Thursday, December 20, 2012

Modern Petticoat Progress -- Cutting Fabric

The Lady Mother is getting new curtains for the living room, so she gave me the old ones.  A few of them are ripped, but there is one very long swag (the part that drapes across the curtain rod and hangs down to the floor) that is in fine condition.  It's a transparent/gauzy synthetic fabric about 5 yards by 59 inches -- which is a lot of fabric.

I am following this tutorial from Sugardale.  In it, she makes a short three-tiered petticoat with the yardage of each tier doubling as it goes down.  Since I am making a petticoat for a long skirt I thought it would be better to have more tiers, so I decided to go with five (I read somewhere to always have an odd number of tiers).  I wanted the bottom tier of my petticoat to have a circumference of 10 yards, then next one up to have 8, then 6,  then 4 and then 2 yards to be gathered to my waist measurement.  This would have worked out perfectly with the amount of fabric I have.

Here comes the math: I realized (and this may or may not be true) that the poof of a petticoat really comes from the gathers -- the more fabric that is gathered, the poofier.  So if I were to gather 10 yards to fabric to 8 yards, it would be a 10:8 ratio, which simplifies down to a 5:4 ratio.  Eight yards gathered to 6 yards would give a 4:3 ratio, and so on with 6 yards to 4 yards giving a 3:4 ratio.  Only 4 yards gathered to 2 yards and 2 yards gathered to one yard would give a 2:1 ratio -- for every yard of fabric, two yards would be gathered to it.  This creates significantly more poof than having five yards gathered to every four yards of fabric.  I think this would result in a bell shape as there would be more "poof" at the top than at the bottom, though the amount of fabric at the bottom would help weigh down the poof at the top and reduce the bell shape somewhat.

With those numbers in mind, I decided instead to have a three-tiered petticoat, still with a bottom circumference of ten yards, but with 5 yards on the middle tier, and 2.5 yards to be gathered to my waist measurement.  This gives each tier a ratio of two gathered yards to a yard.  I believe this will produce a more conical shape.

I'll skip over the rest of the math of figuring out how long (vertically) each tier had to be.  It's pretty boring.  However, I will say that I do end up with extra fabric -- enough to make another top tier and middle tier, yardage wise, though the length will not be the same.  I will go ahead and make a second petticoat with the extra fabric that can be either worn on its own under a different skirt or added on top of the longer petticoat to add more poof on top (if I ever want a bell-shaped skirt).  Effectively, I'll get three petticoats out of two!

It took me less than thirty minutes to cut out all the pieces for a modern petticoat, which surprised me.  I really dislike cutting things out, especially slippery things like this fabric.

That is one looooong piece of fabric.  It ends about where my dogs are in the background.
First I laid the fabric out, just to get a nice long look at the sheer amount of fabric (haha, PUN! 'Cause the fabric is sheer!) that I will be working with.  I very briefly contemplated cutting it out all laid out like that -- measuring and marking the whole five yards.  Then I remembered the beauty of folding fabric.

Messy, the fabric is too slippery to want to fold nicely.  Also, it can't be ironed because the entire thing is synthetic.  It practically SCREAMS synthetic.

Neater.  I safety pinned all the edges together to keep the sides more or less even and reduce slippage.  I wish I could have ironed it...
Next, I marked out the measurements of the bottom tier on the long, hemmed edges of the curtain.  I cut one side, then transfered the safety pins from the cut fabric's edge to the new edge of the main body of fabric.  As I was cutting and measuring, the phrase of the moment was, "more or less," as in, "It's okay that the edges don't line up perfectly.  It's more or less accurate."  Or even, "It doesn't matter that I completely messed up that measurement.  It's more or less accurate."  Or my favorite, "Eh, it's more or less even."

All the pieces cut out!  More or less even.
Then, once everything was cut out, I placed them in messy piles.  In the photo below, the longer petticoat is the three pieces on the right, the shorter petticoat is the two on the left.  The top tier of each consists of one 2.5 yard strip.  The next tier, which we'll call the middle tier even though it is the bottom tier for the shorter petticoat, consists of two 2.5 yard strips, so 5 yards total.  The final tier is four 2.5 yard strips, making it 10 yards total.  I could have kept the strips for the middle and bottom petticoats at 5 yards, but I wanted to make it easier for myself when I'm gathering them.  

Everything placed in their piles and waiting to be sewn.

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