I was thinking of clever titles for this blog post, but I feel like puns like “sew cool” and “sew chic” have all been done to death. So scratch that and let’s cut to the chase–
I made a skirt!
I know I sound like a proud parent right now- but photos really do not do it justice. The fabric is vibrant and alive. I got so many compliments when I wore it to work last Tuesday, which made me even prouder of my handiwork- people couldn’t even tell it was homemade! The fabric really made the dress. To all new sewers out there– they say that you should start sewing with cheap fabric first so you don’t spend money on nice-looking fabric and screw it up, but I really believe that you should start sewing with materials that make you want to create something. And if you’re feeling inspired to make something- do it! For too long, I stayed away from sewing cute clothes and projects that excited me because I was intimidated. I didn’t think I “deserved” to buy nice fabric or make cool things other than square-shaped projects (bags, pillowcases, etc.). I wasn’t “there yet.”
Well all that changed when I saw 4 yards of the fabric above at a yard sale. I was like damn it, this fabric is too beautiful for me to pass up. I’m making myself a skirt! And I did it.
I have a book, called Sew what? Skirts that teaches beginners how to sew skirts without patterns. To be honest– for me at least– I think you do need a pattern when you’re starting out, especially if you’ve never taken a sewing class. The only sewing class I’ve ever taken was the complimentary one that was provided after my parents bought my sewing machine. At the class, they taught me how to thread the needle and use the different pressure feet. After that, I was on my own.
That summer, I skimmed sewing blogs every day, but they were all so overwhelming with jargon that I didn’t understand. I made a cloth shopping bag (with awkward handles), a journal cover (that’s in a drawer somewhere), an abundance of headbands (actually pretty cute), and embellished (coughruinedcough) a few tee shirts. I’ve searched for affordable sewing classes, but lessons are extremely hard to come by, and the ones I do find are either overpriced or for children. I signed up for a class 3 months ago with Christmas money, but couldn’t take it because it was cancelled. Apparently not enough people signed up. I have a sinking suspicion that I was the only one who signed up for the class. Do people not want to know how to sew for fun anymore? All I ever find are courses for designers that cost $1000 or $80 kids classes.
I thought that a circle skirt would be so pretty. But I wasn’t feeling the granny length. So I cut a little over a foot off of the pattern. I didn’t use a compass to precisely cut the line, probably would have been more accurate. But I figured since it was a swishy circle skirt, a crooked hem wouldn’t be readily apparent. So I just used a ruler and eyeballed it. Here’s one section of the front of the skirt with the pattern over it:
There are marks on the pattern that you have to trace onto the wrong side of the fabric. You use tracing paper and a tracer to do that. The tracing paper leaves a bright color on the inside of the fabric that can later be washed off. The marks tell you where to sew and attach certain things.
Here’s that good ole sewing jargon I was telling you about. “Baste?” “Extended seam allowance?” “Zipper foot?”
Sometimes you just have to suck it up and watch a youtube clip. Or four. Thankfully I have a book called the Dressmaker’s Technique Bible, it was invaluable in helping me on the tricker steps that the pattern was tight-lipped about.
When you sew in a different way (whether it be making a button hole, a zipper, a straight line, or a zigzag), you put a different foot on the machine. Here are the different kinds of feet (and the bobbin):
I’d say that putting in the zipper was challenging, but I felt like I really accomplished something when I finished it. And thank God for the pattern of my fabric, man. It really covered up any crooked seams or stitches. Definitely only buying dark and patterned fabrics until I really master using my machine. Another tricky part would have to be the waistband, it took me a while to figure it out. But I got there:
The white business that you see is called interfacing. It’s used to give waistbands a little weight and sturdiness. After the waistband, I sewed the hem. And then I was done.
I still have fabric leftover from the skirt, and I plan to bleach it so that when I make something with it, it’ll look different. I think I’ll bleach the fabric, then stain it with tea so it’ll look vintage. The fabric is a little too firm (non-stretchy? blanking on adjectives) to make a shirt, but I’ll figure something out. Maybe I’ll make an A-line skirt. We’ll see.
How do you like it? Have you done anything crafty lately? Comment below!