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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Crochet 25 Yard Skirt

About a month ago, I saw a picture of a GORGEOUS 25 yard skirt in a maroon color. I immediately fell in lust. I just HAD to have it! And since I am an avid crocheter, I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and crochet me a 25 yard skirt.

The very first thing I needed to do was find an exactish definition of what a 25 yard skirt is. I rather impetuously jumped to the conclusion that a 25 yard skirt was a skirt made from 25 yards of fabric divided into 4 panels. I immediately made plans to crochet 4 separate panels that totaled 25 yards. The bottom panel was only going to be 11 yards long, I think, but then...

After far more research than should have been necessary, I finally found out that the REAL definition of a 25 yard skirt is any skirt that has a bottom hem line of 25 yards. That made my heart jump into my throat! That's 75 FEET for a base chain. That's nine HUNDRED inches!!!

OI! What have I gotten myself into? Why must I always bite off more than I can chew??? lol

So then I needed to figure out how I could possibly make this skirt without taking the rest of my life to do so. I made a test pattern out of random yarn from my stash to see how it might work, and then a tiny barbie sized sample out of crochet thread to see how it would look if using thread. I was not surprised to find that I liked the thread version better, lol!

So I went online and found a jumbo sized skein of size 10 white crochet thread (2730 yards) for $12.88 at walmart dot com. That was a great price and so I bought it and waited not so patiently for it to arrive. This gave me time to fingure out the hands down MOST important part of making this skirt...

What to watch while I crochet?!

I have my favorites - such as Doctor Who, Merlin, Torchwood, Firefly, etc. Heck! I even watched Orange is the New Black (which I didn't really like) just because I'd run out of stuff to watch. SO, I asked my facebook friends and got some good tips for shows to check out. With that set, and a good playlist or two of music to listen to as a backup, I sat down and started my skirt the moment the thread arrived.

This skirt was actually really easy to make, provided that one has the patience and motivation to persevere. I stuck to a pretty basic outline. Most 25 yard skirts are made in 4 panels, the bottom panel being 25 yards, the next panel being half of that (or in other words, between 12 and 12.5 yards). The one tutorial that I found for making the skirt out of cloth actually cut off the extra .5 yard on this panel in order to use the fabric to make the waistband. The next panel is then 6 yards, and the last panel is 3 yards.

Knowing all of this information AND knowing that it is SO MUCH EASIER to start on the large side and work my way ever smaller - not to mention that the important part is the 25 yard bottom hem - I decided to start there; at the bottom hem.

Getting comfortable with a new series to watch and plenty of water to drink, I started my base chain. Scratch that, I started my Foundation Single Crochet. I really really REALLY recommend using the FSC over a base chain for two reasons: 1 - It works up much more evenly, and 2 - It saves time in the long run. I mean think about this, would you rather chain 75 feet and then have to go back and single crochet in each chain across to give it a good foundation, OR would you rather create your chain AND first row of single crochet all in one and be done with it?

There's a bonus reason I recommend it. If after chaining 75 feet and then SC in each stitch across, you happen to remeasure it and find you have a whole extra yard, it is so much easier to take that yard out of a FSC than it is to unravel all that work just to get back to the base chain and remove the extra. If you are anything like me, you'd rather keep the extra yard than have to unravel 25 yards of work!

Okay, so, using a size L (8MM) hook, and size 10 crochet thread, I FSC 25 yards. The first time I did it (on my test above), I used scrap thread to mark each yard so that I could just measure it once and not have to worry about it, but because yarn and thread both stretch, the marked stitches were off, and so I ended up measuring my very first attempt like 3 or 4 times anyway. Thus, on my official skirt, I simply used a safety pin, which I moved each time I reached an easy to remember number of yards - such as 5 10 15, etc.

I recommend using scrap thread over a safety pin because it's a visual reference that can come in handy when crocheting later on :-)

Either way, I do NOT recommend pulling the base hem too tight when measuring. Hold it flat and fairly loose, but not too loose. You want the measurement to be accurate, but do NOT be picky. When you are dealing with 25 yards, a couple of inches or even a foot is not going to make a big difference.

