Adventures in Sewing!

Recently I entered into the wonderful world of sewing! I think it’s safe to say I’ve developed somewhat of an obsession…

It all started when I borrowed a friend’s sewing machine so I could hem my pants. Pants completed, I put the machine away and forgot about it for a couple of days.

Until I woke up with the brilliant plan that I would make my own dress for an upcoming Christmas party!  David was skeptical.

“Isn’t that supposed to be hard?” I scoffed and said “Well, yes. But I can do it! It’ll be fun!”

Silence.

“Okay, well, if by the off chance that it doesn’t work out, I’ll still have learned a lot!”

More silence. And an eyebrow raised.

“Okay, okay. It will likely fail. But it’ll be fun!”

David looked doubtful. “Maybe you should start with something small. Like a pillowcase.”

Pfft. Everyone loves a good pillowcase. But I already had it in my head that I’d make a dress, and at this point, it was too late: nothing could deter me now! I’m ambitious. But sometimes (and David would argue, often) I’m obsessive and not easily swayed. David felt that this project was far too grand for me to take on  – after all, other than pants hemming, I haven’t sewed anything since an apron I made in Grade 8 (which I still happily own, by the way).

So with David sitting back looking both amused and unconvinced, I went to Fabricland and bought some fabric, pins, and shears. I was far too enthusiastic to sleep on it!

I took some measurements and made some dress patterns on parchment paper (I had to improvise), and went to cutting my fabric. I got the inspiration for my dress from hours of Pinterest searching. In general, though, I went with a pretty unoriginal idea.

Dress Design
My *very* amateur design.

I got started and things were going pretty well! I inserted an invisible zipper correctly (for the most part…), but the fabric was really thin and difficult to work with and, well, the top ended up being kind of a fail (*cough* complete fail *cough*). So I did some research and picked new fabric for the top and started again, from the beginning.

It worked out okay, but the sleeves were a little tight, and the neckband was very ruffled and unpleasant-looking…

Neckband
This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. That neckband leaves a lot to be desired.

There was nothing for it. I tried again. From the beginning. That’s right, friends. I have three white shirts with lace overlay lying around our apartment. The first one was abysmal (laughable, really), the second was good, but the neckband really bugged me.

The third one, however, was great! It had even stitching and the invisible zipper was inserted almost perfectly!

But then I put it on. Or should I say, tried to put it on.

Sigh. Seam allowances are hard to get right.

Dress 2I don’t have a picture of the final version of the third dress, but this is what it looked like before I attached the top to the bottom, put the front and back together, or hemmed the bottom. You can tell already that the sleeves are going to be far too tight – they’re small here and I haven’t even sewed them together yet!

I obviously needed to be more precise because the sleeves were super tight, and the zipper wouldn’t zip up all the way.

Dreaded Sleeve
Such a pretty sleeve. Oh well.

Oh dear. The party was the next day!

So I decided to cut my losses (literally) and seam rip the entire thing and just turn it into a skirt.

And it turned out really well!

Skirt Complete

I’ll probably make a few more skirts to continue practicing. They’re easy, practical, and I don’t have very many, so I’ll try a few different techniques.

Eventually I’ll get back to the dress-making – it’s so much fun! – but I know I need to master a few techniques before I can make a dress that’s 100% my own (I’d like to learn how to do darts!).

I’m all about starting with a big project when trying something new (specifically when it comes to crafting). I know most people suggest starting with something small, but where’s the fun in that?!

Although I’m not easily discouraged, I swore more than once, cried with frustration, and asked myself repeatedly what I had got myself into. But I have no regrets.

Okay, maybe I regret not starting with a skirt. But just a little bit.

All the same, I learned so much from this project! Sewing straight, controlling my speed, what kinds of fabric to use for what projects, taking measurements appropriately (and the importance of seam allowances!), creating patterns, french seams, pleats, waistbands, invisible zippers, and so much more!

Straight Stitching!
Check out that even stitching! So proud of it. This is the waistband for my skirt :).

With all that said, there are two resources to which I need to give a big shout out:

  • The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction by Christine Haynes
    • This book was a life-saver. I referred to it many times with the large full-colour proving incredibly helpful. I borrowed this book from my local library :). I highly recommend taking a look at it if you’re new to sewing, or need a refresher on some great sewing techniques.
  • Elle Apparal Blog by Leanne Barlow
    • She has a lot of great sewing tutorials on her blog, one of which I used for inspiration for the skirt. Great step-by-step pictures, and lots of other tutorials to look at, too! I’ll visit her blog frequently when looking for ideas, I’m sure. Like this dress!

Can’t wait to share more sewing adventures in the future!

Onto the next adventure :).

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4 comments

  1. evgsterk says:

    Great courage to undertake such a big project and….looking so well anyway! As far as I remember, your grandmother is a very good sewer, so I you inherited the right genes, it will be allright given some time. So take heart!

  2. Catherine says:

    You looked so cute in the skirt. It looked very professional. I would have worn the top. The end result does not look bad, at all.

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