charlotte’s miscellany

So, my machine decided to have an. . .emotional incident while we were muslining what is essentially a prom dress (Simplicity 1689, without that weird flouncy thing; I’ve since proceeded to find, via GOMI, a Lekala pattern that is exactly what I wanted in the first place).  Where were we?  Yes.  The whole sewing-through-recovery thing is out the window, as Demeter has to take a trip northward to spend quality time with her Uncle Harvey, which doesn’t sound at all creepy.  I’ve had a few half-post ideas floating around in my head for a bit, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to round them out into full posts, so, since spring break is waning, and my posts are likely to taper significantly with my avalanche of deadlines, I figured I’d treat you to a half-baked Seam Ripped post.  You’re welcome.

Isn't it wild?
Isn’t it wild?

Screw it, I’ll show you the pattern that ruined my machine first.  Why not?  I’ve been a little afraid to try a Lekala pattern, but the Simplicity sans flounce has traumatized me sufficiently that I might venture into Lekalaland.

Thing the first:

Are there really small, borderline-insignificant things that have improved your sewing markedly?  Here are mine:

– Pin perpendicularly, stupid.  (Susan Khalje is apparently up for beatification in real life, but is super duper mean in my head.  Though, I think the first time I saw this was in a Claire Shaeffer video, or in a Singer book?  I have no recollection; I just do it.)
-I used to be a pinimalist, now I pin and Wonder Clip as if my life depends on it.  Notches not lining up?  Pins.  Mismatched stripes?  Pins.  Pleats getting caught in your seams?  Pins.  (Also basting and improper pinning, but you see where I’m going with this.)  Just don’t sew through them, if you enjoy having a complete set of eyes, yes?
–  Stay stitch, stay stitch, stay stitch.  I forgot to stay stitch my Alder’s neckline, it grew 2mm, which was just enough to ruin (ruin!) the collar.  Stay stitch.  Trust the woman who is making a new and improved collar stand and is doing 11th-hour stay stitching.  It takes two minutes.
– Collar and collar stand on the cross-grain, and interface top and bottom of both of them.
– You know that interfacing with the glue dots?  Go burn that right now.  Even-spray for life.  I get mine from Steinlauf and Stoller, but I hear that you can get it from your local fabric store, too.
– Sandwich.  Here’s how it goes: carbon paper face-up, fabric, pattern.  Trace.  Then, you take the pattern off, flip the fabric, and trace the existing carbon paper lines.  I did not know this.  This was not a thing in my life.  How?  Why?
– Buy some carbon paper.  Susan Khalje sells it.  I get mine from Pacific Trimming in New York.  I have fewer wrinkles (on my face, on my fabric, as a metaphor for my life and time) because of it.
– A clapper is a heavy piece of wood.  Get a piece of wood and put it on top of your seam when you’re done pressing it.  Textbooks work in a pinch, but some are non-porous and get steamy.
– While we’re talking about seams, when pressing, wait until they cool before moving on to the next one.  Doesn’t that make sense?  I do it with my hair, why did it take me so long to do it with my seams?
– Press your darts inside out, then inside in. This has made a huge, huge difference for my bust point smoothness, but it might just be my shite pressing skills.
– “I don’t need a press cloth.”  Oh yes you do.
– “I can use tin cans as pattern weights.”  Now you’re just being daft.  Ask me how I know.
– Everyone has a golden ratio.  Mine is 30-30-40.  Oh, what did you think I meant?  30% prep, 30% sewing, 40% pressing.  Yes, I spend a lot of my time pressing.  This is why I spend most of my other time with my chiropractor.
– Snip and rip makes you feel like a badass, but really helps keep your fabric on-grain.  I snip and rip on grain, do loads of smoothing, and then pin the selvedge evenly to make my life easier.  It really does make a difference.
– “It really does make a difference,” is this piece’s refrain.

How about you?

