I am excited to show you my first finished sewing object, my Pilgrim Skirt. For the pattern, I started out using this pattern for a skirt with a pocket and ties from Craftsy, but later modified it to have a more fitted waistline and omitted the pocket and ties. As a sewing newbie, I found the pattern straightforward and easy. I wanted to learn how to sew a few years ago, but I failed to find appropriate beginner projects and I abandoned the craft altogether in frustration. This pattern is more of a tutorial and clarified for me several sewing mysteries that I couldn’t wrap my brain around before. Who knew that sewing is actually not rocket science?
All in all, I am pleased with how this skirt turned out. Previously, I wrote about how I was concerned about the excess fabric at the waist. I had written that there was 6″ of excess fabric at the widest part of my hips, but that measurement was a guess. When I went to take in the waist, I cut off about 10″ of fabric and it still seems to have an excess of fabric. I have no idea if the pattern called for that much excess fabric or if my sewing noviceness contributed to an error in my pattern drafting – - either way, too much fabric.
I tried on a few different outfit ideas with this skirt. I recently gave away most of my clothing so I don’t have much left to wear, and hardly anything that matches with this brown linen skirt. I definitely think this is a more casual skirt and that the fancy tights and wedge heels below are overkill. But, I had to try.
The pattern calls for an elastic waistband. One of the design features I thought I would like about this pattern is that the elastic does not go around the entire waistband, but instead is centered at the front. In my previous career as a wannabe seamstress, I made a total of two skirts and one of them had elastic going around the circumference of the waistband, and I hated it. With this skirt and its minimal use of elastic, I like it better than the fully elastic waistband, but I want to try making a fitted waist and zipper closure. Elastic waistbands might be easy, but I don’t find them particularly flattering.
As for the name of my skirt, Pilgrim Skirt… After I took in the waistband, I tried on the skirt to see how it looked. At that point, I had not done any hemming along the bottom of the skirt and the dark brown linen hung to mid-calf and the ruffle lining hung several inches below that. Josh came in and thought I was making a costume pilgrim skirt, and the name just stuck.
The only portion of this project that I found frustrating was working with the ruffle lining material. Because I am such a sewing newbie, I didn’t have an appreciation for how different fabrics are easier to work with than others. The outer fabric is a nice linen and it was remarkably easy to work with. When I pressed the hems, they easily pressed straight and stayed in place. When I placed it under the presser foot, the linen practically sewed itself. By contrast, the lining material is a slippery material (maybe polyester, but I’m an idiot and didn’t pay attention). When I pressed the lining material, no amount of pressing and no amount of pinning would keep the hems in place. And for the life of me, I could not get anything straight – - hems or stitching, it’s all wonky. Then when I tried to sew it, I was unable to sew in a straight line or keep the fabric from bunching up under itselft. My seam ripper got a lot of use during this process and I wanted to pull my hair out.
I considered abandoning the ruffle lining, but I liked the way that it made the outer fabric poof. I was concerned that not adding the pocket, ties, or other embellishment was going to make this a boring brown skirt, but I think the ruffle lining gives it a little bit of interest. Also, considering my lack of sewing skills, I think that adding embellishments to this skirt would have made it look very homemade-looking.
In working on this skirt, I learned several skills, one of which I am particularly excited about: blind stitch hems. I have been browsing through sewing stuff on Pinterest and stumbled upon this tutorial for blind hems. I worked through the tutorial and was amazed at how easy it was to work a blind hem, and I think the finished hem looks pretty good (though, it is not perfect). As I was getting ready to do my hemming, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually own a blind hem stitch foot! My sewing machine came with all of this stuff and I have no idea what most of it is, which is an indication of my sewing level of expertise. Anyway, I practiced my blind hemming on a piece of scrap linen and found that if I adjusted the stitch width and length dealies to the 5 mark (I don’t have a clue what this means) that it looked and functioned the best on this fabric.
Now that I have successfully made a skirt, I am jazzed about sewing more pieces for my wardrobe. Here are some ideas that I am considering for my next project…
On Pinterest, I found a tutorial to make a pinwheel skirt. I read through the tutorial and determined that it seemed like a possible second project, adding a few more skills to my skill box, but sufficiently simple that it would be compatible with my level of sewing expertise. For this project, I bought some more linen (having learned that I enjoy working with linen) and some lace tape stuff (not sure what this is, but it looks pretty). This skirt has a fitted waist with a zipper closure, which is what I would like to work on.
Next, I have this Very Easy Vogue pattern (V8328) for a tulip/bubble skirt that I bought during my first attempt at sewing (and even tried to make it, but found that even Very Easy Vogue was Too Difficult For Jennifer). I would like to try making it again because I think it is so cute, though this might be a better third or fourth project for when I am a little better at sewing. The fabric I bought for this is also linen, a dark blue linen and a matching plaid linen, and I thought this would be an interesting combination (and sorry, the colorways are not at all accurate in the below photo). This pattern also has a fitted waist and a zipper closure. I am partial to View B which has a larger waistband.
Oh, and here is the version of the tulip skirt that I made years ago. It is awful. I have been thinking about taking it apart and trying to sew it together again, now that I am an expert seam ripper, but it might be un-salvageable. Just in this one project I have recently made, I have learned WAY more about sewing than I knew when I tackled this skirt, so I know I could make this tulip skirt better than the below example, but I might need to get one or two more projects under my sewing belt before trying this one again.
Finally, there are some tops I would like to make, though I haven’t decided which fabric for which pattern. The blue and white fabric is cotton broadcloth and the white fabric with flowers is poly-cotton. For the Simplicity 2447 (an ‘easy to sew’ pattern), I am partial to View E (the short sleeve version), and for Simplicity 1886, I am partial to View D and E (sleeveless with the ruffle down the front).
Any thoughts on which would be a good second sewing project???