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.