Friday, December 13, 2013

A giveaway and a question

Recently I have seen some interesting topics on sewing blogs.  The one that caught my attention was the discussion about whether home sewers are cheap.

I probably fall into the cheap category but the very first commenter was Karen who said "Here is the thing with garment sewing, you can't try it on before you sew. We do pin fittings, we make muslins, but still, we have to buy fabric and patterns and notions and hope that the end result is wearable. The less I put into materials, the less I lose when the garment doesn't work. It's a constant balance of time and money versus result."  I could not have said it better. Probably everyone has had the experience of knowing that some costly fabric and time have gone down the drain along with the hope for a great garment. So yeah, if we are cheap there is a valid reason. Definitely a balancing act, and if I can make one thing for a pittance then I feel better about splurging on something else.

However the very best bargain is free, right?  With that in mind I am giving away this book which I recently found at a sale. I already have a copy and it is very useful - not to mention inspiring. Plenty of diagrams and tips on how to sew all parts of a garment plus photos of the inside of vintage couture items.

Couture techniques book cover

To be entered in the giveaway leave a comment suggesting a specific topic you would like me to write about in the new year. As anyone who writes a blog knows, sometimes you have plenty of items to talk about and sometimes the mind goes blank. It is always interesting to see what blog posts get the most views, so far the most "Pinterest-ed" is this post on hemming sleeves. Something I keep meaning to write about is bodice length - this seems to be the most overlooked pattern adjustment and it can really make or break the fit of anything. 

Up next I am sewing a Burda jacket (yes, gasp a Burda, which I downloaded from the website, no tracing required :). A totally unnecessary wardrobe item and yet the fabric was in my stash, crying "pick me, pick me" so I did. 

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

p.s I will send this book anywhere, so if you are outside the US please comment. 
A big thank you to everyone who reads and/or comments. It's that time of year to take stock and be thankful for things and that includes connections. Writing a blog has opened up a whole new world of sewing friendships and I appreciate being part of the mix.

48 comments:

  1. I always love to read about pattern drafting, so this is my wish... from scratch I mean. I really like your blog!

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  2. I missed he discussion on whether sewers are cheap. For me quite the contrary. I have been sewing a long time. One of the criteria at the start was the very cheap construction on RTW. I know I can't actually "try it on," but my mind's eye and a muslin stand in for that. Thanks for an excellent blog.

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  3. I too love reading your blog.

    I can make a great skirt but long to up my sewing skills. I'd love to read more details about the steps you take such as making tailor tacks. I'd love to see every detail on making a quality basic garment; I know it may sound very boring but those are the kinds of details I crave.

    For example, if you're sewing a great lined straight skirt out of quality wool, what steps do you take to make sure the skirt doesn't look "home made". Show me exactly how you finish the seams, insert a zipper and make sure the waistband tabs are even and actually line up.

    Also would you consider letting people comment by just providing their email address? I usually won't leave a comment if I don't have that option. That topic might make a good blog post. I hate being forced into using my Google account, etc. I realize you're probably trying to limit spam.

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  4. Beth I would love to make an elastic skirt without making a casing for the elastic

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    1. Fiesta, me too! I've tried, and it just turned out like an 8 yo's 4H project. I'm not sure what I'm missing, but I like the look better than a casing.

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  5. Hi Beth.
    I always learn from your posts. Thank you for continuing to post about your sewing. Don't include me in this giveaway. You've already been very generous to me this year.
    Merry Christmas.

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  6. A topic I would love to read about is altering front fastenings - ie modifying a pattern with or without buttons or zipper, to add a placket or zipper. I know this should be straight forward and am usually perfectly fine with adding a zip, but for some reason I always end up miscalculating for adding a placket and end up with the buttons not centre front. I really enjoy reading your posts and thanks for making this great offer. I have a different book by Claire Schaeffer that I have read front to back - absolutely priceless in my book collection!

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  7. I'm intimidated by pants fitting, so anything related to that would be great. Also, thanks for the giveaway. This book has been on my sewing wishlist for a while.

