Monday 11 July 2011

Identifying Your Sewing Weaknesses

There has been some discussion recently in the blogosphere about how to improve as a sewist, and how to measure this progress, most notably Tilly's post on Becoming an Advanced Level Stitcher. Last night, while stitching away, i got thinking about my sewing weaknesses. For example, i am not very good at sewing in a straight line. I do try, and i am always careful to use the foot and markings as a guide, yet somehow i always seem to vear off course. I am hoping that this will improve with practice, as i have always been taught that practice makes perfect! When i was younger i used to spend time every morning practicing my flute, sometimes under duress, going over the basics such as scales on the promise that it would improve my playing. And there is no doubt it did. However, sewing is a little different...the equivalent would be spending hours sewing straight lines on pieces of scrap fabric, and i am not convinced that this would be a good use of my time. There is a lot of focus these days on learning through doing, so i am hoping that if i persevere, and perhaps pay a little more attention and sew a little slower, my sewing will become straighter. Maybe. Other weaknesses of mine stem from the fact that i can be a little impatient, but i try to moderate this and be careful not to rush things!

However, i like to think that despite these weaknesses, i am improving as a stitcher. I have a lot of new techniques under my belt since i started, many of which i learnt through taking part in the Crescent Skirt Sewalong, for example French Seams which i have since included in other garments.

I love how neat French Seams look!

Also, in cases where i have made things in multiples, for example the Bucket Bag first shown here, i find that every time i make the pattern i identify things that i will do differently next time to improve the finished item, which is a sure sign of progress i feel as each subsequent bag turns out a little more 'polished'. It doesn't help that i am my own worst critic and a complete perfectionist, and that i notice small flaws in a finished make that nobody else would ever spot if they weren't looking for them. However, I'm not sure there is such thing as true perfection, and as my boyfriend once commented, they are handmade items - their flaws make them special.

So, i would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. What do you think are your sewing weaknesses, and how do you work to improve them?

Knitted Square Count: 13 and a half

K xx


  1. Interesting post :) Hmm, I've definitely gotten better at keeping to the seam allowances. I think it is just practice. I think my sewing weakness is fitting. But I think that also comes with practice. You need to screw up a couple of times so that you can identify your fitting issues. I had a couple of things be too big in the back, but this helped me identify the fact that I have a narrow back. I'm slowly learning the adjustments that I need to make. I'm looking forward to my next dress, as I can't wait to see if the fitting issues I've identified are the only ones I need to adjust for. If that's the case, I might just plunge straight into the dress after that without a muslin and see how it turns out!
    Oops, I rambled a bit there! lol
    Ashley x

  2. LOL -- I'm not sure whether sewing straight is as important as sewing straight *enough*. Because, unless you're topstitching, who's gonna see a little bit of wobble anyhow?

    BTW, I used to play the flute too. I practiced diligently. I still sucked. A few years later, my sister inherits the flute. She rarely practices. She is awesome.

    As for my sewing weaknesses ... my zipper insertion often leaves something to be desired. I've tried several techniques, but I think it's just me. But they are getting better, and at some point I decided that if they went up and down and weren't in danger of falling out of the garment, good enough, which made the whole exercise far less frustrating.

  3. In my very first sewing lesson, my teacher measured 5/8ths from my needle and stuck a strip of masking tape across the arm of my sewing machine at that point. Makes straight line following so much easier! You can always stick it nearer (say a 1/4 inch away) and draw lines on the tape for other allowances.

    My sewing weaknesses are definitely fitting and cutting out (I am just rubbish as cutting anything out). I'm a perfectionist when cutting but am quite slapdash when sewing, go figure??!

  4. Very thought provoking Kat!

    I'm with Ashley on the fitting front, I'm definitely in need of more practice/experience, but the only way this will happen is by doing. Online tutorials really help too!

    Zips are the true trouble makers for me. I've watched countless tuorials, tried different methods, yet I still stumble each and every time. My boyfriend suggested that I spend an afternoon just inserting zips as practice, but the mere though bores me to tears. Hopefully this doesn't mean I'll never improve, it may just mean that I'll improve slower than I'd like!

    As for sewing in straight lines, I'm with Andrea ;o)

  5. Yes, I'm with Ashley regarding fitting, but it is getting slightly less of a nightmare the more things I make (I also have a narrow back). My sewing nemesis is buttonholes, I dread them so much I virtually close my eyes as I'm doing them. Having said that, yes, I've had a few disasters but nothing that can't be patched up (or painstakingly unpicked!) x

  6. It is very interesting to hear what everyone else finds difficult. When i talk about sewing in straight lines i do mainly mean top stitching...i end up with very wobbly visible lines which drives my perfectionist brain crazy!

    I used to be terrified of zips but i found a handy tutorial in Lisa Lam's bag making book which is a great method for insertion into bags and purses etc...i still find inserting into garments a bit tricky but am hoping this will come with practice!

  7. think that if you are not great at sewing straight lines, you probably need to look first at whether you actually cut straight lines. After all that's the edge that you are following. What I have found is the cure for all my sewing weaknesses so far is to stop procrastinating. Seems simple, but just get on and do it. Sewing is a skill, like playing tennis. The more you think, "Oh, I can't do that," the less you will be able to do it. Just accept your present level of skill and believe that the more you do it the better you will get. What's the worst that can happen? It's only fabric. If it's no good, turn it into something else and move on. Even if you find a good tutorial for something, it doesn't WORK by itself as such. You have to sew zip after zip after zip in multiple different ways (lapped, hidden, centred, fly) until you can choose the right way for the style do it with confidence and from memory and without hesitating every time. The only thing that will bring you there is practice. So procrastination is your biggest enemy. And your second is perfectionism.

  8. I first started to sew doll dresses, and after awhile i began to sew my own dresses.At first my mom did the hard parts like the sleeves, and hemming. But then I needed to learn. I often had to take seams out and sew them over again. Some people say sewing is a "lack of knowledge" but to me it is not. You learn to have patience, listening and following directions. I am 12 years old and I can now make myself a dress (all except the zipper) and most of my friends do not know how to sew. Sewing is so much fun!!



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