A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Harlequin butt

I've been reading a bunch of posts recently about how velvet/velveteen are back.  I don't think I was aware that they had ever left.  At least not velveteen.  I have always been a sucker for cotton velveteen.  I have only sewed with it three times before, but I had several pieces in my stash.

Coming off the success of my denim Alberta Street Skirt, I decided to sew a red velveteen version to wear for Christmas.

It was only after I had installed the zipper that I realized I had committed the cardinal velvet(een) sewing sin - cutting one of my pieces with the nap going the wrong way.  I had actually noticed after I initially cut the pattern pieces, that I had reversed the nap on one of the back skirt pieces.  I carefully (or so I thought), recut one back skirt piece, and then took the (so I thought) wrong-way piece and used it to cut my pockets, thus exhausting my fabric.  But I must have used one of the "right" pieces to cut my pockets, and as a result, I have harlequin butt.

I considered not finishing the skirt, but ultimately I decided that since this skirt would be primarily worn at church, my butt probably wouldn't be paid too much attention.  And I don't have to see the offending area so I can pretend it's not there.  And actually, it turns out it's not that noticeable, because of the way that velvet changes appearance in the light.  In this photo you can't even see it, and I had to take a number of photos to get it to really stand out in the one above.

The skirt is a slightly shortened size 16, with the waist and upper hip let out 1/2" on each side (sewn with a 3/8" seam instead of a 5/8" seam), and the skirt pegged in at the bottom.  I broke four needles while sewing this bad boy.  Finally, I finished the hem with a facing to avoid having to sew a million layers of velveteen, and faced the waist with quilting cotton from my stash.  Since I didn't chose my hem facing until I had finished the rest of the skirt, my hem and waist facings don't match.  I'm not going to show you, but it's not cute.  Again, no one is going to see it.

I used commercial hem facing inherited from my grandmother's stash. I only had enough yardage in this robin's egg blue but I actually really like it against the wine colored velveteen and wish I had coordinated the waistband facing with it. The hem facing did not quite work with the contours of the tapered skirt. I only realized this after I'd hand hemmed half of it.  Rather that cut a custom facing, I just cut into the facing at the side seams so that it could spread, and whipstitched the sides of the cut to the skirt.  Since the facing is bias cut, I figure it won't fray.  I haven't washed the skirt yet so I'm not sure how it will survive.

Sewing the velveteen was tough.  Aside from the needle slippage, the waist facing slipped a lot while I was sewing it despite careful pinning. So for the hem, I used a tip I found online and hand basted two rows along either side of the seam line before machine stitching the hem facing to the skirt. It really didn't take long, and it worked beautifully. I should go back and redo the waistband using the same method.

I wore the skirt for Christmas with the black top you see in the photos.  I really wanted to make myself an elegant flowy woven top for the occasion, but I ran out of time.  Maybe next year.

I'm really happy with the way the skirt turned out, harlequin butt notwithstanding, but I regret sewing the pockets on.  I thought turning the velvet upside down for the pockets would add interest, but I don't actually think the interest needed adding.  The needle holes will show if I take them off, though, so I'm stuck with them.

You win some, you lose some.


  1. If you decide to make a floaty shirt, you might baesystems able to play with that fabric to embellish or replace the current pockets. I love the color...maybe get some more mileage with Valentine's Day in a few weeks

  2. I love the color of the velveteen! I am always paranoid when I sew with it for the same reasons. No matter how careful I am I will find a way to mess something up. It's too bad about pockets! But I agree, you win some and you lose some. Good job though!

  3. That's a gorgeous skirt! I made a little red velveteen skirt very similar to yours, and it's still one of my favourites, three years later!

  4. Oh yeah! One cannot beat the red and black combo! I am glad you have made peace with the back of the skirt, it looks simply stunning on.


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