Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Making Mistakes is Part of the Process!

  Me thinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, 
when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; 
especially as they are never more at home 
with their own hearts than while so occupied.   

~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

Garment sewing is enjoying a resurgence here at Stonemountain. We had a very busy 2014 with our full schedule of classes, and hundreds of you showed up to learn new sewing skills.  And hopefully you have been reading our blog regularly to be inspired!  We totally understand the satisfaction that you get when you finish a fashion garment that you can actually wear. 

As much as you may love to sew, most of you will admit there are days when things just don't go right. Even our accomplished seamstresses and fashion designers will spend some time making silly mistakes, forgetting steps and ripping out their work. We come to expect a certain amount of snarls and errors - it's all part of sewing. 

A case in point: Laurel started on my Sandra Betzina shift dress this week.  Though the pattern is "easy," we wanted to step up the style with a great Japanese rayon Chirimen. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Chirimen is a crepe fabric from Japan, made from rayon or silk and traditionally used to make kimonos.

We chose a contrasting fabric in black rayon for the yokes, side and bottom bands. Both rayon fabrics are easy to work with, so one could assume that sewing this dress should go smoothly.

Serging seams shouldn't cause a problem - it just requires a little forethought: should you serge each seam edge BEFORE you sew the seam or serge the two edges together AFTER you have sewn the seam? For this dress, we used both techniques.

All was going well until Laurel turned the garment right side out. Much to her chagrin, she had sewn the right side of the dress back to the wrong side of the back yoke... and she had already serged the seam. We all lose our concentration once in a while, and that's usually when we make those silly mistakes.

To fix it, she cut off the serged edge (have you ever tried ripping out serging? yuck!), ripped out the seam, and tried it again.

If Laurel has to rip out a seam and the fabric is expensive and somewhat fragile like this dress, she will use her sharp embroidery scissors, rather than a seam ripper.  Cut just one thread at a time.  Seam rippers have a mind of their own - before you know it, they just take off indiscriminately and you are left with a hole in your fabric.

This year, we are going to put labels in all our garments so that when you see them hanging in the store, you will be able to see the pattern that we used.  Laurel's machine will make a label, and this one was sewn in BEFORE the yoke was added to the dress back.  Not perfect, but remember, "we are not about perfection"...worrying about making garments perfect takes all the fun out of sewing.  When you make a mistake, just figure out the best way to fix it and move on.  Breathe in, breathe out...

All in all, it is an easy dress to make.  We love Sandra's instructions - they are easy to understand and there's a touch of humor here and there.

Laurel left the side seams in a basting stitch until I get a chance to try it.  We can take it in or let it out as needed, then just finish off the armhole facings, and I will have a beautiful new dress! Mary Jane belted her Sandra shift dress, so we'll see what looks best on my frame. Can't wait!

 May your bobbin always be full!  
~Author Unknown


  1. That combo is "drop dead" gorgeous! I love Asian fabrics. I started sewing with my Girl Scout Troup about age 10, and only recently have stopped making garments. While teaching Home Economics, I taught beginning sewing to many students and in the process, you not only learn by your mistakes, you learn by your student's mistakes! Now I'm into quilting and once in awhile use Asian fabrics in my quilts. I'm going to the Bay Area Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival this week in San Mateo, but I don't recall seing you there. I know it's a bit of a distance, but it's closer to me. A trip to StoneMountain & Daugther is always a treat as it's not close to me, but I will try to stop by on my way to visit family in Orinda.

  2. Hi Nellie! It's so great to hear from you and hope you can stop by on your way to visit family. I love how Berkeley is a cross roads and eventually many can make it to our store. I agree about mistakes and it often leads to a garment or quilt with a special twist that only you may know about :) We don't go to shows as it's difficult to pick up our 6000 square foot Brick and Mortar store - so we hope that we have enough honey to draw all the bees to us! Thanks for writing and hope to see you soon, Suzan