Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer craft series: I made a skirt!

I know, I know: Any friends I have who read this sub-rate blog are thinking, "Screw your skirt: Where are the wedding pictures??"  Patience, ladies: Patience.

Let's talk about my skirt.

Last year, my mom gave me Brett Bara's recent book, Sewing in a Straight Line.  (Brett has a blog, by the way--check it out here. Make sure you look up her Cat Lady Friday series--I'm talking to you, Tiff--to see how Fifi is the fluffiest!  She puts my cats to shame.)  One of the popular projects in her book is the One Hour Skirt.  After making not one but two skirts, I can tell you A) this definitely took me two hours and B) I did the dimensions all wrong and it STILL turned out AND fit anyway!

This is a super cheap polyester jersey material.  According to the book, you can use almost anything you want (from cotton to taffeta), but different materials will render different looks, different drape, different style. I wanted something that was light weight and easy to wash/dry, so polyester was the winner.  (Silk would be ideal, but too expensive.)

In the above photo, this is actually the wrong side of the fabric.  I picked out this pattern with Leslie in mind--I never reach for yellow, but Leslie always has. I liked how this yellow was paired with gray, and the "wrong" side of the fabric was more muted than the brighter, "right" side.  So, the wrong side became the right side.

Learning how to do French seams was daunting at first, but it turns out that they're actually really easy.  They just don't seem easy the first time you read the directions when you've never done them before.


The point of doing this kind of seam is to clean up the overall look of the skirt (albeit, the inside of the skirt).  Since the skirt is unlined, French seams prevent a frayed, messy look on the inside of the garment: The frayed ends are hidden in the folds of the seam.  (Scroll through this project to see Brett do a French seam here.)

Here's where I made the mistake that didn't matter: You cut your fabric according to the dimensions of the person wearing the skirt.  So if you measure a 39" hip, you should cut out two rectangles that are 39"x22".  I, however, cut the fabric 29"x22"--don't know why. For whatever reason, I had "TWENTYNINE INCHES" stuck in my head even though I should have been measuring 39" rectangles.  Turns out, I liked the 29" mistake better. (Think about it: You're sewing together two rectangles of 29" inch fabric; 29 + 29 = 58" around ... plenty of room around the hips.)  I think the 39" rectangles would have made the skirt too bunchy or fabricky.

Once I recovered from the realization that I cut each rectangle 10" too small, I forged ahead and ran into my next problem with the elastic.  If I remember correctly, Brett calls for 2" wide elastic for the waist, but I opted for 1.5" elastic: I'm REALLY short waisted (although Leslie is not) and I thought the thicker elastic wouldn't flatter quite right.  Using 1.5" elastic turned out to be fine, but it is SO FRUSTRATING getting the elastic through the waist band (especially if you're an idiot and sew the whole waist band shut BEFORE feeding through the elastic ... this project completely exhausted my seam ripper.)

Anyway, I don't know if any of you made your own scrunchies back in the early 90s (yes: I did ... oh, I spent many a summer hour making myself scrunchies back in 1992. Oh, dear God).  If you've ever had to feed elastic through a loooong, narrow tube of fabric, you know the frustration I'm talking about: One end of the elastic should always be secured outside of the tube.  Run the elastic through the tube, and then join it to the secured end on the outside.  If you accidentally let go of your elastic halfway through the loop and both ends are stuck inside, you're screwed: You can't just reach your adult fingers in there and pull the elastic out.  It's such an ordeal to get that sucker back out so you can join the two ends.

To make a long story short, this whole ordeal happened to me. I screamed and raged on and on for 15 minutes about how ridiculous and PATHETIC I must be if I need my HUSBAND to work on my lost piece of elastic in the waist of my skirt because SERIOUSLY if I can't even get some goddamn elastic secured in a waist band without Ron's help then I probably shouldn't be allowed A) to drive B) use a stove or C) God help me a sewing machine what the hell is the MATTER with me I KNEW not to let go of that elastic but my slow stupid brain was TWO SECONDS behind my hands I saw it coming before it happened and ...

Oh you got it? Thanks Ron.

That was my Sunday night.

God help me if Ron ever needs help with his table saw or band saw or anything with the word "saw" in it because apparently I can't use elastic without supervision.

Anyway, the finished product was pretty satisfying, and it really only took two hours.  My goal is to make two more projects from Brett's book before the end of the summer, but we shall see ...

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