Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tutorial: Skirt with Grommets: Guest Post - Small Town Stitcher

Since it's Spring time SKIRTS have been on my mind! I LOVE THEM and I love trying to make them and today I'm going to introduce to you Kelli of Small Town Stitcher, who made an Anthropologie inspired skirt with grommets (HOW AWESOME?!)! Next time I go to the fabric store I'm buying grommets to try this one out. Kelli loves to sew, has tested both of my patterns, is super creative and I love her sense of humor. Check out her blog to see more of her creations and try out this tutorial. It will add an awesome skirt to your spring wardrobe (and you'll love knowing you made it everytime you wear it)!
And see below for a 20% off coupon code to my etsy shop all week long!

Hi, everyone! I am so glad to be here visiting with you today. My name is Kelli and you can find me over at Small Town Stitcher. I’m a former kindergarten teacher turned SAHM who loves to sew, craft, bake…you name it, I’ll try it. Basically, I just love to make special things for the special people in my life.

Don’t y’all just love Jenny’s style and how great she is at seeing something and then putting it together easily. Her patterns are great—easy to follow and easy to construct. If you’ve looked at them but been afraid to try them…go for it! I’ve used them both and they’re fantastic!

Jenny has inspired me to create some spring and summer skirts and dresses for me as well as for my daughter, and this skirt was the first project. This is a super easy tutorial for a basic elastic-waist skirt with a simple addition of grommets at the waistline. I promise, if you have even the most basic sewing knowledge (like how to run your machine…), you can make this skirt. It won't take long to whip up, but will get lots of compliments. So let's take a look at our inspiration piece...

Like many others in blogland, I LOVE how Anthropologie makes life look so sweet and simple and fashionable. But my wallet DOES NOT. So, like many others I often bookmark my favorite looks to see if I can recreate them at home for much, much less. I saw this skirt and liked the look but not the $68 price tag. $68 for some material sewn together with elastic and some ribbon??? C'mon people! If you're with me, let's get started. I gathered up some supplies: fabric of my choice, 1-inch elastic, ribbon and my usual sewing supplies of machine, matching thread and some pins. Oh, and you'll need an iron.
Since this is a tutorial for beginning sewers, I'm changing a few things about the skirt. We won't be adding the horizontal pintucks (so I used a fabric that had enough visual interest not to miss them.) and I'm leaving out the pockets. While it looks like the dress has a drawstring waist and the name implies that, it's actually an elastic waist with a decorative ribbon tie. We'll be doing the same. Drawstrings aren't hard to do, but elastic is that much easier....

Here we go:
WARNING...BORING MATH COMES FIRST. Stay with me, I promise it's not as bad as it looks! 1. To make this skirt fit you, measure your waist. Mine was 18 inches, so... haha, just kidding. Mine was about 35 but we're going to go with 36 for ease in math. We want to multiply this number by 1.5 so our skirt will have some poof to it. We'll be drawing the waist back in with elastic before we finish. Since our skirt will have 2 pieces (a front and back) we take our multiplied waist measurement and divide it in two. But we also have to add an inch to each piece for our seam allowance (or what we'll use when we sew it together.) So, my width measurement is 28 inches. If you'd like your skirt to have more "poof" then double the original waist measurement...the poof factor is up to you! (36 x 1.5) / 2 + 1 = 28 inches.
2. Next, you need to measure for length. I'm making my skirt 19 inches finished length. This will hit right around the knee. So, measure from your waist to your desired length. But, like before, we need to add to that measurement a little. We'll be folding up the bottom of the skirt to hem it and folding down the top of the skirt for the waistband. We'll make a 1 inch hem at the bottom, so we'll add 2 inches there and we'll be making a 1 1/2 inch waistband so we'll add 2 inches there. Stick with me, I promise this is the toughest part! ;) My length measurement was 23 inches. 19 + 2 (for hem) + 2 (for waistband) = 23 inches
3. Whew, let's all take a break from that awful math and get started on the creating. On an important sidenote here, you should ALWAYS wash and dry your fabric before making any kind of clothing. Fabrics shrink at different rates and it would stink if your cute skirt shrunk in the wash to become doll clothes! Now, lay out your fabric and measure out your rectangles. I have my fabric folded in half so I only have to cut once. I'm using a large ruler and cutting mat with a rotary cutter, but plain old (sharp) scissors work too. I'm spoiled by my quilting supplies and would never go back to scissors if I didn't have to! I cut out the two rectangles with our measurements above and I'm ready to start sewing.
4. Finally, we get to sit down at the sewing machine! You're going to thread your machine with a matching thread and bobbin and then line up your skirt pieces with the right sides facing each other. That means, basically your skirt is inside out. If you are a new sewer, you should pin your edges here together just to be sure. I never pin, but just for you, I did today. Well, one side. I didn't pin the side I didn't take a picture of. That's how I roll! Oh, and NEVER sew over pins. Always stop and pull them out when you get close. You could sew onto one and break your needle, the machine or yourself if a piece were to fly off. I'm not a nervous nelly, but this is one safety rule I always follow!

