Silk bias skirts have been on my radar recently and I have plenty to say about the two I made: Fibre Mood Madeline (affiliate link) – with zip and facings – and the Pattern Line Mercer skirt with an elastic waist. So we have a new blog post!
If you’re into scrolling fashion websites, silk bias skirts are one of those things that seem to be more in than out of fashion in general. The luxury version is made of silk, and if I can sew a silk bias skirt it is still cheaper than spending the $$$ to buy a ready-to-wear one! Actually, I rarely wear any fabric with drape as I feel it doesn’t suit my angular shape … but as with many fashion items, if you can style it effectively, you can make it work.
Disclaimer: I work as a freelancer and Fibre Mood is one of my clients, so I did not buy the pattern myself. My Fibre Mood links are affiliate (all others are not).
Fibre Mood Madeline vs The Pattern Line Mercer
Very conveniently, all the bias skirt patterns I’ve ever seen have just one pattern piece, the same one for the back and front. If I place the Madeline on top of the Mercer, you can see that it is remarkably similar – the elastic one (Mercer) is just wider on the side seams and has a flatter hemline. I guess you can conclude: there aren’t too many ways to draw the same skirt, and the elastic one needs to be wide enough to go over your hips.
Anything with really good drape works – I’ve made versions of bias skirts in TencelTM and bamboo/polyester blends before as well. But the lustre and shine of silk in a satin weave really makes it the luxury choice for this kind of skirt. You can see this with the gold one… the black is a twill with more of a matte finish and a bit of a subtle stripe. However, seeing as the black silk was in my stash I wasn’t about to go and buy something shiny for the sake of it given the expense!
Quick note about fabric thickness … my gold silk was 205gsm and an excellent weight for this skirt. The black was a coupon from a physical shop so I don’t know, but it is definitely thinner and flimsier. Doesn’t mean you can’t make a bias skirt with a thin fabric, just means you probably (1) double it up and have a lining layer (expensive), or (2) wear a slip underneath. My choice is (2) – the easy option!
French seams on the side, and a baby hem. I did a demo of how to do such a hem here.
Fit & stretching out
Stretching out only really matters in my mind for the Fibre Mood Madeline (zip version). I placed staytape on the waistline edges but still managed to stretch it out. Going down one size helped. For the elastic version (The Pattern Line Mercer), if your fabric stretches out, you can also stretch the elastic a bit when you attach it to the skirt, so it’s not really an issue.
Zip & facings construction
Fibre Mood Madeline has a zip and facings. I wouldn’t recommend installing an invisible zip on silk as your very first attempt at invisible zips. Not because zips are difficult, but simply because a drapey fabric is a bit shifty and delicate compared to e.g. cotton poplin and it’s really not nice to unpick.
Fibre Mood recommends stitching strips of bias cut “lining” pieces to the zip area in order to stabilise. I can’t comment on effectiveness because I skipped this one, instead I used fused stay tape on the edges. For stability purposes, it seemed to work well enough.
But my fabric is a “stretch silk” with 2% elastane which seemed to make the shiftiness of the silk worse so I must admit I didn’t do a stellar job with accurate sewing. Forgive the flaws please! (by the way, I used self fabric bias tape to finish the bottom of the facing instead of overlocking).
Elastic waist construction
This gives you a super clean and tidy finish from the outside, and construction is really quick too if you’re using elastic. Eira from The Pattern Line has a full sewalong video where she gives lots of great tips on working with silk and constructing the skirt, down to the settings to use on the zigzag stitching sections. Be sure to watch the whole video; it’s really not that long and worth your time for the excellent sewing, I promise! I did not look at the instruction file at all beyond choosing a size since the sewalong covered it all.
Zip vs elastic?
Jury still out on this, so I think it’s down to what matters to you. Let me elaborate …
Zip/facings: easy to get it on due to zip, facings never flip out, and if the facings are well interfaced they also have the added benefit of the “holding you in”, similar feeling like when you wear eg high waist trousers. So there are less lumps and bumps showing around the middle in an unforgiving drapey fabric! But, there’s always a bit of a bump at the end of the zip at the side seam. Construction requires more care and obviously takes longer. Also on the zip side I used an overlock instead of french seams (I bound just the zip section and couldn’t be bothered with the rest) which isn’t as nice a finish.
Elastic: beautiful French seam finishes on both side seams, looks perfect from the outside. But still some difficulties for me.
- Incorrect elastic length – had to shorten it by 4cm since it turned out more stretchy than I estimated, and unpicking a 3mm x 1mm zigzag on silk was obviously awful.
- I can’t seem to find the “right” elastic for this skirt. In the Netherlands they sell “boxer short” elastic (30mm wide) which is better than some other ones I tried before which creased/rolled. But the boxer short elastic does feel too hard relative and plasticky relative to the softness of the silk and so it does not sit perfectly against the skirt.
- Even if the elastic is tacked down at the sides, it still flips up when I put on the skirt and that feels annoying. Also, a narrower waistband (ie elastic) = more lumps and bumps showing.
Conclusion – silk bias skirts are a winner whatever you choose!
So that was my 2 cents on the matter … I honestly didn’t think a bias skirt would be worth blogging about, but given the diff options and skirt adventure I had, I thought it might help if you’re thinking about making one. I’ll end here with some photos, I think I’m becoming obsessed with these skirts!
Till next time