Friday, March 16, 2012

Are you a precise sewist?

I'm doing a lot of hand stitching on The Rachel Dress.  And as I'm taking my time to make sure that I'm getting my stitches in precisely, I had a thought.  Am I a precise sewist?  If I answered honestly, I would say no.  I don't measure as much as I wing it.  Too many times I go with the flow instead of breaking out a ruler or measurement tool to insure that everything is perfect.


So the Question of the Day is...Are you a precise sewist?  Or do you just wing it? If you are precise, does this hinder your ability to create?  Or does it enhance your journey?  If you wing it, is it because you have the knowledge to make it work?  Or just the opposite?


Talk to me, I'm interested because generally I'm not a precise sewist.  I'm a by the seat of my pants girl who intuitively knows how something works but has taken the time to acquire some knowledge (notice I didn't say all knowledge) about my craft.  So talk to me and tell me what you think!


...as always, more later!



46 comments:

  1. Definitely in your camp, by the seat of my pants, unless I have to be more precise to make it work.

    Remember what Phyllis Carlyle says: "Done is better than perfect"

    Sue

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  2. I am a precise sewist, and then again I'm not. I start out all precise and all. Then I get bored or tired or lazy- or something. Maybe I have ADD when it comes to sewing. Or no patience. I just want it done. Maybe it is because I haven't ever really made anything that fit really well, or anything made in a really great fabric. Yeah, I have nice fabric but I am afraid. Afraid it won't fit. Or it won't look good on me. I need to get over it! I just got the book Fitting and Pattern Alteration, so hopefully that will help me with my fitting issues. That might make my precision follow through something other than nonexistent.

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  3. I am not precise. As I have got older I find I am more likely to go back and try and fix where I have gone wrong and think about the best way to fix it, but am far from being a perfectionist in anything. Your sewing looks beautiful. I enjoy your blog. reading it feels like a treat.

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  4. I wing it! I think that forces me to be more creative when I encounter a problem. For the most part my hand stitching is beading my renaissance costumes. With this I will try to go in with a general plan of how I want the finished product to look but how I get there is completely on the fly.

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  5. Am a beginner and start off trying to be precise, then it all goes belly up lol

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  6. It depends... for things like pocket placement and button spacing and such I do measure quite a bit. But I usually very much wing it when I do things out of knits or more forgiving fabrics. I find I am more precise with woven fabric because I know mistakes will show more, but for skating costumes or knit tops or dresses I am very lax about actually measuring and just sort of fit and adjust as I go.

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  7. I am definitely in the precise group. It took me years to develop that attitude, however. For many years I would "wing it" as you say. Need a dress for Saturday night? Whip one out! Not anymore. I like the payoff of intently measuring and knowing that things are precise makes me feel good about going through the next process involved in the garment construction. It has lessened my mistakes and make me put out a better looking and constructed garment. Like I said, it took me years to get to this point but I am very comfortable with this attitude. At this stage, I am not comfortable with winging it or whipping things out. Just my personal style and I respect that others do things differently. After all, I did them differently for most of my sewing lifetime.

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  8. I think I'm really good with hand stitching. I don't love it, but I don't mind doing it to get the satisfaction I need. But as for being precise, sometimes I am and sometimes I just wing it.

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  9. I've been sewing for so long that I can eyeball a 5/8" seam. Scared me awhile back when the govt threatened to make us go metric! But I am very careful about pocket and buttonhole placement. Nothing says "homemade" more than misplaced and wonky buttonholes.

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  10. I definately wing it most times, things *usually* work out ok and saved yourself a bit of time and stress by being relaxed about it. Plus sometimes making it up as you go along means you get the result you want, not what the pattern dictates.

    That said though, I do agree with Annie - buttonhole placement is very important to be accurate, as is topstitching. A time and a place for everything I guess!

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  11. I definately wing it most times, things *usually* work out ok and saved yourself a bit of time and stress by being relaxed about it. Plus sometimes making it up as you go along means you get the result you want, not what the pattern dictates.

    That said though, I do agree with Annie - buttonhole placement is very important to be accurate, as is topstitching. A time and a place for everything I guess!

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  12. There is definitely a time and a place for both kinds of sewing depending on what is being sewn.

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  13. I think I am a 50/50 person - I made up a couple of cardboard templates to measure 5/8" when I am pressing works really well but then other times I just wing it. My mood is also another factor.

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  14. When I'm sewing for others, I try to be precise & will rip out seams 8 or 9 times to get the look that I want. When sewing for myself, I'm not that precise depending on the garment. If I'm making a tailored jacket, I am precise. However a gored skirt with elastic waist, not so much. I love hand sewing as I find it very relaxing & it keeps my arthritic hands nimble. I try to incorporate couture techniques in my every day garments & I feel like that look so good on me when I wear them. The only perfect being is God so I don't mind imperfections as I am not perfect.

