Saturday, 13 September 2014

Learning from my mistakes?

I haven't been doing much sewing. The weather has been great here on the whole apart from a few recent chilly evenings and mornings when the central heating has come on. During summer I have a lot of golf matches at various different courses - a pleasure in good weather. My back problems have hindered a little but I'm determined that they won't stop me; I go to chiropractor/osteopath, do stretches etc and take supplements and NSAIs and use a belt when necessary. I manage. I'm also preparing a lot of paperwork for circulation to the 40 odd golf courses in the county and then for the AGM (I'm County Vets' Secretary). On top of that, there have been a few family issues that took time and used up emotional energy with the end result that I didn't feel like sewing. But that's okay - it's a hobby and not a job! I have continued to read the blogs I follow and I read some books, some sewing, some not. Oh, and I also bought a few patterns. I did do one or two alterations to garments belonging to me and to one of my daughters.

I had intended to sew some golf crop trousers but didn't get around to it. Maybe next year - the season for golf is nearly over and then I'm into cold weather wear. I do have some warmer golf trousers that would be suitable if I can alter them to fit better. Some are just heavier weight wool but some are water resistant and fleece lined and I'm not too sure about altering those - I don't want to make them leak at the seams with new stitching! I've also discovered that I don't like making alterations.

I signed up for a couple more online courses. The most recent was a Pattern Review course on understanding interfacing. I haven't received my pack of interfacing samples and fabrics to do two half sized samples yet but I've read through all of the materials. It makes interesting reading - I had no idea there were so many different types of interfacing! I don't imagine that I'll be able to get them all in the UK, even online and I don't want to order from the US because of postage charges and import tax. I think our biggest name here is Vilene so I need to see if I can get some samples at the show I'm going to in November. Then, too, I need to be undertaking the projects that need these interfacings. But the biggest lesson is to make several samples to see which one suits best for the purpose and your intentions. When I made my jacket, there were several different interfacings involved. My tutor chose these, though, and we didn't really discuss them in detail. I feel that the hemline needed more structure.

So, onto the mistake of the title.
I did view B but in a single colour
My sewing room has been chaotic. It has a whole load of extra stuff in there that isn't usually, making it difficult in any case to sew or even to find things. I was always very organised at work but not so at home. Double whammy! My 'little white dress' (ivory) featured a centre fold right down the front and despite all my efforts, I wasn't able to get rid of this. I hadn't noticed this issue when I was sewing it and would just have assumed it would iron out when the dress was completed. I hope I won't make that mistake again.
Clearly needed better pressing! I thought that was the only issue.

Pictures taken before I realised there was a problem
I decided to take the dress apart to salvage the zipper (a beautiful and rather expensive long invisible zipper) when I realised that I could have a go at trying to replace the middle panel, as I still had enough fabric left. There was nothing to lose - either it would work, or it wouldn't.

So, first step was to remove the middle panel. Achieved. Second step was to cut out a new front panel, using the same pattern piece as before. First problem. I couldn't find it - anywhere. I looked into every pattern envelope and my large art folder which holds my traced, drafted and thicker paper patterns. No joy. Eventually I decided that I would use the front unpicked from the dress as a pattern piece. I traced around the piece and added a seam allowance. I added 1cm only as I had previously used the overlocker to join the sections. So the seam allowance of the side fronts was now only 1cm. I found this process rather more difficult than I anticipated, but I did eventually manage. Then the next step was to cut out a new fabric front panel. Originally, the front had been cut on the fold but I now had a full piece which didn't need to be cut this way. Obviously, I had to avoid recreating the previous problem, and had to manipulate the fabric remnant to allow the rather long piece to be cut out. Eventually achieved. Then I pinned the new front piece into the dress and it sat that way for quite a few days while I contemplated the next step. I wasn't confident about the process.. 
A couple of days ago, I decided I really had to finish or junk the project. I decided to first hand baste the seams, then stitch with the sewing machine and then overlock. Sounds a bit like overkill, but I wasn't very confident and it was much more difficult to make the alteration than it had been to create the dress in the first place! I still had to ease the bust shaping. I still wanted to understitch in the neck area but this was more difficult because of the previous work - the lining was rather frayed and the seam allowance shorter than it had been. Anyway, I eventually managed - not perfect, but good enough, I felt.

