1.28.2016

12 Things I've Learned About Sewing: Or, A Sewist's Dozen.

oonaballoona | a blog by marcy harriell | 12 Things I've Learned About Sewing: Or, A Sewist's Dozen.

So, this skirt is currently up over at The Mood Sewing Network, and really, you must see the horror show that is the side seams. Well, you know the drill, civilians wearing RTW wouldn't bat an eye at it, but we are HIGHLY TRAINED PROFESSIONALS.

RTW, by the way, stands for Ready To Wear. The stuff you buy in Forever 21, and the like. I mention it because I've had several emails lately asking what TNT stands for, and it reminded me that there are many things you learn along the way, and once you learn them, you sort of go OH! DUH! and assume that you were the last one to catch on. So I thought I'd do a little stream of consciousness-- things that I know, that I think are common knowledge, things that I wish I knew when I started, things that I'll get up on my soapbox about. Shorties love soapboxes.

1. What the Hell Does That Stand For.

TNT: Tried 'n True. Any pattern that you've tried, and, well, it's true. You've made it, and can make it again without any more fitting or worrying. RS, WS: right side, wrong side of fabric. CB, CF: center back, center front. L/S line: lengthen/shorten. FBA: Full bust adjustment (not happening 'round here). UFO: Unfinished object (happening most of the time 'round here). GSOH: Good sense of humor. Essential for sewing. SA: seam allowance. OOH! SEAM ALLOWANCE!

1. Patterns without Seam Allowances Are Kind of AWESOME.

I know. I know you HATE to add SA to a pattern after you've already angrily traced it, possibly after ragefully PRINTING it, but guys. An MIA SA is a good thing. First, if you're going the couture route, you'll have the seamlines already marked and ready to trace onto your fabric or muslin. Second, you can hack and change a pattern so much easier when you can already see where the seamline should be. Third, you can add the proper SA for the treatment you want to use, instead of wasting fabric on extra seam allowance that you maybe don't need. Want to use your serger for those seams? 1/4 SA. Know that this pattern is going to fit you well? 3/8 SA. Fitting as you go, and want some extra insurance? 1 inch SA. Hrmmmmm. That said...

2. Too Much Seam Allowance Can F With Your Head.

For real. Home sewists are an anomaly in our use of wider seam allowances. Of course, a lot of commercial patterns come with that big old 5/8ths included, so sometimes you can't escape it. But it's so much easier to use the edge of your presser foot as a guide, and, if you think about your presser foot...it doesn't extend to 5/8ths. Sure, there's all sorts of handy markings on your needle plate, but try sewing a 3/8s (or 1cm) seam with the needle offset, using the edge of the foot as your guide. Then try it with the needle in the center position, using the plate marking as your guide. Then come back and tell me which one was easier (and bring some gin with you, we're almost out. I love my gin like I love my seam ripper).

3. Yes, I Love My Seam Ripper. Cause Stitches be TRIPPIN'.

You are not a newbie, or unskilled, or going to the third level of hell, because you had to use your seam ripper. I have five different kinds of seam rippers, and use them CONSTANTLY. They are your friend. Think of them like the coal that turns your work into diamonds. (Coal actually has zero to do with diamonds. But you catch my drift.)

4. Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Same as the carpenter's golden rule: Measure yourself, like all the time! And then cut carefully. If you're careful in your measuring and cutting, your results will show for it. And while you're at it...

5. Pins Will Cut You.

No, they won't. They'll stick you, and cause you to wonder what those scratches are all over your torso, but they won't cut you. They can, however, cause problems in cutting. I used to cut out everything with the pattern pinned to the fabric, using lots and lots of pins, because more is more. What I was actually doing was upsetting how the pattern laid on the fabric, as those pins simply can't lie flat. And those little ridges created by the pins add up! Pattern weights are your friend, and you don't have to go all ninja on it. Thin books, small plates, a smartphone, they do the trick too.

6. BUT PINS WILL CUT YOU.

As mentioned previously, no they won't. But they might eventually end your beloved machine's life if you sew over them. This is a hot topic, with sewists planting their feet firmly on one side or the other, but having ended Ricky's life during a frantic race over pins during Project Sewn, I'm headmaster of camp PINS WILL CUT YOU. Even if you're going slow, that's metal on metal. Think of the grinding. THE METALLIC GRINDING. No bueno, yo.

