June 2, 2009

Spontaneous Sewing

Today I did two things that I haven't done since I was in college. First, I sat out next to a pool (with sunscreen on of course) for no other reason than to just sit by a pool in the sun. Well, I did do some writing while I was there, but there were no kids to watch, lunches to hand out, arm bands to inflate, just me and a chair.

The second thing was some spontaneous outfit sewing. I used to whip up clothes for myself all the time. If I felt like I needed a long swishy green skirt for a party that night or a wrap dress for a dance that weekend, all that stood between me and the outfit in my head was a trip to the fabric store. Most of my sewing over the last eight or nine years has been baby related. Yes, Briton is only six (almost seven!) but even before I had kids, my friends and colleagues and fellow students were having babies and my sewing switched gears from skirts to quilts and then later from quilts to Halloween costumes. And lately most of my sewing has been of the home dec variety, slipcovers, pillows, you know the thing. So when I realized that I had an event to attend this week and literally nothing suitable to wear, my mind went whizzing back to that pillow case book and hit on an idea.

I actually didn't use one of the patterns in the book. But it was a good jumping off point. In fact, it's fairly similar to a strappy tunic they had which I loved. But I needed something a little bit fancier so I used the basic idea and fashioned a halter top out of a cream cut work pillow I've been carrying around for years to use for something someday. And someday was today.

So why pillowcases. Well, two reasons. first of all, since the end has a neat and substantial hem, it makes anything that needs a finished edge that much easier. And secondly, pillow cases are usually cheap, and most people have them around. In fact, I use sheet sets in a lot of sewing. It's one of the best ways to get a very wide piece of fabric for not a whole lot of money. Sheet sets are great for curtains, shams, duvet covers and quilt backings.

Pillowcases are the same, a relatively cheap way to get a good piece of fabric. The only drawback is that whatever your making needs to be as big around as a pillow or less but for a lot of people, they'll work for skirts, shirts, aprons and of course, the pillowcase dress that is beloved of little girls. But I'm getting a little preachy, so back to the halter top.

Before cutting I folded the top corners of the case at different angles and lengths and tried them out in front of a mirror until I found the look I was looking for. Then, marking one side, I folded the case in half lengthwise and cut along the mark so that I had a perfectly symmetrical cut. I wanted the back to fall straight across so I then unfolded the case and cut off the triangular piece on the back side.

With the case inside out, I tried the top on for size, pinning a ribbon at the neck line to give me an idea of how it would fall. You want it inside out so that, if your like me and you need a few darts at the bust line, you can pin them while you have it on and then slip it off and stitch the darts in place.

I used the remaining fabric to create a combination liner/facing by splitting the end of the remnants (which should, if you cut accurately, give a shorter but identically angled pair of pieces to the front of the top. Still inside out, I put in the facing then turned it right side out and pressed the seams.

At this point the top is almost done. I flipped down a half inch of the neckline to create a gusset for a ribbon to slip through for the neck tie and tried it on for size again. It needed some small darts in the back to lie snugly but I could have let it go the way it was and had a looser fit.

All in all, the whole project took about 45 minutes which included dragging my sewing machine out of the basement and hunting down some coordinating thread. In fact, I might just have to whip out a few more from some plainer cases for to the pool tops for the summer. Instant gratification sewing, my favorite.

**So this isn't the best picture of me since I was taking it of myself and I forgot to smile, but you get the idea....:)