What sewing mistake has taught you the most?

comments (18) November 9th, 2009     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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We all do it--that's why we all have a seam-ripper at the ready. It's great to know that no one's perfect, but it's also even better to learn from each other's mistakes.

What sewing mistake taught you the most? What did you learn?

posted in: Sewstylish conversation, sewstylish question

Comments (18)

EQOnlineFabricStore writes: I have put the sleeves in opposite armhole a couple of times, but my most frustrating mistake was when I spent more than usual for the fabric for a new Easter dress and then didn't check to make sure that the pattern would actually fit me. It was the size I always wear, so I sewed blithely away, not realizing until it was finished that it was not going to fit the way I wanted it to. I couldn't wear and had to put it in a consignment store.
Posted: 7:54 pm on July 20th
Fro_Girl writes: My biggest mistakes were cutting on the bias if u don't take that serious you can end up with a crooked dress. Also serging too fast and not making sure the material was not under the blade yeah cut a big whole in my dress that day. Not paying attention to the instructions on the pattern, (cut on fold)hum. And sewing the right side to the wrong side major piss off.
Posted: 10:14 pm on June 1st
mominabook writes: My worst horror story happened while I was doing alterations in a shop where I was the gown specialist but not the fitter. The girl who did the fitting made a note to shorten the lovely, self-lined hotpink shantung floor length gown twelve inches. What she didn't say was, 'only in front!' Fortunately I had chopped only the outer layer before I got cold feet and went to varify my instructions. The lining became the back outer skirt, the front lining and chopped front became tapered sides (only I knew how badly I'd violated all grain lines) and the back lining had a mysterious seam across it. But I don't think anyone was ever the wiser. My blood pressure eventually returned to normal, but I learned the wisdom of rechecking instructions before applying scissors!
Posted: 10:23 pm on November 13th
BusyHands writes: Best mistake - would have to be the mistake I made most often would be sewing too fast - put the pedal to the metal - and then ripping out. Or not changing the pattern before cutting to fit my short waisted, large bust and hip body. Or not following instructions and having floppy facings. Now I sew much slower and while I don't follow instructions slavishly, I do realize that they are printed for a reason! And yes I have learned how to shorten the back waist.

Another mistake that I made was being too afraid of my serger to learn how to use it. I had it for over 5 years before I took a lesson on how to use it! Now I love it.
Posted: 2:07 pm on November 13th
Lizothelake writes: I think the mistake that taught me most was; "Pay attention to what the children are up to"; My 2 year old son was seated on his tall legged chair on the oppositte side of the table, happily playing with some small toys. I was busy sewing. Now this was in Emgland, where the standard household electric circuitry is 220V and not 110V. Suddenly there was a massive blue flash, and a crashy, and a small boy wimpering on the floor. He had picked up a small screwdriver with an insulated handle and poked it into the ventilation holes of the motor on my machine! Amazingly the only damage was to his ego; the shock sent him flying through the air, but he suffered no ill effects. I still have that screwdriver, complete with the blob of fused metal at it's tip.
After that he went in the playpen if I needed to sew while he was around, well, until he was old enough to truly understand "Do NOT Touch".
Posted: 1:43 am on November 11th
Robinbobbin writes: Yousewsmart's story of cutting out two left sleeves is a little like my heartbreaking story. I love to make shirts for my husband. I had cut one from a beautiful piece of a plaid homespun, and put the sleeve plackets on so that I had two sleeves for the same arm -- the fabric is the same on both sides. Instead of trying to redo it, I bought another sleeve length -- thank goodness there was still some at the shop -- and started over. I now take great care to mark the wrong side of each pattern piece after cutting and before unpinning the pattern. On the sleeves, I mark the wrong side at the sleeve cap and at the lower edge, just to make sure!
Posted: 10:17 am on November 10th
Nancy232 writes: ...."Two Wrongs don't make a Right,"but "Two Rights can make a Wrong!!"
This expression has helped me in sewing and woodworking. I also know that many others have made a "Wrong." Never mistakes, just modifications.Ha Ha.
Posted: 9:55 am on November 10th
threadoffaith writes: This was a difficult lesson, and very hard to figure out.

Over a period of about two years, I had made a number of skirts and pants, where I measured my waist, added allowance for seams and overlap fasteners, but when completed were two tight, and did not fit.

I finally realised, it was not a math mistake. I was using a cloth tape for my waist measurement, and a yardstick to measure for cutting. The cloth tape had stretched over the years by almost two inches. I discovered this when I measured it against the yardstick.

After tossing all of my old cloth-only measuring tapes, I now buy only plastic-covered cloth tapes that are sturdy enough not to stretch.
Posted: 9:01 am on November 10th
Makaleka writes: My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was in 4-H ... one of my first projects that I made entirely by myself was a shirtwaist dress with short sleeves. I tried to set the sleeves in and not realizing I had to "ease" the sleeves in, I just set them in and cut off the excess fabrice ... we all know what happens then - they were so tight I couldn't get my arm in ... what to do? what to do? ... I solved the problem by making the dress sleeveless ... hard lesson learned but never forgotten.

