Over the Easter long weekend I made my first skirt from A Beginner’s Guide To Making Skirts. The Roewood Jersey Pencil Skirt is the first skirt in the book and I think it is a good one to start with. The fabric I used was the fishscale remnant piece I picked up on my fabric crawl last month from the Remnant Warehouse. I made the plain version of the skirt.
Fit wise I used the 47″ version however I’ll admit I added an extra ½” around each pattern piece using my seam allowance guide. I didn’t want the fit to be too snug and I wasn’t sure how much stretch my fabric would give once sewn up as I had never worked with that fabric before so really it was more like the 49″ that I made. Assembly wise I kept my seam allowance fairly narrow and did the all the seams on the overlocker.
I am happy with the size that I did. Yes I have a tummy (love my hot chips) Side on you can see it a little I normally wear longer tops anyway but ever if I didn’t it doesn’t look bad. I like the length of it. I have worn this to work and it did pass the windy day test. I didn’t have to walk down the street holding my skirt which I have had to do with store brought pencil skirts.
For the waistband I used the largest pattern size. Even though I am hourglass shape (waist is smaller than hips and bust) I didn’t fall within the waist measurements from the pattern size. Once the waistband was attached to the skirt I realised I could have gotten away without even inserting elastic into the casing as the fabric was very compressing and fitted almost like a narrow yoga waistband but as I would be wearing this to work and not wanting to risk wardrobe malfunctions over time I added the elastic.
Originally I used a narrow elastic but it just felt wrong once I tried it on. It didn’t sit nice within the casing and just felt awful so I removed it and put in wide elastic. The wide elastic is much more comfortable. When the skirt isn’t on it does look bumpy within the casing but when stretched out around the waist feels nice and secure. For the hem I just did the most basic fold over and stitch method. It isn’t the neatest hem and I’m sill considering maybe at some point of doing a rolled hem on it. I have enough length that I can change the hem if needed.
Sewing this skirt was a lot of fun. The fabric only cost me like $9 so if I messed it up or didn’t like it there was no fear of wasting a heap of money. The fabric is nylon spandex which is not normally a fabric I would go near but I loved the colour and the texture so I tried it out. When I brought the fabric I didn’t know if I would keep what I made from it or not but now that I have made it I’m keeping it. It isn’t a summer skirt even though I am in an air conned office, it is a winter skirt. I have lots of summer skirts and now I have a good winter skirt.
Out of all the fabrics I brought on my fabric crawl I would not have guessed this would have been the first fabric I used but I love it. Oh and I have one question what do you do with your hands when you are taking photos. I am no model I don’t know how to pose 🙂
Using my ball winder I have gone and made yarn cakes from my remaining balls of wool scraps so that I can use them in WIRES pouches. If the balls were fairly solid still I didn’t bother rewinding them up into cakes (why reinvent the wheel so to speak) Having the balls in this format means I can easily use them on my yarn holder as they have the hole in the centre, when you rewind balls without the centre hole you can’t spear them on the spike. To join the yarn I just knotted them together the same way that I have always done. I will knit over my ends to secure them in.
I can see why everyone would be excited about using variegated coloured yarn cakes, if you were making a piece up you wouldn’t know how your colour changes will turn out. On the left are my balls of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarns, I have never made pouches from these before but they are suitable yarn (correct ply and composition) so there shouldn’t be a problem. I have a fair bit of leftover Bendigo yarns from the various blankets I have made. On the right the top one is leftover from when I made my Tunisian scarf, I need to double check the composition of this yarn but I am sure it is 100% natural just from different animals. The bottom right it made up from scraps of the regular brand yarn I normally use (Lincraft Cosy Wool) It will be good to use these up on pouches, a practical way to use up scraps.
Have you ever liked a designers patterns a few times and before you knew it you had become a fan of theirs without realising it? To be honest I can’t remember where I first started seeing Wendy Ward’s designs but now I own 2 of her books and have just seen she has another one recently out.
A Beginner’s Guide To Making Skirts is the second book I purchased but the first book that I have made something from as it may have become apparent from my posts I am a bit of a skirt addict so no wonder I have been attracted to this book. The book contains 8 skirt patterns that can be modified to make 24 different skirts. The instructions go through how to make each basic pattern and then the ways you can modify it. There are a range of fabrics used in the various skirts including denim, jersey, cottons, rayons. The instructions are written with accompanying line drawings pointing out key areas to watch and helpful hints. For each of the skirts there are line drawings of the cutting layout on the fabric. There are also lots of beautiful photos of the finished items.
The only slightly confusing part in the book is the printed patterns. Each skirt comes in 10 different sizes and the books comes with pattern pieces for 7 of the skirts (no pattern for the circle skirt as you draft your own) So in theory that is like 70 different skirt pattern pieces all printed on a series 6 pages of paper pullouts. Each skirt is colour coded and all sizes are marked out the same for each pattern so you need to just keep an eye out that you are following the correct colour and size code for the skirt you wish to make. I trace out my patterns on to trace and toile which is fairly transparent but I would not try tracing this out under the normal overhead lighting I have above my craft table as it is a yellowish light instead I would wait until I had enough natural day light that surrounds my craft table so that I could see the pattern markings easier.
I have made one skirt from this book thus far with plans to make more. It is a great little book to have in your collection demonstrating how you can tweak a basic pattern multiple ways to create different looking items.
In the past I have been known to get myself into a real bother by confusing different parts of a pattern once they have been cut out. You convince yourself you will remember what it is but when you have heaps of pieces looking very similar it is easy to get confused. The solution is to make labels for all your different pieces. I got the idea from when I made the Activity Go Case. As part of the PDF pattern you were provided with a page of labels to cut up and pin to the different pieces. It was a brilliant idea! In that pattern there was a lot of very similar size rectangles so without labels you would easily pick up the wrong piece.