7. Let Your Thread Be Your Pilot.

Thread! It is so useful! A bit of fiber, magically keeping us un-naked! When you read directions like, Understitch, or Stay Stitch, and you think, PAH! I'm not wasting my thread! Listen, yo. WASTE YOUR THREAD OR WASTE YOUR GARMENT. The two techniques I just mentioned will change your sewing, and I know from experience, because I avoided those steps like Jury Duty the first year I started sewing. When I finally decided to slow down and include those techniques, it was like a revelation. Curves didn't stretch out, linings turned to the proper side, angels sang a mixtape of 80s power ballads. And yeah, sometimes you'll unpick a small spool's worth of thread on a project-- but your hem is going to fall under your iron ever so much easier when there's a nice long line of basting stitches, helping the fabric to fold evenly. Which brings me to...

8. Iron. Iron. Iron.

I have always loved pressing and ironing, right from the get-go. My Nan taught me how to iron, so maybe that's why. When I hear people grumbling about pressing while sewing, I truly don't understand-- to me, it's magical to see those seams lying flat and bending to my steamy will! Curves taking shape around a ham! MAGIC RIGHT ON MY IKEA IRONING BOARD! If you don't love ironing, maybe it's your iron. This is my favorite. Speaking of love...

9. Love The Patterns That Love YOU Back.

I fell prey to so much oooo I love that on her! when I started. On top of considering what looks good on your particular hot bod, consider that different pattern companies use different fit models and blocks to create their patterns. And maybe they don't have your brand of hot bod in mind. If you have to make seventy gajillion adjustments to a pattern, it might not be the company for you. Sure, there are very few patterns that fit right out of the envelope, but you might start to see that some companies are more your cup of joe.

Just because a pattern looks good on someone else, and they had success with it, doesn't mean it will work for you. That isn't necessarily the fault of the pattern (and it sure isn't the fault of the sistergirl wearing it).

10. Blame it On The Boogie.

Or, on the sistergirl you're reading. Did someone tell you to use magnets to trace a pattern? That someone is probably drinking something questionable, and should not be trusted. There oughta be a law.

11. Learn The Rules So You Can Break Them

Now, this is one I should have employed all along, but, see: #7. My first vocal teacher drilled it into my head: Learn the music as written, and then you can embellish and backphrase and whatnot. After all, how are you going to properly break a rule if you don't understand the very rule you're breaking? And let's face it. BREAKING RULES IS FUN. USING RULES IS FUN. IN FACT

12. EVERYTHING ABOUT SEWING SHOULD BE FUN.

Whether you're just starting out, and merrily skipping all the rules, or employing every technique there is in the book, it's all useful. It's all learning. So have fun and do it. It all adds to your 10,000 hours. I don't regret the bad pattern choices I made, the poorly inserted zippers, the questionable libations. (Well, I do regret Jagermeister.)

Well, that's just off the top of my head. I said this is "A Sewist's Dozen," so I invite y'all to be number 13 in the comments! I know that there are newbies out there, who are at the same place many of us were, who'd appreciate the knowledge, even if it seems rudimentary to us! (Hell, just last month, I asked how to use the L/S line on the Baste & Gather FB group. Lost my mind briefly. Because, Jeans.) So please, share away!

102 comments:

  1. Such wisdoms! Listen to the Oracle Oona, people, she is speaking from experience. The short cuts of the newly enthusiastic will not get you past first sewing base. Embracing the slow is to have the power to create the most exquisite, durable, enviable garments that make grown men weep and women swoon as you pass.

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    1. HAHAHA! oracle oona. you do have a way with words. i think the short cut stage might be a rite of passage. i wonder if anything survived my short cuts period? must check that...

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  2. 13. Invest in good god damn scissors! They make ALL the difference!

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    1. seeeeessorsssss! i want every kind of Kai in existence. that's an excellent point, the right tools make the job that much easier.

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  3. I love your site! And your sewing! All the things! What great advice. I am new and have next to no idea what I'm doing. I will slow down and learn it right, I promise, Mother Oona of the Blessed Pfaff.

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    1. "no idea" is the most fun stage of all! (also, now i HAVE to embroider some sort of jacket with that moniker...)

