Thursday, October 19, 2017

Random Threads # 29 thoughts about basting among other subjects

My notebook list of topics and things that I want to either mention, praise, or rant about is filling a whole page which means it's time for another Random Threads post.

By the way if you are new to this blog, the previous edition of Random Threads is here. If you haven't read that it's entertaining to read the comments and see that the issue of evolving sewing terminology is something that everyone has an opinion about.

Basting - Do you do it? With every year and every garment sewn I am more and more convinced about the benefits of basting a garment together. At my last knit t-shirt class I had a number of people who were just past beginners, and not at all familiar with sewing knits. I asked them to baste at a couple of points in the construction, to attach the neckband, and then when putting on the sleeves. They thought it seemed like extra work but I said try it. Why baste the neckband? Who hasn't had one of those little blips where you are happily sewing along and all seems well, then you turn it over and see this?

knit band mistake

Or perhaps putting in the sleeve and not having any success with distributing the sleeve cap ease. Or trying to make a skirt more fitted and stitch it up with tight little stitches and then put it on and realize you need another inch?  Basting takes just a few minutes. It actually goes quite quickly since the stitch length is longer. Then a quick examination or a try-on to check fit and it all is OK you can sew the whole seam with NO pins - which is also quicker and easier. Without exception I pin sleeves in a garment, then machine baste, sewing over the pins (yep I do that most all the time) and then after removing all the pins I can carefully examine the sleeve, see how the cap looks, make sure I didn't make the seam allowance too wide which is kind of easy to do on a tight curve. Then all the little fixes can be taken care of by snipping out the basting stitches in the section that needs attention. I even usually do the basting in a contrast color, so I can really see it on the fabric, and then sew the real stitching just a fraction to the side, so that there is no need to remove the basting. Anyway by the end of the class I had convinced a few about basting and their final neckbands looked great.

Here's an example of basting, on a side seam, I baste, try on, straighten out the transition from one seam to another, and then when it fits as I want  - then I sew it up with a regular stitch length.

Basting side seam

The Walking Foot: What's up with the devotion to a walking foot? I have never used it! This subject is definitely a "to each her own - whatever works for you" type of topic. Every week I see mention of this with people saving up their sewing $$ to buy the Bernina walking foot which must include the precious sewing magic dust to sprinkle over each project for sewing success.  OK - I'm being a little sarcastic but I wonder what I'm missing. Or conversely that I have never needed it for any garment sewing that I've done. I think my philosophy toward sewing is similar to the way I also feel about cooking. It's less about tools and more about having the basics that you use to make any and everything. Perhaps it's also how you learned, if you didn't have a certain tool then you learned to do it the  - dare I say - old-fashioned way and it still works. That may be why I don't use the serger all that much. It is handy for finishing ravel-y fabrics like denim but other than that I don't like to use it.

Patterns that are the same: Recently I saw a new indie pattern release and it looked exactly the same as a New Look knit top I made a couple of years ago (which is still available). This week I saw the new Colette dress pattern, one that has so many virtually identical cousins available in other pattern companies, from Burda to Vogue to plenty of other indies. Do you have loyalty to a specific pattern company and then wait for them to release a specific type of garment? Is it the pictures of the samples that sells you on a specific pattern? I mostly look at the line drawings to decide on patterns, and am always looking for interesting or new details. Having said this before, I am kind of over PDF patterns. The printing/taping part is just so annoying to me.

Refashioners: the things that people make by refashioning something is just fantastic. This year it appears the challenge was to refashion a men's tailored suit into something different and wearable. What a great place to start. Last year it was denim jeans and I thought that was great as well. What could be next year's starting point?

KonMari method: Why do I have a possibly irrational antipathy to this method of organization? Fully admitting that I probably have junk I could get rid of, but I'm not much of a shopper or hoarder. Somehow the pared down minimalistic vibe bugs me. This type of life management is marketed as a brand just like a lot of others and is still selling something, be it a books or seminars if not actual products. I give her credit for not starting to sell physical products like closet organizers etc. but the warning that you shouldn't keep things only because they might be useful someday disregards the fact that a thing you are not using today will actually be useful. Here's an example: I have 5 pyrex glass pie pans, which are my preferred type. I love to make pie, do it often in the summer, Thanksgiving etc but I don't make a pie every week, or every month for that matter. But when I want to make them I can, and if I bring a pie to a friend's house I can leave the leftovers and get the dish back whenever. Same thought goes for tools - lots of different pliers and screwdrivers, paint rollers, garden implements. All that stuff which you have to store but would be silly not to keep. The same analogy goes for clothing, I have things I rarely wear but they are needed then they are there. Plus it seems wasteful to get rid of things just for the sake of decluttering. As I have mentioned before I come from a long line of string savers (my term) people who kept small glass jars of various screws, nails and other useful bits so that when you needed something it was there. And why I keep a lot of my interfacing scraps in a plastic bag so when I need a small piece I feel like I'm utilizing something that would have been wasted. True confession though, my sock drawer storage method is to chuck the clean socks fresh from the laundry in the drawer and then fish around for a matching pair when needed. works for me:)

