Don’t Choose a Button-Down Shirt for Your First Sewing Project

Well this wasn’t technically my first sewing project.  I’ve made many a pillow and curtain and even a few apparel items.  Just first in a long while (the fake pregnant belly I crafted for Halloween from an old pillow and a pair of tights doesn’t really count).

Simplicity's "Simply the Best" Sewing Book

I had been wanting to get back into some real sewing, especially since I was moving back in with my parents for a little while and my mom is quite skilled (more than she would admit).  I knew I would need some help.  So I asked for a sewing book for Christmas, and I got this lovely one from Simplicity. It’s great – it decodes some of the terms and techniques that patterns don’t always explain.  Because patterns can be uber-complicated sometimes.  I have a freakin’ masters degree and I had to read the instructions probably 40 times.

So I skipped off to Jo-Ann’s like Martha Stewart and picked up McCall’s M6512, three yards of blue rayon, interfacing, thread, and 10 matching buttons.  Yes, that should have been my first hint.  By the way, I had never sewn a buttonhole before.  Ever.  And here I am with a pattern that needs TEN buttons.

Me modeling my new blouse

Anyway, I did learn how to make buttonholes with my machine’s super-fancy buttonhole foot and I did eventually finish this blouse.  It took me a couple of weeks because I could really only work on it for about 2 hours before getting frustrated.  My seam ripper and I got pretty close throughout the experience.  And I think it turned out fairly nice.  If I use the pattern again I think I will take in the sides a bit and lengthen it as well.

Some things I learned:

1. Fabric with no wrong side seems like a great idea, but it actually creates more of a challenge unless you are really organized and keep your pattern pieces pinned to the fabric pieces.

2. Rayon is heavy and slippery.  A terrible combination when you have a small cutting table.

3. French seams are easy to do but make you feel like Coco Chanel.  Or at least her seamstress.

4. Making the cuffs was also really rewarding.  They were fairly simple but ended up looking great.

5. iPods and sewing machines were made for each other.

6. Blouses are challenging.  Choose a simple, instant gratification project for your triumphant return to sewing (or first project).

All in all, I was happy with the project.  It was tough, but it is really gratifying to wear something that you created.  Next sewing project on the horizon – a reversible pencil skirt!


2 thoughts on “Don’t Choose a Button-Down Shirt for Your First Sewing Project

  1. You are so hilarious I love the way you look at the world it makes me smile.
    Yes sewing projects are always full of promise at Joann’s aren’t they? lol
    I agree with the easier projects, that’s why I like stuffed animals :)
    YAY I can’t wait to see what else you do

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