This pattern is very forgiving!!!

The other thing you need to know about making this skirt is how LONG do you want it. Most people assume a length of 36 inches. I'm short, so I was aiming for 32-34 inches in length. I know that the skirt will naturally stretch AND I didn't want it to drag on the ground. With a 36 inch length, the skirt is typically divided into 4 panels of 9 inches each. Depending on the width of the fabric, the bottom panel may often be half that. (And the other panels adjusted accordingly.)

I wanted to sort of stick to the panels of the fabric skirt, but not needing the same length, I planned to make the bottom panel only 6 inches tall, and each of the remaining three panels 9 inches tall.

The first row after my FSC, I double crocheted in each stitch across. If you were paying attention, I used a big hook and a smallish thread. This means that it went by much more quickly than one might expect. HOWEVER, each row of the original 25 yards still took a LONG time. I think the FSC took me 8 hours to work up, and each row after that probably took at least 6 hours to work.

I measured the length after each row and quickly realized something... I was NEVER going to make it to 6 inches at 25 yards!!! I had a pretty hard time making it to the 3 inch mark. It took me at least 3 or 4 days of near continuous crocheting just to get to the 3 inch mark. But you know what, that was okay by me, because once I made it there - which for me was the original FSC plus 6 rows of DC - I decided that it would be easier and save me a lot of yarn if I decreased here.

To be straight, I did NOT end the panel here, decreasing from 25 to 12 yards. I actually only took out 1/4 of the length. (You know, half of the half that I would be decreasing at the 6 inch mark anyway, lol!) This left me with 19 yards to work, which reduced my crochet time per row to about 4 hours.

When I reached the 6 inch mark, I figured that I actually needed to reduce the total length by a third to get to the 12 yards I needed. (Actually, you'll note that I still have "extra" footage, but that's OKAY!!! Do not be "perfect!") I ended with 13 yards or so, I think.

The 13 yard rows seemed to fly by in comparison to the original 25, lol! THIS is why I started with the long part, so that the work would get easier as I went :-)

Again, I made the decision to decrease every 3 inches rather than at the actual 9 inches for each tier. I ran out of the first 2730 yard skein of thread about halfway through the second tier, and needed to order a second 2730 yard skein. The good news is that the second skein not only finished my project, but I have PLENTY left over for other things :-)

That's the whole pattern! Work 3 inches of DC, and then use a row of decreasing single crochet. Decreasing is simple. Let's say - since MOST of this skirt decreased by a 1/4th each time - that you want to shorten the row by 1/4th. This means that you "skip" every fourth stitch. More to the point, you work the third and fourth stitches together so that the two stitches become one and you in essence skip the fourth stitch. If you wanted to decrease by a third, you'd skip every third stitch, if by a tenth, skip every 10th stitch. Got it?

The third tier is the only truly different tier. It starts out with 6 yards - give or take some length - and ends with three yards. This means that I could not decrease by 1/4 like I had just about every other time I decreased. Up until now - with one exception - all decreases have been by 1/4th.  Now, after I had three inches of 6 yards, I took out 1/6th of the length to give me 5 yards. After three inches of 5 yards, I took out 1/5th of the length to leave me with 4 yards. 3 inches later was the end of the tier, so I took out 1/4 of the length to leave me with the 3 yards for the last tier.

Right here, the skirt SHOULD measure 6+9+9=24 inches. Back when I was working the 4 yard rows, I'd held it up to me and it was almost the perfect length, but since each part measured what it should, I thought that maybe I wasn't holding it right or something. So I continued to crochet until I got to 3 inches of the last tier. Then I held it up to me again and discovered that it was way too long!!!

You see, while each part measured what it was supposed as I crocheted it, I already told you that it was going to stretch. In fact, the DC stitches themselves sort of tighten up and add a lot of length as it's own weight pulls on it. This means that I actually had to pull out half the 3 inches I'd just worked so that I could then decrease to about the perfect size for my waist and make the waistband.

