19 Jul 2010

Sewing: The Lessons, The Frustrations & The Joy

There's a distinct possibility I've bitten off more than I can chew here, but as that's nothing new I'm not going to cry over it.

I'm finding sewing my own clothes incredibly frustrating. I can put together a garment quite easily ... unless it involves pleats apparently. I can insert a zip, sew a button hole (or rather my machine can), insert sleeves and sew collars that are even. I can construct a reasonably well put together garment, not perfect as I can't get my machine to finish edges without eating the material but all in all they're put together pretty well for someone that's been sewing on and off for about two months in all over the years.

But I can't make things fit me and it's driving me insane.

I'm too nervous to finish/ recut any of my current projects in case I can't get them to fit and then find it's a total waste of material. My shorts ... well, let's start with them shall we? Take a look:

About as unflattering as they could be. I ripped the waistband off last week and took the front and back middle seams in about an inch in total which helped some and reduced the sag at the back where my back curved in and the garment didn't (sway back?).

Unfortunately, the side seams (and the zip) are shaped for curves I just don't have and need to be taken in. I'm vacillating between ripping out the zip and taking in or just recutting the damn pattern in a smaller size. I cut size 16 to match my waist but even with the reductions I've made they're still way too big at the waist.

The full extent of my waist curve and the excess fabric and resultant gap at the waist. How can this be?? I've already got 6 darts along the waistline as it is (2 back, 1 front on both sides), I don't have room for more and it would spoil the line of the garment, right?

And what if I recut and it still doesn't fit? How the hell am I supposed to know if a pattern will fit me if I can't trust the measurements the envelope tells me? Why does this have to be harder than it already is? I look at Angie's (with the awesome scalloped edges) and they're fab. Why don't mine look like that? (yes, I'm wailing, I think I'm allowed, right?)

Simplicity 1683 on the other hand is going okay. Well ... I'm terrified of the amount of pleats required to make this dress. I have approximately 3 metres of fabric to pleat for the skirt and then there are pleats in the sleeves too. That's a whooooole lotta pleating! Oh, and the collar issue is still unresolved because nothing seems to match it - the fabric that's all creased at the front appears to be the sticky-outy bit before the collar proper (oh so technical me!). I think the collar is sewn to the curve at the top of the fabric fold in an n shape. I have nothing that fits nor a pattern with a similar collar shape. Whoopsie!

Oh yeah, and my seam binding tape is just the wrong shade of navy but I'm hoping everyone will be too polite to mention that once I, y'know, figure out how to actually use the stuff.

The bodice is only pinned because I'm terrified of having a repeat of the shorts on my hands and frankly I can't afford to buy 5 metres of fabric even though I now have a job (!).

Yes, I'm back at BBC Wales despite swearing I wouldn't work in telly ever again. The Drama department needed a hand, technically I'm PA-ing instead of my actually telly job, and I needed the money. It's also only for 2 weeks, there's a Starbucks on set and I get to hang out with old friends and past colleagues I haven't seen in over a year so there's some good to it but it does mean the sewing is at a standstill but with a better excuse.

I'm waiting for Mum to help take all my measurements so that I can start actually measuring the patterns properly (once she's shown me how to do that!) but in the meantime I think it's safe to say that I'm going to fail miserably at the Summer Essentials Sew-Along. I'm waiting on the red and white striped fabric for the tee and as that's just a straight bodice, no darts, no sleeves and no openings (other than arms and head and bottom I hope!) I'm going to sew that up as soon as it arrives. But for everything else? Probably not so much. This means, unless something seriously changes, I'm going to fail the Self-Stitched-September too, and that just chaps my butt. Any advice peeps? You've all been fab to date and I need a pick me up.

Hhhhmmm, I wonder if I'll get my name in any credits ....

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. I hear you, friend! :-) You're lucky you have a mom who can show you the ropes. While waiting for her, I can recommend trying to draft slopers based on your own measurements. I have this book, and I like it.

    I have drafted the basic bodice and pants sloper, and I have used the bodice sloper to compare with pattern pieces from patterns I have bought, and that helped me see where I needed to make changes.

    Good luck, I enjoy reading your blog! :-)

  2. Thank you and thanks for the tip on the book, as soon as I have some spare cash I'll get that. I've been thinking about slopers ever since reading a post Gertie did about them but figured I should learn the basics of construction by following commercial patterns first. I may have to rethink that particular gem of wisdom!

  3. Toria, I hear you in the frustration department and I think that's all part of the process (at least that's what I'm telling myself:0, half the time I feel like the little train that could). Your list of sewing know-how seems impressive to me (I'm still terrified of collars, etc) and these particular projects seem intensive! Don't beat yourself up, and don't worry about the sew-along -- I'm not going to make it by Aug. 1 either. If anything, this is going to be a wonderful exercise in patience, sewing and style for me. I, for one, have enjoyed following you this summer on this shared journey! :)

    Thanks for the tips on tres chic French women, I need more tailored basics!

    Sending you seamless sewing mojo!

  4. Ali. I bloody love you. Will you talk me down every time I get in over my head? Your collars look fine (I am loving your Simplicity 3263 blouse by the way) and I'm deeply envious of how well your sewing fits.

    And once again you're absolutely right. So I have decided that maybe jumping straight in to vintage patterns which require some knowledge and experience of sewing when I clearly have neither is probably not the best way to start and have bought some modern patterns with a retro twist in the hope that I'll have better luck with those. We shall see!


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