Making a Patternless Skirt with 'Improv Sewing'

Posted by on Sep 06, 2012

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I am a self-proclaimed sloppy seamstress. I love to sew, but my creations feature more enthusiasm than polish, more brilliant idea and less brilliant execution. And I'm okay with that. Even more, I celebrate my adventurous approach to sewing. I am not afraid to mess up because I know that messing up is an essential part of how I learn. As a result, I have more fun and more creativity trying things my way rather than how the how-to recommends, and I have never once wanted to give up sewing.

When I came across the intriguing craft book "Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques," I hoped I'd finally found a craft book that shared my impulsive approach to crafting. I am happy to report with my first project from the book complete that this book offers details that don't weigh down my risk-taking nature as well as sewing how-tos that are free-spirited and fun more than precise and polished.

Using the Patternless A-Line Skirt pattern from the book (free on CraftFoxes and featured left), I did something I almost never do — read all of the steps before starting. Don't give me too many kudos, as there are only two. Next, I choose to use Hubby's old T-shirt instead of the yard and a half of 60" yardage, as recommended by the refashion book's preamble.

Since the book didn't have a how-to on prepping a T-shirt for a refashion (something I'd recommend they add to the next addition), I left the seams on, something I will not do on my second run-through of the project. With the seams on, the T-shirt refused to lay flat and getting the edges to match was nearly impossible.
Marking the fabric, the first step of the skirt how-to, was easy, and much easier than paper patterns I've used in the past. A mark of chalk for the waistline and another for the length was all it took for my skirt to be ready for stitching.

The next step was stitching the side seams and then attaching a fold-over elastic. Simple, right? If I had used store-bought cotton jersey, you are absolutely correct. However, the T-shirt I used was a men's small instead of the extra-large that the authors of "Improv Sewing" recommended. As such, when I sewed the side seams together, the skirt was just a little too tight to be modest. Even more, since I didn't have the length for the fuller bottom edge, the A-line was more a straightish pencil cut. While stylish, it was not what I was going for. However, the impulsive crafter that I am (and also because I lacked the ambition to make a craft store run), I decided to like the change.

I finished the skirt by sewing a double hem for the waistband. The authors recommend a folded-edge elastic, which seems a lot simpler than what I used. But since I didn't have that, I chose instead to use elastic salvaged from Hubby's unwanted boxers. Gross, but necessary.

And voila! A skirt that looks nothing like the pattern but is still stylish and one I love. Even more, the pattern was easy (minus all my mistakes) and invited me to come back for a second visit. This in itself is a rarity. Most patterns I finish and am done with like a bad break-up, but "Improv Sewing" was more like chocolate cake. One bite is hardly enough.

This post is part of the Craft Book Month blog hop at Craft Buds.

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