Sunday, 14 August 2016

Completed: Pleated chiffon skirt

Time and time again, I promise myself that I will not make something to a stupid deadline. I don't enjoy it. Yet, on Friday night, there I was again...
But first the fabric. I bought this pleated poly chiffon on a complete whim from The Sweet Mercerie, in June. It was one of those see it on Instagram, must have it moments of weakness that we all succumb to. I'm definitely getting better, but some fabrics are just too good to miss out on. I have a longtime love of pleats, although I don't wear them often, plus this emerald green colour is just stunning. 
I thought I had 1.5m of this fabric. It turns out I have about 2.5m. I have no idea why I decided to buy so much, since my intention was always to make a simple skirt. I'm actually wondering if they just got my order wrong. I really can't imagine thinking I'd need 2.5m. Anyway. When it arrived it was in a box. I've never had fabric arrive in a box before. i had ordered some chambray too, but that was only a couple of metres (actually, just thinking about it - maybe I'd better check that. Perhaps they got my lengths and my fabrics mixed up?). When I opened it, I realised why. The chiffon came wrapped in paper. The paper was pleated so its clear that when the pleating process took place, it did so with the fabric between 2 layers of paper. Cool!
Actually, although I hate sewing to a deadline, I have a feeling that if I hadn't this fabric would have sat in the stash for a while. I predicted, correctly, that it would be a bit of a bitch to deal with, and I would probably have procrastinated on it, if I hadn't had a sudden "need" for a midi skirt to wear to my manager's engagement party on Saturday night!
The pattern is loosely based on the Cashmerette elasticated back skirt tutorial (you need to sign up to her newsletter to get the tutorial). It's a basic gathered rectangle, with a fixed waistband at the front and an elasticated waistband at the back. I don't have a huge amount of love for how an elasticated waist looks on me, but with the time constraints, I wasn't about to attempt a zip in chiffon. An elasticated back seemed like a good compromise.
I say loosely, because I followed her instructions right up to the point where I realised that the elastic length she had me cut, just wasn't going to work. It was too short to fit the width of the skirt piece. I have no idea why. I checked my measurements several times, so maybe my elastic wasn't stretchy enough? I cut a second length, guessing that an additional 2inches might be enough and that seemed to do the trick. It's actually a little loose on the waist, but it only just fits over my hips, so perhaps I'm right about the stretchiness of the elastic. I also didn't understand her instructions for attaching the elastic, but it's very likely that's because it was about 10.30 at night and I was shattered. 
The fabric itself was pretty difficult to deal with. It grows. I tried to cut it with the pleats closed (if you know what I mean), but then they would unfold and open as I sewed. I couldn't baste them closed on the machine as the foot opened them out. I probably should have handbasted them closed but I didn't have time for that. It was tricky to cut due to the shifting pleats, but it actually wasn't too bad to sew once you got it where you wanted it. It wasn't slippery at all, actually it was pretty grippy and stayed put. But I couldn't press it. Actually it pressed pretty well, but every press unpressed the pleats, so I only tried once. After that it was pins and finger pressing all the way. 
Apologies, the close ups are out of focus.

Due to time issues, I'm embarrassed to admit that all edges are still raw inside. I will go back and finish them off, but I thought they'd do for one night. The waistband is also a complete mess on the inside due to the aforementioned growing issues, but it works and it's all enclosed. 
The fabric is pretty sheer, so I lined it with cupro lining from John Lewis. It's more expensive than the chiffon but I hate the feeling of acetate lining, so for me it's worth it. I lined both the waistband and the skirt, although the skirt is only lined to above the knee. The lining isn't hemmed, simply finished with an overlock stitch, but I felt that decision was valid since Tilly did something similar recently.
The skirt is finished with a baby/rolled hem. I used Jennifer's tutorial, but I only did the first and second stage, i.e. the hem is only turned once. This was time driven but also an aesthetic decision. The hem was fluting quite a lot and I'm not actually a huge fan of a fluted hem, so I didn't want to exaggerate it too much. I'm really pleased with how neat I managed to get it, given I couldn't press it.
The pleats run horizontally i.e. from selvedge to selvedge, so I cut the skirt on the cross grain. The waistband is cut on the grain so the pleats run in a different direction. The fabric is 150cm wide, so I actually got this skirt from about 75cm off fabric. Not sure what I'm going to do with the other 175cm... although I am thinking if I made a top, then I could wear it as a sort of faux dress type thing.
The verdict? Well before hemming it, I felt a little meh about it. But then it was 11.30pm and I was exhausted. It wasn't quite as I'd envisioned and I felt the back waistband looked really puffy and stupid. On Saturday I had the kids by myself, but I bribed Small Boy with his DS and Sky Kids App, while Baby Boy napped and I got it hemmed. I also cut some length off at that point, which helped with how it looked and although I still don't really like fluted hems, I think it adds some interest in this case, and now I love it. 

I'm wearing it here with another Eucalypt tank in black rayon. This was another WIP that I finished last week. This time I added the CF seam for some interest, but you can't really see it anyway. I wore the 2 together on Saturday night, with heels and a sparkly necklace, but I couldn't be bothered to get back into my heels for photos today. I kind of like the skirt with trainers though, and it looks cool with a t-shirt. It's also insanely comfortable. With small kids, this is not hugely practical for general day wear, but for lunch or dinner with friends, and engagement parties, it's an absolute winner!


  1. It's turned out lovely -and I like that fluted hem, I think it finishes the skirt off nicely.

  2. Wow that sounds like a lot of stress but totally worth it! It looks really good! I love the colour of it and it looks so good with the black vest, which is also lovely and I bet you'll get so much use out of both of these.

    I tried to sew an elastic waist skirt once in a pink poly chiffon (I think that's what it is) and it kept growing, I gave up. I was planning to go back to it now that I'm a bit more experienced, though your description of your fabric growing has reminded me how frustrating it was so maybe not, we'll see!
    I can't believe you made it so quickly, that must feel so satisfying! I hope you enjoyed the party.

  3. This is so pretty, I love the colour. You'd never know what a pain the fabric was to sew from looking at the finished article......

  4. Love love the colour and considering it wasn't a long slow sew, you have made a stunning looking skirt. Yes to making a top to use up the rest!
    Best x


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