For the first project I chose an airy A-line skirt. The simplicity of style is counter-balanced by the use of a pretty black Alençon lace. A pattern that works best for this project is an A-Line skirt #126 from December 2013 issue of Burdastyle magazine. In Part 1, I covered materials, marking and cutting. Here, I wanted to share some of the construction steps, as well as lessons learned afterwards.
1. Creating an illusion of transparency in seams
Since I didn’t want black lining, the challenge was to mask the dark areas created by multiple layers of lace and underlining where the lace was stitched. To solve this problem, I additionally underlined all seam allowances and darts with tan-color chiffon strips, creating an illusion of transparency.
Seam allowances, underlined with tan-color chiffon.
2. Cutting, overlapping and stitching the darts
I chose to appliqué darts, because stitching would cause more bulk than on side seams and be too obvious in the front and the back. I stitched darts on organza, cut the lace darts following motif edges, then overlapped them aligning thread-traced seamlines and, finally, appliquéd them sewing through the organza layer. This strengthened the area under the waist, which is, like side seams, under constant stress. I used fell stitch to appliqué, but it can also be done using a narrow zig zag stitch along the motifs.
Darts, cut, overlapped and stitched to the underlining.
3. Scalloped hem
As mentioned earlier, the lace scallop was not completely removed for shaping. Scallops were cut around motifs only on the curved sections of the hem. They were then lapped over the matching edge of the skirt, so the scalloped hem now matches the curved hem on the pattern, and basted. Finally, the scallops were appliquéd using fell stitch, and the excess trim was removed.
Initial inspiration for this skirt came from Dolce & Gabbana. With a black-black lining, however, this simple lace A-line skirt looked too severe to my liking. I also didn’t want to create strong contrast. I wanted to soften the black, giving it an appearance of some transparency. The solution was found in Claire Shaeffer’s article Inside Dior, in Threads magazine, Issue 164, January 2013.
Shaeffer examines a high-end Dior dress and construction techniques that make this dress unique. With the help of a two-layer chiffon Dior created just the effect I was going for. I opted for lining and not for a slip, however, and, after some consideration, switched the order of the layers, placing the tan-color layer in front of the black.
Layered chiffon emphasizes the lace without strong contrast.
I handled both layers as one and stitched the darts together. For the hem, I followed Dior construction technique. While both layers are stitched together at side seams, the bottom portion of side seams is stitched separately. This allows to hem both layers separately, keeping the chiffon hem as lightweight as possible.
Both layers were hemmed separately.
WHAT COULD BE DONE DIFFERENTLY
Here is one lesson I learnt: never follow instructions blindly, even if they come from well-known experts. After wearing the skirt for one day, I realized it is slightly see-through. I was so sure being wrapped in four layers of fabric would be enough, that I didn’t really test. Luckily, the skirt was worn to a dinner, so no real embarrassment.
Another issue I had, it seems that chiffon is much more static than crepe-de-chine, so the lining was literally glued to my legs. I am planning to take out the lining and layer the tan-color chiffon over black crepe-de-chine. This should fix the problem to some extent, and moisturizing skin with body lotion should help even more.
Overall, despite those extra hours I have to put into re-sewing lining, what I like about this skirt is that it can be dressed up or down. I love pairing it with a sweater, or with a white shirt, or experimenting with shoes. Another great addition to my wardrobe!
And the time that went into making this skirt? Ahem, who cares about time when you experience a deep satisfaction of completing a one-of-a-kind garment that cost you a fraction of a high-end equivalent sold at Net-a-porter. As for time, have I told you yet that I took up hand embroidery recently?
Marina von Koenig started her couture adventure five years ago. She blogs about her work at Frabjous Couture. Currently, she runs a straight-skirt sew-along, which focuses on custom fit through accurate measurements and innovative pattern drafting..