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  8. I too love reading your blog. I love your dresses - beautiful and flowery. I would love to hear about the bodice length as the last two dresses I have made have come up short in the bodice and I am short waisted. In the end anything will be useful!

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  9. Thank you for such a wonderful blog and generous giveaway. I have been wanting this very book for a while now as I'm getting into couture techniques after taking Susan Khalje's Craftsy course.

    Here's a topic for consideration: what challenges you? Choose a sewing challenge (past or present) and tell us how you solved it. Here's another one: choose a handmade garment that you love wearing and tell us why. Have you ever made a garment that you weren't thrilled about at first, but then warmed up to it over time? Or vice versa?

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  10. I have to make a number of alterations on patterns, and sometimes wonder if the order I use is good. I need forward shoulder, sloping shoulder, low bust point and full bust adjustments. Is there a good way to deside where to start and, hopefully, a way of combining some adjustments to make the process easier. Thanks. Judi in frigid NJ

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  11. Would love to enter your give-away; and am always interested in franken-patterns, i.e. making major changes or starting from blocks, to achieve a unique result.

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  12. Like 2peaches, I would love to read more about pants fitting. I've been too nervous to attempt it, but I'd really love to be able to have pants that fit as well as the other clothes I've made for myself!

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  13. I already have the book, so don't enter me - let some other deserving seamstress have the copy! It really is a good book, you are so sweet to pass one on!

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  14. I would love to see a post on how to get an even hem if you don't have someone to help level it off for you. Straight fitted dresses aren't an issue for me but anything with a full skirt is a real challenge. My husband used to do it but can't anymore due to health issues and my non sewing friends don't seem to be able to manage this. I really enjoy your blog as well and also your flower shots. Kay in NZ

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  15. There are several topics already posted that I would find interesting, but even more than pants fitting, or what order to do alterations, I'd love a post about how to selectively grade up a pattern, as the difference between my shoulders and my bust is monumental in a very short vertical span. I would love to find a way to get a pattern to fit me without having to do five or six muslins...

    And personally I do not think that all who home sew garments are "cheap"... I definitely use cheap or thrifted fabrics for my muslins, as I know that they will not be wearable, but once I have worked out all the pattern glitches and have a TNT pattern, I use the best quality fabric I can afford for my clothing, certainly far better quality than what I could afford in retail clothing. But then, I expect my clothes to last, not making quick faddish fashion for one season and a few wearings but garments that will be worn repeatedly for at least several years. I have a very small curated wardrobe, and my clothing gets worn until the fabric is worn out...

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  16. I love the way you add details to your posts. I would really like to see how you actually alter a pattern, from measuring the body to marking and tracing to pin fitting, etc. with pictures. When someone describes a step I think I understand but a picture is so valuable to me. Love your blog.

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  17. I enjoy your blog very much. Any post on fitting with detailed pictures interests me. Thank you for sharing your excellent skills. I have the book you are giving away and it's fun just to look at the details! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  18. I like to line most of my garments but one thing that is always a puzzle for me is how to deal with the lining around a back vent on a skirt or dress. I have looked everywhere but this is an area that is always skimmed over. I would love to know how to do it properly and neatly.

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  19. That is a wonderful opportunity to win. count me for the draw please:)
    Well, I feel most of the garments I make end up being more expensive than a similar one at a garment store.And the effort I put in making is priceless.
    Well there a so many topics under the sun which remain uncovered by many sewing blogs. So probably a talented and experienced seamstress and blogger like you can touch upon these:) How to line a dress - Sleeves remain unlined, You know if it is a flutter sleeve or cowl sleeve , it drapes well only unlined.

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  20. I really enjoyed reading your random thoughts posts earlier during the year - I would love more of those.

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  21. Please don't enter me in the giveaway - I already have another edition of this terrific book. (Is it just me, or are the buttons cockroaches?)

    Topics...Hmm, one of my problem areas is the back armhole, but fitting of any kind is always great. I really have enjoyed the blog this past year - thank you!

