Crescent Sew-Along #7: Muslin Part 2 and Gathering Tips

Hello everyone! It’s back to the skirt muslins today. By the end of this post, we’ll have something we can try on. Excited?

I am! Mostly because we’re getting closer to sewing for real. Once we get the fit just right, from making the muslin, we can whip up skirt after skirt and know they’ll fit the way we want! And I have plans for many, many more Crescent Skirts this summer…

Just catching up? Here are links to the previous Sew-Along posts:

After finishing yesterday’s post, here’s what your work in progress will look like:

Is that what your sewing table looks like? (More or less, depending on the view you’re making?) Good! Let’s put the rest of the skirt together.

Sewing the Skirt

Let’s prepare the skirt sections, so we can sew them to the waistband. We’ll gather the Skirt Front and Skirt Backs, and sew the side seams. Before we gather the Skirt Front, let’s clip at centre front. This will make it easier to attach the waistband to the skirt. Since we’ve got the machine stitching in place, our clip won’t fray or pull apart.

Now, let’s make gathering stitches on either side of the Skirt Front. Using a large machine stitch, start at the pocket edge and sew a row of basting all the way to centre front, 1/2″ (1.2cm) from the raw edge. Leave long thread tails at either end.

Sew another row of basting 1/4″ (6mm) from the raw edge, or halfway between the first row and the raw edge. I like using the halfway measurement, as it’s easy to baste quickly down the middle!

Repeat with the other side of Skirt Front.

Now, gather both Skirt Back pieces the same way as we did for the front. Gather between circle markings.

Once the gathering is done, pin the skirt together at the sideseams, and baste the sideseams together. If you’re looking at the back piece, the higher side is the side, the top edge angles down towards centre back.

Be careful not to catch your long thread tails in the sideseams! (If you do, use a pin to gently pull them out of the sideseam stitching.)

Press seams open.

Putting it All Together

We have waistband pieces, and skirt pieces. Let’s join the whole thing together!

Before we do, let’s gather the gathered sections slightly and secure the thread tails, to make it easier to work with. Flip over the skirt and grab hold of the two basting threads. We’re going to secure one end of the gathered section, and use the other end to pull up the gathers.

Take a pin, and insert it at a right angle to the raw edge, at the start of the gathers.

Pull up the basting threads a little (maybe an inch of gathers) and wind the thread tails around the pin in a figure-8 motion.

Here’s what it looks like, with the threads all wound up:

Now we can pull the other end of the gathers, knowing this end is safe and secure!

Secure the other end with a pin temporarily. This is the end we’ll undo and loosen or tighten to fit the waistband.

And repeat this securing-with-a-pin technique with the other gathered sections! For the Front section, I prefer to have the securing-pin at centre. (Why? So the centre front stays gathered tightly.)

Pin the skirt section to the waistband.

Start by lining up the sideseams, then the ends, and as many pins as you want in between.

Pull up the gathers to fit waistband. Try to get them as evenly distributed as possible, without agonizing over getting them perfect. (I say this, in case you’re anything like me, and want the gathers to be perfectly, evenly distributed without any puckers. This is a good thing, but not necessary for our muslins!)

Baste waistband to skirt. Press seam allowances upwards, towards the waistband. I’m pressing from the waistband downwards, so I don’t squish the gathered part too much.

It’s starting to look like a skirt!

Adding the Zipper

You can fit the skirt without the zipper, if you have a helper to pin up the back for you, or you’re extremely flexible.  I’d suggest putting a zipper in for best results! It only takes a moment to baste the zipper in place, and it will give you a better idea of fit.

Sew the centre back seam below the circle marking. Press seam allowances open, and press under the seam allowances along centre back, 5/8″ (1.5cm) on each side. Easy to do, just fold and press along the stitched lines!

I’m using my actual skirt zipper, as that’s all I can find due to the office move! So I’ll be ripping it out and sewing it into the real skirt later on.

Pin zipper in, lining up the folded edge of centre back so the folds are touching.

