Between a Frock and a Hard Place

Remember that ‘tween’ stage when wearing kids’ stuff was a serious social faux-pas but a majority of clothes that fit were too ‘old’ (and, sometimes, really boring) ?

I found myself, at the half century mark, feeling that way again.

After years of alternating between corporate clone suits and ubiquitous jeans+white t-shirts on weekends, it has been SUCH A JOY to burst out and  sew clothes that I want to wear, in colours and fabric I love!

An obvious statement for a sewing blog, but I find this such a ‘free-ing’ activity!

No longer am I stuck between a frock and a hard place!

When I first returned to sewing (in Nov 2010) , I went bonkers with quilting cotton; blissed out at all the col-ours and pat-terns and prints, oh my!

I also lucked out on my first few sewing projects, finding a couple straight skirt patterns that fit me right out of the envelope, no fussing!

Looking back, I can see all manner of improvements that I would make now …like trying to match prints or strategically cutting fabric to avoid repeats…such is my learning curve…and I am loving every millimetre of that curve!

Exhibit A:  The Triangle Skirt



Pattern: McCalls 5523 – View A
Description: Straight skirt, mid-knee length, has side zipper and faced waistline; skirt A has shaped lower back flounce; skirt B has pleated lower back; skirt C has gathered lower back with self-fabric ruffle; skirt D has two lower back flounces.

What I learned: When working with moderately large repeat prints , it’s best to use a pattern with minimal pieces, to avoid mismatched sections (or else be prepared to spend inordinate amounts of time matching prior to cutting). This print is not linear, so I don’t think exact matching is even possible.  All in all, I think it’s just busy enough not to be too glaring a mis-match, so I have worn it a few times. Of course, one of my more anal-retentive detail-oriented, precision-focussed, male friends commented on the mismatch. There’s one in every crowd…

I also learned, after completion, that sewing the curved hem on the flounce panel BEFORE sewing the flounce to the skirt makes hemming a lot easier and neater…ah, well, next time!

Exhibit B: Yellow Paisley Skirt

Pattern: same as above, McCalls 5523 –  View B


Back panel  pleated section: (slightly creased from sitting on it…)

I love the colour yellow. It does not love me back. However, as long as I keep it away from my face, I can wear it to my heart’s content…And I do. I’m also partial to paisley…so of course this quilting cotton appealed.

What I learned: This print is too busy to show off the pleated back section. This was the first time I’d sewn pleats…so it was good practice, even if they are almost invisible.  I also learned that I need to consider print placement if I am going to use a panelled pattern. The front centre panel is too similar to the front right panel.

General Construction Snippets:
Both skirts are lined in yellow Bemsilk. I line all my skirts/dresses/jackets. It just makes the garment feel all that more special. I didn’t use the facings that came with the pattern, instead, just cut lining from skirt pattern pieces, sewed it up and attached to the fashion fabric the at the waist. I top stitched around the waist seam, to hold lining in place. I also inserted an invisible zipper on the side. I used Sandra Betzina’s invisible zipper methodology, as outlined in her book, Power Sewing, which I highly recommend for excellently explained construction techniques. Mind you, I have to look at this book every time I  insert an invisible zipper…spatial perception is not my forte…a bit of a handicap for a sewist….but where there is a will (and a seam ripper) there is a way!

Here’s to escaping from between a frock and a hard place and  the joy of making clothes that you love!