I'm not sure why I didn't notice earlier, but then I realised that the centre panel was a different shade from the rest of the dress and had a firmer feeling. My husband asked me if I had put the wrong side out - no, I hadn't. All of the fabric had been pre-washed but of course the rest of the dress had had several treatments to try to get the centre fold out. So I decided I would complete the dress and then wash it. So I finished pressing and then sat down to watch TV and hand stitch hem and stitch lining down to zip. All finished - off to the wash.

The dress has now been washed twice since completion. I could still see a difference in the centre panel. Then, I realised, to my horror, that I had used the fabric wrong way up! I hadn't considered this at all. I always tend to cut using a with nap layout. I hadn't thought of this pattern - a small geometric - as having a right way up. Well, it doesn't, just that all pieces should be the same way up! They're not. I hadn't given it a thought. Can I wear the dress? Will anyone else notice? Does it matter whether they notice or not? - I'll know.

New panel on bottom of photo
The dress is still wet from its most recent wash. I can still see a difference in shade. And after all this manipulation I realise that I don't even know if it still fits me!!

New panel to left of photo
In the photos, I have shown the seam between front and side front. Once the dress is dry, I will try on again and see if it fits and how noticeable the shading and direction is.

Next week, my sewing class restarts after the summer break and I'm starting an evening class in pattern cutting. I'm looking forward to that. Unfortunately, I'll miss a few sessions because of other commitments but hopefully I'll be able to catch up okay. One of the commitments is a sewing one - I'm going to London to the Bernina Sewing School to learn how to use my new Berninas (sewing machines and overlocker). I'm looking forward to life getting more back to normal and I'll get on with some sewing for autumn. Today I played golf in beautiful sunshine, in crops and short sleeved shirt, but the gold and russet coloured leaves, fallen chestnuts and nights drawing in are a reminder that autumn is just around the corner.


  1. What an unenviable saga. After all that work, to have this new problem.

    Can you do basic embroidery? A nice chunky running stitch just inside the seam lines of the new panel may may this slightly different panel look as though it is meant to be - sort of a texture block panel. And some at the neck edge as well. Hold the threads up first and see whether the idea works. It wouldn't take much more time! That's if the dress still fits...

  2. P.S. I read your comment on my blog that your mojo was a little low at the moment - you have had lots on your plate. I find that when I have a lot to do, I am better off sewing simple garments, just to keep my eye in, and then I go back to more complex sewing when I have the ability to do so. It works, and there are always simple garments needed.

  3. Thank you for your comments. One of the versions of this dress has what I originally thought was piped seams but I think is a trim stitched on top. I had wondered about that or about a machine stitch on both sides of the seam - but machine embroidered rather than by hand. Unfortunately, I think the pieces may be too alike to be considered different but different enough not to be considered the same! I still need to re-press and try on.

    I'm just back from my pattern fitting class (started tonight) and I'm exhausted. It's bedtime. I agree with you about easier garments; I'm going to try the simple and free Colette top - I already have the pattern traced out with my alterations on it and the fabric prepped. I was going to do a toile but I may just do the top.
    I'm missing the next pattern fitting class and have a fair bit of homework to do which I hope David will help me with - usually the teacher follows the methods I did in my sewing vacation pattern drafting class in August, but this time she's decided to do draping as she says that will get us to the point of manipulating darts etc more quickly. I'm keen on this idea.
    I haven't posted on MAGAM yet, I might not manage this month as DD2 back home again (hopefully just for 2 weeks but sewing room re-disrupted) after accommodation arrangements fell through and my other 2 daughters are coming home with partners and the older with my two grandchildren for the weekend; we're going to have a celebratory family meal as they couldn't be here when I had my 60th in July. I start back at my sewing class on Thursday so I must have something to do ...
    Best wishes with your studies and sewing

  4. Hello Anne,
    I came across your blog via the pattern review site. You may get a wider range of interfacing from a school and online shop based in Leicester. With regard to your dress, if possible you could make it a feature, the suggestions posted by Sarah Liz are worth trying. Hope this helps


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