The Beginning

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.”
-Ira Glass

Singer S800: Crisis

My Singer machine broke. In the middle of my dress wrap class at Joann Fabrics. 😦

If I had purchased the machine at Joann, they would have given me a new machine ON THE SPOT. Sadly, I purchased it from Amazon on Black Friday.

Now I have to call the Singer repair center to fix the machine. I hope it’s under warranty? How much does it cost to fix a sewing machine?

My instructor said the machine is defective, but what will Amazon do about it? 😦 😦 😦

Shout Out: Joann Fabrics

One of the biggest problems I had was learning how to use my sewing machine. I signed up for the “Learn to Sew” class at Joann Fabrics for $35. It came with free supplies and excellent instruction for three hours. At the end of that time, I could wind a bobbin, thread my machine, change feet, go faster and slower, change stitch type, change stitch length, pivot, sew a straight line, thread my needle with the auto threader, sew forward and backwards, and just do all the things people think are “basic”.

I found this class indispensable and worth the money.

I hope you try one of the classes also if you are just starting out. What a difference it makes! (Note: this is NOT a sponsored post; I get NO money or discounts or gifts or anything from Joann Fabrics for this shout out.)(Note2: Umm.. Joann? I feel like I’m going to be spending a LOT of money at your store. Feel free to sponsor this blog, okay? ;))

My local Joann also has classes in “comfy pants”, a “dress wrap”, and a “shawl collar jacket”. I intend to take all of them and will update you about how they are when I’m done.


Dee Skirt: Crisis

I can’t even post a picture. It’s too horrible.

I made a mistake – the front yoke is supposed to be DOUBLE the size it is! You are supposed to have placed it along the fold. Well. I didn’t.

SO I sewed two front yoke pieces together. Because of the ease, they are smaller than the back yoke.

So the seams don’t align.

AND there is a hole at the front (yeah..) and the two sides where the yokes connect.

Also, I did not understand what “undersewing” meant, or how to do it with fabric that frayed when you touched it, so the inside of my skirt looks NOTHING like the tutorial I posted earlier from youtube.

Also, I measured myself wrong. I thought the waist was where I wanted the skirt to sit – you know, where the top of the skirt should be. It’s so so so not that. The waist is where you bend, the smallest part of you under your chest. It does not refer to where the waistband of your skirt should be. So my skirt waist is about three inches larger than I am. I can put it on and take it off without opening the zipper.

AND my smart ass decided to “undersew” the hem of the skirt. Apparently you can’t do that with a circular skirt. Because of the extra fabric.

Here’s a video explaining what I did wrong. Wish I’d seen it BEFORE I made such a huge mistake.

I’m glad I’m making a “midi” skirt. By the time I’m done, it might be a “mini” as I work through it and fix all my problems. And rehem again and again and again.

To fix my mistakes, I did the following:

I ran a line up both sides (an inch in on each side) and then “undersewed” both seams.

This means I spent most of last night IRONING, basting, sewing, picking out the wrong basting and sewing, and then redoing it.

To clean up the dirty seams, I learned what undersewing is. Imagine a bunch of pieces of paper. Loose paper. On one side, you sew it. This is the binding on your book. Now, open the book. IRON it open. On the right center page, fold the page in half, and tuck the right half of the right page under the left half of the right page. Do the reverse on the left side. IRON again. Now, staple (I’m stretching the book analogy now, aren’t I?) alongside the fold. If the book was fabric, what you just did is called “undersewing”.

It has taken all of this morning to fix the sides. Tomorrow: fixing the hem.

Oh, and as regards the holes at the yoke — I intend to add a line of trim (or you can add ribbon) and hide the hole. Done and done.

The First Project – Selecting a Pattern

I think it is important to make something you actually like.

So, that rules out totes and coasters and item covers.

I’m making a skirt as my first project.

I purchased the Butterick B4686 skirt pattern at Joann Fabrics. They have great end of season sales, and they usually have 40% or 50% off coupons the rest of the time.

My pattern cost $15.50 on the label. I paid around $5 for it at the end of season sale. Something to note: pattern sizing DOES NOT correspond to the size of your clothes that your purchase in stores.

Me, I’m a size 12/14. I wear a size 20 according to the pattern. Buy the right size. There is NO vanity sizing in sewing patterns. You are making your project from scratch, and you want it to fit. If you are between sizes, size up.

My pattern comes with six skirt ideas. I am making skirt D.

For this project, according to the package, you need:

  1. 7 inch zipper
  2. Hook and eye closure
  3. Fabric – lightweight broadcloth, lightweight denim, and lightweight linen.
  4. Matching thread (I just used white)

I did not know the amount of fabric, so I bought the amount the Joann Fabrics fabric lady told me.

Don’t buy fabric with an obvious top and bottom, nothing with diagonals or stripes, nothing fuzzy or furry. Don’t make your life harder than it needs to be. Seriously.

The skirt I wanted to sew (D) did not need interfacing or a ribbon or buttons, so I did not buy those. Again, simplify, simplify, simplify. Why make life harder than it has to be?

Since I am making Skirt D of this pattern, I am naming this project “Dee Skirt”.

How to Begin

First, you will need a sewing machine.

I purchased a Singer S800 on Black Friday from Amazon. It came with a million accessories, threads the needle, and has a bunch of pretty embroidery stitches. Also, it is super light, so I can take it back and forth to sewing class.

Second, you will need to know how to do basic stuff with your sewing machine – you will have to learn the buttons, add thread to a bobbin, thread the needle, adjust the speed, sew backwards and forwards, and change stitches and the foot. I took a class to learn this at Joann Fabrics. It cost $35 and included all supplies for free (scissors, interface, tomato pin cushion, white thread, pins, measuring tape). I found the class life-changing — for me, the Singer Instruction Manual and Youtube videos just didn’t cut it.

Third, if you intend to travel with your machine, or store it in anything except the cardboard box it came in, you will need a bag. I recommend the Everything Mary sewing tote.  You can buy it at Joann for a LOT less than Amazon or anywhere else, and it comes with bonus boxes and sewing accessories. Wait for the Joann 50% off coupon and buy it then.

Other than that, you will need a permanent place to sew (I have a desk and chair), and a desk lamp (a lot of people recommend Ott Lights).

When you level up, buy Gingher Scissors, glass head pins, and Gutermann thread.