Not long ago I made a skirt for Anouk (the one she’s wearing below) and got many compliments on it. Great, one may say, however I felt as though such compliments were undeserving. You see, to the untrained eye, I put together a few pieces of fabric and it magically became a skirt but to me it was a pretty rubbish job.
I wouldn’t say I am bad a sewing, or even a beginner, however, I tend to be super lazy. I don’t always press my seams, and when making the skirt in question, I didn’t bother buying the correct colour cotton or even changing the bobbin (meaning the top was grey and bottom, black).
So, feeling super ashamed of my laziness, I’ve decided it’s time to improve my sewing skills and put in the amount of effort the fabric and process deserve. I don’t want my girls to turn 15 and be sad they wore homemade clothes, I want them to think it’s awesome! My mum made nearly all our clothing when we were kids and even though I may not have thought it out of the ordinary at the time, now, I know how extraordinary it was to provide everything for five kids.
For my first project, I chose to make Anouk some shorts. I chose this pattern, free from the team at Purl Soho as it only had a couple of pieces to cut out and enough detailed finishing to give me something to take my time and care with. I first saw the pattern when Felicia at The Craft Sessions* made a pair. She has a way of explaining her projects that make them seem so accessible, and obviously her finished products are divine.
I dragged my mum over to Addicted to Fabric in order to choose some good quality fabric. Unfortunately Canberra doesn’t have a lot of choice when it comes to fabric shops and I am not yet confident enough with my knowledge of them to buy online, so a 45 minute drive it is! Luckily, my mum is a regular there as it’s a mecca for quilting fabrics and I was able to make a quick selection without the little ones making a mess. Incidentally, they loved being in the store as some of their favourite things to do are play with fabrics, yarn etc.
I ended up choosing a light cotton for the main colour and some lovely Moda fabric for the contrast. I believe it’s technically a quilting cotton, but it has a much lighter weight than usual and sits beautifully. I made the decision to use a ready-made bias binding, rather than track down a bias tape maker and creating my own and I’m really pleased as I think the contrasting tape is super cute.
It took me quite a few hours to get these done. I stopped and started over about a week, making sure to read and re-read each step in the instructions and pressing every single seam. I did use the overlocker for the inside seams rather than sewing them and then zigzagging the raw edge… it would have been stupid to do otherwise!
Mistakes were most definitely made. I had to unpick and re-do one of the bias details on the leg and upon finishing, I realised that on both legs, I’d ever so slightly missed the underside as I came around the corners. Not to worry though, my mum’s already taught me a better technique for next time.
I ended up doing the waistband four times. At first it was too long, then I made it too short (twice) and finally I got it right. I think next time, I’m better off cutting the waistband just before I’m ready to attach it, so that it can be measured to the exact length I need. Finally, there are also some seams that don’t match up, but that’s ok, at least I used the right colour cotton this time!
I made them in the 3 – 4 size even though she’s still a size 2 as I’m hoping she’ll get some wear out of them next year again… if not, there’s Didi who is destined to live her life in hand-me-downs! Overall I loved making these shorts (and so far Anouk loves wearing them) and I’ve already cut out a second pair from a piece of black linen I removed when altering a skirt of mine.