Happy Holidays to all my Readers and Followers

With best wishes to you and yours for a holiday filled with the warmth and love of family and friends.


The Donna Skirt is Completed!

I’m very, very happy that this project has been so much fun to share with my blog readers. I’m also delighted with the way the bias organza hem tape holds out the flares. If I had a 1950s style crinoline or petticoat I think the look would be even more retro. However, I like everything as it already is and am confident a regular slip will be enough to support the shape of the skirt for anyone who chooses to use the techniques shown for this skirt.

Front view of The Donna Skirt.

Back view of The Donna Skirt.

Please note: The straight pins are used right now because of the extra ease added to the skirt waistline. Once the blouse is finished and tucked in they will no longer be needed when displaying the finished outfit.

Labels made by Namemaker.

I always enjoy adding a custom made label to a project that turns out well. I liked the retro feeling of these labels with woven cherries on them. I think every sewist who does a good job should consider getting some custom made labels to sew inside of her creations. It can be very satisfying to put your name to something well made.


If you would like to make a skirt like this using your own measurements please reference the following postings and page:

How To Take Measurements


The Donna Skirt pattern diagram


Selecting the correct waistband height

The Donna Skirt Waistband Pattern

Working with Waistband Stiffener


Lapped Zipper Application
Part 1: http://wp.me/p3y3fG-6W
Part 2: http://wp.me/p3y3fG-82
Part 3: http://wp.me/p3y3fG-82


Bias Cut Hem Tape


Marking and Hemming a Half Circle Skirt
Part 1: http://wp.me/p3y3fG-8s
Part 2: http://wp.me/p3y3fG-94

The Donna Skirt: Hemming a flared or circle skirt with organza bias tape

Now that the preliminary steps of preparing the hem and making the bias hem tape are completed the hand sewing can be done.

1. After pinning and basting the organza tape into place it is machine sewn to the hem of the skirt.

2. Carefully remove the basting threads by cutting every few inches. I find a seam ripper or small scissors are good for doing this part. I then use a micro tweezer to remove the basting threads.

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The Donna Skirt: Marking and Preparing the Hem of a Circle or Flared Skirt

The process for marking a skirt hem is best done by marking up from the floor to the height of the hemline. This is the technique I will show using a dress form. It’s not a problem if you don’t have a dress form. I will briefly show how a hem can be marked by lying the skirt flat on the table.

The key to getting an accurate hemline is to check the results after pinning and basting by: (1) laying the skirt flat and spread out on the table or floor; and (2) trying it on and seeing how it looks from different angles while standing in front of a full length mirror.

1. Begin at Center Front since that is the length that is used when the pattern is drafted.

Adjust the dress form to stand at the height you will have when wearing the shoes for the outfit. Use a tapemeasure. Here I have started the tape measure two inches above the bottom of the skirt because that is where the hemline will be.

Pull tightly down until the tape measure touches the floor. Mark that point with a pin. This will give you the measurement called “Height From the Floor”. For The Donna Skirt 21″ is the Height From the Floor measurement.

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The Donna Skirt: Creating bias cut organza hem tape

Many 1950s through early 1960s dresses and skirts were full and gathered or full and flared. The flares could fall softly or be more prounounced depending on the finish used at the hemline.

If a softer finish is wanted then it is not necessary to add nylon braid or a horsehair braid to the hemline of a flared or circle skirt. Hem tapes such as Flexi-Lace by Wrights provide a nice finish to the hem. The nylon braid or horsehair is essential, though, if you want the flares to hold their shape.

I tend to favor making my own hem tape for flared and circle skirts. Since I have sensitive skin the horsehair braid would make me break out in a rash. The nylon braid is a little too scratchy for my liking. I’ve found bias cut organza strips pieced and sewn together to provide just the right balance for my needs. The flares hold their shape but in a soft way.

Hemming a circle or flared skirt is best approached by breaking down each part of the process into segments. This makes it easier to focus and apportion the right amount of time needed to complete each stage.

I like to make as much bias cut seam tape as possible in one session. So what you’re seeing in the photos that follows is a mega session, one which provides the seam tape for the Donna skirt and a few more flared skirts, as well.

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Beauty Break: Olive oil scrub for rough hands

I think that every seamstress has handled, at some point, a fabric that dried the skin. Having rough hands and fingertips is not conducive to fine hand sewing. Right after handling the waistband stiffener it was hard for me to handle the more delicate straight pins I need for practicing draping in lightweight muslin.

“Oliveoil” by Manfred Chua.
Image in public domain.
Available at http://www.clker.com

My late Mom devised an olive oil-sugar scrub that worked wonderfully for me, right after the first application! I recommend it to anyone.

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The Donna Skirt: Working with waistband stiffener a/k/a Ban Roll

Ban Roll is more of a waistband stiffener than an interfacing. I describe it in a previous posting about selecting the best waistband height for the skirt and your figure type.

I tried using a shortcut that I’d devised during a rush sewing job to make a pencil skirt in time for a job interview. At the time I thought it was pretty neat but when I tried it again yesterday the results were dismal. So, it was back to the method I learned in school. It takes more time but the results are much better.

The waistband for any skirt should have at least 1/2″ to 1″ of ease added to it. The extra ease takes into consideration the extra bulk a slip or petticoat and a blouse add underneath the skirt. Also, some fabrics tighten up when they are sewn. This is why a careful fitting of a toile and fittings during the construction process are necessary.

The half-circle skirt pattern includes some extra ease that must be eased into the waistband of the skirt. This ensures a smooth fit around the waistline. Use as many pins as you need making sure to match the points on the waistband to the key points on the skirt (side seams, center front and center back).

The waistband stiffener is a little difficult to use at first but I found it worth the effort since the results are good. The waistband will stay up and never roll or wrinkle. Just be prepared to take your time and if necessary use up a few hand sewing needles in the process.

1. Press the waistband in half from the right side. Open it up to the wrong side. Pin the waistband stiffener along the fold line. Begin and end at the markings for the side seams of the waistband. The stiffener does not extend past that.
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