Sewing Tips for Those Who Have Lowered Their Expectations

If you can thread your needle on the first try, easily lick your finger to roll the thread over to spin into a solid knot, and know exactly what the outcome of your efforts will bring, then this may not be the blog entry for you.

My thinking is that I may not be the only one who just needs to make a few stitches by hand to get the clothes a bit more wearable. I looked in the closet and asked why am I not wearing this?

Alterations was the answer.

So this first pair of heavy linen black slacks were just too wide in the leg. Solution: take a good one inch off the side seams and one long inch from hem to hem through the crotch on the inseam being careful to not take that much in right at the cross seams in the crotch because that fullness there might just be why they ended up coming home to sit in the closet.

To do this the hems needed to be unpicked but only enough to grab an inch or so from each side of the existing seam to get it positioned under the sewing foot. Next remove the excess seam allowance and press the seams to flatten. It really does not matter which side you press them to. Once you have them on who will notice or care.

Now back to those opened hems. They need sewn back up by hand. These slacks are black. Black thread, though somewhat easier to thread into a needle because you can actually see it, is almost impossible to see where a stitch has been made into black material. I chose a charcoal from the only sewing basket upstairs. And how fun is that! To paw through old threads, a pincushion you haven’t seen in years that brings back even more memories, and a whole packet of sewing needles you can see the eyes in!

Now back to the hemming. You will have to take my word for it that these slacks are the blackest of blacks. I think the Iphone took pity and tried to make them match the thread. So next you get enough thread to make it across the distance needing sewing, thread the needle (for me that is not less than three times trying), and try your best to make a knot at one end. Sometimes you may have to give up on that licked finger way and just treat the end like a piece of rope, put the needle down and use two hands to get that other end knotted.

Also what invariably happens is that the thread you are pulling through will knot up. Give it no more than thirty seconds to come undone and then just shove the wad into the hem and stitch down tight to make sure it does not work its way free. Make sure there is enough unknotted thread to make it to the destination before shoving wads into the hem or you will have to face threading that needle for the one inch you have left to travel.

Now that the hems are sewn back up, press the slacks. It is here that you will quite often notice that between the machine stitching up the sides and the hand stitching has caused an uneven hem at the bottom of the pants. Let it go. Only your cats are going to see this. Who else is that close to the ground? If a “friend” mentions it, consider that you were not so selective in some of your relationships.

Now moving right along to another problem piece from the closet.

This was a contact printed shirt I made after coloring each pattern cut piece separately just to find some sort of order to it all. It is a favorite pattern with a cowl collar. The last time I wore it was to my doctor’s office and she commented how comfortable it must be. I am not sure that that is a compliment. In fact when she said the matching shawl was interesting, I knew that it might need altering. That was not a shawl but a constantly growing cowl collar.

So let me add here that I am not such a fan of the leaf printed clothes. After a few washes, we all begin to look like Mrs. Haversham’s sister who escaped the attic only to be keeping house in the trunk of a tree. Okay, I said it and am aware that it is a look some strive for….just not so much me except in scarves and socks.

So back to the big collared shirt. I started by grabbing the back seam of the collar and sewing a new seam that took out some of the fullness….maybe four inches total by the time I got out to the hem.

Next I rolled the hem under and pinned it to the French seam that should have ended up on the inside of the shirt but because of overthinking and overworking ended up on the outside. It boggles my mind trying to figure out what is going to happen to that lovely seam before I begin sewing…and half the time get it wrong.

Once that has been hand stitched in place I noticed that the back seam of the collar was a bit wonky. So it was never a consideration to rip anything out. I simply wadded more into hiding. There is likely enough excess fabric to make Barbie a matching shirt but at least it is going to stay put.

Again, if a “friend” pats the back of your collar and asks what happened here, ignore her. If it bothers you, just do some embroidery over it and call it a feature. Actually I just did that with a shirt I made from a sari I bought in Bali. An unfortunate darker section of the batik appeared on one breast, looking like spilled salad dressing.  I took white thread to stitch over the darker spot and now it looks better…well sort of.

I think that is enough of helpful suggestions on sewing. For some of you it might be helpful. There is only one person I see locally and she would not dream of being critical of my sewing methods because I recently made some clothes for her that she seemed quite pleased with. This blog might have her turning them inside out though.

I have kept up with the drawing and textiles book.

In the meantime I am hanging in there like this tree as the river rushes past leaving little to hang onto.

Til later….