Saturday, June 30, 2012

Butterick 5474

My first skirt didn't quite inspire a high level of sewing confidence, so I thought I would attempt some smaller projects to build up my skills.  (Note: not all objects that seem easy, or are labeled as "easy" are in fact easy.  Just like when I tell my mother that doing something involving an electronic device is "easy" only to end up teaching her the first step for all eternity, like click on "send" to send that email).  Thankfully, aprons are actually fairly simple, but I was sooooooo wrong about making purses (blog post coming soon).

Enter Butterick 5474, an apron.  Aprons have to be easy, right?  And totally useful as something that I forget to actually use until after I'm covered in sauce or grease.  I did actually remember to use it last week when I was pitting cherries (score 1 for me, about 500 for food splatters), so i can vouch for its clothes-protecting skills.

I also want to point out that this was my first experience at a pattern sale at Joann Fabrics.  O. M. G.!!!  I officially have a problem now and need some kind of therapy for overbuying patterns, but from all of the blogs I read I have noticed that others also have this problem, so therefore I have decided it is NOT a problem because that many people can't be wrong!  Right?  Right.  (Don't mess with us. Our hobby involves sharp objects).

I chose to make the full-length option with the bias-tape around the edge, which brings me to my first lesson that I learned in the making of this apron: there is something called bias tape.  And if you google it, you find many links to tutorials for how to make bias tape, but you don't really find a whole lot that says "hey, you can buy this for super cheap at a craft store so you don't have to spend hours making it yourself."  Nope, must have missed those links because I thought bias tape was something I had to actually make.  So make I did out of some fabric that I thought was very complimentary to my main fabric.

Now I know that I could have spent about a buck and a half on plain black bias tape.  (*breathe, go to your happy place*).  I'm so grateful for the learning experience of making my own bias tape so that I appreciate more how it works when I buy it at the store in bulk now.  It's kind of a shame that I used this technique on an apron that I mostly forget to even use, but I know how to do it if I need a more unique touch on something I make (*cough won't happen cough*).

All in all, this was actually a pretty easy project after all and maybe if I leave post-it notes on all of my cookbooks saying "WEAR AN APRON, DUMMY!!" I will remember to use it more often.  Probably not though as I have a bad habit of ignoring things once I get used to them being there.  C'est la vie!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Simplicity 2184

For my first *real* project (not that a bag isn't a real, tangible object, although boring), I thought that a skirt might be a good place to start because I didn't want to pick something so challenging that I would fail miserably and never sew again (and my machine would become the overpriced dust collector that my parents assumed it would end up being; they cannot be proven right!).  This is the pattern I chose:

I learned many things from this project, even before leaving the store!  I learned how to look through the catalogue and then figure out where the hell the pattern actually is in the store (although first I was just hopelessly looking through the cabinets thinking "do I have to do this every time I want a pattern?? Why is there a dress, followed by baby pajamas, followed by a some purses, followed by doll clothes?!  Organization, people!!!")

I also learned how much fabric to request and that there is a difference between apparel cotton and quilting cotton (but that quilting cottons have better prints!) so this skirt is a bit on the stiff side.  But you know what; if I see a print in quilting cotton that would be perfect for something I have pictured in my mind, I'm going for it.  That's right, I said it!  Sewing elitists be warned! (You can say "I told you so" when I complain about the way it feels on future projects).

I think the most important lesson I learned has to do with sizing (and this lesson ends up being the lesson that keeps on teaching for quite awhile!).  For those of you experienced sewists out there, you know exactly where I am going with this.  I saw that this pattern started at a size 6 and I think I might have actually scoffed out loud (probably sounded a bit more like a pig snort than a super-cool "hrmph").  I thought that I would be swimming in a size 6 seeing as I generally buy a 2 in a ready-to-wear garment. "I guess I'll just cut a little bit more inside the line for the size 6" thought the clueless, newby clothesmaker.  (Of course, I also believed the envelope when it said "2 hours"  Oh, I had so much to learn...)

