Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Anna Maria Horner's Bo Peep Skirt

So I must admit, I have been sewing for a long time...and not very well, for a long time. I have sewn curtains and doll clothes and purses upcycled out of coats and hardware from belts and I recovered a couch! Well, I didn't know how to put in a proper zipper so I stitched up the cushions, then I ripped them out to wash them....then I never stitched them up again. But with the right amount of "merchandising" (you know where you fold the fabric to the back, place a pillow to hide a gap...) I get by fine.

I always thought it was my most practical nature that spurred me on to sew: to save the couch from the dumpster, to save money on curtains, to avoid throwing away those great clothes--yes, I even feel a pang when I give them up to Goodwill. It was probably also this trait that caused most of my frustration. Trying to buy too little fabric, not a proper trim, and really, there are a lot of bulky seams in old coats...

Now that I am surrounded by a plethora of fabric from my little fabric shop, , I have been spurred on to sew. Really ambitious things like Amy Butler's Lounge Pants from her book, In Stitches, patchwork pillows on a round pillow form from her inspiration page on her website, Anna Maria Horner's garment bag from her latest book, Seams to Me, and her Bo Peep skirt from the same. Okay, not really advanced sewing here, but, folks, it takes a little more planning than I am used to doing.

So I will post here about my progress or frustration or whatever the task brings up in me because I would like to see some improvement over the year in my skill level. I am afraid that if I don't proclaim this publicly, I might whittle away my entire shop of bolts with nothing to show for it save scraps. Then I'll only have a scrap business. And lots of lint and thread bits....

My first project I want to share is the Anna Maria Horner Bo Peep skirt. It wasn't my first project, but one of my more successful and I'm feeling good about that. So here it goes.

First of all, I intended to read all of the first five chapters which covers tools, spaces, notions, pattern terminology, bias tape making, and choosing different types of fabrics. It's a really pretty book, sort of vintage-y feel of antique yardsticks and patchwork quilts, yummy feast for the eyes. And lots of good, in depth information. I did thumb through all of it.

Now, on to the pattern: I had just gotten in a bolt of Joel Dewberry's Antler Damask in Celadon. It had been backordered for months so I was thrilled to have it and wanted to make something to showcase it. I started making a tote. A rectangular tote. But I wanted to cry with boredom and I had just cut the pieces out. So I look thru the book and come across the bo peep skirt for little girls. Now earlier that day, I had been junktique-ing at one of my favorite haunts and came across these great victorian bloomers or nickers --- long ruffley white pants with lace insets and pleating and beautiful details. Should have taken a picture. Anyway, these reminded of the skirt. And I thought(rationalized) that while the nickers probably shouldn't happen in public on a grown women, somehow, the skirt with ruffles was a compromise.

First, cut rectangles based on your waist size and the length you want. Ruffles and trim cut out. Easy, done. Roll hem on ruffles, done. Gather the ruffles, got it. Now you figure out where you want the ruffles and baste them on the side panel. Hmmm. I thought you might do the ruffle trim first. As a matter of fact, I did that already. I have attached the ruffle trim to the ruffle and then I want to attach it to the side panels. Oh well. It works. And now I am so excited with the ruffle detail that I am deflated to see and try to make sense of "with the wrong
sides together" and "with the Italicright sides together..." Breathing in, breathing out, I try to picture why I would sew wrong sides together. At this point, still so stoked about the ruffle detail, I abandon the book and finish the skirt as I can make sense of it. I had to take up a bit of fabric in the waist (yes, now I see that she was trying to teach me French seams). And since I loved the longer length, I added a waist band piece to save the below knee length.

Pretty easy. Love the skirt. A little disappointed I didn't calm down enough to trudge thru all of the seams twice over. That is the point of these lessons after all. But here it is, and my favorite middle daughter modeling it for me. Deep Bo Peep curtsy to you all.

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