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  15. Oops ... should read "... I feel like they look good on me when I wear them".

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  16. Most of the time I wing it. Though I can rise to the occasion if precise sewing is needed (i.e. something that will really show or look bad if I don't get it just right).

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  17. I taught myself to sew when I was in my teens. I sewed for years by the seat of my pants. I sewed one garment after the other. If I needed a dress for Saturday night, I will sew the dress in 3-hours and be ready to go. Then I started watching sewing with Nancy, I learned a lot about sewing including the importance of following the grain line of the fabric. Then I began to read Sew News magazine, Threads magazines, sewing books and watching Sandra Betzina and Susan Khalje on HGTV and my sewing world change. My sewing knowledge and skills improved. As time passes I've become a precise sewist. When I read other sewist’s blog and I see the quantity of garments they sewed I began to wonder why I am not sewing that many garments. To be honest I felt somewhat pressure; however as I evaluated my life and responsibilities I realize that while I love to sew, I will rather be precise and sew a garment that I am happy with. Bunny’s response was precise. It describes the way I feel. I have been sewing for 35+ years and I have earned the right to be precise or wing it if I choose to.

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  18. It might be my personality type (my DH often tells me to RELAX), but I love precision and strive for it all the time. I rarely wing it - except in probably the most horrible place to wing it: random fitting. Fitting is a science and until I get a clone, it will be hard to be precise in that department!

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  19. I try to be precise, but often I just chill and enjoy the sewing process. I'm definitely happier with the sewing process when I wing it. I'm happier with the finished garment when I am precise. As I gain more sewing skill, I do go into the precise camp more often.

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  20. I always try to be precise (I always make a muslin, measure twice, sometimes make more than one muslin) but sometimes the fashion fabric behaves differently than my muslin and I find I have to wing it.

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  21. Interesting question, Carolyn! I think with each project I'm becoming more and more precision oriented, and I've been buying up tools that make it easier/quicker (eg: rotary cutter and ruled mat, ironing board cover with grid/ruled markings, etc.)

    I really do envy those who can turn out a dress in a weekend. But my own attempts at instant gratification sewing have generally ended in frustration and wasted time. So, it's muslins and measurements for me!

    I love Sassy T's comment! My new sewist experience was exactly the same!

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  22. I am a precise sewist. I have tried to wing it, but found in the end it bugs me. So, I will either not wear the garment or fix it. For me, being precise enhances my sewing and creativity.

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  23. Fabric is a much more fluid medium than, say, stainless steel. Even when I try to be precise, sometimes the material pulls in or stretches out or wiggles out of the way. And there is always the question of wearing ease! I aim more for consistency than for precision, if that makes any sense. If my seam allowances are same-ish and my finishes sort of match each other and if the garment fits well enough, I am satisfied.

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  24. I'm a little of both. I'm very precise in most cases, but every once in a while I just wing that mother. :)

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  25. I start out with good intentions and during the process adjustments occur and I ride the wings of make it work.

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  26. Precision 99 percent of the time. I feel like measuring rather than eyeballing improves the end result.

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  27. I take my time and do it precisely; I'm not interested in quantity, I want quality. I like the process; I don't want to rush just to have a garment. I want a fabulous garment. A garment I feel fabulous wearing. This also makes it hard to part with clothing that no longer fits or is out of style.

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  28. I love this question - but I can't answer it. My gut says I'm precise, but I do all kinds of intuitive things all the time i.e. sewing in a zipper without pinning it (I find it works better, bizarrely). I mean, I do line up that zipper 53 times and I'm very careful about inserting it, but I don't necessarily do it in a way that would be considered precise.

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  29. My OCD comes out at times where some would call me precise. I'm battling that little demon and winning so that I can go without measuring and can ignore a seem match that's slightly off at times. It all depends on my purpose for the garment. However, if I sew for events where my garment sewing friends will see, then it's back to being precise!

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  30. It depends on the project, but I am always trying to improve my precision and attention to detail as I grow and develop my skills.

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  31. Although I was never a "wing it" kind of person, I wasn't a "precise" sewer, either, until I earned my custom clothing certificate. Precision was drilled into us and, yes, they measured for precision. Some of my classmates were a little less precise and it was really obvious who was precise and who wasn't when the garments were lined up next to each other on the dress forms. That said, there were times when I wanted to rebel against the precision and scream that no one is going to notice if my seam is 1/2" or not!

