Seam Stress

comments (1) June 30th, 2008     

Pin It

Jen_W Jennifer Worick, contributor
Love it! 4 users recommend
Jens Amy Butler Lotus Camisole, sewn with her own two (and a sewing instructor’s) hands
This Amy Butler fabric pairs perfectly with her pattern. Mac Daddy likes it
Close but no cigar, this is as far as Jennifer got after three sessions with her sewing instructor
Jens Amy Butler Lotus Camisole, sewn with her own two (and a sewing instructor’s) hands

Jen's Amy Butler Lotus Camisole, sewn with her own two (and a sewing instructor’s) hands

Photo: Jennifer Worick

I’m pretty crafty. I knit, make jewelry, concoct lotions and potions. I figured sewing would be a snap.

To say I was mistaken is a gross understatement.

Where I can fudge things in knitting or quickly fix a mistake with jewelry I’m designing, I have to be precise with my cutting and seam-sewing or I will foul up the works.

Which, by the way, I did…over and over.

I had hand-stitched things before, sewing a button or repairing a tear. But it was high time I tricked myself out with a sewing machine. So I asked for recommendations and they came pouring in. I finally settled on a Brother 6000, a sturdy, inexpensive machine. I read the manual. I bought a book. I made napkins. With a friend’s help, I made an adorable apron.

Then I got cocky.

I signed up for a class at The Quilting Loft (in Ballard, a hip neighborhood in Seattle) to make a great Amy Butler tunic/camisole. I thought I’d be able to finish it by the end of the three-hour class, or that I’d be far enough along to finish it by myself at home. You know, being crafty and all.


By the end of class, I had cut out the fabric and interfacing, and started on one back panel. It took four more sessions with my very patient (and mad talented) sewing instructor Cheryl Kuczek before I was able to sew on the buttons and slip it over my head.

It looks gorgeous now, but it was a comedy of errors getting here.

First off, I didn’t understand the strange vocabulary and materials. Fusible interfacing, selvage, ease, various stitches, overlock, you get the idea. Feed dog? Stitch in the ditch? Seriously? Cheryl was saying words but whether I understood them or not was another story. It took me back to when I first learned to knit, how my fingers felt as if they had a will of their own.

In this case, the machine and fabric had a mind of their own when I attempted to sew straight seams. The seam allowance would gradually grow as my fabric took a walk on the wonky side. “Does it really matter if I have a quarter-inch or a half-inch seam?” I’d silently ask myself. Aloud, I said, “It’ll be fine,” as I waved off Cheryl in embarrassment, hoping she didn’t notice the difference. Well, of course she did, especially when I sewed each shoulder with a disparate seam allowance.

Cheryl took me by the hand, which chapped my hide and my ego. She demonstrated how to properly pin, cut, and press. She divulged shortcuts and methods for tweaking a pattern. She showed me how to use the serger so I could finish off all my interior edgings.

As impatient as I was, hauling my machine and fabric pieces back and forth in a small rolling suitcase, I began to enjoy the process, especially when my camisole started to take shape. I loved the fabric at first sight but that love deepened as I fit pieces together and found the perfect buttons to complement the garment.

I didn’t love ripping out stitches, don’t get me wrong. But as I learn more about sewing and gain more confidence—I’ve since made a lined tote bag with several pockets all by my big self—I’m jazzed by the kid-like discovery involved in my new craft. I am tickled pink when I spy a new fabric that I simply have to have, and then get even more giddy when I start to plan out a project using that yummy fabric.

Speaking of which, I gotta get started on the pajama bottoms I’ve been dreaming about making with that cherry-patterned fabric I nabbed a couple of months ago.

posted in: beginner, humor

Comments (1)

cherree writes: You did a great job and I totally relate to your story. I still make big mistakes and have had to discard some of my fabrics because i cut before measuring. What a bummer.
Posted: 11:29 pm on August 18th
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.