Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tetelestai: It Is Finished! My Pettiskirt UFO is No Longer Unfinished! Wahoo!

If you're just now joining us, you can catch up to speed on this pettiskirt project for my niece, Princess Petunia, by clicking here

Last night before bed, I stitched one of the two skirt layers to the satin waistband tier.  This morning, I pinned the other layer to the satin waistband, right sides together.  I tried to err on the side of too many pins rather than too few, because the chiffon and the satin are both slippery suckers.   Here's the waistband satin rectangle with one layer stitched on to one side, and the other one pinned, ready to take to the machine:

I decided to use my walking foot to attach the chiffon layers to the satin waistband because I thought the regular presser foot might snowplow the ruffled chiffon all out of whack.  If you don't have a walking foot, you might want to stitch this step upside-down, with the chiffon ruffles next to the feed dogs and the satin layer on top.  I've got the raw edges aligned and I'm still using my pink Olfa line for my 1/2" seam allowance.

 At this point in the project, there is a LOT of chiffon fluffed up around the sewing machine.  I was glad I had pinned so thoroughly, but I still had to be careful not to let the satin layer get bunched up or twisted underneath the chiffon.
 There you can see it all nicely lined up to go through the machine.  I picked the red-headed pins because I like any color as long as it's red.  Oh, and also to make sure I could see the little buggers through the turquoise chiffon.  Sometimes they got caught in the holes in the bottom of my walking foot, and I tried to be vigilant about pulling them out as soon as the pins passed behind the presser foot so they wouldn't catch and snag in the mountain of frills behind the machine.

Here's what it looked like with both skirt layers attached, finally all one piece:
My pattern instructions told me to put the elastic casing in next, before sewing the side seam, but I decided not to do it that way because wanted the side seam allowance to be inside the two skirt layers instead of up against the princess's skin.  After all, princesses are very sensitive...  Since I have had only a few previous experiences sewing with elastic and none of them went very well, I hunted around through a couple of online tutorials to figure out how to proceed.  After watching the Martha Stewart Pettiskirt Tutorial video three times, and reading her written instructions a few more times, I finally figured out what the heck they were telling me to do.  By the way, I do not suggest that you make the whole skirt the way the Martha directions tell you to do it.  It's backwards of the way my pattern and every other tutorial say to do it, and I'm suspicious that the woman in the video (who sells pettiskirts commercially and claims to have invented them) may be intentionally obfuscating in order to sell more of her readymade skirts.  Sewing the skirt from the top down instead of from the bottom up would be a nightmare, trying to attach miles and miles of frill to the hem of a skirt that's already gathered up instead of to a flat layer!  But I digress...

You can see in the photo how I've marked with tailor's chalk the 1 1/2" space just below the fold that I am going to leave OPEN in the side seam, so I have someplace to thread the elastic through.

 Okay, side seam sewn, skirt flipped down wrong sides together, and we're ready to sew that elastic casing!

 In this photo you can see the little 1 1/2" hole in the side seam where I'm going to thread my elastic into the casing. 

Now, if you have never sewn an elastic casing before, you might think that it would be a good idea to stitch 1" down from the folded edge of fabric to sew a casing for 1" wide elastic.  You would be wrong, and you would be sorry (I did that once on a pair of pajamas for one of my sons).  This is like sewing rod pocket curtains, and you have to sew the tunnel wider than the elastic (or curtain rod) you will be driving through the tunnel or else you are going to get stuck. 

It turns out that the distance from my needle in center position is exactly 1 1/4" from the edge of the stitch plate, so I was able to use that as my guide as I stitched the casing; no pink tape required.
I pinned along the fold line of my slippery satin fabric before attempting to stitch the casing and again, I'm glad I did, because it was slipping and sliding all over the place.  Sewers' words of wisdom: At the end of your project, you'll regret the seams you didn't pin more than the ones you did!
 I raised my machine bed up so I could use the free arm for this part, although the skirt is SO hugely puffy and bulky that it was still tricky to control.

...and there you have it!  The elastic casing has been sewn, and you can see the little cave entrance that I left open for inserting my elastic.

At about this point in the process, I couldn't help myself -- I had to "try on" the pettiskirt and take a twirling break. I knew it wasn't going to fit me once I fit the waistband to the size of a 2-year-old...

