Live blog: This %&#!@/# skirt

11:52 a.m. I decided to make a quick skirt this morning because I have the day entirely free to work on my PhD research (which involves sewing, so making a skirt is relevant) and also because we’re leaving for vacation on Friday and I thought it would be nice to have a skirt that was somewhere in between schlepping clothes and clothes that I might wear in a not so schleppy but still relaxed environment. We’re going to spend one week volunteering with an organization that restores medieval castles in France, and then one week that’s open and unplanned but that will probably be spent beach camping. I don’t want to be wearing my camping rags for two straight weeks, but I’m also not going to want to wear my normal uniform (nice-ish skirt and top) because we’re going to be camping after all and I’m not going to roll up to the campfire in a pencil skirt. It’s also going to be moderately hot so no jeans. I settled on a lightweight denim skirt because it would be an in-between and also a plain, versatile color.

This was supposed to be an easy skirt. No pattern, but I’ve already done a few self-drafted things, and all the techniques I planned to use were things that I’d done before. It is now nearly noon and the skirt is nowhere near finished — instead it’s lying crumpled up on my ironing board, where I hurled it about a half an hour ago after I had to rip out the waist gathering for the fourth time.

In my entire life, I don’t think I have ever let loose such a constant string of expletives over such an extended period of time as I have this morning. But I am determined to finish what I started, and so I’ve decided to switch back and forth between finishing this %&#!@/# skirt and venting here about finishing this %&#!@/# skirt.

Problems I have encountered thus far:

  • Mis-measuring the waistband
  • Machine sewing the zipper — I nearly broke my needle so I’ve decided to finish it by hand
  • Ruching attempt #1: thread snapped as I was trying to make the gathers so I had to rip it all out

  • Ruching attempt #2: same as above
  • Ruching attempt #3: same as above
  • Ruching attempt #4: I finally managed to not snap the thread, and was quite pleased with myself and so went on to sew up the side seam. Then I tried it on and somehow (I don’t know how, because I measured the stupid thing for the love of all that is holy) the circumference of the waist was so huge that it wound up around my ankles.

The attempts at ruching led to a realization, which was that I don’t like ruching. I’m not just saying that because it seems that today for some reason I can’t get it right, but it occurred to me that I would probably never buy a ruched anything in a shop, so why am I going to make something with ruching? (The answer before was that it’s an easy technique, but just because something’s easy doesn’t mean I should do it.)

Anyway, the skirt still needs some sort of waist gathering, and so I’ve settled on pleats. We’ll see how this goes. I’ll report back soon.

12:32 p.m. I made pleats with a fork using a tutorial that I saw on YouTube the other day:

My machine didn’t have enough space for the fork handle, so using brute force I broke the fork handle in half.

I just tried on the skirt, which is now pleated, and it fits but only if I don’t breathe. So now I’m going to take out a pleat at the back on either side of the zipper and see if that helps.

12:43 p.m. It fits. Praise the universe. I’m going to go have lunch now.

1:41 p.m. I had a quick lunch and jumped right into dealing with the waistband.

Don’t want to tempt the fates or anything but I think I might have done it right the first time.

2:04 p.m. I have a suspicion that we have invisible house gnomes that sneak over and mess up this skirt when I’m not looking. I tried on the skirt before I added the waist band and it fit perfectly. Then I added the waistband (which I cut to the exact same length as the circumference of the top of the skirt) and sewed it on. I was so relieved and so happy with myself because I managed to fix the waistband around the top of the zipper more neatly than I’d ever done before on the machine. I’d been having my doubts this afternoon as to whether I really liked the skirt or if I was just making something to make something. My zipper success made me decide that I did indeed like this skirt. A lot.

Then I tried it on. And… too tight. How is this possible? And on top of it there are three or four pleats that just up and disappeared, so it’s pleated all around and then you get to this spot where it’s just flat. I really, truly, cannot figure this out, hence the gnome theory. I feel like I’m going insane.

It pains me to do this but I’ve decided I’m going to throw in the towel, at least for today. I think today is just not my day for sewing, so I’m going to go for a run to clear my head a bit and then get some research reading done.

This probably means that I’m not going to have this done by the time we leave on Friday, but the more I’ve struggled with sewing today, the more I think that it’s somehow a sign that my approach to this skirt is at odds with what I want to learn from sewing. Of all the things I’ve sewn thus far, the ones I like best are (newsflash) the ones I took my time making. Nothing that I’ve just whipped up in the course of a morning because I decided that I “needed” whatever it was right now.

So I’ll leave things there, and will put away this nightmare of a skirt to deal with some other day.

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