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  22. What a lovely book. It's been mentioned already, but trouser (pants) fitting is something I'd like to explore more. I find trying to fit on myself very challenging so would appreciate any tips and guidance.
    Thanks, Emma (UK)

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  23. I have only just started following your blog but am loving it. Pants fitting would be the topic for me, definitely.

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  24. Hi Beth! I totally agree with you on that there is a good reason to try to get bargain-fabrics! Only once in my life I bought a really expensive one and it is still waiting to be cut. I´m so scared of failing!
    The bodice lenght is a great topic! My mother is always telling me (she has a very inquisitive eye) that all my dresses don´t sit on my real waits on the back but they do on the front and I have no idea how to fix that problem.
    Another interesting item for me, now I´m sewing jackets with bound button-holes is how to make them less bulky. I mean working with wool (or cheap stuff that looks like it) you get really thick seams but trimming them too much don´t seem to work!
    I forgot to say that that book looks really interesting ;)

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  25. Hi Beth,
    maybe you could tell us more about different types of interfacing in jacket/ coat making. I would love to sew my first wool coat, because it is already cold and damp in germany. Thank you for sharing your amazing seewing skills with us!
    Jennifer (Germany)

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  26. It would be nice to learn more about tailoring, especially about pad stitching. I just do not understand the point, and I know there is a good reason for it! :)

    I am in the US, and would love to win the book!

    Merry Christmas.

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  27. Something about fitting the back of a jacket and maybe something about sleeves.

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  28. Good morning, Beth,
    My eye is drawn to the lovely applique on the sleeve of Ms. Shaeffer's coat. Gee, I'd like to see how that was done.

    Reflecting on what you and Karen have written, I find that, as I learn, so much fabric ends up in pieces not satisfactory. I seem to be sewing a goodly number of pieces suitable only for mowing the lawn, and I'm converting a LOT of those pieces into dog beds for my many house beasts. Besides perhaps quilting, what do you do with such fabric needing to be re-purposed?

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  29. I am after perfecting the fitting of my self-made garments: I avidly read all posts dealing with pattern alterations (especially at the shoulder/ back area and pants fitting). Thanks for the giveaway!

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  30. Thanks for the giveaway, would love to have that book. I would love a tutorial on a lined skirt with vent and also sewing a garment on bias. Pants are a great topic as well. I think we as home sewers also need to start at what colors are best for us. Sometimes we don't like what we make because we picked the wrong colors.

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  31. I have this book and love it -- it really is inspiring and informative. I don't think home sewers are cheap because there is a huge investment in time and energy that goes into making each piece, regardless of whether the fabric, notions, etc. are low-priced or expensive.

    One topic of interest to me is fabric choice -- some thoughts and considerations on how to choose fabrics for different types of projects, as well as how to choose corresponding linings, interfacings, etc.

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  32. I've been dreaming about this book, it has been on my wish list for a long time already!

    One topic I would love to read about - how to see the ready garment in a certain fabric. I mean the best one, where the fabric will show all it's beauty. I know it's a difficult topic and not exactly the "sewing" one but more a designer.

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  33. I love your blog, happy I found it recently! I would like to read about lining a jacket, specially knits. As I am a knitter, I would like to knit a Chanel style cardigan and line it, but don't feel very confident about that. I do a bit sewing as well and will be happy to learn new techniques out of the book. Thank you so much for opportunity!

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  34. I love reading your blog and I'm interested in everything. I have great pleasure looking at dresses, blouses, but with even greater interest I read the article where you describe the technological aspects of tailoring.
    I wish I could get a book? Yes! But I live far away, on another continent with a 14 hour time difference.
    Thank you for sharing your amazing sewing skills!

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  35. At this point, I enjoy any instruction and encouragement. Learning as I go!

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  36. I'm honest with you and confess that I just found your blog by chance and I'm totally in love with everything here, I bring an issue (although I do not know if this is within your parameters in question you did) What do you seamstresses about sharing her knowledge selflessly reviewer? I hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend.

