient strides. This is the first time I've done a lapped zipper too. The pattern asks for an invisible zipper but the lovely ladies at The Fabric Shop suggested a standard zipper as the denim is so heavy. I have watched Sunni's zipper tutorial on Craftsy which is fab (and free), but the tutorial I ended up using was off the Threads website. A couple of weeks ago I signed up to  Threads Insider and it is AWESOME value for money - about $33AUD for a year of unlimited access to their archives, at least 6 digital editions of the magazine and endless tips, tricks and videos. I haven't even had a look at their pattern archive yet. I think for the home seamstress this is a fantastic SUPER value resource and on an iPad or tablet is super handy for the sewing room. Anyway this zipper video tutorial is a free one and worth bookmarking - the technique is very similar to Sunni's in that they recommend the use of Steam-A-Seam which is a slightly sticky fusible webbing and it made installing my zip a breeze - it is ALMOST perfect (I have no idea why it went a bit wonky down the bottom):

I found Steam-A-Seam at Spotlight. It was pretty pricy (about $25 a packet I think) but I have used it for hemming knits with a double needle (it helps to reduce a ridge forming between the rows of stitches) and I am sold on using it with a lapped zipper. No doubt as I get more confidence I'll give it a go without but it means one doesn't have to pin or baste - just iron and stitch! (BTW I'll get to pick up some bargain priced Steam-A-Seam and other awesome notions in July at US prices WHEN I GO TO NEW YORK on my honeymoon! Oh yeah! Just had to sneak that one in!)

So, to the fit..... I was happy with the waist but found it a bit loose on the hips - I removed about 1/4 inch from each side over the hips - I'll have to see if its a whole size on the pattern when I adjust it. It's also VERY long. I'm about 172cm tall (not sure what that is in olden-day measurements) and I am taller than the average girl getting around so below:

 A bit loose around the hips
After taking the skirt in around the hips I then was faced with a bit of a weird horizontal fold of fabric just below the darts at the front. The back fit really well but the front.....

Fold of fabric just below front darts, next to camera cord....

It probably doesn't look that bad in the photos but with the heavy denim it was terrible! When I leaned forward it kind of looked like I had a kangaroo pouch going on in there! Before I panicked too much I thought I'd better baste the waistband on to make sure the skirt was sitting in the right spot, and it did help, but not enough for my liking. From my Colette Sewing Handbook Guru Sarai tells us horizontal folds of fabric means there is too much length. Obviously I couldn't remove any length from this area without hacking into my skirt permanently, and a quick search on the interweb sent me straight to Guru Sunni's pencil skirt sew-along where she mentions that if darts are not long enough one can get folds of fabric forming.... So lengthening the darts seemed promising..... I ended up lengthening the medial (middle) two longer darts by another inch/25mm! It made a big difference - it looks pretty great now! There is still a little bit of excess fabric there but I wont be able to get it any better on this version.

Before lengthening middle darts

After lengthening middle darts by an inch

Me leaning forward - shows how crispy the denim is....
And I'm not sure if I am being too picky - am I being picky? Should I just chill out about this? Should I do an adjustment on future versions a bit like a sway back adjustment taking out a bit of this fabric and tapering out to the sides? Is this even possible on a skirt front? I would love any suggestions other sewists can offer. (And completely unrelated how awesome is my Orla Kiely doona cover? - love!).

I should have this slinky little number finished soon - stay tuned!


  1. I think it's looking great :) And you've just helped me with a fit issue I've been having on a project - will definitely try extending darts. Thanks!


Post a Comment