I don’t know if it was because of my butt-kicking experience learning how to sew a tote bag a few weeks ago, but I think I refused to admit that I would let one class’ experience deter me from something I knew I really enjoyed. So not only did I tackle two more tote bags on my own at home, I got braver and bought a few books to learn how to sew some wearable clothing – an A-line skirt to be specific!
While sad that a Chapters location was closing (to move into the mall across the street), they were having a huge sale on almost everything in the store, so I picked up Christine Haynes’ Skirts & Dresses For First Time Sewers. In a way this post will be about my experience as well as a bit of a review on how well the book worked out for this first time sewer. As I flipped through a few other sewing books, I noticed that many included the patterns at the back. This one however didn’t. It gives you a QR code, and a download link, to download and print out the PDFs which you then have to assemble. My A-line skirt one was 15 sheets – so have ink and paper handy in your printer! And be sure to do a test print on the first page, to make sure it’s printing at the right size it should be. After all that prep of printing, measuring my size and cutting the right dotted line, it was almost time to get sewing.
Except now it was time to iron out the fabric first.
Weirdly, I actually quite enjoy ironing, but it’s a bit difficult when I only have a little ironing board to maneuver such large fabric – it keeps getting re-wrinkled! When I was finally ready to start pinning the pattern to cut the fabric, I made a definite rookie mistake: I originally had the fabric right side facing out. Oops! 😳 Had to re-pin everything with the wrong side facing outwards instead.
Once I finally got sewing the pieces together, Haynes’ book is relatively easy to follow. There’s a handy reference section in the beginning that the A-line skirt instructions refer to like what “finishing a seam” means or how to sew a zipper. Working with the interfacing was also interesting. It’s a very thin piece that’s pressed onto the waistband piece to give it a bit more strength and thank goodness I read the instructions that I got with it. Heating it with the iron, you NEED a damp cloth in between because the heat & steam are basically fusing it to the fabric. The zipper part definitely discouraged me for a while. That part of the instructions was a bit confusing – and it got more confusing onward from there. I shelved this project for a couple of days before feeling a renewed sense of motivation to understand what to do. In all honesty, I still don’t know if I did it correctly but it looks good enough! Now I’m just waiting for some warmer weather so I can wear my skirt out!
Overall, I thought Haynes’ book was fairly easy to follow except for some more complicated steps. There were some instructions in particular that I read and reread many times trying to understand what that meant, because it didn’t look right. It’s definitely good for beginners, but I feel you still need to have some basic knowledge of using a sewing machine and reading patterns first. I don’t know how well I would have done if this was the very first thing I had picked up and I hadn’t taken previous classes.