The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

Screwdrivers, skirts and sadness January 5, 2010

There’s not much sadder in a crafter’s life, than finishing a project you were excited about, trying it on and going “oh…”

By which I mean to indicate that I finished my 6 gored skirt and it’s a bit meh. It’s not bad, it’s not the worst thing I ever made, it’s just not… quite… right.

It’s still a little loose round the waist, despite several hours of surgery. Not an exaggeration. I unpicked each of twelve seams, re-sewed them, tried it on, re-pinned and re-sewed using the  first seams as guidelines, cut the old seams off, tried it on again, re-sewed, re-cut…. you get the idea.

It’s not fitted enough. Because of the way the gores work, the skirt has a fair amount of fullness to it – I think that’s the right word. It’s meant to be loose and swishy. But it’s loose in the wrong places. I want it to skim down over my waist and hips and then flair out to be all swingy at the bottom. It doesn’t.

And the colour, which I loved yesterday, today feels all dingy and drab, like a maiden aunt.

The worst part? It’s all my own fault, because I drafted the pattern. I can’t blame poor instructions or the pattern company conspiring against me with sizing issues or any of that. Because it was my own pattern.


Anyway, that’s the sadness part out of the way.

I also wanted to show you why a screwdriver should be your new best friend.

My machine’s been running a bit funny lately, making lots of disturbing clunking noises. I broke no fewer than five needles on this project and they were all jeans needles. The thread was breaking every five seconds and I couldn’t backstitch or anything.

After cursing and throwing a massive hissy fit, it was time to get down to brass tacks. Or in this case, steel screws.

Screw driver a-twirling

I whipped out my screwdriver – the one that came with my machine – and tried to follow the instructions in the manual for my machine. After ten minutes of trying to unscrew the needle plate following the instructions in the manual, I realised that there was just no way it was coming off, if I followed the instructions and didn’t think for myself.

Lo and behold, depsite the fact that it doesn’t actually mention this in the instruction book, the only way to remove the needle plate on my machine is to take off the lightbulb cover that sits directly above it, because otherewise there isn’t actually room to get a screwdriver in to take out the needle plate screws.

See, no mention of removing a light bulb cover. It all looks so easy in the drawings. GAH.

Once I figured that bit out and got hold of Jake’s amazing magical screwdriver with a million changeable heads, taking off the needle plate was a piece of cake.

Avert your eyes, naked sewing machine!

Really embarrasingly dirty cake.

Turns out there’s a really good reason why my machine was groaning and grumbling at me and it’s because I am a neglectful sewing machine owner. The feed dogs were totally clogged with lint, there was a big piece of thread hooked around something or other inside the move-y uppy downy bits (technical language, I know, hold onto your hats, folks.)  and the bobbin holdy bit (shuttle and thread race, I think) was thoroughly disgusting.

Got an old (clean) children’s paint brush and carefully dusted everything. I didn’t oil anything because I’m never entirely sure where to put the stuff and knowing me I would end up putting it somewhere really stupid! Then reassembled everything carefully. There were no small screws( leftover so Douglas Adams clearly knew nothing about sewing machines, though he was in every other way a wise man.)

That done, the machine sewed beautifully and I could finally finish my hem. Gah.

The moral of this story is get to know your screwdriver and the inner workings of your machine. If you rely on something to do a good job for you, take care of it and make sure it has what it needs to work properly.

And don’t always trust instruction manuals.

Now, here are some pictures of my finished skirt.

Green, corduroy, six gores and a zipper. What's not to love? I just don't know...

Orlaith took this photo. I guess the skirt's not as bad as I think? It looks almost jaunty in this picture.

And this is what happens when you let a three year old have a go at doing a photo shoot.

The last photo is included just to really puncture any sense of self-importance I might consider developing. And now I have crackers and cheese to eat and a three year old who wants to read Fantastic Mr Fox… again.

If you decide to make your own 6 gore skirt or have a sewing machine tale of woe, leave us a comment or drop us a link-y. We love to see pictures of the stuff people make!


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