Simply Cool

It has finally cooled off a bit this week and feels delightful for porch dining and afternoon biking.  But, the end of June was HOT!  and I was in Taos, which was VERY HOT!  In fact, it actually burst into flames while I was there!  (kind of scary.) 

I attended my third DOL (Design Outside the Lines) retreat with Diane Ericson and guest mentor Carol Lee Shanks.  I really love Carol's approach to clothing design and her commitment to no-waste patterns.  She uses every thread of her fabrics.  She makes simple, utilitarian garments that layer and work in combination to create interesting and elegant silhouettes.  I started working with her ideas last year when I attended the DOL retreat and am continuing to enjoy studying her aesthetic and design philosophy. 

This week I spent some time with cool fabrics and simple shapes (a la Carol Lee).  Summer is all about linen for me....and linen on the bias.....ahhhhhhh! 

There are a few things that I've learned the hard way about working with bias.  They add steps and time to making a garment, but the results are totally worth the extra effort.  I chose a rustic natural linen to make my simple A shaped, bias skirt. 

Lesson 1:  Get the grain right!  Spend the time to cut the pieces on the true bias.  It makes everything easier.  For this project I (of course) didn't have quite enough fabric to cut a single front and back, so I cut 4 panels, one of which I had to piece to get it on the bias. 

Lesson 2:  Hang it!  Once you cut fabric on the bias it wants to stretch........sometimes a lot!!!!  My fabric was loosely woven so it started to stretch before I took it off the table!  I always pin baste my pieces together, usually right sides together, so the seams can be sewn without re-pinning once it is hung out and adjusted.  This usually happens in about 24 hours, but sometimes it takes a bit longer.

Lesson 3:  Extra seam allowance!  I didn't have much seam allowance at the center front or back, but I left about an inch at the side seams to make adjustments.  As the fabric relaxes and molds over the dress form, sometimes it gets too narrow and the extra wiggle room in the seam allowances saves the project from the scrap pile.

Lesson 4:  Straighten, then sew!  The straight grain and the cross grain will stretch differently, big surprise!  You can usually see this when a seam, that you cut straight and pinned straight takes a crazy turn between the waist and the hem.  Take the time to re-pin and let the grain do it's thing, 'cuz you will never force it to be straight if it doesn't want to.

If you spend the time up front to work with the grain, you won't be struggling against it as you put the piece together.  No short cuts...just do it!

Because my fabric was soooo stretchy, I decided to go with an elastic waist instead of facings and a zipper.  It's a bit fussy because you have to get the elastic and the waist of the skirt to stretch together, in this case I knew there was plenty to work with.

Elastic trick....to keep an elastic waistband smooth I butt the ends together and sew them to a piece of scrap fabric.  No bulk from overlapping elastic.

I serged the elastic to the waist and turned it to the inside making a self faced band.  It pulls on easily and lies flat over my hips. 

Smooth, bubble-free, straight seams.   Like I said....a little extra effort, but totally worth it! 

To top off my 'simple' bias skirt I made a straight forward white T.  Keeping it cool, I chose a textured woven rayon.  I love the simple lines and naturally cool fabrics.  Ahhhhh!

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