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    1. :) you're most welcome. pay special attention to number 10, that chick has no idea what she's talking about.

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  5. Omg change the needles, blades and clean the machine!
    First time I unscrewed my plate on my old machine, the teeny parts of thread, fabric and who knows what had felted together and came off my feed dogs in a 1/4" thick pad.
    On the sharps, keep 'em sharp. There's really no reason for dull needles or blades. It's an $80 cutting mat and $4 blade.

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    1. AH YES! always change the needles! i do it after every project, sometimes in the middle if it's a long one. and cleaning the feed dogs is like porn.

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  6. Love the knowledge you're laying down! It can actually take a surprisingly long time to learn these things. I would add to make the inside look as a good as the outside. For the longest time I operated under the excuse "well no one even can SEE the inside!" but as I started to learn finishing techniques by some witchcraft, it made the outside look even better too!

    As for ironing, I love the satisfaction of seeing it all crisp and pressed, but I like less so the fact that there is no room for an ironing board in my immediate sewing vicinity so ironing means having to get up and walk across the room to the board, then back to my sewing desk, and back, and forth. Great workout, not so much fun when you want to keep zipping through...

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    1. cardio workout via the ironing board! the benefits of sewing never end.

      (i have a little series in my noggin about insides underway!)

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  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am new to sewing and learning all the techniques. The easy way, and most definitely the hard way. Some of this stuff is new to me, some of this I know, I just can't get it through my thick head to actually listen. I appreciate the post and am loving your blog!

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    1. you are most welcome, glad you're enjoying the blog!

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  8. I am still a bit of a short cut queen but am trying to be better. Reason I love knits. Lol! #13....just do it!! Ala Heather Lou's recent post just jump in. Don't save that fabric for 10 years just bc it seems scary. Don't buy 90 patterns bc new and shiny and then don't sew them up bc they are daunting. Just do it! The worst that can happen is it'll look bad and you have learned and can re-do.

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    1. yes, jumping in with both feet is always a good call!

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  9. #7 and #8. I think those will be on my next lotto ticket. My 4th project had understitching and I was like, what the heck? And then I was like... oooooooooo. Thankfully I'm a good rule/instruction follower because seriously this changed my perspective on garment construction. And if wasn't on the pattern instructions I never would have done it.

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    1. yeah, i felt the same way i first used understitching (altho i merrily just ignored it when i came across it in that first year). that + grading seam allowances. magic.

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  10. #13 Don't be afraid to just walk away for a while. Like any creative process, sometimes you hit a road block. Trying to "power through" a troublesome garment just doesn't work. Take a break. Drink some wine. Watch some Netflix. Creative solutions come when you step away for a bit.

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    1. ooh, we've got a few walk-aways, and i heartily agree. it's like the answer just pops into your head once you focus on something else.

      and an excuse for a wine break is always desirable.

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  11. #13 It's OK to buy and use good quality fabric. I am not as much of a newbie anymore....and when my sewing was improving I started to buy better fabric. It is a joy to sew, is usually so much more cooperative and the end result is more rewarding.

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    1. yes! it also makes you slow down and try your best, because you've likely paid more. even the lucky inexpensive scores will make you focus more.

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  12. 1cm SA FTW!
    No, seriously. And sewing pattern without any SA added to it gets my toes tingling. There are also little things called fitting SAs. I like them better than all over 1.6cm SA that is beyond annoying when you live and breathe Metric system. One inch is even worse!

    Also, iron is endeed your friend!

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    1. 3/8ths is my favorite! now, how big is a fitting SA for you?

      i wish we'd get behind the metric system, but, like daylight savings time, i think that's here to stay....

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    2. Your fingers are always attached to your hands. At least, I hope they are. To add 1" seam allowance, put the first joint of your index finger on the seam line, then aim your scissors at the tip of your finger (don't cut off the tip of your finger). To add a 5/8" seam allowance, put the side of your index finger on the seam line and aim along the side of your finger.

      This works for most people, of average size. And, if you trace the seamline with chalk or a sharp sliver of soap, you'll not have to worry if your improvised markers were mathematically correct.

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  13. Great post Miss Oona. My tip -toss dull and bent pins. They are inexpensive and your fabric is generally not. And bent dull pins WILL cut you! g

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    1. TRUTH. and they'll cut your project, too!

