Since making my J.Crew-inspired Flirt Skirt, I've been anxious to try a slightly more sophisticated version with a gathered waist and a thick, high waistband. I looked online for tutorials, and found some gorgeous inspiration (this is my favorite) and a few sets of instructions, though none with quite the outcome that I had in mind, and few that were basic enough for my level of sewing (meaning, difficult to follow without more experience). So I sort of pieced together a method and design from my Flirt Skirt tutorial (which is really just a basic version of this skirt, without the bells and whistles) and a bit of guidance from here and here. And I love the finished product. It has just enough pouf to feel sophisticated and dressed-up without loosing its sense of fun. Not to mention that walking around in a bright yellow skirt is like riding a burst of sunshine. How can you possibly feel sad wearing that color?
Aside from the zipper, this skirt requires gathering and making a waistband, which, it turns out, is just a matter of some interfacing, a few straight stitches, and sewing on a hook-and-eye closure just as you sew a button on a shirt (I'll explain how to do all of these steps in the tutorial). The moral of the story? You can do this! And I think you'll love it! Read along after the jump (or click "more") for the tutorial.
p.s. A dear friend of ours came to town on Saturday and suggested that my new skirt looked just right with our favorite painting--a gift from Jim's parents that hangs over our mantel. Jim popped it down to help me take these pics. I love the fun colors! The artist's name is Alison Bibbie, though unfortunately, she no longer paints. Those fun sandals, which I couldn't resist popping into the picture, were a clearance rack purchase from DSW two weeks ago. Big Brother calls them my pirate sandals because "they look kind of like buried treasure." I wore them for an extended amount of time yesterday (for the first time), and by the time I went to bed, I had leg cramps. You might be a mom if....
- 1.5 yards of your favored fabric. Mine (purchased from Whipstitch) is Painters Canvas in Lemon, Magnolia Lane by Laura Gunn for Michael Miller.
- Fusible interfacing
- Invisible zipper (mine was 9 inches)
- Invisible zipper foot (recommended)
- 5/8 inch sew-on hook-and-eye closures
- Basic sewing supplies
1. Cut your fabric. You will need three body pieces, one waistband piece, and four pocket pieces. I wanted my skirt to hit just above the knee, and the waistband to hit at my natural waist (the place where your tummy folds when you bend sideways). I also wanted my skirt to be slim, relative to some gathered-waist styles, and flat on the sides. If you want a fuller skirt, you'll need to extend the width measurements of the three body pieces. To get the same look I did, cut as follows:
- One piece 26 inches wide x 22 inches long (note that this width is about three inches smaller than my waist measurement). Because I originally thought that I wanted a shorter skirt, I actually cut mine shorter, and ended up with a tiny hem (see that?). It turns out that the skirt needs length to balance the high waist, and (in my opinion) to fit with its more grown-up look.
- Two pieces 13.5 inches wide x 22 inches long for the back of the skirt. That little bit of extra width gives you seam allowance for inserting the zipper.
- One piece 33 inches wide x 6 inches long for the waistband. This width measurement equals my natural waist measurement (29.5 inches) + 1 inch for ease + 2.5 inches for seam allowance and overlap (to accommodate the hook and eye).
- Four pieces 6.5 inches wide x 9.5 inches long for the pockets. If you like your pockets bigger, go for it:)
3. If you have one on your sewing machine, use a serging or finishing stitch to finish the raw edges of your fabric. You'll want to finish the two sides and the bottom of each body piece (not the top) and the four sides of your pocket pieces. This step is a bit tedious, but it saves you time in hemming later, and will prevent the seam allowances inside your skirt from fraying in the wash. If you don't have a finishing stitch on your machine, no big deal--you'll just want to use a double-turned hem and pink your seam allowances (with pinking shears) inside the skirt after you're done.
3. Using an invisible zipper foot, insert the invisible zipper between your two back pieces. Here's a picture of the lovely product, and here is a great tutorial on how to set it up (the package gives you nothing).
This is what it will look like when attached you your machine. Note that it can slide up and down on that large screw. It's supposed to do that.
