Monday, July 7, 2014

Sewing Is So Mathy and Mystery Solved

On June 30, I wrote:
Next up will be a 5- or 7-gored skirt. I tried to make one with inseam pockets, but it was not wearable because I didn't allow for the pulling (the pockets open) that would occur. That pulling emphasizes my tummy. Oh, no! I don't know quite how to overcome that, so this next skirt will be with or without pockets.

I increased the width of the panels of 7-gore skirt that I'm working on now by 1/4" per side = 1/2" per panel—because of my previous skirt attempt described above. That would result in a skirt that fits and has a bit of ease.

Before stitching the seams of this skirt, I referred to my notes and stitched 3/8" seams on 5 of the 7 seams, leaving 2 seams unsewn to allow for making inseam pockets before stitching those last 2 seams. So far, so good.

In preparation for the pockets, I read the pocket notes I could find, did a bit of online searching, created a pocket pattern piece, and was ready to sew the pockets. "Wow," I thought, "this is going great!"

Only because I'm very thorough, I decided to look at the too-small skirt, just to confirm my plan for the pockets. Well, how-dee-do. I stitched the seams of the too-small skirt with 1/2" seams INSTEAD OF THE 3/8" SEAMS called for in the pattern instructions.

Mystery solved. So that's why the skirt was too small. Think that 1/8 of an inch (the difference between the instructions and what I did) doesn't matter? Read on...

1/8" x 14 (the number of panel sides, 7 panels x 2 sides per panel) = 1.75".

So I sewed the skirt almost 2" narrower than I should have. There went the wearing ease.

For my current skirt, I had added 1/4" to each panel side:
1/4" x 14 (the number of panel sides, 7 panels x 2 sides per panel) = 3.5". This would give me plenty of ease. Actually a bit more than I needed, but I decided that I didn't want to fiddle with adding less than 1/4" per side (too much work).

So, when you correct the seam allowance error (1.75") + the newest skirt allowance (3.5"), the total is now 5.25". Of wearing ease. Too much. Which I confirmed by pinning the remaining seams and trying it on.

So now... my plan is to stitch these seams 7/8", which will reduce the overall width by 2". (I will then add the pockets, then trim the seam allowance.) In other words, the newest skirt will have 3.25" wearing ease. Which is very close to the wearing ease of the previous skirt—if I had sewn 3/8" seams instead of the 1/2" seams that I sewed. These 4 panels will be a bit narrower than the other 5, but I am currently striving for something that is wearable.

Anyway, see what I mean about failure?

On June 29, I wrote (near the end of the post):
Failure means I'm learning. Growing. Improving. Alive. Doing something. Living a life.

Lesson learned: Double, maybe triple check the instructions and previous versions of the same project.

I'll leave perfection for others. What's that saying? "Perfection is the enemy of the good." "Perfection is the enemy of done." "Perfection is the enemy of completing a garment sewing project that is wearable." <- My adaptation, which I just might have to print and frame in my sewing room!

Ha ha. Posting about my failures (instead of only the successes) is certainly giving me more to talk about!

Blessings and peace...


  1. Hey, that's happened to lots of us--wrong seam allowance. For me, especially on Indy patterns who often use 3/8 or 1/4 seam allowances. I've done lots of ripping (and I'm sure will continue to have these episodes). I know some times I just get in too big of a hurry and fail to pay attention, And so it goes. I'm making a concerted effort to slow down in my sewing. After all, I'm not sure what the hurry is; very few things I sew (if any) have a deadline. Hang in and keep sewing!!

    1. Hi Linda, I really appreciate your frequent visits. Yup, it used to be the standard 5/8" seam allowance. Except for home dec, which is 1/2". And quilting, which is 1/4".
      Oh, and then learning to trim certain seam alowances (e.g., collars and knits) from 5/8" to 3/8".
      And now some of the independent pattern companies use a standard (for them) 3/8".
      I'm beginning to think it's a miracle that I can complete *anything* wearable!
      Slow sewing? I've never done anything but! haha

  2. It happens to all of us, sometimes it takes slow sewing with the alterations. Don't beat yourself up...patterns are not like what they use to be...for me its the 70s. I use to do alot of sewing back in my younger years and never had any problems and never had to make a muslin, however just recently started sewing again and I just can't get use to these new patterns. Always having to make alterations like what you stated above, and its either hit or miss. Just made a muslin, with alternations, and ended throwing it away. It takes all of the fun and joy out of sewing...but hang in there you'll get it.

  3. Hi Remembering..OZ, Thanks for your kindness. It does help in some way to know that I am not alone and that others have challenges with sewing. Helps to keep me going. And I hope that my sharing my ups and downs is of some small help to you, too. :)

  4. Lately I rip out as much as I sew!! I sit there in disbelief - I can't believe I'm re-doing this seam AGAIN!!! But no anger, I just shake my head and try one more time. No biggie.
    New reader here, clicked on your name in Mrs. Mole's blog comments. I don't blog myself, but I sure appreciate those of you who do - such a beautiful community of kindred spirits. :)

  5. Hi Libby, Welcome! And thanks for stopping by. Mrs. Mole is great, isn't she great. Oh and I specialize in redoing seams -- and everything else! Makes me a slow sewer whether I want to be or not!


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