Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I have been threatening to start sewing for a long time now. I have bought fabric. I have bought inspirational books of vintage fashions. I have collected bits and bobs of remnants and buttons and trims. I have even, recently, bought a new sewing machine. Yes, I was going to launch into sewing my own clothing any time now. My friend Jen, master seamstress and awesome teacher, offered to give me some instruction. Still it took a long time to get to the point of finding the hours to do it. Finally my underlying need to create clothing boiled over and I found myself spending a weekend with the ever-patient Jen, constructing a corduroy skirt.

My first step was to deconstruct a linen skirt that had been worn to the point of threadbareness. I used the pieces to make a pattern out of heavy paper.
Despite having a bin full of fabric already, I purchased four yards of gorgeous deep purple corduroy. Yes, four yards is a lot, but it was all that was left on the bolt and I can always make something from the leftovers. I also bought thread, zipper, etc.

The original skirt was elastic-waisted lightweight linen. I didn't want to do the same with the corduroy because it was heavier weight and, most particularly, I felt it would be good for me to install my first zipper. Skill building is good. Because my pattern was too wide to cut on the fold as I originally intended, I had to seam up the front and back. I took advantage of this and angled the fabric so the cords in the corduroy make an inverted vee in the front and back. Adding a waistband gave me a chance to learn to install a buttonhole. There was a slight speedbump in the zipper installation when it was discovered I had brought the Spanish version of the sewing machine manual. Happily the English version is just a Google search away.

I can only say that, despite being occasionally scary, and requiring slight plan changes during the process, I am very pleased with the results. In some ways, the scariest part is throwing it in the wash at the end. Will the whole thing disintegrate or shrink funny despite having preshrunk the fabric? It held together and I was able to wear it to work without anyone snickering.

If I hadn't been working under Jen's watchful eye, I would probably still be contemplating the instructions in the zipper package. The next big test: Can I make another skirt all on my own? Stay tuned and find out.


Laura said...

I like it - it looks comfy, and will be nice for the cooler weather! You're starting to inspire me to do more sewing, but like you, I'm not sure when I'll find the time...

Sharon said...

As long as you preshrink the fabric, it's not going to change once its been sewn up. I think it looks great - congratulations. I'm going to do that too, any one of these day.

Jen said...

This is fantastic! I haven't sewn in years. Don't even have a sewing machine anymore. I love your drive to learn and try new things! Bring the skirt to Dallas!