A needle pulling thread…

I must begin this post with a disclaimer which will now and forever absolve me of any guilt or responsibility for the failed or semi-failed tailoring experiments that might be inspired or unfortunately influenced by my trial and error methods of patching together somewhat wearable garments.

α Begin transmission α
This is in no way, shape or form a comprehensive guide on tailoring or do-it-yourself projects, in whole or in part. Assuming more than 3 people read this and out of those 3, one of you is foolish enough to follow my lead – well, I’m sorry.
I do this for no other purpose but to amuse, distract and enjoy myself. All projects are begun and completed on my dining table and so far, are entirely hand sewn. Results may vary.
Ω End transmission Ω

As explained in my previous post, the first sewing project I decided to undertake was a summer skirt. I recollected the pattern from 6th grade needlework class, in which a nun taught us how to make a lovely cotton pleated skirt. One of the many joys of going to Catholic convent school in India.

When I scouted around for fabric I was unable to find a printed cotton I liked and went with this self-embroidered, somewhat sheer cotton fabric instead.

From Sew What

The texture of the fabric and its translucency led me to altering the original 6th grade pattern slightly in two ways.

Firstly, I added a simple broadcloth lining, and hemmed it one hem length higher than the final skirt length, in this case, about 2 inches.

From Sew What

The joint in the middle of the lining is due to the fact that I bought only one metre – either because I miscalculated or am cheap, or both. The panel was broad enough however, and I just cut it to the desired length and made a strong, clean joint which cannot be detected below the skirt fabric.

Secondly, instead of proper 1.5 inch pleats at regular intervals, I simply gathered the fabric roughly but evenly. I didn’t trust that the fabric would hold the pleats well enough and was afraid it would look half baked had I tried.

From Sew What

I would have loved nothing better than to run some elastic through it at this point and called it a day, but the obsessive compulsive side of me pressed on. (Get it? ‘pressed’?!)
I stuck to the original plan and set about measuring and cutting out a waist band in a fabric that picked up the peach colour in the flowers on the main skirt.

From Sew What

This next step is where I believe I went a little off kilter, the results of which will become apparent shortly.
I laid the gathered skirt out as straight as I could and began tacking the band onto the skirt.

From Sew What

I always tack with a contrasting thread so I know which stitches I can later remove safely without ripping open the whole garment accidentally.

From Sew What

The skirt is right side up while the band is wrong side up so that once its attached, I simply flip it over and attach it to the inside. I chose this method over simply attaching it directly, front and back in one go, because without a machine, my back stitch would have looked clumsy and unprofessional on an area as prominent as the waist. Its double the work, but the results are worth it.

From Sew What

Hereafter, the waist band was folded over and I attached it to the inside of the skirt and lining, being careful not to come through to the front side of the fabric, but also making sure the stitches were close together and strong enough to hold together the whole skirt. I then sewed up the seam and barring a clasp at the back, thought I was pretty much done.

From Sew What

This is where the previously mentioned off kiltering happens. I failed to compensate for the fact that despite my small frame, I am, surprise surprise, not in fact, a rectangle. The waist band basically stuck up straight and did not conform to my natural waist.
I could not just let it be and wrap a sash around it and so set about resorting to the simple altering methods my mother taught me – tucks on the waist line. After a few tries I realised the tucks would have to mirror each other, back and front and no other positions would do if the skirt were to fall properly.

From Sew What

Despite repeated assurances from the ever patient manfriend, I simply could not bring myself to leaving it this way. It was meant to be a high waisted skirt, most likely worn with the top tucked in and I could not stand the idea of these exposed tucks. I half decided to cover the eye sore tucks with loops and a nice sash, but it being 5am on Sunday morning, I had no will to argue with him and promptly crashed. When I awoke the next…evening…a quick consultation with my like minded sister resolved me to the ‘loop’ course of action and I immediately set about the task of making said loops. I think the loops took me longer than the whole skirt itself, since I had unfortunately to attend to my pesky job that kept taking me away from my beloved project for 8 hours at a time.
Even before the loops were done, I hemmed and hawed over a sash for some time, finally settling on buying a broad ribbon or scarf for the purpose, since the skirt fabric would not lend itself to the cause readily – just not scrunchy/malleable enough. After much hunting I settled on a broad stretch lace band that upped the ‘girly’ almost a little too much, but finished the whole thing off nicely I thought. I also added some press buttons on the back to avoid the embarrassment of it slipping off, which invariably happens when things aren’t fastened on. Damn you gravity!

Advance apologies for the odd picture – I own no dress form and must model my garments myself!

From Sew What

So…TAADAA!

Despite hiccups and alterations, I am supremely proud of my first attempt in 15 years at sewing a complete garment, start to finish. I have learned that next time, I must first sew the seam, THEN attach the waist band if I am sewing for non-rectangular beings. I have also learned that there are no short cuts when you’re hand sewing and always listen to your inner hysteric. Or your sister.

For the complete outfit, please visit www.styleperdiem.com.

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11 responses to “A needle pulling thread…

  1. Very nice!!

    Wish I had paid attention in my textiles class so I could make works of genius like this 😀

    • Thank you! I’m still getting back into the swing of things so learning from the mistakes I’m making as I go along. I’m sure if you pick it up it will come back to you! 🙂

  2. Looks great! Very pro. Honestly, is there anything you can’t do?

    Looking “sew” forward to all the sewing puns! 😀

  3. Okay you hand sewed this? Very nice for a first time effort. You do need to buy/get/borrow a machine.
    Have you heard of this website?

    http://www.craftster.org

    Its a orgy of crafts everything from soapmaking to sewing to knitting to jewellery. Its is very addictive so be careful.

    • Thanks sraikh! I’ll check it out.
      I hand sew for now BECAUSE it is more difficult and I’m a glutton for punishment! 🙂
      I am looking into a decent machine though and as soon as I have space for it in my matchbox condo, I will get one.

  4. Please tell me you didn’t hand-embroider the fabric at least.

    • No, I cant take credit for the embroidery, the fabric was self embroidered. But I hope to get into embroidery over the winter when I wont be making myself summer things!

  5. Oh my god you actually sewed this skirt yourself? Amazing! I remember my friends going to a sewing class growing up, and the first thing they made was a kachcha(crass term for underwear!)

  6. Cooks!! You have done a great job with the skirt, and an even better one of putting it down in words for us to share! Keep sewing, but more importantly, keep writing.

    God bless you, girl!!!

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