Sunday, November 19, 2023

New Look 6708: The Eight-Year Skirt Project is Finally Finished

If you only come here for the quilting, be forewarned -- today's post is not for you.  Today's post will be all about how I spent $78 and eight years of my life making a skirt that I will probably only wear a handful of times, using a pattern (New Look 6708, now out of print) that I have no intention of ever making again.  Today I will relate the saga/review the pattern of what my mom and I have been calling "That Dumb Skirt!"  

New Look 6708 Skirt Finish

New Look 6708 (OOP) View B

I made my skirt using New Look pattern 6708, which is out of print from the manufacturer but you can still find uncut used copies for sale.  At the time I'm writing this, you can get a copy of this pattern on Etsy here and I saw a few copies available on eBay as well (This post contains affiliate links).  This A-line, lined Misses skirt with side zipper did not actually take 8 years to sew -- it just got abandoned for long intervals while I was sidetracked by other projects.  If you want to read the post from June of 2015 when I first started this skirt, you can find that here.

I made View B, the above-knee version of the skirt, and I used "Pretty Potent Echinacea" cotton voile fabric from Anna Maria Horner with solid navy cotton voile for the lining.  Although I was unable to find an online source for my skirt fabric in voile today, Anna Maria Horner has reissued this print in new colorways for Free Spirit Fabrics recently, calling it simply "Echinacea," and you can find those on Etsy here.  (Just be aware that the current versions are printed on quilting weight cotton fabric that has more body and less drape than the voile I used for my skirt).  I prewashed both my fashion fabric and my lining fabric prior to cutting out my skirt.

I used Pellon Shape Flex Woven Cotton Interfacing SF101 in White for my waistband and I'm happy with that interfacing choice for the cotton voile, but wish I'd chosen the same SF101 interfacing in Black in hindsight.  Because my fashion fabric is semi-sheer, the waist yoke with the white interfacing behind it looks like a slightly different color than the body of the skirt that has navy lining fabric behind it:

White Interfacing Makes Waist Yoke Look Lighter/Brighter than Navy-Lined Body of Skirt

Ah, well.  It's subtle and no one else is going to notice this or care.  I've only tucked my shirt in to show the top of the skirt for these project review photos; normally the waistband or waist yoke or whatever you want to call it won't even be visible.

Pattern Sizing

According to the size chart on the back of the pattern envelope, my 30" waist measurement should have correlated perfectly to a size 16, but when I tested that in muslin it was so enormous that it fell right off over my hips.  I didn't get a flat, smooth fit through the waist yoke from any of the pattern sizes, so I redrafted that pattern piece to be a hybrid between a size 12 and 14 (read about that in this post and this post from July 2015).  

The Zipper

The next major hiccup with this skirt was that I vehemently did NOT want to follow the pattern instructions for the zipper, but I didn't know how to put the invisible zipper in with the zipper tape hidden inside the lining like the RTW skirts inside my closet.

Why Oh Why?!!  Yuck!

I had to take a research detour to figure out how I was going to do my zipper.  An article from a back issue of Threads magazine came to my rescue: "Zipper Insertion in Tricky Fabrics" from Threads Issue #179, June/July 2015.  I found another copy of that issue on Etsy here, if anyone is interested!

Key things I'd like to remember about this, in case I ever do something like this again:

  • I fused 3/4" wide strips of interfacing to the seam allowance of my voile skirt fabric like this, extending 1" below the bottom of the zipper opening:
Interfacing Strips Stabilize Voile to Support the Zipper

  • Next, I overcast the raw edges of my fashion fabric and lining fabric with a 3-thread overlock stitch (this was the inaugural project of my new Babylock Acclaim serger).
Raw Edges Finished with 3-Thread Serger Overlock

  • Then I sewed the seam below the zipper opening on both the skirt and lining fabrics with my Bernina 745QE sewing machine.
  • I basted the invisible zipper to my skirt by hand, just the left side, before stitching it by machine with my invisible zipper foot:
Zipper Hand-Basted Prior to Machine Stitching

  • I cut strips of Sulky Solvy water soluble machine embroidery stabilizer and put them between the voile fabric and my feed dogs when machine stitching the zipper.  That was one of the Threads tips for sewing pucker-free zippers in voile.  After sewing the zipper, you just moisten the Sulky Solvy with water and it's easy to remove without damaging your stitching.
Sulky Solvy Next to the Feed Dogs for Pucker-Free Zipper in Voile