Sewing sleeves flat: I generally sew all sleeves in the round. Meaning that the side seam and sleeve seam are sewn up, and then the circle of the sleeve is joined to the circle of the armhole on the garment. Recently I saw a post with someone sewing a woven sleeve into a woven fabric garment in the flat way. I object! Have you done this? Do you think it works out OK? and then what about the dominant seam? i.e. the long seam continuing from sleeve down the side. It seems a less elegant finish to a garment and I don't even do it on knits. Hey, I am slapdash with my sock drawer but not with my seams!

Are the 80's back? Oh I hope not! Whenever I go to a garage sale or some other spot where you can browse though boxes of older patterns selling for pennies, there are so many hideous 80's patterns! I can't get past the shoulder pads and the shapelessness. Certainly every era including the 80's had interesting clothes but you would not guess that from looking at the sewing patterns from that era. However the 60's patterns I come across are often super cute and wearable. And the older ones 40's and 50's have such interesting details. Let's skip the 80's revival, please!

Check out this website:  TheThackery    Craftsy asked me to write a post on sewing with cork fabric. And I said Ok, but what is it? ha ha, did some googling and pinteresting (a word I just made up) and the cork fabric looked interesting.  I ordered some cork fabric from an eBay seller and in the package was a business card for The Thackery. So I looked at the site and they sell the cork fabric and a bunch of other cool stuff, art supplies, magnets, very classy looking Italian sewing shears. Here's a look at sewing the cork fabric, it sews like a dream, really easy to work with and it just might convince me to make a handbag, or something like that. The natural cork with tiny metallic splatters on it is so pretty - would make a great clutch bag for summer.

sewing cork

Once again I am slightly concerned that I sound super cranky in this post - but based on the fact that these Random Threads get more comments than any of my other posts we all need to vent a little bit! And I didn't even get to these topics:  Stretch thread...necessary? worthwhile? marketing gimmick? How about new pattern releases - I'm starting to think that I am completed jaded with new pattern releases, even from my usual favorites Vogue and Burda. (Once again I turn to the thesaurus and see all the alternatives for that word "jaded", meaning weary, glutted, inured, unmoved, blasé. ) Yes all those things exactly!  Or perhaps it's that it is fall/winter and come spring I will find all kinds of new patterns to tempt me. Very likely!

Up next, a new shirt using fabric I bought at Mood last October, a knit dress using fabric I bought at Stone Mountain last month, and after that who knows.

This Saturday is the start of our Button Front Shirt class at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley which is sold out (although we will be scheduling this one regularly as it fills up) In the afternoon is the Knit Dress class which I think has one or two spots left. In December I'm doing a Copy an Existing Garment class which should be fun (also filling up). Actually they are all fun - I am meeting some amazing and interesting people and enjoying every class. People who sew are the best! Maybe I am biased. Ha ha, biased, sad little sewing pun there.  Check the website and see what might interest you, Jacket/Coat class also scheduled again in December.

Happy Sewing, and try a little basting too!


Today's garden photo, I got this mallow plant which seemed less than promising back in the spring at the local junior college's plant sale. It was a spindly thing but now it is about 5 feet tall, and covered with the prettiest pink flowers. A winner, I will definitely get another one to fill in some other bare spots.



  1. Basting is a time saver, I agree. Even when you baste by hand, which is my preferred method for sleeves. I just like to use my fingers to evenly distribute the sleeve cap ease. Don't mind being old-fashioned. Regarding the walking foot: I've been sewing with the same Bernina for 30 years and only bought the walking foot 3 years ago. I must say I was pleasantly surprised! It does make life easier with certain fabrics. To keep in line with your cooking analogy, you can whip up egg whites by hand but a hand mixer is faster and often gives a smoother result. Please share your thoughts about stretch thread soon, been wondering about that phenomenon!

