Sunday, February 21, 2016

Simplicity 2154 Epic Skirt Post #1: the wool

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Instead of writing one Epic Post about my #epicskirt, I'm going to spread it out into a few posts.

This skirt got me out of my sewing comfort zone in several ways:
  1. First time sewing with wool
  2. First time sewing with slippery lining fabric (rayon bemberg)
  3. Although I have lined skirts before, and sewn skirts with kickpleats before, this was my first time sewing a lined skirt with a kickpleat
  4. The pattern I chose did not have a lining which meant first time drafting a lining.
I really took my time with this skirt, taking the better part of two weekends to sew.

I'm somewhat allergic to wool. I can wear a wool coat if I have a scarf to protect my neck.  I don't wear wool sweaters because even with a shirt underneath, some part of the sweater touches my skin, which itches and pinks up.    I've considered this to be somewhat of a blessing as it means I have a whole category of fabric that I can't buy and stash. 

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At Elliott Berman, with a swatch of the fluoro fabric.

Well, at the end of last October, velosewer was visiting from Australia.  We were at Elliott Berman in NYC and she bought this textured wool, which she called "fluoro" because of the neon orange threads.   I was super attracted to this off-limits wool fabric, and thought, I can make a skirt that is fully lined, and wear it with tights and a shirt tucked in--all of my skin will be covered.  If I have to, I can wear gloves while sewing the wool.  (The Heidi Boyd Whimsy Kits use wool felt, and sometimes my fingers are itchy after stitching with them, but not always.)
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A-line or pencil skirt???
Since it was quite wide, I bought 3/4 of a yard of it.  Normally I sew A-line skirts (with my beloved NL6483), but I felt like this fabric wants to be a pencil skirt.  I sought advice on Instagram and the general agreement was yes, this fabric should be a pencil skirt.    I went with S2154, a skirt I last sewed in 2011, in the size 14.   I took 3 inches out of the length at the lengthen/shorten line.  I traced the front piece on Swedish tracing paper so that I could cut it out single layer.

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Pretreating wool
I asked velosewer how to pre-treat the wool and she said to take it to the dry cleaners.  I serged the cut edges and brought it to the dry cleaner who looked at me like I had 5 heads for wanting to dry clean a piece of fabric.   "What is this???" she said incredulously.  I replied, "It's a piece of fabric." She said she didn't know what to call it, and I said it would be a skirt, so she charged me the skirt rate.  Has anyone else had that reaction from a dry cleaner when pre-treating wool fabric?

Next:  Procuring some lining fabric.  Having never lined wool before, what would I use?   Details next post!

Be well!

19 comments:

  1. I've been charged the drapery rate, which is more than the skirt rate.

    I'm allergic to the chemicals used in dry-cleaning so I quit taking my wool for pre-treating. I use Diary of a Sewing Fanatic's method of putting the wool in a dryer with damp towels to steam-shrink the wool.

    Now that CA banned perc, dry-cleaners are using a water-based method. So, my home steam shrinking is just as good as theirs and much cheaper.

    CO has 'green' dry-cleaners, who use the same method as all CA cleaners. It costs a bit more, but I no longer get a rash or asthma from wearing dry-cleaned clothes. It's all good.

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    1. That is good to know--thanks for the tip!

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  2. "I have a whole category of fabric that I can't buy and stash." This has not stopped me - although, in my defense, I live near Pendleton Woolen Mills.
    I can't dry clean either unless the items hangs outside for several days afterwards. I don't make garments out of wool but I am an expert in felting them in happy accidents.

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  3. My dry cleaners charges me for a blanket when I bring them fabric to clean.

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    1. Interesting! I thought she was going to charge me for a blanket!

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  4. oh Kyle, now you need to try wool gauze...so luxurious!

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    1. Oooh Mary, that sounds decadent!!

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  5. Wow Kyle this is a post of firsts. Love that wool fabric and can't wait to see you wearing your skirt.

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    1. Thanks Faye, lots of new-to-me experiences with this skirt for sure!

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  6. Congratulations on all of the firsts with this beautiful skirt! I look forward to your future posts about it and seeing you model it.

    I too am allergic to wool which is why I made a long sleeve turtleneck knit top I blogged about recently. It effectively shields me from the wool. Wool is such a wonderful fabric to sew with and make tailored garments from so we must find creative ways of making wool garments work for us!

    I brought fabric to my cleaners once for pre-treating. After getting a puzzled look, they charged me drapery rates. Since then, I have tried different methods that all work. I have tried wrapping the wool in damp towels and letting them dry like that. I also have tried steaming the fabric with my steam iron, hovering the iron about 1/2 inch above the fabric. I haven't tried the method by Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic but it sounds like it would certainly work...I am going to give it a try next time I work with wool.

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    1. Thanks Tomasa! Wow, you've tried a lot of methods with pre-shrinking wool. It is a great fabric to work with!!

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  7. I can't wait to see how this progresses! And, I actually cut out a pattern this weekend! I'm sewing a really simple dress for my grand daughter. I probably haven't sewed in two years!

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    1. Wo-hoo Pam! That is exciting that you are going to sew again! Go for it!

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  8. Ooh! So much to say! My dry cleaner has become accustomed to me bringing in the random piece of fabric. They usually charge me for a similar size table cloth or drapes depending on yardage. I am not allergic to wool, but am very allergic to angora (alas, and all fluffy things). I've had the unpleasant experience of only after leaving the house realizing that the sweater I wore is an angora blend, generally when I start feeling itchy and sneezing. So, I feel your itch! It's terrible.

    I like Diary of a Fanatic's pre-treatment method for wool. I almost never take wool to the dry cleaner.

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    1. Hi Clio! I've never progressed to the sneezing stage, that does not sound pleasant at all.

      I think I will try Carolyn's method next time. How long do you leave it in the dryer for? On what kind of heat?

      The way the dry cleaner looked at me, it was like I had delivered a dead, oozing animal to her counter. She is super convenient for me, but let's face it, we live in NJ where there's a dry cleaner (and a nail salon....and a bank....) every 2 feet. :) I could go somewhere else, but it would be easier to pretreat at home.

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    2. Ha ha. Dead animal. My dry cleaner eventually got over that although last time she sent me home to serge the cut edge of a ravelly fabric before she would take it from me.

      Hmm, good questions. My drier has both a timer setting and a setting where you can choose from a range from "more dry" through to "less dry". I set it for the middle - so just dry? ever so slightly damp? I'm guessing that how wet your towel is will determine how long in minutes you should do it. But my suggestion is to remove it from the drier pretty promptly so it doesn't wrinkle (I'm guilty of leaving clothing in the drier until I have time to fold it). I dried on normal heat, so pretty hot.

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  9. That fabric has been sitting on my sewing table since you started working on your skirt. I'm so glad you've given it a try. Loving your research.

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  10. Sewing with wool is so easy and it comes in so many different textures, I love it. I can't be bothered with dry cleaning, so I throw it in the washer on delicate and cold and then in the dryer on low heat (no towel). The texture usually changes a little , but as long as I never wash it or dry it on a warmer setting after it is sewn up as a garment, it isn't a problem.

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