June 24, 2013

A Sewing Triumph: My First, Self Drafted Skirt

Last night, I finished my first, self drafted skirt. The origin of this skirt begins many, many years ago. One day my lovely grandmother took my sister, cousin and myself to a fabric store and allowed us to pick out a length of fabric for our own amusement. I was immediately attracted to a beautiful cotton dyed in varigated colors between dark green, rich purple and flame red. (Unfortunately still not possessing a camera, my readers will have to use their imagination. It's beautiful, if that helps.)

For many years, this skirt remained in my closet occasional serving the function of cape, shawl, sari, sarong, or tie skirt. (Yes, I was one of those children who believed getting dressed involved throwing on the first three pieces of clothing at hand. Did I say was?)  Then one day, i decided to make a skirt. After reviewing the items in my closet, I decided, with no drafting experience, to turn it into a skirt.

Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact process. I remember there was a lot of measuring, crawling about on the floor with a piece of chalk, re-measuring, re calculating, redrawing lines and then the first cut! I ended up cutting ten panels and one waistband from the entire length. Serged the edges (my younger self was so meticulous!), sewed reasonably straight seams (amazing what can be done when the fabric is cut smoothly), attached the waist band (mostly), and... forgot about it in my closet for at least three years. Maybe more.

This past spring visit to my house, I rescued the project from my house and finished it up this past weekend. I am pleased with myself: I improvised a pseudo placket from part of the waist band, attached it with four buttons I've had rattling about for the past four years, and tailored the waistband for a good fit. The hem is wonky and a little lopsided; I'll stitch it and try again. Here are some of the things I've learned:

~ Make sure you measure the buttonhole sizes properly. It doesn't matter and isn't noticeable, but I think the buttonhole is a centimeter or two larger than necessary.

~ Buttonholes are addicting.

~ If the hem is uneven, don't just roll up the edges and assume it will all work out. Better to trim off the longer lengths so that it all hems even.

~ Measure your hems. Don't just fold the cloth over twice in what you assume is half an inch.

~ Also pin the hem, even after ironing.  And then measure it to make sure all the edges are the same length.

~ Dress forms make tailoring darts easy. So much easier than trying to measure it on yourself.

~ Sewing really isn't about the exhilaration of finishing a long seam. It is much more about the finishing details, the measuring, and the willingness to unpick and try again when it isn't perfect.

In short, I am pleased. The skirt looks good, actually matches clothes in my wardrobe and I feel comfortable enough to wear it out in public. It was a pretty simple, easy project, but a good one to have drafted myself. But making the earlier walking skirt gave me a good enough command of skirt anatomy to experiment and improvise on this one. Plus, my new dress form is already beginning to pay off.

Have you ever self drafted anything? How did it go? What did you learn?

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