Skip to content
February 14

My Labor of Love Skirt

For last week’s Sew Weekly theme we were to finish up an ‘Unfinished Object’ and boy did I have several to pick through.  I think I’m down to 5 sewing UFO’s at this point.

But the project I decided to finish up was one of the skirts that I had partially made up from my personal Fall Palette Challenge, BurdaStyle’s 10/2010 Wool Skirt #115A:

I picked out non-wool fabric for my skirt, a wine colored double knit crepe material of some assorted mix; it has lots of stretch and is quite drapey.  I cut out the pattern and started stitching up this easy pattern.  But when I tried it on it looked just awful!

Instead of having lovely, full pleats/gathers at the front of the skirt I had tiny ones that resulted in me looking quite pregnant no matter how I distributed the gathers.  I quickly realized that I had made a poor fabric choice for this skirt; I bought a drapey fabric when I should have picked out a stiffer, non-drapey material that would hold the gathers away from my body instead of clinging to look like a little mama belly.

As a result, I put this project aside until I could figure out how I could fix it and I picked it up once again for last week’s Sew Weekly theme of UFOs.

I’m happy to report that I was able to finish the skirt with a minimal pregnant look…

I ended up completely removing the gathers and I made three tucks of descending depth on either skirt of the skirt front.  The first tuck nearest the center front was 3/4″ the middle tick was 1/2″ and the one tuck closest to my hip was 3/8″.  I also changed the waistband of the skirt from a simple 1″ high rectangular waistband piece to a 2″ high contoured waistband (curves in at the side seams with my waist).

I really think the flat-image of the skirt shows off the style lines much better than me in the skirt:

See?  My hips are filling out the tucks quite nicely.  heh

Between you and me, it took some doing to get myself onto this lamppost in this pencil skirt.

The reason why I am calling this skirt, my ‘Labor of Love’ skirt is not for revamping the pattern but for the hem detail.  Let me explain…

Back in the May, my mom was very persistent in asking me to come back home to go through some old boxes of stuff from my adolescence.  Seizing the opportunity of me pulling boxes down from the attic, she also asked me to pull down a few more boxes of her old sewing stuff, but wasn’t sure anymore what was in them.

Part of the contents of my mom’s sewing stash was a heap of tatting and crochet trims that she had made in her youth.  My great-grandmother taught my mom how to tat (or is it tatt?) and my mom had saved these practice trims and medallions for her whole life, not wanting to relinquish them nor finding a purpose for them.

Long story short, after I finished the main part of the skirt, it was just lacking oomph.  And I took to my trim-jar and decided that now was the perfect opportunity to try to see if I could find a trim that would complement the basic skirt.  I found one piece that was quite long and luckily it fit all the way round the hem.

Here’s a mega-detail of the trim I used:

And here’s my laborious and loving hand stitching from the inside:

I took little bites of the trim with the longer stitches on the inside of the skirt.  I wanted to be careful not to have my stitching showing on the right side of the skirt, but I didn’t want to make my stitches too short in case I want to remove the trim at a future point once the skirt wears out or no longer fits.

This skirt is also the first time I’ve tried my hand at a lapped-zipper and it’s now one of my favorite zipper insertion methods:

The method I used doesn’t call for any facings or special treatment of the seam allowances.  All you need is standard 5/8 th’s seam allowance and you can make this tidy, professional zipper opening.  Any takers for a tutorial on this?  It’s totally easy and yields such a wonderful finish!  (I’ve already used it once more since completing this skirt.)

Lately I’ve been finding myself trying to use up more items from my own stash rather than making more fabric/notions purchases (except on special occasions).  And what’s more is that I find that I’ve been having a hard time using the special fabrics and trims that I have in my stash that are vintage.  I love using vintage patterns and also using vintage notions/fabric/trim to go along with them for a truly 100% vintage recreation.  But I just have a hard time pulling the trigger to do so.  For me using my mom’s trim was the first little “shove” to myself to try to incorporate the extra-special bits I have into a finished garment.

I’m really glad I did, since I think this trim makes the skirt.

I also had some extra time the night before to play around a bit with my hair.  Trying to highlight more trim from my mom’s stash, I settled on pinning another medallion trim to my hair using some bobby pins, as not to damage the piece:

Isn’t this trim amazing?!  Such delicate handwork and precision…

I found the chestnut bun tutorial through a pinterest image, but the direct link is here.  (It’s my new favorite, easy!!! updo.)

