I’m Making a Skirt! Phase 2: Gadget Testing
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I don’t usually like to buy things. I’m a big fan of repairing and making do, which is why my three-year-old wears sandals that are glued together and I still cook in Grandma FP’s spare slow cooker. But I may have gotten a little carried away buying tools for the project I’m working on, making a skirt (using The Essential A-line: Make 17 Flirty Skirts from 1 Basic Pattern, which I checked out from the library). I have been to Joann Fabric and Crafts approximately 97 times and have gotten extremely adapt at downloading their coupons to my phone.
So here’s what I’ve been buying, its cost, and why. (Prices are approximate, as they reflect percent discount coupons and tax.) If you just want to see how much money I spent, skip to the end. Hint: Buying a whole, brand-new skirt would definitely have been cheaper. But way less fun.
1. Blind hem foot ($9.23, Amazon)
This is a nifty little gadget that can obviously be used for blind hems–which I don’t need, because I don’t wear things that fancy–but also for edge stitching, a trick when you stitch as close as possible to a fold (as in making a pleat). It has a fabric guide that keeps you from wandering off to the right, making it easier to stay straight and close to the edge. (As far as wandering to the left, you’re still on your own.)
Necessity Level: 3 of 5. I could probably have practiced and gotten a pretty straight line eventually, but not as straight as with the blind hem foot.
2. Rotary cutter and small mat ($15.26, Joann)
Even more unusually for me than shopping at all, this was actually an impulse purchase. I wasn’t going to buy one; Grandma FP made beautiful garments using only shears. But… well… I had a 50% off coupon, and I knew I would need one in the future if I wanted to make a bias hem, and I thought it would be fun and handy. So I bought this Fiskers kit with their basic 45 mm cutter and a 6 by 18 inch mat. It’s worth noting that while Walmart has better regular prices on both cutters and mats, they can’t match a 50% off item coupon at Joann.
I’ve been practicing cutting with it; there’s a bit of a learning curve to cutting corners cleanly and to following curves (see freezer paper, below).
Necessity Level: 1 of 5. May save time in the long run, but not needed for this project.
3. Freezer paper for patterns ($6.50, Walmart)
This is awesome! Joann apparently does not carry pattern paper; they (and Walmart) carry Pellon-brand interfacing that is designed for making patterns, at a cost of around $1.50-$3 per yard (depending on sale conditions). It looks handy, since it won’t slide around as much as regular paper, but I thought it was too pricey.
Extensive further research revealed that you can use freezer paper, like what you might find wrapped around an ancient roast at the bottom of Grandma’s chest freezer. Not only is this thin enough to trace through–no tracing wheel needed–but if you iron it, shiny side down, onto your fabric, it sticks in place gently and peels off easily. You can stick the whole pattern on before you even cut it out. I tested it with some leftover muslin, drawing a shape and then cutting it out for extra rotary cutter practice. I hear you can stick it several times before it loses stickiness (and then you could just pin it or weight it down if you didn’t want to make a new pattern).
Necessity Level: 4 of 5. I could have used wrapping paper, but that wasn’t very satisfactory and then I just would have had to buy more wrapping paper eventually anyway.
A handy little gadget for measuring hems more quickly and accurately than with measuring tape.
Necessity Level: 1 of 5. Will save a few minutes, but it’s really just for fun.
5. Thread snips ($6, Joann; couldn’t find this kind online)
Cut thread closer than scissors and should also be good for cutting those tiny little triangles that help you match up pieces.
Necessity Level: 3 of 5 (for this project). There is very prominent top stitching and I don’t think I could have gotten close enough for my satisfaction with my shears.
6. Water-soluble marking pen ($3.75, Joann; again, couldn’t find online)
Grandma FP always used chalk, but I wanted something a little tidier and more precise for marking where my pleats should be and whatnot. The gadget I got has one end that’s a wipe-clean marker and another side with disappearing ink.
Necessity Level: 2 of 5. May make for slightly more accurate pleats.
Haven’t tested this yet, but supposedly it’s necessary for putting in a zipper that is invisible from the outside.
Necessity Level: 4 of 5. I could probably have found some other way to make it work.
Notice that technically, I could have completed this project without buying any of the things on this list, even though the book I’m using listed them all as required tools. The only things that I didn’t already own and without which I would not have been able to complete the directions were dressmaker’s tracing paper and the tracing wheel, for marking darts on the fabric.
Total cost of the items above: $48.84
Plus the tracing paper and pincushion: $56.70
That’s almost $60 on durable supplies alone! That’s not even counting the fabric! Again, though, please note that I could have done this much more cheaply. Instead, I chose to look at it as taking up a hobby. I’m having a ball fiddling around. In my next post, which might be after I get back from vacation in a few weeks, I’ll break down what it will cost per garment if I make several.
Also, hopefully I will eventually have, you know, a finished skirt to show you.
Do you have any making-things hobbies that don’t actually save money? What’s your reasoning?
About frugalparagonI'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.
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