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  14. My passport just got stamped, "Kalkatroona"!

    Another great post - thank you Oonaballoona!

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  15. I'm with Janet on the fabric. I was too scared of wasting money at first and the more I have invested in fabrics the better the projects have come out. That may also be because with more expensive stuff I #7 and take time to do the fiddly bits!

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  16. Always feel energized after reading your posts, thanks for the musings, SA particularly resonates!

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  17. I'm so intrigued about why that awesome magnet trick is a bad idea?? It sounds kinda spy like and cool.... no?

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    1. oh, it does, and it is such a bad, bad idea. inspector clouseau bad. at the time i thought i was reinventing the wheel. i used the metal of my ironing board + magnets to sandwich my tracing paper + pattern, and then carefully slid the whole shebang down as i need to trace more lines. even if you're super cautious, there's way too much room for error! i shudder.

      the post is still up for laugh's sake, with a great big red warning paragraph at the top ;)

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  18. My extra 10cents worth would be... Buy fabric that feels like the clothes you're trying to make. For the first 6-12 months I sewed clothes, I made horror after horror because look ooh pretty fabric (that's stiff as all getup and doesn't work for that Drapey top you've got in your head, and surprise surprise now your top makes you look like one of those barbie doll toilet roll covers and you can't remember what your legs look like...) So yeah. Buy fabric that seems like the kinds of clothes you're going to make with it...

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    1. yes! i started in quilting cottons for flowy summer maxi dresses. *scratches head*

      covert trips to shopping stores to fondle what kind of fabric is meant for the garment!

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  19. I love this, I wish I had had this when I had started sewing all those years ago. I think my number one thing is, sewing is all about what you can live with. Can you live with that mistake? Awesome. If you can't, if it legit will mean you will never wear this garment, unpick, re-cut, start again. That's my big one!

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    1. i ask myself that very question ALL THE TIME. and then i pick up a seam ripper.

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  20. I love them all and I strongly believe in #8 makes all the difference. And so many of what others have said ring true as #13 for me. I guess one that I have started to abide by depending on the project.....make a muslin. I have had so many projects not look good at least in my eyes and maybe would have been better had I made a muslin or partial muslin first. This last December I did make a muslin for a dress I was making for Christmas party and the dress turned out perfect! One of my best sewing projects yet....but too formal of a dress to get much use!

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    1. ah, muslins! i go back and forth on them. if it's a complex pattern, i do it-- but i try to get away with fitting in swedish tracing paper + my dress form.

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  21. Woo Hoo! Great post!! Love all these tips - some are things I have to remind myself of on the daily!

    My best sewing tip is this - if you're started to get frustrated or your eyes are going crossed or you're making mistake after mistake after mistake.... GO TO BED! Or just put the damn sewing down and come back to it another day/hour. Preferably do this BEFORE you make the giant mistake that makes you slap your head and go "WHY DIDN'T I JUST STOP TWO STEPS AGO WHEN THINGS WERE GOING GOOD???" Seriously. Take breaks. Ideally you will wear your garment you're trying to make for a long long time. There's no reason to rush to the finish line. Oh, and on that note, avoid sewing to a deadline or for an event if at all possible. You're just asking for trouble.

    The end!

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    1. YEP. it's good to remember that ratio of time spent/time in your closet! and deadlines, well, we both know how those go (coughmsncough;). i try to have a few things done at once so i can keep my head clear and enjoy creating!

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  22. This is the first time that I visit your blog. But I like your style and positive vibe!

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    1. well thank you! judging from your handle, we're birds of the same feather :)

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  23. There are so many great points about choosing fabric in the comments here - can you maybe one day give us your thoughts on choosing fabrics? (I mean, naturally it's the same as your point about choosing patterns and pattern companies well)

    Also PINS WILL ACTUALLY CUT YOU
    Catch 'em at just the right angle at just the right moment and they'll slide straight under your skin and tear it up like a papercut. Only it's a pin so they're like 3 times as big...

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    1. EVERYONE WHO READS THIS IS HOLDING THEIR FINGERS

      ;00000

      that's a great idea, i'll start brainstorming on that! i'm not totally sure what my method of choosing fabric *is*, so it'll be a great exercise ;)

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  24. This is spot on! Some of the things I've been most stoked on aren't great, and I cringe at things I should have done, but hell if I'm not proud of it still. And oh, when I decided it was time to stop fighting patterns that were never meant to be...the joy. There's always something new to learn, but it has taken the dread out of sewing. Cheers!

