One day soon, I hope, I’ll get the hang of taking consistently good photos. I still can’t quite work out why sometimes my blog photos are awesome and I look awesome, and other times I look like hell. Is it the makeup (or lack of it)? Posing? Photographer? Lighting? ALL OF THE ABOVE, DAMNIT?
Anyway, you’re not here for my face (I don’t think), but my WONDERFUL sewing (cough). But I’m going to go ahead and say that I think today’s two skirts are wonderful – partly due to fabric, and partly due to the fit which I have almost perfect, thanks to Suzy Furrer’s craftsy class on skirt slopers. (Please note, I’m using affiliate links in this post. But trust me when I say that doesn’t change my opinion at all of the classes, I’d still be recommending them)
I’ve actually owned her bodice classes for a while now – I initially bought the “Creative Darts and Seamlines” course, quickly followed by the “Creative Necklines” and then the actual bodice sloper class. – I got about halfway through the bodice sloper before life got in the way and I believe it’s currently sitting in the bottom of a drawer!
So before I tackled that again, I thought I would try out the skirt sloper class – less measurements and curves to go around meant it was going to be a lot easier to make, and fit, my sloper.
I was on leave this week, so on Wednesday I got up early and made Mr. Guy take my measurements before he headed off to work, and in the end I got the sloper and the bulk of this first trial skirt done in one day (with a lot of fannying about when the internet stopped working). And honestly? I’m so happy with the fit! It’s comfortable to wear, skims over my hips and belly without accentuating my lower belly (like my previous slim skirts have done). The small amount of wrinkling at the side seams in this one is because I could do with shaving a touch more shaping off the lower hip.
I went with Suzy’s recommendation to measure my “waist” at 6mm (1/4″) below my belly button, even though the smallest part of my waist is 11cm (4.5″) above that, then I used her “industry standard” measurements of 4 1/2″ and 8 1/2″ for the high hip and low hip, respectively. This ended up working pretty well for me although the skirt looks and feels like a “dropped waist” skirt.
There are a few things that surprised me about how the sloper ended up – for example there’s more fabric at the front than at the back (you quarter your measurement at each step, add ease, then add 1/4″ to the front measurement and subtract 1/4″ to the back). Another is that I have an amazing fit with only four darts (in total), and even the side seams are a lot less curvy than I expected – in fact I had to shave off a significant amount of shaping from the side seams. Four darts means it’s SO MUCH QUICKER to sew!
This skirt is made straight from the sloper after adding seam allowances and a facing. It’s 20″ long, which is her “industry standard” for a sloper and actually a nice length on me. I didn’t have enough fabric (I got this oddly shaped remnant of curtain fabric from either an op shop or a fabric-a-brac, I can’t remember) for a hem allowance so I’ve used bias binding to turn the hem.
As mentioned above I drafted a facing, using contrast fabric because I didn’t have enough of the shell fabric. I inserted a centered zip according to the tutorial on Fashion Incubator (is anyone else “blocked because your IP address is blacklisted for spam” with the new website?) and it came out awesomely. I wasn’t able to understitch with that technique so I just top-stitched.
After successfully making this first skirt, I did a bunch more drafting by following along with the class – starting with an empire waist (using the smallest part of my waist as the empire line), pegging in 1″ to make it a “pencil skirt” and increasing the length. Unfortunately it’s not particularly pegged at all but the rest of the drafting turned out really well!
Yes, a pencil skirt covered in pencils! I’ve had this fabric for about two years (you may even recognise it!). It was always going to be a pencil skirt, but for some reason I never made it out of my previous pattern (from Gertie’s book). But when I wanted to try out this new self-drafted pattern, this was the only suitable fabric that I was okay with “wasting” if it turned out badly. Which it didn’t.
Even with the higher waist it still only has four darts (two front and two back). The zip is centered again – I love the tutorial but I admit I have to work on my topstitching. Next time I’ll try following the lapped zipper tutorial.
Luckily it’s not really pegged and is easy to walk in because I completely forgot to draft a vent. I didn’t have enough fabric to attempt pattern-matching but if I’m honest, I wasn’t going to bother anyway.
The empire version also has a facing which extends below the “waist” to prevent it bunching and wrinkling. Due to my posture the balance of the side seam is a bit off (it wants to swing forward), but I’m not sure what the best fix would be. Otherwise there’s not much to say! Seams are stitched and overlocked, hem is overlocked, pressed and top-stitched.
So, back to the class. After drafting the sloper, Suzy takes you through the steps to drafting a bunch of different skirts, like a-line, bias flare, and circle skirts; pleats (Box pleats, accordion pleats or knife pleat), facings, waistbands, flounces/drapes, a pocket, and linings. She then goes through production techniques, showing you how to finish the patterns, adding seam allowances and marking them properly (e.g. notches, awl punches and grainlines).
Honestly I can’t really say anything bad about the class. I would have liked more pocket variations, and more info on how to attach the skirt to a dress pattern. Possibly more fitting advice would have been useful as well.
I’d say you’d get a lot more out of this class than you would by buying an already-drafted skirt pattern, particularly when it’s on sale like it is now. Once I got past the faff of measuring and drafting the sloper (which was actually quite fun), it was much easier to fit than a standard skirt pattern, and now I know I can make all sorts of variations to the base pattern to create a well fitting skirt. Suzy also casually drops in all these tips that I never would have worked out by trial and error – learning sewing techniques in person is always best, but this is a close second.
The bodice classes are as good as the skirt one (even one or two of those tips from the creative neckline class was enough for me to be glad I’d spent the money – and I’d bought it full price) and I’m looking forward to tackling the bodice sloper once I’ve finished playing around with the skirt.
Fabrics: Mystery floral (stash) and cotton duck pencil print (stash – it’s over two years old)
Notions: Zips, thread, interfacing, from stash
Total: Just my time
So have you watched any of Suzy Furrer’s classes? Honestly she’s my favourite teacher on Craftsy and I’ll buy ANY thing she puts on there (and I just found out that her pants class is out, as well as a collar and closures class, so I’m buying them now while they’re on sale). Do you draft your own patterns, or alter existing ones?