Yesterday I was very excited to make this my first blog post. Today, I have to resign myself to realizing that my craft blog might be different from others; it might share more lessons learned than how-to. It all started a couple of days ago when I was inspired to make a skirt to wear bicycling. I had decided to ride my bike 2 miles to the tutoring center I volunteer at on a weekly basis, but I didn’t want to show up in my tight biking shorts and attract the roving eyes of boys entering adolescents, but I didn’t have a loose enough skirt to wear over my shorts.
My first step is always an internet search for patterns/tutorials. The first tutorial I found was a skirt based on this pattern that someone was making to ride an old fashioned bicycle. The pattern reminded me of a skirt I remember being made on one of my favorite crafting blogs made of stretchy knit with a yoga band waist and gathered skirt, which was based on a skirt she made for her daughter. I figured that this was a good pattern to try.
I knew I had some polyester/spandex material tucked away for a shirt, but I figured that a cycling skirt was perhaps a more noble use. I bought the material as remnants a couple of months ago. I actually bought them on two separate occasions in two different stores. When I unrolled them I made the happy discovery that I had a perfect piece for a waste band and a perfect piece for the skirt body! So I set to work.
Overall the construction was pretty easy. I didn’t check the time when I started but I know it was no more than 2 hours to finished product and it may have been as short as 1 hour.
The waist band piece was about 17″ wide, so I cleaned it up the fabric and ended up with a doubled over waist band of 8.5″. The skirt portion was 25″ long, and I ended up taking off at least 8″ so it would hang right below my knees. I measured my waist at the fullest part and cut to that measurement (I didn’t realize but I had been stretching the material with the part hanging over the edge, so it ended up a 1/2″ shorter). Let me say, this was my first big mistake.
After trying on the sewn up waist piece that was a little too loose, I measured again and could hardly replicate that large number but found a lot of numbers 1-2 inches smaller. At that point I should have resewn the waist band to make it smaller, but at the time it seemed to fit fine enough…that is until I added the weight of the skirt onto it and it pulled the waistband lower and into the area where my stomach is smaller, especially over Lycra shorts. Doh! The final product was functional, but if I lose weight at all, I’m not sure it will stay above my hips. I have a couple ideas for how to amend the problem, but it will mean no more yoga band, which is nice for covering the lower back while riding.
Three recommendations for measuring your waist come to mind:
- Take a hint from construction: Measure Twice, Cut Once
- Measure in different parts of your waist
- Measure the smallest part of your waist, if you are using a stretchy material like polyester spandex
- Or measure your waist with your biking shorts on – Lycra/spandex changes the shape of your stomach for good or bad
After the waist pieces was cut and sewn, I sewed the short sides of the skirt piece together and gathered along the waist using a basting stitch. This is probably my least favorite part of sewing! I ended up basting in two sections because I ran out of bobbin thread, but that allowed me to make adjustments to each side to get the right width to match the waist band. I then slipped the waist band over the skirt so the raw edges were together, pinned at each side then in the middle and then in between each of those pins for a total of 8 pins and used my serger to stitch the two pieces together. The nice thing about a serger is that the stitching will flex with the material. A zigzag would also work. I then removed the basting stitches. All that was left was the bottom hem.
For the bottom hem, I tried a new technique that I learned from Make It and Love It – using a double needle for knits. My experience was not as quick and easy as she made it look. I added the bobbin next to my spool of thread, but the threads were so intertwined that they ended up fraying and breaking. I ended up putting the bobbin on the piece used to make bobbins that sits on the top of my machine. That way they weren’t unraveling together and winding too tight. The double needle stitch is great because it too is flexible.
Here’s the finished skirt at work on my bike. My ride to tutoring was very uneventful. The skirt performed to expectations, until I got there, see below for details.
Notice how the yoga band fills in that space under my jacket. I hate having breezes across my back! I hemmed the skirt just below the knees so that on my bike it would stop right above my knees so as not to obstruct the motion of my legs.
In this picture you can see how low the waist band sits. It’s fully below the bulge in my belly created by those tight Lycra/spandex biking shorts. I really don’t think the skirt is as flattering as it could be with the saggy-ness created by the too small waist band.
The other big flaw in this great idea was something someone with more fabric knowledge may have been able to tell me. When I got off my bike after riding 2 miles in this skirt, the amount of static cling was overwhelming! I mean, what’s the point of having a modesty biking skirt if it clings to your legs and shows off your figure almost as much as the shorts? After 2 hours at tutoring, the cling was almost gone and the ride home only added a little more cling. I’m not sure if it was a fluke due to the fact that I washed it and ran it through the dryer for 30 minutes to get it ready to go by afternoon (the care instructions said to line dry) and that set off the static cascade or if it’s a natural property of polyester/spandex. It was fine walking around the house in the morning before I washed it. I need a couple more rides before I’ll know for sure. But I think my next skirt will be made out of wool, cotton/spandex, or cotton/poly/spandex.
On a positive note, I loved the fact that the fabric was made up of what could be colorful little bicycle wheels. So fitting. It doesn’t exactly match all of my biking clothes, but it looked okay enough with this white top and my “don’t hit me” yellow vest. I mean, if I’m going to wear a skirt biking, I might as well have coordinating tops so I look put together when I get to my destination, otherwise I might as well just wear my bike shorts in their full glory.