I felt that I needed a “palette-cleanser” after the disappointment of a spending forever on a dress that simply did not hit the mark (I haven’t quite finished the dress yet, it’s in timeout while I contemplate it. My first NYC UFO let’s say). I was pondering my sewing sorbet — I don’t have any TNT patterns at the moment that I can just whip up, so that was out — when Karen from Did You Make That? posted a Gighamathon challenge. The rules were simple, use gingham and post about it.
Despite my limited stash, I actually had a piece of gingham knocking about, leftover from my Dorothy dress. My intention was to actually use it as toile fabric, but when this challenge idea came up, I figured I may as well turn it into a real garment. And because cutting and sewing gingham is so easy (I’ve never had issues with finding the grain or cutting straight lines!), it was perfect sorbet project. One final bonus, I needed another summer skirt, something unlined to help cope with this ongoing NYC heat, so I could even cross an item off my to-sew list.
(The heat, people. I’m know I’m Australian and it did get hot in Melbourne from time-to-time, but not like this! RELENTLESS! Remind me of this in December, k?).
I was inspired by the skirt-only version of McCall’s 6696 Fiona of Diary of a Chainstitcher made, so I used that as my starting point. I used the full-skirt portion, and instead of pleats, I decided to do gathers instead. I figured rather than trying to pattern-match any pleats to the waistband (which would’ve been quite clever), gathers would be much, much easier. I usually do the three lengths of long stitches, then pull the bobbin threads to make gathers, but this time, I tried Gertie’s method of using shirring elastic. I was very happy with the results and how much faster it was than my usual method, so I would definitely consider it on future projects.
The buttons are from Pacific Trimmings. I considered white or blue buttons initially, especially since the skirt is already a bit loud and not-available-in-stores, but I knew that I really wanted coloured buttons. I was thisclose to buying some yellow buttons in the shape of daises, but figured that perhaps something a little more “grown-up” might be better. (I don’t know if anyone else did this, but my friends and I used to replace the buttons on our plaid school uniforms when we were in high school). I’m still not sure these buttons are perfect, but I’m finding the Garment District a very overwhelming place and decided that I would prefer chose buttons from one store, rather than visiting several stores. Too much choice can definitely drag me down.
Using up stash fabric is one of my favourite things to do! Especially since it was fabric that wasn’t marked for garment construction. I like to make toiles because then I’m not ruining fashion fabric, but I am concerned about the environmental impact of all that calico I don’t keep. I’m glad this piece of fabric turned into something useful and pretty.
I also let myself relax with finishing the inside of this garment, to a point. I like to pink my seams, because it’s important to me that these clothes are not like RTW clothes. I made them, which to me means they should look professional, but that including details that demonstrate I took time to make it are also important. However, this garment was sorbet, so I zig-zagged those seams up in no time. I spent that time slip-stitching the hem and placket instead. If I try to zip through a project like a speed demon, I inevitably make mistakes. Slowing down helps, and let’s face it, nothing is slower than hand stitching. I used to hate it, but I really relish it now.
I know I said that working with gingham is sooo easy, but that said, there were some instances where I simply wasn’t careful enough. The pattern matching on the sides, the back and the front placket is slightly off. I remind myself that while I should always aim to improve, regular folks out there in the real world don’t notice these things. I saw a striped RTW dress the other day where the stripes did not match at all, and girl wearing it still looked super-cute and happy in it. I also wasn’t very careful with lining up the button holes and there is one or two that are off by a centimetre or so. Once again, not something you really notice from a distance, but as my almost-got-slapped-for-this husband said, “measure twice, cut once.”
To avoid the pattern matching problem, ideally I would’ve cut the placket and the waistband on the bias. Lladybird Lauren did a post on matching plaids, and her advice is don’t, if you can at all help it. I didn’t have enough fabric for cutting on the bias and decided to persevere with trying to match those little square suckers instead. As I was staring at that placket during all that hand stitching, I did think of other ways the slightly-off pattern matching could’ve been mitigated. Some piping could’ve been cute for example. The lesson learned here? Don’t start cutting into a limited about of gingham five minutes after you read something on the internet. (Fun fact, I am really only spontaneous in my sewing life).
I’m happy with the end result. Happier than I thought I’d be when I noticed the button issue for sure. I wore the skirt to brunch the other weekend and it was nice to have something so airy but opaque. I thought skipping a lining might be akin to sewing-cheating, but given how perfect the skirt felt in the weather, I know I’ve done the right thing.