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I'm Heather McGarrigle and this is my blog - a colourful celebration of culture, crafting and creativity in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Monday Makes: Skirting the issue

I have finally begun to make my own clothes on the sewing machine! Being an absolute beginner, and pretty much teaching myself at this stage, I decided to start with skirts. For my first skirt, I used my favourite crafting book, Yeah I Made It Myself! DIY Fashion for the not very domestic goddess by Eithne Farry. The title alone made me fall in love with this book, but inside is a great little guide which gave me the confidence to start using a sewing machine in the first place, despite not really being sure what I was doing.

While Eithne does take you comprehensively through all the basic stitches and techniques, her philosophy is to just get cracking and follow your creativity and desire for self-expression more closely than sewing manuals and conventional ideas. As she says, it's about "making unique clothes and having fun while you're doing it".

So I flicked to page 111 for her A-line skirt tutorial, which is what I used to make this.

Not great pictures, but they were taken in the wee hours after several hours of sewing, so no natural light and a very tired photographer/model!

You cut out 2 x A-line skirt shapes in your chosen material; each a "triangle with a flattened top" as the author aptly puts it. Eithne works in centimetres but, despite being taught metric measurements in school, I prefer to work in inches - I don't know why!

The book says the top edge of the skirt fabric should be 50cm and the bottom edge 70cm. These measurements were a bit big for me, so I just measured around my hips, added 2" for seam allowance and darts and added about 40% to this number to get the measurement of the bottom edge.

A bit like this; excuse the childish illustration - it's the best I can do right now!

Screenshot_2013-05-27-18-19-29-1

After doing a zig-zag stitch along each edge to prevent fraying, you sew your darts. This is a pretty good instructional video on sewing darts, but once you have pinched the triangle together as the tutor shows, I would run an iron over that to keep the dart in place before you sew.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8TseXUFMLY&w=560&h=315]

Then, placing your two pieces of fabric right sides together, you sew an 18cm zip into one of the sides of your skirt. I did a centred zip, which uses topstitching and places the teeth of the zip in the middle of a seam.

This is a brilliant tutorial, and the masking tape idea for marking out where to stitch is ingenious.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgcItD0s1mk&w=560&h=315]

It's a fairly simple technique, although I stupidly didn't attach the zipper foot to my sewing machine, so it was a little messier than it should have been. Not terrible though.

20130203_232709

Then, keeping the two pieces of fabric right sides together, you sew up the other side seam. The book advises at this point to sew the hems on your waistband and bottom edge, but I find this really hard to do once you're working with a 'tube' of fabric, so I did the hems before this; after putting my darts in and before I did my zip.

Today, I used the same basic technique to make a miniskirt out of duvet cover fabric I bought from a charity shop. I adjusted the measurements, used a shorter zip, and lined the skirt with a light blue fabric.

Let me know what you think of my efforts, and do get in touch to let me know what you are making!

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