> Tres Chere: Cutter Island

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cutter Island

Ever feel alone when it comes to sewing? Why do some people make it seem so easy! Sewing is definitely not one of our strong suits but we decided to give it a shot. 
Cute Huh?

Our first project were curtains for my daughter's room. We used a cutting mat which by the way is a PAIN IN THE BUTT to make sure our cuts were straight on our fabric. We sewed our fabric then went to hang them up and they were completely crooked! UGH! So after working for hours on the curtains this is how we got our frustration out. We threw the stupid thing away! Buh Bye!
Time for Plan B. We ended up doing a NO SEW project for the curtains using a body pillowcase. If you missed the post "We Need To Talk" you can check it out HERE

We were feeling pretty alone out on Cutter Island and decided to call in an expert, Stephanie from Luxe Boulevard! We begged..please teach us some simple sewing techniques so we don't end up throwing our sewing machine in the garbage too! She said if I can sew you can sew. Turns out she hates the cutting mats as much as we do! 

Ooh, hello hello, Tres Chere readers!

I was so thrilled when the lovely duo here asked me to share a guest tutorial. Angela emailed me with their theme idea and I swooned with laughter! Her and I are in agreement that cutting mats are a thing of the past. Or just a pain in my arse! 

To quote Miss Birdie (from The Rainmaker [movie]) "Cut, cut!"

We are actually going to be sewing a two-layer pleated skirt, inspired by a combination of this and this. It is so super simple, uses three pattern pieces, as well as three basic sewing techniques: straight stitch, pleating, and gathering.
Now, I personally am not a huge fan of pre-made pattern pieces. There are a few I like to use, but I'm more of the let's-wing-it mind set. Cut out the following pieces of fabric ...

Waistband: Waist measurement + 4 inches x Four times the desired width
Skirt: Two times hip measurement x Two times the desired length
Lining: Hip measurement + 6 inches x skirt length + 2 inches

That's kind of a mouthful I know! Here are my figures to help you understand that better.
My waist is 24", my hips are 29", & my desired length (of just the skirt) was 18".
So my waistband fabric came out to 28"x8", the skirt was 58"x36", and the lining was 35"x20".
Starting with your waistband, fold it half widthwise (or shall we dare say hotdog style), wrong sides together, and sew the two side seams with a straight stitch. 

I often hear people say "I can't sew a straight line," and always I think one thing: Are you sewing it or is your machine? You have to remember your sewing machine knows what it is doing. Your only job is to line the fabric up the distance you want (for this skirt I used 1/4" & 1/2" seams) and guide the fabric. Don't push it through, the machine pulls it on its own. Other than that, the only thing I can say is it takes practice. I've been sewing for a year-and-a-half and the things I started out making were ugly and far from straight. I didn't keep most of them. Try taking a scrap square of fabric and running several stitches up and down it to get the hang of it. Also remember that your pedal is like your car: too much gas and you're going to lose control and spin out. Go easy on it.
Then sew the two ends together, creating a tube of sorts.
Then fold it again, so that now it is quartered.
Decide which side you want the back to be and sew a casing for your elastic to get threaded through.
Now, typically I like to have my elastic go all the way around my waistband, but I didn't have that much on hand, so I only did it across my back, sewing from side seam to side seam.
Using a safety pin, thread your elastic through your casing in the middle of your layers of fabric.
Sew up the sides to secure it in place.
Set this aside.
 Fold your skirt in half the same way as before, widthwise. I like to do this because then I already have a seam on the bottom and everything is smooth and ... seamless ... inside and out. If you don't want it this way, or you don't have this much fabric on hand, then just cut your fabric the length you want the skirt plus a couple inches for your seam allowance.
Truth be told, the size of the pleats on the skirt will depend entirely on you. Mine are 1.5" and 2", and only go along the front of the skirt. If you want them all the way around for more upper/hip volume, just increase the hip measurement from two times to four times.
Pin your pleats and sew them in place, 1/4".
The thing to remember with pleats, is that they always go IN.
Fold your ends together lengthwise and sew your hem. I do not have a serger and I honestly don't like zig-zag stitches, so for extra durability I do a double straight stitch at 1/4" and 1/2".
Set your skirt aside.
On your lining, do a gathering stitch all the way across the length. To do a gathering stitch, set your sewing machine to the following settings:
Straight Stitch
Tension = 1
Length = 4 (or to highest #)
Sew straight through, DO NOT backstitch at the beginning and end, then pull on the bobbin thread. Loosening your tension makes it slide smooth as molasses. Yes, I just said that. Gather it to fit your skirt and tie off the ends of the thread to secure its place.
Sew to your two ends together.
Fit your lining inside your skirt, both pieces right sides facing out, seams in, and sew them together with a 1/4" seam. Make sure your seams match up at the back for a more polished and professional look.
Attach your waistband right sides together and sew it on. I used a 1/2" seam on the waist. 
Flip it out, press all your seams, and you're done!
Afterward, I took all of my scrap pieces of fabric, sewed some together for more length, and made a matching headband with it. I thought it came out quite lovely!

Thanks, Angela & Debbie, for letting me share this fun skirt with everyone. 
I love wearing mine. In fact, I may be wearing it two days in a row. So sue me!

Not getting sued by us...it is super cute! 
Thank you Stephanie for getting us off Cutter Island! :-)

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Stephanie {Luxe Boulevard} said...

Thanks for letting be here today, ladies.


cmiller2005 said...

How did you do make the matching headband??? Thanks!

Patricia Torres said...

Oh this is lovely.. The one thing I simply cant do.. is sewing.. Your post makes me want to think of a sewing machine.. :-)

srioptim said...

Thanks shared your creative mind with us.

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