A couple of weeks ago my awesome mom (who doubles as a sister and best friend) came up for a few days while the boyfriend was away at a conference. Usually when she visits I try to have a list of fun L.A. things for us to do. But this time we had work. I had Sewing Ideas. One of them was to make an infinity dress with black jersey straps for the top but, as a unique twist, a double layer chiffon circle skirt as the bottom. I was confident it would take under 4 hours because circle chiffon skirts are real easy, right? Ha. Ha. Ha. 

After cutting the infinity dress straps from the nicest black jersey, we did a mock wrap top and quickly realized that this style of dress is not for me. I have a wide ribcage and all the ways to style this dress involve wraping the straps around your chest. So we abandoned the dress idea and decided to just make the chiffon skirt. But as I had never worked with chiffon before I was in for a rude awakening. 

Cutting it out was OK because an extra pair of hands really helped. But the waistband was a real hassle. The 3in elastic I wanted to use was so tight mom had to use all her might and both hands to stretch it taut while I fed the layers through the machine. Naturally, when we layed out the dress on the floor (since my table is too small) the kitty was all "If it's on the floor then it's for me to lay on!" and there was no convincing her otherwise. We ended up cutting 3-4in off the bottom and I discovered that even-ing out a circle skirt is quite the challenge. Especially since I didn't want it to be even. It's confusing, I know! The thing is, I was after a "casually uneven" look, and I also wanted the two layers to both be visible at the bottom, which meant they had to be "casually uneven" in mismatching ways. But not too mismatching. Thankfully having mom to help made the whole process more funny than frustrating. Moms are best, especially mine! 

Another challenge was that the edges of the chiffon on the inside of the waistband were itching my back so I sewed on a ribbon to cover them up. And all I had was red satin. It's no biggie as you can't see it from the outside but it offends my sewing soul any time I peek inside. I wondered how RTW chiffon skirts deal with this and on my next trip to Ross I checked out a few. Apparently most chiffon skirts have a lining (and for a good reason, as I was about to find out...) and the edges are serged and hidden between the chiffon and the lining. Note to self. 

But by far the hardest part was figuring out the hem! I tried my narrow (rolled) hem foot and instantly gave up, curves are SOOO hard! I googled "how to hem chiffon" ten time but mostly found tips for straight hems. There were some options for curved hems but they required specialty items (horsehair braid?). I explored various bottom trim options to no avail. I was getting pretty demoralized when mom suggested a narrow hem on the serger. I'd never done one and my serger is a basic Brother so I didn't expect much. But after many tries I figured out a tension setting that could secure the (already fraying!) fabric without disrupting the soft way it fell. As you can see below the final result is a bit too letuce-like, but I think it's the best I could do. 

The entire thing took us almost four days. Of course we didn't sew all day and night, but it was definitely harder than expected. But it was also TONS of fun because it was with mom and now every time I look at it I think of how nice it was to do a project with her. She really is my best friend. Which is why I am naming it after her. 
The Vera Skirt.

All in all, I am pretty happy with how this came out and am almost tempted to try a maxi version. I especially love that I can wear it with little heels and pretend to be a dainty ballerina (as opposed to the clutz I actually am), or toughen it up with a moto jacket and combat boots. Still I think the best thing about this skirt is its delicious swirliness. Unfortunately it is not terribly common for a grown woman to casually twirl while walking down the street. But I just might have to!

P.S. I could post a tutorial but there are so many circle skirt tutorials out there, and my tweaks are not something I recommend really (skipped the lining, used a ribbon to cover the edges). But I'll do it if people ask for it.



06/03/2015 6:32am

This skirt is so pretty! I love circle skirts, and I've always wanted one in chiffon. I'd love to make one, but now I'm not sure given all the effort it would take. I'll just be jealous of yours. :)

06/03/2015 7:33am

Oh noes!!! Don't be discouraged on my account. I just complain a lot haha. It really is worth it because you just feel like a princess in a circle skirt. I think it's not so bad if you do a fabric waistband + zipper instead of the elastic band. Or you can use a stretchier elastic lol! The hemming is a pain though, no getting around that one unless you also have a serger or don't mind taking your time and may be hand sewing it. Also I am about to make a rayon half circle maxi skirt with a thigh split (and regular waistband) and am fully expecting it to be much easier! Then again I always do... Stay tuned :).


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