sewing for dummiez

Sewing your own clothes is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, you can make something that you’re incredibly proud of, and you look for opportunities to alert the entire world that this? This awesome thing you are wearing right now? YOU MADE IT! BOOYAH! But then there are the times when you spend hour after torturous hour perfecting an item that, once you finally put it on, makes you wonder whether you’d even consider buying it from the clearance rack. And when you take it to a clothing swap in hopes one of your friends will look better in it, they all say, “But YOU should KEEP it, because you MADE it!” And so you have this piece of clothing in your closet, which you can’t throw away because it represents hours of investment, but which you don’t care about nearly enough to alter into something new.

Oh wait, this wasn’t even my point. MY POINT was that most people, when I tell them I sometimes sew clothes for myself, immediately get all googly-eyed, and I suspect they’re imagining that I wake up to the sound of birds singing, with a fresh face and sweet breath, decide I’m going to make something, whip it up in a matter of minutes, and then put it on and look AMAZING.

This, my dears, is not how it really goes down.

Keep reading to find out the truth.

An incomplete and inaccurate guide to sewing a circle skirt.

Step 1:  Decide you want to make one of these simple circle skirts.

Step 2: Realize that, amazingly, you already have the perfect lightweight silky fabric, which you’ve been wanting to sew something with for nearly two years.

Step 3: Drive to the store to buy the one other necessary component – some elastic for the waistband.

Step 4: Skim the instructions and decide you can basically “wing it” from there.

Step 5: Measure twice, cut once.  HA HA! JUST KIDDING!

Step 5a: Lay out the fabric, deciding, optimistically, that you can somehow fit two semi-circles if you fold creatively. (Don’t test this theory in any way. Just trust your gut.)


Step 5b: Start marking the fabric, using measuring tape as the compass.


Step 5c: Cut, using the marks as a guide.


Step 5d: Cut a smaller arc from the center, for your waist.




Step 5e: Stand back and admire your amazing measuring and cutting skills. Proudly set aside the piece you just cut.

Step 5f: Look at the remaining fabric and realize that there is NO WAY it is large enough for another semi-circle.


Step 5g: Arrange the remaining fabric in an intricate origami-like fashion, in an attempt to maximize the potential size of your next cut.



Step 5h: Measure and cut using your awesome compass-contraption once more.


Step 5i: Assess the damage. Decide you have approximately 3/4 of a circle skirt.


Step 6: Do some math(s) in an attempt to have a finished product which will fit around your waist. (Eat chocolate for comfort.)


Step 7: Start sewing. Clean off your sewing table.


Step 8: Wonder if you have any thread which might work for this project.







Step 9: Choose the right needle for your fabric. (If you don’t keep the packaging they come in, at the very least keep the back panel which explains what the different colors mean.)



Step 10: Decide that now might be a good time to finally set up the ironing board and press the fabric. (Note to self: do this before cutting next time.)


Step 11: Pin together the edges that are about to be stitched. (This helps ensure you don’t follow crooked cut lines…so I guess this is only necessary if you aren’t perfect and happen to cut lines that aren’t entirely straight.)


Step 12: Stitch the first seam!


Step 13: Since the iron is already hot, press open the seam you just stitched. Repeat steps 12 and 13 on the other side seam.



Step 14: Now that you have a skirt-like shape, pull it over your head to see if your math(s) was correct. Trim a bit off the waist if it wasn’t.



Step 15: Cut a piece of elastic to fit around your waist. (Forget to take a picture of this.) If you like playing with fire, melt the edge of the elastic and convince yourself that this helps prevent fraying.



Step 16: Stitch together the ends of the elastic. (Forget to take a picture of this as well.)

Step 17: Pin the skirt to the elastic, following the helpful tutorial instructions. Wonder whether it is strange that the elastic is a tiny bit larger than the waist. Stitch them together.


Step 18: Hem the bottom of the skirt. Try it on. Realize that the elastic is way too loose while the fabric waist is a bit too small.


(Also realize that this unfinished seam on the waistband is probably going to start unraveling the first day you wear it.)


Step 19: Crying silently, cut off the waistband and rip out all those stitches.


Step 20: Fold over and stitch the top of the waistband, to avoid potential unraveling issues. Decide to pin the fabric on the outside instead of the inside of the skirt. Pin a million places.


Step 21: Start stitching, congratulating yourself on all that brilliant trouble-shooting.


Step 22: Break a needle because you weren’t paying enough attention.


Step 23: Replace the needle and finish sewing.


Step 24: Put on the finished skirt, and immediately wonder whether you like circle skirts in the first place.


And THAT, brave friends who made it all the way to the end of this adventure, is how it REALLY goes down. Sewing is much more about blind optimism and stubborn determination than expertise and experience. YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

2 thoughts on “sewing for dummiez

  1. it’s adorable! wear it!! think of the fun adventure that will come to mind any time you put it on. :)

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