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    1. yeah, i think it's important to be proud of all the things, even if they weren't your best. i thought my first dresses were the best things ever made! you need that to keep going, and hopefully as you're gaining hours you're gaining wisdom.

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  25. I have been "sewing" (if that's what you want to call it) since I was about 7 years old, but have only actually completed anything in the past two days. I think it's because of fabulous blogs like your's -- I can clearly see that the payoff is big if I can overcome my tendency to get frustrated when things start to fail. If I follow instructions carefully and use what people have tried to teach me / what I've read over the years to help me along then WAIT A MINUTE. HOLY COW LOOK AT THAT. I MADE A SHIRT! WITH SLEEVES! Thank you for the effort you put in to your blog. Not only posts like this one (very helpful), but posts that show off your awesome advanced nature. People like me totally feed off your inspiring fablaciousness.

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    1. you are welcome. AND GIRL. your new shirt is SCRUMPTIOUS. why were you writing posts like you'd just started sewing?! that pattern placement! that print! those tiny photos in which i can barely see your face!

      (that last one might have been friendly, supportive sarcasm...)

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    2. I didn't just start sewing. I *did* just start following instructions, and that *is* the first blouse I've ever made. Also, I do believe the pattern designer placed the pattern on the fabric in such a way that people who were making their first blouse would accidentally get lucky because all I did was cut on the fold. Though I did end up with a crown covering each nipple, which was not strategic but is totally appropriate. Also, if you click on a tiny photo, and if you're lucky and not looking at it on a phone, it will get bigger. Though that's not really a bonus.

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  26. Also, how did I not see that you posted something new yesterday? My obsession-lurking-skills seem to be getting a little rusty.

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  27. I would say patience. :) You can make up for a lot of missing skills if you just have patience. (And good fabric and silk thread helps as well!)

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  28. I sew much heavy boat canvas, fabric which can NOT be pinned, not even close. Standard procedure is to use heavy construction staples (I bought my current stapler in the tools dept of Home Depot). I've sewn over those staples for years -- at first by pulling over the wheel, then sewing slowly over the staples, then sewing at speed over the staples -- and have never broken a needle. Except once on my home machine using a #8 needle on flyweight fashion fabric.

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    1. whoah! construction staples, how cool! i suddenly want to sew a boat slip cover!

      i worry less about the needle and more about the action of the feed dogs/presser foot going over that metal ridge and throwing off the balance... with Ricky Riccar-do (the machine i killed, or at least maimed), the needle bent going over a pin and became jammed, which wrecked the timing.

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  29. "Civilians wearing RTW..." -- loved it! So much that it made me de-lurk. Hello! :-)
    Even with my TnT patterns (and there aren't that many), I try not to forego a baste-fitting after cutting out my pieces in the fashion fabric. Skipping that step has resulted in many surprises... Let me just say that the stretch factor is a mean opponent.

    And, oh, I absolutely agree with everyone who's said not to sew when you're tired. Wiser words have never been spoken.

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    1. eeeeexcellent! i love a good de-lurk!

      yes, different fabrics make a world of difference...in my TNTs, i baste it first, if the fabric is a different type than the first go. in fact, i have 3 pairs of birkin flares going on right now in 3 different sizes due to stretch factor!

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  30. This is my first time reading your blog and I loved it! And I appreciate that tip on using weights to hold a pattern down. That's going to make my life a lot easier. :)

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    1. thank you, and welcome!

      i remember seeing a pattern cutter using weights (that's plural only by 2 for a fairly large piece) and i was all THAT'S IT NO MORE PINS. so much easier, and no fiddling with pinning within the SA for delicate fabrics!

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    2. I have access to a steady supply of old trophies. The bases are often made of real marble. They are lovely for pattern weights, smooth and polished and rectangular and all different sizes. No one should be holding on to a three-foot-tall second-place trophy from the 1973 girl's church softball league tournament! ... at least, that's the opinion of the Trophy Police Squad. (I'm not naming names, but our initials are LMB and ARP).

