Waistband, zips and ordering supplies

If you haven’t planned your entire project out from the outset, and like me, you’re figuring it all out as you go, you’re going to face some pauses in between steps while you wait for supplies!

In pre-pandemic times, I would get around these delays by jumping in my car and driving to the nearest haberdashery/sewing supplies shop as and when necessary.

Alas, these options are not available to me at the present time since all retail outlets are still closed. However….. ordering online is King (or Queen) at the moment, so I scoured Google to find what I needed.

(Quick note: I will dedicate an entire separate post to links of shops and Youtubers who have been indispensable to me throughout this project, because I think they really all deserve to be acknowledged for how brilliant they all are!)

Waistband

As you can see from the picture above, I have almost completed the waistband of the skirt. If I ever make a second skirt, I’d like to think I’ll plan ahead to ensure I have enough material put aside for the waistband. For this project I was so determined to use the fabric I already had at home, that I simply didn’t think that far ahead. So I cobbled together a few different pieces of remaining off-cuts and just hoped I’d be able to hide the joins.

There’s a special kind of fabric used to go INSIDE the waistband to make it a little more rigid. I think its called interfacing. This is something I did not have, and had not thought to order. Instead, I folded my waistband fabric over some stiff fabric remnants I had at home and hoped for the best. It worked, but its not ideal.

I used a method called “stitch in the ditch” to attach the waistband to my skirt. I love this method! I learned about it from a youtuber called Eli Ebberts who I will credit in the next post. Everything worked out exactly as she said it would!

Obviously, lining up the places where I joined my off-cuts together with the side seams of the skirt are not perfect, but I don’t really mind. I doubt anyone’s going to be looking very closely at this outfit to see whether the seams line up!

Zips

I should have thought about zips earlier. I HAD bought a zip online when ordering the thread and lining fabric. I soon realised that this kind of skirt required a special kind of zip called an “invisible zip”, which isn’t what I’d ordered. So I scoured the internet again to find an Irish supplier of invisible zips. I was very pleased to find a company in county Clare and placed my order straight away.

An invisible zip is designed to be sewn in such a way that neither the stitching, nor the zip, will show on your finished product. They are brilliant! But I needed another Youtube tutorial to teach me how to actually attach them. I studied the magic of attaching invisible zips like a student learning algebra for the first time… it was fascinating, and more than a little bit daunting. But I had time. My order took 5 days to arrive so I busied myself with other jobs.

Above and below are pictures of my first attempt at sewing an invisible zip, following the expert Aneka’s youtube tutorial. I took the advice of my mother, a friend and even my partner (who knows very little about sewing but a lot about my frustration when I ruin a project!) and used a spare zip on some lining fabric to try the process out before attempting to do the real thing.

Sewing the “test zip” was enough for one day, so I then moved onto a different part of the project: A lace Shrug. I had a single rectangle of ivory/cream lace left over from a dress my mother once made. The edges were very rough and would not look nice with a simple hem. That’s where my Co.Clare supplier came in handy, as they had just what I was looking for!

I can’t remember what its called (this blog is really starting to reveal just how little I actually know about sewing!) but it worked a treat! I spent a couple of hours hand-stitching this… lets call it edging… to my rectangle of ivory lace fabric.

I hope the above image shows just how unglamorous the process of sewing a garment actually is! Sitting on the floor of a room used for ironing and storing blankets and pillows is probably not the best way to complete this task, but I have two dogs and I didn’t want them getting anywhere near this delicate fabric! One doggy-toenail caught in the holes and the whole thing could be ruined!

Tomorrow I’ll have to tackle attaching the zip to the skirt ‘for real’ and trying on the whole outfit before moving forward. So this seems like a good time to take a break and writing up a post on the many suppliers and experts who have helped me get this far in my sewing project!

Planning the outfit

Making a dress/outfit to wear to my wedding was quite different to the way I approach an illustration/painting. Some things were the same, like starting with a mental picture (previous post). For this project I started with the fabric and the colour. (With a painting, I would not think about the colours until much further down the line)

The sketch I drew in the previous post was inspired by 3 metres of fabric I had lying around my house! So my mental image was now to be at the mercy of what could be done with this fabric! I had originally bought it at John Lewis in London, over 14 years ago! I can’t even remember why I bought it, except that I loved it! You can see the sheen it has against the ball of wool, but it is so so soft and has a lot of give in it too. I had no idea whether I had enough fabric to make what I had in mind, but I was determined to try!

Meanwhile, I procrastinated and bought some matching wool. A winter/Irish Spring wedding is likely to be cold, and I thought it’d be nice to crochet something to snuggle up in too!

I found a dress that I liked the cut of (top left) and still (just about) fits. I bought this 12 years ago from Jigsaw to wear to a cousin’s wedding. Laying it out flat on the floor, I cut a pattern from the skirt part, using a ream of tracing paper from the art studio. I then tried on the dress and asked my daughter to measure how much longer it ought to be if it were to touch the ground. Adding that measurement to the pattern, I cut my template and laid it out on my precious “vintage” fabric. With a lot of twisting and turning and re-positioning the pattern, I managed to cut 4 panels out of my 3m of fabric… just!

Meanwhile, I did some more rumaging around in my wardrobe to find complementary/matching colours. These proved very useful, especially when ordering more wool! Its good to see what works and what doesn’t in terms of colour before getting too far down the line of the project.

I really liked the combination of the ivory lace sleeves of an old dress my mother had made me, the wool (which I had already started to crochet!) and the fabric (bottom). I knew I had to combine all three of them somehow, but with just my sketch to guide me, the “how” is something I am working out as I go along. Its so funny: Someone asked me today whether I have a pattern….That would just be too sensible!