Welcome to round two of our Charlotte skirt sewalong - and this is where the fun really begins! By the end of this post, you will have something that looks a little bit like this:
In case you're new to the party, here are the previous posts in the Charlotte Sew-along.
Ready? OK! (Gimme a C!) No, seriously... In this post we'll be covering:
- stitching the darts
- side seams & seam finishes
- invisible zipper & back seam
- what to do if your skirt is too big
*Before you begin: pre-heat your iron, and make sure your sewing machine is threaded, has a full bobbin and is set on a medium length straight stitch*
"Darts" are basically like little elongated triangles, usually stitched into a waistline or at the bust to give some 3D shaping to a flat piece of fabric. Seeing as the Charlotte is a figure-hugging pencil skirt, we've used darts at the waistline (both front and back) to create a beautifully sexy hourglass silhouette.
In the last sewalong post, we showed you how to quickly and simply mark your darts using pins to indicate the angle and finishing point like this:
With the right side of your fabric together, pinch a dart so that the two pins marking the start of the dart are together.
Stitch from the top (always remembering to back stitch - a quick back and forth at the start and finish of a line of sewing will secure your stitches) in a straight line until you reach the pin that marks the end of the dart. Make sure you stitch all the way to the folded edge so as to avoid a "dimple" when you turn the skirt out to the right side. Repeat this for all eight darts.
Press the darts on your front piece towards the sides, and darts on the back pieces towards the centre back.
*A word about pressing: be sure to test out the heat of your iron on a scrap of the fabric you are using first. If your fabric is not 100% natural fibre, it could well melt or become distorted if pressed with a very hot iron!*
Now place your front piece flat on your table (or the floor), right side facing you. Take your back pieces, right sides facing down, and place them on top of the front piece ready to sew those side seams! Make sure to match the waistline and those little notches on the sides. Use pins to hold it all together - avoid putting the pins in vertically (ie. parallel to the sides) as this can sometimes distort the layers. It's much better to put the pins in horizontally (as shown below), and is then easier to pull them out one at a time as you sew.
Starting at the waistline, stitch down each side seam using a straight stitch setting and remembering the 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance. Most sewing machines will have a little notch to the right of the needle to guide you to straight seam allowance perfection.
Press seams open.
At this point we need to "finish" our seams. Now, this part is optional, but highly recommended as it will prevent the excess fabric from fraying, make the inside of your skirt look soooo much prettier, and will also make for a better made and longer lasting garment. Check out this post for three different ways to finish your seams. We like to overlock/serge ours as it stops the fray and looks super profesh, but if you don't have an overlocker/serger (or the patience for bound seams), pinking (trimming the excess with zigzag scissors) will do just fine.
*If you too are overlocking, we like to overlock the centre back raw edges before inserting the zipper - trying to overlock excess seam allowance that has a zipper stitched in can be very tricky and messy*
Invisible zipper & back seam:
For this step, all you need to know is in our definitive tutorial on invisible zipper insertion... At this point if you are making the peplum variation or the plain pencil variation, and would like to add a back split for extra walkability, stop stitching your back seam about 4" from the hem. Or, if you're still undecided, close up the back seam as normal and you can always unpick a bit when we get to hemming our skirts.
So girls, you're pretty much done for today! But before you switch off your machines (AND YOUR IRON!!!) and pour yourselves a whiskey, it's always a good idea to try your skirt on right about now. Fits like a glove? Great, class dismissed. Too big at the hips? Don't worry...
Taking your skirt in:
In the first post we showed the bootylicious girls how to alter the pattern to accomodate a small waist and wider hips. If you have a slenderer frame and your hip "size" is smaller than that of your waistline, it's not really necessary to alter the paper pattern; by taking it in now, you can really tailor the skirt to fit you perfectly. Here's how:
- Try your skirt on inside out.
- Pin down the side seams (trying to take in equal amounts from each side and this time placing the pins vertically) until you get the fit you want. If you have someone to help at this point, even better. If not, make sure you check yourself out in the mirror before sewing.
- Take the skirt off, pins still in, and lay it flat so you can tweak those pins ever so slightly - you'll probably find that when you pinned it on yourself some of the fabric may have become a bit distorted or that the sides don't match each other perfectly. You basically want to carefully reposition those pins so that each side matches while keeping the new shape of your body. Try the skirt on again after repinning.
- When you're happy, you can sew the new side seams! Then simply unpick the old seams and take care of the excess fabric. Beautiful.
(I had planned to put the skirt on with pins and all to clearly demonstrate this process... however, it fit too good! So I'm afraid one of my amazingly scientific diagrams will have to suffice!)
And that was just the beginning - next week we're making the peplums and ruffles! And some pretty great ways in which you can mix it up even more... Worthy even of Jungle January possiblement... Those of you going for the plain variation will have a little break, but make sure you check back anyway - we want to at least try to convince you that everything's usually better with a bit of flounce!