My denim knit skirt – Alabama Chanin pattern

Earlier this month I thought about making some trouser jeans for a job interview at a tech startup. But I soon realized I didn’t have enough time to make a mockup and then make the jeans without stressing out. So I decided it would be better to make a knit skirt, using the mid-length skirt pattern from Alabama Studio + Design. I’ve made it before and to save time, I’d skip the hand sewing and just sew it on my machine. So I popped over to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics and found this great heavyweight cotton denim knit fabric (5 percent lycra). Perfect to make a denim knit skirt!

Denim knit fabric - Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics - CSews.com

In the above photo (taken after I washed the dried the fabric), it looks black. But in person, it looks like a dark indigo denim. You can buy this heavyweight organic cotton knit fabric in black on Stonemountain’s website. The weight feels great and it’s so soft! It was worth the price of $26.70/yard, the most I’ve ever paid for a knit fabric. All I needed was 1 1/3 yards for my denim knit skirt. The pattern calls for 1 1/4 but I got a little extra in case of shrinkage.

I used the pattern from this Alabama Chanin book, which is now out of print but you can find copies of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design on Amazon. I’ve made the bolero, a tunic, and two other mid-length skirts from this book. You can see the second skirt I hand sewed in my Toaster Sweater 2 post.

I bought the fabric on a Saturday, finished sewing it on Sunday and wore it to my interview on Monday. So that’s why I didn’t have any time to hand sew it. I rarely ever sew fabric that quickly. It usually sits in my stash for a while before I sew it.

If you’re familiar with Alabama Chanin aesthetic, it’s all about organic cotton knit fabric and hand sewing. I’ve hand sewn my other Alabama Chanin outfits but for this one, I just used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine. 😉

I cut size XL but because there wasn’t a lot of stretch on this denim knit fabric, I decided to increase the seam allowance to 5/8 to give my self enough ease. Then I quickly basted the skirt to check fit and took the waist in about an inch. I usually have to grade up in the hips so this wasn’t a surprise. Then I removed the basting from the side seams and zig-zagged the two front pieces together and then the two back pieces. Now I was ready for the elastic.

This skirt pattern uses foldover elastic at the waist but with this heavyweight knit fabric, I didn’t think that would be strong enough. So I looked for something similar but wider and a little more substantial. I found this soft elastic that was 1 3/8 inches wide (~3.5 cm) and wouldn’t add too much bulk. It wouldn’t fold as easily as foldover elastic but it was pliable enough to do the job.

Wide elastic used as foldover elastic - CSews.com

It was a little tricky to sew it to the waist. I had to rip out my first stitches because I decided to use double-sided fusible at the waist to hold the elastic in place before sewing it. The idea was to avoid pinning the elastic. I used a wide zig-zag stitch and then tried on the skirt. If you’ve worked with knit fabric before, you can probably guess what happened. The waist was too wide and stood out from my waist. I realized I needed to slightly stretch the elastic as I sewed it – similar to sewing neck binding on the t-shirt.

So I ripped out my stitches – luckily, very easy to do because of the wide zig zag – and then used a small zig zag to sew the elastic to the wrong side, stretching it slightly as I sewed it. Then I folded it over to the right side and sewed a wide zig zag in the middle.

Here’s the wrong side of the front. You can sort of see the small zig-zag stitches just above the wide zig zag.

Elastic at waist of denim knit skirt - Alabama Studio Sewing + Design mid-length skirt - CSews.com

And here’s the right side of the front waist. This fit well.

Elastic waist - denim knit skirt - Alabama Studio Sewing + Design mid-length skirt - CSews.com

And here’s the finished denim knit skirt, which I wore to the Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex Fabrics last weekend with my Pilvi Coat (ponte knit) and my Toaster Sweater 2 (black French terry). It’s my all-knit ensemble! I took the photos with my iPhone and the lighting wasn’t the best because I’m standing in the shade. You can’t really see that the skirt is a dark denim, not black. In this photo the skirt blends in with the Toaster Sweater.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

I used a photo timer app (gives you a countdown and lets you pick how many photos to take and how much time between each shot) and attached my phone to a tripod using the Promaster Mobile Phone Tripod Mount (affiliate link). I got mine at Adolph Gasser Photography, an independent store in San Francisco, which sadly closed last year. The tripod mount expands from 2 inches (~5 cm) to a maximum of 3.75 inches (9.5 cm). It fits my iPhone 6 and it’s battery case.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Here are a few more views of this A-line denim knit skirt. This fabric has a lot of body and not much drape so it stands out at the bottom. You can really see the silhouette of this skirt in this photo.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

I got my hair cut two weeks ago – lopped off a couple of inches. It had been covering my neck before I got it cut.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Here’s a back view. It was a warm day so I didn’t wear a hat – plus new hair! It’s so nice to have my hair off my neck!

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Here the denim knit skirt looks a little more like denim rather than black.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

I didn’t get the job but I have a skirt I love. I know I’ll wear it all the time.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Shibori skirt with 16 panels – how should I order the panels?

Hi, in August I experimented with some indigo dyeing, which you can read about here. Then I wanted to try dyeing several pieces of cotton muslin to make a 16-panel Shibori skirt. (I wrote about how I made each design in this post.)

Now my challenge is finalizing the order of the panels. I dyed eight pieces of fabric, each with a different design but I tried to keep them about the same intensity of blue so the skirt will have a cohesive look. Even so, I’m not so sure they all work together. The skirt has eight panels for the front and eight for the back. It’s an A-line skirt from a Japanese sewing book Basic Black – so just imagine the panels in a trapezoid shape.

I dyed four smaller pieces of fabric for the top row of panels and four larger pieces for the bottom row, which is taller than the top row. This meant that I was limited to four specific designs for the top and four for the bottom. After fooling around with different variations, here’s the order I like for the top four panels of my Shibori skirt.