Thing the second:

I want one of you to start a blog series called “In Too Deep,” where a novice tackles famously hard projects.  Runner’s World has a great feature called “The Newbie Chronicles,” which, you guessed it, chronicles a newbie’s entrée into running, which is meant to get more people running.  I love it, and it is what got me running, and running is what got me spinning and yogaing and doing a whole bunch of other stuff.  I think it would even be interesting to see a beginner-to-intermediate sewer do a project from a Japanese sewing book, the couture jacket, Burda magazine or Marfy patterns, Alabama Chanin, or vintage Vogue plus difficile patterns.  I do wish one of the sewing magazines would do this, and have the beginner do it under the tutelage of, say, Natalie Chanin or Susan Khalje.  This occurred to me after reading the Coletterie piece on DIY Anxiety.

I think the reason why a lot of us get stuck in ruts is because a lot of us get stuck in ruts.  But that’s a tautology!  (A professor’s kids play a game called “That’s a tautology!”)  Everyone finds sewers with whom they identify.  I love reading Julie from Jet Set Sewing or Amanda from Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing, but I don’t identify with their sewing, because they are much better than I am.  Full stop.  I think that most sewers need someone whom they think is on their level to test the waters for them, which should dissipate the dreaded DIY anxiety, and ultimately attract more people to sewing.  If everyone else is sewing “safe” dresses, then why do you have to go on an adventure, anyway?

Thing the third

How many of you people are in the DC area, really?  I’ve been chatting with my (awesome) hairdresser about this, and we need to have some sort of sip-and-sew situation that does not involve me going to Leesburg, because I do not know how to drive, and it takes something ridiculous like three hours via bus.  Not happening.  I’ve thought of a good Metro-accessible space, and though we’d probably all need to pay something to rent it out and haul over our sewing machines, it would be nice to meet y’all and socialize.

I was at Joann a few months ago, and found the coupon book of someone who lives on my street, five blocks away.  FIVE BLOCKS.  Outrageous.  I almost wrote her a note.  She left the coupon book on the pattern cabinet, so you know she sews.  This is ridiculous, people.  Let’s get it together.  Western Virginia is beating us.  Western.  Virginia.

Thing the fourth:

On Adwoa’s advice, I got the Vlisco fabric in green!  So, look forward to perhaps never seeing a dress made out of it.

Okay, I have to go do homework, but maybe we’ll see each other soon, yes?  Maybe we won’t.  Who knows?

31 thoughts on “charlotte’s miscellany”

  1. I can’t believe what just happened, you publish a new post BEFORE I had time to comment on the previous one… I feel I could fall out of favour so I will comment quickly. 2 years after I started sewing, I admitted that wearing ease was a real thing and you could not wear 0 ease in woven. I let you imagine the catastrophic consequences of this belief on my first “garments”.

    Stay stitch… Hmmmm. Don’t like it one bit. I’m converted to the 1/2″ fusible tape (I bought it at Pacific Trimmings). The day I run out, I will have to jump on a plane the very next day.

    My sew-jo is pretty low these days. To the point that I made 5 t-shirt this weekend. They are 3 black, 2 white. 1 with a V-neck and 4 with crew neck 5 BASIC BLACK OR WHITE TSHIRTS. I don’t know what happening to me. I need a very challenging project, or to get excited by a newbie chronicle. I was thinking tailoring.

    1. Newbie tailoring would be fabulous. I really, really, really want to see a magazine like Threads do a series on this, and pair a newbie with an expert to walk them through it. For me, being a meanie, I’d think, “If *she* could do it, so can I!”

      Black and white t-shirts. Chic, at least. No navy or grey? Those are my personal t-shirt colors. Northeastern US, etc.

      Yes, I’ve been posting like a real blogger or something. I don’t know what to do. I just pulled out my ten (count ’em, TEN) UFOs, and think I’ve got some work to do. Maybe some pictures. Who knows, Tidbits? It’s a mad, mad world.

  2. I’m in DC! Well, VA technically but I work downtown so I could be convinced to stay in the city for a get together.

  3. You already know I live (near) D.C. I’ve been to the place in Leesburg (my in-laws live out there). We drove past it one day and I insisted we pull over and go in.

