I am having one of those phases at the moment. You know the ones, where pretty much everything you try to make turns to shit doesn’t quite turn out with the finesse you had in mind. I was thinking of what the right term for it is … and I suppose it’s the seamstress equivalent of writer’s block. I’m going to call it … stitcher’s ditch.
Stitcher’s ditch makes even imagining larger scale projects impossible – you daren’t touch any of the gorgeous fabrics in your stash for fear of “ruining” them. That applies to everything from basic cotton prints from the market, to that perfect piece of one off silk you bought by elbowing someone else out of the way at the John Lewis sale. All of it is far too nice to risk getting wrong, so instead you find yourself making everything initially from crappy sheeting you picked up at a car boot sale, yet even that doesn’t go well. It makes pattern choice a mensa style challenge, as you navigate your way around the piles of imperfect toiles in your wake, desperately searching for the “right” pattern.
My current bout of stitcher’s ditch started with my first Halloween skirt. The Skirt That Shall Not be Named was destroyed entirely by my own cocky sewing attitude, so I was hopeful that it was a one off and I could chalk it up to experience and move on. The offending garment is still balled up in the corner of shame in the sewing room (I really need to retrieve a perfectly nice invisible zipper from its evil clutches before I can truly lay it to rest, but still). Halloween skirt mark 2 was okay, but made in a horrible rush, so is definitely not fit for lengthy wear or inspection and is ruled out of consideration on those grounds.
Next up, we have a lovely cotton knit from Kitscy Coo. I LOVE this fabric, and I was hoping that as it was destined for a pair of camping themed PJs for my godson that the sewing gods would give me a break. Look how lovely the pattern and the fabric are.
Ahhhh, cute! So, did the sewing gods smile on me and it all go incredbly smoothly? Nope. Here’s a photo of the sewing related disaster that ensued.
I have to say that it all started pretty well. It did take me a whole Stitch ‘n’ Bitch meeting to trace of all the pattern pieces and cut it out and tailor tack, but then I was ready to sew. Sew the raglan seams … tick. Apply the binding to the neck … tick. Hmmm, maybe it should have a better finish than that? Zigzagging of the unfinished collar edge ensued, okay it was a bit wavy (think English Channel in a minor gale) but I could live with it. Read the next pattern instruction (see I was trying to learn from my past mistakes) … okay, now topstitch on the outside … Noooooooooo!
I am still unsure what happened here. I know it was basically a world of bad from my old sewing machine and yes, I probably should have used a walking foot or at least reduced the pressure on the presser foot. However, I ended up with streched fabric and topstitching so narrow you could barely see it … the stitches were like tiny pinpricks in the fabric. Not to be beaten I reached for my trusty seam ripper and very gingerly started to unpick the rubbish topstitching. And that’s when I made The Hole (please see exhibit A top right). A bloody hole, right on the neck line.
I tried not to poke out my own eyes with the aforementioned stitch ripper over react. After all, I still had plenty of spare fabric and I could save the sleeves and front and cut another neck band and back. So I reached for the pattern pieces again. I wanted to double check the markings I had made for the neck so I laid it over the original pattern piece. And then I noticed another mistake. The worst of all of them … I had very carefully traced off and cut out totally the wrong size. Unbelievable! Lesser women would have laid down and wept at this point. I slowly put down down my scissors, stepped away from the cutting table and quietly shut the door on the sewing room. Next stop the kitchen for a large glass of something very alcoholic.
I didn’t sew for a couple of days. My heart just wasn’t in it. But a few days later I felt inspired by looking at lovely makes on other sewer’s blogs (thanks everyone, I can think of no better cure for the sewing doldrums than checking out other people’s sewing triumphs). I’ve had four yards of the Michael Miller Norwegian Woods 2 Foxtrot print (this one) since October, and I dreamt of having a twirly autumn dress in it (with pockets, of course). I am so in love with the fabric and the wee foxes that I knew there would be have to be some serious toile action.
Cut to fitting of toile version 1: just awful, a poor fit, too tight sleeves, too big in the back and despite the pattern being sized for multi-cup sizes it was still about two inches too small on the bust. Pah! I laugh in the face of ill fitting busts and I started chopping the pattern pieces for my standard FBA. 12 hours pass. Cut to toile version 2. This one’s not so bad (or at least, I think it’s not so bad before I haul it along to the Stitch ‘n’ Bitchers for a second opinion). They don’t think it’s right. In fact, after much uhhming and ahhing, pulling up my bra straps to try and realign my errant bosom to match the dart shaping, and other pushing, pulling and pinning, we all reach the unanimous decision that this pattern is not for me.
And this is where I am right at this moment. Considering a different pattern for toile number 3. Something for autumn, with pockets. At times like this I need to remind myself that I really enjoy sewing, and that sewing shouldn’t be this hard. Sometimes though, it just is.
p.s. To all the newbie sewers, and all those seasoned sewers who join me in suffering from bouts of sewer’s ditch – hang on in there. Let’s share our disasters and laugh in the face of sewing adversity. It is a universal truth that not everything in life goes to plan, and sewing is certainly no exception.