NOTE: the waist band is adjustable. You can leave it 3 yards long or take out some length to make it a bit closer to your own waist. The choice is up to you :-) I chose to take out some length.

Lastly, I crocheted a long string to thread through the waist band. (I SC for 7 rows and then using a slip stitch, "sewed" the top of the waistband to the bottom of the waist band to create a hollow tube to thread the string through. This is why the waistband is adjustable.

Wait LASTLY lastly, I SC along the side seam to sew it together. PHEW! Done!

YEA! Throw a party! Wear the skirt and strut your stuff like a peacock! :-D

Okay, so by now you - if you are still here - are thinking that your eyes hurt from reading all of that. Also, unless you have a good knowledge of crochet, you probably don't know half of what I said, lol! What you REALLY want are pics, lol!

I planned to take progress pics after each skein, thinking I'd need 2 jumbo and one regular skein, but as I said earlier, I surprised myself by not needing all of the second skein, so instead of a ton of detailed progress pics, I have a couple and then a bunch of finished pics :-D

This is my Foundation Single Crochet plus what "looks" like 7 rows. This is the first three inches (6 rows of DC), a decrease row and then another row of DC. I recommend measuring 1 row AFTER a decrease row to make sure that it measures correctly. Again, do not hold the fabric too tight or too loose. Aim for flat and err on the side of loose :-)

 THIS is when I ran out of the first skein of thread and folded it up to wait for the next skein to arrive.

 This is so you can see what is approximately a yard looks like :-)

Here you can somewhat clearly see the two decrease rows. The first one (in the middle of the work), is at the three inch mark, decreasing from 25 yards to 19, and the second one is at the end of the first tier, where I decreased to about 13 yards. NOTE: My measurements were never exact, often having MORE than it "should."

 I finished my skirt, threw it on my hubby's mannequin and snapped a quick pic before I realized that the mannequin was standing in the hands down messiest spot in our house! Please disregard the mess, it's all stuff we currently have nowhere else to put. Shrugs.

 Not really having a big open area ANYWHERE in our house to take pics of a big wide skirt, I decided that the kitchen was the best place I was going to get. Here I am simply standing to show how the skirt hangs and drapes. It's nice :-) However, what you can't see is that it has already stretched so much that I have it not around my waist, but up under my braline, and it still touches the ground. This is not a tragedy though since the skirt is make to tuck and play with :-)

 For example, the double cross, lol! The front side of the skirt is pulled up and tucked into my bra strap, and the other side of my skirt is wrapped around back and draping over my shoulder. In this pic, it looks like the skirt is pulled up over one shoulder, wrapped around back, and draped over the other shoulder, but it's not, lol!

 It's hard to see with my limited space, but it spreads out into Angel wings :-D

My only real complaint is that it's LONG - longer than I wanted it to be. But that's still good news, because I plan to make a second skirt - it's traditionally worn with a second skirt for contrast - so I know now that with a bit more planning, I can make it much shorter and save myself a LOT of work :-D This tuck is called the mullet - I believe - and is nicknamed the can can. As in from the old fashioned dance girls who often did the can can, lol!

Betcha didn't realize I was wearing pants under my skirt, huh? lol!

So that's my skirt. I am SO proud of it and can't wait to make a second one in a gorgeous color. I'm thinking Deep Rose, Bright Blue, or maybe even vibrantly hot pink since a friend of mine mentioned that if this skirt was OVER a brightly colored skirt - rather than under like I planned - it'd probably look really good. :-)

Just so y'all know - in case you want to try your hand at it too, it only took me about 2-3 weeks to finish this dress, even after I had to wait several days to get the second skein of thread. Therefore, it's worth the time and effort. It might take longer if you can only crochet a couple hours here and there, but once you get past the first tier, it starts to really fly by :-)

Good luck and have a happy day!

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