    It seems kind of cool. There is not a lot of (non-quilting) fabric. And the sewing space looks fairly small. But it’s cute! Kind of a Drygoods Design feel if you’ve ever been out there.

    Also, I am in Cut Sew Wear on Meetup. The ladies are cool and there are fun meetups. I’m almost never into the classes, but the general “let’s get together and sew” meetups are fun. The meetups are all over D.C. and the surrounding Md. and Va. suburbs.

    I am with you on stay-stitching, by the way. I forgot (probably in my wedding-induced panic) to staystitch the neckline on my wedding dress and it grew like crazy. Now I’m absolutely insane about staystitching ALL THE THINGS.

    1. I was at Buzz Bakery in Ballston the other day, looking at their long wooden tables and preponderance of outlets and snacks, and I couldn’t help but think, “Why not here?” It would cost $10 each to rent their sunroom, and that’s just because they have a food minimum. Why not anywhere? There is a weird aesthetic shift, I think, from places with strong “maker culture” (ick ick ick) to places where there are more worker bees.

      Finch! It is a hike, there is a lot of quilting fabric, but I quite, quite, quite like Nicole. A lot. I just got some lilac-colored eyelet and two Grainline patterns from her, plus some Japanese (?) plaid cotton, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I wish we had something more like it in DC. Or, basically Looped for sewers. But, garment sewing isn’t where the money is, I hear. Womp womp.

      I remember the wedding dress fiasco. (Anniversary coming up in a couple of months, yes? Or am I imagining things?) I’m so upset for forgetting the rule I try to expound to everyone who’ll listen. ALL THE THINGS.

  4. I’ve missed you Charlotte! I pin at a 45º angle, except for sleeves and curved hems… My pressing skills (or patience) need improving, and I would love to see that newbie-feature somewhere… Good luck with the prom-dress!!!

    1. It’s not actually for a prom, I should add. It is just a casual dress that looks ridiculously like a prom dress.

      I’ve missed you, too! I should try diagonal pinning. I do it on right angled ends, but not on straight seams.

  5. “In Too Deep”? such a brilliant idea and I’m so tempted to start it. In the past several months there have been way too many moments when I think “sewing basics? BORING! I should sew ball gowns, frilly cocktail dresses, and elaborate costumes…..just to see what it would be like”. I would most definitely be in too deep, but I am curious to see what the experience would be like. The only thing holding me back is the frivolousness of it all. Spending all that money on fabric and time to create something I would almost certainly never wear….but for a blog?? Maybe it would be worth it! Ha!

    I recently only started pinning perpendicularly and I’m amazed at how much better my seams turn out. Carbon paper….is that so you don’t have to continually trace over your pattern piece? Or is that so you have an extra copy of your pattern so you don’t have to cut it?

    1. The thing is, I think someone else should pay for it, too. Part of the reason why beginners fail at more advanced projects is lack of equipment and an unwillingness to shell out for good materials for fear of ruining it. I, personally, didn’t line with silk until very recently because of a cheap rayon incident. Well, silk lining is. my. jam. Otherwise, DO IT. A blog would be super fun. Perhaps a collaborative blog, though, so it would be lower pressure? One project every two months, with six or so contributors, but a collective pool of writing so that it doesn’t burn out? Blogs are always worth it. Look at how well-maintained this one is. Oh. Wait. I realized in class today that I am loud with a lot of suggestions. Very un-ladylike.

      Amazing, isn’t it? The pinning, that is.

      Carbon paper gives more accurate markings for darts, stitch lines, and the like, but use it also so that you don’t have to cut into your pattern. You can literally just put the uncut pattern on top of your fabric and trace it out. Like a miracle or something. I don’t remember my life before it, quite frankly.

  6. I pin with wild abandon and I have gotten all twitchy about the pins. I would like to tell you that I use free-range, artisanal pins made in Portland, but I don’t. Maybe I should make my own.

    This reminds me of a party I went to as a teenager, with an adult holding out a Marlboro cigarette to me, intoning: I have these custom made for me on a very expensive machine. I passed: I was a Camel girl from preschool on.

