Monday, May 22, 2017

Random Threads # 27: retail snooping, denim and pattern thoughts

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon so what better time than to sit outside under the patio cover eating strawberries, watching the hummingbirds zip by and catch up with a random threads post. As usual my notebook has plenty of ideas scribbled down. Scribble being the operative word. I have famously bad handwriting - such that often I can't decipher what I have written. You would think that would motivate me to go a little slower and try to make my notes clearer but no.

Which means I had one jotting that said "shopping online or in the store, mbnolpdd.sgubprdd. I have italicized the incomprehensible part of my note. What wisdom or pithy observation was included in that attempt at words we will never know but it probably had to do with the recent economic news about the not so slow decline of many retailers. It's a mixed bag, supporting retail shops. I like to support local business, and it's quite convenient for all of us when they have a web shop as well, so that no matter where you are you can buy from them. Plus I'm not the biggest fan of shopping as a pastime (actually it is so not my thing). I'm more of a strategic shopper - have a goal, find or don't find and get out.

However I did wander into the Anthropologie store the other day - there is a new multi-level store nearby, which actually took over a spot where there previously was a Barnes and Noble bookstore - so take whatever commentary on society that provides. In any case, I wanted to tell the sales people that "hey - I wore so many of these styles when I was in high school" thus proving that everything comes back in style. They have a lot of cute stuff and actually are good for getting ideas, plus I saw so many things that to my sewing eyes leapt right out of the pattern books or indie pattern shops. (time for me to trot out my oft-repeated phrase - there are no new patterns!). I did see something that sparked my interest enough to snap an iPhone pic. It is a simple enough denim shift dress which has appliqués of other colors of denim. Super cute. It was right next to another one that also caught my eye, at a mere $545 check this one out. A mix of suede and denim pieces. And so easy to make. (File that in the one of these days I might get around to it category:)  This summer I have so many denim projects in the works - and I saw this video on the Refinery29 website the other day about how jeans are made, here's the link to it. Including how they get all those holes and artfully placed slashes all over the jeans. I've always thought buying jeans with rips, holes and sanding seems ridiculous - perhaps my N. California bias is showing but I prefer original Levi's jeans or something similar that you have to actually wear into what you want them to be. That's what we did when I was 16 and some habits stay with you!

Anthro dress

Here's my question for other stitchers this week: why don't people try on things as they sew them? By that I mean in order to make adjustments before finishing. It seems like I saw a number of people sewing things up and then noting the fit problems - many of which seem like they could have been adjusted while the garment was being made. Particularly sleeves that are too long, or a skirt that is too wide. Straps that are in the wrong place. Waist seams that are too low. How about a wrap dress tie that is too long?  We can't magically add fabric when something is too small or too short but a lot of thing sto do with "too much" can be adjusted as you go. I think once you move past introductory sewing patterns and start to tackle more complex things then the desire to complete the project (which is totally understandable!) can supersede the opposing desire to slow down, check the fit and adjust. I know, tweaking and adjusting the fit is not really the most fun, the achievement of a perfect placket or a crisp collar is so much more rewarding. But the investment of time and money in the garment merits a bit of double checking as you go to get a finished time that you will be happy with.

On that same point - basting is your friend. I think machine basting is a really good way to construct most any garment. Yesterday at Hello Stitch Studio in the skirt class I taught I was extolling the benefits of basting and hopefully convinced a few to try that for their next garment, at least for the crucial fit points.

Pattern talk: it's no secret that I love a pattern with multiple views. Or multiple garments within one pattern. I'm kind of surprised that indie pattern designers don't put out more (or any) of these patterns.  I wonder why?  Sometimes there is an expansion pack released later which is additional expense. Perhaps the logistics of creating a pattern and packaging/instructions is a lot to tackle but I perceive more value with a pattern with perhaps top, skirt, dress etc. is there. . Vogue patterns have a lot of this type, with multiple pieces or views, and so does Simplicity for that matter. Here are a couple examples.

