Friday, February 17, 2017

What's Your Process?

I'm in the midst of sewing button down shirts. Creatively they are really speaking to me.  I'm working with a mash-up of Butterick 5678 and Vogue 7700. I've posted pictures of the cotton & steel version to Instagram here and here.

The first one is done and I'm working on the second one now. Why?  Because fabric plays a huge part in how a garment fits, wears and looks. But that's not the reason for this post. In making the second one, I'm not using the pattern instructions, I'm sewing organically...and I realize I no longer speed sew.

What do I mean by that? Previously, I would do all like tasks together. Serge finishing all of the pieces prior to sewing, interfacing all of the pieces at once, and cutting all pieces out at one time. I don't sew this way anymore. I'm not trying to be first across the finish line now. I'm just trying to enjoy the process.

I do still think the project out ahead of time, planning out embellishment/trims, picking buttons and insuring that I have the right threads on hand. That's done more because I like having a plan when I sew and I hate to run out of anything halfway through the project. Also, because I like the idea of planning out the order of construction before I sew.

This is my process, so tell me yours. I know that a lot of the conversation this year has been about the political atmosphere in the US right now. This post is all about sewing, so talk back to me. Tell me, do you plan out your sews?  Your construction steps? Whether or not you will add trim to your garments? Or do you just wing it?

Let me know...and thanks for talking back to me!

...as always more later!

35 comments:

  1. I completely agree, fabric is extremely important, it conditions the cut the drape the fit... I always try to start with the fabric. I like to let my sewing projects evolve organically ... one thing leads to another, somethings work others don't, I cant be planning for everything in my head, it's a creative process right? And I try to enjoy it, after all, I'm not production sewing.

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  2. I definitely plan out my sews! I enjoy having a concrete plan even if I adjust it some along the way. I guess I see it more as a guideline, unless the item I choose is a true closet necessity. I, like you, enjoy the process. My husband tells me that I have a better attitude when I come out of my sewing closet, lol! I don't like to rush through projects because it stresses me out, I make more mistakes, and I definitely don't end up refreshed.

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  3. I love button downs too Carolyn. I seem to be completely reinventing the wheel each time I make a garment. I have managed to make 6 or 7 pairs of pants off a pattern I have tweaked but I cannot seem to sew them in a row. All of your recent toppers were off the same pattern and I believe you got out different fabrics, hunted for things to make them different and special and then cut them out and sewed them. At least I see that as the process. Making these button downs have you gone in and found fabric, buttons, etc for 3 or 4 shirts and then changed up the pattern a bit to make them each different? I would like to sew in a series more to better my skills and learn more. Any guidance?

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    1. The way you described it first pretty much describes my process for putting together garments to sew with one addition. I don't start a pattern saying I'm going to make multiples. Lately that happens after I sew one, love it and realize that I have loads of fabric & notions to make more, so I do.

      The topper pattern has no design changes made to it. I made them unlike each other using fabric, different ties and changing up the sleeves. The same with the button downs. It's mostly fabric, buttons and embellishments that distinguish them.

      It's gonna sound silly but I let the pattern talk to me. Some patterns are so basic that when they work they deserve to be made more than once. Hope that helps!

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    2. Thanks Carolyn! It does help and I will continue on my journey. Funny enough, the most interesting clothes I have made have happened when I set out to use a certain fabric and I don't have enough of it. I have to use it so the hunt is on to find fabric for sleeves, bands, hacked up fronts or backs, etc.! Thanks for the pattern talking part, I get that and will look at my patterns that way now.

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  4. I like to plan, a lot. I sometimes think about the next steps for a dress or outfit while falling to sleep or showering. Since I tend to be short on time, I like to sew a few seams, then pin together the next thing so that when I have time, I can sit down and sew again.

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  5. I am sewing slower and slower, taking couture classes has encouraged me to take the time to do more things by hand, and to really enjoy the whole process. I don't start any project until the fabric tells me what it wants to be.:-)

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  6. You know I like the whole process of sewing, how it goes together, the fabric chosen.etc. I hope to never be in a hurry again....but I've been retired for almost 20 yrs.

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  7. I usually do one garment at a time, so no time savings here. :) I plan, but often have some odd thing go one that puts me out of the box making "design decisions". Or punting as the brits call it. I like lots of embellishments too, so try to work those in as logically as possible.