  • This next bit I had trouble with.  That same Threads article about zippers in tricky fabrics contained tips for ensuring that any seam line your zipper crosses will match up perfectly on both sides of the zipper.  The idea is that you sew one side of the zipper, then zip it closed and mark the zipper tape on the unsewn side at the exact spot where the seam line should be, pinning or hand tacking that spot before sewing the second side flawlessly by machine.  I tried that, was unhappy with the results, unpicked my stitching and tried it again, and was still off by about a millimeter.  
2nd Attempt, Zipper Hand Stitched to Crossing Seam Line


A few thoughts: Even though I picked the lightest-weight invisible zipper that I could find at my local JoAnn's, maybe there are lighter weight zippers out there that would have been better suited to my fabric.  Or maybe I should have used a firmer interfacing there?  I also struggled to pin, baste, or hand stitch that key point on the zipper tape securely to my skirt before machine stitching because I couldn't hand stitch ALL the way into the zipper teeth, and it seems like the slippery voile was shifting during stitching right at that last little bit beyond where my hand stitches ended.  Would another strip of Sulky Solvy in between the voile and the zipper tape have helped?  Who knows -- and after two tries, I decided to just go with what I had rather than risk damaging my fragile fabric by ripping out and restitching the zipper over and over and over again.

No, the Zipper Isn't Perfect, But It Doesn't Pucker Either, So I'm Fine With It

It's not 100% Couture-Perfect, but it's not so bad that it would stop me from buying the skirt if I saw it in a store.  Mostly I am just tickled with how well the extra effort of pattern matching paid off, because the larger scale echinacea print draws my eye more than that slightly misaligned seam crossing.  If I'd sewn this in a solid fabric, or God forbid, with a contrasting fabric for the skirt yoke, I might feel very differently about this.

Another resource that was incredibly useful was this short YouTube video from Professor Pincushion, "How to Sew an Invisible Zipper With a Lining."  I hand-stitched my lining to cover the offending zipper tape following her instructions from this video:

Here's what the hand stitched lining next to the zipper opening looks like on the inside of my skirt:

Lining Hand Stitched to Zipper Tape Per Professor Pincushion's Tutorial

This next bit is just funny.  When I cut out all of the pattern pieces for my skirt all those years ago, I put little pieces of masking tape on the waist yoke facing pieces so I could tell the front "F" from the back "B."  

I Am So Organized...

Well, guess what happens when ink + masking tape adhesive + sunlight all hang out together on top of fabric for seven or eight years?

Horrors!  Masking Tape and Ink Have Stained My Fabric!

Fortunately I had plenty of leftover fabric and was able to cut out new pieces to replace the ones with the stains.  I will NOT be marking fabric with masking tape and ink pens in the future!

There were other speed bumps with the waist band/yoke.  The pattern calls for 1/4" wide twill tape to be sewn in that top edge seam of the waistband, but that felt awfully bulky and thick for my fabric.  Somewhere -- maybe in one of Sandra Betzina's Fabric Savvy reference books? -- I got the idea of using a 1/4" wide strip cut from a quilting cotton fabric selvage in place of the twill tape, and that worked nicely.  The tightly woven selvage is plenty firm and stable enough to prevent stretching of the waist band, with much less bulk and no obnoxious ridge that can be seen or felt on the finished skirt.  So that was a good substitution.  

But then, the pattern tells you to press the raw edge of the facing under, pin it in place, and then secure it by machine stitching "in the ditch" from the right side.  

Stitching In the Ditch With My Edge Stitching Foot

I tried that, against my better instincts, and even though it looked lovely on the right side of the skirt, it looked like the hot mess I expected when I peeked at what had happened with that facing edge on the inside of the skirt:


At this point, my mom (who was really, really sick of this skirt by now) suggested that it was fine, it was on the inside of the skirt where no one could see it except me, etc.  NO WAY.  I decided that this step in skirt making is analogous to the second pass of stitching binding on a quilt.  When I've tried to press or pin the folded edge of my binding around to the back of the quilt and then stitch in the ditch from the front of the quilt to secure it, I've never been happy with the results.  There's always an uneven flap of the binding beyond the stitching that drives me crazy.  And how do we make sure our binding looks flawless on BOTH sides of the quilt?  If we want it to look perfect, we stitch it by hand.

