Monday, July 20, 2015

custom drafted coral lace skirt

Fitting patterns is hard.

So when BurdaStyle Academy advertised a 6-week online course on how to draft your own personal sloper collection, I decided that that might be a good investment of my time and money. It's a 6-week course, with access to the videos and material forever. From their website:  "Through this 6 week long course Meg will guide you through the entire detailed process of developing a sloper library consisting of a bodice and sleeve, skirt, pants, dress, and knit sloper."

The first project is a skirt. As I've mentioned in my last few posts, I've been searching for a really nice fitting slim skirt pattern... so why one make one myself from my own measurements! I've been seeing these coral lace skirts in stores that I really liked, and found some pretty coral lace and matching mid-weight poly for lining... but first to draft the pattern!

J. Crew Dresses & Skirts - new J.Crew Collection Lace Pencil Skirt size 0

Meg Healy takes you step by step through videos and handout on how to measure along many lines on your body (and how to do it without a friend, too!), then draft your skirt pattern. Here is my finished drafted pattern:

I traced it, added seam allowances and made up a quick version in muslin to test the fit:

Overall not bad fit at all!!! For my lace skirt, I decided to lower the waist 1", taper the side seams starting at the hip line to take in a total of 4" at the hemline, and moved the side seams forward an inch at the waistline, as it felt to me like they sat too far back on my body. Here are the new adjustments traced on paper, with seam allowances (and my drafting buddy):

Forgot to lower the waist 1" in this photo. You can see it below.

I  decided to finish the waist with double-fold bias tape, so I removed the seam allowance.

I constructed the skirt by underlining the lace with the poly, basting the layers together by hand before cutting, then machine basting the edges of all the cut out pieces, treating it as one fabric from that point on. On the original draft there were two 3/8" front darts on each side, but with the combined fabric thickness I needed to combine them to one 3/4" dart. I think it looks better with just one front dart anyway. Raw edges were serged (with minor fits from my machine), and the top was finished with matching double fold bias tape, with I finished on the inside by hand. In fact, I was able to find everything to match perfectly EXCEPT the invisible zipper. I'll most likely wear it with a shirt untucked to it won't show too bad.

The indoor lighting totally throws off the color!

I'm very pleased with the invisible zipper insertion! I found the trick to avoiding a bump or pucker where the zipper ends it to hand sew that transition after completing the seam. 

The outside lighting show the color much better! After constructing the basic pieces, I did straighten out the hip line a little more, shaving off about an inch overall at the hip. Next time I will want to add a little more length so it hits just above my knee. I also may not lower the waist so much in my next version.

I needed to straighten out the waistline by trimming off a small wedge of fabric from the front dart to first back dart on each side. It was only about 1/2" at the worst of it, but if you compare the side view below with the side view of the muslin test, you can see a big difference.

Here you can also see where I moved the side seam forward at the waistline. The seam certainly no longer makes a straight line up and down, but maybe it makes the tummy less noticeable. What do you think? The side seam as pictured in the muslin or below? 

So remember how I decided to treat the lace and lining as one fabric? Well, after pre-washing the lace it become much less stiff than it was in the store, and even had a little stretch, so once sewn together the lace began to sag compared to the firm lining fabric. It's very clear along the hem pictured below, and along the side seam above. Guess I should have sewn and hemmed them separately. I wonder if I could shrink the lace layer back up a little with a spin in the dryer? Or carefully tack the layers together throughout the skirt? (With the perfectly matching thread, which let me tell you really blends in, especially when you are trying to unpick it!) Or maybe I could find a way to re-do the hem so the layers can hang separately, at least at the hemline? Suggestions and thoughts welcome! 

But aside from that, look how nice that fit and finish is! So far, this course (and new skirt pattern) is a winner!


  1. The fit is really good. Personally, I prefer the side seam positioning on the lace skirt, it just looks right to me. I would definitely hem the lining and lace separately and I suspect I would be hand hemming the lace to get a really invisible finish, but I like a bit of hand sewing! x

    1. Thanks! Thankfully I had hand sewn that hem (and you can still see it with the sagging!) which means it was easy to unpick. I'm letting it hang a few days befor I hand sew it again, hopefully to get any additional stretch and sag out!