  2. Thank you for your basting tip, I'll definitively will start using it, specially for armscyes. I allways find a pesky pucker in at least one spot when I try it. About inserting them flat, I don't object, specially if I'm trying to make a french seam or while making a knit top in the serger. It feels safer to me. About the walking foot, I have one for my Brother from Ebay, it's a hassle to put on, and it does not have my usual seam guides, but its useful to sew knits without stretching, and when you're trying to sew two sections with different stretch properties. I took mine out recently because I was sewing a folded buttonband with interfacing only on one side, and was getting a bit of puckering because the non-interfaced part was stretchier than the interfaced one.

  3. Fun once again! Yes, I baste, baste, baste. But I also enjoy all areas of garment construction, beginning to end. Never in a rush... Sleeves - on casual garments, particularly knits, I sew them in flat. Wovens - I tend to set them in the round. That walking foot - depends on the fabric. But it is so very useful for quilting. And I'm in love with my serger. Again, I sew mostly casual garments, serging is a useful finish for seams.

    Those indie knockoffs - they irritate me!

  4. I baste 99% of everything I make. For me sewing is a slow and methodical process. I love hand sewing anyway, so basting was one of the first technique that my mom taught me when I was beginner.

    Walking Foot: I learned to sew without it. In fact the first time I saw a walking foot used was on a quilt show back in the day on HGTV. I don’t use it, however, over time I’ve learn that sewing machine feet have their purposes and they can make your sewing experience easier at times.

    80’s Fasion: horrible.

    Indies Patterns vs The Big Four and Others: my sentiment is the same as yours. However, the Indie Patterns have a big appeal to the sewist across the pond, because they can buy Patterns that are not downloadable and don’t have to be trace off to use them. Once you leave the United States, the price of any Patterns from the big four is prohibited ($ 20-30 per pattern).
    As for me, I’ve never seen an Indie pattern that was not a remake of an existing pattern that has been around for ever. The only difference is that the Indie Patterns have name instead of numbers.

  5. You are right...we love your random threads posts.
    I need to do more basting. I didn't sew for many many years due to my work schedule. Now that I am retired, I am picking it back up. Thanks for the reminder to baste. I have had several mishaps that would have been remedied had I basted.

    Also...not a fan of the Indie patterns. I hate all the piecing, but most I have found are just real simple knockoffs and don't really sew up with a polished look, such as facings in armholes are not used nearly as much as bias strips.

    No to 80's fashion. We looked awful in our large clothes with shoulder pads. I am not a fan of skinny and tight that is out there now, but somewhere in between.

  6. Setting sleeves -- I do a hybrid insertion and I believe Louise Cutting has a video. Sew it flat from notch to notch, putting the sleeve on the bottom to let the feed dogs help you with the ease. Then sew the side seam of the sleeve and the side seam of the garment separately, creating the circles. When you slip the sleeve into the armsyce, it is easy to finish in the round because that section of the sleeve has no ease, it should be a perfect fit if you've matched your notches. This is the ease of sewing flat, and the fit/feel of inserting in the round. Quick and easy ... no more sleeve fear!

    1. HI Gayle, I do that sometimes also, usually on knits, but couldn't figure out how to explain it here. you detailed it beautifully!

  7. Love it when you get on your "random threads" soap box. BTW when you teach are your students using scissors or rotary cutters? Or pattern/fabric depending?

    1. They can use either one, depending on their preference. I actually think scissors are faster and I only use scissors. Again, habit and what I have always done. (plus not having a space to put a big cutting mat.) I think you have more control with scissors.

  8. In reverse!!
    That cork fabric is AWESOME. The 80s are back. It's so sad.

    Flat sleeves? Only on knits / raglans. I had this whole discussion once with someone. See, I am a scientist. So I knowingly (or not), turn so much of everyday life into an experiment! I challenged her to sew one sleeve flat and one in the round on her next muslin and see how they feel (tldr: I did this. It is different on wovens especially).

    KonMari? Snooze. My second vacuum cleaner brings me no joy but it does save me from lugging the big one up and down the stairs. So I'm keeping it! LOL!

    Refashioning? No thank you.

    Copycat patterns...ehhh. Colette and Tilly just baffle me. I don't know exactly why their patterns sell. New Look and Burda have pretty much anything they offer...and with better drafting I'm sure.

    Walking foot - I LOVE MINE! But I don't have a car priced machine. I'm fine without most of the time. But the last two items I made from a poly georgette (the print is gorgeous, making the hassle worth it!) needed that foot for top stitching. I just wasn't getting a good result and it takes 60 seconds to swap the foot. But then mine cost like $25...

