Preparing the fabric

Basting the two layers of plaid together to keep everything straight.
Basting the two layers of plaid together to keep everything straight.

One of the hardest habits I’ve had to break is rushing to put all of my pieces together and divorcing myself from my sewing machine. The two biggest lessons I’ve learned are the value of hand-stitching and taking pains to prepare my pattern, fabric and marking not in chalk but thread tracing.

When making my gingham skirt, I basted my two layers of fabric together before pinning and cutting my pieces to make sure that my plaid stayed straight and to match up the pattern. It took me forever, but I was so pleased with the results that I didn’t bat an eye when confronted with 5 yards of the green plaid. I have never done so much hand sewing in my life! On the up side, I got to re-watch a couple episodes of Gossip Girl. (On that note, I’m beginning to think my coveting Blair Waldorf’s style in Season 1 influenced my fabric choice. My hunter green checks quite resemble the Constance tartan…)

My first attempt at altering a pattern. Cut a size 6 for the bust and and 8 for the waist.
My first attempt at altering a pattern. Cut a size 6 for the bust and and 8 for the waist.

I got my copy of Gertie Sews Vintage Casual in the mail this week and am really excited for some of the patterns once I’ve finished this batch of garments. Most of her patterns are derived from templates that you can adjust a million ways. Flipping through the book warmed me to the idea that the pattern is not some sacred article that I can’t change.

I remembered the last time I made this pattern, the waist ended up too small and the bust too large (story of my life, sigh) so I made some alterations on the pattern. I cut along the lines for a size 6 for the bust and eased out to a size 8 for the waist. I still cut the skirt for a ten as I’m not doing the recommended pleats and I want as much volume as possible. As I am lining the dress with flannel which has way more body and will need fewer, larger pleats. I also adjusted the length of the skirt by two inches because I want a big, heavy hem and the pattern only suggests 2 1/4 inches.

Look at me, marking my darts!
Look at me, marking my darts!

Lastly, I took the time to not only mark my darts now – I generally wait until I’m ready to sew them and just sort of hold the pattern piece up to the fabric and mark with chalk. Not only that, but I traced it in thread! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn), is that the more time I spend getting everything ready and being thorough before I start assembling pieces, the less time I agonize over fixing things and getting fit right later.

Must go! Mailman just arrived with my copy of Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing!

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