New Look 6864 patternVogue 8787Vogue 1247 skirt and top pattern

For my skirt making class one of the patterns I suggested was this one, Butterick 6182. You can guess I'm not a fan of the color palette in the top and skirt but we all were really pleased with how cute the skirt is. I said I thought the top had possibilities and maybe even the dress. And after some sewing last week I can say it does - will post the finished version soon.
Butterick 6182 pattern env

So what do you think of this new Amazon Echo Look which they call a "hands free camera and Style Assistant"?  I think it sounds like a nightmare! I suppose there are people who want advice from a variety of sources including - dare I say - a robot. But aside from all the issues with a wi-fi enabled camera taking photos in your bedroom, it just sounds like more ways to dress like everyone else. Don't do it, people! Get creative, unique and bold with your choices. That's why we sew, right? So you don't have to limit yourself to the ready-to-wear choices available.

Back to my actual sewing. A few weeks ago when I posted this McCalls pattern t-shirt  I showed how I lowered the front seaming so it was in the right place for me. Thus the upper part of the diagonal seaming didn't match up but since it was a knit I could ease/stretch to make the side seams match. Someone noted that I should have also adjusted the back to make the front and back exactly the same - however the idea is to adjust only the front, and have no change in the back. I wanted to revisit that and show that the seaming matches up perfectly along the side, and is only off at the top near the sleeve where it will not show. This is intentional as that is the place where the space is needed. So if anyone was wondering about that pattern and not sure about that adjustment give it a try.

side seam match diagonal strip t-shirt

Do you feel the online sewing world is slightly fractured these days? A lot of people have noted that they find they are blogging less, or commenting less, and/or tilting towards Instagram to connect with other sewers. I do post on IG and get some great sewing inspiration by seeing what people are posting but I don't like reading/commenting there so much. I bet like a lot of people, IG is something you look at on the run - so a quick glance and it doesn't really penetrate into your thoughts, and it has something of the firehose effect, just a blast of photos passing by making it difficult to remember or go back to anything interesting. I wonder what the next development will be? I love reading so blogs are my preferred category. Once in a while I might click on someone's video within their blog and I always think "get a move on"  If I see the length of the video is more than 2-3 minutes then nope - I could read multiple posts in that time. Just too slow for me. What about you - videos, do you watch?

Ok that's plenty of my opinions and observations for one day. Sometimes I read over these Random Threads and hope that I don't come off as a too cranky. There's so much great online content for those of us who sew but it is kind of fun to see if the stuff that I notice is noticed by anyone else.

What have I been sewing? A few things for sewing clients which are notable enough to have a post soon. I am on a denim kick as I mentioned earlier so here's a sneak peek of something I referred to above. If this fabric looks familiar its because I used it for a skirt for my friend Alice last summer and liked the fabric so much that I bought some for myself. This one has turned out to be a perfect match of unusual fabric with the pattern so I am HAPPY with this one.

Denim eyelet dress peek

Whew it is a hot one here in my corner of the Bay Area today. Like summer dress and sandals hot. Which is great for the tomato plants but a bit much in my sunny sewing room. Oh well, be careful what you wish for, right? I always want summer to be here but spring was so lovely...

Happy Sewing, Beth

How about this for today's garden photo. Alice took this one with her professional camera and it really shows. What a gorgeous photo. Also - I didn't plant this allium, it just appeared in the flower bed. Sometimes in a bag of bulbs there are some randoms but this was a lovely surprise. Might have to look for these next year.

allium v1


  1. I agree that IG is a quick fix , but I still love reading blogs ! I feel like the writer is sitting with me ! I'm also on a denim kick -just havent embraced the big sleeve trend yet or at all !

  2. Yes I love blogs still, so much more to learn. IG is fun but it's a bit goldfish-like, 2 seconds and it's out of the brain, onto the next pretty pic...

  3. I'm not on IG anymore but definitely prefer blogs. Can't do YT videos. I don't even watch news clips on video. I can read WAY faster than you can talk. And I have things to do!

    I love that denim in your sneak peek! Lovely!!

