Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Circle Skirt

So, for my first get into sewing project I decided to do Casey's circle skirt sew-along.

Let me get you caught up to where I am now...

I drafted the skirt. I didn't have a drafting compass so I did the measure and put dots and then connect dots with a curved line method which I worried about because I am not the greatest at curved lines, but I drew lots of dots to try to make up for it. We will see if this presents itself a problem when I go and look at the hem of the skirt, but for now all seems well with that. I decided to make the skirt a little longer than knee length, I think that matches the era that I am going for and would look nice.

So I go looking for fabric, I look online and luckily realize that I am not that certain what a print would look like in real life when it was multiplied so many times right on top of each other. It was a really good thing because when I went to JoAnn's and looked at the fabric I liked online, it was not even close to what I had imagined. One disaster avoided, yay! I did end up picking out a print fabric that I love.

Fabric at JoAnnns

(I couldn't get the picture to come up, I am new to this blogging thing after all)

Once I get the fabric I start thinking that maybe I should have gone with a knee length skirt, because I think it might make a good flirty springy skirt, but when I asked, everyone agreed that the below the knee length was a better look, so I didn't modify the pattern I made.

I was so excited about it that I decided to show it off to my mother (and anyone else who I could) and she noticed as I held it up to body, that it looked as if the birds beak was positioned badly (we watch too much project runway. It reminded us of the "Cancelled on her crotch" pants. So I decide to cheat a little bit here. I went to a family friend who i know sews a lot and told her about the project and showed her the print and she offered to have me come over at lunch and she would help me cut it out so that we didn't have any bird issues. Which is what I did. Another disaster avoided. However in order to get all of the birds positioned upward (and avoiding the weird beak angle) I had to cut the circle skirt into 4 pieces :( and there is a seam up the front of the dress. Something I am just going to have to deal with. It did make a seam in the back too though, so that is good because I like zippers in the back.

So, I see in the directions to sew in the zipper. But I see that the seam below the zipper has to be sewn first.

I have a vintage sewing machine.

Which I love, but don't know how to use. Well, actually I barely know how to use my regular sewing machine. LOL

I remember only a few things from sewing as a teenager and I rack my brain to think of what to do.

I start off ok, I pin the fabric (2 pieces anyway) right sides together. Scared to ruin the fabric, I put a test piece through the sewing machine.

Good thing too because the stitches were a wadded mess. So at this point I am so happy that I didn't have to try to rip that out of my skirt. I remember something about thread tension, not enough to know how to fix it, but just enough to know that it might be the cause of my problems.

So I rip out the sewing machine manual and look up thread tension. I learn that it is the numbered wheel above the needle.

Both the wheel and the part around the numbers move so, that was a little confusing, but I finally got the tension set to where it wasn't a tangled mess with the test fabric and it actually made stitches. Yay!

I also remember something about backstitching at the beginning and ending of the stitch so it doesn't come out. So I did that and stitched up all the seams one after another leaving room for the zipper in the last one.

Then it occurred to me that I don't have a zipper foot for this machine (I will have to double check to see if I have one for my modern machine). That is fine though because it would have been a pain to try to wrangle that much fabric around to try to put in the zipper. It would have been smarter to have put the zipper seam in first and then stitched up the other sides. But I didn't realize that then.

Anyway, I hand picked the zipper in and it looked pretty good, well I was pleased with myself. The seams had a little problem at the bottom and the skirt seemed too big, but maybe the waistband and hem would fix those problems or so I thought.

Next comes the waist band. I am a little scared of the waistband so, I decide I am going to cheat again. I don't figure it is cheating if she wants to help, right? I mean I want quality workmanship on my clothes (the best I can do). I take her the skirt and the waistband, interfacing, etc.

I tried the skirt on and showed her that it was also too big. She stopped me and showed me that I was stretching the fabric. She told me that because I cut the fabric on the bias I would have to do a stay stitch at the top of each panel before sewing them together. Which meant I had to take it apart, which was okay because who looks at the seams and says that the stitches are too long, almost like basting stitches. Oops, I knew I must have forgotten something, that was much too easy. She also said the problem with the bottom of the stitches also had to do with cutting on the bias. She told me that the fabric would stretch less if I started the stitches from the bottom. I didn't really see how that could make a difference, but I trusted her because she knows.

So as the kids are watching a movie, I take out all of my stitches, which was depressing because I thought I was doing such a good job. I remembered reading about setting the stitch size in the sewing machine manual and it set to set this lever (see pic below) to zero when doing straight stitches, which is what I did.

But, since I knew she told me my stitch length was wrong, I got back out the sewing machine manual about stitch length (the stitch size I remembered was stitch width for zigzag stitches not stitch length, oops).

I sent the kids to bed and got back out the sewing machine.

This was the stitch length switch (the same as the forward reverse switch that I thought I used so well). I read online and found out that a general stitch length should be 2.5 to 3.5 so I set that.

I went on my merry way and stitched up the tops of the panels and the stitched up the seams, there was a slight issue of sewing from the bottom of the skirt because I pinned the skirt the wrong direction, but that was quickly remedied and I finished sewing all the seams (it did make a difference in the bottom by sewing from the bottom btw).

So I hand stitched back in the zipper and went to bed. I brought the skirt (and waistband, interfacing, etc) to work with me today in hopes that I would get to cheat again and visit Nancy.

I went over at lunch and alas she was not there. But in order for me to try to attempt to finish this skirt and get pictures posted by Friday in order to make it to the sew-along "party" I might have to do it by myself. I am not sure though. We will see how I feel about it this evening.

So, now you are all caught up.

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