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  32. I am somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards precise. I measure more often and I take the time to baste when needed or use any other process or tool to get me the results I want.
    I wing it some times, but even then I still take time with pressing and finishing.
    Reading some of the comments I get the impression that precision is seen as stifling to creativity. I hope that it isn't the case and I read the comments wrong.
    Happy sewing
    Annette

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  33. I start out TRYING to be precise, and then I start to feel that being precise is oh so very hard. So then I go slacker route, with mixed success. Chalk it up to learning experiences!

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  34. I'm precise 99% of the time. I am a slow sewist and I enjoy being precise. I get the results I want in the end. This is not to say one cannot wing it and still get great results. Great post/topic!

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  35. Like Meg, I'd say that I am a precision sewer about 99% of the time. It makes me happier to be precise.

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  36. This is a really good question. I am very precise on most things. How is that for hedging my bets. I love the process of sewing and have found I enjoy being accurate. Although "proud" is too strong of a word I am thrilled when my sewing goes together well. I am not particularly artistic, so I take my joy in the well-crafted garment.

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  37. I don't have any kink of documented condition, but I have some personality traits that make me want to be very precise, some might say anal. And YES, it does inhibit my creativity. I can copy like like nobody's business, but original thought and execution are extremely difficult for me.

    However, I can get tired and lazy and bored and just power through without ANY accuracy. I seriously don't understand what drives me, and it IRRITATES me to no end, but it's the way it is :)

    jodi

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  38. I am precise but also fast. You have to be both to sew for clients and especially brides. I tell my clients that if I have to rip out my stitches I am losing money so every stitch counts and most things are hand basted to avoid the ripping phase. Photos are taken before and after for my blog and website and client's wedding scrapbooks. After 40 years you you want your projects to look as good as they can be because someone is paying you for your experience.

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  39. I wing it, but with a little experience, probably like you have, your intuition makes up for measuring. I can spot a good 5/8" anywhere. But I sew to relax and the rest of my life requires too much precision to have that happen in my happy place.

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  40. I try to be good and precise, even occasionally ripping out, but to be honest where sewing is concerned I like to go with the flow. Never done a toile yet, wastes too much time. Sewing to me is like cooking, try too hard and you make a complete mess of it. If I get stuck sewing, I walk away and come back later when for some reason, I either fathom the instructions out or it just goes right.

    When much younger I loved dancing, then some bright spark suggested doing it professionally. Took all the joy out of dancing. I work at my own pace and love sewing because there is no pressure, it's all for me.

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  41. Precise and fast - I think after so many years it just comes naturally. However, it is not always beautiful especially if hidden :)

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  42. Hi Carolyn! Just found your blog via MyMeasuringTape. I wish I sewed more clothes for me - I did, years ago as a teen, but now I sew for the kids. Every now and then I turn out something for me, that usually takes a long time. I'm precise, but fast, too. Much of my precision (I think) is within the drafting process, so that by the time the pattern is ready to be laid out on fabric, it doesn't need much tweaking, and can go fast. But I agree with all the commentors who mentioned the details like buttonholes, top-stitching, pocket placement, stripes lining up, evenness of pleats, symmetry of print about the center front (and back) etc - taking time to get these to be positioned well makes a lot of difference in how the finished garment looks. And oh, the times I've done patch pockets late at night and rushed them and found them tilted or misaligned the next day! I kick myself. And yes, I agree with Marty's Little Corner - I have sort of double standards when it comes to sewing for others- their pieces are often much more precise than the "everyday wear" ones I make for myself or my own kids sometimes. I have to be practical, is what I tell myself!

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  43. Oh Carolyn, what excellent timing! I just spent an afternoon with my friend, Antqueen, in my sewing room. She was deconstructing a thrift store dress to reuse the fabric; I was contructing my birthday dress (31 March). Anyway, I misread the instructions and ended up with neck facings that are not-quite-right. Rather than upick and re-do, I said to Antqueen "Oh well, I'll just MacGyver it" and proceeded to make it work.
    So no, I am not a precise sewist; I'm a make it work gal.

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  44. I am not a precise sewist as my latest quilt attempt illustrates. I find that quilting is far more exact than apparel sewing. That's probably why I prefer apparel sewing - I like to wing it and modify when and where I can.

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  45. I am sooo not precise...which gets me in trouble from time LOL! However, I will take the time to read the instructions ahead of time, just to make sure I understand the level of concentration involved. If it looks like it might involve more precise sewing than I'm willing (or capable) of giving at a particular time, the project gets moved down the list and I work on something else. It's not that I am not capable of being precise, it's just that I don't always "feel" like it.

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  46. Definitely on the precise side! For me it's part of the fun of sewing, I really love the detail work and am so happy to see things come together. Yes, my seam ripper gets a lot of use!

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