29 June 2009

Daisy's Debut

Catching up again...here it is: my first ever project with Daisy Dressform. I raided my closet and found this skirt that I never wear anymore:
I got it back in high school when dress code required me to wear skirts to the bottom of my knees (not the top or middle of the knee...the bottom) and when this length was the style. In fact, I got this skirt at American Eagle, before the era of sluttiness that ensued there. But fashion has changed since 1999, so I thought this skirt was in need of an upgrade. I started by trimming the skirt shorter using Daisy's hem leveler.
Then I took about 6 inches of the extra fabric from bottom of the skirt and sewed it to the bottom of my skirt top. This worked out pretty nicely because the original skirt was a-line, so the bottom became a little ruffle, and it was already hemmed. How convenient!
I thought it needed a little something extra, so I took some solid gray fabric and ironed it using my handy-dandy bias tape maker. Then I sewed it onto the skirt, encasing the rough edges of the fabric from the 2 pieces of skirt. (I sewed wrong sides together so the seam was on the front of the skirt. That way, using the bias tape method, I don't have any fabric with possible fraying ends.) And this was the finished product:
Pretty cute, huh? Yeah, I think so, too. It's not my new favorite skirt or anything, but I will definitely wear it more than never, which makes for an improvement over its past life.

Since this was my very first ever Robin-made article of clothing, I did learn quite a bit, so I thought I should share my insights with you. Here are the 10 lessons I learned:
1) When you have never made clothing before, and you think, "I'll just make something up out of an existing piece of clothing because that will be easier than starting something new from scratch, even though I have all these patterns that would guide me through a new project step by step," you're probably wrong. When it comes to clothes, it is wise to follow patterns, learn your way around, and earn the right to improvise. Will I follow this advice in the future? Probably not. I have too many exciting ideas, which brings me to my next point:
2) When you think you have some amazing idea of how to do something that no one has ever come up with before--like sewing with the bias tape down so you can sew on the right side of the previous seam--remember that whereas your intentions and theoretical knowledge are intermediate, your actual experience and skill level are very much beginner. Apply your innovations to design, but when it comes to technique, stick with convention. It's conventional for a reason.
3) When using a hem leveler--at least on my dress form--don't apply any downward pressure. The latch will slip, and you will end up with a gently sloping hem that won't come close to matching your starting point.
4) Take your time. Iron. Use lots of pins. If you're not confidant with a seam, sew slowly.
5) Don't make mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the better acquainted you will become with your seam ripper and the more the ends of your fabric will fray while you're trying to fix your hasty sewing.
6) When you're going to town with your seam ripper, make sure you're only taking out what you need to. There's no sense in ripping out a perfectly good section of a seam when you can just tie it off and redo the swerving section.
7) When you're new to bias tape sewing, it's wise to use a color that will blend into the fabric. A nice contrast would look awesome, but only if you sew it straight, which you probably won't, especially in those final stages of a project when you just want to get it done.
8) There is a reason that hemming the bottom of a skirt comes at the end of a project. Yes, I saved myself from having to hem, but this meant I had to be much more careful with my gathering and pleating and not catching any fabric that I shouldn't when attaching my bias tape.
9) Bias tape makers rock! They may seem like a bit of an unnecessary investment, but it took all of 20 seconds to iron all of my bias tape for this project, and I didn't burn my fingers once! I am hooked for life.
10) When adjusting Daisy's height, get someone to hold her up. Otherwise, she will come slamming down and bite your fingers.

So there it is. Daisy and I aren't bbfs quite yet, but I did get to spend some time with her, I'm happy with the results, and it was a learning experience. I got an unexpected belated birthday gift card to Joann's so I went out and bought 10 yards of t-shirt fabric and some elastic thread, so there will be more clothing makes in the future with scary/fun things like shirring. But I'm taking a few weeks off from that...giving Daisy her space.


  1. I think it's super cute! I'm way impressed.

  2. And MUCH better than the beginning product, I must add (which, sorry to admit it, I would never ever wear - but the finished I totally would).

  3. Thanks!
    Yeah, but you would have worn it in 1999, especially if you went to school with the below the knee rule before cute skirts that hit just below the knee were in style. But yes, I don't think I've worn this skirt in the 7 years since I graduated from school with said rule.

  4. 1. I'm impressed that you can still fit into a skirt you wore 7 years ago!
    2. It's a beautiful skirt, and I'm super impressed! Way to go!!!
    3. And I'm still super jealous of your dress form!!! ;o)

  5. Thanks, Amy! I can bring Daisy down to Jersey in August if you want to make something. I also have some really cute patterns from Weekend Sewing and One-Piece Wearables that I can bring.

  6. That is very, very impressive. I have dreams of being able to sew better than I can now. I sometimes get sewing books from the library and even have a few in my own book collection. But I never seem to work up the nerve to actually make much. You are inspiring!

    Are you familiar with Amy Karol, the writer of the Angry Chicken blog? She often makes new clothes out of older ones. If you haven't visited her blog before, you might enjoy it:

  7. wow! I'm loving the skirt...nice job : )

  8. Thanks, Jill! It was...an adventure. :o)

    Thanks for the tip, Heather. I have Amy Karol's book (Bend the Rules Sewing), but I hadn't visited her blog yet. I've added it to my normal rotation. :o) She even has a special apron page!