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dyed designs

I posted another variation of this on Instagram and Twitter, which you can see here. On IG, Shana Levy McCracken (@lanachevy) suggested flipping the striped panel so the darker stripes were on the bottom, Ka Yun Cheng (@kayun.cheng) agreed – and so did I. On Twitter, Josefina Segura (@joevacom), a blogger (Coser a Color) from Uraguay, suggested this reorder of the panels, which is how I eventually got to this arrangement. I really appreciate getting comments and replies from social media!

Here’s one option for the bottom row…

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dyed designs

… and here’s another option for the bottom row with the order of the last two panels flipped.

Shibori skirt fabric designs for 16-panel skirt

Now I need to decide which bottom row to use. Here’s option 1:

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dye - 8 designs

And here’s option 2:

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dyed- 8 designs

Which one do you like best for my Shibori skirt? Option 1 or 2? I’m leaning towards Option 2. The darker bottom right panel seems to go better with the panel above it.

Happy sewing!

Shibori - indigo dyed fabric for a 16-panel skirt

Bemberg Lining for a Skirt

B5756
Butterick B5756

I’m making a skirt using this Butterick pattern (B5756), which I got a while ago. I like skirts with a yoke. I’m making version C (the green skirt pictured, at right, on the pattern illustration) but a couple inches longer because I like a mid-calf length. My fabric is a cotton voile, which I got at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco – on one of its rare sale days last year. I knew I wanted some Bemberg lining, which is breathable and anti-static. (To read more about why it makes such an excellent lining check out Bemberg-the King of Linings at Tailor on Ten.)

Earlier this week, I took a break from work and popped into Britex to choose a skirt lining color. (Lucky me – I can walk from my office to Britex in about 12 minutes.) I left my swatch at home but I had a photo of the fabric on my phone – granted the colors wouldn’t be exact but hey, it’s a lining color.

Family fabric

I told the salesperson that I was thinking of going with a light yellow to match the background color of my fashion fabric, this cotton voile, which has an Art Deco look to it. (If you look closely you can see a family there. The darker blue is the hair of the parents.)

But he told me that a lighter color would just wash out the colors. I asked him what color he would recommend and he said he’d go with the darkest color – the blue.

“Would that affect the the colors – like make the yellow look green?” I asked.

“No, I’ve done this before,” he said. “It won’t affect the color. Besides you don’t want a light color because it’ll get dirty.”

All excellent points, eh? I’ve only lined a few things: a wool jacket, some vests, and hats – and all those things were with medium-weight fabric, not a lightweight fabric like voile.

So then I thought, OK if I go with a darker color, then how about red? So he pulled out a couple reds, one was more orangey so we rejected that. Then he cut some swatches, which I then took home with me.

Here are the swatches, which Britex staples to a nice card.

Swatches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s what the fabric looks like with this white fabric behind it. It does seem a little washed out.

Fabric against white (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here it is with blue against it:

Fabric against blue (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here it is with the red.

Fabric against red (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m leaning towards the red. Which color would you pick to line this skirt? Blue or red?

Using Rick Rack to Trim a Skirt

Rick rack reminds me of childhood. It seems like a quaint trim but it can add a nice accent to skirt or jacket – especially when you only have the botom of its scalloped edge visible along the hem.

I bought this long grey skirt a while ago and I decided that if I wanted to keep wearing it I had to change the look. I had some giant rick rack (1.5 inches wide is pretty huge), which I bought when I was in Los Angeles a couple months ago. So I thought, why not add it to my boring skirt?

One evening I just basted it in place and then hand sewed the rick rack on the skirt. The place where the two ends joined wasn’t exactly seamless but I think it turned out OK. The ends join on the side so you don’t really notice it.

Here are some details of the steps I took.

Basting rick rack – wrong side view
Basting rick rack – right side view
Here’s where the rick rack joins at the side seam.

 

Repairing a Tear

When I saw this skirt by Comtoir Des Cotonniers on sale last year at A Miner Miracle Shop in San Francisco, I just had to buy it. I loved the print. Plus the proceeds go to A Miner Miracle, – a nonprofit organization that “provides professional clothing and image counseling to low-income people seeking employment.”

Everything at the shop is sold at a discount and this skirt was marked down even further. It was the last one and I think I paid about $15 for it (whatta steal!). The waist was a little big, which explains why it was still on the rack. However, it was easy to take it in a little – on either side of the six inches of elastic in the back.

But I digress – after I wore the skirt, I noticed a small tear in the back. Actually, it was more like a slice. OMG! What to do? I had already worn it and altered it so I had to fix it.

The first thing I did was use some Fray Block to prevent it from tearing any further. (Note: Fray Block is thinner than Fray Check – though you do have to run the tube under hot water before you use it.)

I was a bit sloppy with my application of Fray Block, which is indeed thin but it didn’t make the fabric really stiff, which was good.

Fusible interfacing cut into an oval

I didn’t think it would be a good idea to sew the tear because what ever stitches I made would be really obvious. So I decided to use some fusible interfacing over the tear. I had two fairly lightweight fusibles on hand and decided to go with something that was more medium weight. A really lightweight fusible could just start to rub off. The tear was in the bottom third of the skirt so my legs would be brushing up against it, especially when I sit down.

Then I cut an oval of interfacing to go over the tear.  You don’t want a rectangle because you may be able to see the corners in the  interfacing.

Ironing the fusible interfacing
The repaired tear

I turned the skirt inside out so I could steam iron the interfacing over the tear. It wasn’t perfect but it fixed the tear. And lucky for me, the pattern on the fabric is busy and bright enough that I doubt anyone will notice my repair job!

You can barely see the repair.