Monday, April 14, 2014

Do It Yourself: Tulle Skirt


It's here, finally, I had time to write about my tulle skirt. I love my tulle skirt, it's comfy and has that sweet, feminine vibe. I did not make mine fluffy because I was terrified of the fluffiness. But I have for you a little tutorial on how I made it... which is much longer than I thought it would be. Curse zippers and their zipperiness. 

For starters, here is what you need:
  • 2 Yards of material for lining, I used cotton in a plain color, you may use anything you like.
  • 4 Yards of Tulle
  • 1 - 7 or 8 Inch Zipper
  • 1 Spool of Coordinating Thread
  • Heat N Bond Ultrahold (optional)
  • A Sewing Machine or very patient hands
  • A Zipper Foot for your machine
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pins
  • Chalk or a Fabric Marker (Washable or Disappearing)
First things first, wash your fabric, but not your tulle, dry it and iron it. If your tulle is wrinkled or creased, put your iron on low heat and press it. If the iron is too hot it will melt! Get all your tools out, scissors and measuring tape. You'll want a large surface, like your dining room table, to lay your fabric out on. I don't suggest your floor if you have carpet, you don't want to cut your carpet.

When you lay your fabric down, fold it in half by bringing the raw edges together, putting selvedge edges on each side. I didn't take a picture of this, I'm ashamed, sorry. It comes from the fabric store folded in half by the selvedge edges (factory finished) together making the material long and narrow. We're folding it with the raw (cut) edges together so that the fabric is wider, does that make sense?


To begin, you'll need your measurements. Take your measuring tape and measure around your natural waist. If you're unsure where that is, place your hands on your sides like you're a little teapot, I'm not kidding. Bend to one side and find where your waist folds and voila! Natural waist. My measurement is 31 and then I'm going to divide that by 3 which is 10.3, now subtract a half inch which brings me to 9.8. Now for sanity's sake, I'm going to round up to 10. Make a note of your measurement and move on to the next measurements.


You need to decide on the length you want. This pattern is ideal for about knee length and shorter. I went with 19 inches so it will sit a couple of inches above my knee. If you're unsure of what length to choose, measure from your natural waist down to where you think you may like it to set. Remember this: It is much easier to shorten the skirt later if you change your mind!


Taking your measurement, start at the fold of your fabric. You're going to measure down, for me that is 10 inches and mark that measurement with your chalk.


You're going to pivot the measuring tape a few inches over and mark again. You repeat this until you reach the other edge. Look at the photo above and notice that top of my measuring tape stays put at the corner, we're making a semi-circle to be our waist.


You're going to repeat the above step but now you're going to measure from your waist marking down to the bottom of your skirt. For me that is nineteen inches, ignore the moment I thought I might want to do 22 inches.


Again, you're going to pivot a few inches at a time and mark your measurements.


Here is the scary step, it's time to cut it out. Just connect the dots, following from mark to mark and make a slight curve. It doesn't have to be completely perfect, just try to pay attention and avoid cutting too low. Once you have cut the top and the bottom, pick it up and wrap it around your waist, does it fit? If you have extra, don't worry! We have to add a zipper and we'll need all that extra fabric. Set this aside and get your tulle.


Begin by folding your tulle in half by the raw edges. Now, we have double the fabric, so we are going to take the fabric from the fold and bring it over folding it in half again. Fun.


Now do all the same measurements. More fun. Fun, repetitive, fun.


And cut! You'll have two individual pieces, this is what you want. Put them aside with your lining.


Next we are going to cut the waist band. The waist band will be 3 inches wide and your original waist measurement (Mine was 31) plus 1 (Which makes me 32!). So we will measure 3 inches and mark it, then measure 32 (err, your measurement) and mark that, making a rectangle.



And cut! Hello happy rectangle. Set your happy rectangle aside.


Now you have a choice to make. I did not want my skirt fluffy, so I get to continue to pinning with two layers of tulle like above. Just lay them flat out on the top and pin it all together. If you're fabric is patterned, make sure the pattern is face up right now.

If you want fluffy then take your tulle and go to the sewing machine. You'll do a basic stitch at the longest setting, on mine this is a 5, along the top of each piece of tulle. Then you'll take one string and gently pull it, causing the fabric to gather. Do this on both pieces on tulle until they are both gathered. Then pin them to the lining, side by side, pulling in or letting out the gather until it lines up with the lining below. Sorry, no photos because I didn't do this.


Now take your pinned fabric to your sewing machine. Run a basic size stitch, mine is 2.5, across the top of the skirt, 3/4 inch from the edge. Now the tulle is sewn to the lining.


With right sides together, pin the waist band to the skirt and sew it into place.


On the opposite side of the waist band, sew down the edge, 3/4 of an inch from the edge. This marks where you will fold under when you finish the waist band.