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  8. Nice topic! I find myself sewing what I need and the project planning goes from there with fabric choice, pattern and any extras. That's easier for me because I have a large stash. But as far as the construction process, I'm a stickler for sequence and consistency. I alter, layout/cut/mark, construct with instructions (always). If I feel a step is missing or it needs more i'll do it right away (i.e. embellish hand stitching, top/under stitching) so when it's time to hem I'm done. The only out of sequence thing I do is set in sleeves. I'll add them (finished) before the hem finishing. I sew this way all the time so I don't miss anything. (does that sound weird?)

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    1. Oh, and how long it takes doesn't matter to me. It could be an hour or a month. Just as long as I feel it's a quality piece.

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    2. No I don't think it sounds weird. If it works for you, then it's the right thing!

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  9. Sewing process, a good topic for discussion. Lately, I seem to be doing multiples but that is because I am branching out and trying new patterns. The first one or two makes are to work the bugs out of the pattern and see if it is is worth going further. I tried that Butterick pattern you are using last year but tabled it as needing a lot of modification due to the way a princess garment fits me. I'm into my fourth make of another Butterick, B5924 that I am really liking. I trace off, alter, layout, cut and collect everything for sewing. Then, when I am in the sewing room, or class, it's just sew. I take my time and am not afraid to hand baste. Enjoying the process and the tactile feel of the fabric is more important than speed sewing so I'm not the most efficient. And I'm really curious to see how others plan their process.
    Theresa in Tucson

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    1. Theresa - which Butterick pattern was that? Just looked at your B5924 and it seems like a good pattern to make quite a few versions of. The way the pattern is designed, you could make lots of choices using fabric to make each version different.

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  10. I am not afraid to improvise in baby steps, but overall, I need a plan. However, I'm finding a need to change my process now. I find I need to have more than one project "in the works" at one time. I need to be able to pick a project based on many factors, such as my energy level, my mood, the amount of light spilling rough the window -- whatever factors are effecting my creative flow. I am in a "cutting phase" right now, and cutting out a number of pending projects, which I then try to package up with all the needed materials in need little boxes, to be pulled out when the time is right.

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  11. I tend to plan the garment in my head, then cut everything out, then sew. But embellishments and errors (ahem, creative opportunities) occur and change things up.

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  12. Before retirement, I was into acquiring patterns and fabric in a big way. Not much actual sewing was taking place... Life was busy with a full time job, kids , then grandkids and a home business doing longarm quilting.
    Now after retiring, with much less income, I am systematically going through my stash, both clothing and quilting, to make clothes for myself, the kids and grandkids and to make a few quilts each year. The only addition to the stash was a bunch of knits and activewear fabric for my new hobby- cycling. My body is much different since having 3 kids , so most of my patterns don't fit the same and I have to start with careful measurements, tracing of a new paper pattern, making some adjustments and then cutting the fabric. I have been using post it notes to put info on the pattern envelopes for the next sewing session. I usually don't make the exact same thing twice( I will make an exception for jeans) but will use the patterns with different fabrics and notions. Great post.
    Barb

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  13. Interesting question! I work out my order of construction in advance because I often vary from the one in the pattern. I have to try to sew efficiently as I have very little sewing time. But things do get varied along the way: adding hanging loops, or different topstitching.

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  14. Nice question. I plan things out... Sometimes for months/years. I'm starting to think I like the ideas stage more than any others. Maybe it's time to find a minion (and a large stash of bananas) ;)

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  15. Very interesting post. I tend to plan my projects. I do follow the pattern instructions when it is something I haven't made before but, if I have sewn it before I pretty well know how I want to proceed. I do like to have buttons, thread, elastic etc. with the fabric so that all is at the ready. Question: Carolyn, when you are buying fabric, how many yards do you buy of each at a time?

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    1. Sandra - I use to purchase fabric in 5 yard lots back when I worked in a professional environment. That way I could make a dress, skirt and pair of pants from one piece. Now it varies, denim is purchased in 5 yd or more pieces but everything else is a basic three yards. I always want a little extra just in case.

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  16. I also used to sew to get things done as quickly as possible since I was sewing for my three little ones at that time. Now like you, I want to concentrate, as you say, enjoying the process and being pleased with all aspects of the sewing journey, fitting, prepping and sewing.
    Marie

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  17. I am so different from you in that I only sew one garment at a time - maybe two or three items a year. I guess I am into "slow fashion" as I enjoy the process and take my time. I do this with knitting, too. I often see so much online about speeding up the process (of anything really) and I ask "why?". I like to savor the time that I get to be creative. You inspire me always so my next project may be a button down shirt!!

