Sunday, May 3, 2009

A little ignorance goes a long way.


When I was at high school, one of the teachers had a sticker on her office door that said "a little ignorance goes a long way". For some reason the saying has always appealed to me.

I think it relates pretty well to sewing, too. I've been sewing clothes for myself since I was about 11, but in the absence of any close family members who sew, I pretty much taught myself through making a whole lot of mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes, including old chestnuts like sewing the crotch of a pair of pants together "what? Surely it's quicker if I just fold the fronts and backs of both legs together and sew it in one pass!" Yeah. I learned that one the hard way. Along the years there have been many more, of course: corduroy trousers cut out not according to the nap layout; little satin miniskirts with unfinished edges fraying into oblivion; straps that are wider on one side than the other. And notches? Who needs 'em? Most of the time I got myself into trouble by thinking that I was cleverer than the pattern instructions, and then found out that there was a logical reason for doing things the right way.

Anyway, finally I've come to a situation where the instructions are not in fact the best way to do things. Yussss. After battling with the set-in sleeves of Mr 4's duffel coat lining, I went to visit Mary Anna for a little tutorial on how to set in sleeves the right way - and Oh. My. Goodness. Why, oh why, don't the pattern instructions tell you to do it this way? It makes so much sense, and took about half the time that all the faffing around with gathers did, and - this is the most important part - They look really good!
Mary Anna showed me how to do one sleeve, while my children ran amok in her living room, then I went home and did the other sleeve that night. I'm a total convert, and am looking forward to setting in sleeves with confidence from now on. At least that little bit of ignorance in my sewing vocabulary has now been banished....although I'm sure there are plenty more.

So. The coat. We're nearly there. I've been trying to figure out how to bag the lining, but I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) the fact that the pattern doesn't have a separate facing, means that I can't do it the traditional way. I've spent ages trying to figure out the instructions over at Threads but my sleep-deprived brain can't quite comprehend them. I've sewn the lining to the front edges, right around the hood, so just need to finish the sleeve and body hems and attach the toggles and I'll have it done, and not a minute too soon. I'm looking forward to sewing for myself again, that's for sure.

So...tell me...When has ignorance got the better of you? What have been your worst sewing stuff-ups?


  1. Oh my, that is one beautifully set in sleeve.
    Sewing blunders- where to begin? Suffice to say I have also done the corduroy nap one, also denim nap and that was just recently. Um...what else...pointy darts, delusions of being a size smaller than I really am and cutting out and sewing to completion things that are just too small, any number of horrendous zip insertions...
    Still, every project is an opportunity to learn, and that really is true.

  2. aah .. that is a very professional looking sleeve, and when you finally work out how to bag a lining, you can show me!

    That Claire Schaeffer book you lent me has instructions but I guess you already tried them? I really enjoyed her book, but at some points I stopped and thought .. I understand all the words, but I still don't know what this means!

  3. that's a very nicely set sleeve, well done. Looking forward to seeing the finished coat.

  4. Stuff ups many...perhaps you or Mary Nanna could share the technique for setting sleeves. It is something that we all have a problem with.