Category Archives: BlockParty

Bad Sewing Days

This post is mostly for me. If you can’t stand my whining one more time, feel free to click away. 

Everyone has sewing disappointments and even, as is my case today, periods of sewing failures.  That this happened after a recent spate of failures was especially disheartening. I would like to ignore these, but I think it would be better to document the failures not to be humble but to have a future reference as to what went wrong.

I was feeling pretty good about my BeforeAnd After maxi dress. A little down about Summer Jacket #2 mostly because I had thought I had a solution for adding and RBA to the basic Bog Coat. Said solution didn’t work which had me a little down but I did have ideas for future versions.  The Summer Pants while not really good were wearable and felt like a starting point for something better.

The summer pants were encouraging enough that I pulled out a rayon woven to resemble linen, and paired it with a gauze underlining. I was a little short on fabric and opted to cut a separate waistband vs the cut-on of the Summer Pants. Well it was not to be. Even though the gauze was cut from the same pattern as the Rayon, when serged together they did not match. The gauze was somehow larger and all attempts to press them to equal size only made the discrepancy worse.  Oddly, the gauze gathered to some places; the rayon in others. I must have lightened the room when I suddenly understood that the wrinkles on the Summer pants were probably a result of the same mechanical issue i.e. that the two fabrics when joined at the outside edges were not the same size. Bias is a 8itch. (No pics of this project. At this point I was looking at the 8 pieces joined to be 4. Never got as far as a try-on.) I looked at all the serging and decided I was not ripping all 4 pieces all 4 sides. Besides the rayon was of such an age that cost was negligible. However, I learned an important lesson. Underlining with a non-fusible is possible but may not be desirable. Especially for someone such as myself who prefers to spend their time on the creative, the artful rather than the technical, perfection-demanding engineering of clothing.  Future guideline:  I will not underline with non-fusibles.  Doesn’t match with my personality.

A day later, I totally bombed with an attempt to tweak the empire portion of the BeforeAndAfter maxi. The BeforeAndAfter was quite nice but I’m working towards using an expensive knit and I want to start with the perfect pattern.  I felt that the BeforeAndAfter Empire line was higher than I desired.  Yes it seemed to cross just beneath my ni9ple. I wanted something an inch or so above the waist. (You know. Like the Ebb that I’m always be moaning.)  Since the BeforeAndAfter was almost perfect, I copied the bodice top (back and front) and added 2″ length.  I considered that I might need to make one more test before cutting the expensive fabric but I’m OK with that. I have a vision that I want to achieve or at least get really close.  But I’m pretty confident of the fit from the BeforeAndAfter and selected a nice fabric to make a top.  My fabric is a border print Egyptian Cotton.

I think this fabric is beyond beautiful. I almost didn’t believe it was cotton. It was so smooth and silky.  I washed it expecting to pull out at least a somewhat rougher surface and was stunned at how smooth it remained. I burned it just to be sure there wasn’t at least a little poly. Nope. Definitely rope burning smell. I do believe it was the 100% Egyptian cotton as advertised. My heart swooned over the Jacobean print.  I ignored the fact I prefer a more peachy pink. The border was confined to one side which I envisioned applying to the center front of the bodice. Which I did. I carefully cut, appliqued and stitched shoulders together.  I even finished neckline and armscyes with aplomb. I mean, this pattern fit, I was just tweaking a detail. Right? I basted the sides together and stopped to check fit because fabric can affect fit. I’ve often needed to increase the 1/2″ SA to 5/8 or let it out all the way to 1/4″.  There have even been times I’ve added a panel at the side seam because a particular fabric just didn’t adapt to my body like most fabrics. Anyway, I basted the side seams and tried it on expecting a near perfect garment and was absolutely stunned. This is like going all the way back to the pattern I’ve never even tried fitting

Not attractive is putting it mildly

What’s worse, is that every attempt to make it better, made it worse. In utter desperation I looked back at the BeforeAndAfter maxi. Surely these drag lines had not occurred out of the blue? And I found that by lightening the BeforeAndAfter all the way to white, then backing up to about 97% I could indeed see some of the drag lines. Specifically the V’s on the side. (Although none of the shoulder drag lines were evident).  My guess is that the Ponte of the BeforeAndAfter could stabilize against the drag lines whereas the knit Egyptian Cotton could not. Then again it is possible that time will cause the same wrinkles to appear in the BeforeAndAfter just as time caused all my pants fitted with Peggy Sagers’ procedure to develop my dreaded X wrinkles. Time my friend and sometimes not my friend.

I took a day or two to think. Cleaned my sewing rooms. Cleaned the house. I came to the realization that my pain was largely self-inflicted and that I’ve been at this cross-road time and again.  The thing is, I keep thinking I can pinch out darts where my curves are and then move the darts to other places. That’s what the books say. Sigh, Gale Greig Hansen (apologies, I’m not spelling her names correctly) was right way back in 1990 you have to make the change where the body demands the change. The books are correct for the young, rectangular body. But those of use who have curves must see, listen and accommodate our curves. No amount of wishing or ‘experts’ rules can override what we see with out very own eyes and what we feel.  Truth is, I need patterns with seams. Multiple seams.  I must step away  from the atypical 3-piece T-shirt, 2-piece tank top and 3-piece pant.  Gather, rouching, darts all OK but expecting a flat piece of fabric with straight edges to fit my rounded body is my first mistake.  Not respecting the fabric, is the second. As Peggy says “The fabric always wins”.

So tomorrow, I begin again.