I cannot stress enough how fantastic my mother is. Clearly my lack of patience does not come from her.
I learned to sew in 4th grade, it was my first year of 4H, and I believe my sister was working at a fabric store at the time. I remember my mom teaching me to sew, and taking a sewing class at the fabric store. Pretty sure the only thing I made that year was a blue shirt, it was cotton, and other than that I don’t remember much about it – except I got a blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair!!! And to get to the ISF, you have to enter at the county fair and wow the judges (who were usually mean old hags to gave you a blue ribbon for the Teddy Bear you sewed from a pattern and said it should have a story about the bear’s life attached, while giving a purple ribbon to the girl who sewed some other stuffed animal from a KIT [you know the kits I’m talking about, think middle school home-ec]) and get a purple ribbon.
Sewing wasn’t my passion, made some stuffed animals in middle school and some contact paper purses in high school, ok and I re-sew tshirts every once in a while, but make clothes from scratch?! One of my New Year Resolutions for 2009 was to learn to sew from a pattern. My mother is a quilter, former crafter of all varieties, and also knows everything (or so it seems!) about sewing.
As soon as I saw the black dress gracing the cover, I knew I had to make it!
If you need some ideas for recycled projects, definitely go pick up this magazine! It’s got a lot of great ideas inside. You can also find more fun ideas at CraftStylish.com
Here’s my take on the dress:
This shirt is made from two men’s shirts. Here’s a hint the magazine doesn’t tell you: If you’re using two different shirts, make sure they button the same direction. I learned the hard way. My solution: add snaps to the top half of the shirt, the button still shows, but the shirt snaps instead of buttoning. Also, I definitely recommend using men’s shirts. I tried to make another one from two black women’s button-ups from the Walmart clearance rack, but it turned into a shirt because the women’s shirts are too short, no matter what size.
Moving on to patterns.
My first attempt at sewing from a pattern was this red and black boho/hippie tunic.
That shirt was relatively easy, Mom helped out a lot, explaining things and showing hints/tricks. I bought more fabric to make the shirt again in a brown/flowery pattern. Next up was The Evil Shirt.
More about The Evil Shirt. Collars are not fun. First of all, I worked on this shirt for like 7 hours one day, and then got to the point where I needed to make button holes and put it away. Button holes? That seems scary. We have two sewing machines, my mom uses a big bad Viking (with like 60 different stitches), while I stick with her travel machine, a Janome Gem Gold (12 stitches!). She had never made button holes with Gem, so I got the book out and figured it out. I woke her up because I was so excited about making button holes. We spent like 20 minutes making buttonholes on various pieces of fabric, “practicing” we called it.
Once again, I measured myself before I cut out the pattern. Cut out according to the size chart. When I got it all sewed up, it was way too big. It looked like a night-gown. I took in about two inches on both sides, and another four off the bottom (it came down to my knees, not flattering). And that was good enough, so I put it in the wash and… it shrunk. It’s like 2-3 inches shorter than it was before I washed it and went from a flat woven fabric to having a waffly pattern. So… I recommend this only if you want to tackle collars and shrinkage (this probly won’t happen to you, make sure to read your fabric label at the store!)
Next up if a gorgeous number from the Brooke Shield’s Signature Collection from McCalls circa 1985.
This is a girl’s pattern. But I shop in the girl’s section at Target quite often so I wasn’t too concerned. My mom had made this shirt for my sister, so the pattern was cut at a kid’s 10. I knew that would be a little small, so I added about a half inch all over, and I would have added more length wise, but these were just fat quarters, so I didn’t have much to work with. I got the sides sewn up and it fit, but I wanted a little more wiggle room, so I found a couple more scraps and added a 2 inch strip on each side (which came to 1 inch on each side with seam allowances). It’s still a little short, but I wear a lot of high-waisted pants/skirts so I’m not too concerned.
Also, my favorite part of this project was picking out buttons. Buttons are essential.
In conclusion, if the pattern doesn’t say “easy”, it’s full of gibberish. But I have many more to tackle! Many more blogs to come!