    A clapper is a thing that holds the steam in. A cutting board, a rolling pin, a flip flop I found nearby. I only use clean flip flops, I’m no hippie.

    I spent the better part of yesterday trying to remove the authenticity stickers from the wax print I bought off Ebay. The glue is stronger than the fabric, this may be a job for auto parts cleaner. And six wet yards is a pain to wrangle, so don’t be me, get that shit off before you wash it.

    1. I do pin with artisanal pins, hand-hewn by a master craftsman with an ironic beard who also brews kombucha and has a rescue dog named for an obscure Dutch master painter. That, or I use Iris pins, because they are sharp as all get out and come 500 to a tin. Whichever.

      We were just talking about cigarette branding in class today! How does one choose a brand, anyway? Do they taste different?

      I just bought a clapper, and I love it, but I paid $26 for a piece of wood. I live near the hardware store and a lumber place. I am also in possession of a rolling pin. I feel sort of daft.

      Oh, I just bought an order of wax to split with someone, so I’ll only have to wrangle three yards at a time. Hopefully, she’ll keep the authenticity stickers, as I haven’t the patience for them at. all. My washer is the size of a thimble, and I can literally only wash one towel with one sheet at a time, so this should be fun for all involved.

  7. on sewing meetups: I hope you find some like minded people in your area, we are so fortunate here in the bay area and some of my best friends now are people who I encountered a few years ago at meet ups.
    On that Lekala pattern with the diagonal darts in center front, I made that last summer, actually I got the pattern from Bootstrap Fashion patterns. which is quite similar to Lekala (and according to what I have read and been told the software sold by a Russian co. is the same foundation on both sites). I like the Bootstrap adjustments options a tiny bit better however they are very similar. Also Lekala seems to have more actual patterns. But back to that dress – I love it, was very pleased with the design of the bodice. I skipped that skirt and used a different one, pleat detail would have been lost in the print. In fact the bodice darts were a bit hard to see also.

    1. When I lived in New York, I loved meeting up! DC is such a different scene, though. There are great people, but there is part of me that just wants to yell, “Raise your hands, everyone! Let’s get a head count!”

      I’d never heard of Bootstrap before, but I do recall seeing you in that dress. Maybe on PR? Now I have to go rack my brain and figure out where. You’re right about the adjustment. Protruding abdomen (which I far prefer to belly, a word I’ve never gotten behind) is a nice adjustment to have around. I imagine I’d love to try a Bootstrap pencil skirt.

      Now, I have to go comment on your Donna Karan/miscellany post because I love V1236 in its own right.

  8. I’ve begun sewing over pins. I know, scandalous. I find that it’s particularly helpful when setting in sleeves.

    A clapper and quality interfacing, yes. I can’t say enough about how great these both are.

    I’ve also become less allergic to some hand sewing, which really does make a difference, you might say. Especially for buttons. When I learned that there was a button sew-on foot for sewing machines, I rejoiced, thinking I’d never have to sew on a button again. Well, I just sewed nine buttons on my Alder by hand yesterday. Mine just look so messy when I use the sewing machine.

    I’ve also realized that you need to change your needle a lot more than you would think, and I don’t just mean because they wear out. I mean that a 12 or 14 needle won’t work on everything. I’d somehow gotten the impression that those two sizes should pretty much cover me for all sewing occasions, but you really need to employ a variety of needle sizes to get the best finishes.

    1. I occasionally sew over pins, when I really need something to match, or when I’m doing French seams that are being a PITA.

      Ooooh, needle size is a biggie. I’ve got everything from 60/8 to 90/14 and denim stuff, and it really does make a difference. That, and the frequency with which you change needles. My mum waits for them to break, I just can’t deal with that stress and change it for every project.

  9. Silly Charlotte, trying to convince us that your sewing has improved over time on your blog! It’s A LIE.

    (GOMI/PR reference. Couldn’t help it.)

    I’ve all but given up on fusible interfacing and just use the sew-in kind. Even the good stuff bubbles in the wash sometimes and it drives me nuts.