    Basting. Yes. Yes. Yes. I won't say I do it EVERY time, but often. I also use lots of pins for setting sleeves and sew over them. And yes, I very often need to correct a section on sleeves or other curved areas.

    This was an awesome random thread! LOL!!!

  9. Agree 100% on indie patterns. Most look frumpy to me & nothing that hasn't been done before. I really don't get the fascination with them.

  10. You strike a chord with your comment on the importance of basting as a tool to easier and more professional sewing. My mother and both grandmothers forced me to embroider as a young child, waaaay before I was allowed anywhere near a sewing machine. How I hated it! But, it was the foundation for my being very comfortable with handwork today, including hems and other hand finishes required on garments. I cringe at the new sewists avoidance of handwork, resulting in their garments ending in unfinished (raw) hems or hems that are simply turned up and straight-stitched by machine. Works on some garments, but not on all.
    The other soft spot you touched on that has made me curious (since I've been reading blogs) is why some sewists automatically cut off some of curved cap of a set-in sleeve in an attempt to make it easier to set in. I don't understand why this is done...especially if the sleeve is not pilfered from another pattern or is a design change. I agree that a simple basting step, matching notches and dots with gentle handling will produce perfect results more often than not.
    P.S.: I am also someone who sews over old sewing machine handles it (not my serger) without breaking needles (some models/brands do not), and basting at a slow speed over pins has been part of my repertoire for all the years 60+ I've been sewing.
    That's enough from me today, lol...I just had to jump in on this your random posts! Wishing you well...I miss the Bay Area (and Stone Mountain)...and love reading your posts and following your beautiful sewing projects!

  11. What a great Random Threads post! On Basting: Love it!!! I even buy Corticelli silk thread online (Etsy) for all my basting. On Walking Foot: great for quilting/very heavy fabrics, but for clothing, I find I really don't need it, especially if I'm basting. Sleeve insertion: for tailored shirts and blouses, and T-shirts without much ease, I'm all for the flat insertion method, and that way I can get a nice flat felled seam on the shirts/blouses. I'd love to try the hybrid insertion by Louise Cutting. 80's fashion: Oxymoron.

    I just found your blog recently and will definitely look up your other Random Threads post. Thanks for the rant!

  12. Basting, YES! But I use machine embroidery thread. It's cheaper than silk and just as slippery. And INDIE patterns. What on earth are they thinking? Someone just released a pattern recently, and my comment was, "Yes, it was cute when Vogue released it ten years ago and much, much cheaper. Not an original idea in the least." (my comment was deleted. : ) Why do they think we will take a risk on something both ordinary and more expensive? Not to mention a ton of taping trouble. I just don't get it!

  13. Have to weigh in on the walking foot. I resisted because of the price (I have a Bernina) for a long time, and when I started quilting I got one mid-quilt. What a difference! I wondered why I waited so long. It is useful beyond quilting. I find that when you need it, it really makes a difference and takes the struggle out of sewing. I am a fan of having the right tool for whatever job.

  14. I am a self taught sewer, starting in junior high school. When I got to college I decided to take a sewing class to see what new things I could learn. Well. I learned the importance of grading seams, I think that's about it! But one thing the instructor said that makes sense to me is that, when sewing parts of a garment together, you get the best fit by sewing the seams that go around the body last. So if I'm making a more fitted blouse, I sew the sleeves as set in sleeves. A larger tunic or something with deep armholes--not so necessary.

  15. Okay, I'll defend Kon Mari :). First, I haven't read one of her books or done the high-level organization project, but I've been intrigued, watched videos, read excerpts, etc. I use some parts of the method. For instance, I have a tendency to keep t-shirts too long. So, now I look at it and ask if it makes me happy or is useful. Usually, the faded shapeless thing does not make me happy and reminds me that I only wear it when laundry is way over due; it just reminds me of how terrible it looks when I wear it. Off it goes. On the other hand, I have a particular old t-shirt that I just love. It stays in the drawer. I think that is consist with the method. I can see how this sorts of decisions could be quite helpful to some people I know who are not hoarders but might feel stress about accumulations.

    The media likes to hype it as a throw-away-everything method, but I don't think that's what it is about at all. It's more like, don't feel guilty about throwing away the broken teapot if it makes you sad to see it. I think part of it is because Mari herself is Japanese, and there is a kind of "honor" to things. You can appreciate an object but also acknowledge that you don't want/need it any more. In Japan also, many people live in very small spaces. (I can relate). What you choose to live with is important because it directly effects you every day.