If a pattern doesn’t have labels to cut up it is easy to make your own on the computer by opening up a word processing program such as Microsoft Word and inserting a table. You only need to select a couple of rows and columns to start with. Referring to your pattern you just type up a label for each piece. I’m currently in the process of making a toy with 21 pieces in it, without the labels I would have been lost as to what all the pieces were.
You can make your labels as big or as small as you like by changing your font size. I print my labels out on scrap paper. I save scrap paper from my work to print out stuff at home. Some things you can’t print on scrap paper but labels are defiantly something you can. I don’t save my labels on the computer once I have printed them instead I print 2 copies, one copy I leave intact with the rest of the pattern instructions the other copy I cut up and use. If I want to make the same item again I can always photocopy my intact copy.
If you have never made labels before I hope you do try it sometime. They aren’t necessary for all projects but on projects with a lot of pieces or similar looking pieces they are sew helpful.
Normally I am so on top of things but I’ll admit one child who was having a birthday had crept up on me. I was planning on making the child a different toy but the materials I had weren’t suitable and before I knew things it was nearing time to post the gift off and I had nothing done so Plattie came to the rescue.
Plattie is a Funky Friends Factory pattern. This pattern had been in my stash for some time to make. When I realised my impending deadline I remembered this pattern and knew it was perfect, the toy was going to a child not living in Australia. What a cute little native animal to make them. Construction wise it is a really easy and quick pattern to make – providing you cut out all the pattern pieces! In my rush to get the pattern traced out and pieces cut so I could take it to my sewing group meeting to stitch up that day I missed a piece and didn’t take the leftover fabric with me so I had to come home early to finish him off in time. There is an online tutorial you can follow for this pattern but I didn’t need to. The only way I differed from the pattern was I ironed on pellon on each of the paw pieces (double thickness in each finished paw) Unlike a lot of toy limbs you don’t stuff the paws on him so I used the pellon to make them a little bit more fluffy and cuddly rather than just straight thin cotton in the paws.
The fabric used were caramel fabric leftover from the Activity Go Case and some brown spots from the Kids Messenger Bag. Confession I have a basket of fabric in my lounge room waiting to be put away downstairs in my stash which comes in handy when I am wanting fabric at odd hours or last minute as you never know what you will find in it and generally the fabrics in it have been pre-washed and ready to use. Plattie has turned out to one of my all time my favourite toys. I don’t say this often but he is totally adorable, it was hard to give him away. In my gift stash I found a cotton crocheted blanket I made as a test piece a couple of years ago which was perfect to wrap around Plattie as toys do like to snuggle in blankets.
So my theory is that you learn something from each project you make. From this project I learnt the value of being organised so that your aren’t in position of rushing to make a deadline. When you rush you make mistakes like forgetting to trace out a pattern piece. I also learnt that what seems the most simplest project can also be the best looking if you do it correctly, the old principle of Keep It Simple works.
I am a big believer of hand tacking when it comes to sewing now, not on all things just on some.
I have never had formal training and don’t know the expert way of tacking, I don’t use special threads or needles. For my taking stitches I use a medium to long length stitch using a regular sewing needle, thread wise I usually use a near empty bobbin in a strong contrasting colour so that I can see it easily. I like to pin and then tack. Depending on what I am doing sometimes I leave the pins in sometimes I will take them out. The things I do hand tack are zippers, curved pieces on toys, stuffed limbs in toys. anything that has a lot of pinning particularly at odd angles. Hand tacking stops the fabric layers slipping. Sometimes using my seam ripper I remove the tacking stitches just before the section goes under my sewing machine needle other times I take out the stitches afterwards.
Sometimes patterns will tell you to tack before sewing, these days even if a pattern doesn’t tell me I choose to do it. It may take a few extra minutes to hand tack a piece but the time saved and more importantly stress levels reduced by doing the tacking is worth it. I’m not finishing a seam only to discover I missed half of it. I am doing less reverse sewing (unpicking) by taking the time to hand tack. I am happier with the end result the first time around. On toys in particular I’m getting a better result on gusset pieces which before were my nemesis as I could never get both sides of the gusset to look even. The little bit of extra sewing preparation beforehand pays off in the end. I have heard that using silky type threads are good for tacking as you can remove them easier but I have never had an issue with removing the tacking stitches, plus it is a good way for me to use those near empty bobbins up.
I didn’t know you could get pinking shears in a smaller size until I asked at my local quilt shop a few months ago and they just happened to have some come in.
The pair I got measure a total length of 7″ which is 2″ smaller than my original pair which measure at 9″ The cutting blade is smaller on these with a 3″ blade before the pivot, my older ones blade is closer to 4″ I haven’t weighed the two pairs but I can tell by just holding them these are also lighter. I got them a few months ago but this morning was the first time I tried them out.
I’m in the process of making a toy which has a lot of curves in it. On some the pieces I would have traditionally had to snip the curved seams with a small pair of scissors so that the pieces would sit nicely when turned right side out. Using these pinking shears I was about to cut away some of the seam allowance and create notches around the curve so when turned out it sat nicely. It was wonderful to get such even notches around the seam and there was less mess, in the past I have been known to be covered in tiny threads when snipping curves.
I’m calling these mini shears even though the difference is only 2″ to my regular ones. They feel more compact than my regular ones. In the past I have never cut around toy pieces with my larger sheers in case I cut too far and snipped the seam but with these smaller ones I can. If you come across different size pinking shears I think they would be a good investment for your sewing stash. Now that I know how well these work I will be using them again on toys and other curvy seams.