    Also you must have larger sheets of carbon paper than I have. Mine are quite puny and I’d never be able to perform that trick. But it sounds dandy. I cut my fabric with the right sides facing out, fold the carbon in half, put it in the middle, then trace. This also works.

    And be warned that if you ever try to do any sewing with any kind of animal skins, you will be throwing all of these out the window. So there’s a subject for an In Too Deep, maybe. Subtitled: What Do You Mean, No Pins?

    In Too Deep could be a lot of fun, though. I think you’d have to be careful about what newbies are involved. There’s some folks who love adventure and learning new things and would really thrive in that kind of situation, but then there are others who really like the comfort of familiarity and would be just put off by making something too far outside their skill set, and then the folks who would be so traumatized by failure that they would never try again.

    1. I think we all know that blogging is the mortal enemy of life and/or sewing improvement, Andrea. Duh. Actually, the way that blogging sometimes devolves into a push to produce content (says the recently prolific blogger), rather than an attention to sewing detail, might have something to do with it. Some people become better bloggers, but not better sewers; some people do both at the same time. Marlo Thomas, etc.

      I have 39″x24″ (I think) sheets of carbon paper, and it is magical. Magical.

      Animal skins: wonder clips, scotch, Teflon foot, books? Did I miss anything? Oh, a mallet.

      Oh, I have no interest in doing or hosting In Too Deep. (Actually, I might if it were a paid gig to do over my break between school and work, truth be told.) You have to choose someone with a sense of adventure who doesn’t get daunted by the small stuff. I get disgusted with my projects, sure, but I think a certain degree of stick-to-itiveness is necessary for newbies to transition out.

      1. Also: double-sided leather tape, cold rubber or other stay tape for seams, upholstery or other extra-tough thread, glover’s needles, rotary cutter & cutting mat, little rolling thingie to press the tapes into the leather (though I just used my mallet), awl, thimble or something that works like a thimble (I used a nickel), and a duplicate of the pattern so you can lay everything out on the single layer (no folds). You can use a walking foot instead of a teflon foot and tape to stick the pattern to the leather instead of weights. Lengthen the stitches to at least 3mm. And resign yourself to some handwork. Unless you have an industrial walking-foot machine you will have some skipped stitches.

        it is fun, though.

        I guess we’ll just have to hope that someone else runs with the In Too Deep idea, then. I mean, I like throwing myself into Too Deep sewing situations, but a #sewcialist I am not.

  10. Hmm, I’m definitely at the stage of seemingly insignificant sewing lessons. My current favorite is sewing as many seams in succession without snipping the thread. And more importantly, sew opposite sides of the body in reversed direction. E.g, up one pant leg down the other. This way I choose which layer is against the feed dogs and do it consistently, it also provides a final organization and parity check on the pieces making it harder to sew one piece wrong side up, etc. And if it’s a seam that will take multiple passes, like finishing the SAs or topstitching, everything will be aligned the same so, needle position is the same for left/right body pieces. I know either makes no sense or sounds anal and stupid but I think it has helped my sewing.

    I’m in the MD suburbs and would be interested in joining a meet up, can’t be certain I could make it, but please let me know your plans. Sounds fun.

    1. Meeting up would be fun! Champagne and/or coffee. Pastry. Sewing or just chatting.

      That up-down trick sounds marvelous. Yes to sewing seams in succession. Also, have you sewed from wide-to-narrow? That was a big game changer for me, though it does somewhat conflict with up-down sewing, doesn’t it? That, and starting and ending seams with a smaller stitch-length instead of backtacking. So many little things!

  11. As a Washingtonian myself, I can commiserate about how crap the area is for hobby-related meetups. People in DC are either (a) too important to be seen to have real hobbies or (b) commuting impossible distances with little time for hobbies (or both).

    I have a few meeting tips:

    First, I joined the Maryland American Sewing Guild (ASG) Chapter this year and have gotten involved with the Crofton Neighborhood Group (NG). I can’t speak highly enough of the sewing ladies I’m getting to know. It means I have to drive out to the suburbs in the after-work hours which drives me nuts, but still I do it, once or twice a month. There’s an active Rockville NG (Helen De Roo is one of their most active members, she is the bomb and an excellent instructor and fun person), a Catonsville NG, and a great Baltimore NG that I know of in greater DC area. There are probably more, but those are the ones that have the most meetings (in addition to Crofton). There is a Virginia Chapter of ASG but I don’t know much about them.

