Category Archives: Process

Pants Lesson in New York

I’m finally starting to feel settled in New Jersey. I’ve been on the job for three weeks; we finally have a sofa and storage pieces; I have become familiar with the bus and train systems of New Jersey (sort of…Newark Penn Station is confusing still, with all the different places that have similar names where passengers need to wait for the bus). Last weekend, I felt settled enough to do something just for me—take a sewing lesson.

I decided to work on pants in this lesson. I’d tried fitting these Vogue trousers before, in a different sewing class in SC, but I then gained a lot of weight, which made all the fitting moot. The lesson I had last weekend was at the New York Sewing Center, located in the Garment District. The instructor was awesome. She was patient and didn’t talk to me like I was a kid (an issue I have had in other sewing classes in other cities). I made a huge amount of progress in two hours, getting the pockets, inseams, and side seams sewn. I plan on sewing the crotch and attaching the waistband before going back to work on fitting. I suspect I need more room for my butt, less of a curve on the hips, and less length overall, due to me being a shorty. I’m really looking forward to my next lesson!


Bootstrap fashion: more thoughts

I’ve been working on figuring out what my ideal measurements are to produce a garment that I would like and that would fit me the way that I would like using Bootstrap’s software.

The first time I put in my measurements, I got this wacky picture that looks nothing at all like a human. I don’t think I know of any humans you have a pointy stomach that points upwards. Here is my 3-D model:


I sewed their three seams skirt pattern from it. It was actually too large for me; I had to take it in an inch on either side. Also, the hips on the pattern were an exaggerated womanly shape; my hips are actually relatively straight, but my bottom is the part that takes up most of the circumference of my hips measurement. Then I realized that the waistband was too short, as I cut off part of it to accommodate the revised skirt. However, I hadn’t really changed the waistline of the skirt, so now it doesn’t fit.

Yesterday, I remeasured myself. For the under cost measurement, I put the same as my waist measurement. I figured having a dramatically different under bust measurement from the waist measurement the first time around is what produced the exaggerated stomach shape. I also included a full bust adjustment, since I felt that the dress that I made the first time around was too tight in the back and smooshed my boobs. Now, the avatar looks more like me:


I’m going to reprint the pattern and make the skirt and the dress again with these new measurements. We’ll see how they turn out.

Sewaholic Cambie Muslin: I Got a Lotta Work to Do!

I’m typing this from my phone, so please forgive any typos. This is my first draft of the Cambie, sewn in the largest size out of the packet. I need help! I welcome feedback. I think I need to schedule a lesson with a local teacher–the type who’s been teaching since the 60s–I need an expert who’s gonna tell it like it is! The look on my face expresses how i feel. Things I can see right off the bat:

  • The bodice is too long on me (waistband is near my belly button) (big poof of fabric in back)
  • Waistband dips in the front (potbelly issue?)
  • Stomach area is snug
  • Skirt feels okay, is a little overlong
  • Sleeves are giant (shoulders are narrow?)
  • Bodice is too loose around the bust (I am wearing a brand new supportive bra bought specifically for this event, so the bra isn’t the issue)
  • High left hip/longer left leg seems to be causing bodice wrinkles on that side
  • Is there anything I am not seeing? What type of adjustments should I make??? (I have FFRP and the Sarah Veblen book about fitting, but I am not sure how to translate those changes to myself.) Here are the photos:

Cambie front

Back, where you can see my high left hip/extra long left leg
Back, where you can see my high left hip/extra long left leg
The other side
The other side

Sewing Fails

Everyone has sewing fails, but I think I have more than other people. My impatience grows as I get closer to the end of the project. I get distracted and then I make a terrible mistake. One sewing fail is a Simplicity 1716 dress. I was feeling good about it: a slinky purple sleeveless dress with a cowl neck. I cut the size according to my measurements. Things were going well until I sewed the armhole bands on inside out, using the triple stretch stitch twice, so tightly that it was impossible to unpick. I tried on the dress (way too late) and realized that it made me look like a giant purple rectangle.

purple dress thumbs down
I did not approve.

