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Okay, it's Saturday, and that summer beach bonfire is not going to happen unless you can find something besides fleece and rubber boots to wear. Sound familiar?
Summer sewing for sunny (and rainy) days 071509 AE 1 Alaska Crafter Okay, it's Saturday, and that summer beach bonfire is not going to happen unless you can find something besides fleece and rubber boots to wear. Sound familiar?

Illustration by Tanna Peters

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Story last updated at 7/15/2009 - 11:33 am

Summer sewing for sunny (and rainy) days

Okay, it's Saturday, and that summer beach bonfire is not going to happen unless you can find something besides fleece and rubber boots to wear. Sound familiar?

Living in Southeast can be a big wardrobe hassle when the sun sneaks up on us. We love the weather, but our closets don't! So, why not do like our mothers taught us, and create or mod our own summer fashions. From classic cut-offs to skirts sewn from scratch, within minutes you too can have beach-ready wear that fits like a glove, and I'll show you how.

A simple skirt sewn from two-way stretch material (like jersey-knit) requires only five lines of sewing, making it a perfect project for all levels. I've enlisted the help of a local seamstress and friend Shyla Germain for tips on sewing clothes and we've created a tutorial for The Best Summer Skirt. Why is this the best summer skirt, you ask? Because it requires no zipper, it is reversible, it can be worn in at least five different ways as both a skirt and a dress, and it is adorable! Who could ask for more! Here you go...

The Best Summer Skirt

Basically two separate skirts will be sewn together one inside the other to make the skirt reversible and hide all the seams. The shape is like this (1). You'll need scissors, a measuring tape, a sewing machine, thread and 1 yard each of two different fabrics. Look for a 2-way stretch material like jersey.

As a professional seamstress, Shyla became an expert in sewing stretch knits, and now makes her own clothes using the same. She suggests making sure it is a 2-way stretch and not a 4-way stretch like Tricot. The 2-way stretch has give so that a skirt can widen, but keep its shape, whereas a 4-way stretch will extend, but not bounce back and you'll end up looking like a sack.

1. Lay out four layers of fabric (two each of the two different colors) to prepare it for cutting. Fabric on a table may work but often there is not enough space and the surface is slippery - so at home, Shyla always uses the floor. One direction of the fabric will have more stretch. Make sure this stretch lies along the waist, and not in the length (2).

2. Measure your waist and subtract 1 inch. Divide that number in half and that will be the width at the top of one of your skirt pieces. The length should be around 30" for the most versatility (3). Cut the four layers of fabric.

3. With right sides together sew up the sides of the two skirt layers. One unique tip from Shyla is that she always uses a double pointed needle. It uses a zigzag pattern, which is perfect for stretch fabrics, reinforcing every seam, and creating a clean, professional look. A single needle zigzag stitch will work here as an alternative (4).

4. Turn one skirt and insert it into the other so you can sew the two together along the waistband on the wrong side. Use a zigzag stitch here as well (5).

5. Turn your skirt out and try it on. Wear it as a skirt with foldover top, a strapless dress, a long skirt, a strapless shirt - the possibilities go on! Add any embellishments or adjustments you like. Check out www.suiteliving.blogspot.com for pics of my version and have fun telling people you "made it yourself!"

Tanna Peters is a crafter and designer from wonderful, rainy Southeast Alaska. View her latest creations at suiteliving.blogspot.com and her shared crafting sitecraftaddicts.blogspot.com. Send local craft inquiries and info to tanna.craft@gmail.com.


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