Thursday 1 May 2014

It is finished!

My sister's kathak skirt, and right on time. It had to be. (Although here she is getting ready for a Persian dance, so it's not exactly the way she dresses for kathak.)

It is finished, including two patched up spots at the hem where I accidentally clipped into the fabric while cutting away the seam allowances. Those golden fibres wreak havoc on the fabric and it twists and turns on you.

It is finished, excluding unfinished seam allowances at the zipper and some better way to end the drawstring so that it would not slip inside. It is most definitely functionally finished. I'll get back to those tiny details later, with a fresh mind.

I'm not good at (button)holes. I think it has something to do with the fact I'm not on speaking terms with most buttons. Also, in retrospect, maybe I just should have made those holes smaller.

There is an invisible zipper and also two press studs on the waistband.

The skirt itself consists of an overskirt and a little underskirt / underlining bit at the top, the purpose of which is to strengthen the thin saree fabric, particularly for the sewing-in of the zipper (that was the original idea, anyway).

It's a simple matter pattern-wise, almost-circular, gored. I could not be bothered to make the underskirt with the same number of gores as the overskirt, but I did make it gored as well, not to throw the hang of the skirt too much. My sister the dancer was a bit dubious about the effect the underlining would have on the very lightweight skirt, but I the seamstress am now confident it was necessary. The skirt already began to pull at the seams at the top before I attached the underskirt, just from its own weight. It is a very lightweight fabric, but there's lots and lots of it, and there are those golden bits, too...

Like those golden bits at the top. I made myself a diagram, to space them evenly and to keep track of my progress (and was I glad that I could do that!). Only I ended up sewing one half of it from the right side and the other from the wrong side, so it ended up less evenly spaced, with four white gores and four gores with golden bits matched up on each side, instead of two white and two with golden bits on both sides. But I don't think anyone will notice when I don't show them. :D

The paper with the diagram got to lie around for months and looks the part.

In the end, I could only squeeze 30 gores out of the saree, and thank God for that, because the skirt somehow still came out much larger in the waist than planned for!
Plus I was kind of going crazy halfway through. It's a boring job, sewing gores.

Good thing is, I got a really good hang of French seams by the end of it. I no longer bothered to press them during the sewing, just used my fingers, and it worked just fine. It's cotton. Don't ask me to make French seams in polyester or something, please.

Before cutting the gores, I cut off the borders of the saree, with some seam allowance, and sewed the two sides together into one long, long border that I then wrapped into a neat package (because, if you remember, it really likes to twist and turn). Then, later, it came attached to the hem. So the selvedge of the borders is the actual hem. It did not save me from lots of hem sewing, of course, but it was just another French seam, so I did not have to wrack my head for the best way to hem such a fine fabric, which would no doubt result in a disaster. Those clips and patches are bad enough.

The thing kept taking longer and longer to finish. Part of it was, of course, me not working on it when I could have, but a huge part of it was it taking longer while I was. It's a thin, rather loosely woven fabric. It's cotton, so thankfully it does not slip too much (unless the whole lot of it is pulling that tiny sliver that's under my machine foot down from the machine, of course). But it's thin and loosely woven, and also very much likes to crinkle warp-wise. The seams on the gores are all off-grain, so it tended to stretch in curious ways and it all had to be pinned. Twice. And thirty times that.
The only place I could just roll away, no pins and no worries, was when I was sewing the border to the hem. The first time around. The second time around, I had to carefully pin every centimeter of those 5 meters. And then carefully remove every pin when I was sewing it, and still watch out that the border does not curl itself under my needle.

And of course, then I had to hem the curved hem of the underskirt bit, and instead of just zigzagging it, I had to do a rolled hem (ish). I'm happy to report that the method where you bast the hem allowance and then gather it slightly to fit it to the slightly shorter circumference above where it's supposed to go in the hem - that method works. It really does, when you finally get the amount you've got to pull it (not very much in my case). It just takes much, much longer than a stupid ugly-but-is-it-really-so-ugly zigzag would have.
I took a photo of the inside with that hem; but I was taking the photos in a hurry before leaving Brno for home, and now I've found out it's blurry.

