Sunday, January 9, 2011

Matching Stripes

Not much sewing has been going on around here.   We are hosting a baby shower for some dear friends in two weeks and have decided that we need to paint the front three rooms of our house.  Currently, the whole house is a construction zone.  Dust everywhere, patches on the walls and ceilings, no blinds or curtains up, door frames with paint partially scraped and sanded off ...  In hindsight, we probably should have thought this through before we started.  And yes, the shower is in two weeks.  Wish us luck.

I did manage to get a little bit of sewing in today.  I ordered this wool shirting from a few months ago and hated it when it arrived.  It was not what I was expecting.  I didn't pay attention to that little ruler at the bottom that tells you the size of the print.  I thought it was a small, skinny stripe.  I also wasn't sure what exactly a wool shirting would feel like, but again, I wasn't expecting something as heavy as this.  This is one of the strangest fabrics I've come across.  It is very heavy weight.  The weave is loose and it seems to stretch and recover even though I know there is no stretch.  Anyway, when I finally had my hands on it I thought blech.  I put it to the side and stared at it every so often wondering what I could do with it.

What do you do with a fabric like this?  I decided to make use of the stripe and make up the skirt from Vogue 1132.  I've been reading a little bit about working with bias and thought this would be a good introduction.  There are only two pattern pieces for the skirt.  The front/back piece (there is an extension you have to tape together) and a waistband piece.  I cut the front/back piece in half and cut each piece of my skirt separately, lining up the grain line to make sure the bias was the right angle and that my stripe would match. 

I thought I had it all planned perfectly.  In fact, I sewed it up and put it on my dress form to hang before I hemmed it and didn't notice a thing.  It was my husband that pointed out the sides.  See how nice the front and back center seam look?

Not so much on the side seams.  I factored everything in, even that the reverse of the fabric reversed the color scheme, except I cut my pieces top to bottom and bottom to top.  I actually had to, to make it fit on the piece of fabric I had left (I made something else, unsuccessfully, with the fabric first- I'll post about it later).  Humph.  My conclusion is that you have to be on top of your game to match stripes on the bias.

If I were a perfectionist I would never wear this.  Luckily, I'm not.  In fact, I actually really like this skirt.  I've read some bad reviews of this pattern but I was happy with it.  I think I'll be able to use the skirt pattern over and over again.  But it is a whole lotta skirt, definitely not proportioned for the short.  I'm 5'9" and I cut about 3 inches off the bottom before I hemmed it so it would hit me mid calf.  I think that's a good length to wear with boots.  Speaking of which, check out my new boots :)

I'm happy with the end result.  It's a little bit Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, but in a good way.  I've actually developed an affection for the huge stripe.  I'm hoping to fix the other item I made with this fabric, but we'll see.  On an exciting note, we are bracing for snowpocalypse here.  (Can you tell we don't see snow very often around here?)  There is a huge storm that is supposed to drop 6 inches of snow or more.  We are prepared- stocked up on firewood and wine.  Maybe I'll get a few days off school to paint...


  1. It looks great! The stripes look fantastic - and the sides look fine as they are. Good luck with the snow!

  2. That's so cool! What a neat skirt, and a great way of making lemonade from lemons. I wouldn't worry about the sides, either. I love the vibrant, but not screaming blue in the skirt. Wool fibers are know for their stretch and recovery.

    Oh snow.. It's still a monsoon here, and while I'm not involved in the massive floods, I am spending an inordinate amount of time de-mildewing my house and chasing out bugs and skinks and various other creatures flooded out of their hidey holes.

  3. I think it's lovely, and no one will give a fig about the side seams. It looks really smashing with the solid top. I was trying desperately to get the stripe texture on my 70s dress to do that but it doesn't seem to be possible when you can't use the wrong side of the fabric or rotate it by 90 degrees. Good save! (but I can imagine the kind of print you thought you were getting---what a shock that must have been.

    Good luck with Snowpocalypse! I love blizzards, especially as an excuse to stay home and hole up. :)

  4. It is very hard to match those. When I did one, I took a fabric that only has two kinds of stripes (easy for the lazy ;)).
    You should wear it even if the sides are not completely matching! It is still very pretty!

  5. You really did match the stripes perfectly at the front and back and, like the others have said, I don't think anyone other than another sewer would notice! The skirt turned out fab, it really suits you :)

  6. I love your skirt and love your boots! Hope you have a great week.

  7. I love it, especially with the boots! And like everyone else said, only a sewer would know.... ;)

  8. The skirt looks beautiful on you!

  9. Actually you didn't do anything wrong. It is mathematically impossible to match bias-cut striped fabric on anything except a straight seam.

    Your hip curve seam cannot possibly be cut at 45 degrees or straight, so it cannot be matched. Bias-cut skirts with stripes never match at the side seams - you have to accept it. and it doesn't really matter because side seams are not as visible as front and back seams (which should always be straight in a bias-cut skirt, but can be shaped in other types of skirt).

    So now, wear it with pride. Job well done and a beautiful skirt!

  10. Misafir (Ruth) Geldi, Thanks! That makes me feel better. I was going crazy trying to figure it out. You could still match the stripes, just not at a 45 degree angle? Or I guess they don't match at all because the side seam is curved. Makes my brain hurt thinking about it.