Sew-alongs · Sewing for Argentine Tango · Sewing Techniques · Skirts · Tango Skirts

Wrap Skirt Sew-Along 2: Pleats, Seams, & Hem

Welcome back! I hope the first post in this series was helpful as you were getting started with planning and cutting your own wrap skirt. Now we’re ready to start sewing!

Today’s game plan: Make the pleats on the front drape (for View A only, the version I’m making), sew the side seams, and sew the hem. Bonus: I’ll show you how to miter the corners on your skirt hem!

Let’s start with the pleats. If you haven’t already marked where your pleats will go, now’s the time; the pattern has markings you can use as guides to pin your pleats in place. Note that they fold away from the vertical front edge of the skirt:

Making pleats on wrap skirt front
Making pleats on the skirt front (the layer that will wrap over the other front piece). The pattern says to baste in 2 places (right arrow); I chose to just make 1 basting line (left arrow).

wrapskirtpleats2
Baste pleats in place. Start stitching a little before the first pleat, and keep going until a little after the second pleat.

Glossary: Basting is just temporary stitching; it can be done by hand or machine, depending on what (and why) you’re basting. Here, the purpose is to hold the pleat folds in place until I sew on the waistband. In general, you’ll want to baste just inside the seamline, so the basting stitches won’t show when the final seam is sewn.


Okay, pleats are ready, so let’s move on to sewing the side seams! This is straightforward for this skirt; the only thing you need to decide is how you want to finish your seams. I’ve used my serger, since my fabric is fairly heavy, but you can use your zig-zag stitch, or just trim the seam allowances a tiny bit with pinking shears. If your fabric is inclined to ravel, serging may be your best bet.

Sewing skirt side seams
Sewing and finishing the side seams. Since these pieces have angled sides, it’s possible to stretch them out while sewing these seams; be careful not to put too much pressure on your fabric while sewing. Finish your raw edges either with serging (as shown) or zig-zag stitch.

Tip: Wondering about those spools of thread in the photo above? This is a trick I use in my serger if (a) I can’t find an exact color match in thread, or (b) I’m working with a print or other multicolor fabric. In this case, with my double-faced fabric, these both applied, so these 3 spools are what mixed together in my serger to (hopefully) blend into my seam finishing.


Side seams: check! Now for our last step for today: the hem. If you look at the far right in the top 2 photos, you can see that I’ve already finished the front drape edge (which extends into the rest of the skirt hem); I’ve used my serger in this case, but the pattern specifies a narrow hem, so you don’t actually need a serger.


Glossary: A narrow hem generally refers to an edge finish that involves turning the raw edge under, usually 1/8″-1/4″, and pressing in place, then repeating this, so that the edge has been turned under twice. This technique works really well on curving hemlines like circular skirts; I show how to do a special version of a narrow hem for the asymmetrical skirt I’m making now.


Again, I chose to serge the edges because my fabric is on the heavy side, so I felt it would be too bulky to turn this fabric under twice.

So now I just need to turn my edges under (once, in my case), press, and sew, but first, I promised to show you how to miter the corners, didn’t I?

Mitering the corner.
Mitering your corners (there are 2 to do on this skirt); this helps to reduce bulk. Fold the corner to the wrong side (WS) at a 90° angle.

Tip: How much should you turn under for your miter? Well, I don’t know of any formula for this (although, now that I think about it, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure one out), but I think you’ll want the folded edge to be about twice as much as you’re going to turn your edges under; in other words, if you’re turning under 1/2″, try folding your corner until the folded edge is about 1″. (Wait, did I just come up with a formula? I guess if it works, I did!)

Note: If you’re doing a regular narrow hem, that is, with edges turned under twice, you’ll need to fold under a bigger triangle, to accommodate the two turn-unders.


Folding the miter under
Finishing the miter: One at a time, fold the edges under (towards the WS) until they meet each other in the corner; pin in place. See how nicely that works?

Tip: Sometimes, no matter how you pin a miter, those pesky parts just won’t stay in place. (Slippery and/or very lightweight fabrics are particularly recalcitrant.) This is an excellent time to use your hand-basting skills! Just a few stitches, and those miters will mind their manners.


Now you’re ready to stitch the entire hem/front drape edge! Be sure to establish a guideline for the folded edge, so your stitching will maintain a consistent width from the edge.

Stitching the hem
After stitching the hem, here’s what it looks like, on both sides. Note the point in the corner where you pivot your stitching; just lower the needle into the fabric, raise the presser foot, turn the fabric to point in the new direction, lower the presser foot, and keep sewing.

There— the main part of your wrap skirt is finished! I say we all deserve a glass of wine!

Coming up next, we’ll work on the waistband/tie ends combo. This may be split into 2 parts; we’ll see how it goes. Homework: Make sure your waistband pieces are appropriately interfaced!

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Want more sewing stuff from Colormusing? Check out myBratelier (lingerie sewing, including bras!), and Changing Your Clothes, which covers everything from repairs & alterations to dyeing and remaking thrift-shop finds.

And don’t miss all my color-palette-related excitement at the  A Musing blog! (Click on the dots above to visit my mother ship, Colormusing.com.)

4 thoughts on “Wrap Skirt Sew-Along 2: Pleats, Seams, & Hem

  1. I didn’t follow the directions for the front panel… I sandwiched the sides either side of the back and sewed the side seam. then I continued round and sewed the hem and front seam (the back was stuffed inside as i sewed) I trimmed and graded the seam, then pull the back out of the top, and at the same time turned the whole to right side out. then i basted pleats in place -the result was no unfined seams on the top flap! no need to miter, and a much more finished edge. … I don’t have a serger, and i don’t really like serged edges– (after pressing the front, i understiched the front edge seam for an even finer finish… I like couture finished—It doesn’t take much more time, and the result is so elegant.

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    1. Very interesting construction method! I think I’m picturing what you’re describing— I’d like to try that myself. (For this sew-along, I thought I’d more or less stick with the pattern instructions.) I tend to agree with you about serged edges; I don’t automatically use my serger to finish edges/seams, but in this case, the nature of the fabric made serging one of the better options. If you have photos of the process you’re describing, I’d love to see them! It does sound beautiful!

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