I did it! I completed a piece of clothing, from a pattern, all by myself. It was pretty frustrating. I wont lie. It also took longer than everyone said it would, but that’s OK.
So, I mentioned before that I had picked up McCalls M6931 after finding some fabric that I just had to take home and make something with.
Turns out this particular pattern is supposed to be one of the absolutely go-to patterns for curvy girls looking for a fast and easy skirt. It only had 5 pieces to the pattern. I was pretty confident that I could finagle my way through this project. My brain can talk a pretty good game sometimes. Too bad it often times never backs it up.
Well, I managed to unwrap the pattern and started to read the directions. I immediately got overwhelmed and put it all away. That was Day 1.
Day 2. I find myself opening it up again and i start to research the terms I don’t understand. I have a composition book that I keep all my self drafted pattern notes in, and made a page for this new project. I managed to find a few good YouTube videos explaining things like cutting on the grain, the importance of lining up the pattern a certain way, and what a narrow hem was. My brain was sufficiently burned out after my little homework session.
Day 3. I talk myself up. This cant be as hard as I’m making it out to be. It will make more sense once I’m looking at the pieces I need and ONLY those pieces. So, I take my fabric to the big dining table and start the process. I cut the pattern pieces that I needed for the skirt I wanted, and then pinned them to the fabric. I ran into my first hiccup when I noted that if I followed the recommended layout, that one of my panels on the skirt would have the pattern of the birds be upside down. So I had to fudge things around a little bit. Once I had it all layed out and pinned, and said a little prayer to the sewing gods and began to cut the fabric. I wish I would have had a rotary cutter for this part. I have some really great fabric scissors, but I wasn’t getting a crisp edge like I had hoped for. In any case, cutting took some time. It also didn’t help that the cats were VERY interested in what I was doing, and were desperate to try and help. Note. Kitty claws and pattern paper go together about as well as oil and water. The dog also now has added pattern paper to her palate. After it was all done, I took everything back to my sewing room and was ready to take the plunge.
Day 4. No I wasn’t. I psyched myself out and managed to stare at the cut pieces of fabric in a pool of stress.
Day 5. I’ve got this. I will not let the skirt win. I start sewing. Then I realize I didn’t transfer all the markings from the pattern to the fabric. I stop sewing and get right to it. back to sewing an hour of so later. Iran into an issue with the pattern here. One of the pieces had me cut it out on the fold of the fabric. It was labeled Front Side. So it was essentially one big piece when unfolded. Nowhere in the directions did it say to cut this piece in half, but it also didn’t say which side it was supposed to go on. I couldn’t find anything online about what I should do, so I made the executive decision to cut it. I would always put it back together and it would just be a little smaller. Turns out I made the right call. So I got the shell of the skirt done. I had a small oopsie on the pockets, and used a 5/8 seam instead of the 1/4 but that turned out fine. I ironed all my seams and called it a day.
Day 6. Pleats. Oh those silly pleats. The pattern dove me crazy here too. It said to “Put lines below circles together”. Ok. Which direction? In, or out? i pinned them all one way, and it didn’t look right, so I undid it all and pinned them the opposite way. I was still confused, and just went with it. For the record, the excess “loop” of the fabric that is made when you put the lines together, goes towards the inside of the skirt for this method. Lesson learned. By this time, I had something that looked remotely like an article of clothing. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I only had to add in the wait band and hem it and skirt would be done. This spurned my motivation and I got back to work. I guess I must have cut the fabric a little short, because turning the top down for the hem the way the pattern said to was going to turn this knee length skirt, into a hyper mini. I did the best I could, but it was pretty messy. I spent a long time trying to pull the elastic through the channel I had just sewn and it was not very cooperative. I pinned it in place, and tried it on. It was actually kind of cute! I went to put my hand sin the pockets and my heart sank. Turns out I sewed a pocket facing the wrong way thanks to the non descriptive instructions. I was pretty upset and spent some time debating on if I should just live with it and remember it for the next time, or if I should fix it. Well, I opted for fixing it. After all I had so much time invested in this damned skirt by now, I might as well add some more. So I shed a little tear, and un-stitched most of what I had just done for the waistband. I put the pocket going the right way ( Rounded sides facing the front of the skirt) and tried to put the waist band back. It wasn’t working. I fought with it for another hour before getting it into some semblance of the right place and sewed it down, partially out of spite. I was so done with this skirt. It still needed to be hemmed, but I had had it for the day.
Day 7. I couldn’t just leave the skirt un-hemmed, so I begrudgingly sat back down and pinned the hem. After a few straight lines of sewing, and a good press of the iron it was done. It. Was. Done. The skirt that was supposed to take 3-4 hours took me a week. But it was done. I tried it on and it even fit. Granted, it was still much MUCH shorter than I had anticipated, it wasn’t totally unwearable. Next time, I just needed to add 4+ inches to the length and it would be what I had imagined. I showed it to my husband and he beamed with pride. I love this man so much. He knows exactly how to fluff my feathers so I feel proud of myself. I put the skirt on my dress form and its going to sit there a few days so I can stare at it like the trophy that it is for me.
I had said that I wanted to start making clothes for myself, and after many trials and tribulations, I took the first step towards that goal. I made a fair amount of mistakes along the way, but I know know where those mistakes came from, and how to avoid them in the future. It feels good to learn something again, especially on my own. I’m much more of a ” need someone to tell me, then show me, then watch me” learner, so to do this on my own was a real accomplishment for me. I know that its no ballgown, and in the big scheme of sewing its a very simple thing, but to me this was a gold star on the calendar achievement. I’ll make that ballgown one day, and will think back to the day it all started when I made The Bird Skirt.