My 3 hour “20 minute” skirt

30 minute skirt 1

After the quilt, I needed a quick palate cleanser.  I saw a tutorial on Grosgrain for a 20 minute skirt.  I read through the directions and they seemed simple enough.  Then I went through my stash for a suitable fabric and selected this cotton beauty recently purchased from Kashi at Metro Textile.  I had 2.5 yds of this cotton print and had originally intended it to be a summer blouse, but decided to scrap that plan in favor of the skirt.  I pre-washed it along with the other cottons I recently bought and then I was ready to go.

The tutorial attracted me for several reasons:

  1. It was quick (supposedly)
  2. It only used 1 yd of fabric (I could have used a lot less – read on for dets)
  3. It was easy (it was!!!)

So why did it take 3 hours and why did I waste so much fabric?  Well brave reader, please continue reading…

Here’s my theory…  I’m a beginner.  I have no accumulated knowledge yet; I’m a tabula rasa.  When I am directed to sew a seam and finish the edges, immediately I come up with a torrent of questions:  Which do I do first and how?  Should I start at the bottom and end at the top?  Should I always backstitch?  If I use the serger to finish my SAs and sew the actual seam, how do the ends not fray?  What do you do with the serger tails?  Now multiply that by each direction and you can see how I might be flummoxed at every turn.  Let’s also factor in that I was trying to watch True Blood at the same time and was extremely tired by the early morning wakeup calls from Jack the last week straight (I’m talking 4:30 or 5am here folks!!!).  So following simple directions was a little challenging at times.  This is in NO way a criticism of the tutorial.  It was great!  Well written and with great pictures.  It’s just that I am a beginner who tends to second guess myself every step of the way.  I really need to keep taking classes and while they are readily available in NYC and not cost prohibitive themselves, I just can’t justify the cost of babysitting to take them as it triples the cost of the class.  But more on my thoughts about learning to sew in another post in the works…

Back to the skirt.  My fabric was 60″ wide, the fabric the tutorial used was 45″.  But I think that only affects the final length of the skirt not the width.  Grosgrain suggests using 3/4 yd to 1 yd.   Uh oh… I just redid my math…  I used an 18 inch ruler assuming it was 12 inches.  ARGHHHH! @#$(@#&*(@#$)  No wonder it was so ginormous.  DUH!

Let me back up.  After 9pm + True Blood + exhausted = can’t do simple math = DON”T MEASURE ANYTHING, DON”T SEW!!!!!  I might have to put some visual reminders up to remind me not to sew when it’s late or when I’m tired. 

Ok moving on…  The actual sewing of the skirt is very simple.  Two side seams, a channel for the elastic and a hem if you don’t have a cute selvedge.  Very simple.  I changed one thing.  I added edge stitching to the top of the channel for the waist.  I recently read on someone’s blog (sorry can’t remember who, there are so many that I read now) that an additional line of stitching at the top of the channel prevents the elastic from twisting inside.  I’ll let you know how that goes after I wear it for a whole day.  ;)  I finished off my SAs on the serger, and therein is one of the time sucks for this project.  I had to rethread it, do some test runs, etc.  My attention wandered to True Blood again and again, etc.  I thought I would finish this on Sunday night, but then as I was serging the SA for the hem in preparation for hemming, my serger needle broke.  That’s when I took a big hint to quit for the night and take it up again the next day.  Wise, right?  Just a little too late to the realization is all.  Throughout, I kept trying on the skirt at each stage to see how it looked.  When it was 18 inches too wide, it looked hideous and I looked fat.  After I trimmed 16 inches of the width, it looked great.  In retrospect, I probably could have taken out maybe 2 or 4 more inches, but I like it as it is and I’m not going to rip out serged seams, thank you very much.  Also, I think I measured my elastic too large.  I will be more careful with this in the future too.  Right now, it’s pretty loose and a good tug from a certain toddler I know might bring about an embarrassing situation.   So I resolve to only wear good underwear underneath this skirt!  :)

Ok, I didn’t mean to make this another long post,  but I did want to explain a beginner’s thought process and mistakes for any of the other aspiring sewists out there.  Here are some additional pics of the innards!

Skirt laying flat

Skirt laying flat

Elasticized waist and serged side seam

Elasticized waist and serged side seam

Hem with serged seam allowance
Hem with serged seam allowance

Next project on the docket?   A navy skirt with box pleats. It’s Simplicity, but I can’t remember the pattern number.  It has a new skill for me: interfaced waist band.  Can’t wait!

Happy sewing!

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11 responses to “My 3 hour “20 minute” skirt

  1. The ruler situation was hilarious! But the skirt looks great on you!!

  2. Thanks Nikki! :)

  3. All’s well that ends well. Cute.

  4. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I love the skirt. Great fabric. I had to laugh when reading your story b/c I had such a hard time hemming my skirt last night. Too tired to sew … but I got it finished in the end. It happens to all of us, and to me more often than I’d like to admit. As for my current volume of sewing — it’s me taking advantage of a great opportunity. Hubby is away for a month, so I thought I’d make use of every minute I could spare for sewing since it’s not likely to happen again for a very, very long time, if at all. Also, when I do things like the t-shirts, after I’ve worked out the kinks, I sew production style. i.e. baste all of the shoulder seams on all of the shirts that match the serger thread I’m using, then serge all of them at once. Then press. Once I finish up with that color on the serger, I move to the next color group. I hate to change the thread on my serger, so I tend to work in color groups. (I’m that lazy). I also learned to use Nancy Zieman’s 10-20-30 minutes to sew technique. If I have 10 minutes, I may sew a zipper or a seam. When I iron my clothes for work, I may press out a seam or two or fuse interfacing. I just make the most of the opportunities and before I know it, I’m finished. Oh yeah, and my dirty little secret — I watch the Mummy and the Mummy Returns. For some reason, these movies motivate me to sew. I put them on and then my brain knows its time to create. It’s stupid, but it works. Keep up the good working with your sewing. And remember: the post-it note was a mistake that turned out to be something wonderful. I’m convinced that many innovations in fashion are due to mistakes or “design features”

  5. Elizabeth – it is a very pretty skirt! You bought a great print from Kashi. And of course you overthink everything…you are just learning. As you sew more…it will become second nature and you will whip out a skirt in 30 minutes or an hour!

  6. Good use of that fabric, no matter what contortions you had to go through to get there.

    You do overthink, but there are worse things. The more you sew, the less you’ll pester yourself with these questions – and the skirt came out great, no matter what.

  7. Christy, that sounds like a great system! I look forward to seeing more of your projects. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Thanks Carolyn, Karen, and Beth!!! I appreciate the “visit” and the pep talks!

  9. oh this sounds just like me. Everything from “sewing late at night” to “questioning the methodology” to “not measuring incorrectly”.

    I love the fabric and the skirt is cute!

  10. Your comment made me laugh out loud! Thanks!

  11. I know this is from two years ago but its nice to see a beginner. I thought maybe I was the only one who asked question like you do and it turns out im not ^_^ haha I think you have gotten better by now though lol.

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