And I had to handpick the invisible zipper. I need more feet for Ema. (Also, the fortunate rolled hem foot does not work on curved hems, so I had to employ the above technique.)

But, after all that, it is finished. And I have a long weekend ahead of myself and lots of sewing. For me. There's some Regency stays that need finishing, too...


  1. It looks so pretty, Hana! What a nice thing it is to finish something. Your sister poses very theatrically. :)

    1. :) It's one of her kathak poses. It's a theatrical dance. A storytelling dance.

    2. Actually, the skirt is a part of a Persian dancing costume here, so I'm showing a Persian dance movement :-) Anyway, THANKS A LOT, HANI! What you're not saying here is that the shirt / blouse / whatever ("kameez" in Persia, "panjabi" in India) I'm wearing on top is made by you, too :-)

    3. Ah - the gratitude enhances your successful completion of the project! Not everyone gets such appreciation. :)

  2. Go girl!! Saris are the pits to work with as they are never woven to be cut up in the first place. You did a lovely job! I can see this skirt swirling with a lot of grace!

    1. True about saris... But they're so irresistible, because practically nowehere else in this country could we get such an amount of such fine cotton fabric for a fairly good price... golden accents included!
      This particular one really reminded me of the Regency dress displayed at Dačice; you don't see that sort of fabric anywhere else but Indian clothes around here, so it actually felt a bit of a privilege to get to work with it, despite all the trouble.
      Also, it just happened to be ever so slightly off-white to pair perfectly with an old duvet cover, meaning the accompanying fabric (including the kameez) came completely free! :D

  3. That looks beautiful and the fabric is so pretty.

  4. That's really beautiful! And I bet it swings nicely. The fabric available here (Nepal, but it mostly comes from India) is just amazing; it always reminds me of historic clothing, too, with the extraordinary embroidery, beading and detail work. Saris come in all kinds of material, thicknesses, etc., but you probably don't have the whole range of selections easily available in the shops there!

    BTW, the word "kameez" may come from Persian (Farsi) but it's also the usual term in India when talking about the whole outfit (e.g. shalwar kameez, with shalwar meaning the loose pants). "Panjabi" actually refers not to the blouse but to (a) the whole thing, e.g. the shalwar kameez outfit, or (b) a particular style of shalwar -- loose, wide, pajama-type pants, often narrow at the ankles, as opposed to churidar, which are tight and pencil-thin. So if you're getting an outfit made, you tell them if you want Punjabi style or churidar. I like Punjabi style, having had churidar actually rip on me while sitting to eat on the floor! Well, at least no one sees the seat of your pants under the tunic-like kameez. For outfits that are thought to look good with churidar, there's a trend now that I really love to just wear leggings. SO comfortable! And they don't split :-)

    1. Ah, thank you for the more first-hand clarification!
      My sister's churidar also split. :P They just like to do that, apparently. One of the projects in my future is finding some suitable fabric and patching them up (from the inside), so she can continue dancing in them without worry. :-)

      We certainly don't get such a wide selection, but it's still our favourite kind of shopping eye candy. Even just the printed cottons are so delightful!
      I have a crewel-embroidered blouse from that shop, embroidered in thin ombre yarn - yarn, not thread, it's therefore fairly simple, but the amount of detail in that simple embroidery is still stunning. It's my favourite blouse now, and I was happy to pull it out again once the weather got warm enough. :-)

    2. Monsoon Rose, thank You for the interesting information! I actually more or less know what You explain about "punjabi" and "kameez", but I wanted to be brief and simple for the purpose of these comments, thinking nobody would be interested if I listed the terms more precisely. Well, I was mistaken :-)
      Here is the webpage of the shop we got the sari from