    Another thing I like about Mari is that she is not advocating buying tons of plastic boxes or something else that ultimately adds to our planet's problems. She says to reuse other things. For example, I have organized some of my sewing elastics and other small things in nifty little "beauty" subscription shipping boxes. I like looking at those colorful boxes, and since they are being reused, they didn't need to be tossed either. A simple idea, but we don't necessarily need a ton of matching Martha Stewart or Ikea stuff to do it.

    Beyond that, I do also like Mari's t-shirt folding method and I find that my drawers stay neater and I have less stress when getting dressed. I'm still working on the sock folding though. Small apartment = pick your challenges.

    To each her own, but I think there are good things to take away from it.

  16. Flat sewn sleeves: I almost always do this. I first started doing flat sewn sleeves with knits, but then after I read David Coffin's shirt making book, I nearly always do it with woven too. The side seam runs from the cuff/sleeve hem and down to the shirt hem. I also remove ease from the sleeve cap first.

    1. The flat method works fine if there is no ease in the sleeve cap. But with set-in sleeves that fit well, it is much better to set them in round. Distributing the ease is crucial to a good fit, in my opinion. But shirt sleeves are drop shoulders generally, so the flat method works well on them and you can do flat fell seams that way.

    2. I nearly always remove all ease in the cap. I'm an adherent to Kathleen Fosanella's view on that point : ). So it is possible to use the flat method on virtually any sleeve. (I don't do puff sleeves anyway). The great thing about sewing is that there are different ways to do things -- to each, her own : )

  17. I have to say I sew a lot with my walking foot - I just leave it on the machine! That said, mine only cost $7, so it didn't come with magic dust. I didn't learn with one but I think it might depend on your machine and how well it handles various fabric.

    I also recently inadvertently KonMaried my closet when we moved back in. Only putting back in the clothes I liked helped me really clean things out and makes getting dressed a lot easier. Way fewer "meh" outfit days. That said, our house is far from minimalist looking and I totally agree about keeping tools and bits and bobs that may be useful.

    Lastly, I sew sleeves flat! But mostly only on quick knit shirts...

  18. Always enjoy the Random Threads !
    Kon Mari- I use the clothes folding for my dresser drawers. The knit top and underwear drawers are tidy and organized. As for getting rid of stuff- haven't incorporated that.
    Stretch Thread- my sister lives in another state. I frequently make us twin knit tops as we tend to like the same colors. She always manages to break the thread in the sleeve hems. I haven't had that problem with mine and we both shove our sleeves up. For the last project I used the stretch thread for the hems . So far, I haven't heard about sleeve hem resewing.
    Glad you post a garden/flower picture each time.

  19. Always enjoy your blog - random and all. I need to do more basting. But I loved your comments about the clutter! I'm 40 miles from a small town with only 1 quilt shop and a WalMart - so I save and stash. Agree with your point of view. I do sleeves per L Cuttings as mentioned in a comment above - most of the time. In a knit I tend to sew them in - in the round. The feed dogs work well to ease in what you need.

  20. Great random thread post.
    Basting. I do it when I have to. Always by machine.
    Walking foot. I actually have one for my 1970's Kenmore. Cost <$30. I used it for quilting (not piecing) an appliqued quilt and it was really helpful. Never used it for clothes.
    Indie patterns never seem very original to me and I am not interesting in taping pdf patterns together. I skip them.
    I'm not very familiar with KonMari method but I probably combine it with my idea of refashioning. Take older clothing in good condition and rather than get rid of it, refashion it. Win, win.
    Sewing sleeves flat. Always with knits, but I never wear my knits with negative ease. In the round for blouses and shirts. They just feel better to wear.
    The 80's? No thank you.

  21. Be as cranky as you want. I love to baste, by hand and by machine. I always baste neckbands and sleeves. I basted most of Alex's dress together by hand. I have issues sometimes sewing very stretchy knits, so I tried my expensive, barely used walking foot since I like to sew with my sewing machine before I use my serger. It was good for awhile but then it just stopped working. Huh? Anyway I finished the rest of the top without it. I'll leave it in the drawer.
    Yeah, I have 3 vegetable peelers and about 4 pyrex pie plates. I've got half a dozen tart pans and so on. If i have room for them, why get rid of something just to get rid of it? I don't bother with spending money on books to teach me how to get rid of things. Meh.
    Sleeves? Always in the round, even knit sleeves, thought this is a more recent method for me. It's more comfortable.