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  31. This is so great Marcy!! Thanks for sharing!

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  32. Here's mine: #1/1 You decide when you care and you decide when you don't care. All the maternity clothes in the shops inexplicably purple for the entire gestation of your second child? DON'T CARE... can make em! Going to a fancy event and because we live backwardslandia all the complicated clothes are cheap and the simple clean line ones are expensive? DON'T CARE... can make em! All the garments in the shop look promising from a distance and then close up every single one has some weird s/*t stuck on it somewhere? DON'T CARE... can make em like I like! Don't fit? DON'T CARE... I can make it fit or make a better one that fits! Your best ever friend who thought she'd never ever get to have a baby and really wanted to and finally totally did? CARE!!... I'll even happily swear through sewing my fingertips and steaming the finger prints off myself with the iron to perfectly crispen the mini seams on teeny tiny booties of red felt lined with the perfect London architecture graphic print for that wondrousness. Aint no Amazon Priming THAT love to a darling. That's just the joy of it.

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    1. hahahaha, that last section about the teeny tiny booties!!! oh, i have so much cursing when making kiddo wear. i try so hard to imagine the happy little face, but SO MANY TINY SEAMS.

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  33. Love this post! All such great reminders... oh the magic that is the iron...it fixes so many imperfections!

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  34. Love this post! I would love to hear more of your tips!

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  35. Love it. I am now going to take all of these tips and get cracking on a dress I've been meaning to make for well over a year. x

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  36. Practice runs for anything you've never done before (or never done on a particular project)...I always do a few practice buttonholes on scraps just to work out the size and where to start. Measure your pattern! I'm not a big muslin maker, so flat pattern measuring has saved me a lot of grief. Simple things in gorgeous fabrics are always satisfying. Don't save special fabric for a rainy day..cut into it! Make something that makes you happy. Don't obsess over the occasional wadder...we all get them. Either save it to be made into something else, or throw it away and move on. On that note, if something is clearly heading down the wadder path, give up and work on something that's going to fit, works with the fabric, didn't use a pattern that wasn't drafted correctly (my last disaster)...it's very satisfying to admit defeat sometimes. And like Oona said...HAVE FUN! ---Martina

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    1. martina, this should be a list on its own!

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    2. I loved your list, and I love ironing too! I have a friend who doesn't even own an iron, she misses out on such satisfaction.

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    3. but...but....HOW? ironing is just...HOW?!

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  37. Facings! First time I learned how to do an actual facing it was an epiphany. Suddenly I understood why all my necklines and armholes had been screaming!

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  38. I would love to get that Maytag iron but it seems unavailable in the UK. Can you suggest an alternative that I could get here?

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    1. i wish i could, but i'm just not familiar with the brands available to you...maybe do a search within some of the UK sewist blogs? i think house of pinheiro might have an iron post. you might also search "smartfill iron" on amazon UK, amazon is so sensitive with search terms.

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  39. Wonderful words of wisdom reminding me not to be so lazy in my sewing. I'm less of a planner and more of a jump right into it sewer. I like your advice on constantly measuring..

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  40. First time I tried pattern weights, I raided my Craftsman tool box for clean nuts, bolts, and washers. Started out ok, but the pattern kept shifting. What the hell, everyone on blog-o-land raves about pattern weights. Stupid weights! Went to get the pins, and realized my handy MAGNETIC wristband pin cushion was moving the weights.

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    1. oh hahahahahaaaa noooo! that's terrible (and terribly funny)!

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  41. Yes to all 12 of them. But thanks mostly for posting #1. It's that secret truth that so many just don't want to believe. I like the way you said it. :)

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    1. i think you meant number 11, and i think i should have listened to my own advice on my latest raspberry number!!!!!

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  42. These are so good! My favorite (and most used) bit of advice is: "Never cut and sew on the same day." I was the worst about rushing through cutting to get to the sweet sweet sewing. It's been SO HELPFUL to have this rule to remind me to slow my roll, take care with my pattern placement, and mark all the things that need marking.

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  43. I swear I loveeeeee this post! LOLLL You are so funny and amazing like a fabulous friend in my head that you just love to hang out with cause you know you're going to have a blast! Please keep all the fabulous fashion and posts coming I'm truly loving it!
    Hugs
    Shari
    MyDailyThreadz

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  44. Mama used iced tea spoons as pattern weights. She cut fabric on the dining room table and the spoons, never used otherwise as our tea was pre-sweetened, were right there in a drawer handy, just the right heft.

