Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Honing My Skills

My first successful attempt at a collared shirt.
I sewed my first garment when I was five.  Stop me if I've told you this story before.  My mom very patiently helped me sew a purple paisley halter top.  This was the summer of 1971 so a purple paisley halter top was the height of fashion.  I was at my grandpa's farm in Manchester, MN (a stone's throw from Albert Lea, if that helps) and I was wearing my fabulous garment.  My cousin Kelly was jealous that I had a halter top.

Grandpa's hired man, Ray, had a pet raccoon and he brought him out so that my brothers, cousins and I could play with him.  It was my turn to hold the raccoon.  No sooner than I picked him up, he pooped all over my purple paisley haltertop.  A halter top once soiled by raccoon poop, even if laundered, still carries a stain that can never be erased. 

I refused to ever wear that top again.

Forty years later, I'm still sewing despite my tragic first garment, but I've never considered myself much of a garment maker.  I've never been able to get things to fit right.  Until recently, I had given up on sewing clothes completely, and put all my efforts in to quilting. 
Close up of covered button.

I work for a community college district and one of our colleges has a textiles program.  Since I can enroll in classes for the cost of the registration and lab fees ($40), I decided I should take advantage of that to hone my garment making skills.  I'm currently taking the intermediate clothing construction class and am quite proud of my first assignment--this pretty pink shirt.

I think much of my success with this shirt is the result of acquiring the patience to pay close attention to detail.  I was always rushing before, taking short cuts, wanting to get it done.  Once I gave in to the fact that sewing a shirt like this is not a quick process, my results improved a thousandfold.
One thing I did have problems with is the cuff.  I actually made a "real" cuff, but when I tried the shirt one, the sleeve with cuff extended about two inches beyond my fingers!  That's when I decided that instead of trying to redo the cuff, I'd finish the sleeve with a wide hem.  I always roll up my shirt sleeves so a cuff would be something that would never get noticed anyway.

Detail of side back pleating with double-topstitching.

All the seams in the shirt are "finished".  For the most part, I used French seams, though I did serge the sleeves.  I double-topstitched all the seams.

I'm proud to report, that the shirt fits beautifully.  I wore it to work one day and did not feel like I was wearing a "homemade" garment. 

I still have a long way to go in refining my garment making skills, but I am truly proud of this shirt.
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1 comment:

Suzzy said...

You should be proud! That is really nice and it does NOT look "homemade." How did I ever not hear about raccoon-tainted halter top? :)

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