So I unpicked those machine stitches and used the needle hole perforations as a guide for creating a new fold line in the facing edge, one that would perfectly match the edge of that waist yoke with no excess, and I restitched my facing to the skirt lining by hand.  Much, much better!

Restitching My Facing By Hand

The Happiness of My Hook and Eye Closure

Oh yes, you read that correctly.  I found another great video from Threads magazine demonstrating how to position and attach hook and eye closures with a lock stitch, and I am delighted with how BEAUTIFUL this looks on the inside.  That little hook and eye are never, ever going to fall off, and I don't think I've seen this on even my most splurgy RTW garments.

I Love My Hook and Eye!

I love how my hook and eye turned out SO much, it makes up for my disappointment with the zipper misalignment!  Here's that Threads video, "Place and Sew Hooks and Eyes Correctly" that showed me how to do it:

And Now For the Hem

This next photo is for those of you who might be thinking to yourselves, "Gee, I'll bet it's a lot of fun to spend the afternoon sewing with Rebecca Grace."  😂

My Mom Is Having So Much Fun Right Now...

My mom has been helping me through this project with helpful suggestions such as "Three hours is more than enough time to spend researching presser foot options" and "JUST SEW IT ALREADY BEFORE WE DIE!"  She is very patient, actually, and she is only pretending to look terrified in that photo.  I've climbed up onto my (very sturdy!) ironing worktable so she can mark my hem for me without having to get down on her hands and knees.  This actually worked really well.  Interestingly, we had to take about an inch and three quarters off the front of the skirt to get a level hem.  The skirt uses the same pattern piece for the front and back, which would work out great if only my belly stuck out as far as my behind...  I'm glad I insisted on checking that because I thought it looked like the skirt was hanging lower when I looked in the mirror and it made me look like I had a sway back or wasn't standing up straight.  We trimmed my hem to be 17" above the table/floor when I'm barefoot.  

So then -- another fabulous resource tutorial came into play: Sylvain Bergeron, Bernina Educator, with his fantastic tutorial for stitching a narrow curved hem with Bernina's presser foot #63, the 3 mm hemmer foot.  Here's a link to that video on Bernina USA's Instagram account.  Even if you sew on another brand machine, Sylvain's video will help you to be successful with this type of foot.  The most useful tidbits I gleaned were:

  • Starch the raw edge just before trimming the hem to reduce the chance of fraying whiskers poking out from your hem
  • Why foot #63 is the best choice for a curved hem due to the way the back of the foot is design to allow pivoting around a curve
  • Stitch SLOWLY with this type of foot
  • How to position your hands to guide the raw fabric edge smoothly into the coil while pivoting
  • How much fabric to feed into the coil in front of the foot and how to know if you're feeding too much or too little
I am just delighted with how beautifully the hem stitched on both my skirt and my lining fabrics.  When I crossed the seam allowances, I just slowed down even more and used the point of my stiletto to ensure the seam allowances fed through the coil along with the rest of the hem.  

Bernina Foot 63, 3 mm Hemmer

Flawless, Even Across the Seam Allowances!

Very Happy Hemming!

I think the hems are my favorite thing about this skirt, after the hook and eye.  One more reminder to myself, something that wasn't in Sylvain's video but I came across it somewhere else in my research.  When you're stitching a circular hem like my skirt, you stitch as far as you can around the skirt until you're within an inch or two of where you started.  Then you take the skirt out from under the needle, unpick a few of your first and last stitches, and then you roll that last little bit of the hem under by hand and give it a good press with the iron to secure it.  Back at the sewing machine, switch to the Edgestitch foot, adjust the needle position to match the rest of the hem stitching, and stitch the last bit of the hem to join the beginning and ending points.

And now, eight years after I started it, my skirt is finished!  Can you believe I went to all that trouble for something so simple?!  Well, I learned a lot along the way.

The best thing about finishing this skirt is that now I can give myself permission to pick out a NEW garment project.  Stay tuned...  But don't worry; the quilting content will be back for next time!  

I have one more client's quilt for long arm quilting before turning my attention to Thanksgiving meal preparations and taking the rest of this week off to enjoy the holiday with my family.  I hope all of you celebrating with me in the United States have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I'm linking up today's post to the following linky parties:


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  


To-Do Tuesday at Quilt Schmilt  


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty

 TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: TGIF Friday 


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I'm amazed that after 8 years it still fits you! My hips and waistline have changed in 8 years and I wouldn't be able to zip it!!

