Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Copycat separates

I'm sincerely obsessed with Modcloth.  I love their extended sizes and retro-inspired looks.  I find more often than not, however, that some of things I love most are out of my price range.  Such is the case with this Essential Elegance skirt.  I was feeling a desperate need for one in white.  It seemed silly to pay $70 for a simple circle skirt, so I decided to make my own.

Because the construction was so basic, I chose to use a circle skirt calculator I found online in lieu of a pattern.  You could also just calculate the measurements yourself, but I feel obligated to tell you that I have an art degree, and that happens to be incompatible with math.  After all, figuring out these measurements requires pi, and not of the fruit or cream variety, so I passed on that.  Using the link I provided, you just plug in your waist measurement, desired skirt length, and fabric width, and it will generate a graphic that shows you the cutting layout.  Since I was copying the Modcloth skirt, I added a substantial waistband (reinforced with interfacing), a side zip, and created it with two layers of a bottom weight white twill.
Circle skirts can be difficult to hem, and rather than fussing with easing the edges under, I chose to finish both layers with a double fold bias tape.  I have a serger now, so if I make another one I may try a rolled edge hem.  With about 1.5 yards of white twill, a 9 inch zipper, and 3 packages of double fold bias tape, this skirt set me back about $20.00.  Sweet!  I would love to make another (couple) (hundred) circle skirt(s) with an elastic waist.  I would also love to make some 3/4 or 1/2 circle skirts for everyday wear.  The cutting layout is similar to the full circle, but with the obvious adjustments of removing portions of the circle to reduce the circumference.

The shirt here was from a Leanne Marshall Simplicity pattern--1690.
The only adjustment I made was to grade the sides a bit bigger at the bust.  I really like the shape of this shirt.  I bought the fabric in the fabric district in downtown Chicago this spring at Vogue.  They had an entire room of polyester prints for $2 a yard!  That room would have been in trouble if anyone ever lit a match. Because of the finicky nature of that silky, chiffony polyester, and my previous lack of a serger, I finished this shirt with french seams.  If you are unfamiliar with french seams, it is a construction technique that involves sewing the garment wrong sides together first, then flipping inside out and sewing it right sides together.  This technique encases the raw edges inside the seam, and for fabric with a propensity for fraying, it can prolong the life of your garment considerably.  Here is Professor Pincushion's video tutorial for french seaming.

I am very happy with these pieces.  It is nice to make separates sometimes... it makes it easier to incorporate your handmade items into your everyday wardrobe when a dress isn't always appropriate.  For me and my life, knitwear would be even more useful.  I plan to tackle that next!


  1. Just found you while searching for McCalls shirtdress. Great job on the outfit. You deserve a piece of pi!

  2. I like Modcloth too but like you, I'm not shelling out $80 for stuff.