Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Most Frustrating Sewing Project

This dress was a real test to my patience. OK, the culprit was really my lack of skill.  But I thought if I persevere I'd learn something. Now that the dress is finished, the only thing I learned was not to use that fabric again.

The pattern was New Look 6674. Very cute. The posts on patternreview.com seemed to agree the sizing was rather generous.  After studying the finished measurements on the envelope, I went for size 10 especially that I'm using a stretchy material. It was a good decision. Much thanks to the reviewers.

I cut for version C but cut version A for the skirt section because of my general preference of A-line skirt vs fuller skirt.

Size and pattern was no problem, at least not much. But the fabric! I nearly pulled all my hair out from working with it. It was some kind of synthetic knit, with tiny ribbing. When I sew knits, I know I can never get really good, even tension, but they're usually workable, at least for my not very high sewing standard. With this fabric, I adjusted the tension few times on both the bobbin and the thread, but the thread kept getting caught at the bottom or skipped catching. Even after I changed to ballpoint needle as I read about sewing knits, the holes were still really ugly after ripping seams which I did a lot with this dress. In fact, all the seams were UGLY with big holes, ripped or not. Worst of all, I could never finish one entire seam without something went wrong. It was the most frustrating sewing I'd ever done.

Admittedly I'm really just at beginner's level of sewing, but it shouldn't be this torturous, should it? I know knits are suppose to be a bit trickier, but not like this.

I guess one thing I sort of have is tenacity. Once I began the project, I was very determined to see (or sew) it through. It took 5 long days when it shouldn't have.

The pattern wasn't super beginner friendly either. OK, maybe it could've been a breeze had I not been feeling so frustrated the entire time, I don't know. Having contrast color bands meant having to switch out threads few times.

Sewing the facing on the wrong side of the waist band was NOT fun at all. So much pinning with this slippery fabric. Also for the waist band on the right side I had to stitch very carefully into "the ditch made by earlier seam." Wow, that was new to me. It scared the heck out of me reading that. I knew with darker thread of the contrast color, any slightly off track stitch would show on the lighter fabric of the skirt. Fortunately no deviation from the straight line, except, the freaking thread was caught at the bottom / skipped / broke THREE times for that one seam, that one seam I was nervous about!!!

I probably should take a sewing class of some sort. I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to technical stuff.  I love figuring things out on my own, and I do "wing it" a lot. I'm a self-taught knitter and sew-er. But there is a limit to it when certain things just don't seem as intuitive to me, such as sewing. Things looked OK or barely OK on the right side but the WS screamed "homemade by ubber novice." Oh, well, it's wearable (I think... I read that with knits I should use zig-zag instead of straight line sewing, but the seams were soooo ugly, even worse than the straight line, I reverted back to straight lines.)

Live and learn. Somehow I just didn't even feel like I'd gained any understanding or technical skills with this one.

BUT! crazy but true, I actually love the dress in the end! I seriously do! It will be a great beach dress too without looking too beachy.

I kept thinking about the difference between knitting and sewing. I totally agree with Jen (aka, fer1kntis who does beautiful knitting designs and sewing work - fernknits.com) who commented earlier about preferring knitting over sewing. Knitting is more relaxing for me simply because I don't have to think of next step every 5 minutes.  I can sit down and watch netflix for coupla hours and do endless St st. Sewing is not relaxing, at least not for this somewhat technically challenged beginner.

And as promised last week, I did sew up a hybrid of skirt 1 & 2 (New Look 6843 and New Look 6106.) I re-drafted the pattern, mostly re-drew the angle of flare on skirt 2 based on skirt 1. The size also ended up in between the two versions, which was just perfect. How much do I like it?  I totally LOVE it.  It is my favorite hand-sewn skirt so far. It was, thankfully, easy sewing. Woven cotton, no problem at all. Fabric was a fun design that I got for $3/yard from Mill End a while back, and used 1 1/2 yard.  I'm so going to make more from this pattern.

No, still not much knitting here. It has been very hot. I thought I was going to pass out from the heat on Sunday when the temperature went above 90. I sat around the house and couldn't do anything. I didn't want to leave the house either because the summer traffic on weekend just gets my blood boiling even more. We don't have AC in our house since we normally don't need one at all. The average summer here is at very pleasant 70's and sometimes 80's and very dry. I had the fan going and that was usually good enough, but not on Sunday. No clue how I survived 4 years of living in DC. Today is much cooler with threatening thunderstorms... maybe I'll do some knitting, or just sewing...



  1. Your dress turned out beautifully! I absolutely love that color combination and the fit is spot on.

    Honestly, in sewing with knits, I did that zig-zag stitch on my first project but I didn't like the way it looked either. Instead, I just sew with a straight stitch set to the longest stitch length. Sometimes I even stretch the fabric ever so slightly while I'm sewing, even though that's technically a no-no.

    One big "sewing with knits" AHA moment I have had is the difference between "stable knits" and, well, not stable knits. Stable knits are fabrics like jersey, or doubleknit, or ponte and I have found them to be almost as easy to work with as a woven cotton fabric.

  2. Also, if you haven't already read it, Lladybird is a sewing blogger I follow, and she has a guide for sewing with knits that I have found helpful...


    1. Thank you so much Jen for the link!
      That totally makes sense the "stable vs not stable" knits. I'll try next time with the longest stitch to see if it works better too. So much to learn about fabric!