This month, I tried my hand at making another rayon challis skirt. I had made a simple one a few months ago using about a yard of rayon and elastic for the waistband. Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved twirling around in dresses, so I knew it was time to try another. My friend Rebecca (@sewfestive) suggested the Cascade Skirt by Megan Nielsen; I had bought Anna Maria Horner's Echinacea rayon last summer with the intent of creating my own version of this long, flow-y skirt. I finally bought the pattern and if you check her Instagram, Rebecca is working on another, too!
I feel so glamorous in this picture. Beach hat! New skirt! On the beach! <3
Hanging out with Renee 2 weeks ago when she came to visit me in NJ. We finished our skirts together!
I absolutely LOVE how it came out! The best part about it is being able to wear my favorite fabric (have I mentioned that I own the Echinacea prints in almost every color and substrate?). I am so happy with the scalloped look - an unplanned effect of the stretchy rayon - and how it fades from shorter in the front to longer in the back. It is THE perfect wrap skirt for the beach and for summer barbecues. Look at how it flutters in the wind!
The skirt didn't come out to my satisfaction without a few challenges (but if there weren't challenges, well, it wouldn't have been as much fun). As a confident beginner garment sewist, I'm not shy about sharing how the pattern worked out for me (and I hope it helps one of you out there!). Luckily, I have sewn French seams before so they weren't an issue at all (and they lend such a professional look to the garment. This tutorial is my favorite for French seams).
The first difficulty was adjusting the skirt to fit me. I added about 6 inches to the waistline because I didn't want it to fly open easily. I need to anchor it with a button still, but it does the trick for now. I also added 3 inches in length because I'm a tall gal (5'10" and proud). Luckily it all worked out in the end, but I was using the very last of my fabric (and I had already bought an extra yard or so).
I also had to work with the directionality of the Echinacea; they all needed to tilt about the same way. As a result of the size changes and directionality, I had to cut the pieces of the skirt separately and sew them together (this was completely different from the pattern). My advice to beginning garment sewists who want to adjust to their body type - make sure you buy plenty of extra fabric if you are enlarging the pattern or if it's directional!
The hem was a project all its own. At long last, I learned how to use the rolled hem foot that came with my Janome MC 6300 - after 2 different YouTube videos and at least 4 hours of trying/ripping out stitches from practice fabric and the rayon itself.
A rolled hem foot takes the fabric as you sew and rolls it over a second time to create a finished hem. I found it easiest to press my fabric an 1/8th of an inch all the way round first. Once you get into a groove of using the foot, it's like magic.
I'll hopefully be able to use it again in the future with no issues. It feels glorious to conquer the rolled hem foot.
Another difficulty was the sheer slippery nature of the rayon. I'd prewashed it (I only do this for garment fabric - it's just a personal preference). I don't really have any tips for making it easier to work with, except to make sure to work/cut on a large surface and use pattern weights. My friend Kristina mentioned using Sullivan's spray fabric stabilizer. Do my fellow garment sewists have any other tips for working with slippery fabric?
My impromptu pattern weights. I picked up some nice heavy rocks from the beach for next time!
Overall, I'm totally thrilled. Now I just want to make another (for next summer maybe. :) ). Back to quilts!
P.S. Thanks to my sister Marisa for the beach photoshoot! It was an absolute blast and we made some more memories before she left for her internship and college for the first time - *sniff* :(.