Fold the waist band 3/4 inch under and then fold it in half, like above, to simulate the finished band.


And then make a tiny clip on the fold! This marks the middle of the band and will help us when we get to the zipper.


Now, fold the skirt in half and pin it together. You can see my tulle peaking out, don't worry, we'll cut off the excess later. (DO NOT cut it off now, you want it there when we get to the zipper)

To begin, you're just going to do a basting stitch, the longest stitch on your machine. Sew down the length of the skirt, stopping about an inch from the bottom. This leaves room for the hem later, I didn't do this and I had to rip mine back out. I'm saving you a little headache.

Then measure down the length of your zipper, 7-8 inches and put it back under the sewing machine at that point. Using a normal length stitch, sew down from there to where you stopped about an inch from the bottom. This secures the seam, later we will pull some of that basting out and we don't want the whole thing coming undone.


Now press that seam open!


Next we are ready to begin working with the zipper. Everyone will tell you that zippers are scary, but they really aren't that bad if you just take your time. Don't rush a zipper or you will have problems. Begin by putting the zipper foot on your machine.


This is a example of what happens when you rush. I put it on upside down? Backwards? The point is, you should see the teeth and you can't! Lucky this was just and example and not sewn on. Whew. 

To pin the zipper: Fold the skirt in half, just as you did when you sewed it together, putting the skirt out to your left. The pressed seam will still lay flat putting the excess fabric(seam allowance) out to the right side. Remember the fabric I told you not to cut off, now you're going to use it. The top of your zipper should be at the notch you cut into your waist band, you can put the excess fabric from your zipper beyond the notch, but none of the teeth should pass it. Then, making sure the middle of the zipper lines up with your seam, pin the right side of the zipper to the seam allowance on the right side of the seam. All of of the skirt should be to the left of the seam so that the zipper and seam allowance do not get pinned to the skirt.


Now baste the zipper in place. Turn the skirt over, pushing the skirt to the left and baste the other side of the zipper into place.


Now turn the skirt right side out. We're making progress, the zipper takes the most time. Again, be patient and take your time! Take your seam ripper or a pair of scissors and remove the basting stitching from the seam until you are an inch from the bottom of the zipper. Now you may open the zipper.... open it!

Turn the skirt inside out, again.


One more time. The skirt is unzipped and the basting stitch is holding the zipper in place for you. Push all the skirt to the left side again with the seam allowance out to the right and starting at the notch, sew the zipper down with a regular stitch. You want to get as close as possible to the teeth of the zipper but do not sew over them, the zipper won't close if you do. I suggest sewing slowly and being careful. Do this on both sides of the zipper and remember to backstitch at the top and the bottom to secure your zipper.


Now we're just going to make a little security stitch where our zipper ends. Find where you did your normal stitch along the basting stitch earlier. Put your needle in about a half inch above your normal stitch, sew down about an inch and back it all the way up and then sew back down an inch. This just creates a little reinforcement so you don't pop apart your skirt when you use the zipper.


Now fold the skirt back out. On your waist band, fold the 3/4 inch edge up along the line you sewed earlier and then fold the waist band in half over the front of the skirt. Pin it in place like the photo above. Sew as close as you can to the zipper teeth, sewing the waist band down onto the zipper.


When you flip it over, it should look like this. Repeat on the other side.


Alright, now it's time to hem the skirt. I told you to stop an inch from the bottom, I didn't think to do that when I was sewing mine. If for any reason you didn't listen and sewed all the way down, you have to rip the seam back out so you can fold the hem of the lining under.

Fold the hem of the lining under only, leave the tulle loose. I press mine under, pin it and then sew it. The hem is done! Now you may sew down the remainder of the skirt, be sure the back stitch at each end to reinforce the seam.


We are almost done, we just have to finish that waist band and I have a super simple solution for you! Hang in there.


Move to the ironing board, this blue surface is my ironing board. We want to fold that 3/4 inch hem from our waist band under for the last time and press it in place.


Once the hem is pressed under, you have two options: 1. You may slip stitch it in place but I hate slip stitching! So I continue to solution number 2.


2. You can Heat N Bond it into place! Heat N Bond rocks when you want to be lazy.


Following the instructions, press the strip of directly to the fabric. Let it cool or it will not pull off properly. Like I said, follow the instructions.


Once you give it time to cool, slowly peel the paper off, leaving behind the sticky heat and bond. Press the band down onto the heat and bond, iron and you are DONE. Slide it on, put on some make up and take this baby for a whirl. Don't forget to go back and clip the excessive string everywhere. I had to trim my tulle up as well, do that if you need to.


I did my best to describe this in the most comprehensive manner I could. But if anything leaves you confused, tell me in the comments. I will gladly help you if I can!

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