3 Rules to Break when Sewing (especially clothes)

Happy Wednesday!

So for this week I wanted to talk about some “rules” I think are meant to be broken. Of course, there are some aspects of sewing that you should probably follow pretty closely unless you don’t mind having wonky results. I’ll post about those later. For today though I wanted to share 3 ‘rules’ I hear often and why I think they are essentially crap. I’ve heard about these rules mostly online, some were told to me directly and some I read about from various sources. I follow one blog where the poor girl gets nasty emails about how her ‘techniques’ are ‘all wrong.’ Terrible stuff really. So while ‘they’ in this case are elusive and anonymous, these are rules I’ve seen often enough that I want to write about why I dislike them. Tell me about rules you dislike (or break often) and why in the comments.

Even Hermione does it!

Even Hermione does it!

1) Don’t Use Quilting Cottons for Clothing

I’ve heard this rule quite often. I’ve been told that quilting cotton isn’t ever good to use for clothing and that is isn’t ‘good enough.’ I break this rule a lot for several reasons.

One is that quilting cotton is comfortable. If you wash it before working with it and get the treatment off that they use to make it ‘shiny’ you’ll notice it can be very soft against your skin.

Two, it comes in a lot of cute novelty prints. I’m not going to avoid using it when it’s just so darn cute.

This is a great example of a novelty print I adore and if I want to make a dress out of it you can be very well assured that it will happen.

This is a great example of a novelty print I adore and if I want to make a dress out of it you can be very well assured that it will happen.

Three, cotton fabric is hard to find in the apparel section that isn’t also made with synthetic fibers. I don’t want my entire wardrobe made with polyester, nylon or spandex and I like having more options available to me.

Four, clothes work out quite well in quilting cotton. Of course, like any piece of clothing you make, you want to choose the best fabric/print for the pattern but that doesn’t mean that quilting cotton would never work well.

Finally, despite being told otherwise, no I don’t think people can tell when I use quilting cotton and no I don’t think they care. Really? People know and/or care that I use quilting cotton to make clothes? Honey, no.

Case in point: this shirt is made from quilting cotton and I'll be damned if it didn't work out perfectly.

Case in point: this shirt is made from quilting cotton and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work out perfectly.

2) There are certain ways to create certain clothes

When making clothes, there are certain patterns or techniques we use to create certain shapes or effects. Pleats, darts, other similar techniques, are all used to fit tricky fabric to our body nicely. I’ve heard many times that I’m not supposed to deviate from these techniques and unless I’m an expert at creating patterns from scratch I shouldn’t attempt to do so.

This is crap. Total, utter, crap. Fitting clothes properly is such a tiresome area of sewing. It seems that getting the proper fit takes ages and that it’s almost impossible from a perfectionist standpoint. That being said, there are no ‘proper’ ways to do it. There are some techniques to use but how and when to use them is always up to the person sewing and no one else. This is something I’m trying to do more and more often, break away from the idea that if I don’t do things ‘by the book’ someone will care. Let’s be honest, no one does.

don't care

3) Certain Tools are Required to Properly Create

This is crap on multiple levels. Mostly because it is incredibly elitist. To think that certain tools are superior is unnecessary at best. For example, tracing patterns. Of course, you don’t have to trace your patterns but if you do there is no reason to use whatever paper you feel is best. Now I use Pellon tracing material and before that I used butcher paper. Both work great and I use the Pellon simply because I like it better. There is otherwise no difference between them or why I should use them. The same can be said for many other tools. Of course, sewing machines are different but even then you should find the tools that you are most comfortable with. If you like Gingher scissors, great, but you can also prefer Fiskars. I have both. Just experiment and do what you like best.

These might be really pretty...

These might be really pretty…

But these also work for pattern weights and are cheaper.

But these also work for pattern weights and are cheaper.

So what do you think? Are there any ‘rules’ you dislike or realized are not really necessary? Do you agree with my list so far? Let me know, and if you’d like updates every week sign up to get notifications straight to your email.

Until next time,

—Bethany Out

Advertisements

Getting Back into the Groove

Having a machine again is so nice!  I’ve been so happy sewing and making things again, and it’s even better because I have time now that school is out.

I’ve decided for this month I’ll just get my groove back and make as much as I can.  Starting next month though I want to focus on technique and improving my skills.  I’ll practice seam finishing in July, and in August I’ll tackle hand sewing.  Since hand sewing is so integral to fashion and costume making I figured it’d be best to start doing it more so that my pieces are better made and therefore last longer.  It will be hard but so worth the time.

My cat likes to 'help' me work.

My cat likes to ‘help’ me work.

I’ve already been quite busy this first week with my machine though!  I’ve made a dress for myself, started a costume, and made my mother a couple of kimono cardigans. The dress is made of the loveliest floral fabric, with roses and chrysanthemums on a teal background. I don’t usually go for teal but this fabric is so gorgeous I couldn’t say no.  I even have enough left for another skirt or shirt, so I’ll be getting on that soon.