    And I had to turn the heat back on the other day. Spring has not sprung. :(

  4. Great post. Thoughts - Barnes and Noble is the only retail store I've even been in for years (other than JoAnns)... I dislike videos in blogs, on IG, on FB, anywhere. A little too much for me. And if it's a video of someone sewing badly I get irritated. So I avoid. The latter applies to sewing tutorials in general - someone who does it better be a better sewist than I am:-) That sounds intolerant, but they bug me. Now, the fit whine and moan thing. I don't get it either! and Pattern Review is rampant with examples. I've more or less left the PR fold. so - I love to read blogs and enjoy writing mine. I do macro lookups on Pinterest, and I do follow a few people on IG. I like when someone posts a pic in a natural environment, where they live, etc., so interesting.

    Happy week! and thks for this nice post. Coco

  5. I love is like eye candy, but blogs are still my favorites. I love reading and seeing the process of one's thoughts.
    As for the not stopping to fit it while sewing: I think that fits in with our present culture of wanting something instantly. You can get that kind of fit in any store these days. That is why sewing your own is great. You can get a much better fit. Also, that takes a bit more skill and many don't want to slow down long enough to learn that.
    I always love your random threads posts.

  6. Viva le blog! I blog once or twice a week, and it feeds a totally different part of my soul than IG. I really appreciate having a record of my 5 years of sewing, and end up referring back to my own posts fairly often! On IG, it's an instant fix and then posts fade away for good.

    I *always* try things on as I sew... but I'm not very good at it sometimes! I made a pair of culottes today, and I could tell the waistband was coming up a bit loose... thought I'd fixed it, and then by time it was done, it was even looser than I originally expected! I struggle to predict how fabric will hang with the full weight of the garment, I guess!

  7. I am an obsessive self-fitter when sewing. I know that if it doesn't fit right that I won't wear it. I also know that if I have to go back and resew some bit after it's "done," I may not actually get it done. I'm just terrible about getting around to things like that, or doing things like replacing broken zippers.

    Surprised that I'm not the only here that doesn't like videos. I don't mind going to YT to look for some specific tutorial, but I don't like them as a part of a blog - most are too long or too slow. This is probably because I used to do video editing and I have zero patience for stuff that IMHO should have been edited out. I'll take the written word first nearly any time! (And thank you, Beth, for sharing your thoughts!)

  8. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote - I try garments on st every possible step because I'm so impatient to see how they will look! It's so easy to shorten a sleeve before it's finished ...

    And although I am on IG and enjoy scrolling through, I definitely prefer blogs. I like to see more than one photo and I like to read all the nitty gritty details. And I don't click through to videos. Too much effort and I prefer to read. People tend to ramble on video way more than they do in blog posts as well.

  9. Your blog is one of my top five favorites! I have an Instagram account but rarely open the app. I do look at some pattern company's Facebook pages and see lots of inspiration photos, but I much, mich prefer reading and in particular reading about the process of garment sewing, the selection of fabric, selection of pattern, seeing the finished garment on a real person and that's just not possible with a pic only and a caption. I love you pattern and fabric suggestions, too. Reading sewing blogs in my relaxation from an overwhelming life. I hope you don't ever stop blogging!

  10. I love reading blogs, and I blog! On the other hand, I just joined IG as a way to easily keep up with a log of my sewn items for the year. I can't say that I totally understand how it all works, but it is nice to see inspiring works of others too. I also like YT channels, yet the ones I follow and look forward to the most are definitely personality driven.

    I too try on things as I sew! Lately, I have been getting better at fixing my fit issues, but when I first started sewing, I would see the issues, but not know what I needed to do in order to fix them. Also, sometimes fixing one thing would lead to the need to fix something else. In essence, I just needed (and stil need) the confidence to make effective edits to the garments I sew.

  11. Thank you for publishing your thoughts, they definitely do not come off as cranky. I think there's a natural tendency to censor what your write but if you do it to extreme, it ends up bland and uninteresting. Enjoyed this one immensely

  12. Thank you so much for remaining faithful to blogging. I love your posts! (And you described IG so perfectly - using the term I have been searching for but couldn't find: "firehose". Exactly!)

