Wow, did I learn a lot from this project

The polka dot skirt and top project took two months total. No wonder I’m over it! But now that it’s all done, it’s time to take stock of the lessons I learned. I learn something with every single project I make. Today, I’ll talk about construction revelations. Fitting issues are for another day.

❦ If you suspect you’ll need two spools of thread, buy them! I could have finished a week sooner if I’d bought two spools to begin with, but I thought I could get by. Really, with all those overcast seam allowances? The Sewing Gods had a good chuckle at that one.

❦ If you’ve made your own pattern, or are making significant structural changes to an existing pattern, write out your instructions ahead of time. At least twice, I had to stop, regroup and restrategize because I didn’t know how to proceed. I had almost sewed myself into a corner.

❦ Underlining increases the quality of a project. This was the first time I’ve done an underlining. It will not be the last. I love how it makes the inside look.

❦ Interfacing may not be needed if underlining is used. It certainly wasn’t necessary for my project, but I had already fused the interfacing. Softer edges would have been nice, but oh well.

❦ A serger is not necessary for a tidy looking inside. The overcast stitch on the Fancy Damn Sewing Machine finished the edges nicely. There are some threads poking out here and there because of course the sewing machine doesn’t trim the fabric, but to me that’s a fine tradeoff for keeping the serger in the back of my closet.

❦ Invisible zippers should be darker than the fashion fabric, not lighter. In theory, this should not matter because they are supposed to be invisible except the pull, but I haven’t reached that level of execution yet.

❦ Underarm zippers on a blouse go in upside down. Learned that one the hard way.

❦ Invisible zippers actually can be sewn in if you have already stitched the remainder of the seam. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Learned that one by necessity.

❦ Facings should be pin-fit into place with the facing on the inside, which is where it will be when the project is complete. I usually pin them into place with the facing on the outside because it’s easier, but I realized that that makes no sense whatsoever.

❦ Facings should not be the same size as the area being faced. Turn of the cloth must be accounted for so the facings lie smooth. Even if the fabric is thin. With trim inserted, an even smaller facing may be needed. Check the fit before sewing the facing pieces together. You may want to adjust by sewing larger seam allowances. I had to restitch my sleeve facings because the circumference was too big by about a half-inch.

❦ Catch-stitching is cool.

❦ Fun details on the inside make a project more special. I sewed the hem of my skirt lining with a decorative sitch in thread that matches the fashion fabric. I don’t know why I haven’t done that before. I love it.

❦ Making a matching belt is totally worth the effort! For kits and, even more importantly, excellent tutorials, check out A Fashionable Stitch. I followed the instructions exactly and am so happy with the result. I doubt I’ll ever make a dress with a defined waist without a matching belt. I’ve even started a vintage buckle collection to use on future projects.

❦ If you machine top-stitch a belt, start from the point and work toward the straight end. I did it the other way. The fabric shifted ever so much, so that the point has some excess fabric hanging off the end. Not much, just enough to annoy me if I think about it. But I’m not thinking about it. Really.

❦ Snaps are difficult to sew on neatly. They just are. The snap pieces I sewed onto the belt look pretty good, but I had to get out my thimble to make it happen. My thimble and I have never been close, but we are working on our relationship.

And, lastly …

❦ Do not accuse your kitty of stealing your supplies without proper evidence. Sewing Assistant Teacup was my No. 1 suspect when the leftover crochet lace trim for the sleeves went missing. I searched all over my sewing area. After I was all done with the project (of course), I found the missing trim hidden between two pieces of fabric for another project. I think I might have stashed it there so Teacup couldn’t get ahold of it. Ah, the irony.

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2 thoughts on “Wow, did I learn a lot from this project

  1. redbamsews October 30, 2011 at 6:46 pm Reply

    Thanks Jeanne for sharing the lessons learned. This is an interesting slant to take. Your post is well written and constructed with great thought. Similar to the type of work and planning you did with the project. Again, thanks for sharing. I’m jotting this down as something to consider for my own future posts.

    Be proud of your efforts. They are outstanding.


    • Jeanne Marie October 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm Reply

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate the kind words. I find amusement in the things that go wrong — when enough time has passed, that is. The online sewing community is so supportive. I am really enjoying blogging and reading other blogs. So much to learn …


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