variation on a theme: jaipur skirt

The notion of making up the same pattern two or more times in a row is a little foreign to me. However, just having finished my red linen skirt, suddenly my jaipur skirt alterations looked manageable.

The skirt

jaipur skirt from FCBD

In April 2008, I bought a wine-coloured jaipur skirt at a dance workshop. (Available online here.) I love the colour (have you noticed that reds are my favourite?), and it’s real tie-dye. Unfortunately, it was too long by about 6″ or more.

It was constructed in 4 tiers with a zipper and huge waistband (big enough for me to put it on without opening the zipper). The waistband doubled as a casing and there was a thin self drawstring. The fabric, while pretty, is not strong; my dance instructor also has one of these skirts and she managed to pull her drawstring apart through use. The top tier was made of a double layer of fabric (presumably to avoid show-through); this was cut in one piece, with the selvages running horizontally at the join with the tier below. The waistband was thus attached to a fold.

The construction is nothing to write home about. The pleats were clearly tucked manually as the mood struck. I doubt the tiers were sewn with the aid of pins, and the seam allowances vary rather widely – both in relation to each other and to the edge of the fabric. The fabric edges were straight (either selvage or torn), but that’s about all that was straight. The CF seam meandered drunkenly. The thread that shows actually matches well, but the seams were sewn in tomato red. All raw edges are unfinished.

"Pleats? Don't bug me; I'm getting to that." Note the distinct lack of pleats on seam at lower left.

I did wear it in a performance once, but that involved hoiking it way up, strapping on a belt, folding over the excess and keeping it in place with the gratuitous use of extra costume layers. Thank goodness people expect hips in bellydance! Anyway, it quickly became obvious that that was a one-time jerry-rig solution and I’d have to shorten it properly if I wanted to wear it again.

First spate of activity

My plan was to remove the zipper and waistband, shorten the top tier, and add a yoke. (I didn’t want to take off the bottom tier. Although it would have been about the right length, taking off the bottom tier does odd things to the proportions.)

I merrily ripped out the zipper, waistband, and CF seam. When I did, it gave me access to the wrong side of the top tier. I had noticed some of the tie-dye thread remaining on the other tiers, and had removed it. There was quite the pile of thread protected within the double layer of the top tier, and I was pleased to be able to get at it so I could get rid of the hundreds of little lumps it made. Interesting that this thing was assembled with most if not all of the tie-dye thread still in place; I’m hoping that the fabric was at least dry by this point!

Fistful of tie-dye thread. Better out than in.

And then it sat. For months. I think I was anxious about cutting it, and not sure about the length. But having just finished the red linen skirt, I realised that this was more or less just the last few steps in that same process, which is fresh in my mind at the mo’.

Second spate of activity, and done!

I’m used to doing my skirts with mathematical precision. The maker of this skirt – not so much. As a result, it was kinda tough for me to figure out how to determine the length of the skirt, since it was different at each point. That made it tough for me to decide where to cut.

In the end I decided that – since I was not going to resew the whole damned thing – I should assume the length from the top horizontal seam was about the same all around, and just measure up from that seam. As it turned out, the proper distance from the seam to the cut was 8½”, so I laid out a pad of paper with a cardboard back and traced along that. Close enough. Then I gave it a look, took a deep breath, and cut.

I constructed a two-layer yoke: fashion fabric in front and linen for strength and stability behind. I cut the linen, then laid it out on my salvaged length of cotton, basted them together, and cut.

I stitched the two pieces together at ¼”, then used that seam as a guide to press up the SA for the pleated seam. It went together the same way as the red linen, the only significant differences being (1) I had a right and wrong side for my yoke piece, (2) I had a lot more layers of fabric. The pleated side comprised 2 layers of thin cotton – the pleats themselves were thus 6 layers. The unpleated yoke side was a layer of thin cotton and a layer of not-so-thin linen. When I bound the seam, I was dealing with 12 layers in places!

I basted a waist casing, did up a drawstring (in a very strong medium-weight linen), and it’s now officially wearable.

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About Zena

I sew sometimes.
This entry was posted in wearable and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to variation on a theme: jaipur skirt

  1. Big in Japan says:

    Cool fabric, definitely worth the time and effort to modify the skirt. I’m blown away by the amount of tie-dye threads you were able to remove!

    • Zena says:

      Thanks – I started to look at it like I paid for the fabric and got the assembly for free 🙂 And yeah, the amount of thread was crazy!

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