My First Skirt

I first wanted to learn how to sew in college. I was a freshman on campus, and was still naive enough to have declared theatre as my major. The theatre program at my high school was weak – I learned nothing – I just memorized lines on a paper. I had fun, but I didn’t learn anything about costuming (other than looking at dress styles of different eras), lighting, make up, stage construction – you get the picture.


Bright light!

At this point, my only experience with sewing was watching my mother do crosstitch, an activity I found mind-numbingly boring. I think I dabbled with weaving potholders and loom craft when I was younger, but I don’t really count that.My mother can sew, and has. In the past. I think the last thing she sewed for me was a Gizmo costume.

I remember this being the most bad ass costume ever, so it has set my standards for my own sewing pretty high. Mom actually found this pattern a few years ago and sent it down to me, and I’m secretly hoping that I can make and adapt it so that I can still wear it (cosplay, anyone?) , though I am slightly worried about being mistaken as a Furry.

So. There I was. Eager and determined to learn how to sew and make costumes. I signed up for a costuming class, thinking that I’d be able to learn how to sew. No where in the class description did it say that I had to already know how to sew, so I figured that this would be a good place for me to learn the basics.


I don’t remember all the details, but I do know that they started me out on a serger. I don’t even know what the hell a serger does, except it makes a lot of noise and is very aggressive. Like it wants to pull me with the fabric into the machine and attack me. I think I may have cried.

I think at that point, the instructor realized that I had no idea what I was doing, and put me on a more simple project: the hood for a cape. She told me to sew the lines and then back stitch. So I back stitched the entire hood. I didn’t understand what everyone thought was so funny.

I dropped the class.


That experience did not damper my enthusiasm for sewing, however. While my major did not stay theatre, I still dabble in theatrical ventures. I worked in the Performance Company of the Texas Renaissance

Saloon girls

Festival, and currently work for FrowBiz doing interactive theatre and murder mysteries. So I do have a legitimate need for costumes in my house.

Gregg knew that I always wanted how to sew, so he bought me a sewing as a Christmas present one year. He knew that I didn’t know how to sew, but I guess he thought that I’d be a natural.

That Christmas ended with me in tears over threading the bobbin trying to make an apron.

The sewing machine ended up finding a home in the “craft room”, unused, until my mom came down for a visit last summer. Patterns were on sale, and they were so cool that I forgot all about my previous failures with a sewing machine and decided that I was a seamstress. I bought all sorts of pattern – Skirts! Pants! Dresses! Costumes! I was going to sew all summer long and make myself the most incredible wardrobe this zip code has ever seen.

And then reality hit. Mom managed to drag me through making my first skirt, and that was it. I cried. I pouted. I gave up a few times, but the end result was a skirt. It had a zipper. It was hemmed. And it was about three sizes too big, but I made it. I actually did wear it school one day (my students convinced me to after we created bucket lists), and received all sorts of compliments on it.

(insert picture of finished skirt here)

Vanessa’s Reaction:

Thank God that’s over. I need a drink.

Gregg’s Reaction:

You made something! Great job! Keep it up! Buy the cheapest fabric you can find!

Things I Learned:

Reading patterns is a whole ‘nother language. There is nothing that can make me feel stupider than trying to decipher what I’m supposed to do. I have to learn a whole new vocabulary, and it doesn’t help when my mom uses different words than that pattern is using! But, I made a skirt! Maybe this isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

Things I Think Need to Buy/Do/Learn:

I need to do stuff on my own
I need to learn basic sewing terminology

Resources I Found Helpful:

Just Mom – I think I need a friend or a teacher to talk me through things. YouTube doesn’t help me much. I tried. I’m not a good candidate for online learning.

After Mom left, all of my good intentions went down the drain. I had fabric for another skirt to make, but it stayed hidden, out of sight and protected from cat fur. I even had fabric cut out from the first apron I tried to make, but I didn’t touch it. It just sat there, pinned to the pattern, taunting me.

Until Mom came down to visit this summer. A year later.

She sat and watched me make the apron. I cried less, and the stitches were a little better, and I was really proud.


My first apron

You may notice that it’s the same pattern as my first attempt at beeswax fabric food wraps. I was also pleased that my t-shirt with The Doctor happens to match the apron – totally unintentional.

The apron was much easier than the skirt was, and I remember more than I thought I would, but I still needed Mom’s help.

Vanessa’s Reaction:

This was much easier than the skirt! It looks kinda good, actually! It’s pretty thin. I don’t like the material, but it’s nice enough for an apron around the house.

Gregg’s Reaction:

This summer sewing kick is going to last about as long as my guitar hobby did.

Things I Learned:


Things I Think Need to Buy/Do/Learn:

I still just need practice. Next on my list – easy pajama shorts/pants!

Resources I Found Helpful:



Let’s see if I can manage to sew something once Mom leaves this time.