Sunday, January 31, 2010

'The Practice Skirt' - or, 'Well, it lived up to it's name'

During the week I decided that because I had no plans for this weekend it would be the weekend that I finished something I started last year.

When I first got my sewing machine and had the unfortunate skirt sewing experience with my Mum, I was bemoaning the difficulty of reading patterns and the picture on the front vs the finished product etc to the nice sewing ladies at work and one of them said she had done a pattern drafting course and was wanting to get back into pattern drafting so would measure me up and make me a simple pattern. Which she did because she is lovely.

She presented the pattern rolled up like a scroll with a purple ribbon which was very cute. And then she was trying to explain to me how the pattern as it is would make a straight skirt but if I wanted I could easily turn it into an A-line skirt. However, I was a bit slow to understand so she got a sheet of paper and made some cute little diagrams.

So that weekend, sometime last year, I decided instead of wasting any of my nice fabric I had bought on sale at Arthur Toye or had taken from Mum's, I would go to Spotlight and buy some calico and make a practice skirt, which I did. Of course there was confusion - the pattern didn't allow for seam allowance so I had to add that in when cutting the pieces out, I had to teach myself how to transfer darts from the pattern onto the fabric and then sew them (one again, thank you YouTube), and when it came to sewing the front piece to the back piece of the skirt I rang my Mum and was like 'I've done something really wrong and I can't understand what, they don't match up' (meaning the front piece was wider than the back piece at the top) and she nicely explained to me that my waist was not flat and neither was the skirt, to just pin the pieces together along the seam and I would see that it would fit me. So I did all that. And then I got to the zip and looked up 'how to insert a zip' on YouTube and got all these different explanations, some of which involved gluing and some basting and I didn't remember my Mum doing any of that so just pinned the zip into the side of the skirt and that was where it ended.

I took it into work and the sewing ladies explained how they inserted zips (they each had a different way), I showed my Mum the next time I saw her and she explained how she did it (which I think is how I've done it), and the skirt sat on the ironing board upstairs in our open plan lounge/kitchen/dining area for months. It saw the New Year in this way and suddenly during the week with an empty weekend ahead and the confidence of well-progressing hat behind me, I decided I would just give the zip a go and finish the damn thing.

Which I did. The zip is not pretty but it works, the skirt no longer fits me nicely (I'm blaming the fact that it's sewn now instead of just pinned like last time I tried it on rather than me gaining any weight or anything), the interfacing at the waist doesn't sit well, and the bit above the zip where I could put a hook and eye seems to have too much of a gap for a hook and eye to work properly. All in all, the skirt is a bit of a failure, which disappointed me because even though it was a practice skirt I had had visions of dyeing it or sewing some cool little buttons in the bottom right hand corner in an arty way or something and maybe wearing it a few times. But I really don't think that will be happening. It also sits quite high up on my waist which I think is the pattern more than anything I've done but I don't wear my skirts that high and really, all I want is a skirt that fits low across my hips!

However, I have decided to look on the bright side and embrace the idea of it being a practice skirt. The bright side includes:

I made a skirt all by myself, and while it's far from perfect, it's finished and it kind of fits me.

I finally inserted the zip and it's functioning even though it's not pretty.

I sewed darts and I think I did a really good job of them for a first-timer.

The hem is beautiful, I pinned it, checked in various places with the measuring tape to make sure it was even, and then when I sewed it, I sewed in such a straight line that when I came back to where I started the sewing machine needle was EXACTLY in line with the stitches I had done at the beginning. I was really proud of that!

The practice skirt lived up to it's name. It gave me the chance to practice a whole lot of stuff and made me figure out a whole lot of stuff myself (with the help of a phone call to Mum). And despite being quite embarrassed by the zip, I am going to take it into work tomorrow and show Ms. Pattern Drafter so that she can give me some tips on where I went wrong (mostly with the interfacing for the waist band - there's a gap on the non-zip side where there's no interfacing and I'm not sure what I should have done to make that not happen - and the zip) so that I know for next time I try to make a skirt.

It is disappointing though, I really enjoy the process and act of sewing (pinning the pattern, cutting out the pieces, and especially the actual sewing) but I somehow feel that I am not naturally good at it. One of my issues is that I have a real problem visualising something, like when it came time to sew the interfacing to the top of the skirt it took me a few minutes to figure out how to sew it so that when I turned it over it formed a nice seamed waistband. I had to actually pin it, get it wrong, and try again, I couldn't just step it out in my mind to figure it out.

That's one of the things I admire about my Dad as a builder, he has a great ability to visualise what something is going to look like, like when he built the house before the one they live in now, he would show us the floor plans and my step-Mum and I just couldn't visualise what the inside of the house would actually be like, even once it started being built and we were walking around on the foundations and when the framing went up.

So that's the story of the skirt. Today I am going to enjoy the fact that the heat and sun of yesterday have gone and it is windy and chilly by sitting and reading a book. I love weekends with no plans! Next weekend I have to work so I need to make the most of my free time today.

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