Preeti said...

Oh girl friend, you make that skirt look both cool and hot!!! You go girl!!!
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

That is a hilarious picture of your mom! Kudos to you for finishing up this skirt after all this time! It's a pretty one and looks great on you. And you learned a lot - a win all the way around! said...

Your mom is amazing! LOVE the photo of her. Great skirt. How wonderful to have a finish!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

The skirt looks wonderful, so fresh and clean. Maybe you'll get more use out of it than you realize in the spring.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Your attention to detail and willingness to research continues to amaze me! I love your Mom's comments. Great read.

Ellen said...

Beautiful job and well worth the effort I believe. But then, everything you do is beautiful.

Sandy said...

Congratulations on finishing, Rebecca Grace! And it really looks wonderful -- all of the extra painstaking details have paid off handsomely!

Melva said...

What a feeling of accomplishment for you to finish a project that has lingered for years. Well done! I really like style/cut of the skirt too. I'd love for you to share in my weekly Sew & Tell party over on Melva Loves Scraps.

Kathy said...

You did a beautiful job on your 8 year skirt. Love all the research you did so you were able to finish it. Fit is one of the hardest parts of sewing clothing but you nailed it. Beautiful job on the zipper as well. I taught garment construction for over thirty years and many students just hated putting in zippers of any kind but especially invisible zippers. I hope you decide to wear your skirt often. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

LA Paylor said...

you brought back great memories of Home Ec in junior high. I learned all the ways to add a zipper to clothing, and it was like learning to read for me, magical. Suddenly the world of clothing began to be possible... setting in sleeves, fitting, invisible hems, pleats, zippers... then I made the majority of my clothes through high school. Your skirt is beautiful on you, perfectly fitted and flattering. Love your shoes too... I miss wearing heels but bodies fail over time too.

Lodi said...

Rebecca, I have never read your blog and not learned something - thank you for that!
As a garment sewer (and sometime quilter) I was instantly drawn to your Anna Maria Pretty Potent fabric. I have a lawn from that collection. (Not sure of the name, but it's a lovely aqua which to my 2023 eye looks rather weed-like. Hmmmmmm.) But anywhoo, the hook and eye video was 👁 opening. 😅
I hope you enjoy your lovely "new" skirt as much as I've enjoyed reading about it! Can't wait to see what's next!

SewingAdventures said...

Really enjoyed reading your skirt post. I avoid garment construction, but may try again after your tips. I just finished a quilt with the current version of this fabric, so was surprised to see it in voile.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Lots of useful information for garment makers! The result is a lovely skirt. Can't believe it took eight years, but that's what it takes sometimes to find perfection. Thanks for sharing on my weekly show and tell, Wednesday Wait Loss.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Adorable skirt, Rebecca! It was a long learning adventure, for sure! I hope you enjoy wearing it to many events. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Vivian said...

You had me at "I'm finishing a UFO skirt", LOL!! I have to agree with Karen, if I had a skirt I started years ago, I'd have to think about how to repurpose the fabric 'cause that baby would not fit me now!! That said, as a quilter who came from clothing sewing and longs to go back to it (well, I did recently make a denim bucket hat to wearing camping), I hung on and related to every word. It looks great and you did a great job and how fun this will be to wear in Spring or Summer (add some cute yellow sandals and you will be good to go)!! Heck, if I thought it'd be warm enough by then, I'd tell you I want to see it at Quilt Con in February! Also glad to know I'm not the only one who still has their copies of old issues of Threads magazine --- like old issues of QNM, there are pearls of wisdom in dem thar pages!

Anne-Marie said...

It looks wonderful and that hook and eye is outstanding.

dq said...

It looks like beautiful workmanship to me. You look amazing in it as well!

Bernie Kringel said...

Rebecca - Were I to spend that much time to make a skirt, I would be compelled to wear it daily for months on end. Seriously great fit though! I am not as picky as you. I know I should care that the inside look as clean and neat as the outside but.... I don't.
As with the others, a skirt cut out eight years ago wouldn't fit today. That is not a good thing though. You should feel pretty happy yours does! That is really saying something. Gorgeous work here.