Here’s what it looks like with the zipper open – the folded edge lines up with the teeth of the zipper:

Baste zipper into place. I machine-stitched from the top of the zipper, pivoted across the bottom, and came back up the other side. You can hand-baste if that’s faster and more accurate, instead, whatever you prefer!

Final Step

Press the hem allowance up, along the stitched hemline. It’s really easy to press up the hem since we’ve marked it with a row of machine stitching!

Hurrah – a skirt muslin!

Whew! If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back! We’ve done a run-through of making the whole skirt, minus a few finishing steps along the way. (When I added ‘muslin-making’ to the Sew-Along schedule, I forgot it would be almost as much work as making the whole thing! This was a pretty intense step to write and to sew!

I’ll give you time to catch up at home over the weekend, and will be back with Fitting the Muslin early next week. How does that sound?

On a side note, that will be fun, posing in the office in a muslin and taking photos of myself! I mentioned before it’s a shared office space, with several other businesses. Already people have stopped by my office and peered in (while I had the door open of course) to see what’s going on in here. All of the bright colours, fabrics and garments modelled by Diana are drawing a bit of attention. It doesn’t hurt that I’m right by the lunch room, too!

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below!

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23 Responses to Crescent Sew-Along #7: Muslin Part 2 and Gathering Tips

  1. K-Line April 21, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    It’s so adorable – even in muslin! Do you find it difficult to insert zippers? I’m really trying to get comfortable with them but I still feel like it’s hit and miss much of the time. I guess, with years of experience you must find them easy…

  2. Corinne April 21, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    As usual Tasia, your step by step instructions are not just a tutorial for this particular project, they are lessons. Lessons in sewing that the participants can carry on to other projects. Great job!

  3. Chinese Frogs in Paris April 21, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    OMG! Although I’m not in your sew-along but your tip about winding the thread on a pin to secure it is so clever. Thank you for sharing it!

  4. Tasia April 21, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    @K-Line: You know, zippers are still tricky no matter how long you’ve been sewing! My favourite way to put them in is to hand-pick them, so I have total control and the zipper doesn’t slip around underneath.
    For regular zippers – like this one if it wasn’t a muslin – I tend to skip the basting stitches and insert it just like I did here. Fold the seam allowances under, pin the zipper in place so the ‘lips’ of the zipper opening touch at centre back, and sew down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side. I find there’s less puckering and less slipping this way, and I can man-handle my project as I go to keep everything even.
    Oooh and wait until I get to the zipper part of the Sew-Along. I have a pretty cool zipper-insertion method that you can use on any skirt with a facing and waistband. It makes a really professional-looking zipper without ANY hand-sewing. (yay!)
    So – yes, zippers still take work and don’t just fly into my projects with ease.. I find methods I like and stick with them!

  5. Tasia April 21, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    @Corinne: Thank you! I’m trying to keep them interesting for the non-Sew-Along readers and add little bits of info that anyone can use.

  6. Tasia April 21, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    @Chinese Frogs in Paris: Ah! You’re welcome!

  7. Caroline April 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Thank you for sharing such a neat tip on gathering. I have always wondered if there was some easier/easy little trick to help keep the thread from getting pulled out all the way! I’m not doing the muslin but of course the technique is transferable to the actual skirt.

  8. K-Line April 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Fab info! I can’t wait to see your method with facing.

  9. Sewingdina April 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Thanks Tasia – I can’t wait to begin mine. The pin idea is genius – never seen that before. When you advise not to squish the gathering too much when pressing the waistband do you mean don’t flatten the gathers on the outside of the skirt? Just want to check it is ok to press the seam flat.

  10. Tasia April 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    @Sewingdina: Hi! What I meant is, don’t press the gathers completely flat. Well, you can, there’s nothing wrong with pressing it flat actually! I just wanted to avoid pressing creases into the gathered skirt section, so that when I fit the muslin, it doesn’t have flattened sections around the body. I was worried if there are flattened or creased sections of the gathers, and it pulls around the body, it will look like a fitting problem, when really it’s just a ‘gathers pressed flat’ problem. So yes, press the seam itself flat! And it’s OK if you squish the gathers in the process.

