My original inspiration came from a skirt I saw at Nordstrom a couple of months ago – the most adorable a-line mini skirt, made in mustard corduroy with pocket flaps and snap closures down the front (above is an image of it – I think. It’s been a while and I’m forgetful!). I liked it enough to actually try it on (which was weird enough in itself – I haven’t been in a fitting room in ages, ha), but the fit wasn’t very good so it didn’t leave the store with me. Instead, I thought I’d try to make my own (surprise!).
I found this mustard cotton corduroy on the Mood Fabrics website and immediately set about finding a good skirt pattern for the fabric (unfortunately, that fabric is already sold out – sorry! I guess a lot of us snapped it up at the same time – it’s really the perfect shade of mustard, and a nice light weight with a subtle stretch. Just gorgeous!). Lots of googling around led me to eventually settle on the Rosarí skirt as it included pretty much all the elements of the original inspiration skirt, minus the separate side panels and with big (usable) pockets instead of just flaps. Honestly, it totally looks like something I’ve already made, I still wanted to give it a try. The patterns were just different enough to justify a second purchase, and plus, I’ve been wanting to try a Pauline Alice pattern.
Going by the finished measurements, I cut a size 34 and made the mini length with pocket C. Spoiler: The fit is really excellent and I’m totally gonna make this again with those zippered pockets. Anyway, back to the corduroy!
One of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with corduroy is the very visible nap. On fabrics with a pile (basically… hairs. Velvet, velour, corduroy, even fake fur – are all examples of fabric with a pile), the hairs lie in a particular direction, which is referred to as “nap.” If you run your hands up or down the pile, you can feel the pile. The pile can change color very subtly depending on the direction of the nap, so it’s extremely important to cut everything in the same direction – or else you run the risk of your pieces looking like they are slightly different colors. For my skirt, I made sure to lay all my pieces with the top facing the same end of the yardage, as shown in the picture.
Another issue with naps and piles is that it’s *really* easy to crush the pile with your iron if you’re not careful. To prevent, this, the fabric can’t be pressed against a flat surface (like the ironing board, or the iron itself). One way to do this is to use a velvet needleboard, which has a million tiny wires to make a not-flat surface that the pile can lay against while you press. However, needleboards are freaking expensive (that one is $40, there, I just saved you a click haha)! They are fun to use, but ain’t kind on the wallet. So the cheap alternative is to just use a scrap piece of your napped fabric, and lay it right side up on your ironing board. You can press all your pattern pieces with the right side down, against the scrap fabric, and that provides enough texture to keep the nap from crushing. I had about 1/4 yard leftover from cutting my skirt, so I had a nice big piece to lay on my ironing board for pressing. Look at the picture above – do you see the iron imprints around my interfaced pieces? That’s what happens if you don’t protect the nap before pressing!
So those are two big things to keep in mind if you’re sewing with corduroy (or any other napped fabric, for that matter). Mind the nap 🙂 And just FYI – some napped fabrics (especially velvet and faux fur) require a little more finesse with sewing as they don’t like to feed evenly through the sewing machine. That being said, I didn’t have any problems with this particular fabric. Normally, I would use a walking foot – but the feed dogs on the Spiegel 60609 did a good job on their own, no extra foot required. Yea!
Since this is a really straightforward pattern with very few seams, I thought it would be fun to go the extra mile and do some pretty seam finishing on the inside 🙂 I decided to bind my seams with bias tape, which not only looks nice, but prevents the seam allowances from unraveling as the skirt gets washed/worn. This particular corduroy frays like a MOTHER, so it’s a very necessary step. I could have used my serger, but this looks prettier (and I didn’t have matching thread, ha!)!
You can use pre-packaged bias tape to bind your seams, but I like to make my own because it’s a bit softer (and you get a waaaay better selection of colors and prints). This particular fabric has showed up on soooo many of my makes – I made a truckload of bias strips with it and it’s like the gift that keeps on giving! 🙂 I will be so sad when it runs out hahaha. Anyway, I like the Clover 1/2″ bias tape maker – I find the width is great for this finish, and the Clover brand ones in particular work really well. I’ve tried cheaper bias makers and they just don’t work as well for me. This one is tight enough at the opening to really fold the bias, and then it’s easy to press it flat so it stays that way.
For this skirt, I did a Hong Kong bound finish – so both sides of the seam allowance are bound and then pressed open. You can also press the seam allowances to one side, and bind them together.
On the first seam allowance, sew the bias binding to the underside (the side that is against the garment when it’s pressed into place), keeping your stitching line right along the pressed crease of the binding.
Pull the unsewn side of the bias around so it comes to the top and just covers the stitching line you created. Pin into place, and then topstitch close to the fold. Repeat for the opposite seam allowance, then press the seam allowances open.
Here is what the underside of the seam allowance looks like. I do the first pass on the underside, so any stray topstitching is hidden when the seam allowances are pressed open 🙂
And here are both sides bound 🙂
AND HERE IS THE WHOLE DAMN SKIRT 😀
I love this finish! It’s definitely a time-consuming addition, but it’s not so bad when the garment in question only has 3 seams to bind 🙂 And it looks soooo pretty on the inside!
Last corduroy tip! This fabric tends to be really bulky, so it is important to really grade down your seam allowances in any part where there are multiple layers – such as the waistband. I trim my seam allowances down at staggering heights so that there isn’t a giant bulky ridge showing from the outside once the skirt is complete.
And that’s it! Here’s a little sneak of the pretty insides 🙂 I also bound the lower edge of the waistband – instead of turning it under 1/4″ to hide the raw edge – as I’ve always liked the way that looks in dress pants hahaah. Oh, and my snaps were set using a professional snap setter (cos I work for a clothing manufacturer!)! They look GOOD.
Some shots of the finished skirt on my form 🙂 I’ve already worn the hell out of this thing – the fit is great, I love the mini length, and the mustard color goes with pretty much everything in my closet. It looks EXTRA good with black and white polka dotted silk, though 🙂 I will be sharing the completed outfit next week!