Before I start waxing lyrical about neoprene, I should point out that the top you see in the photos is the from the same pattern that I used here. Even the long hem is the same. I just tucked it in, but I’m sure you will see it untucked in some future blog post. The only modification is the addition of those cuffs on the sleeves. The difference in drape is due to the fabric, a beautiful lightweight wool jersey remnant from Tessuti Fabrics.
But now it’s time to talk neoprene. I had a little piece of it left over after making my Tokyo jacket (yet to be blogged!) and there was no way I was going to let it go to waste. Neoprene is such a fun fabric to sew with. I purchased mine from Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney and it is the most beautiful shade of creamy white. It has a firm, slightly foamy hand (like wetsuit fabric!) but is not crisp. It’s also quite lightweight. I love the way neoprene has such a perfectly smooth and full bodied feel to it.
Neoprene lends itself to sewing garments that are structured or more static on the body. It doesn’t drape well, but is great for making fitted clothes or items that have a bit of body to them. It’s also a pretty good winter fabric because it blocks the wind and insulates well. The problems I faced when sewing with neoprene were mainly to do with the added bulk in the seams and facings. There is also the fact that it is difficult to press and doesn’t seem to hold a decent crease.
I decided to make a pencil skirt with the last of my neoprene. As it was, I barely had enough to do this. In fact, I had to split the waistband in two, which meant I ended up with a seam centre front…eek! I should have thought of this earlier and split the waistband into three pieces instead. To salvage it, I sewed some crystal beads along the CF seam and I’m calling it a design feature!
I drafted the skirt pattern myself. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. Seriously, every lady should have a basic pencil skirt block in their pattern haul, but I did not. As simple as it was, it still took me a couple of muslins to deal with the fit issues. I was quite careful about not making it too tight below the hips. Even though I love the drama of a very narrow and streamlined pencil skirt, I just find them so impractical. I always end up tearing them or not wearing them at all.
I love the back zip feature of this skirt. I actually wanted to insert a zip just like Christy from Little Betty Sews, in the recent denim skirt she made. But for some reason, I just couldn’t come up with the correct technical name for it and in my (three!) online purchases, ended up with reversible, double sided and some other completely unsuitable zipper. In frustration, I took to one I had with pliers, only to create what you see here, which is exactly the same as another unsuitable option that I already had in my stash! I’m such a caboose. I should have just re-read Christy’s post because she even provided the link to her most perfect zipper! And there you have it, the term I needed to be googling was ‘two way separating jacket zipper’!
The other issue I had with this skirt was the bottom hem. Neoprene doesn’t seem to fray much, if at all, but I wanted to finish the hem properly. The unfinished hem was also rolling up towards the good side so I was hoping that by hemming it, I could flatten out this roll. The first time I hemmed it, I didn’t interface it, so the roll became even more pronounced. The next time, I applied a fusible interfacing strip along the inside of the hem to prevent it stretching out as I stitched. Neoprene doesn’t have much stretch (just mechanical) but it is an unusual fabric to sew with and it wasn’t behaving over the curve of that hem.
The back hem worked out ok the first time without the interfacing because the length of hem was short (split by the zipper). I realise now, it would look better had I interfaced it as well. The front hem was a disaster the first time, and passable, but not perfect with the interfacing. It didn’t look any good with a serged edge either (I tried that out before the twin needle). You can best see that naughty little hem flipping
me the bird out in the photos where I am side facing. I think it would have worked better if I had finished the front curved hem with facing instead of folding it up as a narrow hem. Next time!
And will there be a next time with neoprene? Absolutely! I’m a little bit smitten with this textile. Has anyone else out there sewn with neoprene, and what do you think of it?