Monday, October 4, 2010

No, It's Not Done Yet... But the Pettiskirt Nears Completion!

Good morning and Happy Fall, everyone!  You probably know I've been working (off and on, with way more "off" than "on") on a pettiskirt for my niece, Princess Petunia.  For a normal person, this is probably a weekend project.  I'm not normal -- I started mine in July, was determined to finish it in time for my parents to take it up to the Princess last week when they went up to New Jersey...  and it's not done yet.  If you need to catch up, you can read the earlier posts here.

I have to say, it amazes me when I check my blog stats and see that day after day, my most popular posts continue to be the ones about this pettiskirt project.  It's so cool to think that there's an army of moms, grandmas, aunts, and entrepreneurs out there, most of us working solo in our own little sewing room, but so many of us scattered all over the world, all working on the same project.  Buried in heaps of chiffon, incredulous that SO MUCH FABRIC could possibly be required for such a TINY LITTLE PRINCESS...  I received an email from a reader in Australia yesterday asking about this project, and it got me re-energized to dive back in yesterday afternoon while the hotdish was in the oven.  Thank you, Marg!

The first thing I did yesterday was to overcast the edges of the satin fabric I'm using for the top tier, because SOMEDAY when this skirt is finished it's going to get lots of wear, and I don't want it fraying all to bits.  It took me 20 minutes to figure out what stitch I had the serger set up for last time I used it, and then I settled on just a two-thread overlock (because I'm lazy and had limited time, and just wanted to get on with it).  I tried to just barely skim off the edges of the fabric; the rectangle was 7 1/2" x 54" before overcasting, and about 7 1/4" x 53 3/4" when I finished.

This top tier of the skirt is going to get folded in half lengthwise with an elastic casing in the middle, so I decided to lightly press that center fold line in even though the directions didn't tell me to.  I'm nervous about getting a warm iron near the chiffon ruffles, so this way I won't have to press anything once the chiffon tiers are attached to the satin.

So far, I had attached the frill to the hem edge of the bottom tier of the skirt, ruffled up the bottom tier and attached it to the middle tier, so all the chiffon pieces were connected in a L-O-N-G frilly piece.  My instructions from Kari Me Away directed me to find the middle of this big, long piece and cut it into two pieces next, once for the top layer of the skirt and one for the bottom layer.  Then I had to gather up each of the chiffon layers and attach it to one of the long sides of my satin rectangle.  My pattern advised against trying to gather and attach this layer in one step, since you want to gather the chiffon stuff down to fit the satin tier exactly.  The pattern gives instructions for conventional thread-pulling, serger gathering, and ruffler foot gathering.  Feeling brash and dangerous, I whipped out my handy calculator, determined that I needed to gather my chiffon to more than 5x fullness in order for it to be too small to fit, so I cranked the little screw on the ruffler foot clockwise an indeterminate amount and gathered up my first tier. 
You can see in the photo, I'm just gathering a single layer of chiffon in this step, and I tried to keep the edge of the fabric just inside my hot pink 1/2" seam allowance line.  I'm going to stitch this to the satin piece separately with a half inch seam allowance and I wanted my initial ruffling stitches to be hidden in that seam allowance.  Not that anyone will be able to tell when it's all bunched up around the Princess's little Buddha belly, but I'll know...

Surprise, surprise -- when I carefully measure test strips of fabric to determine how much fullness I'm gathering in, I screw up and have yards and yards of fabric left over.  When I throw caution to the wind, skip the test-and-adjust step and just crank the screw until the gathers look about right, I end up gathering the piece down to almost exactly the size it needs to be, with just a wee bit of slack.  I thought I was going to have to ease a considerable amount of excess fullness in as I pinned the chiffon layer to the satin, but this was a piece of cake.

HOW CUTE IS THAT?!  You're looking at one of the two skirt tiers, pinned right-sides-together to one long edge of the top satin tier.  The finished skirt is going to be twice as fluffy.  This is starting to look like something, finally!

I think I'm going to add a few more pins before I sew that on, then I'll sew the other tier to the other side of the satin piece the same way.  After that, my pattern instructions tell me to put a casing for the elastic in the center of the satin piece (hence my lightly pressed crease line), and THEN sew a seam through all the layers to make the skirt into a tube.  Doing it that way would put a seam allowance on the inside of the skirt, though, next to the Princess's tender skin.  So...  I'm planning to sew the side seam first, then fold the skirt down to make the elastic casing (so the seam allowance is hidden between the two layers of the skirt).  I think that will look neater.

But none of this will be happening today, because my cleaning service will be here any minute and I have stacks of fabric samples piled all over the living room where I was working last night...  Because the piles of paperwork all over the desk AND floor of my office prevented me from working in there...  *SIGH*


Janice the Manice said...

I have it on good authority that Princess Petunia is practicing her twirling techniques in anticipation of the finished pettiskirt! She spent a better part of the morning, at preschool, pretending to be a princess with two of her girly friends. They were in dress up clothes, twirling and spinning, as gracefully as "hippos" (not my word) as the "Little Mermaid" instrumental was played as background music.

Rebecca Grace said...

Who called our princess a hippo?!!

Janice the Manice said...

Her teacher was trying to illustrate their lack of coordination, 2 yr olds aren't the most graceful bunch. Unless she was trying reference the buddah bellies? None the less, the comment came from a place of love and I knew exactly what she meant. It's difficult to NOT crack a smile or to find yourself supressing a giggle when the Princess decides to put on a show.