    I hope that’s not even more confusing!

  11. Amy April 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Hi Tasia, I noticed that you didn’t sew in the waistband facing even though we cut it out of muslin and sewed it together yesterday. Does the facing affect the fit of the skirt? Or is it just for a finished look when done in the fashion fabric? Thanks! Great tips, by the way!

  12. julia April 23, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Just put pics of my muslin up on the Flickr group. Looking forward to the next steps.

  13. Rachel April 24, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Hey Tasia – Gathering question – is there a particular reason why it’s recommended to pull up the bobbin thread when doing gathers? Does it make a difference which you pull as long as it’s consistent? I figure it must since everyone/thing says to pull the bobbin ones, but do you know why that is?

  14. Tasia April 25, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    @Rachel: Hey Rachel! I think it has something to do with the tension and the way the stitches are created, the bobbin thread is easier to pull because of how the stitches are formed.
    Plus, when the right sides are together, the bobbin thread is the one on the outside of the pinned seam. So if you need to adjust the gathers when the seams are pinned together, it’s easy if the bobbin threads are the pulled ones. (Does that make sense? Otherwise you’d be reaching in between the pinned layers to find the top threads to pull..)

  15. Tasia April 25, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    @Amy: Hey Amy! I know, I realize that now. I was going to have us put the whole thing together, but realized if we added the inside waistband to the muslins, it would be harder to make any fitting changes to the waistband. So we won’t use the waistband facing pieces. Sorry for making you cut out extra pieces!

  16. Amy (quixoticpixels) April 26, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    I recently learned a new way to gather fabric, which I prefer to using basting stitches. I talk about it here:

    Hope that is helpful to someone :)

  17. Sewingdina May 27, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Hi Tasia. I hope you’re still answering questions on this post. Firstly the gathers over the pocket. I think that we are supposed to gather this part but I found it hard to do. I think on yours you have not gathered so much over the pocket parts. Is this ok or should it be even all along? Secondly do you turn over the top of the waistband and baste?

  18. Tasia May 27, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    @Sewingdina: You’re right, it is a bit more challenging to gather the pocket parts, because of the layers of fabric. I tried to have a few gathers over the pockets, but knew that it wouldn’t get quite as gathered as the rest of the skirt.
    When I worked on the instructions for the skirt, I decided it was better to have at least some gathers over the pocket sections, even though it would be harder to do, rather than have the pocket areas left ungathered.

    Hope this helps! And yes, I still get emails when comments appear on any post!

  19. Tasia May 27, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    @Sewingdina: On your second question – do you turn over the top of the waistband and baste – I’m not sure what you mean! After gathering, we pin the waistband to the skirt, right sides together, and adjust the gathers to fit the waistband. Does that help?

  20. Sewingdina May 27, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Thanks Tasia – that’s helpful. On my second question I meant hemming the top of the skirt. I know from reading ahead that you didn’t use the waistband facing for the muslin. I was wondering if you hem 1.5 cm at the top. I don’t think you did this on your muslin but I’m wondering if we should so we can see where the waist will actually finish. It is hard to explain in words – I wish I could show you!

  21. Tasia May 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    @Sewingdina: Hi! Aha, I have finally figured out what you mean. You’re saying, should you turn under the top edge of the waistband, so you know where the finished waistband edge will be? That’s a good idea! If necessary, you can clip the seam allowance so that the turned edge lies flat. Or, sew the waistband facing on to the waistband, for an even better idea of fit. (Was I right? Just let me know if I’m still not getting it.. or send me a photo!)

  22. Sewingdina May 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    @Tasia: Hi Tasia. Yes that’s what I meant! In the end it was quite easy to just fold it over. I figured it would be easier to adjust at the side if it wasn’t sewn down. I like your clipping idea. I am so pleased with the muslin. I did a size 12 and I need no alterations apart from the length! I have put a photo on your Flickr group of the muslin. I’m not sure if you can see it as it doesn’t seem to show up unless I’m logged in.


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