April 26, 2011

diy chevron maxi skirt

a few months ago at work, this rag & bone cotton maxi skirt arrived in the studio.  it was pretty much love at first sight for me, till i saw the price.  $220 for a 100% cotton skirt with an elastic waist band.  i then made the mistake of trying it on.  why?!?!  it just made me want it more!!  i examined the skirt multiple times trying to determine what could make this skirt so expensive (other than the obvious rag & bone tag) and could not find anything extraordinary about it - just cotton & elastic waistband.  so i sent the link to my mom and said it wouldn't be too difficult to make, so obviously we set out on a mission to re-create the rag & bone carmel skirt

fabric - about 4 yards, depending on the pattern you use.  i bought more fabric than the pattern asked for since i was modifying the pattern.  also - good to have extra in case of mistakes!
thread - choose a color that matches your fabric
1 1/2" elastic 
straight pins
seam ripper - in the event that you make a mistake (i did) and need to take out a seam

i purchased my fabric from mood, and the elastic & pattern from joanns.  since the carmel skirt was a longer and more flared than the pattern we had to modify it.  with some advice from the girl working at mood, my basic knowledge of pattern making from a class in college, and my mom's master sewing skills (she made practically all my halloween costumes, and lots of clothes for me & my sister) we felt pretty confident about changing the pattern.

disclaimer - this project is somewhat difficult and should not be attempted by someone with little sewing experience.  the supervision (and assistance) of someone at an expert level of sewing experience is recommended. 

steps 1 - 4: measuring & pinning
1. before you start cutting determine the size you want to make your skirt.  to make the skirt fuller at the bottom, start by making the waist size according to your measurements and gradually taper out 1-2 sizes to the bottom hem.  we also added a few inches to the bottom so that the skirt would be longer.

2. since i wanted the same chevron effect found on the rag & bone skirt, i needed 4 panels.  the pattern i choose was for a 2 panel skirt, so we cut the front and back pieces in half.  make sure to add 1/2" to the middle for the seam allowance.

3. next, pin the pattern to the fabric.  each pattern piece has a bias line on it that we matched up with one of the stripes on the fabric.  this part is really important not to mess up, otherwise the skirt would not have the right shape and the stripes would not match up and form the chevron.

4. after lining up the pattern with the bias, pin it in place.  pin along the entire cutting line so the pattern does not move.

steps 5 - 7: cutting, pinning, winding the bobbin
5.  once the pattern piece is pinned down securely, cut out the pieces.  make sure to line up the stripes from the first piece to determine where to pin the pattern for the second piece.  repeat this process till you have 4 pieces.

6. pin the two front pieces together, and pin the two front pieces together.  make sure you line up the stripes so they match and form a chevron.

7. wind the bobbin & thread the sewing machine with the matching thread.

steps 8 - 11: sew, pin, sew, test
8. sew the two front pieces together, then sew the two back pieces together.  iron seams flat.

9. pin the front & back together at the side seams.

10. sew the front & back pieces together.  iron seams flat. 

11. try on the skirt.  since there is no waist band, it won't stay on, but this step is necessary to determine where the skirt will fall on the waist and how long the skirt will be.

steps 12 - 16: waistband and hem
12. measure the top of the skirt, double that and add 1/2" on each end for the seam allowance.  the width of the elastic is 1 1/2", double that and add 1/2" on the top and the bottom for the seam allowance.  you should have a rectangle that is 4" tall.

13. fold the waistband in half lengthwise and pin to the top of the skirt and sew on.  do not sew all the way around, as you will need to have an opening to put the elastic through.

14.  pull the elastic and put it around your waist to determine how long to cut it.  make sure it is not too tight that it will be uncomfortable.  pull the elastic through the waistband by attaching a safety pin.  make sure to leave a bit of the end hanging out!

15. when the elastic is pulled all the way around, sew the two ends together and sew the opening shut.

16.  put on the skirt and have someone pin it at your desired length.  you can either machine or hand stitch the bottom hem, we chose to use the machine as it is faster and the fabric was heavy enough that the machine sewn hem would look best.

finally, the finished skirt:

the cost of the fabric was $54 before tax, so i probably spent between $65 and $70 (elastic & pattern included) to make the skirt, a huge difference from the price of the carmel skirt.  i actually think the fabric i chose is a lot cuter anyway.  the project was done in one day, we probably could have done it faster if my sister and i didn't start going through boxes of old toys and fabrics. 

special thanks to my mom, she did more work than i did cause i got frustrated after i tried sewing the first two pieces together and couldn't keep the seam straight, & my sister for documenting with photos!


Erin Duane said...

You are a goddess for doing and posting this! I am DREAMING of this skirt and have been searching for the perfect fabric/pattern. Not to by too copycat-ish, but.... can you tell me which fabric you used from mood? I love the texture of yours, and it's hard to see the textures at mood's online store. BTW, I think your skirt is *way* cuter than R&B's. Great job!!

libby said...

hi erin! thanks so much for the comment! i don't remember what fabric i used, but it was cotton. i basically went into mood with a photo of the original skirt and said "help me!" and the girl working showed me a few different fabrics. sorry i couldn't be more helpful!

Erin Duane said...

Lucky lady... you live near Mood. I missed that on my first read-through. I ordered a bunch of swatches from Mood; hopefully one will work. Can't wait... Thank you!

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