One of the coolest things about being about being able to sew, is making your own clothes on-the-fly. The other morning as I was getting ready for work, I discovered that I didn’t have a single dress in my closet that fit other than what I was wearing. Everything else was in the cleaners and I stood staring at a work wardrobe inventory that didn’t fit. Seriously. How did that happen? I went from a size 10 to a 14-16 over the last 6-8 months. Really? Ugh. Rats. In my defense, I’m 5’9” so it sneaks up on me when I’m not looking.
In my stash I found this really fun woven print floral fabric I got eons ago from JoAnn’s and decided it would make a cute skirt with a solid top. I went digging through my skirt patterns and found McCalls 2255 – it calls for a woven fabric and elastic waist. SCORE! Unfortunately, it was for sizes 8-12. HA…Yeah right…not lately. I think I’ve had this pattern a very, very, very long time. So the first order of business was to grade out the pattern so it fit.
PATTERN GRADING WITH NO MATH: I wore a pair of shorts that had side seams. Gym shorts, jean shorts, it doesn’t matter. Using a tape measure, I measure the front of my hip line from side seam to side seam at the widest part and write the number down. Measure the rear, across the fullest part, from side seam to side seam and write the number down. Now take your tape measure and put your thumb on the front number (22.5 for me). Add one inch for ease (23.5), and add additional space for SA (I chose another one inch to 24.5). Hold your thumb on the last number. Fold up the end of the tape measure (starting at 0 inches) in half so the beginning of the tape measure meets your other thumb at that final number. Smooth out the dangle and crease the center. Note the measurement.
Now put that center crease on the center seam (or fold line) of the pattern level with the matching marks at the hip line. Open up the tape measure from the half number to 0 (for me – from 12.25 to 0 in my case), stretch it out past the outer seam and grimace at how much bigger you are now to determine the new side seam. Make a mark on the generous amount of extra paper that McCall’s was gracious enough to give you where the tape measure landed. If your skirt pattern has a center fold, only mark it on one side seam and decrease the ease and SA additions by half.
Take a ruler and figure out how much extra you need outside of the largest line drawn on the pattern from the mark you made. In my case, on the front, it was an extra 1.25”. I drew a straight line from top to bottom adding 1.25” all the way down on both sides (McCalls 2255 doesn’t use a center fold).
For the waist, that’s subjective according to your build. On the pattern, I noticed that the waist line dipped on the sides as the sizes got larger – like an 1/8” per size-ish. I kind of WAG’d it (“wild-ass guess”…that’s military lingo for those unaware) that my larger size would be 3/8” lower than the size 12 and then made a mark near the side seam 3/8” lower than the last line on the pattern. I used my tailor’s curve to draw the new waist line. You don’t need to get all crazy-exact on this…it’s not that important. What IS important is to make sure that both the front and back are the same height at the side seams. To do this, I measured up from the hip notch on the front to the waist which was 9.25”, and made sure the back was also 9.25” up from the hip notch to the waist so both pieces were the same height top to bottom.
CUTTING THE PATTERN
Learning from my last mistake of my twin hurricane eyes on the back bodice of New Look 6184, I noted the large flowers on the fabric in relation to the center back of pattern. I didn’t want a bulls-eye in the center of my butt that screamed, “HELLOOO! LOOK AT ME! READY-AIM-FIRE!”
The rest of the make was kind of a beginner’s blur. Sew the side seams together, fold over the top of the waist a bit to hide the raw edge, fold it over again 1” deep so it’s larger than the ½” elastic and press, fold up the hem ½”, blah blah.
Soooo…I was totally irresponsible and left my Brother PE-770 embroidery machine powered on during Tropical Storm Bill (late June 2015) and she suffered a mechanical breakdown and wouldn’t power up – much like me on Mondays. She was even plugged into a high grade surge suppressor but it didn’t matter. She won’t power up. (sniff) I feel like that guy on the Nationwide Insurance commercial whose baby car hit a fire hydrant. The sweet Brother repair tech at the Creative Sewing Center in San Antonio called me today with the $150.00 repair news. Sigh. At least she can be fixed…we think. Unlike my pool. The exterior metal wall looks like a piece of paper completely torn in half, top to bottom, and we have no idea what happened to cause an 18,000 gallon tsunami in my backyard. I literally stood on the deck with a glass of wine and cried. It’s only 3 years old and Family Leisure is dancing around about the warranty. They better make it right or I’m going to go all social media on them.
My Brother PC-420 sewing machine? She just got an attitude with a jammed bobbin all of a sudden. I replaced the needle, blew out the lint with an air can and no dice. Grrr. Off for a tune-up she goes. To be fair, it’s past time for a tune up with the amount I sew. So I serged the side seams with my Brother 1034D.
What to do with no sewing machine for the waist and hem? Tin Lizzie to the rescue!! Yes, I know she is for free-motion quilting and can’t spell Feed Dogs. But living by the motto of “Adapt and Overcome”, I sat down and had a long motivating talk with her and let her know that it’s the 4th down, we’re down by a waist and hem line, we’re on the ½” yard line, with seconds to go, and it’s all on her. I slapped her on the tension dial and she came through like a champ! Woo Hoo! And for you Tin Lizzie haters out there? The certified Brother Repair Tech told me he swears by the Tin Lizzie and they just bought his wife a new upgraded model and willed the original to their daughter – after 11 YEARS of continued use by momma! So there. Stuff it.
Here’s the final result. This skirt wore beautifully all day with minimal wrinkling. I was completely comfortable and received several compliments! But, I have no idea what I’m going to wear tomorrow…