Challenge to Self: What’s in my pocketses?

Routine Maintenance

3:00 PM

As I had forgotten to eat breakfast today (!), I figured it was time for some routine maintenance.

Since lunch, I have stay-stitched all pieces of the skirt, then serged around the edges. Then, I took some time to review the pattern instructions.

Since I need to pin the pieces together and try the skirt on, I decided to change the order of assembly. Rather than sew the front side pieces to the front, then install the pockets, I sewed the pockets onto the front side panels first. This should allow me to pin all six panels together so I can try the skirt on and make adjustments before sewing any main seams.

So far, I am happy with how this project is looking. It helps that the construction is similar to other Simplicity and New Look patterns I’ve sewn.

Next up, pinning the skirt together. However, I must remember that I do have things other than sewing to do today. Namely: laundry, cleaning the apartment for my brother-in-law’s visit tonight, going to Jackson Heights to buy short-grain brown rice, and risotto-making.

I don’t think I can allow myself much more than an hour more to work on this before I get groceries.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t come back to this skirt later today, after I have gotten things in order for company. I don’t think I will worry too much about my sewing mess being on the table.

Pockets installed.

Challenge to Self: Cut and Marked

Simplicity 2541 – Cut and Marked

1:15 PM

I am moving right along. Now, I have cut all my pieces out (noticing just as I was putting the fabric remnants away that I needed to cut out a second pair of back yoke pieces) and marked them. In the future, if I remake this pattern, I will trace a copy of both the front and back yoke pattern pieces, so that I can lay all of them out at the same time.

Next up: wind the bobbin, stay-stitch, then serge around the edges of my pieces.

Challenge to Self: Ready to Cut

Simplicity 2541 – Ready to Cut


Hopefully, this challenge means I will work quickly, but not sloppily.

I just finished pressing my fabric (and noticed before it was too late that I had the right-side facing out!). I’ve pinned all the pieces, and I’m getting ready to cut. I haven’t followed the pattern’s cutting guide exactly, because this layout is more fabric-efficient. I did make sure, however, that all pieces are pointing the same direction as in the diagram, and that pieces that are shown face-down in the instructions are face-down in my layout as well.

I am hoping that I can still get a pair of shorts or capris out of this length of fabric afterwards.

Checking the grain.

How do you check to make sure that big pattern pieces are lined up correctly according to the fabric’s grain? It’s so easy to rotate the pattern ever so slightly. I try to double check by using a ruler to visually extend the grain line beyond the edge of the pattern piece.


Challenge to Self: Altering the Pattern

Simplicity 2451 – Altering the Pattern

10:45 AM

My first step (having traced this pattern earlier in the week) was to shorten the skirt. I concluded that my recent Simplicity skirts were drafted for someone taller than my 5’3 3/4″ frame. The finished skirts both go below my knees, and would look better shorter. However, on Simplicity 5914–which has the same six panels as this skirt–I felt that I could not hem the finished skirt higher without sacrificing it’s nice flare.

This time, after holding the pattern tissue up to myself and noting that Simplicity 2541 is also long on me, I decided to remove 1.5″ along the lengthen-shorten lines of all the skirt panels. I hit my first minor roadblock: I couldn’t find any regular cellotape. Instead, I used double-sided tape to shorten the patterns. The double-sided tape made the process a bit awkward, but it was quick.

I hand washed the zipper and used the iron to pre-shrink it.

Meanwhile, my assistant decided to guard my fabric and thread.

Myshkin assists.

Challenge to Self: Make a Skirt. Today.

I overthink my sewing. I muslin and muslin and muslin until I no longer have the will to make the actual garments in question. Today, I am telling myself: Stop that. Make something.


Simplicity 2451

So, I am going to make a skirt. I’m going to use a new pattern from my stash, Simplicity 2451. I am going to use a length of khaki fabric from my stash that was originally intended to be a pair of pants–someday. I am not going to muslin it. After all, I have made a similarly-shaped skirt in the past (Simplicity 5914)–twice, and the pockets are made the same way as hubby’s PJ pockets. The waistband is similar to the one on Simplicity 9825.

