Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where does the time go?

The plan to update here regularly is not going as smoothly as I had hoped since I seem to have a tremendous time remembering to log in, getting photos uploaded and -- well, sitting in front of a computer is not something I like to do these days.

The procession of shawls continues but I also wanted to take a little time to make some clothing this past week, because I have realized what is flattering for me and I am determined to replace all of the things that make me look ridiculous, with things that look nice. Just because I like a dress on a hanger doesn't mean that I should wear it. At any rate, when I buy patterns, I can at least keep adjusting them until they fit, which is what I've been doing, to make sure they are nice and long, but cool for the summer without being tight. I am mostly making things like this, where you have a strappy bodice and a skirt that kind of swoops out and is roomy. (Below, Simplicity 2175)

I realize though that I don't really sew properly. My late grandmother was something of a seamstress (she excelled in pretty much every art and craft, and was always doing at least one of them) and I learned from her, but it wasn't necessarily the way they teach you in pattern directions. We just cut out the pieces, glance at the directions to see what order they go together in, and get to it.

For instance, here is a list of steps or terms that I have not always followed or understood in printed patterns.

* Pre-wash fabric. Not when I'm sewing for myself. Since I either handwash, or cold wash/cool dry my clothing, I don't worry about things shrinking too much and I've never had a problem with it after making hundreds of outfits. I like fresh-from-the-store fabric and like to just get to work on it right away. Also, I have never had a washing machine on the premises before, so it was very impractical. If I am sewing for someone else I pre-wash it though.

* Nap. After a lifetime of sewing, my attitude toward the word "nap" was to take one, at that point in the directions. I finally looked up what it meant. Ohhhhh, THAT nap. Like pile. Like what velvet and velour do. And apparently it also refers to one-way designs. Okay, now I know what nap is and I can deal with that. For years I just kind of breezed over that term thinking "Oh yeah, sure, I'm...sure my fabric probably doesn't have nap because those layouts require more fabric..."

* Interfacing. Can't stand it. Maybe it's because I generally use fabrics that are fine without it, or that I'm not interested in making things for myself that have cuffs or collars or buttons. I have made things with it and honestly haven't noticed a difference. But most of what I want to wear wouldn't call for it anyway, so I will continue to keep my distance from interfacing.

* Transfer markings and symbols to fabric. Nope. Not since seventh grade Home Ec class have i ever done that. When I tried, it left permanent stains on the fabric, and I can pretty much eyeball those anyway, or put in pins where it is relevant.

* Hems - I fold and press, then fold and press, then stitch. Most pattern directions have these crazy instructions for steaming and hand-stitching and they have never made a bit of sense to me. Especially since I like things where the bottom hem is going to be like 200 inches around., and hand sewing that is a bit daunting.

So those are a few of the things in printed patterns that I don't necessarily follow by the book. The other thing I would like to be able to do, but can't, is to have an overlock stitch to finish seams but I will have to get another machine some day for that. As it is I usually zigzag the edges. If I get back to making things to sell it will be when I have the overlock option most likely.

One more thing I made recently --

Simplicity 2609, above.

This required an extraordinary amount of fabric, but I used some that came in a clearance package of quilting fabric from AC Moore and fleshed it out with (the darker bands) some from my stash, including two yards of Halloween fabric in the second tier from bottom. Gathering the 280 inch ruffle on the bottom and fitting it to the one above (which was only slightly less wide) was very time consuming, but worth it!

All of my sewing shortcuts are not things I would do if I was sewing for someone else, or for sale -- these are just little confessions about what I do when it's just for me. Because I am not picky. I guess I am also curious if anyone else feels the way I do about some of the things you're supposed to do in sewing that don't seem to make a big difference in wearability.


  1. LOL!! I'm thrilled to find someone that sews like me! I would feel guilty sometimes by the corners that I cut, but it didn't change my ways~sewing should be enjoyable, for Pete's Sake~Cute pattern choices.

  2. I'm so glad someone understands! If it all turns out looking right and staying together, then I am happy! I also keep losing zipper feet for the machine, so I always wind up stitching those in by hand.

  3. I've sewn since I was 10 and on an old Singer pedal machine. I take shortcuts when I can--saves a lot of time. If it doesn't affect the outfit, I take shortcuts even when I'm sewing for someone else.

  4. I do always pre-wash, and have regretted it a few times that I didn't. But, I also do not wash with care at all! As far as nap or bias cutting... I don't really know what to do with that. But I rarely sew from patterns, so it doesn't come up too often. I also mark things with pins, not pens, and hem the way you said. The only time I've used interfacing was for messenger & tote bags that were just too floppy otherwise.

    To gather fabric, I would fold the fabrics in half, mark the half points with a pin, then pin that spot together. Pin together the fourths & so on, and as you get smaller you can just eyeball it rather than measuring anything, until you end up with a pin every few inches. Then just smoosh it down as you sew and you will get a nice, evenly distributed gather! (If you don't smoosh it, it is more pleats than a random gather) I found that much easier than other methods for gathering I saw.

  5. I'm glad to hear other peoples' methods!

    I'm glad to hear you use the pin - not - pen method of marking too, Tiffany, I am familiar with your work of course and I know how beautiful it turns out!

    Gathers are such a nightmare for me, I will try your technique!

  6. I always pre-wash, because I hate the stinky chemicals they put on fabric, and how stiff it feels until I wash it, but other than that, I totally use all of the same shortcuts with my sewing! I don't have an overlock machine, either, so I use Poor Woman's Serger: Pinking Shears. I love me some pinking shears.

    Your dress and skirt are perfect!! They look great. I'd love to be able to make myself some clothes, I have a Freak Body so nothing ever fits me right.