  22. I appreciate your Random Thoughts post! There are so many great topics this time around. For basting, I do it a lot for the reasons you mentioned. I will always baste!
    Stretch thread!!! I want to understand it, really I do. I use a stretch stitch so I have not had an issue with thread breaking. Maybe it makes sense for something I don't do.
    Sleeves--I do a flat insertion for knits, but round insertion for wovens.
    Pattern releases--I feel a bit lackluster about the new releases too. I am not sure why. I think I am just overwhelmed by SO many choices.
    Indie patterns don't bother me if I appreciate the company and styling. I actually don't mind supporting indie companies because it creates options in the sewing world. When I first started sewing, there were only a handful of choices and the discrepancy between what you could sew vs. what you could purchase in store was huge. I think indie companies help keep the Big 4 and others on their toes, making sure they provide for the consumer.
    I am finding I stick to certain brands, while experimenting every once in a while with others. I don't always agree with the pricing of indie patterns but most people justify it due to better instructions and illustrations. I have lots of friends who are beginner sewists who value how much easier it is to understand Indie instructions.
    Walking foot-I use mine 90% of the time, but also sew without it. I am all for tools that help you achieve better results, but I am also about having a good foundation first. Lol at magic sewing dust! I need that!

  23. I baste the tricky bits and enjoy the hand work. Sleeves usually go in in the round unless very very full when I use the Louise Cutting method. Walking foot as an attachment I found bulky and clumsy BUT since buying a machine with built in IDT (Independent Dual Transmission) I love it and quickly notice if I have disengaged it. PDF patterns have appeal when postage costs can double pattern price- recent love would have cost $40 with postage and that was before currency conversion!! Love your posts which I always read via Feedly

  24. I don't think you are cranky. You are just a very experienced seamstress who has tried various methods and have preferences. I do baste and I do use the built in walking foot on my Pfaff (since the 80's) so I am a fan. Like you I dislike most 80's patterns but have a soft heart for the 60's. PDF patterns are annoying! Karen

  25. You are right that basting sometimes can save time.

    I don't see the appeal of most indie patterns, either. And the cost vs Burda and the big 4?!?

    I think that Marie Kondo has to be taken in context. The life history stuff about working in a Buddhist temple and that she wears all white to her clean-out consulting gigs is telling. Buddhists wear all white outfits only for funerals.

    She's selling a death cleaning.

    I view my stuff diet as a life-long practice. The goal is to enjoy my life while balancing my available space, $, and to leave minimal stuff-work for my survivors to deal with.

  26. I definitely have brand loyalty with patterns... and if Big 4 were cheaper and more accessible, I'd probably be brand loyal to them! Cashmerette and Jalie are brands that I always get good fit with, so I do wait eagerly for their new releases!

  27. I baste almost everything. Sometimes people laugh, but I get better results. I love the Torre cotton basting thread from Bias Bespoke. If necessary, you can sew right over it and then remove it without disturbing the machine stitching.

    I've never used a walking foot, but basting seems to be a more flexible, and equally efficient substitute. I bought one, but have never bothered learning how to attach it.

    My feelings are simiar about the the KonMari method, and you're right, it is another trend that we're being sold on.

    I hated the '80s the first time. I knew that most of the fashions were ugly.

    Refashioning is great, when it's done well, but that's often not the case.

  28. Thank you for your post. I baste as you do and definitely feel that I have more control in the end. I appreciate your stand on sleeves in the round, I thought there was something wrong with me because I felt the same as you do. I have learned a lot from your blog and would love it if you would teach on line for those of us who live in other states and cannot attend your classes live.
    Thank you for your fine sewing contribution

  29. Basting-yes
    the 80's -don't remember them...I had three small children and a full time job...ack (yes I made their clothes too)
    Walking foot- bought one for my Husqvarna and I will use it periodically. Usually you want the feed dogs to help ease things, but not always...evens the feed for top and bottom, and I love mine.
    Kon Mari- hmmm, once I start petting the fabric, that is it for the day. I love all of it.
    Patterns-I live in an area with limited shopping, so being able to download a pattern is both convenient and scary...self control ladies.
    Sleeves- flat insert for knits, and in the round for wovens.
    Great post.
    Barb from Canada

  30. RE: walking foot
    I bought one for my old Bernina 25 years ago and it is still going strong, so a great investment IMHO. I use it mostly for quilting. It is absolutely necessary when sewing velvet, or thick fabrics--and I baste those as well.
    When I want to declutter, I watch episodes of Hoarders ;-)
    RE: patterns--I support any endeavor that gets people interested in sewing. Gretchen Hirsch, whatever you think of her work, has encouraged and inspired many young women to take up the needle. And I love that the Big 4 and other pattern companies are developing cos-play patterns--one more way to get women AND men to get in the sewing room.
    80s--at the time, women were entering male-dominated professions, such as law and business, in record numbers. I remember essays about 80s fashion trends--large shoulders, et al.--positing that this was a way for women to gain physical presence and power (manspreading, anyone?). And don't get me started on the neon lycra/spandex that became so widespread!
    Sleeves--lots of pins if in the round (and basting); not so much for flat sewing (knits, dropped shoulders)
    Great post!

