Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lady in Zigzags....Or, the Making of Thursday's Unfashion

The skirt I wore on Monday four weeks ago is not one of my favorites. It is the only remaining vestige of my wardrobe during my student teaching days, and you can imagine, in 7 years, I've grown a bit tired of it. I was about to chuck it into the pile of clothes to eBay away, when I realized something: it looks a lot cooler when you turn it inside-out.

Outside of the skirt
Inside of the skirt
You see, the outside isn't much to look at. It consists of a riot of colors, all wound around each other such that they blend together into various shades of murky.

On the inside, however, the colors are cleaner, brighter, and distinct from each other. To me, who chooses bright colors over dull ones any day, the interior is obviously where it's at. It doesn't hurt that the pattern is zigzag rainbow stripes, which were hot, hot, hot this fall!

I was sure I could breathe new life into this skirt if I could just wear it inside out. The only question to do it without looking like some nutso pop star from the early 90's?

There are two major problems with wearing a skirt inside out:

1. The lining will be on the outside
2. The seams will show.

To fix problem #1, the solution is simple enough. You turn the skirt inside out, then you tuck the lining back into the inside. This works because the lining is only attached to the zigzag fabric at the very top. If it were attached at the side seams, we'd have a bigger problem. But, the only problem now is that where the lining does attach at the top, it keeps rolling out and showing itself, as seen in the picture below. Don't worry--we'll fix that problem in a little bit.

Now, on to problem #2! You can see the side seam and the bottom hem in the picture below. I deem the bottom hem acceptable to be viewed just as it is. It gives the skirt a bit of character. But the side seams (the vertical seam in the center of the picture is one of the two) hanging out are a definite no-no.
As in many sewing problems, the first step in the solution is to turn the garment inside out. Or in this case, since inside out is the right side out, turn it right side out instead! Confused yet?

OK, here goes. Turn the skirt back to the way it was originally. Then flip the lining so that it's on the outside, surrounding the rainbow patterned fabric. We're going to sew a new seam over the original side seam, and attach the lining to it in the same step. We could do this without including the lining, but I want this alteration to be temporary and removable, and having the lining between the loose fabric of the crocheted part and our seam is going to make removing the stitches later a bit easier.

But first, let's see what we can do about that rolling top hem. All we have to do is pull the lining down a bit so we can see the skirt fabric behind it. When we turn the skirt back rightside out, the lining will be hiding behind the skirt! I sewed the lining down into submission, as seen in the picture to the left.

For accomplishing this neat bit of stitchery, I owe oodles of credit to Ann Person's Stretch & Sew method, which I discovered in this much aged book from my mother's and grandmother's sewing collection. While it does not enjoy the popularity it did in the 1960's, it does describe one very helpful technique for sewing stretchy materials such as this skirt: Use looooong stitches and stretch the material as you sew it. That will enable it to keep its elasticity even along a straight-stitched seam. If you'd like a copy of Stretch & Sew, you can find it at thrift stores everywhere.

Back to the side seams. Mark your seam with pins, wide enough that the entire original seam is included. I had to make the seam almost an entire inch from the fold, as seen in the picture below. If the fabric looks a little bulgy, that's because the area above the pins holds six layers of fabric! That's one layer of lining on top and on bottom, two layers of skirt between them, and two more layers of skirt (the raw edge of the original seam) sandwiched between everything.
Fortunately, sewing this seam proved to be a breeze. At the bottom hem, I reluctantly stitched through the crocheted fabric, even though I won't enjoy trying to dig out those stitches later, and I left the trailing threads long so I could tie them off.
Here's the finished product, funky bottom hem and all! My only concern is that, since I removed over two inches from the circumference of the skirt, it will be too tight. But there's only one way to find out for sure, and that's to try it on!
Well, I can squeeze it on, but it does taper a bit toward the bottom, and not being a fan of the pencil-skirt look, I don't think I like it much.

Fortunately, an easy fix for a too-tight skirt is to pull it up a little higher! This skirt rides comfortably at the waist, and that's how I wore it on Thursday!

I'd just like to add that I'd bought those red tights thinking I might wear them for Christmas, but I obviously didn't follow through. I'm glad I finally found a use for them, even if that use did involve entirely too much red in one outfit! Next time, I think I'll give the blue sweater another shot. But I swear it looked all wrong when I was trying it on...

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