Monday, July 29, 2013

Sewing with Eldest Niece

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of hosting my niece for a whole week. Luckily, she's an easy going kid, so we had fun visiting bookstores, getting hot chocolate, and seeing a bunch of museums (and one theme park for the roller coasters).

I also taught her some basic sewing skills.  She needed a new skirt for the various Renaissance fairs that she attends with her family. I had recently gifted her an bodice and blouse that no longer fit me (as they were from my college days), but she needed a matching skirt. This skirt was going to be a very simple circle skirt that doesn't really require a pattern, just a bit of simple math.

First, we started off with her basic measurements --- her waist size and waist-to-floor height. Then I had her do the math to figure out the radius/diameter of the skirt and the necessary circumferences.

(If you've never done a circle skirt before, it's quite simple. There are a lot of tutorials out there for circle skirts like this one, this one, and even a calculator to help you figure out how to cut.)

For her skirt, we went to a chain fabric store and found a lovely linen/cotton blend fabric that was a deep dark plum color that was in the same color tone as her new blouse and bodice. We got the last of the 3.5 yards they had.  We also picked up some bias tape that was similar enough in color to her blouse.

I measured out the skirt pieces while she watched. We didn't have enough yardage to do the whole skirt in one piece, so we measured the circle into fourths. I used tailor's chalk to draw out the lines of the skirt.  Then she cut out the fabric.

For added stability, I used my serger to bind the edges of the fabric so they wouldn't fray. Then we pinned the skirt pieces together, and I taught her how to use my sewing machine to do a simple straight stitch.

She sewed all four panels together, while I cut out the waistband for her skirt. At first, she was a bit hesitant in her sewing, and went very very slowly. But as she got a bit more confident, she started going faster and faster. By the last skirt panel, she was ripping through the straight seams.

I helped her attach the waistband to the skirt, and she sewed the waistband onto the skirt. I sewed the channel for an elastic waistband, and she helped to pull the elastic through it.

As a final step, instead of hemming the skirt, we pinned bias tape to the bottom of her skirt (which was also serged) as a form of decoration as well as to tie the skirt color back to her blouse.  She sewed the bias tape onto the skirt.

Viola! The finished skirt along with the blouse and bodice.