Lengths & weaknesses
And now back to my regular broadcast. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about sewing or DIY, because I’ve been too busy gadding about, basically. But as a result of my gadding about, I have a new skirt.
I bought this at the Mill Markets in Daylesford for $5 (the resin necklace is from Upstairs at Alpha, T-shirt from Sosume, shoes from Savers* and I made the earrings) . I know, I have a zillion skirts already, but most of the clothes I make for myself are patterned or printed because I get bored making basic garments. It is handy to have basics around sometimes though, so into my shopping basket it went! I knew I would have to do something about the length though.
Wearing a skirt at this length makes me feel like a maths teacher from the 80s – which, as you might imagine, isn’t usually the kind of look I aim for. I read a comment by the great Carine Roitfeld once, to the effect that she goes for either very short or very long hemlines because everything in between just looks wrong to her. A lot of women don’t like showing their legs, but depending on the cut of the garment, sometimes short is a lot more flattering than long, particularly if you’re lacking in the height department like I am. So if you have a skirt or dress that is sitting around in your wardrobe because it doesn’t look quite right, try pinning it to a different length until you find one that flatters you.
If you’re up for it, why not try hemming it yourself? It’s not hard…
Try the skirt on (with the shoes you’re likely to wear) and look in a full-length mirror to work out how long you want it. Get someone else to mark the material with a fabric pencil about two centimetres longer than you actually want it to allow for the hem. (You can do this yourself if you can’t find an assistant, but keep in mind that the skirt will move when you bend to make the mark – so you might end up with a shorter hemline than you planned if you’re not careful!). Once you have worked out how long you want it (plus 2cm!), make marks all around so that you can trim it to this length.
Ta-da! The trimmed skirt. I had to take off about 18 cm, which means that the hem is now 20cm higher than before. Of course, with a denim skirt, I could have just left it like this and let it fray, but I wanted something slightly respectable looking.
And now for the hassly part. Depending on the line of your skirt, you will just be able to finish the raw edge (using zig zag stitch or overlocker), turn it back 2cm and stitch it into place. However, that is only if it’s a straight skirt. Most have some kind of shaping – this one is a slight A-line, which means there is some fullness in the hem that needed to be cancelled out when shortening it. See how when I turn it back, there is a bit sticking out (on the left, between my middle and ring fingers)?
It’s only a very small amount of excess because this skirt is only slightly A-line, but it needs to be removed or the new hem will bulk out at the sides. So stitch a new seam at an angle that will match up with the old seam when the hem is turned back, like so (the orange marks show the 2cm points around the hem: note how the red stitching comes in to meet the old seam at the 2cm point as this is where the material will be turned back).
Once this is done you can cut off the old seam, if the material is very bulky, finish the raw edges and turn the hem up to stitch it in place. There are probably lots of much better tutorials in sewing books and floating around on the web, so maybe check one out!
Here’s how my skirt turned out.
Definitely a better length for me, don’t you think?
I bought some other things at the Mill Markets too, along with this skirt – they sell new things as well as vintage, including these African accessories (I seemed to see a lot in Daylesford – not sure if I just had my radar tuned to find African things or whether Daylesford retailers have an obsession with them at the moment?).
Straw woven sun hat with leather tie, made in Ghana: $12
Beaded neckpiece: $20
It’s pretty unlikely I’d wear them together like this, but you never know…
*This is so not true! There’s still lots of great stuff to be had at Savers!