Hello-ello-ello! I’m back on the Love Notions Tour bus, and our theme this summer is lace! Isn’t that exciting? I know many a beginner seamstress finds lace a little harder to deal with unless it’s very stable, but I’d like to reassure you – there’s nothing you can’t overcome about sewing with lace. If you’re just starting out with fabric with large-ish holes in it, I’ll share a couple of tips at the end of this post to work easily with it. It’s really just a couple of extra steps that give your finished outfit an oomph you’ll be proud of!
I’ll be really honest, I searched high and low on Pinterest to find a striking, unusual outfit for inspiration. I found one, a pair of culottes, but extra wide pants are just not my style. I don’t foresee myself reaching for them, and I’m beginning to believe that if I’m sewing something it’s got to be LOVED when I wear it, or else it’s a huge waste of time. I did, however, see a ton of midi skirts worn by ladies of all sizes, and they all looked fabulous. Midi skirts are something I’ve wanted to make this summer, and so I decided to make one just to try it out. While the ankle length maxi and the evergreen knee length skirt are both fun, a midi must be exactly the right length or you’ll look severe and dowdy. Or severely dowdy. And that’s a huge nope from me.
I chose this poly-spandex lace in black from my enormous stash for this project. I don’t even remember where I bought it, but it’s likely from eBay. It was, quite frankly, cheap. Cheap enough to take a risk with, which is what this project was. A big risk. Since it’s a pretty see-through lace, I vacillated between black and dark grey for the lining. Did I want to lose the lacy quality of the fabric with a black lining? How often would people be close enough to actually notice my skirt was lace? I realized that a charcoal grey lining would be discreet and make it more obvious that it’s a full lace skirt. I picked a heavy rayon spandex from Stylish Fabrics for the lining. Rayon meant that it wouldn’t cling to me or to the polyester lace fabric, allowing for free movement of the layers independently.
Next up was the choice of pattern. No question, it had to be the Sybil from Love Notions. But which view of the Sybil? I was spolied for choice, since Tami always packs her patterns with options galore. The Sybil has an INSANE number of options for one pattern. From the description of the pattern:
The Sybil Illusion Skirt Collection is the only skirt pattern you’ll need. Meant for knit fabrics, the Sybil comes with seven variations: pencil, A-line, swing, drop yoke with swing, gored, asymmetrical wrap and pleated. All versions, with the exception of the drop yoke, also have knee and midi length options as well as inseam pockets. All skirt waistbands can include the optional hidden control panel or a yoga-style waistband, no closures needed. The tutorial is optimized with clickable links that will help you navigate easily. This pattern features layers + trimless assembly which means less time piecing & cutting and more time sewing!
Armed with the seed of an idea, I chose the box pleats version. Call me foolish but I just cannot stop myself from making box pleats. It’s a siren call, leftover from my school uniform days. I knew a lacy box pleat skirt would be easy to dress up or down, much more than the pencil, A-line, gored or any of the other variations. The next dilemma was how to line it.
I googled hard but found very few answers to my questions about how to treat the lining. Should it be a separate, A-line skirt, joined only at the waistband, or treat it as an underlining at the pleats? More on underlining later, since that’s what I chose to do. Should I keep them the same length and hem them together? Should I make it sexy and show a little hint of skin? (That was a Heck Yeah.) What do couturiers do?
Here’s what I actually did:
I decided to use a combination of techniques for a lined skirt, UNDERLINING and TRADITIONAL. For an underlining, you would cut your pattern pieces from the main and lining, put them wrong sides together and baste along all the edges. Then proceed to construct your skirt treated the underlined pieces as one. The traditional method is where you construct the main skirt and the lining skirt separately, and it is only joined at the waistband, the lining hanging free from the skirt main.
For this skirt I underlined the lace at the waist only, pleating the fabrics together at the waistband. The hem I decided to keep separate since I wanted different lengths (and a little bit of thigh hinting through). I cut the lining about 4 inches shorter than the knee length marking on the pattern, while the lace was at the midi length.
I sewed the side seams of the lace and lining front and back separately. If your lace has larger holes than looks nice with a serged seam, I’d recommend using a water-soluble stabilizer along the seam allowance to make it easy to sew, which conveniently dissolves once you wash the garment. Vilene is a good brand I’ve heard, but I haven’t tried it myself yet.
Then I basted the waist openings together, with a regular basting stitch. A stretch stitch was not needed because it would all get folded up and serged anyway. I then formed the box pleats with TONS of pins, which is important – I would urge you check your pleat template length against your skirt and adjust the pleats as you go, keeping them even. With stretchy knits and two slippery layers I had a real hard time making sure the pleats were even. Any unevenness was more evident at the side seams, where hopefully no one ever looks. Then I basted the pleats down, making sure I removed each and every single pin. Yes, I did miss one. A vital one. I did get poked. Finally, I put the waistband on, and I do want to remind you to cut the waistband in the direction of greatest stretch, which for my lace was along the straight grain (along the selvage), not the cross grain (selvage to selvage), which is highly unusual for knits. I hemmed the two skirt lengths on my coverstitch, and voila! I was done.
To answer my own questions – the lighter skirt looks amazing. It’s less serious and funereal, more exclusive and handmade couture I feel. The shorter lining really makes a difference when the pleats are unfurled, which is why I’m holding the skirt up in so many photos. Hanging straight down the fabric layers hide the fact that the lining is shorter. That, and the wind was not making photography easy. While I am 5’3″, and 5’5″ in heels, this skirt at the midi length is wonderfully flattering. The lining didn’t add major bulk, but I would choose a lightweight lining next time, since the skirt got really heavy once I wore it. I do need to insert elastic at the waistband in the coming days, which I skipped since I didn’t think I’d like the skirt this much.
To conclude this unusually long post, I’m so glad to have this lace challenge. I don’t much reach for lace when I’m sewing, but I think I do need to incorporate it into my style more. I wrote this giant post just so that someone in the future will read it and make something kickass too – and if it helps even one person I consider my job done. I am so eager to see what the other immensely talented bloggers on this tour have created, because I will quite definitely be taking notes. Please click on each of the links below to visit my fellow stops on the blog tour! Thank you, Love Notions, for being so super awesome! All links are affiliate links, helping me buy more fabric lol.
Monday: Sewing Curves SewSophieLynn Kainara Stitches
Tuesday: doodlenumber5 My Heart Will Sew On Third Shift Creations
Wednesday: Princesse et tresors Phat Quarters
Thursday: All Things Katy! Back40life,Sprouting JubeJube
Friday: Sew Like a Sloth Very Blissful Seamly Behaviour