I've been on a bit of a sewing binge lately, and the results have been two new skirts and a scarf/stole sort of thing. Each piece has had its fussy challenges, but I'm pretty happy with the result, and I really enjoyed doing the work
Here are the two skirts, both from the same pattern, New Look 6107. It's a classic tailored skirt pattern with front and back darts and a yoke that falls just below the waist.
I made the beige linen-blend tweed skirt first, and followed the pattern fairly closely. The fabric was lovely but a bit prone to wrinkles, so I decided to add a lining to give it more body and help the skirt hang nicely.
For the second skirt, I planned to use this lovely Indian block print, in a heavy cotton. But when I laid out the pattern pieces, I realized I didn't have enough fabric - and not just because my "helper" was lying on it.
Eeking out clothes from too little fabric is a good challenge, and I was determined to make a skirt out of this piece! Since this was going to be a summery skirt in a more informal cloth, I decided to just let it be short -- as short as 1/2 the length of fabric I had. I cut it right to the edge, and figured instead of turning up the hem, I'd make a three-inch hem facing out of the leftover fabric, and use topstitching to finish the hem; the extra weight and stitching would make the hem hang well, and keep the cotton from wrinkling. I also eliminated the darts for a less tailored look, and cut the yoke a bit wider than in the previous skirt. It was also necessary to pay attention to the positioning of the pattern on the center front of the skirt, and match the pattern on the yoke pieces. It was kind of fussy, but worth the trouble in the end.
This is another piece of very lightweight Indian cotton with a beautiful large hand-block print (these fabrics came from a seller in India I found on Etsy.)
I downloaded a pattern for a sleeveless top that I thought might work for this fabric, but again I didn't have quite enough, and I decided the pattern was just too large for a top. But the fabric was so floaty and light, it seemed like it would make a beautiful scarf or Indian-style summery stole. Finally I just cut it down the middle and joined the two ends with an enclosed hand-sewn French seam finish, like those used on lingerie. Then it was just a matter of making a hand-rolled hem all around the perimeter of the very long scarf. The reason for those handworked hem- and seam-finishes is to preserve the sheer, floaty nature of the fabric without adding stiffness or weight; that's why they are often used on silk lingerie and scarves.
My helper always arrives within two minutes if I've spread out a new piece of cloth...
Hand-rolled hems are one of the magic wonders of sewing; they're really cool. You take a series of double stitches at the top and just below a very narrow fold on the edge of the fabric:
Then, after every three or four inches, you pull gently on the thread and voila, the edge rolls over to form a perfect, narrow hem!
If you want to try this, there are some very good instructional videos on YouTube. It was a long way around my scarf, but I enjoy doing this kind of hand sewing: it's meditative, and you improve as you go. My hem was OK, but not nearly as fine as one on a silk scarf I bought at Ten Thousand Villages at Christmas, probably made by a woman or even a child who does this daily. When I looked at that scarf after doing my own, I had much greater appreciation for her beautiful, careful handwork.
Here's the finished piece. I might add some Anatolian-style edging or crochet tassles to the ends or the corners; it feels like it wants something blue as an accent.
I've always loved to sew, but just haven't done much of it for a long time. I think I got back into it because of helping to make new white dickies - a kind of collar/bib that our choir wears under their red robes: a very fussy project that came close to production sewing. But I've also been inspired by some nice Indian cottons I bought earlier this year, and my friend V. and I are both doing sewing more these days, and encouraging each other, which is nice.
All of this sewing is also avoidance of writing, because I'm at a place in my current project where I feel a bit stuck. However, it helped me to do something different, and as I sewed, I figured out what to do about some of the problem places in the writing. I feel like it gave me a break, and cleared my head.
There's one more piece of Indian cotton waiting to be made into a blouse...and this scarf might need a dress. Happy summer, happy solstice!