This was not a planned project. This was the impulse product of a frenzied Saturday afternoon at the craft table – I was restless, I wanted to make something already (I was halfway through cutting a pattern that’s too big for my craft table and requires the dinner table, and had thus been moved from front room to bedroom and back about three times) and … third Saturday is Wendy House Saturday.
Between drafting this post and publishing it, the news came through that June Wendy House was not merely the last of the academic year, but the last. It’s been running for 15 years and the DJ and promoter are now bowing out to spend more time with their families. Suddenly, the fact that the Elf and I decided on a whim to go to it in June – after missing it for months – seems a lot more poignant. The following paragraph was written before I heard the news. Please transpose it into the past tense. It’s a great loss.
Wendy is a Leeds institution – it’s a monthly-in-term-time goth/rock/80s/stuff night held at Leeds University Union, and it’s been running for years, attracting people from all over the North. People of all ages, body types and gender expressions dress up and get their goth on with gay abandon, and it’s a wonderful sight to behold, it really is. ‘Dress up’ in this context can mean anything from ‘brocaded steampunk ensemble’ to ‘legal minimum quantity of duct tape’, but on average tends towards the black, shiny and corsetty.
And that is why I am now the
slightly sheepish proud owner of a PVC miniskirt, which I have even worn in public.
I can’t really see myself wearing this anywhere other than Wendy or similar events. It’s a wee bit specialised, and skirts are not my thing, miniskirts even less so. (Though they are lovely and cool in the heat – great for lounging round the house in.)
This was a true stashbusting project – everything in it came out of the cupboard o’ doom:
- Body: black PVC left over from a Star Wars costume night in May 2009 (!); black denim left over from my Thurlow jeans
- Lining and back ties: black polycotton ex-bedsheet, left over from my Vogue shirt in Liberty and black
- Waistband & pocket lining: red/black/white quilting cotton from the Knitting & Stitching Show
It was also remarkably quick – I timed myself and it took under five hours from putting Sharpie to pattern paper to trying on the finished object. I traced the main pieces from my Thurjeans pattern, but continued the front and back seams straight down instead of forming the crotch curve; I also used the Thurlow waistband piece. The Thurlow, or something descended from it, is basically my lower-half block these days.
The back yoke hits the side seam at the same height as the pocket edge. I made the pocket facings in denim to give the illusion of a single extended yoke piece.
The pockets are in the style of the Thurlows but smaller to fit in the mini length. I had my phone in one and a pot of Vaseline in the other on Saturday and that was about it.
It’s lined, because the wrong side of PVC is not friends with skin. The lining is hemmed a few centimetres clear of the shell to stop it showing.
Lining it was also a chance to avoid the heinous problems I regularly have with waistbands: I sewed up the shell and lining as separate skirts, including the appropriate halves of the waistband, then attached them together at the top, then sewed the inner and outer waistband pieces together along the seam allowance. That way the waistband doesn’t require tricky edgestitching or stitching in the ditch, there’s no visible stitches on the outside and the raw edges are hidden up between the lining and the shell. Win-win-win.
(The shell is on the left of that photo, the lining on the right. The right-hand line of stitching is the seam between the lining front and waistband pieces; the left-hand line joins the seam allowances of that seam to their equivalents in the shell … This is one of those things that’s easy to do but impossible to explain.)
It doesn’t have a zip. It’s just about possible to wiggle on without an opening and have sit in place. The back waistband was gaping a bit for my liking, though, so I added a tiny set of ties to CB following this tutorial from Andrea Schewe. When fully tightened, they subtract maybe an inch from the waistband, just enough to alleviate the fear of slippage.
Those diagonal seams, incidentally, are not design lines. Those are what you get when you accidentally cut the space for the pocket off the back piece rather than the front, and then have to duplicate it on the other side in order to pretend it was deliberate.
Things I have learned:
- PVC will stick to your sewing machine
- PVC will stick to itself
- PVC is weirdly difficult to cut
- PVC is weirdly difficult to hem
- In short, PVC is not your friend.