The makings of this story include a yard of wool blended with just enough lycra to give it softness, body, and depth; a classic, high-waisted pencil skirt pattern; a collaboration between two of the sewing industry’s biggest names and one sewing enthusiast; and a bit of suspense for good measure.
It’s still hard for me to believe that this story is a true story. This is my experience.
It began early in July when I was contacted by BurdaStyle and asked if I would like to be a part of their BurdaStyle x Britex Fabrics collaborative project. Would I? Of course! I enjoyed reading about Natasha’s project for the collaboration last month, and I couldn’t wait to get started on my own. Only waiting is all I could do at the time. I was out of town at a work conference, and I wasn’t going to be back in the Bay Area for over a week.
When I got back from the conference, my mind started whirling with all of the possibilities that could be made by combining a world leader in sewing patterns with four floors of exquisite fabrics. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming. Thankfully, Britex Fabrics narrowed it down for me by suggesting I choose a light or medium weight wool number of fabrics I had to choose from was still large, but now manageable.
Knowing that I wanted to make a summer garment in a lighter-weight wool before the end of the month (which amounted to just a few hours of sewing time thanks to my incredibly busy schedule at work these days) helped me narrow my pattern selection quite a bit. I quickly settled on a skirt of some sort, and then I narrowed my choice down to the Jenny Basic Skirt soon there after. The marvels of the internet meant that I had the pattern immediately (thanks BurdaStyle!).
Getting the fabric took a little bit more time because it required a trip to Britex Fabrics itself. Time was of the essence, but my work schedule prevented me from getting to the store until the 19th – leaving me with only a little over a week to make the skirt. The lovely people at Britex Fabrics showed me quite a few samples based on the fabrics that I’d seen and liked online, and we settled on the Italian Dusty Rose Lightweight Stretch Wool Blend (thanks Britex!).
With everything now in hand, all that was left was for me was to make the skirt. Could I pull it off in less than ten days? Oh! The suspense!
Thankfully, careful choice of fabric and pattern meant the skirt came together easily. The fabric was a dream to cut and sew. The straightforward construction of the skirt meant I could spend most of my sewing time crafting a few extras for the skirt like a structured waistband and a hand stitched hem, not lost in matching endless seam after endless seam.
The front and back of the waistband facing during construction.
A structured waistband is not an essential part of the pattern, but I think it adds a lot of elegance to this high-waisted skirt. Marina von Koenig, BurdaStyle’s expert in all things couture, recently wrote about her experiences making a structured waistband for a high-waisted skirt. What I’ve done here is very similar. My waistband is essentially a sandwich of Rigilene, a plastic boning found in many sewing shops. The bottom layer of the sandwich, the facing, is made up of a layer of the fashion fabric, a layer of silk organza, and a layer of horsehair canvas – all quilted together. On top of this layer are silk organza channels into which the Rigilene strips are threaded. The top layer of the sandwich, which becomes the outside of the waistband, is made up of a layer of the fashion fabric and a layer of cotton flannel interfacing. The flannel helps give the waistband a smooth look from the exterior. The two halves are stitched together along the top and then the seams are graded and understitched so that everything looks lovely and stays put.
The smooth waistband exterior conceals the structured facing. A bit of lace adds fun to the hem and slit interior.
The pattern calls for a slit in the back, but I briefly toyed with the idea of adding a back vent at first. In the end I decided to keep the slit but to jazz it up with a bit of lace on the inside.
The interior of the slit.
I also hand stitched an eye from a hook and eye set to the top of the slit. This little piece of metal should reinforce the slit as it gets stressed during wear. To make sure the eye had staying power, I doubled my thread, ran it through a bit of beeswax, set the wax with heat, and then stitched the eye on with tiny little knots. The book in which I found this trick used a bar, not an eye, but I didn’t have any on hand. Time will tell if the eye functions just as well as a bar would have. I hope so since I really like its lucky horseshoe shape!
My husband and I took the skirt out for a test shoot the day before I headed back to Britex for their photo shoot . I was nervous about modeling for someone other than my husband or my tripod, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. The Britex staff was beyond lovely and put me at ease as we headed to Chinatown for a few quick photos. I was so comfortable that when a bystander exclaimed loudly to her friend, “Oh! She’s a model! It’s a photoshoot!”, I just laughed and smiled all the wider.
Now that the completed skirt is proudly on display at Britex Fabrics, my story must come to an end. But, I have a good feeling that this skirt and I will live happily ever after.