I finally had time this weekend to complete my first sewing project! I decided to make something simple (although simple is relative) and functional – and I ended up with a pretty cool belly band that is comfy, made of really nice material, and way cheaper than any store bought version that you can buy! First, I brought out my basic sewing stuff, my bent 9 1/2 inch dressmaking shears and new pinking shears:
And my self-healing mat, ruler, and rotary cutter:
To make the belly band, I picked this great tutorial to follow and started out by cutting out my spandex (purchased at Expressions Glorietta). I decided to make my belly band that is 35 inches wide and 8 inches across (adjust this according to your preference) since I don’t really like full panel maternity wear. You can adjust according to your size and fabric but I think 35 inches is safe especially if the fabric you have stretches a lot. Given these measurements, I cut out a 36 x 17 inch piece of fabric, allowing for a 1/2 inch seam allowance on each side. Tip for extreme beginners like me: make the seam allowance a little wider since you might be making some mistakes along the way both when you cut and sew the fabric!
It was more difficult than I expected to cut this out since I’m not used to working with fabric, much less a stretchy one that curls around a lot and is impossible to mark with the white dressmaker chalk pencil that I tried to use. The rotary cutter was a godsend for this one.
Once I had the fabric cut out, I folded it in half lengthwise and pressed it to make it a bit easier to work with. Then, I basted the fabric together by hand using white thread as a guide for me when I got to sewing the seams. I did this since I couldn’t mark the surface with dressmaker’s chalk and I knew it would be pretty difficult to sew a 35-inch long straight line.
Then, I finally started getting ready to actually sew! I set up my Brother CE8080 (I think it’s exactly the same as the CE8080 Project Runway version only without the PRW label since I got it in Canada instead of the US) on a desk and plugged it in. The manual was pretty straightforward, so I just followed all the threading instructions and pretty soon I was ready to begin sewing. I started by sewing test stitches on some scrap fabric first, then I went back to sewing the first seam on my belly band. :-) The tutorial specifies using a zigzag stitch so I started with that, but it was difficult since the fabric started to bunch up a bit. So I took out the first stitches with my seam ripper and went with a stretch stitch which worked out better for me. :-) I went pretty slow, since sewing in a straight line is harder than it sounds!!! But pretty soon, I had a long tube like this:
I turned it right side out, matched up the inner seams, and started stitching it closed. I did this slowly since the fabric was twisted around because of the tube shape.
When I was getting close to the other end, I hand stitched it closed.
And voila! My finished first sewing project, my very own belly band! :-)
Given this experience, here are 5 things to consider when working on your first sewing project:
- It’s probably best to work with cotton or some non-stretchy fabric for a first project (the spandex worked out for me but not without some struggling)
- Test whatever stitches you intend to use on scrap fabric similar to your project so you can see how the fabric reacts. This could have saved me the time I spent ripping out my zigzag stitches
- Slightly increase your seam allowance unless you’re confident that you can follow the guide exactly
- Related to number 3, basting is a quick, easy way to get a guide for straight seams for beginners – and you can be sure your fabric won’t move around
- Just do it! No matter how much you read, and I read a lot, it’s totally different – and fun and fulfilling – once you start actually doing it!