Monday, November 23, 2015

Fancy holiday skirt in silk taffeta

If you're coming from Britex, welcome!
With the holidays coming up, surely there are a few parties to attend, right?  The iridescent magenta-black color of this stunning silk taffeta is so joyous and opulent that I knew it had to be a sassy, swingy skirt for an evening f├¬te! When the fabric arrived, I was surprised by how stiff, yet light, the taffeta was. My experience with taffeta is pretty limited, so I knew I had a challenge on my hands!
For the pattern, I used Sewaholic's Hollyburn skirt really only as a jump-off point.  First off, I removed the pockets.  This is the opposite of what I typically do, but I knew the style wouldn't look quite right with pockets (the sacrifices we make for fashion!)  Second, I increased the circumference of the skirt hem by about 18" by slashing and spreading the front and back pieces.   With the stiffness of the fabric, I felt like more weight would help it drape and increase the drama.
Finally, after attempting to insert the self-fabric waistband, I realized it simply wasn't going to work with the amazing stiffness of the fabric (at least in my inexperienced hands!).  Instead, I applied wide elastic to create the waistband.  This provided the needed give, and allows me an ounce of wiggle-room for all those party hors d'oeuvrs!
Even after significant pattern changes, the construction of the garment was a bit different than normal. I bound all seam allowances with hug snug, but chose not to press them open; the unusual shape of the skirt is accomplished by allowing the seams to fold inward.  For the hem, I eased the fullness and finished the edge with lace hem binding before hand-stitching it in place.  I worked on each section of the skirt independently (instead of continuously around the circumference) to maintain the in-folding of the seams.  
I channeled fellow Britex Blogger Laura Mae by pick-stitching the zipper--a first for me!  It was way easier than I expected, and while not perfect, I think it looks lovely on this garment.  I tried to make the stitches on either side match up, which makes a big difference, I think.
There is no crinoline or structure under this skirt, so while the rounded shape is due to the nature of the fabric, to keep the shape consistent while I move around, I utilized hem weights at each of the seams.  I have to say, it was kind of fun walking through the hardware store knowing I was shopping for a fashion project!  I used 4 (four!) stainless steel washers at each seamline (two stacked on each side of the seam).  
Did anyone else go to the Legion of Honor in SF to see High Style this past summer?  Clearly, the most amazing dress of all was the Four-Leaf Clover gown by Charles James--stunning!  My little skirt was greatly inspired by that amazing creation.   

Truly, I was thrilled (and a little scared!) to have the opportunity to work with this silk taffeta, so thank you to Britex for the drop-dead gorgeous fabric.  While it had some unique properties, it was surprisingly nice to work with and wasn't nearly as finicky as I had feared.  

My husband helped me with all my photos for this post.  I didn't use these pretty fall foliage shots for the Britex post, I still love them! While it looks pretty safe, between the heels and lack of peripheral vision with my glasses on, I almost tumbled from that fountain more times than I care to admit!  
2015 Resewlution, November garment #1


  1. Nicole, I love this skirt! Well done!!

  2. Nicole, I love this skirt! Well done!!

  3. glamorous, you look great and I love that color for the holidays.

  4. Wow! I just imagine myself dancing salsa with this fabulous skirt!

  5. You look fabulous in this skirt style! Can you tell me where you purchased the wide elastic used for the waistband? Thanks very much!

    Fran G

  6. Super cute, Nicole! Inserting the zipper by hand was a great call!

  7. I did see that exhibit, and I recognized the inspiration immediately! Beautiful!

  8. Oh it's really cute on you! Love that shape and I'm sure it's super cozy too....thanks for sharing!
    silk charmeuse fabric by the yard