I “DIM”

I “Did It Myself”.

Ever since I got my sewing machine, I’ve been pretty obsessed with it. I have become quite the hoarder already–books, machine accessories, patterns, fabric. I started out doing some starter projects to familiarize myself with my new hobby, such as this reversible tote:

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Then, I decided to move on to skirts. However, I did not start with the super easy elastic band A-line skirt that all new sewists are supposed to start out with. I was feeling crazy ambitious and began with a pencil skirt–complete with interfaced waistband, darts, vent, invisible zipper and all. I actually had to convince myself *not* to do a lining this time around. Don’t ask me what I was thinking. If there was a sure way to discourage myself so early on in my “career” as a sewist if the end result was horrific, this was it.

It was a little challenging for a total noobie who had never used and cut a pattern or put together a garment before. It took me about four weekends to finish it mostly because I was feeling extremely overwhelmed at times. But I learned that the key is to really take your time. The western culture, particularly Americans (no offense intended), constantly demand instant gratification: I want everything NOW and not later. Sewing is definitely not one of those hobbies that will give you that. It’s very much a process that requires care at all steps of construction. If you want a really professional looking garment, you really need the patience which I sometimes do not have. I will say this, however: There is something oddly therapeutic about sewing. Who knew?

A few of you saw it on Twitter already, but here is my very first skirt:

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And it fits too! LOL. Well actually it’s a smidge tight as you can see by the bit of pulling across the front, and a bit too high-waisted. I didn’t use ideal material, I just used the best I had that would work for this particular project. The cotton is very thin and therefore it definitely needs lining, but that’s OK, I don’t intend to wear this out in public anyway. My biggest pet peeve about homemade clothes is that they tend to actually *look* homemade. I think this falls into that category.

Vent and invisible zipper up close:

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Not bad for a noob, huh? I made a few of errors, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out considering it was my very first garment. I’m ready to try something else!…But probably something a little easier. =/

Have you ever tried to sew a garment yourself? How did it turn out?

P.S. Happy 2012! I was thinking of posting a slightly more elaborate first post of 2012, but I guess it’s going to be my second post of 2012 instead. 😛

The Problem with Belts

I love belts. No, they are not just for holding up pants. They can easily complete an outfit, and really polish it off.  Exposed empty belt loops on work trousers can drive me crazy! But, if you are petite, you know as well as I do that great belts that fit aren’t always so easy to find.

I don’t consider myself to have a particularly small waist in proportion to the rest of my body. I am ruler shaped, so there is no real definition between my hips and my waist, so finding belts may not be as difficult for me as those of you with even smaller waists that I do. But another issue? I’m short-waisted. I do love the look of a belt wrapped around the waist to break up the lines and to add a little extra interest to an outfit (I do love leather obi belts), but a thick belt around my waist? My entire torso disappears and my little boy-shaped body is further emphasized. =( So rarely will you find me wearing a cinched belt.

The possible exception? A skinny belt. A skinny belt will allow some of my torso to show to help maintain proper proportions. (There is a point to this rambling paragraph) But have you ever been in a store and tried wrapping a belt around your waist to see if it will fit and the belt is just too ridiculously large? There is a solution! And a pretty simple one at that.

      
If you’ve never seen one of these before, it’s a Leather Hole Puncher. Easily found in a place like a hardware store or even on Amazon.com. Prices start from as little as $10.  They are extremely easy to use. Just place the puncher where you want it on the belt squeeze the handles together..and voila!

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The smaller the hole you want to make, the more force you are going to need when squeezing. A tiny hole in the belt is virtually impossible for me to make! However, if you want to make the hole the same size as the others, then a medium sized hole punch will do, and it’s easy to make even if you have no arm muscles! Personally, I like to place my hole so that it is equally spaced with the others, so it is not so obvious that I’ve punched a hole in the belt myself. If you don’t want to spend money on a leather hole puncher, a cobbler or a leather repair person will easily do this for you for about $1 (if he charges much more, go somewhere else!). This doesn’t work too well with some synthetic belts, or fabric belts for obvious reasons. But for a leather belt, or a synthetic leather belt, this puncher works wonderfully.

Buyers beware. Don’t go and try to buy a belt that is four sizes too big. The belt should still come reasonably close to fitting (no more than punching in two new holes), or you will have excess belt sticking out from the side. See here:

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You can actually tuck the end in in some stylish manner, or  this can also be fixed by a cobbler or leather repair person. He or she will just trim the belt at the end and then if necessary trim and seal it so that it looks finished and will not come undone. I actually haven’t tried having a belt cut and resealed, so I have no clue what it might cost, but I expect that it’s relatively inexpensive.