So here is the finished product:

Not terrible!  (That was my first thought, and was enough to keep me going).  However, it is a bit like a Picasso: good from far away and a mess up close.  So...let's stay far away, shall we.  I had absolutely no idea what "bias" skirt meant or that extra planning was involved to make it come out the way it's supposed to.  You mean I can't just fold the fabric, cut two of the pieces and have them magically match up perfectly??  (The answer is "no."  You can't do that.)  Of course I didn't have enough fabric left to cut more pieces, so I just made do with that I had.  The first time I sewed up the seams in the front and back I didn't even think about how it would match up and it was a total disaster!  (From a glass half-full perspective, I got to learn how to use my seam-ripper!)  The lines really don't match up perfectly on the front or the back, but I had to decide which side to match up better and I chose the front.

It was also TINY!  Like "OMG, I can't even get this further up than mid-thigh!" I was really confused by that, but thankfully I was able to make the smallest seam-allowances possible to keep from having a wardrobe malfunction, and it fits (barely...if I haven't had a big meal yet).  I did some internet research on the issue (now I know that's a good thing to do BEFORE starting something), and I realize now that pattern sizing is crazy!  (ok, not crazy; more like closer to how clothes used to be sized before vanity sizing got out of control)  According to the envelope, I would be between a size 10 and 12!  (stay tuned for my lesson about "ease" on a later blog post)

To be perfectly honest, I don't wear the skirt.  I kind of doubt it's strength to stay in one piece and I know so much more now that I didn't know to do then (i.e. finishing seams, how to correctly attach a waistband so the inside doesn't look all frayed, what interfacing is, etc).  It was a really good way to get started and learn basic skirt construction, and now that I have an outfit that works I might put it in the rotation.  I do recommend the pattern though, but if you're not advanced it will take longer than 2 hours.

I made another version of this skirt as well (the longest one), and I'll have a post about that one soon.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Hello, blog-world!  Or maybe I should say Bonjour! (or not...I'm not even remotely French, but it made for a cute blog name/it's a groan-worthy sewing pun).  I'm going to give the blogging thing a try, although I will admit that I feel kind of self-conscious and shy about putting pictures of myself (that I most likely took myself) on the internets. I'm not sure which I hate more: seeing pictures of myself or hearing myself on a recording.  "Do I really look/sound like that?!?!?!?!"  If it's a VIDEO...well let's just not talk about that.  So I'm just going to make this about the sewing and try not to scrutinize my looks too much. Deal? Deal.

So anyway, I have been bitten by the sewing bug!  Bad.  In fact, I'd say it's more like a sewing bug infestation because it's pretty much what I think about most of the time. I am a teacher, so I am enjoying my summer vacation at the moment and feeding my addiction (my husband now refers to our office as my personal sweatshop).  I taught myself to knit last summer, which I also love, but I was dissatisfied with how long it took to finish something (and if I messed up or found a mistake after weeks of hard-work, it was like someone died), so for my 30th birthday (I'll own up to it, it is what it is...I'm "wiser" now or something) I asked for a sewing machine. My parents laughed at me and thought I was crazy and I am pretty sure my mom thought she was buying me an overpriced dust-collector, but she humored me and bought me my Singer Supurb 2010!

That tote was my first sewing project, and I don't even know where it is now and I seriously doubt it's ability to tote anything without falling apart.  Ha!  But it was a nice introduction to the machine and it allowed us to get to know each other a little better.

I really want to make sure that I include the lessons learned from each of my projects (because every project has taught me something), so even this tote bag provided valuable insights into the world of sewing.  I learned that sewing in a straight line is HARD!  BUT, I realized that those little guide lines on the machine are very helpful.  I also learned that sewing involves a lot of math and that I don't always want to think that hard (I need to point out that I'm a math teacher, so sometimes I rebel against  math in life because I get so tired of talking/thinking about it/trying to convince middle school students of its necessity in that irony or what!).

I feel like I have come a looooooong way since this tote bag, and I will try to post pretty often in order to catch up to where I am now and showcase all of my projects/lessons learned along the way.  I guess I need to take a lot of pictures today!!! (the extra exclamation points are an attempt to convince myself that I am excited about that).