Monday, October 27, 2008

lazy seamstress (or, how not to sew)

since the burda patterns finally arrived (three and a half weeks after i ordered them), this weekend's project was the maternity blouse from # 7889. this turned out to be an uber-cheap blouse (love those) as the only money i actually put out for it aside from the pattern was about $2 for the ribbon that makes the waist tie. the fabric came from my mother a couple years ago, the thread i had on hand from years and years ago, and the buttons were an old harvest from one of brian's old buttondowns:

when i laid it out on the floor to mark the buttonholes it looked monstrous and i thought i would swim in it, but then i tried it on and i think it is cute. brian thinks so too, thankfully. i hate making all those buttonholes too (12 of them) as i do them the "old-fashioned" way - adjusting the zigzag stitch and going back and forth. i have been too lazy to figure out the buttonholer my mother included when she gave me her old machine.

i tend to kind of be a lazy seamstress and most of the time it is not a problem. for example, when i sew for myself (and most of my sewing is for myself) i don't always finish my seams. [i never leave raw edges when i sew for other people - i usually do french seams, which are a little more work than just serging but look insanely classier.] usually i find this is not a huge problem. on straight-grain cuts the fabric just ravels a little in the wash and then generally stops and i've never had a problem with raveling all the way to the seam and causing a hole. on bias cuts the fabric isn't going to ravel anyway and i don't like to deal with additional seaming because if you're not careful you can stretch your seam out of whack and then it ripples and hangs funny. the problem with being lazy and not finishing your seams comes when you have long sleeves that can be rolled up and you forget that you need to finish those edges (though i guess i can still go back and serge them) then the seams look yucky when you roll the sleeves. so, caveat to not finishing your seams.

in the past i was actually lazier and took even more shortcuts. i never staystitched my necklines or armscyes, i never basted if i could help it, and i would only stitch one row of basting stitches to ease my sleeve caps. i didn't press my seams or my topstitching and i didn't steam my curves or my bias tape. i didn't even pin my edges before stitching. talk about laaaaazy. while i'm not sure i'll ever get around to religiously finishing my seams (imho it's kind of hard to do a french seam on an armscye, though i guess i could serge it), i do those all those things fairly regularly now, and i end up with nicer garments in exchange for the extra little time i spend doing those seemingly useless things. for example:

1. staystitching: the purpose of it is to keep the edge from stretching and shifting, which is especially useful on the back of a neck edge or the bottom (armpit) curve of an armscye. this way your neckline doesn't stretch out of shape or ripple funny when you attach your facing or collar. ditto for sleeves, and anywhere else your pattern recommends staystitching.

2. basting: the purpose of basting is to keep things in place temporarily while you do other stuff. i don't always baste, but i do more often now. it's just easier than trying to pin through 86 layers of fabric and not sew over the pins, and even with pins things can shift slightly. i confess, i do hate removing basting stitches, which is why sometimes i skip it in favor of just doing final stitches.

3. basting stitches for gathering: two rows seems like such a waste of thread, especially for a cheapskate like me. however, two rows helps your gathering stitches lay straight (instead of getting all slanty in the direction of the feed dogs) and helps you ease more smoothly (crucial for sleeve caps).

4. pressing seams and topstitching: i learned last year from my mother that the one of main purposes of pressing (as opposing to ironing) is to sink the stitches into the fabric and make them less visible. this is especially nice for buttonholes, topstitching, and flat-felled seams.

5. steaming curves and bias tape: the purpose of steaming is to help shape the fabric the way you want it to go. with bias tape this is especially important or else the tape won't lay flat and then your neckline or armscye will turn a little and look wonky. on curves (especially bustline curves) it helps the fabric curve around the bust the way you want it to for a smoother fit. you also need to steam the curve into the sleeve cap to be able to ease it smoothly. an invaluable tool for this is a tailor's ham.

6. pinning: this may seem obvious, but it really is the "pin"nacle (hah!) of laziness when you don't pin ahead of time. if you don't, your seams can shift while you're sewing and your garment looks all wonky, and who wants that?

so, there you go, lazy sewing and my guide to what not to do.


Tabitha (From Single to Married) said...

Such a cute shirt - I'm impressed that you can sew like that!

eireann said...

hi tabitha,
thanks! it's about the only thing i can do really well - everything else i'm just average at. :)

Kelly said...

Erin-you need to figure out your buttonholer!!
You're a pretty impressive seamstress.