Becoming a pa’u

A few people have asked me how I make my na hula pa’u (hula skirts) so I thought I would walk you through the one I’m making for my shop today. I don’t consider this a tutorial,  just a glimpse of the process. So…

The first thing I do is lay the fabric flat wrong side up across my bed (I know, but my sewing table is too small for the adult size pa’u.)  I then fold over what will become the underskirt (wrong side to wrong side) measure and pin. This pa’u will be 29″ when finished so I measure it at 31″. The gathers will take up a little more than an inch and I usually use about 5/8 for the hem.  I set the pins toward the bottom of the underskirt so they don’t interfere with the sewing later. Once pinned, I’m ready to sew up my side seam. I unfold the underskirt and sew a 3/8″ seam which creates a circle of fabric. Then I’m ready to sew my channels. I need three channels for elastic, one for a ruffle at the top and two separating the elastic channels. Therefore, I need to sew six lines all together.  I have marked tape on my sewing machine to help me keep my lines straight and spaced right.  After all the channels are sewn,  I’m ready to put in the elastic.

I measure and then pin toward the bottom of the underskirt.

A:      I measure and then pin toward the bottom of the underskirt.

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six LONG channels. I suppose this could get tedious, but I listen to Hawaiian music and it helps pass the time.
B:    Six LONG channels. I suppose this could get tedious, but I listen to Hawaiian music and it helps pass the time.

My pictures are out-of-order and I can’t seem to move them…Onward. See I said it wasn’t a tutorial…at this point I serge the side seam from the hem up to the channels and the underskirt.  Now for the fun part–putting in the elastic. First you need to open up the back seam where the elastic goes through. Then we thread the elastic. There are many ways of doing this, some use chopsticks, some an untwisted coat hanger, some use a large safety-pin. Whatever you use, it is much easier to do all three pieces of elastic at the same time. This takes a lot of patience and is usually when most people give up on “doing it themselves”.

In goes the elastic.

In goes the elastic.

I have a sharp ripper so I do this very carefully.

I have a sharp ripper so I do this very carefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the elastic is threaded it will start to gather. Once all the elastic is threaded through the channels, they are sown together.

sewing the elastic ends together using a zig zag stitch.

sewing the elastic ends together using a zig zag stitch.

The gathers are beginning to take shape.

The gathers are beginning to take shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the ends are sewn, you can move the gathers all around the skirt so they are even. Hem the bottom, and DANCE!

Tada! All done, ready for the shop. I like this fabric. I comes in red, green, orange, blue and purple.

Tada! All done, ready for the shop. I like this fabric. I comes in red, green, orange, blue and purple.

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