Getting back into sewing…

So, my sewing machine finally arrived on Saturday! I immediately set out to get all the necessary accessories so as to not be up a creek without a paddle come Sunday (in France, most stores are closed on Sundays).

Once I had everything I needed, I decided it was about time to get my machine up and running. I was a little intimidated when it came to threading the bobbin / the machine since I hadn’t done it for so long, but thanks to this lovely blog all my worries melted away.  I found all the information necessary for a quick refresher course on setting up the machine as well as some useful sewing techniques.

I don’t know about you, but I always have a bunch of clothes laying around that I never wear, for one reason or another. Often times it is because I’m not 100% happy with the fit, or because I’ve outgrown the style. Thanks to my new sewing machine, these clothes will (hopefully) have a second shot at life!

My first project was probably not the ideal one to start out with, in hindsight, because it involved more complex sewing techniques. Nevertheless, I am not a quitter so I decided to follow through with it even after I realized it may be more difficult than originally anticipated. This skirt is something I bought the first year I was here in France and I really am not sure why I was ever attracted to it. (Please forgive me for the terrible picture – I am still recovering from being sick and had no motivation to get all dolled up for this re-fashion adventure)

Skirt - Before


The skirt is far too high waisted, even for me (not to mention the elastic band is enough to knock the wind out of me). It is also far too long and has warranted several comments as to whether or not I am a nun. However, I do like the fullness of the skirt, so I decided to see what could be done about it.

First of all, I ripped out the seam connecting the elastic band to the top of the skirt.

Skirt Step 1

Cut off waistband

Next, I tried the skirt on and marked the length that I wanted to obtain. I then used my measuring tape to measure the exact length from the top seam to the marker. I proceeded to mark this length every few inches around the entire skirt.

Once I had marked the desired length, I took out my iron and ironed around that length, pinning as I went, to make sewing my new hem easier.

I then sewed my hem all the way around. The hard thing about this process was trying to maintain the same distance from the edge. As the bottom of the skirt is a circle, it was more difficult to keep sewing “straight.”

Skirt - Step 2

Sewing new hem – Part 1

Once my hem was sewn up once around, I cut off the excess fabric and folded my hem over itself in order to hide the raw edges. I pinned it all the way around, using the iron to help it lie flat as I did the first time.

Skirt - Step 3

Sewing new hem – part 2


Then I went on to deal with the waistband. At first I didn’t know what to do, since all the tutorials I was finding were showing how to add a waistband, while mine was already attached. I decided to combine a few of the techniques I had seen online and wing it. I wanted to  maintain a little bit of the elasticity because I was afraid that if I didn’t the skirt would turn out to be too big around my waist, but I didn’t want to leave the entire elastic band because it was too tight on me. This lead me to this tutorial which explains how to add elastic to the back of the waistband only. I adapted this tutorial to fit my needs, as I said, since my waistband was already attached.I folded the edge of my waistband over about a half an inch (to hide the raw edge on the inside) and then once again, this time making sure to leave enough room for the elastic to fit in. Then I pinned it up and sewed  around, leaving a couple inches unsewn near the seams to insert my elastic.

I cut the elastic band to be about 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) shorter than the back side of my skirt waistband. I then attached a safety pin to one side of the elastic to help me push it through the waistband. Next, I pinned one edge of the elastic to the seam and sewed it into place. I then closed up the seam of the waistband that I had left for the elastic.

After that, I pulled the elastic so that it reached the other side of the seam, and pinned it in place. I then sewed along that seam to secure the elastic, and finished the waistband seam as I had done on the other side.

Back of waistband

Back of waistband

Front of waistband

Front of waistband

And ta da!! Here is how it turned out:

Skirt - After

Skirt – After

Skirt - After (side view)

Skirt – After (side view)

It is definitely not perfect, but I have to say I am pretty happy with the results considering that I haven’t touched a sewing machine in over 2 years (not to mention that I have never had any formal training). If I can do it, so can you!

I probably should’ve taken more step by step pictures – sorry about that! It is hard to remember to do that when I’m “in the zone.” I will try to be better about it next time, since I personally really appreciate when people have step by step pictures available!

Anyway, happy crafting!



6 thoughts on “Getting back into sewing…

  1. You have a good eye for what a less-than-optimum garment needs, and gave this skirt a new life with a lovely French flair, brava!

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