Back skirts, etc…

Today I got 2 similar emails, so thought I would do a post.

First Kilynn wrote: I have been looking at the school dresses you are making for Teelin. I really like the way they look in the back. How much stiffner are you using in the CFP, the FSP, and the back? Have you put decor bond on all sections? Do you use Firm Flex in the back or just the CFP and FSP? I am working on school dresses myself and an wanting to make them as easy to handle as possible. I also wanted to make them washable like the Teelin dresses. What mother would object to that!!!

Then Amy: I have a question about stiffener in the Teelin dress. I know you use Firmflex in the front of the dresses and they look great! We are so excited! We have ordered some Firmflex to try! You didn’t use Firmflex in the back of the Teelin dress did you? It drapes so beautifully. We are still working the “bugs” out of our school dresses. Currently, we have Decorbond in the back of our dress. The problem is, the dancer sits down wrong and BAM! nasty crease! We use a polyester satin as our lining and a gabardine as our main fabric. We were thinking of no Decorbond, but maybe a very lightweight interfacing on the satin lining to help give it some body. The satin tends to “grow” especially when you hit the curve and the bias kicks in. Does that make sense? We’re trying to get away from the stiff two-dimensional look. I love how figure flattering the Teelin dress looks, none of this trying to put flat cardboard on a round cylinder nonsense. Any advice would be appreciated.

Are you 2 working together or just on the same wavelength?

For the school dresses, I prep the fabric by fusing it to a tricot (just like french fuse) interfacing, not a woven and not decorbond.  The tricot supports the fabric, giving it a tad bit more body, but it does not add much weight at all, allows the fabric to move, and it will not crease the way a woven can and decorbond will!  I feel that this interfacing fuses the best, and I have yet for it to bubble away the way the woven can. 

That is all I do to the back of the skirts.  I do use decorbond on the areas to be embroidered on the front which then have one layer of Timtex underneath, but unless I am embroidering on the back, I do not use any other stiffener in the back.  Why?  First, I personally like the back skirts to move easily, and second, since these dresses get so much wear, I do not want decorbond or stiffener to crease or break down from all of the sitting and kicking that the backs are subjected to.  Even if the backs are embroidered, I only use decorbond in the appropriate area and then remove the excess to allow the skirt to retain as much movement as possible.

Now for the satin lining…I use crepe back satin which has some weight to it, and I do not interface it.  Here is what I do to keep the hem from bagging below the hem:

  1. After the lining and outer skirt are hemmed together, trim and clip the seam on the curves, then press the seam on the right side so the seam fabric lies underneath the lining.
  2. Use a multiple zig-zag stitch to attach the lining to the underneath seam fabric. The multiple zig-zag allows give on the curved seam and helps keep the lining fabric from falling below the seam to be seen from the outside.
  3. Iron the fold between the lining and outside skirt. I press on the inside so I can see a thin line of outside fabric to ensure the lining cannot be seen at the bottom of the hem on the outside.
  4. Then, I take the time to smooth and pin the lining to the outside fabric so I can sew a few lines of stay-stitching on the pleat fold lines from the hem to the waist. This basically guarantees that there will never be any bagging.  I sew 3-4 of these lines on each side of the back skirt (6 to 8 lines of stitching in total).

Did I answer everything?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. costumemom24
    May 05, 2008 @ 13:50:36

    Yes, you are very kind to answer any and all questions and yes, we do work together. Sorry, didn’t realize Kilynn was going to ask about the stiffener as well, don’t mean to hassle you. Thanks for the advice, going to run it past our TCRG. Let you know how it goes. We’ll post pictures when done.

  2. trefemb
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:04:01

    Another tip I was taught in college, is to cut the lining fabric(for any garment)5mm shorter along the bottom edge. Match the edges exactly and stitch. When you turn the garment right side out, the lining pulls the outer fabric round onto the ‘wrong’ side. You can understitch etc as Ann suggested tomake sure there is no sagging, but this makes the beginning of the process slightly easier.


  3. taoknitter
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:27:05

    I had totally forgotten about that! Thanks, Marj! My costume professor would be hitting me upside the head with those massive shears he carried…he was small so I am quite sure he considered the shears his man-club!!!

  4. lcat443
    May 09, 2008 @ 07:25:32

    Thanks Ann! This post is timely for me too. I have just basted my skirt back and front together and I am dismayed by how stiff it looks! I used decor bond on the back. I think I’ll redo using french fuse.

    An additional question I have is about the skirt length. I think I made the skirt a bit long, and when I redo, I’ll do it shorter. If I didn’t redo it though, would it be possible to just cut the skirt shorter? I’m using the tuck and offset, and I guess the tuck would end in a kind of diminishing pleat at the hem. Would that work?


  5. sewtto
    May 09, 2008 @ 09:35:19

    Hi Ann,
    The amount of interfacing probably depends on the look of the dress. For our class dresses, our TCRG wants a very flat, stiff, sandwich board look. We interface with one heavy layer in the back and 1 1/2 layers on the back panel. I wish our dresses were softer, but the “crisp” look looks great on stage.

  6. taoknitter
    May 09, 2008 @ 12:21:48

    Leish, there will be no problem with the skirt if you cut it off at the bottom. The “diminishing pleat” works just fine.

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