homemaking 101: sewing a simple garment

For the third instalment of the Homemaking 101 series I’ve decided to share a very simple skirt tutorial.  Sewing is, in my opinion, a lost art and while I’m no expert, I do consider myself pretty handy with a needle and thread…or sewing machine.  In tenth grade I took a home economics type of class, and part of what we kerned was how to sew on a machine. I remember being very intimidated by it and constantly worrying about sewing over my fingers!  Over the years I preferred to stick to hand sewing, but that can be a very tedious process.  Only recently did I get back on the sewing machine bandwagon, and I only wish I’d done it sooner!homemaking 101 sewing

Today’s tutorial is for beginners, so if there are any advanced seamstresses reading this, forgive my VERY basic instructions!  I chose to make a skirt after receiving compliments and requests on/for my bed sheet skirt.

skirt1

 

Materials Needed:

  • large cotton bed sheet (I used a double)
  • measuring tape
  • chalk or pencil
  • straight pins
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • thread that coordinates with sheet
  • elastic for the waist
  • iron and ironing board
  • optional: paper to create a master template

Directions:

  1. Measure and record your waist and hip measurements, as well as the length you want your skirt (I measure from my belly button to the floor because I like skirts to sit high on me). You will want to add extra inches to your waist and hip measurements so that the skirt can fit comfortably over them.  Most cotton bed sheets don’t have any stretch, which is why you need to allow for extra room.
  2. If you wish to create a paper template, do so by taping several sheets together and sketch out the skirt shape using your measurements as a guide.  Be sure to flow the sides away from the waist as opposed to straight down, and add about one inch seam allowance on the sides, hem, and waist.  Also keep in mind that you need to be able to take normal strides while wearing this skirt, so don’t sketch the bottom width too narrow.
    homemaking101 sewing a skirt
  3. If you opt not to draw a paper template, fold your fabric in half lengthwise freehand draw the shape of your skirt on WRONG side of the fabric (meaning the inside).  Again, leave the one inch seam allowance.
  4. Pin your paper template to the fabric using straight pins and cut around it.  If you are not using a template, then insert pins inside the shape of the skirt (to stop it from shifting) and cut. Be sure to cut right along the edge of your template or drawing since we already accounted for a seam allowance.
    homemaking101 sewing a skirt
  5. Once the shape is cut out, you can create the hemline and waist band.  While keeping the sheet inside out, fold the bottom edge up one inch and pin in place. Repeat over the whole hem.  Then do the same for the waist.
    homemaking101 sewing a skirthomemaking101 sewing a skirt
  6. Using a sewing machine, sew down the side seams, remembering that one inch seam allowance (note: in my photo below I’m not using a one inch seam allowance.  I wasn’t paying attention and had already sewed down a fair bit and created a smaller seam, so I just left it).  To ensure the seams are as straight a possible, try to line the edge of the fabric up with the outer edge of the presser foot, or one of the measurements on the plate below.homemaking101 sewing a skirt
  7. Using a hot iron press down the hemline and waist band to create a nice crease; sew the hemline and waist. I like to take time to try the skirt on now to ensure the length is okay.
  8. Stretch the elastic around your waist and determine a comfortable length.  Trim as needed.
  9. Position the elastic on the inside of the waist band, and be sure the presser foot on the sewing machine is lowered on top of the sheet.
    homemaking101 sewing a skirt
  10. Pull the elastic taught while sewing it in place all the way around the inside of the waist band.
  11. Once completed, remove any pins, turn the skirt right side out, and admire your work :)

See, now wasn’t that easy?  If you are still nervous about trying this tutorial, I assure you, it’s not that complicated or time consuming.  I used to be worried about not sewing a straight seam, but honestly, nobody notices if it’s a little crooked!  Your first skirt may not be perfect, but you made it, and it’s such a great feeling to create and wear a homemade garment. If you do make a skirt using my tutorial, please let me know!

skirt3

Notes:

  • Make sure the sheet you use is ironed, because the wrinkles could cause uneven trimming.
  • If your sheet has a pattern, be sure you are drawing the outline so the pattern will be straight on and not crooked.
  • If you are using a wide elastic, account for that in the overall length of your skirt, sine you will need to create a wider waist band.
  • When pinning the seams together, position the pins perpendicular to the sheet instead of parallel.  Your sewing machine will run over the blunt end of the pin and could get damaged if the pins are parallel.
  • I used a straight stitch (like this: ———-) for the side seams, hem, and waist band,  and a zig zag (v^v^v^v^v^v) to sew the elastic in place.
  • I like to remove the pins right after I sew the seams.  Once I press the hem and waist band, and a crease is present, I remove the pins before sewing.  You don’t have to do this, but I find it helps me remember to remove all the pins before trying the skirt on.
  • You don’t have to use a bed sheet, but I like doing that instead of purchasing fabric.  Fabric stores can be a little daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and they are often pricey.  Bed sheets are nice because they are large, often colourful, and can be bought used for a low price (make sure you check for stains first!).

 

About Christina

20-something; rural dwelling; wife to David; homeowner; pretty good cook; wearer of skirts; friend to all cats.

7 comments on “homemaking 101: sewing a simple garment

  1. My sister and I have made sheets into curtains but not skirts. Wonderful, simple idea for those of us a bit sewing challenged. My machine is broken right now but once I have a working one again I am trying this out. Old sheets can also make great backings for flannel baby receiving blankets. No need for batting to use lines of quilting to put the two fabrics together, but you certainly can for a heavier weight for the baby bed.

    • I hope you are able to try this tutorial soon:) what a great idea to use sheets as backing! thanks for the tip!

  2. Love using recycled bed sheets for sewing projects! You can get them so cheaply at second-hand stores! Your skirt came out very lovely! Thank you for sharing this tutorial with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! :)

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