23 April 2015

Attaching the Lining to the Arielle Skirt

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

For the most part, the Arielle sewing pattern is simple to construct. The fiddliest part is attaching the lining to the facing. This is because it has curved inside corners - we opted for curved corners over right angle corners as they would have been even more fiddly! Don’t worry though - I’m going to walk you through it in detail in this post. If you’re a beginner, or the idea of sewing the lining fills you with dread, you can skip it! Simply finish the inside edge of the facing with zigzag stitch, an overlocker or bias binding. Easy peasy! I’ll show you how to attach bias binding in the next post.

Still here? Wanna attach the lining? Good stuff, let’s do this!

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

Stitch the pleats, side seams and hem on the lining pieces following the instructions that accompany the pattern. A bit of pattern geekery in case you’re interested – the pleats on the lining create volume in the same way that the darts on the main skirt pieces do, but with more ease for movement. The front lining also has volume created by a shaped seam at the curved corner – a pleat would have been awkward to sew at this corner. This all adds up to a lovely 3D shape over your lovely lady curves.

Okay, so you’ve sewn the lining and are ready to attach it to the facing. The reason this is a little fiddly is because the raw edges of the inner curve of the facing and the outer curve of the lining are different lengths. That’s because they have seam allowances – what you’re really joining are the stitching lines 15mm (5/8in) inside the raw edges, which do match up. We're going to do a few things to make it easier to join these curves together...

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

First, snip the notches (marked on the pattern) so they are just shy of 15mm (5/8in). This is so we don't lose them in the next step...

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

Trim the seam allowances down by 5mm (1/4in), all the way round the inner edge of the facing and the top and side edges of the lining.

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

Now we’re going to clip and notch the curves to help the seam allowances open out and fit together. Again, take care not to lose your original notches – you could mark them with pins first so you remember which ones they are. Clip short snips into the inside curves of the facing, and cut triangular shaped notches into the outside curves of the lining, being careful not to make them longer than 10mm (3/8in) so they don’t go over the stitching line.

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

With the facing right side up, flip the lining on top of it, wrong side up. Pin the top edge of the lining to the lower inside edge of the facing, right sides together, matching up the side seams and notches.

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

Now pin one side of the lining to one inside edge of the facing, right sides together, matching the lining hem with the “end of lining” notch near the bottom of the facing. The fabric won’t lie flat at the curved corners because of the seam allowance thing I explained earlier. Just remember that you're aiming to match up the stitching lines, which are now 10mm / 3/8in inside the raw edges, rather than the raw edges themselves – ease the curves together carefully, and use plenty of pins to hold them together. The clips and notches that you snipped earlier should open up the seam allowances, which will help. Pin together the other side of the lining and facing in the same way.

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

Here’s one I prepared earlier!

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

Okay, so we’re going to be good and baste (tack) the curves together before stitching them for real to make sure they go together nicely. Set your machine to a longer stitch length – I'd go for 3mm rather than 4mm as slightly shorter basting will navigate the tight curves more neatly. Baste just the curved corners together, using a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance – usually it’s a good idea to baste inside the stitching line so the real stitches don’t end up on top of the basting, but in this case it’s important to baste on the real stitching line so the curves go together accurately.

If the curves look dodgy, you can quickly unpick the basting and try again. If they look good, great! Let’s sew them together for real. Reset the stitch length to 2-2.5mm and, using a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance, stitch the whole of the pinned seams together, from one “end of lining” notch to the other.

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

Trim the seam allowances and press them towards the facing – including the part of the facing below the lining. Now you can understitch the seam allowances to the facing so they don’t flip back towards the lining and create a bulky look. To understitch, simply sew a line through the facing and seam allowances close to the seam line. Your stitching will be visible from the right side of the facing, so use a matching colour. If you sew with the facing… erm… facing up and to the left of the needle, shift your needle 2mm to the left (many machines have a stitch option for this), and line up the seam line with the central groove of the presser foot. As you sew, keep the seam line aligned with the middle of the foot and you should end up with lovely neat stitching exactly parallel to the edge of the facing.

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

The understitching should end up looking something like this from the wrong side...

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

... and this from the right side.

Arielle sewing pattern - Attaching the lining

And that’s it! You can now follow the rest of the steps in the instructions to sew the rest of your skirt. I hope this helps – let me know if you have any questions about this part. In the next post, I’ll show you how to finish the facing with bias tape instead, if you don’t fancy adding the lining.

I can’t wait to see your finished Arielle skirts! Don’t forget to send us a pic

21 April 2015

Fitting the Arielle Skirt

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Got your Arielle sewing pattern? Chosen your fabric? Let’s talk about how to sew a skirt that fits you.

