DRESS REFASHION: JENSEN SEPTEMBER
For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to throw one of my mom’s old dresses into the donation pile. The pretty dress was in really good shape, and I vaguely remember her wearing it. My mom always bought two new dresses for Christmas and Easter church services. Growing up, I remember my sisters and I shopping with Mom for church-appropriate dresses for those two holidays. Talk to one of my sisters, and they won’t hesitate to bring up a very less-than-flattering photo of me dressed in a new Easter skirt and sweater.
Although I am highly tempted to scan the photo and post it to my blog, what I really should do is find and burn all remaining copies of the photo. Trust me – it’s not a good photo of me. Anyway, I’m guessing from the bright yellow that Mom bought the dress for Easter one year. I normally don’t wear yellow because I personally believe it’s one of the few colors that don’t look good on me. I know I couldn’t wear the dress as is because it’s too small for my fat frame, but I knew I could easily turn the dress into a cute little skirt.
This time around, I was prepared to simply add 1.5-inch white elastic (the store didn’t carry 2-inch elastic) to the waist area after pinning and folding a small hem for a clean look. Fortunately, the elastic waistband was an inch or two smaller than the skirt waistband, which meant I could simply pin the two pieces together. I stuck pins in the center back and center front of the elastic and skirt. Then I pinned the left and right sides, creating a small bubble of fabric between the pins (which is completely fine).
For good measure and because I completely suck at this method, I stuck more pins between the main four pins. I pretty much eyed the center between two pins and stuck a third pin in between, continuing to leave a bubble of fabric and not folding the fabric into a pleat or dart or whatever. Once I was satisfied with the amount of pins, I started to sew the elastic to the skirt. Now, here’s the area where I start swearing up a storm because sometimes I am just incapable of doing anything right.
Between two pins where I have the little bubble of fabric, that fabric should lay straight now and gently pull on the elastic to match the flat fabric. Once the fabric is flat and elastic matches the length, sew that area between the pins and release it once you arrive at the second pin. Does that make sense? The technique sounds easy, but only I can make it so much more difficult. This is the reason why I use so many pins with this method. The smaller the space between two pins, the easier for me to pull the fabric flat and tug on the elastic to match the fabric length.
Believe me, I’ve tried this method with a large gap between two pins, but I’m not coordinated enough to keep the fabric flat, gently pull the elastic straight, and sew a straight line for more than a few seconds. Seriously, I just cannot do it, which is why I resort to using a ton of pins and leaving smaller gaps or bubbles. Anyway, by using this “pull and release” method (I don’t know the technical term), the fabric will automatically bunch into the elastic. I like to use this method when I don’t have the patience for the “bunchy” method.
So, may I take a minute or two about the elastic waistband? I’m 10 skirts into this project, and my track record with the 2-inch elastic waistband is pretty hit and miss. At this point, I believe luck played a huge part in the success of the Andersen August, Darby August, and Gadsby September skirts. I think I ignored a red flag when attaching the white elastic to the Jensen September skirt — the elastic band wasn’t dramatically smaller than the width of the skirt. Obviously, the skirt waist was too big for me, but the elastic band was slightly stretched to a perfect fit.
When I pinned and finally sewed the two pieces together, why didn’t the elastic band fit me perfectly? The band was too loose for me. Thankfully, I mismarked where I should cut the dress in two because the skirt was a little too long for me. So, I folded the elastic band down into the skirt and folded it one more time to sort of hide the elastic. When I did this, I lost a few inches on the length – which was fine – and tightened the waist area a teeny bit – but not enough to create a perfect fit. What am I doing wrong?
And Gadsby September and Jensen September (both items from my mom’s closet) had an almost silkish lining underneath the patterned almost gauze fabric. Sorry for the lack of technical terms regarding the fabric, because obviously, I’m not entirely sure what type of fabrics they are. Does the fabric type make a difference? I know I should try the skirt on after pinning the elastic but I don’t like being pricked with pins and somehow my pinned work would probably come apart during the fitting. So, I’m taking a huge chance by skipping that step.
Anyway, sorry for the tangent … because I didn’t want to fiddle with the waistband anymore than I had to, I decided to leave the skirt alone for awhile. I just need to some time to figure out how to tighten the waist area without too much work. I wore the skirt to work once but I felt pretty self conscious about it slipping off me or the side slits showing the world more leg than I want. I love the skirt, but I just need some time to perfect it. If you have any brilliant ideas, please let me know!