June 22, 2015 by New Capel Street: Fabric Division
…or, how I accidentally made a skurtain.
A few years ago, my housemate’s mother sent her home from a visit with a present for me. A shopping bag full of the sewing patterns she used when she was around my age, and which she hadn’t used in literally decades. I rummaged through them, squeed at some, winced at some others, and decided that it would totally be fun to sew every single thing in that collection, especially the Mystery Patterns that had been pullouts from long-gone magazines and which I had no idea what they were.
And then I put them in a box and mostly forgot about them. Eventually my own stash of patterns migrated into that box, and so I was seeing these patterns from the sixties and seventies every time I went to find one of my costume patterns to make some LRP kit. It even occurred to me to make LRP kit out of one of the dresses from the seventies.
But somehow, it took until I decided to sew my shit – use my stash up – to realise that I could make my own costumes for daily life out of these old scraps of paper. Cue this: McCalls 9346, a skirt set from 1968. In two lengths, it said. Now, I don’t know how many of you know my figure, but my housemate likes to refer to me as ‘stunty’. I’ve got a high waist, a waist-hip ratio of doom, and a little pot belly that would make yer wan from Pulp Fiction lose her shit. So naturally, the wraparound mini skirt was the way to go.
I had a think about my boxes of sewing crap, and immediately knew that this brick-red/pinkish fabric would do the job. I’d bought it thinking to make kit for my last LT character, but not done anything with it once she died. Clearly, it was meant to be. So I washed it, ironed it into submission, and cut away. It didn’t fray or misbehave, sat where I told it to when sewing darts and so on…it had to be a trap of some kind.
It was only when I went to Hickeys to buy matching thread, and was having a dig through the bargain bin, that the problem hit me. This was fucking curtain material. It explained everything. The nice plain colour, the heft and weight, the texture, the fact that it just sat there and took whatever I did to it…curtains. But given the weird-ass knits that H&M make half their Fashiony Skirts out of, I reckoned I was totally safe. Nobody would ever know…so I cracked on.
This pattern is a piece of piss. I took an inch out of the centre front and back as it was cut for a size bigger than me, then there were four darts, two side seams, a lining to assemble, and one new thing – a waist stay. (Wooooooo!)
I had to Google this. And Youtube it. Turns out, though, waist stays are pretty fucking rad. It’s literally a strip of fabric sewn to the inside of a waistband to stop it from budging and stretching out. Like staystitching on Hard Mode, and also a handily stable thing to anchor the lining to. Naturally, I was too cheap to go buy stay tape, or grosgrain, or any of the other stuff recommended, so I just cut a strip of selvedge and called it a day!
I was impressed by the difference that just adding this one extra step gave to the overall finish of the skirt. It had a fairly basic closure – a slide buckle on the outside, and an internal hook and eye which is not very exciting, but is nicely low-profile. I could say things about the lining, but let’s just assume I swore a LOT about the lining I used, and said repeatedly how glad I am to be nearly rid of that shitty cheapo acetate lining. I did a handfinished hem, because I hate myself and want things to Look Perfect. Or Perfect Enough For Now. And then, boom. Skirt!
Eh, I know it’s a miniskirt, but it’s a little shorter than I envisaged. See, I hacked about three inches off the bottom as it was coming up around knee length, and then realised that I’d made a very deep hem. 2 1/2 inches, to be exact, with the end result that at work, I will not be wearing this with anything other than leggings. It’ll look awesome with boots in winter too.
I wore it to work today, with a certain amount of trepidation due to its length. And…nothing happened. It didn’t wrinkle, it didn’t spontaneously combust, and nobody commented on it. Given how nervous I had been about making clothes for Real Life rather than LRP costume, that’s a big win in my opinion. I felt great in this skirt – I’ve come to realise that everything is a costume, whether for LRP or for work, or just because you feel like, oh, I dunno, dressing like a lady adventurer. It helps me to not be afraid to make and wear my own stuff – and besides, who’s watching?