Friday, 9 September 2011

The "shifting skies" skirt

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas.  A city so beautiful it breaks the heart
again and again.”
Alexander McCall Smith, 2006

This skirt has been in the works a long time. It has become a bit of a Sew Weekly theme hotpotch over the moths. It was originally inspired by the Local Colour theme back in March. The idea was to make something that said something about where you lived. Debi, my fellow Edinburgher was off that week so I thought I should show Edinburgh somehow. Well that was then, it then got tinkered with during the UFO weeks, and then I added some machine embroidery as part of the Embellish This week, and now it is finished, it actually fits in nicely with the current week of To dye for!

So, back to the beginning we go. I think in many ways I completely failed to do Edinburgh any justice, so most of this is going to be about Edinburgh rather than the skirt! Until recently there was a building in the city centre that had big quotes about Edinburgh printed in the windows. The quote above by Mr McCall Smith has always been one of my favourites, as I feel it really sums up Edinburgh's weather, which is a really important part of the city's atmosphere. Due to the proximity to the sea, and the crazy hilly nature of the city (for those that don't know, Edinburgh is built on and around the remains of a volcano) the weather is VERY changeable and can be dramatic and beautiful and then just plain miserable all within half an hour!

Here are some lovely pictures from Flickr to demonstrate:

Craig Walton 
Sunny and beautiful

Stunning and changeable

katya zharova
Uh oh, its going to start chucking it down!

So I wanted to make a skirt, which was grey, definitely the standard colour of Edinburgh, what with all the old stone buildings and cobbles and crazy clouds. I decided to use the cotton sheet I had dyed initially as part of my weeping angel Halloween costume, that had gone the wrong colour (it was meant to be a dull grey but came out a blue/grey with a slightly massive scale uneven tie die effect, mainly due to me know making the effort to dye it properly as it was only for a costume).

Edinburgh is also somewhat notorious for its unpredictable winds, I have never been anywhere more inclined to blow your skirt over your head on a day with no wind at all seconds before! This is mainly a result of the crazy weather and the fact that the city, due to the hills, is built on several levels, so you can be walking along a normal road with normal height buildings and then realise the whole thing was a bridge bounded by high rises, half of which you cant see, which has another road running across underneath. This does tend to lead to unexpected drafts. I considered making a tight skirt so this couldn't happen, but then I thought, what the heck, I will embrace it, so I made a circle skirt instead. I have also made a flouncy underskirt to wear under this to accentuate this effect, but I need to make it a few inches shorter.

looking down off George IV Bridge onto the Cowgate,  Erke
the Upper Bow and Victoria Street   - Mach 3.25

So, the skirt. I followed Casey's tutorial for circle skirts (she is now also doing a circle skirt sew along), which was very straightforward. I didn't bother with a pattern for the middle, I folded it into 4 and kept cutting strips off the middle until it was the correct  size (I had learned from a sad exercise with the underskirt that not erring on the side of caution with this leaves you with a really big useless piece of material with a really big hole in the middle of it..). I managed to get this just about right, easing the skirt into the waistband was pretty successful, I only have one really wrinkle..shame its right at the front.. sigh, never mind!). 

I then considered doing some machine embroidery. As I don't have a clever machine, by this I mean using a stitch on my normal machine to do things it wasn't designed for. I tried out all the stitches on different lengths to see what they looked like (quite interesting in itself!)

I decided to go for the weird almost hexagonal stitch second form the bottom on the right. It is possibly meant for smocking.  I then sewed some lines up form the bottom of the skirt to random heights to give the skirt a bit more interest. 

So all in all, a pretty simple skirt, considering how long it took me to make it! At least I can now say that I definitely hung ti long enough to stretch out! It is very comfortable however, and swirls beautifully.

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