* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Monday, June 23, 2014

CCC - The T-shirt

As was programmed during the first class in May of the Calvary Chapel Couturières, the Triple C’s spent the first day of summer learning how to make their first wearable item, the T-shirt I’d worn as publicity to that first class.  Unfortunately, half of the original class ended up with conflicting obligations, and half of those who did come could only stay half the day.  But knowledge has been imparted, progress is being made, and the whole adventure of a sewing club is achieving some positive results.

Janka checking out T-shirt fabric
As the students are the stars of this story, I’m presenting their experience primarily as a pictorial so you can enjoy their excited learning trip, too.  As they mostly weren’t even familiar with the concept of buying fabric, I planned a shopping trip with them to my favorite little old-fashioned style hole-in-the-wall fabric store, which has the largest selection of fabric I know of in the whole area.  Janka, a student intern from Slovakia, was duly impressed with all the choices. 

The missing Lindsey is playing photographer.
The first class involved learning how to operate a sewing machine and an introduction to sewing two pieces of fabric together and creating a useful item.  The first lesson in this second class was learning how to take their measurements so they could figure out what size patterns they would need in order to fit their own bodies.

First, I showed them how take the most important ones, as more involved ones weren’t necessary for a basic T-shirt. 

Where to measure
How to read a tape measure

After they took their own, I retook them to verify how accurate they were.  Lindsey apparently was expecting to fit it to her head.

Double-checking Sandra
The missing Lindsey
How long is Fatima's back?

Preparing the pattern pieces for tracing
Once they determined their size, they next learned how to trace out the correct pattern pieces I had provided, including several alterations.  Fatima and Sandra are both really interested in learning how to sew for both themselves and their young sons.

Laying out the tracing paper on pattern
Copying the pattern

Only Lindsey and Janka were able to stay and actually work with their fabric and begin sewing.  Both of them had chosen slightly challenging fabrics, so they also had to learn how to properly lay out their patterns for specific design issues. 

Marking for matching stripes
Cutting out the T-shirt!
Janka had chosen a stripe, so she learned right from the start the importance of lining up the pattern pieces correctly to achieve a professional result. 

Lining up border print to front and back
A happy camper
Lindsey had picked a border print, something I actually have never (or rarely in the very distant past) done myself.  That required first determining where she wanted the border  placed, then learning how to place the pattern to achieve that effect and make the back blend with the front.  She was quite pleased with herself to make her piece of fabric turn into a pretty garment shape.

Making bobbin on borrowed machine
While Janka finished up cutting out her tee, Lindsey got her sewing machine set up and threaded.  As she’s ended up becoming the sewing machine expert with the various machines borrowed for the class, she then helped Janka get her machine set up.

Threading the machine and finishing cutting

Someone is being watched
Let the sewing commence!
Then, they both watched as I started sewing my own sample to see what they were supposed to do themselves.  Then, they went to their own machines and started creating their own garments.  I was so occupied showing each of them what to do that I only got a picture of Lindsey getting started.

It was a long day, and we ran out of time, so neither managed to get their shirts finished, a rather disappointing ending to the day.

Finishing construction

While Lindsey has her own machine and got far enough to see how to finish on her own, Janka only has access to a machine in class.  She was far enough along that we both stayed after church (where the machine was) during the afternoon so she could finish.  Lindsey will have to document her progress for me so we can add a postscript to this episode.

And voilà, the first finished garment!  Janka imagined all kinds of things going wrong and didn’t really expect to end up with a wearable tee, so I think she was really excited in her very understated manner.  Nobody even needs to give her any modeling advice! 

Modeling a totally wearable first attempt at sewing a new wardrobe, matched seams included

Teacher and student

She also felt very proud to take a picture with her teacher, who of course was appropriately wearing her own personally crafted garments, to send back home to show her mother.

So, in two classes, we’ve made little drawstring bags for our sewing materials, learned how to prepare and cut out a pattern, buy the fabric for it, and then end up with a finished piece of clothing, having never touched a sewing machine prior to the first class.  I think my mission to share the feasibility of sewing has been successfully reached!


  1. I WILL finish mine Barb, and it will be my favorite shirt of all time... I can just feel it. I just have to get my silly sewing machine to obey me. HAHA.

  2. What a great experience for these young ladies. And so nice of you to be their teacher.

  3. That finished tshirt looked great! Kudos to you, Barbara!

  4. A very professional t-shirt for Janka, she has learned so much working on this t-shirt with you. How lovely you can spend the time with the girls.


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