We all have that project that is going so well, and then – bam! Not so much. This silk petticoat has been that project for me. The pattern was going fine, even finishing with bound seams instead of the serger was going fine, and then I got to the ruffle. I’ve made plenty of ruffles, but something about this one completely had me beat.
At first I used the ruffle foot to gather it, but it looked terrible, despite several perfect practice swatches. I took out hours of pinning and gathering, and went back to the traditional method of two rows of gathering stitches. That looked terrible, as well. I experimented with the differential feed on the serger (didn’t work at all), gathering over thread, folding an edge and gathering over a cord… every different way I could think of, and everything still looked awful – all bunchy and uneven.
In the process, I realized that the fabric itself was part of the problem. It’s a nice, crisp shantung, and it’s just a bit slippery, yet stiff, and it was also fraying like crazy. I’ve been avoiding serging it, even though it would have helped the fraying issue. I hate serged seams, and wanted this to be a little nicer, since it’s for me. The other problem was the pattern. I really don’t like 2:1 ruffles, because I feel like I have a hard time adjusting the fullness evenly. This is part of why the ruffle foot would have been so helpful. Between the two, it made for much more of a struggle than I was expecting.
Finally, I figured out that 3 rows of gathering stitches look pretty good, and now have the ruffle sewn to the flounce and the frayed seam neatly bound with seam tape. I’m waiting on some black lace beading to add to the flounce before I attach it to the yoke, and then I’ll be done. Hopefully I’ll have a photo in a couple days!
While I am waiting for lace, I am finishing up an heirloom lace petticoat I started many, many years ago and dug out of a box last year. The sewing isn’t great, since it was my first ever heirloom sewing project and I was way too ambitious, but it has yards and yards of beautiful French lace and cotton lawn in it, and couldn’t go to waste. It really just needed a waistband, but was too long for me. Rather than cut it off, I added more lace and a yoke, put in a couple darts for shape, and turned it into an early 1900’s princess line petticoat. I should finish it up today, if all goes well.