Better to try to make something now than to build up a reserve of stuff for the day when I can finally sew perfectly. Because until I sew regularly, I will never reach a high level of skill.

Simplicity 5914: First Skirt

So far I’ve only posted talky-posts and one brief discussion of my very first failure of a knitted scarf. Today I post proof that I have, in fact, sewn something wearable–and am proud of! I give you Simplicity 5914, View F:

I have actually sewn something. And lined it, too. (Early 2011)

This is one of my basic, tried-and-true (TNT), “can make this over and over in a dozen different ways” patterns. I have put my review from below the divide, but I will write what I am proud of and wish to work on here:

Proud of . . .

  • The choice of fabric: a very inexpensive brown polyester suiting that looks much better than it is.
  • The hemming, which I stitched straight around without any really obvious wobbles.
  • The zipper placket, which is surprisingly decent!
  • The lining. The Simplicity pattern does not give any directions on making a lining for this skirt, so I looked up the instructions (either online or in one of my reference books or both) and figured out how to make one, insert it, and the facing correctly. Yay for improving on the pattern!

Want to work on . . .

  • Stitching the skirt panels together straighter.
  • Doing the facing more neatly. On the outside it looks good, on the inside, it doesn’t look as good.
  • Making the inside of the garment elegant and attractive. I made this whole skirt on my lemon and it shows. The edges are finished with pinking shears on the skirt and with zigzag stitches on the lining. The hem of the lining is also done with a zig-zag stitch. It is fully functional, but when I look inside I see “home-made” not “hand-made.” It’s the disconnect between how this skirt looks on the outside and how it looks on the inside that made me decide to get a serger, which I have used for my other projects.

This is a TNT pattern if ever I saw one.

I would label this not only “Easy & Great for Beginners” but also “Great Wardrobe Builder.”

Pattern Description:
A-Line skirts in two lengths, three versions flaring from the hip and three versions flaring from the waist. I sewed “View F” — the most basic paneled A-Line in the package.

Pattern Sizing:
I sewed size 14, which fit me without adjustment.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, very much so. This pleased me, since I purchased the pattern hoping to mimic my favorite store-bought A-line (which has, however, eight panels instead of six).

Were the instructions easy to follow?
For the most part, the instructions were easy to follow. This was my first sewing project since my teens, though, and even then I did only one dress. Therefore, I found the instructions for inserting a zipper to be confusing and the results unattractive. I followed the instructions in my copy of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Next time I sew this, I think I will try to do an invisible zipper, because the zipper placket on the side, though painstakingly sewn, is a distraction from the line of the skirt.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I think this is a fantastic basic skirt pattern. With two silhouettes and two lengths, it should be a go-to pattern in my stash.

As mentioned above, the instructions for inserting the zipper were unclear (thank goodness I made a muslin) and I think the garment would be better served by an invisible zipper.

Fabric Used: Brown polyester suiting. The fabric is machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant, and looks high-quality even though it was quite inexpensive. I think this pattern will work well with many types of woven fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added a lining (following instructions from the internet) because I was trying to mimic my favorite black store-bought skirt. I thought that without a lining the skirt would cling/be limper than the model. However, since this pattern has six panels instead of eight, the resulting skirt-with-lining stands out from my body a bit more than the ready-made one.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes to both. Simplicity 5914 is an excellent choice for a new sewer or someone returning to sewing after a long hiatus. Nice, straight lines, nothing too complex. Just make sure to have a good reference for inserting zippers and practice if you are new to sewing as I was.

Misc.: I think that–for a “professional” look–the added lining was essential. It makes this skirt feel extra-snazzy.

This pattern is fantastic: easy, flattering, versatile. I have plans to use it both to make staple skirts and to make “outfits” and “suits” once I get to the point where I am ready to sew vests and/or jackets.