A new skirt for six dollars.


Some fabric I purchased at stitchsteals this morning to make a mod mini skirt.

I am always amused when someone points to a sewing project – a bag or a quilt – I’ve done and says “I could never do that.” As though I am some sort of sewing genius.

The fact is, before 2004 I had never used a sewing machine. And not only that, I practically failed sewing class in grade eight because I couldn’t for the life of me make a bean bag frog (my Mom took my sad attempt apart and resewed it for me). Yup. That’s me. Sewing genius.

But somewhere in my short residency on the Sunshine Coast (where I had *lots* of time on my own) I decided to own a sewing machine – a $150 Brother from London Drugs. And then I stumbled into a class on basic quilting which involved making a potholder from which I extrapolated that a quilt was only a potholder times sixty. Shortly afterwards I completed a queen-sized quilt which is still in use in my home despite my poor stitching job. From then on it was mostly small things – lap quilts, baby gifts, table runners and the like. Not too many projects over several years, but enough to keep the sewing machine in use. And somehow, through projects that worked and didn’t – I got better at the whole shebang. Better at designing, better at colour and fabric choosing, better at sewing. Just like that!

Except just like that took about six years. Which would have been shorter if I had done more of it – but a whole lot of other things were going on at the same time which made it hard for me to sit still and work through things. In the last few months things have really accelerated on the learning curve which I chalk up to the purchase of a Pfaff machine at Christmas time. While I recognize a good seamstress can make clothes on any machine, I feel that for me a better machine kicked my sewing up to a much more enjoyable level.

But I digress. For me the “I could never do that” phrase over the past few years has ebbed with regards to most sewing – the exception being clothing. As much as a quilt seemed straight forward (if time-consuming) and shoulder bags were just a matter of learning about interfacing and practice – the idea of clothes-making has always terrified me. But it has also intrigued me, because I see so much fabric I would love to wear – if only I knew how to turn it into something!

I am hoping that as of this week I’ve gotten over my fears – and by tomorrow I will be the proud wearer of a new skirt entirely of my own making. A basic four-panel with an elastic waist – but a skirt made by moi nevertheless!

It still needs a hemming, which is the plan for this evening – and a little stitch around the elastic – and good to go! I am really pleased to say that following the pattern turned out to be much easier than I had thought it would be, which gives me the confidence to try out other patterns. Which is the point of this post really…. that it’s all in trial (and error) that we overcome the parts of us that say “I can’t” and put a new skillset in our quiver instead.

So I’ve got a cheap (six dollars in fabric plus five dollars for the pattern) new skirt that I will hopefully wear to work tomorrow and a promise to myself that when I do finish it I am “allowed” to buy fabric for a clothing project to work on next week. Another skirt of the same pattern? Something from  Sew Serinidipity (which just came in the mail last week)? Or a tunic pattern I saw in the Butterick catalog?  So many opportunities to build my skills some more. But I’m only taking on one “Easy”-rated project at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. A couple years at that and I should have a whole new wardrobe!

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