Wearing a Carousel
May 19, 2013
Sometimes, you just want to add a little fun to your wardrobe. I was recently watching a merry-go-round in an amusement park, and I loved all the colors and movement so much that I was inspired to create a skirt with carousel horses on it. I used cotton prints and a few bits of ribbon for this project -- it's meant to be an easy-wear summer skirt. Cute, but unfussy. Most of the fabrics I used were pieces from the stash -- many just small scrap pieces.
My first step was finding images of carousel horses that would be easy to trace as silhouettes.
Here's a fun tip if you have a tablet device: You can use the screen as a tracing board. Just put your paper right over it and trace -- the illumination of the screen will make your image glow through the paper so the lines are easy to see. You may have to adjust your image to get the right size, but the pinch-to-zoom feature on most touchscreen devices makes that easy.
I decided to use Simplicity It's So Easy Pattern 2410 so I would have six panels. Once I had three different horses traced (I used each horse twice), I retraced them onto Heat'n Bond. Then I ironed the Heat'n Bond to the cotton prints I had selected and cut out the designs.
I set my horses aside while I cut my skirt panels -- I used Lovely Lace Damask Champagne cotton print. Then, I sewed a striped ribbon down the center of each panel to serve as the horses' poles.
I also cut framing pieces for the tops of the panels. (I cut the yoke of the skirt out of this same framing fabric for continuity.) I didn't use fusible interfacing to attach these. Instead, I basted them into place using a long machine stitch, then satin stitched over the basting.
Next, I played with arranging my horses on the panels. I decided that they needed saddles, so I prepared those with Heat'n Bond the same way I cut out the horses. Once each horse was in place, I ironed it down, and then satin-stitched around all edges. I also added ribbon details to the saddle. The stitching of the appliques was easily the most time-consuming part of this project.
After all the horses were appliqued onto my panels, I assembled the skirt according to the pattern. Here is the front panel of the skirt. (The back is an exact duplicate of the front.)
Once the skirt was assembled, I made an exterior facing for the hem by cutting pieces to match the bottom edges of the panels and sewing them together into a loop. I folded down 1/4 inch of the top edge of the facing and pressed it into place. Then I stitched the right side of the hem facing to the wrong side of the skirt.
Next, I flipped the facing to the outside of the skirt, pressed it, and stitched along the folded edge to finish the hem of the skirt and create a lower frame for the appliques.
Here is the finished skirt, ready for strolls in the park, summer cookouts, and perhaps even the occasional ride on a real carousel. I plan on pairing it with a simple T-shirt and flats or Converse All-Stars.
While my skirt is adult sized, this project could easily be scaled down for a child size, and there are a million motifs you could play with other than a merry-go-round. How cute would fairy silhouettes be on a pint-sized version? Or a parade of safari animals along a hem? If you want to go edgy, you could consider flames around the hem of a dark skirt. Whatever your mind can conjure can be adapted into a fun and unique garment, so get creative!
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