Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Made Two Dresses and a Skirt; Sew Can You

Let's start off by saying I am not a seamstress even by loose definition.  When I first got married, I bought a sewing machine because that is what I thought I had to do.  I was moving into a home with the man of my dreams -- and all homes have sewing machines.  Or at least I thought they did. My mom had a sewing machine, her mom (my Nonna) had a sewing machine, and I guess I translated that to mean I needed to buy one.  I mean that didn't fall under the tasks for my new husband.  That was going to be part of my wife domain.  I guess I never stopped to think about the little side note that I didn't know how to use the machine.  I bought the machine thinking that I was woman, and I would be able to figure it out.  The only sewing experience I had was one semester class in high school.  I knew I could sew a square pillow. So I bought the machine.

It sat on the kitchen table for a couple of weeks.  It took me days to figure out how to fill the bobbin and how to threat the machine.  Once I figure those two things out, I put it in a closet in the basement and waited for the time to use it.

It has been 7 years since that purchase.  My daughter is turning 2 this summer.  I am not sure what came over me, but recently I wanted to sew.  Sew something. Sew anything.  I was looking through the Hanna Andersson catalog with all those adorable outfits for kids.  And I came across this dress they were selling--a pillowcase dress. You know how they tell little stories in catalogs to help put you in the mood to buy -- it is like foreplay for buyers.  Anyway they told a nice story about how Swedish women used to make dresses for their daughters out of old pillowcases so that nothing went to waste.  Gold -- I struck Gold.  I knew what I was going to sew.  I thought this was an idea that my lack of skills could bite into. I decided I wasn't going the old pillowcase route. I was off to Target!

Sewing Experiment #1: Pillowcase Dress (modeled after Hanna Andersson's dress)

I have to say it was pretty easy.  I made a mistake on the bottom when sewing the ribbon on, so I sewed a cute button over my mistake.  For about ten minutes, I kept staring at my mistake. Five minutes after that, I kept looking at my cute embellishment -- the button. *mommy hint - don't be hard on yourself when trying something.  Just see your mistakes as a opportunity to get creative. The armhole was a bit tricky.  But with a helpful hint from a Wheeling High School Home Ec. teacher (I went back to my roots -- asked a high school teacher) I was able to finish.  The key to the arm holes was using double faced bias tape.  It turns beautifully around the curve of the underarm.  Who knew that?   I didn't -- remember I don't sew; I just own a nice sewing machine.  With the addition of a couple of ribbons to create the shoulder straps, I was done.  Here it is; if I can make it, so can you.

Sewing Experiment #2:  Tube Top Dress

I started this dress because I was at the fabric store buying thread and ribbon for my pillowcase dress. And I saw this no-brainer fabric. It was already sewn in that scrunchy tube-top style on the top.  The dress on the right I didn't even need to sew the bottom of the dress.  It was a short fabric bolt made for a little girl with Disney's Ariel the mermaid on the bottom.  All I had to do was sew the dress up on its size and sew ribbons on the top to hold the dress up around my little girl's neck.  The dress on the left was made from a longer fabric bolt, but in the end all I did was measure my daughter and cut the dress accordingly.  Then I sewed the bottom of the dress, sewed up the side of the dress, and again added the ribbons to hold the dress up.  Talk about easy to make.

Sewing Experiment #3:  A Skirt for Mommy (modeled after a skirt I wear all the time)

Lastly, I was feeling confident. I have a favorite knockaround skirt I love to wear in the summer. It is a khaki knee length cotton A-line skirt. I bought some cute cotton fabric and a piece of elastic. I laid the skirt on the fabric and cut it out an inch bigger, so I could sew it.  I sewed the sides and the bottom.  Then I had to make a waist band.  I made the band a bit bigger than my waste so when I sewed it, it would be the correct size.  Then I made the elastic one inch smaller than my waste, so the skirt would stay up.  Lastly, I sewed the waste band with the elastic in it on to the skirt and literally one hour I had a new favorite skirt.  Here it is.

I have to say there is an incredibly satisfying feeling that comes over you after creating something from scratch. Knowing that you created this item out of fabric and thread. You did it.  At one point it wasn't clothing and now it is.  It is exciting.  That feeling of satisfaction that comes from creating something has nothing to do with gender.  All people no matter their sex -- no matter their age --- feel great after creating something from parts.  If I can make these, I know you can.  Get sewing and see what you can create. Feel the satisfaction.

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