I grew up watching my mom sew. She made, well– everything. Quilts, dresses, curtains, stuffed animals, Birthday Banners, costumes; there seemed to be no limit to what she could sew. I enjoyed my hand made Easter dresses and teddy bears but I never took an interest in sewing until recently.
I guess what I’m trying to say is… this is all new to me. I have very little experience, only the basic skills that my mom managed to pass on to me, and a lot of enthusiasm. Which is what it all really boils down to right? I’m learning as I go and enjoying the process (most of the time ). My seam ripper and I are well acquainted with each other.
So I decided it was time to venture into the world of sewing fashion. I wanted to make myself a dress and I found this pattern…
…on this delightful website. Meg McElwee is the author of a great book called “Sew Liberated”, and has designed quite a few sewing patterns. Her blog is beautiful as well. It is a nice mix of home life and sewing related posts. I read some reviews of the Schoolhouse Tunic, and they all said it was a good pattern for beginners. Great! That’s me! Jessica, Dani and Trisha bravely volunteered to try the pattern with me.
We had babies and toys scattered all around us as we sewed. We cleared away blocks, pacifiers, and sippy-cups to make room for our machines and ironing board. I didn’t get any pictures of me sewing as I was the official photographer for the day, but I did get a few pictures of me in my dress. Hopefully at some point I can talk the other girls into modeling their dresses for me so I can post them at a later date, but for now here is mine~
I made a few changes to the pattern. I added 10 inches to the bottom because I wanted it to be a church dress. I also made a matching belt to draw it in at the waist a little. The pattern has a dress length and a shirt length. The hardest part about sewing clothes is taking your measurements… but you have to do it!! Otherwise, you will put a lot of time into a dress that isn’t going to fit you, which in turn will make you upset and frustrated, and by the next morning your sewing machine may find it’s self in the bottom of a canal (at least that’s the way it played out in my head). The good news is: this pattern is roomy so you will probably end up making a size that is very similar to your “store-bought” size.
Jessica came up with an idea for a sleeveless version of the shirt that I thought would be adorable. She suggested making the shirt, completely lining the bodice (the pattern only has a partial lining) and then leave the sleeves off. Wear it sleeveless in the summer and in the fall put a plain long sleeved shirt underneath. It was a well designed pattern that I am eager to try again. The Schoolhouse Tunic is great because of it’s versatility. It is easy to change it up and add on different embellishments. Here are some fun examples of other tunics.
More wardrobe embellishments~
A few weeks ago (make that a month ago) I was trolling the sales rack at Gap when I came across a silk ribbon embroidered t-shirt. It was beautiful, but still $19.99 on sale! I know, I know… that’s not a lot of money to pay for a nice article of clothing, but I can’t bring myself to pay that much for a t-shirt because I know at some point, one (or all) of my children will end up using it as a tissue for their nose. However, right next to the $19.99 shirt was a soft gray plain t-shirt on sale for $5.99. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…
The next morning I started in on my own silk embroidered tee.
I carefully stitched them on and them moved onto the silk ribbon. You can buy silk ribbon online or at specialty sewing stores (it is no longer available at Beverly’s). Fortunately I had my mom’s excellent collection to dip into.
I initially wanted to do a cluster of french knots in the center of each flower but I ran out of ribbon. Which was kind of a relief because I’m not very good at making french knots. So I decided to sew some small seed beads on instead.
I will finish with one last thought. Wait! Let me get up on my soap box first…
Don’t be the person who sits around saying “I wish I could do things like that”. If something really interests you just do it!! Jump in with both feet! It will get messy and you will make mistakes (if your like me you’ll make a lot of them) but in the end you will have gained a whole new set of skills, and have something unique to show for all that work and mess.
Alright, I’m putting the soap box away (for now).