When I decided to start sewing one of the first things I discovered searching on Youtube was the amazing Gretchen Hirsch.
She has great personal style and comes across really well on video. She teaches sewing; you can tell by the way she breaks things down and talks you through everything step by step.
I sat watching this first video
and it helped me to identify the parts of my own sewing machine and gave me the confidence and encouragement to just give it a go.
I then found this video
and decided to ignore the intermediate label and just give it a go.
What I did well
– French seam – I love the look of these. I keep looking at the seams on my store-bought clothes and thinking pah my french seams are neater and there is less edge stuff to rub against my skin.
– Adding interfacing. There is one small strip stuck to the press cloth but all the rest went on and stuck well first go.
– A working zip
Things I learned
– If you don’t measure and carefully cut, you just make things more difficult later on
– how to gather
– using dental floss instead of thread for gathering (it slides easily and on the odd occasion where I was going to hit the dental floss I could feel it against the needle and stop before I sewed it in place)
– use interfacing where the zip goes, take care and measure carefully.
– Zipper foot identified!
– If you wonder having pressed that bit should I go back and press this bit again – the answer is yes, yes you should
– Stop second guessing measurements.
First I was disappointed at how wide my waist measurement was, but I followed the measurements and cut the piece. Later I tried wrapping my waistband round and worried it wouldn’t fit so I did a little bodging by letting everything out by reducing the seam allowance what I have ended up doing is making a skirt that is a little loose.
Zip pa de do da day, my longer thoughts and story of making a gathered skirt
My first issues came rather early on, having purchased fabric and interfacing, what I didn’t have was big paper.
I cut up the brown paper bag the fabric was in which was just long enough for my waistband but I had nothing like the big roll of butchers paper she uses. So I decided to wing it/skip it. When I measured out my fabric selvage to selvage it was about the right length.
I had added a few extra inches length (thinking if it was too long I could shorten but that doesn’t work the other way round) so even after bodging I still have a below the knee skirt.
Rather than try and measure and mark out the material I decided to just hold the fabric up and get my husband to cut across at roughly the right place. The problem with this method is rather than ending up with 2 nice rectangles I ended up with two wonky trapeziums. with the parallel lines of the selvage edges on the sides of my skirt.
There is nothing like making life un-necessarily difficult!
I don’t have pinking shears but had seen french seams being done on the Great British Sewing Bee so decided to give them a go instead.
My first attempt was scuppered by the fact I didn’t trip the fuzzy edges before sewing the second line (right sides together) so when I looked at my seem from the right side I had a fuzz peaking through all along the seam. I did wonder about trying to trim it down but ending up unpicking trimming and re sewing.
The sewing a zig sag with dental floss made me feel like I was doing a lot of sewing, it is a lot of material and not having a straight edge to follow whilst thinking about keeping the floss in the right.
In retrospect I didn’t even out my gathers well enough up to the ends, but I think when you don’t look too closely you can get away with not being that even on this type of skirt.
I think I made it worse as I sewed the gathers into the waistband. Again not having a measured edge to line up with the waistband edge made things difficult. But the worst thing that went wrong was when I sewed up the waistband front and back I let it all get a bit squint. When I pressed the gathers after sewing them in I slightly unpressed the halfway fold along the waistband and had I repressed that long fold back in place I might not have had this problem. It is still wearable but just had a couple of wrinkly bits
Pressed the french seam forwards at the bottom on one side (but it is pressed back at the top. Despite that little faux pa I’m still really happy with my french seam.
And finally putting in a zip. I had to do it twice as the first time the lapped over side went very wrong. It isn’t perfect on my second attempt but it is workable. I took me ages to unpick my zip the first time round, dark thread, dark material and dark zip material is bad enough but what i didn’t realise until I came to unpick my mistake is I had not set my stitch length properly and had been sewing tiny tiny 1mm stitches, it was epic and I nearly gave up an threw the whole thing away a couple of times. I did a little damage to the material too so re-hemming and giving myself a bit more and fresh material to work with was my solution. It would have been a lot worse if I had not given that area some interfacing to toughen it first but I got there in the end. The main thing is I put a zip in a skirt, so I’m pretty pleased with myself.