The Donna Skirt: Lapped Zipper Application in a bias side seam-Part 3

The process is almost completed. Sewing the zipper in is the easy part. It’s mostly the preparation that requires the extra effort.

21. Using a double strand of thread, use a pick stitch along the sewing guide line. Mine was the pink thread tracing.

Note: I used a Mettresene 100% polyester thread because it has greater flexibility.

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The Donna Skirt: Lapped Zipper Application in a bias side seam-Part 2

The back part of the skirt gets the zipper stitched in while the seam is open. I found this made the process easier given the large amount of fabric I’d have to handle if the seam remained closed.

11. With the right side of the fabric up prepare the back side seam for the zipper. The second line of thread tracing gets gently folded into place. If necessary baste it into place to prevent stretching.

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The Donna Skirt: Lapped Zipper Application in a bias side seam-Part 1

This topic will span 3 postings. I’ve added lots of photos so you can see how the zipper installation went as the process progressed. The zipper is sewn into the left hand side seam of a half circle skirt cut with the straight grain at center front. The side seams fall on the bias.

I used a nylon coil zipper and a double strand of thread to hand sew the zipper in.

I had to do things differently for this lapped zipper application because the side seams of The Donna Skirt fall on the bias.

When working on the bias there are special considerations to keep in mind. They may require extra time but the reward is there at the end of the process.

1. The bias has a lot of stretch. The fabric must be handled with care. Extra care is needed to prevent distortion of the seams and details of the garment.

2. Stay observant and make any adjustments as your garment construction is underway. A bias cut garment or one with a seam on the bias is almost like a living being–one that makes several demands that must be met if the overall effect of the design is to be preserved.

3. A lapped zipper can usually be done with a closed seam. I chose to open the seam half-way through the process because it made it easier to do the stitching.

4. I’m using a 6 ounce cotton denim. The fabric is not too heavy and has the right amount of body to hold the flares of the half-circle skirt nicely.

5. Seams that fall on the bias often do not need elaborate finishings. The raveling will be minimal in many cases. To avoid stretching the seam out of shape, use a pinking shear or hand finish if you want. The finish will depend on your fashion fabric.

I used a combination of some techniques from “The Vogue Sewing Book” and “Couture Sewing Techniques” by Claire Shaeffer.

What I’m offering here is less of a tutorial than an explanation of how I handled the quirky things that happened as I put the zipper in.

Working on the bias is always different because each fabric is different. The one goal I had in mind and that drove all my decisions was to have the zipper remain flat in the seam without any gaping or distortion caused by the bias stretch.

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The Donna Skirt: Some considerations when wearing longer, fuller skirts

In the future I will put up a pattern diagram for a full circle skirt. I think that for the summer time they are a very comfortable and flirty way to dress up, even on the hottest days.

Half-circle skirts work much better in the winter time, given the need to wear a long coat made of a heavy fabric.

Why do I make this distinction?

Because of an amusing fashion faux pas I created during my first term at dressmaking school. In a rush to make a good impression on my teachers I whipped up a full circle skirt out of a lightweight wool flannel in time for the class Holiday Party. I enjoyed bragging about how great the hemming technique we’d seen the teacher demonstrate had worked out. I’d even bought a nylon mesh hem tape made by Dritz that produced the similar kind of prominent flares that horsehair braid does.

The skirt was 27″ long, coming about mid-calf on me. It was a snowy day that the party took place so I put on my lined raincoat that was a narrow, chemise like shape.

Not once did I consider that the amount of fabric encircling my calves exceeded the diameter of the coat I was wearing. The impracticality and silliness of this oversight became apparent to me during the 6 block walk to the train station. By the time I got to class the skirt was completely bunched up and I failed to make the twirly, swirly skirt entry to the class I had so hoped to make in my swingy circle skirt.

On top of that, the nylon braid had so rubbed against my stockings that they were now full of snags.

We all had a good laugh afterwards and it was then that I really appreciated my classmates for having this sense of humor. It also served to show me that mistakes can be the greatest of teachers at times.

Ever since then I’ve always considered how wide the overcoat is in relation to how full the skirt is that I will wear. The ideal coat for wearing fashions that mimic Dior’s New Look or 1950s fashions will be a very roomy tent coat or swing coat.

When the weather is not very cold a fitted jacket or bolero can provide a very good balance to the circle, half-circle and other types of flared skirts. I also think that unfitted cardigans and sweaters that are a little on the boxy side but not too far below the waistline also balance out the look nicely.

Since my current wardrobe includes coats that are not as wide at the hemline I keep the fullness of my winter skirts within certain guidelines. A half-circle skirt goes nicely under my dressy tent coat while less flared skirts work well under my A-line shaped raincoat. Both coats were bought within the last 8 years.

I like the retro inspired look but find that if I’m going to work with the rest of the wardrobe I have I need to keep petticoats and skirt circumferences and volumes within a range that works best with the outerwear I use.

These are just some thoughts you may want to consider when buying or making petticoats or making up a skirt or dress with a large amount of fabric at the hemline.

The Dressmaker’s Library: ” The Vogue Sewing Book”, 1970 Edition

Along with “Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing”, the 1970 edition of “The Vogue Sewing Book” has been a mainstay in my library.

Both books cover alterations, use of color, and types of textiles. “Reader’s digest Complete Book of Sewing” is a much more technical reference book since it offers step-by-step illustrations that accompany each aspect of garment construction presented in the book.

“The Vogue Sewing Book” is not as technically oriented and does not provide such detailed instruction. It does have several features that make it worth having on hand anyway.

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Donna: Fitted Blouse with Waist Yoke-Flat Patternmaking

Update as of 1-1-2014 a new collar was created for this blouse. See this posting for the changes made to the pattern and choice of collar.

It was hard for me to get the right combination of lighting when taking pictures of the pattern pieces. It’s been overcast many mornings. The lighting in my apartment is not very good. I hope, though, that the outlines and shapes of the pattern pieces will give you some ideas for adapting your own pattern drafting to create a similar blouse, if you want. You can also experiment with existing pattern pieces from commercial patterns so long as you take the time to create a toile and make needed alterations. I do not recommend choosing pieces from different commercial patterns and just cutting the fashion fabric. The results can be very disappointing since the pieces are not being used the way they were intended and no test has been done to see how the combination works for your figure type.

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Donna: Half-Circle Skirt Waistband Height & Interfacing Tips

The waistline really comes into focus when you wear any kind of a full skirt. Whether it is a dirndl, full circle, half-circle, or flared skirt, the selection of the waistband height should be given some consideration. The waistband and any belt you may wear with the skirt affects the flow of the silhouette.

I do not believe there are any rules written in stone about which height one should select. I think it is a matter of finding the waistband height that creates the best balance for the outfit. Here are some photos of different heights for the waistband. For illustration purposes I used white belting and waistband stiffener. I used these as a way to visualize what height would be best. Ribbon or lengths of fabric cut along the selvedge (using scraps from other projects) are also good tools to help you make the choice.

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