Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Introducing... "What Was Your First?"

Today I am very excited to be announcing a new little series that I'm planning to start here on my blog, called "What was your first?". Have you seen the various interview type blog series around? Like "My Handmade Style" and "A day in the life". Well a little while back I had an idea for one myself so thought I'd give it a go.

What was your first?

In "what was your first?" I will invite other #sewcialists to tell us about the first 'real' item/garment that they made, how it turned out, and anything in particular they wish they could have told their 'past self' that would have made the item more of a success.

When I say "first 'real' item/garments", I'm going to leave that up to the interviewee to decide what I mean. For example, I did a bit of patchwork/quilting as a kid with my gran, and then during uni made a whole host of fancy dress costumes. But I would class my first 'real' garment as the first item of clothing that I made that was intended to wear normally, ie not fancy dress. (Although I do have some pretty awesome fancy dress costumes that I've made that I really should share with you one day)

To give you an idea of what I have planned, I thought I'd answer my 'interview questions' myself, about the first 'real' garment that I made...

First, introductions:
Well, hopefully you know who I am, but just incase you don't (I won't judge!); I'm Rachel, and I've been sewing seriously since about 2006. As I mentioned above, my gran taught me to sew; she does a lot of patchwork and quilting and was very happy to teach me how to as well when I expressed an interest as a child. I then 'nurtured' my basic sewing skills at university by making fancy dress costumes, but it was when I graduated from uni that I had a go at making 'real' clothes.

What was the first "real" garment you sewed?
The first item of 'regular' clothing that I made was a simple gored skirt. I decided to try making one because there were loads around in the shops at the time, and looking at it I couldn't get out of my head "They look like they wouldn't be too hard to make". So, after some examinations of the skirts in the shops, I went to the Bull Ring Rag Market in Birmingham and bought myself some fabric and had a go!


True to how I still tend to do things. I jumped in with both feet, and 'drafted' my own pattern and just had a go, making it up as I went along. I still have the skirt, and have worn it a fair few times. Less so recently, but that's more due to my being slightly too big for it than anything that is wrong with the skirt.

If you were making it now, What would you do differently?
Well, I like to think that this skirt was quite a success and I've actually made many more of essentially this skirt since I made it, I think I've made 5 of them in various iterations so far... and fully intend on making some more in the future, hopefully some more in wintery fabrics that can be worn with tights, as they're mostly summery skirts. But with regards to this particular one, I don't think I'd change anything major about it, I still really like the style and the fabric.

If you could go back in time and tell past-you one tip to improve your early garments, what would it be?
I'm going to cheat here and go with two things...

The first is finish your seam allowances!! It didn't even occur to me at the time that I should finish my seam allowances, so there they are, in all their unfinished glory! When I wear the skirt I have to check for any frayed threads and snip them off before I put it on!


The second thing is to think carefully about trims and their properties. In this case, the trim needed to be made into a curve, and the ribbon I chose wasn't having any of it! As the top of the skirt is not cylindrical but tapering out towards my hips, the ribbon that I added as trim was a bit of a problem, as it wanted to make a nice little tube. As you can see in the above photo, as I had stitched on the top of the ribbon first, I had to make some little tucks in the skirt below the ribbon to make it work. As well as looking a bit messy, this also made the skirt that bit smaller than it was intended to be.

I hope you're at least a little bit as excited as me about this upcoming series, I'm looking forward to hearing from my interviewees. Keep a look out for the first proper "what was your first?" post coming up soon!


  1. This is such a fabulous idea! I still have my first dress. It's amazing how much my sewing has changed since then.

  2. Great idea! However it will be difficult for me to present my first real farment I have made - firstly - it was long, long ago - secondly I do not have it anymore, I have no photos. I will check if I still have anything from that period. It would be fun to see some old creatiosn :-)

  3. Radness! Love this idea, Rach :) And epic work for your first make- it's super cool!

  4. What a wonderful idea! I can't wait to see more! :D x

  5. This sounds like fun ~ can't wait to see what everyone's "first" was!

  6. What a great post.. I don't have my first garment, but wish I did.. It was about 40 yrs ago. I had sewn a garment in home ec. But, never sewed at home. I loved sewing, and hubby bought me a sewing machine the first year we were married.. I went to the fabric store bought a simple a-line dress pattern with big oval pockets..[this was the seventies]. I chose cotton fabric and purchased enough for 2 dresses, I bought one purple and one pink fabric, and don't ask me why? I decided to put pink pockets on the purple and vice versa.. Let me tell you, those were the ugliest dresses you ever saw.. [ I never wore them, they went to the trash. hahaha]. Believe me girls, they were NOT wearable.
    Well, I had a pretty baby girl the following year, and I learned to sew , by making little dresses for her. and I gave up on "sewing for me", until recently.. So, I am having to learn a lot about fitting patterns ,etc. [much different sewing for an adult,ha]


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