Sunday, May 18, 2008

Me & Allison

I did it. Yesterday I made an Alison Willoughby skirt. I didn't started until about 2:30 yesterday afternoon, but once I got into it, I was on a mission. Friday was Courtney's 8th grade trip. She had to be at school by 5:15 on Friday morning. They went to Cincinnati to the Aquarium, a museum and a Reds game. She did not get home until a little after 1:00am Saturday. I was pooped. Slept in until 8:00 Saturday morning then had to run a school-related but boring errand. Court got up just before noon and we all went to the shop about 1:00. By the time we get there and I talk to JR and get things organized, it was 2:30 when I went upstairs to the studio.

In the book, which I have studied at length since my mom got it for me in Chicago, Allison does not do a great job of explaining the closures she uses. All of her skirts are wrap-arounds. From the instructions in the book, it looks and reads as though she ties a lot of them closed, with long ties attached to the ends of the wrap. No mention of making a button hole in the waistband and running one tie through it and then tying to the other - this is my idea of a wrap skirt. In some photos, you can see a sort of hook and eye closure hold the overlap into place and she has a section on closures, but I can't see what she means. I sent her an email with some specific questions about my skirt. One thing - one some of her skirts the embellishment is thick all over. Do you account for the overlap somehow? Seems like two layers of the "stuff" would be bulky and me booty doesn't need to look any bigger. I sent the email weeks ago and never got an answer. I get it. I know she's an international textile arts superstar and really busy. So I had to improvise.

I took my black and white polka dots and hacked out a simple a-line shape. I did not measure. I hacked away. I check it for length ( the skirts in the book are mid-calf. Mine is about knee-length) and sewed one side seam together. Then. I drew the biggest circle my compass would allow. I sketched a couple of concentric rings larger. I wanted the Explosion to be running off the skirt. I took a strip and started sewing, making the pleats as I went - no measuring or pinning - just pinch and hit the accelerator. It was helpful to draw a sewing line for myself for each row. I had started the button thing with about 100 buttons. I stitched it into the middle before the next to last row. The last row - a kiss of Kaffe - couldn't resist was stitched over the raw edge of the button fabric. I filled in with a ton more buttons to hide the seam.

This one has the lowest common denominator waistband - elastic. It's easy and adjustable. I am still trying to get it just right. It needs to be tight to support the weight of the Explosion. I want my skirt to stand up when I do. I wore it to church this morning with a black tee and a plain denim jacket. And my red patent peep-toes. It makes a noise when I walk.

This project would be rated N, as in Not for Beginners. The pleats are a challenge to make and this is complicated by dragging, pulling and muscling all that fabric under the needle. I will make more Allison-style skirts. I want to have that "art teacher" wardrobe for next year. You will never see me in a polo and dockers or a jumper and platter collared blouse. I heard Rice Freeman Zachary say once that when she got into her 40s she started wearing whatever she wanted. I think I'm there.

1 comment:

Misc. Muse said...

wow- what a skirt. great job. I saw an article about your studio and work in Clothpaperscissors. It was a neat magazine this time. Linda
Linda in NW Indiana