August 13, 2013
A Knit Skirt for Becky
One factor which complicates achieving the goal of producing all our new clothes at home is the tendency to let your imagination run with the prospect of custom made clothing. The tendency is to think about the clothes you wish you were wearing, rather than the clothes you actually will wear. I enjoy the feeling of freedom to design whatever I want, but this can sometimes stand in the way of practicality if you just need some clothes to wear.
An example: last year Becky suggested I could make her a 1910's tea gown as part of our not-buying-clothes experiment. I spent a lot of time working on it, and used many meters of nice fabric, but in the end the way the bodice is formed just was not a good fit for her. I think with enough fiddling around we could get it to work, but we were both discouraged enough to put it in the drawer and not work on it. I'll probably cut it up and use the skirts for making kid clothes.
In the meantime, she has two knit skirts she wears very frequently, which are now quite worn through in many places. It looks semi-ok if she now puts both on at the same time, but if it were not for this commercial clothes abstinence project she would have replaced them long ago. She was really getting desperate, so I dug out a length of black knit fabric I purchased years ago, probably at Sew-Low in Cambridge. Without bothering to make a pattern, I cut out a front and back skirt and a waistband, mainly guided by the piece of material I had available and looking to one of the worn out skirts for the general idea.
I sewed them up on the W&W D-9 treadle, stretching the fabric significantly while seaming with a long stitch length in my default Tire silk #30 thread. This is a stretchy knit, so fitting is not really required if the thing is even close to the right size. The side seams are french, the hem is double folded and stitched through. The waistband is a double layer, formed by folding over a larger piece. The waistband lower edges were turned and pressed, then the skirt was attached to the inside of the waist, then the outer part of the band was topstitched onto the skirt.
The whole project took me about 2 hrs, with Buster helping. Within minutes of putting it on, the thread had broken in one of the side seams, so I restitched it while stretching even more. Of course you would normally use a zig-zag for joining knits, but my W&W can't do that so I tried the stretch/sew technique.
Becky is happy with the result and now has a reasonable skirt to wear. She has been wearing it for about 1.5 weeks without more thread breaks. If more breaks happen on the side seam, I would resew, but with a ribbon of seam binding to take the stress if the seam is stretched. In other words, it would no longer be stretchy, but I don't think the side seams need that ability. The waistband seam is the one that needs to stretch, so if that breaks I would just resew it by hand with a backstitch. I'm thinking about trying out a zig-zag attachment for one of our Singer 99 hand cranks, for use with knits.
Anyhow, the message, I think, is that sometimes you are far better off just sewing the clothes you will actually wear rather than spending a lot of time on clothes for the fantasy person you want to be.
Labels: sewing projects