Last year, as a part of my University program, I had the opportunity to take a 2 month internship at Télio Fashion Fabrics in Montreal, Quebec. I can safely say that it was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I have ever had. It was amazing to be living in such an artistic and cultural place, especially on my own, and learning how to be independent and exploratory. The internship itself was also amazingly wonderful. The environment, the people and of course…the fabrics!
Anyone who knows me knows that I am crazy about textiles. Colours, patterns and textures. It is all amazing. And those people who know me won’t go near a fabric store with me. I take hours deciding what I want and usually end up leaving with everything anyways. I have more fabric than I have projects, but its always better to have fabric when inspiration strikes than to have to go and get it afterwards. Right?
Anyways. I could not possibly imagine leaving Télio with a few more meters of fabric to add to my collection. (I may or may not have had to ship it home in boxes since my suitcases were jam packed too full…oops). One of the such fabrics was this vibrant and joyful Florence Lace #32930 (colour 08). I knew I could use it to make something bright, beautiful and definitely unique.
After making the huge decision of what fabrics to choose, comes the bigger decision of deciding what to make with it. This fabric had endless potential, plus, the stakes got so much higher! If I made something that didn’t turn out, I couldn’t get more of this fabric very easily. It took a long time to decide on a project, and even then to get going making it. There was a lot of hesitation and worry. But no risk, no reward. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, it’s only fabric.
I decided that a statement swing skirt was the way to go. This fabric needed to be center stage, but a full dress would probably be too much sunshine. I chose a relatively simple pattern, Butterick 5285.
Since the skirt needed to be lined (obviously), many questions were opened up that complicated the process. I wanted the lace to be a seperate overlay from the lining. But the pattern includes pockets! I love pockets! But would I have to sew the lace into them? And the zipper? Would that have to be tucked in too?! And then there was this problem:
I wanted the pretty scallop on the fabric to be my hemline. But the pattern is curved! OH WHAT TO DO!?
Luckily I was able to call upon my friend Courtney, who happens to be a pattern drafting guru. (Check out her cute little Etsy shop in the making here). She helped me figure out how to compensate for the curved fabric at the bottom by taking it in at the waistline. I would post a tutorial, but even after I cut the fabric I noticed I hadn’t measured correctly and the sides were too long and droopy. From there I improvised and just pulled the extra fabric into the waistband. It worked for me, but it definitely was a hacked method. I may try to repeat this pattern alteration (correctly) and document it for you all in the future.
Even the most best laid plans do go awry. When I went to Courtney’s for pattern advice I had left my pattern instructions at home where I was reading them the night before. I thought I had intended to go with view A, with pleats. I didn’t have enough fabric to create a full circle, so I had to have side seams. When I got home, I realized I had initially measured to use view D, that was just ruched at the waist so it would be using less fabric. It also had a lesser curve on the hem. At this time the fabric was already cut so I just kept on truckin’ with the pleated version. And since I now had incorporated side seams, I went right ahead and added pockets. I sewed them into the lining and used a roll hem on the pocket openings on the lace to keep it flowing but able to get my hands in.
All in all the construction part wasn’t incredibly hard, once I got past the stressful decision making. I followed the pattern directions for the skirt, having the lace laid on top of the lining pieces and constructed them together (except at the side seams). It took about 3 days of solid motivation to get it all done. and I am super pleased with the result.
It is one heck of a statement piece, but I am glad I took the risks in not only actually cutting and using the fabric, but in finding solutions to having pockets and zipper in the multiple layers and having the fabric hem aligned in the skirt. It was stressful and frustrating and I am sure I took the scenic route on some things, but it was a learning experience and I always get compliments on the result.