    There used to be a DC NG that was part of the Maryland Chapter. They met at DC Threads which is at 18th and Columbia in Adams Morgan, but that group has petered out. (We could re-start it!)

    I think ASG is basically worth the annual membership cost, which is something like $45. It’s mostly but not exclusively women over 60, many very active retirees, and so so many of them excellent and somewhat compulsive sewists who love to teach younger men and women how to sew. They also arrange group outings to sewing expos and have their own sewalong weekend retreats once or twice a year, and there’s an annual nationwide conference.

    The MLK Library near Gallery Place currently has a fairly boss meeting area on the ground floor with a bit of a maker space vibe. It is free to get meeting rooms there. The disadvantages are the hours since it is a public library, and the fact that they aren’t really set up for schlepping in sewing equipment. DC Threads is a more convenient sewing space with irons and other sewing notions and stuff available right there, even though it is smaller and on the second floor of a walkup building and a bit further from Metro and parking garages.

    On the tips front, I just recently started using “silk pins” and they are great and versatile. I baste an enormous amount, and I really like the “japanese basting thread” that tears easily, so it is reasonably easy to remove once you’ve machine-sewn your seam. If the end of a machine-sewn seam will be on the finished side, I don’t backtack, instead I pull the thread through to the back and tie it off and then cut the the thread. I love my walking foot, that plus strategic perpendicular pinning and/or basting makes my seams turn out really smooth and greatly affects the finished product. I love the Claire Shaeffer books and videos. I probably have a bajillion marking tools, including carbon paper, the larger rolls are fairly available at quilting stores IMO. I use Amazon and Wawak for online sewing-tools shopping.

    I love all your ideas here, thanks!

    1. I’ve been debating saying this precisely this way, but I just have to: I love Alison, but I find Bits of Threads really depressing. And not just because it’s not (easily) Metro- or handicap-accessible. Indeed, I recently stopped by Bonny’s Sewing in Alexandria, and their makers space was just dreadful, too. I think I’m coming to this from a very New York place, where we have Purl, Workroom Social, Etsy Labs craft nights, that all are accommodating and conform to a certain aesthetic. My hairdresser and I were bemoaning the fact that you have to trek out to Leesburg for wooden floors (no pins stuck in carpets), new garment-sewable fabric, and natural light. The trifecta! Even G Street is in a basement. For shame! I haven’t been to the MLK library’s meeting place (I literally beeline to the holds section, and then hop out), but I have to check it out. My Starbucks (on 3rd and Penn SE), believe it or not, has a free reservable meeting area upstairs, with a fireplace and comfy chairs for discussion, plus tables and an enormous dining table in the conference room.

      It would be so fun to restart the DC NG of the ASG! Do we have allegiance to Maryland, to Virginia? Don’t know, don’t care. I find the DC sewing scene so funny. I gave the owner of Bonny’s Sewing a bit of a telling off, unfortunately, because he told me that no one want so to buy garment fabrics (uh, no), and that he has a hard time finding them (see: jobbers, plus Garment District trips for wholesale deals, I know the dudes who sell wholesale and used to supply G Street, it’s not that hard). There’s this weird disconnect between the suppliers and demanders that’s creating the lack of, well, everything.

      Oh, I love silk pins! I just discovered the glory and wonder of Wawak. My goodness.

  12. I always think of myself as pretty lazy in the “new techniques” department, but I do most almost all of what you suggest so I suppose I can’t be so terrible. I think a little bit of perfectionism can help in this department. 😉 There’s some DIY thrown in there too, notably in the use of a rolling pin rather than an actual clapper. I also figured out most of these things incrementally, which is not the cleverest way to do it of course. All that said, I do still mix it up and pin in parallel with the edge when it suits me, though I never sew over pins. That idea just freaks me out.

