Simplicity 2152

I want to call this one “Adventures in Velveteen”. I learned a lot about working with velvet and velveteen on this project. It requires a lot of planning: in the layout stage, while sewing, pressing considerations and seam finishing. First up, a lesson in nap.

Velveteen has nap. The piece on the left has the nap running down, on the right it is running up. Note the subtle change in colour.

Velveteen has nap. The piece on the left has the nap running down, on the right it is running up. Note the subtle change in colour.

Nap affected my layout. I had only a yard (a very generous yard, actually, at just over a metre) of this velveteen from Fabric Mart. My original plan was to make another Robin top with it, but it was too thick to be comfortable as a top. So, I searched my pattern stash for a skirt using a yard (or less) of fabric.

I chose view C for my velveteen. On me, it hits right at the knee, the perfect length to wear with boots!

I chose view C for my velveteen. On me, it hits right at the knee, the perfect length to wear with boots!

The pattern actually calls for 1-3/8 yards, but I squeezed it in, even having to account for the direction of the nap I chose to use. When I smooth out my clothes during wear, I usually run my hands down, so I chose to have the nap running down the length of the skirt. This is the “smooth” nap.

However, before I even started, I knew that there are no second chances with velveteen. Unpicked stitches mar the fabric, so taking out stitches and restitching was not an option. I always do fitting garments with new patterns, but it was particularly important for this one.

This was my fitting garment. There are no second chances with velveteen, so the fit had to be perfect before I cut into the fabric.

This was my fitting garment. There are no second chances with velveteen, so the fit had to be perfect before I cut into the fabric.

It feels so naughty to write on fabric with a Sharpie marker! I actually quite enjoy it. I made my adjustments: adding 0,5cm (1/4″) to the side seams from the waist down (and promising myself a better zipper installation) and set to work.

Sewing velvet or velveteen takes some planning. One must sew the garment from top to bottom, in whichever is the desired direction of the nap. It is a good idea to use an even feed (walking) foot to better feed the fabric. Instead of pinning several seams at once, I sewed them one at a time.

Pressing also takes special consideration. I have no velvet board, so had to press face down on a towel. No pressing directly on the fabric, either. I developed muscles in my arms by hovering my iron above my seams and blasting them with steam. (I also got several facials in the process!) Then, there is the waiting. Between steaming and sewing, one must wait for the steamed areas to dry. So, the process was: pin with the nap, sew with the nap, steam, wait. Repeat.

Simplicity 2152

Simplicity 2152

I think it turned out well. In a fabric with fewer considerations, it would go together very quickly. Even with all of the waiting, I got the skirt panels together in about an hour. At the waistband stage, it was particularly slow going. It is a long and bulky seam that should be basted, whatever the fabric. Ask me how I know! The skirt has six panels so there are six sets of seam allowance to keep flat when attaching the waistband. I broke the rule of sewing with the smallest piece on top and sewed the waistband on (the second time, after basting it like I should have done the first time) with the skirt on top. In this manner, I could control the bulk and make sure it fed through the machine properly.

I used quilting cotton, leftover from my sewing machine cover, for the waistband facing. Two layers of velveteen would have been too bulky.

I used quilting cotton, leftover from my sewing machine cover, for the waistband facing. Two layers of velveteen would have been too bulky.

I do wish that I had lined the skirt, but I had nothing suitable to hand. I could not interface the waistband, as I had only fusible interfacing, which I may or may not regret. The velveteen is quite thick and the cotton helps because it is so stable.

This is a great skirt: the panels offer a lot of opportunity to refine fit and are universally flattering. It is quick to make and possible to get out of just a metre of fabric.

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