Yep, all the alliterations for this one. It earned them.
Earlier this year I worked through the Skirt Sloper class on Craftsy (that I bought last year and never had time for). Originally I meant to use it mostly as a way to double-check patterns before cutting out muslins; I know if the measurements align with those on my sloper, it’ll work. And it’s been fabulous for that purpose.
But then I started flipping through all of the spring fashion magazines and tearing out a lot of inspiration shots of short suede a-line skirts.
First thought: I wonder where I could find an a-line skirt pattern?
Second thought: OHMYGOD I DON’T NEED A PATTERN I CAN MAKE A PATTERN WITH MY SLOPER!
Yes, it deserves the all-caps treatment.
The suede came from Perfect Leather Goods in the textile district of TO; as they describe themselves, they have “leather for all occations.” Good for them. I’m not quite sure what an occation is but I’m sure it’s splendid.
Spelling aside, the store is a nice big maze jam-packed with all the animals skins you could dream up. Lamb, cow, goat, kid, snake, feather, reptile, crocodile; suede, leather, embossed; metallic, natural, shiny, every colour in the rainbow. Also a hint: they offer a discount to manufacturers, so you may want to claim you are purchasing for a business. I’m too honest for my own good so I paid full price. But even so, it wasn’t bad–for suede–and considering it’s 3M washable suede. I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable in trusting it to my washing machine but it does give me greater comfort in case I ever bring it to the dry cleaners.
Anyway. I followed Suzy Fuhrer’s excellent instructions in how to turn your sloper into an a-line pattern and made up a muslin, and then drafted a waistband. It fit, but I gave it a few tweaks to make it just a smidge less full. I left the muslin open on the side front seam instead of the centre back, to make it easier to get on and off and make adjustments with.
Third thought: OH HEY I DON’T NEED TO DO A BACK CLOSURE I CAN DO A ZIPPER ALONG THE FRONT AND HAVE AN OVERLAP WAISTBAND KIND OF LIKE THAT ONE I SAW IN THE MAGAZINE!
So I redrafted the waistband.
And used my new fancy-pants cold rubber tape along all of the seam allowances, just like I was supposed to with the leather one.
Sewing it together was fairly uneventful. This time I used regular poly thread rather than upholstery thread (never use cotton on hides) because I couldn’t find a good colour match in heavy-duty thread, and used double-sided tape to flatten the seam allowances after hammering them with the mallet. This suede is fairly thin and I didn’t want to topstitch anywhere I didn’t need to. I did top-stitch on the sides.
The zipper (a regular one; the suede feels too light for a metal zipper and I didn’t want to monkey with the invisible zipper foot on suede) was inserted with a lap. It went in pretty well, I think. A bit of hand-stitching was needed at the very bottom but otherwise my machine offered no complaints.
I decided to have three buttons on the waistband, two real and a fake, which meant two bound buttonholes on suede. This was by far the most challenging part of the whole garment. Let me offer some general observations:
1. Get rid of every bit of excess on the inside of the waistband that you can before putting the buttonholes in. Three layers of suede plus interfacing plus random cold rubber tape bits plus welts are not going to want to fold over and lie flat.
2. Go for the technique in the How to Sew Leather, Suede, Fur book, not the technique you’re used to using on fabric. Trying to get umpteen layers of skins to fold over and lie flat long enough to stitch them in place after you pull the welt through will give you hives, then nightmares.
3. Use bigger welts. It is very, very, very difficult to manipulate such itty bitty pieces of folded skin.
That said, they look ok when the buttons are in, but I wince when I see them naked, as it were.
The skirt fits just right and is the exact overall look I was going for. Oh my god, I’m a fashion designer!
Well, no. I’m not. But my first self-drafting adventure went pretty well and I’m happy with the skirt.