I've had a sewing machine since a friend of mine introduced me to quilting during graduate school. But I haven't actually used it to make much of anything other than quilts (and those only rarely). During high school I played with my mother's old sewing machine, trying to make dresses I saw Alicia Silverstone wearing in Aerosmith videos and failed miserably. I haven't really tried since then because, quite honestly, I'm terrible at picking out fabric to go with a pattern. Just terrible! But when Dayton designer Tracy McElfresh announced she was having an A-line Elastic Waistband Skirt class at Grass Roots (Facebook Page), I pounced on it and reserved my spot.
|Tracy, showing us how to cut out a pattern.|
Tracy likes to design her classes such that you can take something home when you're done. Now you might be thinking a skirt would take too long - we only had 3 hours. But believe me, this is probably the easiest skirt to make ever. If I can do it, you can do it!
Tracy is a fantastic teacher. Her knowledge of her craft is vast and she is extremely patient. Like any good teacher with students new to a subject, Tracy began the class with a brief history of sizing (did you know that original sizes were based on your age?) and how the art of making your own clothing has changed over the last century. She moved on then to the task at hand and showed us her sample of the skirt we would be making. after passing out "template" patters, Tracy further explained to us that we were to alter the pattern to make it fit us, either adding or subtracting inches as needed. She demonstrated how to cut out the fabric, then let us go.
I had a choice in front of me: Skulls or Plaid. Obviously, I chose the more difficult of the two fabrics and went with the plaid.
- It's Plaid, that means the stripes have to line up.
- You need more fabric to cut on the bias for a pattern.
- I only had 2 yards of fabric.
- It was crappy fabric from Jo-Ann's and wasn't as perfectly square as it looked.
Here were Tracy's instructions (in a nutshell):
- Decide on your waist.
- Decide how long you want your skirt to be.
- Decide how "A line" you want the skirt to be.
- Cut it out.
- Pin up the sides and sew.
- Sew the bottom hem (mine was an inch).
- Take elastic and put it snugly around your waist and cut. This will be your waist band.
- Fold over the waist enough that it will allow you to feed the elastic through. Press and pin. Sew it down.
- Using a safety pin, weave the elastic through. (if the elastic is too thick you can cut it, like we did with mine.
- Stitch the elastic together, then stitch the seam closed.
- Stitch "in the ditch", or in the seams), to secure the elastic in place (so it won't flip).
- Stitch one stitch up the back so you know which side is the back and to further secure the ellastic.
- Wear the frakking dress.
There are many who think that it's a dying art form and I applaud Tracy for doing her part to keep these skills alive within the community. I look forward to the opportunity to take more classes from Tracy. In the mean time I've picked up a few additional patterns and some fabric of my own. At my husband's insistence, my next project will definitely be a pleated skirt.
Dresses by Tracy McElfresh on Facebook
Tracy McElfresh on Etsy
Grass Roots Dayton on Facebook