Intro to the Series

This series isn’t really a set of tutorials, more just an exercise in accountability on the massive backlog of projects that I’ve had sitting around for years.  As an avid fan of sewing, I consider myself to be a decent seamstress – which has come about through more failures than success in grand total.  I mean, seriously – I once made a tiered peasant skirt out of Chinese brocade. FYI terrible idea.

But learning about textiles is perhaps the single greatest thing you can do to improve your sewing.  Understanding the “hand” of fabric, the weight, the draping properties, and the nap, will transform some completely mundane pattern into a spectacular piece.  I think I have just now started to master this art, and I’ve been sewing for a little over 10 years.  Granted, most of that was in college when all I wanted to make were things trendy, fancy, and costume related.

Now I have piles of cloth – woolen blends and suiting and heavy chiffon.  Oh, how times have changed from the taffeta and poly silks and satins I used to buy.  Number one rule for me now – if it’s not at least 50% natural fiber, don’t buy it. (This should be the rule when buying regular clothes too!)  Mainly because these types of fabric, although slightly more expensive, stand the test of time.  The seams stay better, the stretch doesn’t give out, and the stability of the weave endures.

Then I learned about proper clothing construction – also through trial and error (mostly error).  Word of advice, have an intimate relationship with all interfacings whether sewn-in or fusible.  Knowing which weight of interfacing for which project will save the garment and your sanity.  Too many times I used heavy weight on poly silks or featherweight on waistbands.  I’m still not infallible, but I’ve come a long way in understanding this seemingly easy but seriously complex issue.

Then there’s the issue of precision.  Cut patterns slow and methodically on a surface that grabs the fabric.  I choose a carpeted floor and am still wondering why pattern cutting is not a form of yoga.  Take the time to fully mark all your patterns – I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t need half of the markings anymore because I know the fabric and construction technique well enough.  That’s an experience issue, which you and you alone can gauge.

Then there’s the prepping of the pieces after they’ve been cut – the darting, tucking, pleating, what-have-you.  These take time and patience.  Sewing is not a race; it is a study in meditation.  Finally you get to the actually sewing!  After all this work, this is when the project just takes off and you’re done before you know it!

But sewing should be done with a light foot and gentle hand.  Forcing fabric through a machine or running up the speed on anything other than a hem is an exercise in futility.

Next up – probably later today: the Tucked Ivory Fleece Jacket.  I’ve had the fabric and the pattern for over four years, making it the oldest project I have yet to do, meaning it’s first on the list.

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