On Giants' Shoulders

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Two Hour Skirt

In case no one was aware of this I am not the seamstress that my grandmother and my sister were, nor the seamstress my daughter is. I can read a pattern (if it's not too complicated), run a sewing machine, even do a bit of hand sewing. Anything like tailoring, flounces, ruffles, etc., well I avoid them.

I've been looking for skirts lately, and although I managed to get a couple at TJ MAXX I sort of wanted more than two skirts for dress up wear. So I decided I'd sew some. After all I'd just gotten my 35 year old sewing machine rehabbed. So I went to the store and picked out two patterns. One was marked easy, which is Simplicity's term for something that will be right at the edge of my challenged zone probably, and the other was marked two hour skirt. It had no zippers, no darts, and no notions required. I assumed it probably had a drawstring at the waist, although I didn't see one, because the envelope didn't say you need elastic.

Well their two hours obviously doesn't count the time it takes to cut out the tissue paper pattern, and I don't think it even counts the time it takes to pin the pattern on the cloth, and then cut out the pieces. Obviously, it didn't count the time required to pre-shrink the material (a step my sister taught me years ago is necessary). So I get all that preliminary stuff done and I'm already way past two hours, but that's ok.

I sit down to sew. The first seam makes it very clear that the tension on my machine is seriously out of whack. This is a very frustrating moment because one of the things I'd taken the machine to the shop to get done was adjust the tension. So I took a piece of scrap material and tried every single setting on the tension wheel and none of them were significantly better. A light bulb finally went off in my head and I took the bobbin out and checked it. Yup, I hadn't gotten the thread all the way through the correct doo hicky slot. Bobbin reinserted correctly, tension set at 3.5 all that was left to do was rip out the first lousy seam. That's ok, ripping out is my speciality. Of course this whole procedure ate up at least another 20 minutes or so. Finally I was sailing along quite sweetly, I didn't just keep right at it because life kept happening. One thing that became evident as I read along in the pattern was that despite the fact that neither the pattern envelope nor the front of the directions said so, elastic was needed. So after my lit class with Brigid I went to the store and picked up two packages of 1" elastic, because I recalled seeing something about 1" in reference to the elastic in the directions. I should have read more carefully...

It turns out when I finally got to the casing step that the directions didn't specify the size of elastic, but it did specify the size of the casing: one inch minus the 1/4 inch raw edge you turn under. Hmmm, that means that what I really needed was not 1" elastic but 3/4" elastic (wish they could have specified that in the first place). So today after Mass I went back to the store and got 3/4 inch elastic. Hopefully by the end of the weekend I will have managed to mark off and press under the 1 inch casing (not marked on the pattern, unfortunately), stitch it down, put the elastic through it, and get someone to pin the hem up so I can hem it.

The only part of this that could have possibly taken only two hours (and only if I worked really, really fast is the 8 seams with the pressing required, the casing, and inserting the elastic. Pinning up the hem is at least a half hour job, sewing the hem will be closer to an hour (and I'm a darn good hemmer).

Now the second skirt may come closer to the two hour mark since the pattern is already cut out, the material is already pre-shrunk, and I now know how the whole thing goes together, but it's pretty clear to me that Simplicity is to say the least very optimistic in their description of projects. Tow hour skirt - yeah right. Easy pattern - well for a clothing and textiles major perhaps.

The positive note of this whole thing is that I've got left over fabric. I think it's enough to make a dress for my granddaughter - if I can just find a pattern.

1 Comments:

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Karen said...

I hope you don't mind, I am following you. We share many interests, even though you are 40years my elder. I look forward to reading more! btw, kudos to you for your patience. I would have given up on that skirt by the first hour. I am not good at sewing. That would be my mom and sister-in-law.

 

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