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  45. Good tips. I must admit I break quite a few of these rules and I HATE patterns with no seam allowances. #9 is the hardest rule for me though. I know this; I have experience, and yet I still buy patterns that are just wrong for me. Because, OOOO! shiny!

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  46. I love sewing tips!! PRESS, rather than iron. Ironing is a good way to stretch out your fabric. Don't over press (leaves shiny seam impressions) and do use a press cloth.

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  47. En regardant your tip about pins cutting you: a mantra to repeat to yourself over and over is "Don't bleed on the merchandise." Handquilters keep boxes of bandaids close to hand; and know that Preparation H is an excellent styptic to stop fingers from dripping blood.

    When you DO bleed onto your fabric (and you will probably bleed onto your fabric at some time or other), remember that saliva is excellent at dissolving proteins! Dab a bit of saliva on a small bloodstain and watch it fade away. Your own spit works best on your own blood, but you can successfully remove other people's blood drops with anyone's spit.
    I'm talking tiny smears and drops here, not a crime-scene volume of blood.

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    1. crime scene volume. HA. i love that saliva trick. i also have a bunch of "hello kitty" bandaids in my top drawer. (not really into hello kitty, but the bandaids sure are cute.)

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  48. Thanks so much for the tips! They are great...I also LOVE to iron, I especially like using the steam function and leaning right into it...a great way to open up the pores. I think of it a pampering and sewing all in one!

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  49. Love this! I think my one addition, picked up over the past year, is that when someone compliments your make, don't immediately point out all the things that you did wrong. They really didn't notice! (I'm still working on this one.)

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    1. This is EXCELLENT advice. I need to follow it because I realize I don't accept compliments well at all.

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  50. Yes indeed! Here are my 10 cents...
    13. Ain't no way around it. Pins WILL cut you.
    14. Change your needles often.
    15. Don't drink and sew.
    16. Don't take short cuts (yes, that means basting and making muslins).
    17. Buy the expensive scissors.
    18. Cut into the fancy fabric without holding your breath.
    19. Screaming is sometimes beneficial. Pulling your hair out is not.
    20. Invest in all of the presser feet. Seriously.
    21. You'll have crazier photo shoot ideas than Vogue. Just remember that it's going down in your neighborhood and you still have to live there.
    22. Drink after you sew. Always.

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    1. i might change the wording on 15 & 22. i might not be *right*, however. ;)))))

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  51. The original post and subsequent suggestions are all on point. This would be a cool reblog if was on WP platform. Oona your photography is sweet. I am always showing it off to people saying, "That's how I want my blog photography to be when it grows up."

    Thank you for your presence on the WWW.

    Cheers,

    Lyric

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  52. What a fun and humorous to always remind us that pins will really cut you!

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  54. I'm pretty new to sewing and don't really have any idea what I'm doing. I love designing but the construction part frustrates me and sometimes I just want to quit, but people like you inspire me to keep going because I know that eventually, the image in my head will be an actual garment. So thank you for being an inspiration and for your fabulous sense of humor!

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  55. Ahahahah, seam allowances, I see you've entered my Continental European camp on the subject of seam allowances! *evil laugh*
    Seriously, though, absolutely true on "way easier to adjust" and "you can make your seam allowances whatever you want/need them to be".
    Now, if only I could be consistent and systematical about that...

    I tend to use cups and glasses as my pattern weights. Probably because the only table large enough to be satisfactory as a cutting table is the dining table and there's always cups and glasses at hand.

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  56. I've always used the edge of the presser foot as my guide for SA. I don't sew anything really fitted close, like lots of ease so works well for me. My mom was a tailor and trained me to baste everything, and used tailor tacks on everything with darts. She always used a ham, pressing cloth, and clapper when pressing. Kitchen knives work well for weights. Good scissors are important. I wish my work was as good as hers was. Her tailoring was perfection. I don't have the patience.

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  57. #13: Understand patterns and pattern drafting. Invest some time and effort in picking up some basic drafting skills. Who needs that specific pattern once you can make your own and adapt your own made-to-measure, tried and true blocks?

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!