I was so angry that I stuck it in a drawer. I didn’t try to fix it. I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to wrestle with the seam ripper. Another sewing fail that I have is the Colette Sorbetto. My first version fit a little weird, but I went ahead and made the same size again with no adjustments…after I gained some weight. What was I thinking?? The bias binding, made from the same fabric as the blouse, started to unravel after I applied it. The bust darts are not pointing at the right location, as I didn’t know about relocating bust darts (and where they were supposed to go) at that point. I took that shirt on vacation with me and I wince every time I look at the photos. The following photo is not so bad, but really, it was bad.

Colette Sorbetto and cake
I look happy, but my shirt is crappy.

I just sewed a zipper on a skirt in a crazy way and then sewed the wrong side of the facing on what has to be the easiest skirt ever. Before that, I sewed another skirt that was extremely large and unflattering and then mangled the lining a little bit. I also just sewed my very first sleeve on backwards and I can’t be bothered to sew it on the right way. I broke a needle in my serger trying to fix a hole in my only pair of yoga pants. I had to take a little break after all that destruction. Is the trick just to do one operation per day, so I’m less likely to mess up? Probably, but I don’t know if I can sew any slower than “like a glacier.”

Sergers & Sew Fabulous

I had a lesson at Sew Fabulous, a sewing studio, recently and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Flashback: I had a Treat Yo’ Self moment and bought myself a serger (a Brother 1034d) when it was on sale around Christmastime. After I got it, I read the entire manual in preparation for using a serger for the first time. Reviewing the threading diagrams confused me. (“What is that square part? Is it that square part, or the other square part? It’s all a bunch of lines!”) I needed someone to show me. I made an appointment for a private lesson at Sew Fabulous.

Heather at Sew Fabulous is awesome! She is an extremely patient teacher. She started the lesson by having me examine the way it was threaded, then had me unthread it and rethread it a few times. She gave positive feedback along the way. After we were done rethreading and sewing samples with different tensions and stitch widths, I felt that I had a much better understanding of the machine and was less intimidated by all of the levers and metal bits that the threads go through.

I’m looking forward to having faster, more professional finishing on my future garments.

Where I Sew & How I Organize

I do my sewing in a corner of the bedroom. The room is large enough to hold a bed, a desk, multiple chests of drawers, and two nightstands. It doesn’t feel too cramped.

Sewing area
It’s always cluttered.

The sewing machine is on the desk, along with the serger (which I have not yet tried to use), a basket of rulers, shears, tracing/marking notions, and a sewing basket. I keep the sewing basket, which I bought at a garage sale, as it reminds me of one I played with as a child.

I like my machine because it’s lightweight and it adjusts its settings based on what stitch I select. That takes a lot of guesswork out of it for me. I can also carry it places by myself, which is super important to me.

Sewing patterns
Pattern explosion!

Next to the desk, I keep a set of plastic drawers for notions and folded PDF patterns. On top of the drawers is a fabric-sided bin holding my regular patterns. It’s overflowing! I trace the majority of my patterns using a roll of medical office paper (which is translucent). Once I’m finished tracing, I put the tissue paper, instructions sheet, and pattern envelope into a gallon Ziploc bag. The traced pattern goes in the bag once I’m done with it.

My fabric remnants and yardage go into an Ikea Expedit, which I actually bought before I started sewing. After I did a purging of my belongings when I last moved, I had more room for storage…lucky for me! I currently have a little too much to fit into the cubbies, so some of it is in the chest of drawers. (It’s stash diet time…) I don’t like the idea of keeping a huge stash; it seems like undue pressure for a hobby. I have enough to make maybe three dresses, two skirts, a pair of pants, and three shirts. The shirt yardage is with “practice” fabric that I got in Fabric Mart bundles. (No more bundles for me for a while. I should buy with purpose.) It seems like enough to me.

I cut my fabric on a long folding table, which is between the sewing desk and the cubbies. It gets put away when it’s not in use. I use a giant cutting mat and a rotary cutter, as it’s easier on my hands.

As a person who’s only been sewing for about a year and a half, I’m satisfied with my modest setup. When I’m an old lady living in a house with empty rooms, I’ll have a magical setup. At this point in my life, what I have will suffice. I’m also grateful for my boyfriend, who helped with setting all this up.

and that’s what’s up.