I love Storey Publishing. I really do. Their catalog is like a candy store to me.
So I was so very very excited when they sent me a copy of One-Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker to review for you. It’s filled with 101 projects you can make with, you guessed it, one yard of fabric.
I was even more excited (hard to believe, I know) when I got the book and was able to see all the pretty pictures and interesting projects. Sure some were slightly cheesy. But it was a fun look-through, and the book is filled with lots of things I would like to make. I think for someone who is an experienced seamster, some of the projects in this book would probably seem elementary (a tea cosy? A draw-string wine bag?) But for someone who is really a beginner, elementary is a very good thing.
I had this thrift-store vintage stretchy knit fabric that I’d been holding on to. It’s super soft and has a great print. So when I saw the Perfect-Fit Sleep Shorts I knew that was the project I wanted to try out of this book for my review.
I had visions of wearing my new vintage-y shorts in my dorm at residency in April and impressing my stranger/roommate with my skills. (Yes, I really did. Yes, I really am a complete nerd.)
This is a patternless project, which is great. The book does come with an envelope of patterns, but the clothes patterns don’t fit me as they only go up to a size 18 which is something like a modern 14 I think. The shorts required some pattern drafting. I used tissue wrapping paper and a pencil. Algebra was involved.
Here’s were I ran into my first problem.
I had to take three measurements. Hip: No problem. Waist to bottom of shorts: No problem. Total rise? Erm. I did my best, using “from front to back” as my only guide. Then you had to subtract the waist to bottom measurement from half of the total rise measurement for the length of the legs.
I ended up with a negative number.
I spent a frustrating 1/2 an hour trying to figure this thing out. I don’t even remember exactly what I did, except that it involved taking just a half rise (the front half, so now in retrospect I realize that I didn’t account for my bottom.) I finally ended up with a three inch difference. Short shorts. I was so flustered by this point that I just went with it. These were sleep shorts after all, short was ok.
So I made the pattern, which actually was fun and interesting work. Then I laid it out on the fabric.
Which leads to my second problem.
I was using a fabric that was both directional AND reversible. This obviously isn’t the fault of the book. But somehow I ended up with the front and half the back being perfect. And one butt cheek being the backside of the fabric. Um. I have no clue at all how I did this, since I followed directions and folded the fabric in half fronts facing to cut. I didn’t have any more fabric, and I was going to finish these shorts, damn it, no matter what. So I just went with it. Sleep shorts, right?
Now, in reality, these shorts are three seams and three hems. My inexperience made it harder than it needed to be. Maybe if I tried these again, it would be easier and less frustrating.
The only problem is, the problem with the measuring caused me to end up with something more like a pair of boy short panties than wear-alone shorts. When I first finished the shorts, they were gigantic. like a full foot wider than I am around the waist. The pattern calls for an elastic waist, but these would have been so baggy and not flattering with that much gathering. Also the legs were at least six inches wider, measured across, than my leg. If you see the picture, the shorts are meant to be fitted. I had stretchy fabric so fitted was what I was going for.
Stretch fabric = I didn’t need elastic. So I took the shorts in to be much more fitted. I was actually very excited at this point because my shorts looked like shorts. I’d had a problem with the inside seam, because the front crotch area is 1.5″ while the back is 3″ and the book, I guess, just assumed I’d know how to handle that. I didn’t. After a lot of seam picking and resewing I managed a seam that wasn’t bubbly. Having something after all that, that actually looked like shorts was very cool.
So I ended up with a pair of very short, fitted, one-mismatched-cheek shorts.
In other words? I made myself a pair of underwear. Because when I tried them, whatever I did to have a positive leg length ended with shorts that are very definitely hip huggers.
But they fit me like a glove. (I did a good job with the taking in.) And are super soft. And who cares if one cheek is backward, right?
And look! They really look like shorts. This is my first attempt at anything pants like, so all in all I’m not unhappy.
Back to the book. I would have been very happy if the author had told me how to measure total rise. And how to deal with the bubbly crotch seam thing. A book filled with easy, small projects markets itself to beginners. With only a few pages in front that talk about technique, this is not a beginners book. I’m assuming that having so many projects packed in meant there wasn’t room for tons of instructional material. I should have been more patient and pulled out one of my other sewing books.
So I’m going to put the short’s short-comings on seamstress inexperience. And then say that this is a fun book packed with lots of inspirational ideas, but that if you have no sewing experience you’re going to want to have a book that’s heavier on the instructions near by.
I will definitely be trying some other patterns from this book. There are some cute-as-a-button little girl twirly skirts, simple-looking aprons, and a lunch bag that are calling to me.