Thursday, May 8, 2014

Clyde the Work Skirt.

So I 'finished' my wearable muslin of View A of Simplicity 9150 from 1994 last night.  It was fun to put together but I went to bed hating this skirt and contemplating titling my blog post about it: "The 90s called and they want their skirt back."  It just made me feel dumpy when I put it on.  Even if I got to put in this cool vintage zipper in the process of making it.


It is a strange pattern.  It looks from the drawing & the schematic like just a simple 1990's variation on a dirdl skirt, but it's actually three large gores that are pieced together and then gathered into the waistband. These big gores make the layout a very inefficient design for yardage, so I decided to trace the large gore and divide it in half, so that my skirt had 6 gores with a back zipper.  I saved about a yard of fabric this way.

Once I tried it on, I thought it needed to be shorter.  My husband throught it needed to be longer.  It clung to my hips in an unflattering way and made my waist look thicker than it is. No bueno.

After some contemplation, I realized the skirt was sitting too low on my waist and I didn't even think about this because I am so used to RTW proportions that aren't designed for pear-shapes... so I always buy bigger sizes to accomodate my hips and end up with saggy waists - and I replicated what I thought was my waist measurement in my own sewing.

For this pattern to look right, it has to sit at your natural waist. Hips and waists come in as many or more shapes as there are fruits - even within common categories like "pear" and "apple" there are a lot of nuances.  I am naturally quite high-waisted and I have wide hips in relation to my waist.

I needed to reduce the waist, so I unpicked waistband in the back around the zipper and gathered it a bit more severely then I restiched it.  I thought the problem was solved and I went to bed.  In the morning, I liked it a little better the next day, but it still wasn't exciting to me.

My husband thought it was fine.  He pointed out that it looks a lot like most skirts I wear to work, so I thought that I should try to like it.  You can see in my face, I think, that I am trying to be positive about this skirt, but not quite feeling the love.



As I wore it, I noticed that - even though I already took 2 inches out of the waist - I kept hiking it up.  I then had a major epiphany.  It will sound so silly if you have been sewing a while and are in touch with your measurements and body, but I've been out of the game a long time and I had forgotten where my natural waist truly was because nothing I buy off the rack actually lands there.  It's much higher than I first thought I wanted to make it & even higher than the first adjustment I made.

This fitting issue was why the skirt made me feel dowdy.  It was still sitting to low so it looked like my waist was bigger than it really is & it didn't have the fullness in the right place to skim over my hips.  Instead of flaring out from the slimmest point on my figure, it was poufing out with gathers at the widest part of my body.  No girl wants that.

I began contemplating how I could fix it or if I should even bother.  I decided that it was worth it for future reference to know the ideal waist measurement, so that I can fit myself with more knowledge as I move on. So, I decided to unstitch the side gores from the waistband, take the waistband in 1 inch on each side to create faux side-seams and then re-gather the skirt into the waist at each side seam.  Here is a before and after. From mock-up to truly finished product, I took the waist in 4 inches!

Not perfection... but now I have a skirt that fits and I know for future projects the best measurements to use.


The difference is subtle, but it's easy to see that I am a lot more genuinely comfortable and happy with this fit. I decided to call this work skirt Clyde, after Clydesdale workhorses. It's simple, straighforward, and well-suited to work. As the evening cooled off, it passed another litmus test - it layers well! I added knee socks and a big wool cardigan over this outfit and really liked the result.  I think it will get a lot of wear and be a good reference for future projects. 

The astute reader may notice that I changed blouses from the first to second set of photos.  I got this second blouse today at a vintage booth at the semi-annual campus Street Faire.  It's a silky power blouse by Liz Claiborne... probably 80s or 90s that unironically has birds all over it. Proto-Portlandia's "Put a Bird on It!".
Yes, this is a selfie of my boob.  But I took it so you could see the birdies.  I promise.
 I quite like it. I'm enjoying floppy, floaty shapes in clothes lately, but playing with that concept to find a way to still flatter what's good about my figure. 

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