Friday, May 16, 2008

Reclamation is a beautiful thing.

I've been waiting to show you this FO for a while now, but the weather wasn't right for taking pictures, and I didn't have a photographer. This morning I decided, to heck with a photographer, I would ask my six-year-old daughter to take the photos.

Salvage Skirt

Pattern: None. Method suggested by Threads number 120, September 2005. Yoke adapted from Burda 8677.
Invisible zipper
Cotton flower trim
Fabric strips:
-silk charmeuse
-Josef Otten cotton lawn
-silk satin
-polyester satin
-polyester double georgette
-Josef Otten cotton

I read this article when the magazine first came out. I liked the idea and started planning the skirt right away. Instead of buying meters of new fabric for it, I decided to cut up some finished garments that didn't fit or didn't look as nice as I thought they would.

Reclaiming fabric is a nice idea, but it can be time consuming, depending on the garment you're recycling. If the piece has a lot of seams, you might have trouble finding a long enough portion to make a workable strip.

This, like most other sewing, is a slightly space-intensive undertaking. All together, when I had all the strips cut, laid out, and sewn together along their long edges, the total length was 167". All that length had to be pressed, serged, pressed again, hemmed, pleated, and sewn to the yoke.

The magazine does not call for a separate, fabric yoke. According to the directions, you make a yoke, shaped to your waist-to-hip, out of fusible interfacing. You then pleat the skirt directly onto that - using the iron to press the pleats in place as you fuse them to the skirt. Then you free-form quilt all along the interfaced yoke to secure the free edges of the pleats. Insert a zipper, and you're done.

I didn't like the finished look of the piece as given. The pleats look a little random and messy to me - and I thought it would likely be unflattering to have them extend right up to the waist. I have no hips to speak of as it is, and the vertical lines would have eliminated what shape I have.

In order to create the illusion of a difference between my waist and my hip, I made a standard, shaped yoke out of a fabric that matched part of the skirt. For this I used my favourite yoke - from Burda 8677. I adjusted the length so that the seamline between the yoke and the fall would be exactly on the fullest part of my hip. I also fitted the seamline so that it would be quite a bit bigger than my actual hip, counting on the fullness of the pleated strips to hold it away from my body. To emphasise the seamline and broaden the hip a bit more, I added the flower trim.

I like how this turned out. Those 167 inches of skirt, when pleated in, really add a lot of swing. The fabrics are all light and flowy, as well, which captures motion beautifully. I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but this skirt is full of light and drape.

The fabrics have various degrees of opacity, with some of them being very sheer indeed - this allows for an interesting play of light and shadow in the finished piece, while the pleats at the top take away any revealing glimpses that might otherwise result.

I think my favourite part of this skirt is the fact that it's recycled. I reclaimed fabric from a long, waistless sundress I hardly ever wore, a silk slip I made before I was married, two skirts that no longer fit me, and the lining from a skirt whose outside was so full of pulls as to be unwearable. The rest of the necessary strips I made from stash fabric that no longer appealed to me as they once had.

I would make this again. Happily, having worked through the method once, it'll be a lot simpler next time. But for now I'm out of garments to cut up, so I'd have to buy fabric for the next one. You could really go as expensive or as cheap as you wanted - or a mixture of the two. You could use silks, if you like, or you could use poly. There are always some very pretty peau de soie fabrics out for summer, which would look lovely interspersed with gauze or voile.


bethro said...

Looks fantastic! Great job.

Ames said...


lizbon said...

Oh I love this. It looks very Ren Faire to me, and in my book that is a good thing. It's like a fairy skirt.

And I love it that it's recycled. The fabrics look great together.

Kris said...

Lovely! I may just have to try this myself! But my hips are certainly wide enough that I don't need to draw any attention to them!

I really like the detail of the flower trim you added.

Mary Lou said...

That is beautiful, great colors. Almost makes me want to sew again...

karen said...

The skirt turned out great - finally the weather has improved and there is a strong chance that you will get to wear your work of art - it's lovely...

karen said...

The skirt turned out great - finally the weather has improved and there is a strong chance that you will get to wear your work of art - it's lovely...

Tabatha said...

WOW! Fabulous! You did a lovely job Shan, the skirt is beautiful.

Kristine said...

Gorgeous! Looks lovely on you, as well.

Karen said...

That's beautiful! I love the colors and the range of textures.

Olga said...

wow, that turned out great, it looks like you shopped for the fabrics instead of using what you already had.

Shan said...

Well Olga, that's one of the benefits of having predictable and consistent colour preferences.

kate said...

Nicely done! Looks gorgeous. And flower trim ... my my ;-)

Love the whole re-using/ re-purposing fabric idea. Thought of your tutorial the other day when patching the boy's pants. Love these sewing posts.

stitchin' girl said...

What an amazing skirt!! Great job.

Gena said...

Oooh, really cute! I like your mods, too. Although I don't really need any more attention drawn to the hips.

Heatherly said...

in reply, cuz i cant find your email...what is up with that?!

anyways :
yes, it is such a peircing moment in the movie, too! i love that line!

mel said...

This skirt is a beautiful thing! It's gorgeous on it's own and the knowledge of how it was made and where it came from just adds to it. And your daughter takes beautiful pictures :)