Sunday, May 24, 2020

My First* Sewing Projects

*So, technically, I sewed two things as a pre-teen: a skirt (with copious amounts of help from my mom) and a knitting needle case (which I still use today!).

Social distancing measures have pushed me even more toward the things that help me deal with stress: knitting and embroidery. The extra time at home, the extra stress, and the huge and inspiring sewing community on instagram led me to purchasing a sewing machine back in March and try to learn something new.

The first things I made were masks (the first two incredibly ill-fitting). Getting thread and fabric has been a bit of a challenge (and a wait). I used old pillowcases and craft thread I had on hand for the masks. I also used old tights for the ear bands by cutting them horizontally at the leg. I settled on the pattern from State the Label for my most recent masks as they were very comfortable for me, but they don't fit my partner well. If you have any patterns/instructions you like for mask-making -- leave me a link in the comments!

While waiting for fabric to arrive (some of which I ordered from JP Knit and Stitch :) ), I settled on two patterns with which to flex my brand new sewing skills: Shirt No 1 and the Wiksten Shift Dress. #shirtno1 and #wikstenshift have thousands of posts on instagram so I figured those patterns must be working for a lot of people, and hopefully they will work for me!

First of all, Shirt No. 1 is an excellent first pattern for a new sewer. The instructions are detailed and clear, there are only two pieces to cut, and it introduces you gently to things like finishing a seam, adding bias tape to a neckline, and hemming.

The first one I made from a cotton fabric. It's pretty stiff but fits ok. I also made my own bias tape as I was having a hard time getting any ordered for delivery. I definitely HATED making my own bias tape. I will eventually get a bias tape maker to speed the process. I did, however, feel very proud when I got quite a few yards of bias tape out of less than a 9"x9" square of scrap fabric. (I used this video which helped a lot). I did an XS here and wished it was a bit bigger... which led me to make another in a size M.

This time, it's slightly too big 😑 Don't get me wrong, both fit fine. But I am searching for the perfect loose-but-not-too-loose comfy linen or cotton shirt to be in all day when I'm home. This one is made out of a linen blend, but it's a little itchy. It's hard to pick fabric when you can't be in the store and feel it. In the future, I think I'll be a little more targeted in picking fabric that's been reviewed by someone in detail about feel and drape.

Next, I tackled the Wiksten Shift Dress (Long, No Pockets). I measured a size 2 (for bust) or a size 6 (for hips). Since the website said to follow bust measurement and many sewers said to size down, I sewed the size 0, but kept the size 2 width. I also shortened it by about 2" and pushed the slit up 1" (I wish I had done 1"!)

I got this out of 2 yards of fabric (the pattern suggest 3+!). I managed to do this by folding the selvedges toward the center, essentially creating two folds to cut the pattern pieces on.

This was definitely a step up in terms of difficulty, but still manageable for a beginner. I managed to do the gathering at the back yoke using just the instructions provided (though YouTube has been my constant background tab while sewing for every other technique).

While sewing the dress I kept thinking it looked more and more like a hospital gown. The blue color I chose reminded me of scrubs and I just couldn't see how it would end up looking good on me. After trying it on, I do like it a lot. It's definitely boxy, but comfortable and definitely very on-trend. I used a very comfortable linen blend this time (so soft!)

These indie patterns are a bit expensive. Adding the cost of fabric means that this hobby isn't exactly budget friendly all the time. I'm trying to make due with a little less (fabric, thread, etc.) and also be very careful with what I actually do decide to spend my money on. I've also seen that thrift stores can be a great source for fabric just waiting to be repurposed (once those thrift stores reopen and it's safe to visit them).

What is nice about these patterns is they come with a lot of versatile variations, so I'll definitely get more than one use out of them (and already did).

There are a few patterns on my to-do list: The Estuary Skirt, or a nice linen pant like the Ninni Culottes. I'm also going to do the Wiksten Top (part of the pattern bundle that included the shift dress) with an eyelet cotton I have.

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