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  37. Someone else mentioned frankenpatterns and that topic interests me too; how best to mesh different patterns together especially in difficult areas like the armscye. Thanks for thinking of your blog readers when you saw that book on sale. I would be a happy camper if I won even if those ARE the creepiest looking buttons on that lovely jacket!

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  38. I'd be interested in hearing how you sew so efficiently! Lladybird did a post like this and it was so interesting. Your work is so technically skilled, I'd love to hear your thoughts on sewing quickly, or if dont even try to sew fast!

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  39. Love your blog. I buy the best quality fabrics I can afford - mostly natural fibres. Your posts on fitting and alterations are fabulous. Any info on fitting bodices would be appreciated especially armhole fit. Thanks :)

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  40. Would love to read posting on fitting and making jeans. E.G Placement of back pockets (does this make my bum look fat). Many thanks for answering my emails when I have wanted some information. I hope you have a wonderful Xmas Beth and looking forward to anothe ryear of reading your blog. Would also love to win this book

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  41. I'm fascinated at the moments about books on manipulating fabric. for example for embellishments. I'd love to read what you write about it (or see what you make of it ha ha!)!
    ghainskom at yahoo dot com

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  42. Beth, I would be interested in all topics construction and fitting! I know it's a wide topic but I can never get bored. And given your wide experience I feel that even if you explained to me the simplest things I would still learn loads!
    i'd love to win the book...it's been on my list for ages.
    I don't think seamstresses are cheap! Given the time you spend on a garment it's like buying a 300 dollars item. I think the key to getting better quality fabric is to make the same pattern twice. Certainly the second time you know if you like it and have fixed the issues. Having said that some fabric is overpriced just because it's designer or something.

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  43. I would love to read something on eliminating armpit/chest wrinkles; the ones that look like whiskers on a cat. I cannot work out if it is an alteration to the depth/ shape of the armscye or what.

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    1. I hate armpit wrinkles--I'd love to know how to eliminate them. I've heard a few theories and still need to try them out.

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  44. Thank you for your generous giveaway :-) I enjoy reading everything you post about your sewing, but especially when you post details of the insides. One of my favourite posts was the details you included in the child's coat you made - that's very inspiring and I wouldn't mind seeing more.

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  45. Interesting question! My acceptable/expected price-per-yard has jumped up a lot in the past two years. Buying low priced fabric has yielded me some incredible bargains but also a lot of junk that I ended up giving away. Previously, $10/yd would have been a huge splurge, now that's my low end. I don't necessarily think that this means I'm not cheap anymore--giving away 10 yards of $3/yd fabric is more expensive than buying 2 yards of $10/yd fabric that I will like forever and be happy to sew up.

    I also haven't shopped for RTW in *years* other than a pair of jeans once a year and some suits a couple of years ago. I have no idea what it costs, or where my price point would be. When I bought clothes I always went to Ross and never paid more than $25 for an item. From what I've read, RTW clothing prices have stayed pretty flat for the last decade or more, so I could probably still do that. My workplace isn't high fashion (it's the government, with the salary that entails!). I like to compare my garment prices with mid-range places (J Crew, Ann Taylor, etc.), but I don't know if that's fair since it's not what I'd buy--I like that I usually come out way ahead of their prices though. $100 for every dress? How do people do it????

    Hmmmm, what would I selfishly like you to write about... How to do a half placket, maybe? I see cute styles with them sometimes, but I am 100% positive I'd end up with obvious puckering at the bottom of the placket.

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  46. OK, this may sound simplistic... but hems. Yeah, hems. Getting a better feel of when to use what type of hem finish. KWIM? The point of hem tape? Etc. Also, a general discussion of little - or not so little - things that make the difference between the "loving hands at home" look and something that looks like GOOD ready-to-wear (or better! LOL!) I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be able to do a week of classes with you like Karen did (from England) but that simply isn't possible right now. So, maybe sometimes a sew-along, where you show some in-depth things?

    Like many people, I'm afraid of ruining expensive fabric, so I want to up my game.

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