    Big time blog reader here - no IG (or FB) for me.

  13. Much food for thought there! I fit as I sew much less these days because my sewing time is really limited and if I faff with fit I would never finish anything and therefore never have any new clothes! It also helps that I have a better idea of my body shape than when I started out so I can get close enough to a decent fit by adjusting the pattern when I trace it.

    I hope blogs don't die. I'm trying out Instagram reluctantly but not loving it.

  14. I have to agree that IG is a quick fix but I definitely prefer to read blogs. Also you've given me plenty to think about and I must say that I've always tried things on and fitted as I sew - it was how I was taught. Maybe it's because I'm short and lengths always needs altering which I do on the pattern before cutting, but mostly it's because that's how mum did it.

  15. I also prefer reading sewing blogs to following sewists on IG.

  16. Re: trying on garments during the sewing process - I'll never understand why sewers don't do this. As soon as I get a garment "enough together" to try on, I do. That's what my Mom did - she would tweek and pinch all through the process. My sister and I would tell her,"Mom, the dress will be worn out before it is finished with all this trying on and taking off." I'm thankful that she led me my example. She was a self taught sewist and a perfectionist. I loved that she sewed for us.

    Re; Blogging - yes, I miss so many blogs that "used to be." However, I don't blog much anymore. I feel I seldom have much of interest to others and I never had a huge following (which doesn't bother me). I have more responsibility on me now with family commitments and caregiving so I don't sew as much and don't blog as much. I don't instagram and don't follow anyone who does. Social media is just not my thing I guess, and that is perfectly fine with me. To each his own.

  17. Beth, I love your posts. I have been following you since you helped DidYouMakeThat. How long ago is that? I often refer to your posts for guidance. Just recently, I made Vogue 9205 and re-read your comments on that pattern. Like you, I am not a shopper. Get in and get out. My husband is the shopper; thank the gods for iPad while I am waiting. I think you might be left-handed; they tend to have un-scrutable writing but generally can decipher it for themselves. Thanks for a great start to my morning.

  18. I'm not big on shopping either, but I find that looking at high-end clothes tends to re-ignite my will to sew when it seems to be slipping away.

    I usually try things while I sew. Actually for most things I "mentally" sew them even before cutting and decide where/when I'll adjust for fit. For instance I was working on a skirt this weekend that I knew I would only adjust at CB so I didn't try it on before everything else was put together. Actually I think that detailing at what stage should you adjust which part of the garment, or something along those lines, would be an interesting thing to look at for your Craftsy posts. What do you think? Or did you write something similar already?

    That Lisette skirt does look very nice, and I'm thinking could be interesting too. I'm liking more and more Liesl&Co and Lisette patterns these days... For some reasons they were under my radar before!

    As always, you capture perfectly my thoughts on the fracture sewing world. To be honest I'm torn. I'm trying to get back into writing more blog posts because I love the conversations they start but I do see a somewhat drop in commenting. It's hard to know if it's because the content is not engaging or just because people don't read/comment as much as they used to.
    On the video, I feel like you. Everybody says it's the future but I just don't have the time and environment to watch videos. In my opinion, most of them are too long for the content they provide. Plus I can sneak blog reading in the elevator or during breaks when I'm at work, but certainly not watching videos... That said, I'm exploring what kind of video content we could create for Just Patterns.

    I can never get enough of random threads!

  19. I still enjoy reading blogs but I'm doing less of it due to lack of time. I used to spend more time reading blogs than sewing! Now I'm​ trying to change that! Homeschool life makes it very difficult for me keep up with blogs or social media. It can be pretty overwhelming which is why I like IG mainly because I struggle to find time to blog.
    I was at Anthropologie yesterday as a matter of fact in Nashville. They're my go to store for inspiration.
    I too always fit as I sew but do forget sometimes and bitterly regret it. I had to completely undo my front knot Burda dress because the size 40 (my usual size in Burda patterns) was way too big on me.