22 Nov 2013

The 3,5 hour skirt challenge! Vogue 2885 from 1944

The idea of the 3,5 hour skirt-challenge comes from the TV-series The Great British Sewing Bee. In the first episode the contestants had to make an A-line skirt in 3,5 hours. Back then I thought 3,5 hours must be more than enough for a simple skirt with a few darts, seams and a zipper closure, but for the contestants it turned out to be a tuff challenge.
Have you ever kept a stopwatch when sewing? Me neither, but ever since I wanted to give it a try. Of course, instead of a really basic skirt pattern in a sample size I choose one with a bit more construction details, a pretty V-notch in front, fitted for myself: Vogue 2885. Have I managed to finish the task within the 3,5 hours? Let's find out!

00.00 start!
00.22 min
Copied the pattern on tissue paper and adjusted (shortened) the skirt length. Kept the flare at the bottom but didn't change the width of the triangle insert at the back.

00.47 min
Finished cutting the jeans fabric pieces. (did in one layer at the time as always). Unbelievable how quickly time is passing by!

01.30 hour
Sewn all darts and seams plus decided to put the zipper in the back instead of the side seam. First fitting round! Luckily, there were no swayback issues, the fit was quite good actually. Yes, I'm back on track: not even halfway there with my time!
Below some construction details of the back pleat:



01.42 hour
OMG, what happened? Where is my facing?! Apparently, I totally forgot to cut it. Quickly searched suitable fabric, how about those pretty roses? Used fusible interfacing, as always.

02.49 hour
Finished stitching the facings! After the fitting decided to take in the sides above the hipline (so that is tapering from size 12 to size 11 now) and also decided to transfer the zipper to the back opening instead of the left side. I just don't like putting a zipper in a curved seamline.
Of course, by the time I was this far I've already cut the back facing and interfacing in one piece. To adjust it I've cut it open in the middle and attached a piece of bias tape to add enough fabric for the seam allowances:


Understitching facing (can you tell I practiced?...)

Finished V-cut in the front. Simple but effective, a pretty detail:

41 minutes to go!
Things to do: placing the zipper, finishing the raw edges and hemming. I guess I need to hurry!
Well, we al know that seam finishing takes time. I quickly decided to do it the quickest way possible, with an ordinary zigzag stitch. I quite like how it looks on the flower facing. A bias seam finish might look better on the other seams but this is functional and old-fashioned as well (I haven't seen my grandma use any other stitch for seam finishing)

For the zipper I choose a traditional one instead of my go-to blind zipper with the thought of saving some time (wishful thinking!) Where the heck have I left my zipper foot?! Again, precious minutes lost....

By the time my zipper was placed I only had a minute of 10 left.
I had to realize there was no chance to finish this skirt within the 3,5 hours.

Not finished!
didn't have time to hem the skirt. Was halfway with pinning though...

in retrospect
So what went wrong?
- Mainly, organization I guess...
First I forgot to cut the facing pieces, then I had to adjust the back facing pieces. I lost time with searching the zipper foot of my machine (among other things...) and spent quite some time on neat finishing the V-notch in front.
- This was the first time sewing up this pattern which meant I had to figure out the V-shaped notch in the front and the construction of the back pleat. I'm sure it would go better for the second time.
- Actually, I quite enjoyed working under time-pressure! I guess I keep trying to stay within the magic 3,5 hour when I sew my next skirt.

Of course, after half-finishing the skirt I went back to the seams and finished the raw edges with bias tape and decided to leave the skirt a bit longer, covering the knees instead of ending above them.
New pics of the finished garment are coming up next week!

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