Monday, 18 July 2011

The Split Pannier Overskirt... in an afternoon

Yesterday, with a clean house and the rain still falling I decided to start on the last piece of my skirt, the 1880 Split Pannier Overskirt.

It very nearly didn’t happen, it was a Thyroid Day: brain fog that meant I had to check with the boyf that I was laying out the pattern correctly (really, how hard can two squares on a fold be!) and reread the instructions each step of the way; mental dyslexia that had me talking about our dilly sog and the little ched ricken; some serious grumps (never the best frame of mind to create in..) and a right hand that dropped my cutting scissors so many times I was starting to think it had it in for me!  I won’t write about days like today very much, but with a deferential nod to sheer stubbornness, I mention the above because despite it all the final picture of this post is what I fought today to achieve and I am proud of it!

Rascal joined me and we started off with this:


It was a treat to get my metallic cotton poplin out of the Mood bag where it has sat since NY but it quickly got itself a nickname!  Beautiful certainly, but fussy, prone to creasing, camera shy and a nuisance to sew and cut.  On the plus side, it was a dream to press (once I’d plucked up the courage to have the iron on max temp) and fine which became a necessity later on.

There is no need to repeat pics of darts and seams etc. (though the seam on this is hidden as it falls straight down the middle of the centre back).  My two giant squares were sewn together, each had three darts at the waist and the front and bottom edges hemmed.  I will not be adding trim to any of the outfit until the jacket is near completion and I can see its entirety so I concentrated on finishing the edges well; particularly the corners of the bottom hem.

I find that sometimes my hems twist as they’re sewn, despite pressing and pinning, and so one corner needs to be tucked in and never looks quite right.  I developed a little cheat when working on an apron project last year (the Temptaprons).  I sew from one corner to the centre of the fabric, made easy this time by the fact that there was a centre seam.  I then sew from the opposite corner, lining up the stitch line, tying off all four threads and sewing them into the seam.  The result is virtually impossible to see and you have two straight and neat corners.  

I also finally used my straight edge tool on the sewing machine, such a treat and useful with the hand shakes!

Once I had hemmed the pattern called for two bias binding tunnels; to give you an idea of the scale, they were the length of my ironing board!

 Once these were sewn in, and a little more Christmas ribbon added for ties, I stitched a series of gathers, two on the outside edge and two at an angle in the middle of the pattern.  These were all not far off 24” long and were then gathered to 7” and 6” respectively.  Suddenly a huge rectangle was starting to become something very interesting.  The gathers were then sewn in with a strip of bias binding on the inside.  A technique I’ve not seen before and was dubious about, but it gives a surprising amount of stability and strength to the gathered areas.   Luckily it will be hidden, my sewing was not quite up to scratch today…

The final thing was the waistband.  Laying the fabric across the width, the pattern called for a 3” seam past the groups of darts and the remainder of the back panel to be gathered to fit.  Well, I had nearly 36” to fit into a 4” gap!  I was suddenly very grateful for the fineness of the cotton; at the tightest gather I could make I still had to allow another 1-2” either side to ease it in.  If I had make this overskirt in the twill that I used for the Fantail, it would never have happened!

Finally, I sewed ties to the top and bottom of the inner gathered sections, which allow them to be tied in place.  I gathered the bottom (bias binding) section and it was done!  It needs to be trimmed and I may line the central puff (I can’t decide if it needs a little more rigidity, I’ll research more first).  But here it is:

 Under natural light, the shine is not so pronounced.  It, instead, gives the poplin a soft grey tone and does not contrast quite so sharply with the softer twill.  But these are minor points, more photos I can take.  

For now, I will just enjoy my creation... and try not to panic too much about how I tackle the jacket!
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