    Without having read this post I posted something this week along a somewhat similar theme (although I’m not sure I knew what the theme was at the time, as usual). I think I come out on the side of working steadily at relatively basic/intermediate techniques until there is a comfort and a fluidity there and then engaging incrementally with more complicated projects. I liken it to having a true “base” in running terms. But this is speaking from the perspective of someone who, when young, attempted pretty complex sewing projects (unsuccessfully, more or less) without either a tutor or sufficient resources. It would be easier with a tutor and studio tools, but I think there’s more satisfaction in getting there patiently and organically after one has mastered basic, staple wardrobe pieces and learned from some mistakes along the way. I haven’t read the RW “newbie chronicles,” but having been a distance runner for a very long time I can say that the slow and steady wins the race approach works best in running. Many runners don’t take this approach and it never ends well, or at least it never ends as well as it could have with a steadier, patient approach.

    Wish I lived in DC – would love a meet up such as you aspire to.

    1. Ugh. Stupid Gravatar is not letting me go over to your blog. Set me free, Gravatar!

      Anyway. Do you remember that Vogue piece from a few years ago where a Vogue editor learned how to sew. . .from Jason Wu? She used silk taffeta from Mood and made a really stunning dress, but did she hit the ground running and is she now a master seamstress? I’m sure that different people find inherent value in the different approaches. I’ve always felt so self-conscious about being largely self-taught, so I took a class over the summer, and it was a disaster. It turns out, I knew way more than I thought I did, and was rather spoiled for classroom learning by being self-taught. Sure, there are quirks to the way I do things, but they’re effective.

      Slow and steady wins the race, is pretty much always everyone’s advice, isn’t it? I’m sure that impatience isn’t an exclusively contemporary phenomenon, but damn is it prevalent.

      I wish I could have some sort of Toronto meet-up, since so many of my favorites seem to live there. Sigh. Soon!

      1. Ooh a Toronto meet up would be fun. I was born and raised in TO, although I don’t go there often anymore given that my family is no longer there. That said, I am always open for a visit to my sentimental favourite city.

        PS In thinking about it again, I’m not sure I’m always a slow and steady girl. Sometimes I think you do just have to dive in, and as someone else commented, it depends on the personality and frame of mind of the person involved. Since no injury is involved in sewing (generally!), there’s probably not much harm in leaping forward a bit. As you say, it surely would be interesting for someone who is kind of stuck in an intermediate-sewist limbo. I didn’t see that Vogue piece. Will look it up. 🙂

        I’m glad you mention that about the sewing class. I haven’t taken a sewing class, but I have a feeling this would be my experience. I’ve picked up enough over time that I have a feeling I would be over-prepared for a basic class. This has happened to me in other areas, like Italian and French. I always thought I was at a lower level than I was and then I got to the classes and found I knew more than anyone else in the room. It was surprising. An old boyfriend used to call me an “under-promise and over-deliver” kind of a person, and it seems that you are similar. It is that diligent lady economist thing, methinks! 🙂

  13. Aw, I just noticed you mentioned my blog. Thanks! Here’s how I got to my level…I started as a kid, so I didn’t know or care if my plaids matched or my seams were pressed right or my zippers were wonky. I just followed the directions and wore it to school! I never did seam finishes or worried about fit. So it’s a lot harder to start as an adult with that little naggy voice in your head.
    Then when I started sewing again after about a 25-year hiatus, I took that Susan Khalje “Couture Dress” course on Craftsy, which took my skills into a new stratosphere. Even if you don’t make it through the project, just watching it through will put you ahead of the game.
    I recently interviewed Susan. She’s a lovely person and exacting teacher. They don’t make ’em like that anymore!

  14. I bought the large carbon sheets while in LA last year. Best purchase ever. I rolled it up and brought it home that way. You can order online, but then they fold it. I didn’t want folded carbon paper! I bought one in each color, because that is the way one should buy.
    I do hope you can get a decent group together to sew! If I were in the area still I would definitely be there.

  15. Do you have a link to the type of evenspray you mentioned? I googled it but only found evenspray fertilizer.

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