Skirt city…..


No matter the time of year, I tend to lean pretty heavily on the basic skirt as part of my wardrobe. Dresses off the rack have rarely worked for me because I’m either too short or too booby or too whatever for them – and pants (as much as I love a comfy pair of jeans) often leave me feeling dumpy. Skirts in comparison can be flirty and cute, are easily altered, and go with almost any occasion (paired with long johns, I even wear them hiking). Fortunately, skirts are also really easy to make, which means I am forever collecting fabric that will “one day” get turned into something wearable.

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Skirt one: Quilting cotton underlined with brown batiste-like fabric.

The problem with that of course, is that so much of the fabric I appreciate is of the quilting cotton variety – which means that even for summer wear it can leave something to be desired in terms of structure and garment-worthiness. Quilting cottons are intended to be sew into layers with other fabrics – after all – and they can look a little flimsy on their own.

Since I have lots of cotton fabric that wants to be garments in my sewing closet, I’ve recently (in the last two weeks) come around to attempting the technique of underlining.

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Skirt two: Christmas skirt comprised of quilting cotton, red satin trim and polyester taffeta underlining.

You see, there is creating a lining for a skirt, and then there is underlining – and the two skirts I’ve just made lead me to believe that the latter is superior for my needs and well worth the (slightly) extra effort. Underlining entails cutting out lining pieces the same as the main fabric pieces, and then basting those lining pieces right to the main fabric so as to create a whole fabric which is then used to create the skirt. Threads magazine has a much better description of it here: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4999/understanding-underlining.

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Synthetic taffeta underlining on the Christmas skirt.

What I’ve discovered from this first foray into underlining my skirts is that the cotton looks a lot more substantial for garment-wear, the skirts have more structure and look better as a result,  the cotton doesn’t wrinkle nearly as much from all-day wear, and the skirts are more appropriate to fall and winter weather because of the extra layer. Of course underlining also changes the “hand” of the fabric – which may or may not be to your liking. In the case of these skirts I was very pleased to stiffen up the limp cotton and I think they wear better overall.

Each of these skirts took me about two hours  – they are simple elastic-waist constructions. The brown patchwork-looking skirt is my first attempt at self-drafting an A-line skirt which turned out surprisingly well. The second Christmas skirt came from a pattern I’ve used several times before. In any case, that’s six more yards out of the stash (including the linings) and into the wardrobe with very little effort. I’ve got some corduroy to use up next, just after I get my Christmas quilting finished!

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