Skirts are such a wonderful wardrobe addition, they immediately dress up an outfit. I’d been thinking about adding a half circle skirt to my fall wardrobe for a while and when I found this navy blue fabric I knew it would work great. Everyone knows full circle skirts but for a similar look with less fullness, half and quarter circle skirts are just as easy to make and more suited for everday wear (in my opinion at least).
I hadn’t sewn without a pattern for a while and shied away from the required maths, but after searching for tutorials online I settled on these instructions (One | Two ) and in the end it was way easier than it seemed at first.
The fabric is a lovely cotton that is at the same time heavy weight (drapes beautifully) and almost see-through light. Odd, but perfect for this skirt.
The zipper at the back is handpicked and the waistband closes with snaps. The waistband itself is blindstitched to the inside by hand.
I had originally planned to finish the hem with hem tape, which I didn’t have so I tried bias tape. Bad idea. Had to rip all that out again and settled for a very simple double folded hem in the end which works much better.
All in all a quick project for a versatile wardrobe item that can be dressed up or down easily. It actually came out fuller than I had imagined so next time I’ll try a quarter circle skirt!
To start off I need to get a bit sentimental about camera bags for you:
I’ve had my camera bag for nearly 10 years. It’s a hand-me-down LowePro shoulder bag that has traveled with me all over the world. It has seen beaches and forests and ranches, from scorching hot summers to freezing cold winters. It’s not pretty anymore but still sturdy. It’s held all sorts of cameras, from high-end DSLRs to vintage cameras to a plastic Holga. Naturally I feel quite attached to it but as I have accumulated heavier camera gear and have gotten a few years older it became apparent recently that my beloved shoulder bag and I weren’t the best fit anymore.
I’m a small person and the strain on neck, shoulders and back from lugging around all that heavy equipment for hours on just one shoulder is getting too much. So I decided to get a backpack for my gear to distribute the weight more evenly. I’m not fond of the average camera backpack though. I even have one (another hand-me-down) but with camera backpacks you always have to take them off and place them flat on the ground to take anything out. I wanted a normal backpack that I can swing over my shoulder and grab something out of quickly when I need another lens etc. and one that I could take on day trips when we go hiking.
I found the ideal candidate in a hiking store: A small daypack with a thickly padded back to make it easier on the shoulders and it was on sale for 30€. The material is quite thin though and I can’t just throw my camera things in there. I needed a padded insert so I looked around for things I could use. I found a rigid foam mat and some leftover footstep sound insulation from back when we moved and installed the laminate flooring. So I grabbed some fabric and went to work from there.
I traced the contours of the backpacks’s bottom onto the foam mat and made a fabric cover. Then I measured the circumference of that piece and made a long strip of fabric covered insulation to go around it. Sewn together by hand and voilà – a padded insert that fits my backpack perfectly!
I also made another piece of fabric covered insulation to act as a separation piece for the lenses etc.
Sewing wise a complete hack job but quick, practical and functional and I’m using it all the time. And let me tell you… that little backpack feels heavenly on my neck and shoulders!
For a few much, much better tutorials check out this, this and this site.
Finally, some sewing again and it’s not even navy blue!
A bright red skirt which has been in the works for nearly two months! Phew. It’s based on the same pattern as the blue pencil skirt, but I wanted to add a button placket at the front.
I first procrastinated on actually drafting the pattern and when I finally did, I made many stupid mistakes…I redrafted and sewed the skirt up pretty quickly and it was looking really neat when I realized I had miscalculated the button placket and the skirt was now way too tight. So I ripped the placket out again and got creative in adding a new placket without having to redo the whole skirt (I was out of fabric for that anyway). Add a little time between each step to stew over it and get my motivation back up and you have two months of work on a simple skirt. At least now it fits!
It even has pretty buttons and button holes and is fully lined (don’t get me started on how many times I messed up the lining).
I think I’ve worked on it too long to determine if I like it. I’m sure some of you know that feeling. I’ll see how I feel about it in three months. That sounds depressing, I promise to be more upbeat in my next post 🙂
The necklace I’m wearing is by Native Clutter on Etsy btw.
Part 3 of this series of tutorials on how to use a vintage treadle. This time we’ll be threading the top thread.
For part 1 have a look here and part 2 can be found here.
We’ll start off by placing the spool in place on top of the machine.
Now comes the tricky part: There will be lots of different hooks to guide the thread through. As a rule: if it’s there it’s meant to be used, so just try to find your way through there as best you can. If you have trouble sewing later, go back and try a different way.
On my machine it goes like this: top tension
Top tension 2: be sure to come down in a straight line at the right here and then guide the thread through the discs and then through the hook on the left.
Use every hook you see:
I have marked all the places the thread needs to be guided through on my machine with red dots. Your machine may be a little different, but the general direction of the thread shouldn’t differ all too much.
Down by the needle we will need to use another hook and then thread the needle from left to right (not from front to back as with modern machines!).
When you’ve threaded the needle, hold on to the thread tightly and turn the crank slowly by hand. The bobbin thread should plop up.
Grab both threads and guide them to the back.
Close the slider for the bobbin case and you’re ready to sew!
Part 4 will deal with changing the needle and adjusting tension and stitch length.
So here’s the next installment of the series on how to use a vintage treadle. For part 1 have a look here. The bobbin thread spool can be found by removing the lid by the needle
Carefully take the spool out
We now need to take the bobbin out and place it on this part at the back of the machine
and click it into place:
The bobbin should be empty but I only have 3 and there was enough blue thread on this one that I wanted to save, so that’s why there’s already some thread on it.
We now need to put the spool of thread in place at the top and find out how to guide it down to the bobbin. General rule: any hooks that are there are probably meant to be used.
Wrap some thread onto the bobbin.Now we need to undo the screw on the crank, so the needle won’t turn when we wind the bobbin.
Now we can wind the thread onto the bobbin using the treadle pedal. Do this in one swing, don’t stop in between. Especially if you’re new to treadling you may get it to turn the wrong way when you stop and start again and then you’ll have to start all over because the thread on the bobbin gets tangled. When the bobbin is full, we can cut the thread and click it back in place. Remember to also retighten the screw!
The loaded bobbin goes back into the bobbin case and just like with modern machines, the thread needs to be guided so it hooks into the bobbin case correctly.
Done! We can now carefully put the bobbin case back (carefully because with my machine the bobbin falls out of the case easily and it can be a pain to go rummaging for it in the container in the table).
Stay tuned for part 3, where we will learn how to thread the top thread!
I am discovering all sorts of smallish fabric shops in the area and most have a pile of clearance fabrics marked down to 1€/m. Clearance fabrics are my favourite to sew with since I hate to make muslins and I don’t feel guilty not making one when I got the fabric for next to nothing 🙂
This heavier weight light blue cotton (mix?) fabric has been sitting in my pile for quite a while and a few days ago I decided to make a skirt with it.
No pattern, just trying out different pleating methods until, almost by accident, I ended up with this:
I’m loving it, it fits me perfectly and the stitching looks really good…my treadle and I are getting along very well lately!
I did the button holes by hand (downside of sewing on a treadle: no buttonhole feature) but I am very pleased with how they came out. It’s actually nice work to do while watching a DVD in the evening, so I don’t mind sewing them by hand at all.