  31. I'm with you on all counts!!! Basting...the bread and butter for my bridal business. The 80's....let's skip everything about it! One more indie sweatshirt pattern...please make it stop! Walking feet...came with all my machines...they have never been used...for goodness sake, learn how to use your human tools...your fingers!Flat sewing of sleeves...never! Keep being keeps us all on our toes. I too have enjoyed the real creativity with the suit refashioning ...we could use more of that!!! Love your insight!

  32. Beth--I curve your random comments!! Keep it coming, sista! I love your practical thoughts; you seem so down to earth. TY for taking the time to blog.

  33. PS: I'm with you on the basting. Not sure if I agree about the sewing sleeves in flat. As if you care, lol.

  34. Beth, I love your blog and I especially love your Random Threads posts! I don't think you're cranky at all! I usually think of a million things to say, then never do it...mainly because I read most email on my phone but don't like typing anything longer than a text on it! I logged into my computer just to weigh in on this thread! :-)

    On basting - thank you for the tips! I can think of many problems that may have been avoided by basting, and plan on using it in my future sewing!

    I have a walking foot - it came with my machine - and I use it occasionally. Not super often, but any time I think an uneven feed will mess me up. I can see where basting would replace that need. I am also a "gadget person." I get it from my grandpa! I am a sucker for any gadget that I can see myself possibly using. When I first started sewing, I took lessons from a lady who would not use gadgets - she would use a pin head to poke out corners even as all of her students were holding out various gadgets designed for doing just that!

    I've only ever bought one Indie pattern, and I haven't made the dress yet. I mainly buy patterns at estate sales and when JoAnne's or Hobby Lobby have them on sale for a buck or two. I have so many I want to make, I have a hard time justifying the price of an Indie.

    I followed a few of the Refashioner challenges, and am amazed at a lot of what gets done. Sometimes I keep old clothes, thinking I can use parts of them for sewing, and sometimes I throw those same old clothes out because my sewing room is crowded.

    I've only read a few blog posts about KonMari. I have my own methods of organization, and while I have semi-hoarder tendencies, my stuff brings me joy, so I should be good, right?!

    Sewing sleeves flat: ummmm...I have only ever sewn them flat. Mind you, I haven't actually finished many garments, and even fewer finished for myself (vs my granddaughters). Aforementioned sewing teacher taught us flat, and I was mystified why anyone would take more time and effort to do them in the round! that I've read all the comments, I am going to write a note on the "half and half" method mentioned above, and I'm going to do the challenge of sewing one each way on a muslin and see the difference.

    The 80s:: NO THANK YOU!! I recently bought over 100 patterns at an estate sale for $20 or so. They were in bags of 6, and I didn't want to go through all the bags and see what I really liked, so for the price I decided why not?! I went through them all and created a massive spreadsheet, and that made me realize that I love the 60s and 70s the most, and the 80s and 90s the least. Hideous clothes in both eras!! I am sure I wore most of them, as I graduated from high school in 1987, but I was very fashion un-conscious back then, so maybe I didn't wear them that much?!

    I've never sewn with cork, but I love making bags! That's one thing that I've actually done quite a bit of!

    Finally, thank you for the garden pictures. I love them all! Whew, my fingers hurt now! :-)

  35. Beth, how much to respond to! I baste a ton, mostly by hand and occasionally machine (although my previous machine had the most perfect basting stitch and my brand new super 7mm width plate which shall remain nameless sews terrible straight stitches in comparison to my 1962 Elna Supermatic!

    I have a walking foot and have never used it!

    I recently started trying indie patterns on a whim as there are some amazing blogger/instagram/sewists out there showing off their fantastic work. But the cutting and taping part of indie patterns isn't always worth the effort. I do have one complaint about all modern patterns as I do think that there are less seams and less fitting but I am a woven lover not knit. Even Burda isn't quite the same as it once was! So often older TNT patterns.

    Sleeves always in the round with major pins and basting...

    As for the Eighties - they should be left far back in the distance of time and forgotten.

