Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inspiration Made: Steppin' Out in the 'Urban Twist Skirt'

Modeling my newest project, The Urban Twist Skirt

Trite as is it sounds, inspiration appears to me in many forms:  a shade of rust or blue, a bird's eye view of the city observed from a ferris wheel gondola, the blocky silhouette of an evolving urban skyline, or even a secondhand skirt purchased from a resale shop.  Last autumn when I went to trade in a few pieces of clothing at Buffalo Exchange in the U-district, I came across an amazing skirt that I've been wanting to translate and re-make for my own.

Granny-Prep- hipper than Geek Chic!  Skirt purchased at Buffalo Exchange
My degree is in fashion design, but since moving to Seattle years ago- I made the transition into the quilting/ patchwork world.  My first job in Seattle was working at a fabric boutique, and then I made the leap up, presently working at a fabric wholesale company.  I learned very quickly in the sewing community that there were 2 sides:  the garment sew-ers and the quilters.  These camps clashed sometimes (especially when it came to fabric consumption), yet there was a lot of crossover, almost like two opposing political parties.  Coming from the garment-maker background, I was rapidly thrusted into making accurate, cost-efficient calculations of how much fabric to cut and sell to quilters who did not want excess scraps.  No more frivolous "I'll have 3 yards of that and 5 yards of this...", instead it was "I'll take a quarter yard of this and maybe three-eighths of this.  Oh, do you sell one-eighth yard cuts??"

So when I eyed this color-clashing skirt oddity (pictured above) at Buffalo Exchange last autumn- I had to pounce on it!!  As I examined it from the rack, I thought it looked as if your granny came over and went through the closets, removing every plaid button-down shirt your mom or dad owned from Land's End or L.L.Bean, cutting them apart and then stitching them together using a Seminole patchwork technique, upcycling it into a skirt.  The skirt was obviously homemade.  You can't see it in the picture, but the lining wasn't even hemmed, I had to tuck the hanging threads under the skirt to make it look nice in the picture.

Last autumn, the Pacific Northwest enjoyed an Indian Summer well into October, which allowed me to get mileage out of my new secondhand purchase!  The first day I wore it, I received many compliments- people stopping me in the coffee shop and on the street.  It made me think, Gee, I need to remake my own version!  So, after many months of sitting on the idea, inspiration hit me on a recent fabric shopping trip to Jo-Anns a few weeks ago.  I purchased a load of 'linen look' fabrics in various shades and from there, that's when the Urban Twist Skirt as I call it, began to materialize.

Color and shade were an important part in pulling off this patchwork design.  It took me a while to get the right vibe off these colors, I even had to discard the purple (shown in the pic above) from my fabric gradation selection.  When I finally came to an agreement on what the color gradation would be, I began cutting and sewing the strip pieces together.

 And continued sewing strip piece portions together...

Until finally...I had one huge piece of patchwork!

And then that fabric patchwork piece was transformed into a skirt!

In my redo version- I made the skirt fuller with a simple elastic waistband.  I added a peek-a-boo slip of natural-colored muslin, hemmed with cotton crochet lace trim, self-attached to the outer pieced skirt.  I added a non-functioning sash/tie for the front, but decided to take this off when I styled it with a chunky belt in the photo shoot I did this morning.  The 'faux' linen fabric was the perfect weight for this design as the fabric fell on the bias or diagonal, and helped give it a drape.  I'm really quite pleased with my re-inspired version and plan to make this into a sewing pattern.

The color gradation & tiled patchwork piecing reminds me of a city skyline silhouetted by the sunset.  When worn, the motion of the skirt is swishy and swirly, too!  Thus it was christened The Urban Twist Skirt.

From one side to the other- garment sew-er to quilter- it's time to give this skirt a whirl, and step on out....