As always, with my Sew Weekly related projects I have a completely different blog post up on their site about my skirt.  On there, I focused mainly on the idea of using my mother’s trim and what it means to me.  I did touch upon that theme briefly here, but I had already talked about my initial excitement on finding this trim back in May and didn’t want to re-write what I had already once said.  So if you’d like to read & see a few more images of my Labor of Love skirt feel free to swing onto Sew Weekly for that.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

  1. Meli / Feb 14 2012

    I LOVE IT. The trim looks fantastic, and it’s a beautiful color. Great job!

  2. SueC56 / Feb 14 2012

    Wow, now that’s one special skirt! And I love the hair!

  3. Paunnet / Feb 14 2012

    On the Sew Weekly I hadn’t seen that it was this particular pattern. I had tried it too, and obtained the same pregnancy effect, but I had used wool, so I think the problem might be in the pattern.
    I’d love the tutorial on the zipper insertion, I have my own method, but I’m always curious to see how others do it, there’s always something to learn.

    • Liz / Feb 14 2012

      Hey Paunnet! You did too?! I just thought it was a combination of my and my drapey fabric that was to blame for the pregnancy effect!

      The line drawing I posted on Sew Weekly does look quite different than the sample garment, doesn’t it? I picked this pattern based on the sample skirt, but I realize that was probably a mistake since it’s obviously not on a person but laid out flat (which is why it looks like an attractive pattern).

  4. K-Line / Feb 14 2012

    Utterly gorgeous. I love how the shoes match so perfectly.

    • Liz / Feb 14 2012

      Thanks Ms. K-Line! Realizing I had no shoes to match this skirt (and my ever growing wardobe of burgundy) I felt I need to try and hunt down a new pair of shoes to match.

  5. Lauren / Feb 14 2012

    Ah, I recently uncovered a box of tatted lace myself! Although I don’t think mine has any special connections – I think my mamaw just found it at a yard sale :) I want to incorporate it into something handmade, but most of the pieces are pretty short (like the tatter was just trying out different techniques) so I’m just scouting for ideas right now. Yours is lovely, though! A perfect touch to an otherwise simple skirt :)

    Oh, and I’d be interested to see your zipper tutorial! I have a couple methods I use to insert lapped zippers but I love learning new ways to do things!

    • Liz / Feb 14 2012

      Hey Lauren! I’m planning on incorporating a bunch of the individual pieces of tatting/crochet either on a circle skirt (tiering down from the waist to the hem on one side only) or I’m going to put a few on a basic cardi to jazz it up.

      I’m not sure if my version of the lapped zipper is new, but it sure is easy and looks great. :)

  6. erin / Feb 14 2012

    Your skirt is beautiful. It always feels so good to find the solution to the problem, doesn’t it? The trim contrasts so well with the lovely wine colour of the skirt. And the trim on your bun is perfect, I love it!

    • Liz / Feb 14 2012

      Thanks so much Erin! I found that this wine color is a major color in my closet for fall/winter clothes (3 skirts and a dress).

  7. Lizz / Feb 14 2012

    Beautiful use of the trim! I love how you’ve placed that piece in your hair.

    • Liz / Feb 14 2012

      Thanks so much Lizz. Happy V-day!

  8. Ginger / Feb 14 2012

    Lovely! The skirt looks great on you, and the trim is so special! Also, your shoes! They match so perfectly!!

    I’d love to see your lapped zipper tutorial if you have time. I haven’t had a chance to try one yet, but I love how they look!

    • Liz / Feb 14 2012

      Thanks Ginger! The lapped zipper is really easy. I like it so much better than the basic regular zipper insertion. But each project calls for a different closure method, so I’ve used it only 1 time since this skirt. But I hope to be using it more and more in the future.

  9. Gina / Feb 15 2012

    I really love this, the lace is so pretty. Oh women don’t know what they are missing when the clothing lines dropped lace from clothes. I guess it got too expensive to add them. I love that you made the skirt in a dark color and added the light colored lace, it really makes a statement. I am sure you will have this piece for many years, maybe pass it on some day. It’s truly stunning.

Leave a comment