    Thank-you for your amazing blog - an appreciative admirer.

  36. Like the others I do love a strong opinion, and if one can’t do it on one’s own blog then where?!
    I find my walking foot great for chunky knits as my machine definitely has a contrary feed that I can’t adjust.
    I baste a lot too - always knit neckbands before overlocking, always stripes when stripe matching, always invisible zips by hand first, and always facings by hand if I’m top stitching them down.
    Re indie patterns - I don’t think they can all be tarred with the same brush. Yes many release dull reinventions of the same wheel but some are very fashion forward. I’d be interested in the age groups of the commenters only because I think a lot of the indie patterns do appeal a lot more to younger seamstresses. The other positive of a few of the j indie companies is drafting for specific body types - pear shape, bigger bust sizes, plus sizes - which can only be a great thing for such ladies. For me a big deciding factor on an indie pattern is whether they include copy shop printing because I hate cutting and taping too!
    Bring on future Random Thoughts- I love them!

  37. Wow so much info & ideas, not sure where to start. I LOVE my walking foot . It’s great for so many wonky type fabrics . Thanks for the cork info -I’ve been wanting to try it .
    I get sew much inspiration from all your posts -thanks

  38. Yay yay yay Random Threads!!

    On basting it depends, I only do it for super special things like tailoring. But I should probably do it a bit more...
    Walking foot, I never had one and never felt the need for one. But on the other hand I sew on an industrial machine sooo. I'll add that I only fairly recently realized how expensive Bernina machines were (??!!) and I'm still not over it. Seriously, over 2K? I got both my industrials (serger and straightstitch) for that price!
    I had the same thought when I saw the Colette release, I thought "this could be from any Big 4 pattern company there is nothing different anymore". But on the other hand, if I look at our "best seller" (that's a big word considering how tiny we are), it's a pleated skirt, which I consider our simplest/easier to find somewhere else pattern... Are sewers more likely to buy patterns for the same styles just like customers buys the same type of clothes over and over?
    Refashioners is sooooo good this year!!
    Konmari: I totally get the irrational dislike, it's way too much talked about. People are trying to make it into a religion or something. On the other hand, I did konmari all my things (which proved useful considering how often I move) and I do enjoy my environment a lot more since. Also, I stopped losing my keys, and my phone, and my laundry card, etc. But having read all the books, I can tell you that there is nothing there about getting rid of your pie pans. You can totally have 4, that's fine with Konmari. The sock drawer is a different story though... ;-)
    Sewing sleeves flat: I totally do it for tshirts, because I'm lazy like that. I also do it on dress shirts with no/almost no cap ease.
    I completely understand your "jaded" feeling (thanks I didn't know that word!!), I'm experiencing something similar and I think I'm gearing up to write about it in a Tidbits post. I barely open Instagram, scrolling through my feed isn't exciting, my blog reader is almost empty of new posts despite the high numbers of blogs I'm still following. I try to look at new bloggers when I see them popping up on IG but their blog posts feel like they are a mandatory step to promote their presence on some other platform, where they hope to make money in some way. On a positive note, I'm listening to the "Love to Sew" podcast and it's very pleasant!

  39. The walking foot? There are those that are integrated into the machine design and literally have a profile that is barely visible. Then there are walking feet that you buy and attach to the machine. I have used both for years and one for most of those years. The walking foot attachment is cumbersome, bulky and usually unable to do wide decorative stitches. The integrated foot, the one only Pfaff had for many many years, is barely visible, works simply, and does not hide your stitching field with it's bulk. I love my integrated walking foot. I totally dislike the walking foot attachment. My integrated foot helps me ease in sleeves perfectly. It helps install knit necklines far better than without. If you have ever sewn a pant leg that came out longer along one seam instead of matching seams, well, it didn't have a walking foot. If you make draperies or anything requiring sewing together two long lengths of fabric, I defy you to do it as well and evenly without a walking foot. I have seen the likes of Sandra Betzina, Nancy Zieman and others extol the virtues as well as teach how to use a walking foot to sew better than you can without it. I find it indispensable for tailoring. Quilters feel the same.

    But the most important point I would like to kindly make here is that if you haven't tried something, how can you judge? How can you see you don't need something when you don't even know how it works, what it can do for your sewing and have never used one, by your own admission? Or when experts endorse it?

  40. If a pattern company had sizing that matched my size and shape, I'd happily buy their patterns even if they looked exactly like other (possibly cheaper) offerings. But I'm yet to see a sizing chart in which I'm not spread across three columns.


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