Once you have the miracle foot set up, read this tutorial on inserting invisible zippers. It will instruct you first to iron your zipper so that the coils lie flat (don't linger--I melted my last one), and then to lay your open zipper face down on your left piece of fabric, lining up the coil on your right zipper piece with the seam allowance line (1/2 inch from the raw edge of your fabric). You will sew that side of the zipper in place and then repeat, placing the left zipper piece so that its coils line up with the seam allowance line on your right piece of fabric, as shown below. Because I think the linked tutorial is better than anything I can give you, I didn't take pictures of my full process, but I do want you to see how I actually sewed on the zipper pieces with the new foot.
You want to place your invisible zipper foot so that the coil is actually tucked inside that little groove in the foot. If placed there, your needle will come down in exactly the right spot to sew next to the coil. That groove is the key.
See that seam line? It's beautiful, I tell you. Thrilling. Why didn't I know about these a month ago?
And here's the money shot. That looks so different than a zipper inserted with my regular zipper foot.
Okay, enough celebration. Now you have both sides of the zipper inserted, but the bottom portion is still unattached. Place the two back pieces of your skirt right sides facing and pin the remainder of the open seam. Make sure that you place a pin at the end of the seam you've already stitched (the one that attached the zipper sides) so that you know where to begin, and make sure that you pull the unattached portion of the zipper into the seam allowance, so that it does not get caught in the seam. Keeping that zipper under the groove, use your invisible zipper foot to sew from the bottom of the zipper to the end of your previous seam (or in the opposite direction, depending on which side of the zipper you're working on).
Once that's done, use a normal foot to complete the seam to the bottom of the skirt. Press seam open, and pat yourself on the back--that was the hardest part.
4. Add pockets. Now that you have the zipper in place, your skirt has two body pieces. Pin the pockets two inches from the top of each piece, right sides facing.
Sew in place using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press seams open.
Fold pockets to the outside of your two body pieces and lay them one on top of the other, right sides facing. Pin in place.
Beginning at the top of the skirt, sew along the outer edge of the pinned skirt, turning the corners to follow the outer edge of each pocket.
5. Shirr the waist. Beginning at the zipper, sew two rows of gathering stitches around the top of your skirt without back stitching to lock your stitch at the beginning or end. Gathering stitches are the largest straight stitch that your machine will make. I sewed mine 3/8 inches and 1/2 inches from the top edge.
Holding (and lightly pulling) the top threads, gather your skirt all along the waistband...
...until it looks something like this.
Now, go try it on. Adjust the gathers so that the pockets and side seams fall on your sides, and so that roughly an inch of fabric on each side of the side seams is lying flat. Make sure that the skirt is gathered to fit your waist.
6. Add the waistband. With the zipper open, pin the waistband piece to the very top of your skirt. It should overhang by about half an inch on one end and 1.5 inches on the other.
Attach, using a 3/4 inch seam allowance so that you clear the gathering stitches.
Press the waistband down, making sure that the seam allowance (on the inside) is facing upwards, towards the top of the skirt.
Now, press down the top, raw edge of the waistband 1/2 inch.
Then fold then entire waistband toward the inside of the skirt and pin so that the previously folded edge is sitting right on top of the seam that you used to connect the band to the skirt.
Before going any further, pinch the raw ends of your waistband inwards 1/2 inch and pin.
This fold should be enough to make one end of your waistband flush with the zipper. The other should extend about one inch beyond the zipper--this will be an overlap to accommodate your hook and eye closure.
Working on the inside of the skirt, sew down the waistband by stitching about 1/8 inch from the folded edge. Extend this stitch along the entire length of the waistband.
Close the waistbands at either end, stitching as close to the edges as possible. So close now...
7. Attach hook and eye closures to the waistband according to package directions. I used two because I wanted the waistband to lie flat and not pull at the back.
8. And hem the bottom! Because I had serge-stitched the bottom and cut my fabric short, I only hemmed my skirt 1/2 inch (if you followed my measurements, you'll have a lot more to play with!). If you didn't previously finish the edges, you'll need to double-turn the hem.
And that's it! You have a pretty, new skirt. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have!