The good news is that Arielle is an easy style to fit – the skirt has only three main pieces, and is shaped with darts that are simple to adjust. The skirt is designed without a separate waistband to give a sexy, streamlined shape. Some of our curvier pattern testers said they were pleasantly surprised at how flattering the skirt is on their waist and booty (that booty booty!).

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Taking your measurements
The first step to a great-fitting skirt is to take accurate measurements. Wrap a flexible tape measure around your natural waist and then around the widest part of your hips, breathing normally (no cheating!) and keeping the tape measure level to the floor. Compare these measurements to the Body Measurements chart in the pattern instructions to pick out your pattern size. If a measurement lands between two sizes, go for the larger one – you can always take the skirt in later at the pinning stage.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Grading between sizes
If your waist is a different pattern size to your hips, you can redraw the side seams on the pattern pieces from your waist size (marked on the pattern by the waist notch) to your hip size (marked by the hip notch). On the back skirt piece, redraw the side seam between your waist and hip size – in this example you can see I’ve drawn between a size 4 waist and size 5 hip.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Now lay the right front skirt piece over the back skirt piece, matching both pieces at the original side seam lines of your waist size. Trace your new side seam onto the right front skirt piece. Repeat on the left front skirt piece. (Don't worry that your new lines on the right front and left front pieces don't touch your hip size line - the size lines on the left front and right front skirt pieces are nested differently to make the button and overlap lines clear to see. As long as you've traced the line from the back skirt, you should be sorted.)

For the darts, simply go with the darts in your waist size.

For the facings, simply pick the same size as your waist – you don’t need to change the facings to match your hips, as they really only cover your waist and the front opening of the skirt.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

If you're making the lining, you will need to alter the lining pieces to match the skirt. Lay the back lining piece over the back skirt, matching up the hip notches. Trace your new skirt side seam onto the back lining. Then trace this line from the back lining onto the left front and right front lining side seams. For the outer edge of the left front and right front lining (marked on the pattern), choose the same size as your waist. The outer edges of the lining will match up with the inner edges of the facing, so again they should be unaffected.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Lengthening or shortening
The long version of the skirt is 62.5cm (24½in) from (high) waist to hem; the short version 45.5cm (18in). Since the lower part of the skirt is straight, you can easily redraw the hemline without the “lengthen/shorten” lines that you might see on other patterns. If you want to make the skirt longer or shorter, redraw the hemline at the level you want it on the three skirt pieces.

Lengthen or shorten the front facing pieces - and the lining if you’re making it – by the same amount you lengthened or shortened the skirt. If you’re making the lining, you’ll also need to raise or lower the “end of lining” notches on the front facings by the same amount.

Toiling, pinning or baste fitting
T&TB patterns are dressmaking templates designed for average UK body proportions - yet not many of us are “average”! Taking accurate measurements and making any changes you need to the pattern are a good start to sewing a garment to fit your body, yet since we’re all different shapes, you might need to make some other changes to how the fabric fits your curves. (This is one of the reasons why asking someone else how a pattern fits them is unlikely to be helpful when it comes to fitting yourself, even if you have the same bust, waist and hip measurements.)

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

It’s generally a good idea to make a toile (or “muslin”) – a mock up of a garment in cheap fabric – so you can tweak the shape before cutting into your nice fabric. Choose fabric that is similar in weight and body or drape to the fabric that you’re going to use on the “real” garment – read more about making a toile. For the Arielle skirt, since it’s relatively simple to fit, you can probably get away with doing a pin fitting or baste fitting on the main skirt pieces cut in your real fabric.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Cut out the right front skirt, left front skirt and back skirt, and pin or baste (tack) the darts and side seams (see the pattern instructions). Try the toile or skirt on inside out, pinning the right front skirt over the left front skirt along the button lines (marked on the pattern). If you’re planning on wearing the skirt with a t-shirt or sweater tucked in, put that on too.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Do the side seams feel too loose or too tight at the waist or hips? Do the darts look like they’re in the right place? How does the skirt feel to wear? Can you walk comfortably? Can you sit down comfortably? Adjust the pins or the baste stitching on the darts and the side seams to a fit that feels good for you. For example, if you have a small lower back and curvaceous booty, you may need to take the top of the darts in; or if you are finding it hard to walk, you could let the side seams out at the bottom of the skirt.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Once you’re happy with how it’s fitting you, draw your new darts and stitching lines onto the wrong side of the skirt or toile in chalk pencil or washable pen - or simply follow the pin lines when stitching it together. Transfer any changes back to the pattern pieces so you’ve got them for next time you make it. You’ll also need to make the same adjustments to the facing and lining. For example, if you took each side seam in by 1cm at the waist, redraw the facing side seams 1cm in at the waist too.

Arielle sewing pattern
Arielle sewing pattern

And that's it! In the next post I'll walk you through attaching the lining to the facing...