When I started making a living from knitting, other interests had to become my hobbies. I needed a refuge from knitting and designing knits. Over the years, I had picked up quilting and spinning along the way. But I had always wanted to become more adept at sewing garments. I've bought almost every Craftsy sewing class that's out, and I began signing up for classes at FIT.
What I forgot is how frustrating it is to learn something new. It is incredibly humbling to have to start from the very beginning. Only now am I at the point where I feel like I know enough that I can ask questions. I know enough now to know I'm doing something wrong. Sure, I've dabbled with things like the Robe Cardigan and some pajama pants. But nothing more complicated than a few straight seams.
So after taking a Sewing I class at FIT (I'm embarrassed to say I didn't have time to finish my final project), I felt armed with enough power to take on a blouse project. Over the years I've amassed quite the fabric stash, one that rivals my yarn stash, and a pile of sewing patterns so extensive I dedicated a filing cabinet drawer to them. (Those Joann sales are phenomenal.)
I poked around my drawer of patterns looking for something appropriate for the summertime and came across this Butterick pattern #5826:
I didn't want anything complicated, so without any buttons or zippers, I deemed this one perfect. I took out some Robert Kaufman Cotton Lawn fabric out and thought it would be perfect. Well, it wasn't. Lesson #1 - Lightweight doesn't mean drapey. The cotton lawn is very lightweight so I thought it would flow nicely. Well, what it doesn't do is flow. It's fairly stiff, even after a few prewashes. And, this blouse needed a lot more drape.
And because of its stiffness, I had to make a last minute adjustment. The center front has "flaps" where you're sewing the seam with the wrong sides together so the seam allowance, essentially, is flapping out. Well, lemme tell ya - if your fabric doesn't flow, that simply looks ridiculous. I wish I had gotten a picture of that but I was so disgusted by the fabric that just stuck out, I immediately ripped out the seam and sewed it together with right sides together and then top stitched the flaps down. It's still awkward because now there's sort of an unwanted thickness running down the front.
Also, gathers don't gather very well with stiff fabric. So they're crunchy-like and sort of stick out awkwardly too.
At least, I like that it's black, and I like that it's short-sleeved and light enough for me to wear in the Summer. But, honestly, it sort of looks like I'm wearing scrubs. Definitely not a good fabric/pattern pairing.
Oh - how could I almost forget: set-in sleeves are the devil's spawn. I had to use a thousand and one pins and I still got a few little tucks here and there on both caps. I know if I keep practicing it will get better, but I wanted to throw my sewing machine out the window during the process. And there are a ton, seriously A TON, of blog postings, videos and other bits of online advice on how to achieve perfectly set-in sleeves. What they don't mention is that you just have to practice and keep at it, and practice some more. Here are links to a few I found somewhat useful:
Crafty's blog: I like the sewing in the alley thing. I just hope to reach a point where I'm not using so many pins.
See Kate Sew: Kate mentions easing in the sleeve cap while it's flat instead of in the round. I still find it incredibly frustrating to sew something that's longer onto something that's shorter with no gathers or tucks either way.
Diana's Sewing Lessons: Diana mentions sewing the line of basting right on the seam line. I didn't try that yet, but is an interesting idea. Her example is of a trench coat, so maybe with thicker fabrics? Will have to try next time.
I also read conflicting advice on whether or not you should have the sleeve on top or the body while sewing. I like having the sleeve on top so I can see the fussiness.
After all that, I'm now taking refuge from my hobby with my work. But before Me Made May is up, I wanted to squeeze one more sewn garment into the mix. Next up: The Easy Tee. (No set-in sleeves!)