My second "memorable" moment was making a cordoroy skirt that was four panels (2 front, 2 back) ... who would even think the nap would change by cutting two pieces at one time ... certainly not a youngster learning how to work with napped fabric ... After sewing the front and back pieces together, I held them up to look at them and yep, the nap one way was light and the nap the wrong way was dark (or vice versa) - anyway it looked like two colors ... I believe that one went to the trash ... another hard lesson learned and never forgotten.

I enjoyed the comments posted ... thank you.
Posted: 8:39 am on November 10th
Moonbeams writes: When I was about 12, I tried to sew a project with inset sleeves. I was so enthused that when I finished sewing, I saw that I had sewn them in upside down. It only goes to show that,

"As ye sew, so shall ye rip."

Posted: 5:52 am on November 10th
Snikwas writes: Before starting to cut any material ( of course assuming the pattern is all checked & ready to lay on the fabric), I always pull a weft thread right across the material, & cut along it, to ensure an absolute 'true' grain. I've even been known to point it out to the shop assistant if there is an obvious defect in the fabric on the roll. Its probably one of the best lessons learnt this from my needlework teacher at school.
Posted: 2:21 am on November 10th
yousewsmart writes: Many years ago I purchased a length of expensive knitted wool houndstooth fabric and lining to make a pair of pants but changed my mind and decided to make a dress and jacket instead. I used the knit fabric for the skirt of the dress and the lining fabric for the bodice. There was barely enough knit fabric left to make the jacket so I was not able to fold the fabric and "cut 2" sleeves - I had to open the fabric out and cut each sleeve separately. I did not realize until I began sewing the sleeves into the jacket that I had cut out two left sleeves. I was able to save the project by sewing a matching solid color knit fabric to the sides of each sleeve and re-cuting them. I received many compliments on the finished garment and never told anyone about my mistake...but I never made that mistake again.
Posted: 12:59 am on November 10th
sewluv2quilt writes: Many, many years ago I was making a cotton sun dress with patch pockets. I had cut out all the main pattern pieces but had a bad habit of not cutting the smaller pieces until I needed them. Of course the pockets were needed pretty quickly. I picked up a piece of fabric and cut the pockets; only to discover that I'd cut them out of the middle of the front of the dress! On that day I learned that doing everything in order and staying organized is a good thing. Have I had to relearn that lesson over the years? Yes, but never in exactly the same way.
Posted: 12:37 am on November 10th
ppinnc writes: After sewing for many years, I still seem to learn something with each new project. I was in the 5th grade when I made my first garment for myself. Until then I had made many doll clothes. My mother had taught me a few basics, but I was mostly on my own which was a good thing. I chose to make a sleeveless blouse w/ a Peter Pan collar and buttons down the front and a matching gathered skirt. My mother took me to buy the fabric and I chose a beautiful, but dark plaid that was not something anyone would expect to see on a fifth grader. The real clincher was that the plaid was uneven in both directions. This mistake was a huge challenge for a 10 year old and the garment took a long time to complete, but I learned so much and it turned out fine. The plaids matched all around and I was quite pleased w/myself, but the fabric was more appropriate for my mother !!
Posted: 9:09 pm on November 9th
SoToni writes: I have been sewing for years but learned through experience with the help of my mother. I hadn't taken a sewing class since 8th grade Home Ec. My first Jr College sewing class was Advanced Sewing. I made my first lined jacket without problems. I broke the cardinal rule of everyone who constructs anything; measure twice, cut once. I cut the sleeves about three inches too short. I didn't have enough fabric to new cut sleeves. I took it to the instructor who said, "think of a way to save it." I couldn't. She suggested an inset near the wrist. I created an inset with denim and blue soft leather which looked like it was made by a pro! This made me so creative about piecing, saving, fixing accidental cuts, etc.
Posted: 8:32 pm on November 9th
Cherlyn writes: I learned that there is a wrong way and at right way to use a seam ripper once when I was trying to open the temporary stitches on a welted pocket on an expensive wool. Yes, I ripped my way into about 2 inches of the jacket. I was not happy, not to mention, asking myself, "Now how am I going to make this mistake not so noticable?" I don't remember what I came up with, but I do know that I wore the jacket. No one ever noticed. I'm very careful with a seam ripper these days. I've taught many students how important it is to be very careful and make sure you're only removing what you intend.
Posted: 7:48 pm on November 9th
shirleyjean writes: I hate to admit it. About 50 years ago I measured and measured myself and modified a pants pattern to fit myself. I was soooo careful! I made myself a new pair of slacks out of the new (at that time), no-Iron fabric that was quite expensive. They were beautiful! When I tried them on they fit perfectly. Skin tight! I had not put any ease into them at all. I could hardly walk in them, and sitting down was not possible. I did a good job fitting them because they were like a second skin. Fortunately, my aunt came to visit that evening and they fit her perfectly. She paid for the fabric and walked out wearing them, pleased as punch! I learned to make a muslin copy before using my expensive fabric when trying a new pattern. Best of all, I learned about "ease."
I figure it was one of the best mistakes I ever made.
Posted: 7:17 pm on November 9th
notesamy writes: When I was younger I wanted to make a short coat. I had been sewing quite a bit and thought I was ready to tackle it. I bought the material, pattern and lining. I was very pleased with myself as it turned out quite good and after the first time wearing it, I realized that I had forgot to note the way the nap went.

So now I always check the nap and make sure it is right before cutting.
Posted: 7:00 pm on November 9th
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