 I used 1" wide "non-rolling" elastic for my skirt, and I hooked a big safety pin to the end to help me feed it through the elastic tunnel (known as a casing to serious seamstresses). 
You probably already knew about the safety pin trick, but I think my binder clip idea might just be an original innovation.  Scratch that -- I'm sure somebody has thought of this before.  Anyway, I used a small binder clip from Staples to keep the tail end of the elastic from getting accidentally pulled into the tunnel.

I overlapped the ends by an inch and used the triple straight stitch on my Bernina to sew a square with an "X" where the elastic overlapped.  I also stitched down vertically through the waistband with my triple straight stitch at the front and back of the skirt to make sure the elastic can't get all twisted up when the skirt is worn and washed and washed and worn again.  I loathe twisted elastic!

The next and last step in my pettiskirt pattern tells me to tie a bow and then hand-tack it to the skirt, but that doesn't sound very secure to me. Instead, I cut a 36" piece of satin faced ribbon, cutting the ends on a 45 degree angle with micro-serrated shears to minimize fraying.  I made a little pleat at the center and then used my trusty triple straight stitch to secure that ribbon firmly to the waistband of the skirt.  Then I tied my bow, and tacked through the knot part to secure the bow to the skirt so it can't come untied.

Ta da!
Hee hee hee!  How cute is THAT?!  I just have a handful of hot pink ribbon carnations that I want to stitch on by hand, and I can do that this evening while my boys are at choir rehearsal.

Update: Okay, here it is with the little flowers, really and completely, totally finished:
As I finished stitching the little flowers on by hand last night, my husband made helpful comments such as "What are those pink things supposed to be?  They look like wads of gum.  No, spit balls -- they look like pink spit balls."  Well, Lover Dear, they are supposed to be my own personal touch, and I sewed them on very securely so they could not come off and become choking hazards, so they have to stay, even if they look like used-up Bubblicious to you.  If I was not running out of time (Princess Petunia might be wearing this for Halloween), I might have used some of my leftover chiffon strips to make larger fabric rosettes to combine with my little ribbon flowers.  In fact, if you have lived this project vicariously through my posts and you think making a skirt from scratch is beyond what your sanity can handle, you could always purchase a plain pettiskirt from someplace like Chasing Fireflies and then embellish it with ribbons and little flowers or sequins or whatever from MJ Trimmings to make it your own.  If you do, send me a picture -- I'd love to see it!

Update December 26, 2010: It's only the day after Christmas, but I've just had an Epiphany!  If I ever make another pettiskirt, I'm going to use the adjustable buttonhole elastic, which you can find here.  There's a tutorial here on how to adapt readymade jeans by adding the buttonhole elastic. 


Janice the Manice said...

This is WAY better than I ever could have envisioned! I can hear her now, "Look Mommy, I'm a Princess"!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! I have never seen anything quite so amazing. Rebecca, you have outdone even yourself! - Grammy

cari said...

oh man. That is dangerously cute.

Rebecca Grace said...

Hmmm... Dangerous in what way? I think the danger is that I will look at the cute pictures, forget that it took me forever to finish the first one, and order more chiffon to make another one or two or three and find myself drowning in a sea of chiffon. I could do the two tiers in different colors, so the top layer could be a deep orange with hot pink peeking out from the bottom layer, or an animal chiffon with deep red bottom layer... A nice kelly green with lots of flowers on it could be all elfish and Midsummer Night's Dream. I can dream up 10 different pettiskirts in 5 minutes...

The other danger would be that I might decide to make an adult-size pettiskirt to wear over jeans on days when I am not in the mood to be a grownup. :-)

cari said...

I think you could totally pull off the pettiskirt-over-jeans look. Go on. You know you want one for yourself.

Ivory Spring said...

This is absolutely GORGEOUS!

ViviBijoux said...

Hello there,
I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your tut and linked it on my blog here
hope you can hop on! smile, Virginie

Anonymous said...

You maybe right on the Kaiya Eve owner trying to throw people off, but only in how full they made their skirts. Though I guess it didn't work since they have since gone out of business.

If you are using a ruffler foot, it is a lot easier to start at the satin layer and work down. The only pinning needed are joining the two finished short sides and maybe for the waistband.

Rebecca Grace said...

I don't remember ever saying that I thought the pattern maker was deliberately trying to confuse people -- I actually really liked a lot of the information in the pattern and found it very helpful.