Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Seeing Spots

I've always envied people who can sew their own clothes. The idea that you can have clothes that fit you exactly and look just like what you want is ridiculously appealing to me. When I first got my sewing machine, I had a crafty night with my friend G and I watched in awe as she sat down with an old pair of jeans, some patchwork material and a pair of scissors and just whipped up a skirt. I've been looking for a longish black and white skirt for a while and haven't been able to find one (why is everything mini-skirt length these days?), so I decided to try making one.

The crazy photo on my pattern envelope.
I would love to be at the point that I can just sit down with some material and scissors, but I'm really not, so I decided to find myself a pattern. For some reason patterns terrify me - I get really worried that I'll do something wrong and completely stuff it up, so I figured I should find an easy one. Nick's originally from the country, and last time we were at his home town we went shopping and I found The Cloth Shop. They had patterns, so I picked up Burda 8176. The photos on the packet were hellishly ugly but the skirts themselves looked like they could be quite pretty in a nice material. As a bonus, the pattern was marked as very basic beginner, so I figured I'd try it out.

I went to Tessuti Fabrics one day and found a nice heavy black cotton with white spots. I'm used to buying material at Lincraft, which is pretty big and commercial, so going to Tessuti was quite a nice experience. The saleslady helped me out a lot and asked me what I was making, and when I was looking for interfacing she was able to recommend the best one for the material I'd picked.

To start off with, I sat down with a tape measure and took my measurements. The pattern said to choose the size based on hip measurement, and mine corresponded to a size 14 on the sizing chart. I'm usually a size 8 or 10, so making a skirt that was 3 sizes too big seemed odd, but the pattern said that its sizes were different to commercial sizes so I decided just to follow it.

It took quite a while to cut the material. It's cutting that makes me the most nervous whenever I sew something because it's not reversible if you make a mistake, so I got a bit paranoid when I was laying out the pattern pieces. I finally decided to just go for it, and it turned out to be pretty straightforward.

Overall, the skirt ended up being pretty easy to make. It was essentially just two big trapeziums with a curved waistband that you sewed a zipper into and some side seams on. The sizing chart came back to bite me though - it turned out that a size 14 really was too big, and I had to undo a seam and cut a good 4 inches off it to make it fit properly. Before I began, I was considering making a test version in some calico to figure out sizing, but I decided against it because I thought it would take too long. I sort've regret that now - altering something that's already made turns out to be much harder than just making it correctly in the first place. I mangled the waistband up a bit in the process, which was annoying, but it was only minor so it wasn't really a big catastrophe. Between the cutting, sewing and redoing, it took me about 3 nights, which I was pretty happy with.

A couple of Sundays after I finished it, Nick and I went down to Kiama (a little country town in Southern NSW) for the day. It was lovely and sunny and I was wearing my skirt, so I ran around posing shamelessly while he took some pictures so I could show you all what it looks like!

I really like it, and I've worn it a lot so far. The one regret I have is not trying to modify the pattern to put pockets into it, so I'm tempted to try and make another one in a different material and sew some pockets into it, and maybe add some lining. I think I'm a bit better at sewing than I thought I was - I found the whole process pretty easy - so I'm definitely going to try and make a lot more clothes!


Tessuti Fabrics, Chatswood - (02) 9415 3357 - http://www.tessuti.com.au/locations/chatswood
The Cloth Shop, Scone - (02) 6545 1275


  1. Cut out two rectangles, sew them on the inside of the skirt, cut slits on the outside - pockets! I assume it's harder than that.

  2. It probably is that easy :) I've gotten as far as the 'cut out two rectangles' stage, except there are four (two pockets!) and they're pocket-shaped instead of rectangles. The problem is that the zip's on one side and it'll get in the way if I want to put pockets in, although I could just do one.