endlessly creating

teaching, books, projects, & other things i love

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DIY Skirts

I am painfully bad at sewing. Most of the time I get lazy and impatient, so I’m not very careful about making sure everything is cut and pinned and sewed correctly… which does not usually result in a presentable product! I also have little knowledge about various sewing accessories so I end up improvising with the basics that I happen to already own. Is it surprising that my projects don’t usually turn out?

Last summer I tried making a skirt based on one of the many, many tutorials I’ve come across on Pinterest, and the results were not pretty. Right after tearing it apart and making it again SIX TIMES, I found this post on Pinstrosity that sums up the problem quite well – the skirt ballooned out and made me look pregnant, not exactly the look I was going for. I modified it several times and ended up with a passable skirt that I only wore once because it still just didn’t fit right or look great, so I pretty much gave up on making my own skirts… until now!

A few weeks ago I wore a skirt I actually made in high school (with my grandma’s help… the zipper was too intimidating) and realized that if I’d been successful with that pattern once, I could do it again. And I did! Twice!


The first one pictured above is the original. I think the pattern I’d bought had modifications to make a shorter skirt (just the patterned part) or to add on that wide band at the bottom. I had a bunch of fabric I’d purchased for another Pinterest tutorial before I realized I’d probably just ruin it, so I decided to make a similar-length skirt minus the band – but I still wanted it to be past knee-length so I could wear it to work.

This skirt requires a little more work than the other one I posted, but hopefully I can explain it in a somewhat helpful way for anyone who wants to give it a try…

Materials: about 2 yards of fabric (depending on print – see step 2); 7″ zipper; hem tape or similar to line waistband

Quick Instructions: Make the template and cut six wedges, sew together, add a zipper and lining, finish the waistband and hem.

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“That’s Not Too Bad”

Last week I came across some information about Equal Pay Day from equalrights.org. Their goal was to raise awareness of the pay gap between men and women in various professions by commemorating the day in 2013 that women would have to work to in order to earn the same amount that men earned in 2012. I looked up the gap for my profession and found that it’s higher than the national average (77 cents per dollar).


My reaction? “Oh! That’s not too bad.”

I didn’t even realize that was a weird thing to say until hours later. Really? Not too bad?

Now, my school uses a specific payscale, so to my knowledge I’m not earning any less than equally qualified males at my school… but who knows, maybe there’s some “congrats on your penis” stipend that I don’t know about. The point is, not everyone is on my payscale. On average, I (as a female representative of my profession) am not getting my 9 cents. No, that’s not “too” bad – it could be 23 cents or 50 cents or, hell, the whole dollar – but I shouldn’t be okay with a wage gap at all! Inequality to a lesser extent is still inequality. It still exists. And it’s bad – no qualifier necessary.

I experienced a similar reaction yesterday when I first heard about the Boston Marathon bombing. I saw reports saying “2 dead, many injured” and thought the same thing. “Oh… that’s not too bad.” Of course, then I watched the video and looked at the pictures. I cried and felt sick to my stomach. I realized “injured” in this case can mean “limbs blown off.” I spent all night waking up from horrible, stressful nightmares about terrorist attacks and explosions.

That initial reaction – “that’s not too bad” – doesn’t mean I don’t care. What it does mean, I think, is that horror has become too normal, too unsurprising, too common in our everyday lives. I wait for more information before I feel an emotional reaction, because it’s just so exhausting to care about this stuff over and over. I hope that somehow it was a tragic accident so I can be just sad instead of sad and furious and hopeless. It reminds me of the type of articles The Onion published after the Sandy Hook shooting, which they are continuing in a similar vein now. Definitely a case of being funny (in a morbid, gut-wrenching, I-just-can’t-handle-feeling-like-this-again way) because it’s true. “Not too bad” is still far, far worse than it should be. 2 or 3 dead (instead of dozens or hundreds) is still 3 too many.

I recently came across this clip where Ever Mainard comments “Every woman in their entire life has that one moment where you think, oh, here’s my rape!” and again, I’m reminded that rape culture is a thing and whether it’s sexism or violence, we tolerate a lot of shit we have no business tolerating.

I don’t really have anything particularly constructive to say, I guess. Just a collection of thoughts. Sometimes it’s painful to care so much.

Updated to add: After I published this, with the wishy-washy ending, I realized that the reason I wrote it was that I wanted to call myself out. I’m glad I caught myself thinking something I know I shouldn’t, because it gave me an opportunity to think through WHY I was thinking it and why it bothered me. It’s the kind of thought process I want to encourage in my students, and anyone else I happen to encounter, so it’s important to notice it when it happens to me.

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Lace/Knit Skirt

I’ve been having a lot of fun (and a surprising amount of success!) with sewing lately and wanted to share. I’ll be posting the first two skirts I made soon, but for now, here’s one I came up with so I could finally use some incredibly cheap, incredibly ugly fabric I bought a few months ago.

Why did I buy ugly fabric? Well, awhile back Joann Fabric had an amazing online sale on knit fabrics (something like $1 or $2 a yard) and I kept seeing tutorials saying that knits are nice because you don’t have to hem the raw edges, and I’m terrible at hemming. I don’t remember exactly what I was planning to make, but I think I wanted to use neutral colors, so I bought a couple yards of grey and a couple of a sort of nude/beige color. Not sure what I was thinking, because I really dislike all the “nude” colored dresses and things I keep seeing and I don’t understand why anyone would wear a boring color when they could wear a bold one. However, the picture online looked like a warm, pinkish color, and I thought maybe it would be okay. Well, it was not. It was the dullest, most boring beige of all time, and it has stayed in the box it came in ever since I got it.

As I was working on my other skirts, though, I thought of all the cute lace clothing that’s become popular lately, and decided that maybe if there was lace over the ugly, it would look prettier!



This skirt was SUPER easy even though I pretty much made things up as I went. I’d originally visualized something with a fold-over wasitband like yoga pants, but – duh – I wasn’t using a stretchy knit so that couldn’t happen. Here’s how I did it:

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