Improv Sewing project: Modern Velvet Skirt

This weekend, I completed the cotton stretch-velvet skirt that I started here. After sewing up those side seams…

…I  added fold over elastic along the top. (I ordered it from Etsy shop Elastics By the Yard — a great source for this stuff. Fold over elastic isn’t stocked in Joann’s, which pretty much the only sewing/fabric store within ten miles of my house — and that’s too bad, because their selection isn’t great, and the ladies who work there are cranky.  I’m sure they have reason to be).

For some reason, I usually mess up the elastic. You have to make sure that the fabric’s raw edge stays firmly ensconced in the fold while (at the same time) you’re pulling the elastic taut. Because I am challenged by a moderate-to-serious case of klutzy-crafter syndrome (KCS), my fabric usually sneaks out of the folded elastic at one or two spots as I stitch my way around the waistband.

Happily, I always wear a shirt or sweater or even a belt that covers the skirt’s waist, and no one’s the wiser. My elastic faux pas remains my little secret.

I hemmed the skirt up 3/4 inch and then I was ready for the fun part — improv embellishment! I decided to add some tear drop shapes, cut from scrap velvet that I’d ironed on to some paper-backed fusible webbing. (I think the easiest way to is make these appliques is to fold the fabric, sketch or trace half of your shape along the fold, then cut out through both layers and press the shapes so they lay flat.)

I cut out plenty of shapes to I could mess around and practice first. Improv is improv, but after you’ve gone through all the trouble of making your garment, it’s good to try out your embellishment ideas on some scrap fabric, to make sure you like them. I had this vision of drops and lines…kind of like a velvet rainfall…so I tried it…

I thought it looked pretty good, and set to work on my skirt. In ten minutes, it was done. My stitching got all wobbly when I was outlining some of the drops–KCS strikes again! But you know what? I long ago accepted that perfect stitching is not my destiny. I just try to have fun with the process, embrace what I’m really good at, and accept that my sewing will have a charming, kid-art, scribble-outside-of-the-lines quality.

I can’t wait to see what all the incredibly skilled sewists out there will do when our book comes out with these how-tos in it (though if you’re a skilled sewist, you probably can just make the skirt based on the sketchy how-tos here–and if you do, please send us a photo).  I can’t wait to see what the less-skilled sewists will do too! In the meantime, I’m am ridiculously pleased with this skirt. I will wear it with black tights and boots on Thanksgiving. The elastic waist may be wonky, but it will be perfectly comfortable as I stuff myself with turkey and pie.

This entry was posted by Debra.

2 thoughts on “Improv Sewing project: Modern Velvet Skirt

  1. Complain as you will about your klutsy crafter’s syndrome, I can confidently announce to the world that I saw this skirt in person and it is flippin’ adorable AND well made (gaps in the fold over elastic and all).

    When you do your FOE waistband next time, a nice fat zig zag will grab all that fabric nicely. I’m actually not telling Debra this, but anyone else who might be reading this- true confessions of a teacher type.

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