Silk skirt and cami // attaching a lining with a vent

This, my friends, is why I sew. I made myself a woven skirt (with not a smidgen of stretch), that fits me like a second skin. It never fails to amaze me how wonderful it feels to pull on an item of clothing that is designed specifically to fit your body, and only your body, like a glove.

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I have never been able to find a RTW pencil skirt in any kind of fabric that fits me properly. My hips are a size smaller than my waist, with the volume behind me rather than at the sides, which always made pants and skirts very painful to shop for. However, I’m pretty sure most women out there can feel my pain. Even women with exactly the same measurements can have vastly different shaped bodies, which is why we take so long trying on all the clothes when we go shopping.

The skirt I made is to a very simple design. It’s fully lined with silk habutai, with an invisible zipper and vent in the back, although the print on the fabric makes both of these features difficult to see. The fabric is a gorgeous remnant of silk twill that I picked up from Britex Fabrics in San Fransisco a few months ago. It’s a lighter style of twill, which is possibly not entirely suited to a fitted skirt, but it is what the heart wanted.

The hem is not as sharp as I’d like, even after interfacing it with some lightweight fusible.  I’m hoping another good press will get the hem and vent sitting smoother. I’m also hoping the lining will help the outer fabric withstand the strain of sitting. (Update: since writing this post, the skirt has been out for two outings and all seams are still perfectly intact thanks to the lining.)

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This was my first time lining a skirt with a vent. I entered into the project prepared. I had a reference book on hand and I pulled out my beautifully constructed Herringbone Sydney suit skirt to study (a 2006 version of this one). I literally stared at both for hours. However, my brain could simply not connect the dots. I had a mental block. In the end I knew I just had to start sewing and hope it would become clear as I progressed. I did eventually have that lightbulb moment when everything made sense, but not before I had already cut the lining in the wrong shape. The diagram below shows you how I cut the lining (same as the outer fabric) vs how I should have cut it (in pink).

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The trick in sewing a lining into a vented skirt is in cutting the skirt lining with a gentle curve so that it can join the vent to the CB zipper seam. The lining is NOT cut in the same shape as the skirt pieces. Showing you how I repaired my mistake gives you a good idea of the difference between a straight CB seam in the lining and how the curve needs to go. Thankfully this mistake is only on the inside of my skirt.

PicMonkey Collage

Here’s another tip I learned in the making of this skirt. There’s no need to sew a dart in the lining. It’s easy to get a professional finish by distributing the volume as pleat instead. I moved my pleat slightly to the side of the dart so I wouldn’t have a double layer of bulk (albeit very thin with silk) in the same spot.

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And there we have it, my first perfectly fitted woven skirt. I made a Camilla Camisole to go with it in some lovely silk CDC from Tessuti Fabrics. The bias cut looks great in this fabric because of the striped pattern.

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Shop the Look

Nina Ricci // J Crew // BCBG Max Azaria

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Turning my Esthers into pants

It’s no great surprise to anyone that I love my Esthers. I have four pairs that I pretty much rotate through the days of the week (here, here, here, and here). I love their high waisted, vintage style, and I love that they fit me superbly. It’s such a boon to find, make, or modify a pattern that fits so well. So it makes perfect sense that I would want to turn them into a pair of pants.

I’ve been wanting a slim fitting, cigarette style pant for a while now, but I just didn’t have a pattern to match what I wanted. I dread sewing pants, not for the process, but for the inevitable fit issues that need to be muddled through, as with any new pants pattern. And I don’t have a lot of experience dealing with fitting pants. I started by looking online for suitable patterns, and then it occurred to me that I already had a TNT shorts pattern that I might be able to modify.

 
 
 


It’s not that difficult turning a pair of shorts into long pants. I basically just lengthened all the side seams. The trick is in slimming them down and reducing the hip and thigh ease by enough. I was pretty happy with my first muslin, but the pants were still a lot looser than what I wanted for such a bright floral and the cigarette style I was after. So I narrowed the legs further to get what you see here. I could have slimmed them down more, but I was worried about going too tight. I don’t know about you, by I hate too-tight pants more than anything else when it comes to clothes.

And as it turned out, I already had a perfectly matching top in my wardrobe. I’ve paired my new flower pants with my trusty, much loved, and totally indestructible Camilla camisole.