24 March 2012

The birthday project

A couple of months ago, I purchased some lovely material on sale at The Fabric Store (and made this top with some of it). In addition to the green-and-white checked fabric, I also got this very lightweight striped cotton.

My intention was to use it for a skirt, but any skirt would need lining (which I've never tackled before). I'd forgotten all about it until today, when a lovely friend gave me some spare tulle she had in her garage. Now, my plan is to make myself a spectacular gathered skirt lined with a tulle underskirt in time for my birthday!

After trawling through my patterns, I've decided that the best design to use would be the tried-and-true gathered skirt that I've made a few times (including for my first ever sewing project).

I don't want the tulle lining to go all the way up to the waistband (because it will be bulky to sew into the band, and probably scratchy to wear), so I'm planning to sew some black cotton lining the same as the main skirt piece, but at half the length. I'll then sew gathered tulle to the bottom of the lining so that it will show around 10 to 15 centimetres below the main skirt.

I'll then tack the top of the cotton lining fabric to the outer skirt piece, gather both layers and sew them into the waistband together. The bottom of the skirt should, when hemmed, look something like this.

The question I now have for others now is: will this work? Or is there a better way I should go about adding a tulle underskirt? Maybe I should use a different skirt pattern altogether! If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment. I'm not planning to sew this skirt in a day like I normally do. I'm going to chip away at it a little bit at a time over the next couple of months in the hope of having a finished piece for my 30th birthday. 



  1. Tulle can be scratchy against your legs. Have you considered doing the tulle layer in between the lining and the outer, like a ruffle? So the lining would go almost the full length and the tulle would sit over the bottom part of the lining. The tulle could still stick out a litte from the bottom.

  2. Ohh nice ... a new sewing project and with tulle and lining no less ... how exciting! :)

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  4. I've been thinking about how to phrase this since this post came up in my reader a couple days ago.

    Here is what I would do. (this is gonna be long - sorry!)

    When you're cutting the fabric - cut out two sets of the full part. One set in your striped fashion fabric, one set in lining-weight rayon or silk. Don't use polyester or acetate lining! It frays like crazy and is really really hard to use. Don't gather either layer yet, set them aside.

    Cut your netting about half/a quarter (your choice) the height of the gathered skirt part but twice (or 3x if you want it really puffy!) long.

    Load your bobbin with shirring thread (available from any decent sewing shop) and stitch two parallel rows along the top of the netting about a half cm apart from each other. Go slow and be careful with the parallel shirring stitches, they can't ever cross and you want them to stay as even as possible. The needle thread can be regular thread, any color you want, it's not going to show.

    When you've stitched your 2 rows of parallel shirring stitches, hold on to the shirring threads sticking out the end of the seams and let the regular threads hang free. Gather the fabric along the shirring threads by just pulling the ruffles along until they are evenly spaced down the length and the total length is as wide as your ungathered skirt fabric.Tie the shirring threads to each other and double knot them to secure. Clip your strings.

    Next step is to pin your netting layer to the underskirt. Your lining fabric probably won't have a right and wrong side, but the netting is going to get sandwiched between your lining skirt and the outskirt so although you'll have a bit sticking down at the hem for pretty's sake, you won't have to sit on a nest of crunchy uncomfortable net when you wear it - some will hit at the hem, but otherwise, you'll be sitting on smooth lining fabric.

    Position your gathered netting on the outer side of your underskirt and pin it down with the pins pointing down into the ruffle. It's best to use pins with colored ball heads on this or they'll get lost in the gathers.

    Now! Flip the whole thing over and take a strip of tissue paper (or loo roll if you're classy) and carefully remove and reset each pin to grab the tissue on the underside. The reason for this is the feed dogs on machines will chew the crap out of silky fabrics, especially when you're sewing chunky firm netting to slippery silk. Having the tissue on the bottom of the netting/lining sandwich means that if anything gets chewed it's toilet paper and not $20/m silk or rayon.

    Sew the netting/lining/tissue sandwich together with a single straight stitch. I like to use smallish stitches on this kind of thing. be sure to backtack at both ends.

    Once your netting is securely anchored to your underskirt, I would take the underskirt and the overskirt and sew (overskirt side down so the lining won't get chewed!) them together with shirring thread in the bobbin again. just like the netting, 2 parallel rows.

    With the skirts shirring stitched together, gather them up to the fullness needed to fit the waistband and attach as normal.

    Hem, and voila! Birthday skirt!

  5. I just re-read my book of a comment and I want to make clear a couple points.

    - I think you should use specific lining-weight fabric for the underskirt, not cotton. Having a double layer of cotton at the waist will make it way bulkier than necessary and that isn't the point where most people want any extra bulk. Lining weight fabrics add virtually no bulk or weight to the skirt.

    - I think the lining should be the full length of the skirt, perhaps hemmed 1/2cm higher than the overskirt so it doesn't show through the netting. This keeps your legs away from the net as much as possible and keeps you comfortable. Just attach the net at roughly halfway (or whatever looks best to you) down the length of the underskirt.

    Beyond that your plan looks totally solid to me, but please do try shirring thread for gathers - it feels like magic after gathering on normal thread.

  6. I can't offer sewing advice but I can say that it looks like it's going to be gorgeous! x

  7. looks nice it will come out good
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