Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Skirting the Issue

Recently I decided to start a little bit of sewing.  Again.  I'd bought myself a nice new machine a few years ago, but was hesitant about using it because of all the troubles I'd had with its predecessor.  The bobbin case always had tension problems, and I didn't know enough to fix it myself.  

Fortunately, the new machine is computerized and has a drop-in bobbin instead, so user errors are reduced. I haven't had the problems I did with the other one, and I'm partially attributing that to my gaining a few years of maturity.  The other half is that the old machine wasn't a reliable model.  I've even been able to do some sewing on knits with the new machine without any ruffling problems.

I'm going to attribute THAT to all of the helpful information available on the Internet.  B.E. (Before Internet), I was truly on my own, and counted myself lucky to have made anything attractive at the time.  I made several pretty items.  

Lately I just can't find clothes that suit me and flatter me, and I hate clothes shopping.  Pinterest has me sure I can throw together a lovely A-Line skirt in no-time. 

Ok, so I did, a few days ago.  I went to Joann's armed with a 50% off coupon and bought $25 of fabric for about $12.50.  I'm really falling in love with that store, now that good coupons are coming my way.  I finally understand why the clerks at the other store were surprised that I didn't have coupons. They have some GREAT coupons and sales!  Who would bother spending full price if they can get half off? 

I bought some batik fabric from the quilting section. (Shut UP.  Yes I know, but their apparel fabrics seriously displeased me.) I had already done my measurements and calculated is need two yards to be on the safe side, instead of the recommended yard and a half, because darn it, I don't have a 25 inch waist anymore.  I also wanted some extra so that I could add pockets.  

Thus began the comedy of errors.  I promise you, I did understand all the steps before I began.  

Basically, you seam up the sides and then attach the waistband, then insert the elastic into the waistband-casing.  Pretty simple. I had cut out the pockets using an online pattern and instructions from another site.  Since I wasn't yet sure exactly where to put the pockets, I left openings in the side seams so that I could determine placement after trying it on.  No problem.

I seamed the sides, leaving the pocket areas unstitched.  Then I pinned the folded waistband, and was about to start seaming it on, when I realized I had it pinned to the wrong side.  Repinned and seamed. *sigh.*. Tried it on, and discovered that I should have cut the elastic shorter.  By about four inches. I guess my waist isn't as huge as I thought.  I opened up a seam, pulled it out, then cut and seamed the elastic.  Then I hand sewed the opening shut.  

I figured it would look nice to zigzag over the raw edges and then topstitch the waistband down for a crisper look.  I was right.  It looked more professional that way.  Then I tried it on to decide pocket placement, and discovered that there were no pocket holes. 

Oh wait, there they are.  Down by my ankles.  I'd sewed the waistband on the bottom instead of the top.  Because I was using a non-directional print, it didn't matter.  I just closed those seams and opened the seam on my hips with my seam ripper.  Yay.  

I wish I'd attached those pocket pieces before I seamed the sides of the skirt.  It would have been easier, but I really had no clue where they should be before a first fitting.  So with a little maneuvering, I got the first pocket in and tried the skirt on again. Well, in the process I DID manage to sew in a lower section of the skirt, I had to fix that and do it right, paying better attention the second time.  

Proud of myself, I put my hand into my pocket, only to find that the pocket was too small for anything other than my tightly crammed fist.  It'd never hold my phone or keys.  As gargantuan as the pocket was when I cut it out, I was surprised it was so tiny finished.  So I redesigned the pocket for the second side, and with a massively oversized pattern, I got a pocket that was slightly larger and usable.  

The first pocket, I just enlarged on the inside.  *sigh*. Frustrating.  Okay, now that the pockets are useable, I try it on and ...

Realize that I'm far too big-hipped for this style to look good on me. :). Too much gathering, and the fabric was too stiff and unflattering.  So I washed it with fabric softener and put it through a no-heat cycle in my dryer to beat it up a bit.  I am so frustrated right now. It's a pretty skirt, on the hanger.  If I can bash it a little softer, it might hang right.  Or maybe I should sew weights in like the Queen does.  I'm just not sure what kind of weight to use that won't damage my machine. 

Problems that I had: 
1.  Cottons are stiff, especially quilting cottons.  Knit would be better, for the draping ability, but there's not much choice here, unless you are happy with solid colors. I'm not. :(

2.  I didn't have an actual pattern, nor a photo of a woman my size wearing it.  The model was very thin, so the skirt looked great on her.  I work better with patterns.

3.  Gathered waists are not flattering on an hourglass figure.  A tapered waist would be better, but I'm not sure about finding such a pattern for my size.  This is why I haven't been wearing skirts. They don't look good on me now. Actually, nothing looks good on me now.

This is all a very funny situation, with all my mistakes and such.  The only part that isn't funny is how bad I'm feeling about myself right now. 

When I first started thinking about sewing a skirt again, I did purchase a Simplicity pattern for knits. Hopefully, that pattern with some knit fabric will make me happier and I can expand my pitiful wardrobe.  As it happens, I've got several yards of a dreadfully heavy knit that I bought in 2012, intending to make a multipurpose wrap with it.  When the fabric arrived, I discovered how thick and heavy it was, to my disappointment.  It's just been hanging around... I wonder if I have enough to cut out a skirt pattern? 

Well... Just made my first mistake with the new pattern.  I read it over carefully a few times while my dog got all in my face for affection, and discovered that I didn't buy the right size pattern.  Have I mentioned how upsetting it is that I've gotta buy a plus-sized pattern, and Simplicity's pattern numbers are far HIGHER than my contemporary size actually is?

And the answer about the fabric is: no, I don't have enough of the red fabric to make anything, though I have enough black...  Like I need another black skirt in the springtime.  Maybe I should just go on and dress like a witch every day. 

No idea what to do with three yards of already-cut red knit jersey.  Ideas?

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