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Wecome to Home Ec (Sew-Along!)

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Welcome, class!
Today we are going to learn to sew.
This will be our first project!

A simple “Poppy” skirt!
This project is perfect for beginning sewers.  A basic elastic waist skirt is very simple, but who says very simple has to be boring?  Sewing straight lines (the ‘stems’ of the poppies) will help you feel comfortable sewing a straight line and the repetition will help you perfect it.  And the red button poppies will teach you to use a machine to sew on buttons.  This project is two parts.

Getting Started

The blog Pick Up Some Creativity does a great series on the most basic Sewing 101 items, so I won’t really cover those things.
Click HERE to see what tools you need to get started

Here are the Supplies that we will be using for this project:
  • 1 yard of white cotton fabric
  • About 20 red buttons
  • Thread color of your choice (I used turquoise)

Tools I used:
  • Self-healing mat
  • Quilting Ruler
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Marker
  • Bobbin

Before we start…

Do you have your machine’s manual?  This will be your constant companion when you are first starting to sew.  If you don’t, you can search for it online and you should be able to track it down.  If you still can’t get access to a manual, find someone who knows sewing machines (or YOUR sewing machine, like the person who gave it to you) and use them as a resource.
When I first started sewing again, I was using a Kenmore.  That Kenmore, its manual, and I were very close.  Because my dang machine kept breaking!  And then I later realized I was putting the bobbin in wrong.  That manual taught me a lot about sewing, by learning from my mistakes!  Everyone’s machine is different, so I can only teach you so much about your machine…the rest is up to you.

Using Your Machine

Okay, let’s get started.  First we need to wind the bobbin.

On my machine (a Janome), this is how you do it.  (I drew that freaky cartoon thread, by the way.)

And I run my machine on top speed.  I like to fill lots of bobbins at one time (of white cuz I use tons of white.)

Okay now the bobbin is full.  You should fill bobbins for each color of thread you are using (or you can just do white…if the thread won’t be seen.)

Moving onto the machine.  My wonderful little machine.  It’s nothing fancy, but it has worked like a dream for me.  Here are the basics of my sewing machine:

Mine actually is useable without the foot pedal.  I love this feature and I never use the foot pedal.

Here is how I thread my machine and bobbin:

Is that confusing?  Sorry, it was hard to draw the line. 
To bring the bobbin thread up through the feed dog, Use your handwheel (the big wheel on the side.)  Hold onto your top thread as you wind the handwheel.

Moving along…

Cutting Your Fabric

To cut your fabric to a skirt size, measure the width of your waist (not the circumference) and add about two inches to each side.  If you want it more full, add more inches, depending on how full you want it.  The height will be the height measurement from your waist to your knee (or wherever you want it to stop) plus about four inches.  The extra four inches are for the elastic casing and the bottom hem.

It is sometimes overwhelming to work with a large piece of fabric, so I fold the fabric before cutting.  And I love to cut with a rotary cutter.  The salvage is the side of the fabric that is sealed by the manufacturer. 
First I measure the height and cut it there, using the quilting ruler and rotary cutter
Then I measure out the width and cut.  Here is my finished cut (there are two pieces, one on top of another).
To make the poppy stems, use the quilting ruler (it’s great to use because it’s so tall) on the mat to draw straight lines 2 inches apart, alternating heights.  Use a sewing marker to draw the lines (a sewing marker will disappear with water.)

Sewing a Straight Line

Time to sew!  Your machine and bobbins are threaded.  Your tension is set to 4-5, your machine is on straight stitch.  Line your needle up with the line.  Slowly start sewing, reversing your stitch for the beginning and end (this secures your stitch.) 
It should look kind of like this.  I actually used a thicker straight stitch (the one with three lines).  If you feel comfortable with a basic stitch, feel free to do a different stitch if you want!  Repeat your straight stitches on all the lines.  Practice makes perfect!
All done!  (You can iron it here.)

Next week:  Sewing on buttons, skirt construction, making a casing, finishing the skirt. 
Now forget yourself & go to work! 🙂

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  1. posidanielle says:

    What a great tutorial! I will definitely have to run out and get some fabric to make myself or Evangelina one of these adorably fun skirts!!
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Love the skirt!!!! I will definitely have to make one of my own. Thanks sharing your idea

  3. Thank you so much for doing this! It gives me confidence to unbox my sewing machine!!

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