This fabric is just a dream to look at, slightly difficult to work with.

This fabric is just a dream to look at, slightly difficult to work with.

I learned a lot from this dress, and working with the neckband was interesting.  My fabric was so delicate and sheer I had to underline it (or flatline it, I’m still not sure what the difference is). Either way, I took another type of fabric, sewed them together, and then continued as if it was one piece of fabric.  It’s a slightly different process than just lining it, and worked out better because the darts needed for shaping the dress would have been too bulky with regular lining.  I used tailor tacks for the first time and man were they amazing! they kept everything in place and so it’s a technique I’ll use much more often.  The end result is just worth the time.

The tailor tacks were really helpful.

The tailor tacks were really helpful.

The costume dress is part of a series I want to work on involving mythical creatures.  I want to bring them to life and give them a fashionable look. My first creature is the Loch Ness Monster.  For whatever reason I’ve decided that Nessie is a woman, and so her costume will be ‘Lady Loch.’  She actually has 2 looks; one is more elegant and the other is more of a party dress.  Though even the party dress will be fashionable and meant for a gala rather than house party.  I’m working on the party dress now, because the other one is much more complicated and will take me a while to finish.  The party dress is more simple, a basic princess seam bodice with circle skirt (skater dress) made of this gorgeous green taffeta. The fun part will be the cape (I’m obsessed with capes currently) and the extra details.

This is the basic silhouette of the dress.

This is the basic silhouette of the dress.

Finally, I’ve been practicing my sketching…which is terrible.  It’s so much fun though and such a different type of challenge.  Thankfully I don’t have to be an expert, and I’m more concerned with technical garment drawing and fashion illustration that people…so I don’t have to worry about my croquis (the ‘blank’ person used for fashion illustration) looking all that great. Here are some of the ones I have so far…and it’s ok if you laugh, because they make me laugh too!

I can't seem to make them look human! Or proportional...haha

I can’t seem to make them look human! Or proportional…haha

This is the basic plan for my Lady Loch dress, and it terrifies me! The pattern looks really tough so starting it is making me nervous.

This is the basic plan for my Lady Loch dress, and it terrifies me! The pattern looks really tough so starting it is making me nervous.

I also got some new fabric…I see dresses coming into my future perfect for summer.  I’m thinking of playing with the fabric so that there are some extra structural details to make things more interesting, and to test my skills even further.

Well that’s all for now…until next time!

—Bethany Out

A New Dream, a New Machine

For a couple of years, maybe even less, I was sewing with a Singer Simple.  It was a good machine, and treated me well.  I think it would have lasted longer if I had taken care of it, but I didn’t realize that sewing machines needed maintenance though it isn’t such a strange concept. It recently died though and unfortunately it just isn’t worth repairing it.  I’ve outgrown it and decided to get a new machine.

I was going to get another simpler and inexpensive machine but after some serious reflection I’ve decided on something I can grow with.  This is mostly because I’ve decided to go to school for theatrical costuming.  This decision isn’t easy for me, because it means I’ll be starting over with school after already doing 3 years towards an English degree.  I’ve decided to postpone my English degree for a few reasons.  One, I’m completely dissatisfied with it.  I no longer enjoy school like I used to.  That probably has something to do with the fact that I take classes online and the selection is so slim it’s pathetic. I understand that it’s a newer program but I refuse to pay over 500 dollars per credit hour on classes like travel blogging.  That’s ludicrous and I absolutely refuse to pay so much money to “learn” about travel writing.

Fashion school however, would give me a lot of hands on work I can get excited about and feel I’m actually doing something and learning.  So far I’ve chosen FIDM, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, as the school I want to attend.  I won’t be able to start until Fall of 2016 at the earliest so I have time to create a solid portfolio and prepare myself for what’s in store.  Of course, this is assuming I get accepted but I can only hope for the best.

This is the campus I have my eyes on, in Orange County.

This is the campus I have my eyes on, in Orange County.

The sewing machine I’ve chosen I think reflects what I’m looking to do in the future.  It can sew through lots of denim and layers, which is needed for costuming, and has a great motor in it to last me through the long hours I’ll be working.  It’s also made by Juki, which is a great brand that produces great machines.  I’ve chosen the Juki Excite G210.

So pretty, and incredibly heavy!

So pretty, and incredibly heavy!

Like I said, it’s got some great features and is programmable, which is exciting.  I’m used to a mechanical machine so I’m glad that I get two free classes on using it from the dealer I’m buying it from.  I’ve already seen it demoed and know it works great and fits my needs.  The saleswoman agreed and said it’s also a great step towards the industrial Juki I’ll be getting once I actually start school. I go in to buy it tomorrow so that means on Friday (my day off) I’ll be playing with it and starting on my portfolio!  I’m so excited!

Because I do expect my time to be well used with sewing, I’ve dedicated myself to blogging once per week, on Wednesdays. This will give me some time to get posts together and not run low on quality content. I’m always open to discussion and conversation, so please always comment on my posts and share your creations as I share mine!

Until next time,

Bethany