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  18. Carolyn, the Butterick 5678 you used for your mash up just was not working for me but I found the Butterick 5924 very nice. My third make was the plaid version with the bottom half of the shirt cut on the bias. It turned out great! The shirt is semi-fitted, nips in at the waist and has a two part back which means you can tweak an even better fit. I liked it so well I sized up my pattern and am making a shirt for my sister. Gotta love a great pattern.
    Theresa in Yucson

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    1. theresa - I understand that sewists have different results, personally I love a side dart and princess seams. I'm glad that you're having excellent results with B5924, that's great! And I'm sure your sister is happy too since she's getting a me-made from you.

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  19. Totally connected with your comment about enjoying the process. I've become the same way, is it aging? At any rate (no pun...), I think my work is better. This is my first time commenting so also must say how much I enjoy your blog; your talent INSPIRES.

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  20. Since retiring I am very much into slow sewing and I have a stash of fabric that encourages me to sew more. I start with fabric and pattern, do my fitting and read the instructions first (Burda pattern mag) and make notes while test fitting. I don't always follow the instructions completely, my notes are what I follow. Sometimes I mashup more than one pattern or change details that suit me better. I always start with all of the notions I need sometimes testing more than one for the look I want.
    One thing that is most important is the enjoyment I get during the process and the final product. Time I have.

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  21. Slow sewing for me. I like to enjoy the process......if I am going to take the time to make something then I want my time to matter and be enjoyable. That being said, when I was younger I was sprinter...with sometimes slip-shod results...

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  22. You are sewing slower and enjoying the process, I am trying to sew faster by using some of the methods you used to use. I love sewing, but I really love the process, especially pattern work. I enjoy changing patterns and have used your example of having tnt patterns to change.
    I like your new blouses. I am looking forward to seeing them on you.

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  23. When I get ready to see I try to cut the pattern out one day, read the instructions on the pattern guide that same day, then begin the next morning on my project. Sleeping on it helps me organize my thoughts and mentally make changes to the pattern or the order of how I want to put my pattern together. I love vintage buttons, beautiful lace, and quality fabrics. Rummaging through old shops for fantastic finds from the past delights me as well. Sewing is my passion whether it's formal wear, home goods such as duvet covers and drapes or a BBQ cover my hubby wants made! All sewing inspires creativity in me! I find I get lost in the making of things and forget to eat or stop till I am done.

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  24. I am definitely a plan and process person, one project at a time. I am in no race and don't ever hope to be. Sewing is something I savor and doing it fast, for me, means doing it more poorly. I do read and re-read the pattern several times until I am sure I fully understand it. Once I feel I do I often rearrange the sequence. Sometimes that is to make things easier, or to make it fit better, or to have access to certain parts later on in the process. The first time I make something, however, I usually follow the sequence unless there is really good reason not to. I also like to make the same pattern over and over but with different looks. That is really enjoyable. But I don't relish sewing multiples at the same time. I do it but only if there is good reason to. No speed and lots of processing pleasure for me!

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  25. I sew very slowly. I enjoy the process and I always find a way to make "it" work. Although, I only sew 1 project at a time. I normally have 2 or 3 projects that are prepped and ready to start. I will have all fabric and notions on hand before starting.

    Generally, I use a pattern at least 3 times, using fabrics to make each different. I also focus on making items that I will enjoy wearing, not on making as many as possible.

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  26. I am not so much a garment sewist, but a quilter. I know, two different genres of the same passion. I can definitely sew like a mad woman with a deadline, but I find that the older I get, the more I enjoy the process. I have had a quilt that I LOVE in progress for 6 months. Within that time frame I have also made a quilt for a friend, and made a couple cardigans for myself (Hello, Snapdragon Studios Lemon Squeeze Cardigan!).

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  27. It all depends... Sometimes I cut a few things and zip through the sewing, and if they can all use the same thread colour, so much the better. That would be things like plain old t-shirts. And then there are those projects that are planned, revised, thought about forever, and finally start moving forward. I usually have a few projects on the go so that whatever the mood, I can move ahead on some project at least. And then there's another whole category in my life - class samples. Even though these all (mostly) end up in my closet, there's a deadline, and everything else stops and I sew as fast as I can just to get it all done in time. (That takes all the pleasure out sewing, by the way.)

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  28. I need to have a mental map of where I am going before I start. It's especially important so I can plan where I will deviate from the written instructions. I learned the hard way that winging it can bite me in the @ss.

    There may be course adjustments along the way. In the satellite world, we call it OBE, overcome by events. We don't send rockets up without a plan and I don't start sewing either. ;-)

    The only time I start before having a clear idea of how it all fits together is with Issey Miyake patterns. Even if I read the instructions several times, I sometimes still can not visualize how it works. For IM, I use inexpensive fabric the first time, mark well and trust that the instructions will make sense when I get there.

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