My fabric didn't have a right and wrong side, so it looks like the outside is showing, but really, it's not. If your fabric has a definite right and wrong side, the wrong side should be up!
We're going to line up the edge of the fabric on the 5/8 inch line (your machine should have a little line out to the side of the presser foot that says 5/8. Mine is in cm so it says 15.) Keep the edge of the fabric aligned with this line and sew a straight seam right down from the top of the fabric to the bottom. That means, you'll be sewing a straight line along the 23 inch lengths. It's always a good idea to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Sew a few stitches, make your machine backstitch a few stitches and then go forward again. It just locks the seams so you don't come undone! Once your side seams are sewn, you need to finish the edges. There are a number of ways to do this, serge, zig zag seams, or the easiest...pinked edges. Get some pinking shears (those zig zag scissors) and cut along the edges about 1/4 inch from your stitched line. Pinking the edges will keep them from unraveling!
5. Now to the iron...You'll want to iron open your seams so they lay flat when you're wearing them. Use the heat best suited to your fabric and iron those seam allowances open like the picture.
Then you'll need to work on your hem. Ironing your hem in place is the best way to ensure an even hem. Ask me how I know... So, you're going to iron the bottom of your tube of fabric up 1 inch. I have a metal measuring tool that you can easily pick up anywhere (like Walmart) but I couldn't find it, so I just used my thick plastic ruler. Measure up 1 inch all the way around to the wrong side or inside and iron that in place. Now you'll take that 1 inch and fold it up again. Iron this in place. This puts your hem on the inside of your skirt and encloses your raw edges so nothing will ravel. It also looks nice and professional.
Once this is ironed in place, you may want to pin...I live dangerously and went without it. Line up the top fold along the inside of your presser foot. I moved my needle close to the left edge and sewed a straight line all the way around. This takes practice to stay straight and not sew off the edge. Go slow if you're unsure and you'll be fine. (Another sidenote...hems are a great place to use all those decorative stitches on your sewing machine if you're using a plain fabric.)

6. Now, onto the grommets for the waistband. If you look at the inspiration photo, the decorative ribbon tie is threaded through grommets. So, I drove up to Walmart, picked out a set and the hardware needed to install them and went to work. You could also just put in 2 buttonholes, but the buttonholer is often intimidating to new sewers (who am I kidding, me too sometimes!) so I thought I'd learn something new with you. I started by getting the waistband ready. I did it just like the hem, but first I measured and ironed down a half inch and then measured and ironed down an inch and a half.

Again, this is the inside of the skirt...sorry for the double sided fabric!
Once I got that all ready to sew, I unfolded it all and figured out where to put my grommets. I measured my skirt. Right now, it's 27 inches across. So I marked a spot at 13 1/2 inches as my midpoint right below my waistband fold. Then I laid down the grommets about an inch away from that and followed the directions on the grommet package including adding a little thick interfacing. If you don't have interfacing/even know what that is, you could use a scrap of fabric here that you've also cut holes in!

This is the outside of the skirt!

Once those were hammered in, I folded the waistband back down and got ready to sew it up. We're almost done now!
7. Now that your grommets are attached and your waistband is folded back down to sew, go back to your machine and sew the waistband along the folded edge just like you did the hem, being careful near the grommets not to sew over them. EXCEPT, you're going to leave a gap of 2-3 inches unsewn. I usually make this gap near one of the side seams. Once you've got the waistband sewn, you're ready to add the elastic.
Take your waist measurement from the beginning and cut a piece of 1-inch elastic slightly smaller than that. You want it to stay put! Attach safety pins to both ends of your elastic. Pin one end to the waistband opening and begin to thread the other pin through the channel created by sewing your waistband shut. You can use the pin in the channel to guide your elastic through and the other pin will keep your loose end from getting lost inside the channel. When that happens, you have to pull it all out and start don't want to know how many times I've done that. ;)

When you get your elastic threaded back to the opening, you'll want to sew it together. Remove the safety pins, line up your elastic edges and zigzag stitch back and forth over the edges to keep them together. Once done, slip the elastic into the channel, get it all straightened out and sew up the opening left in your waistband.

8. Now all we have left to do is thread our ribbon through and try it on! Use that safety pin again to put your ribbon through one grommet and out the other. Get it evenly in both holes, trim up the ends (you may want to heat set the ends by holding them near a candle flame. Get them close enough you can see the ends seal without getting so close you set them on fire. But, believe me, you can quickly blow the fire out...I have!) I chose to just cut the ends in a V-shape and call it a day! And you are ready to show off your new creation!
I know this seems like a lot of steps, but it honestly took me twice as long to write out the directions and take the pictures as it did to make the skirt and I NEVER make up my own patterns. That's how easy this actually is. And the best part about this skirt is, once you've mastered it, the doors of garment making are flung open to you. This is a basic elastic skirt pattern...adapt it with different fabrics, leave out the grommets, make it for any size, lengthen it and run the ribbon through the grommets and make it a halter top. For that matter, you could lengthen it and add elastic at the bottom too to make a really cute tube top. Or add elastic to the bottom to make a bubble skirt. Add side pockets (which I usually do...who doesn't love pockets?) See what I mean? Once you've got the basics down, you can adapt them in so many ways!

Thanks again to Jenny for letting me come over and visit with y'all! I hope you will go out and use this tutorial. Let's make simple skirts the dress code of summer! And, make sure to come over to my blog to show me what you make. I'd love to see what y'all come up with.

Because the weather is heating up and every little girl needs a new dress YOU need a COUPON for a sewing pattern!

Use the coupon code spring20 and receive 20% off your purchase in my etsy shop.

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