Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Did you or didn't you?

Kai Jones wrote:
"...we don't see the prep time. You say you sewed the outfit in the weekend, but how many days did you spend doing 10 minutes worth of prep here and a half hour there? Pretreating fabric (whether washing or steam-iron shrinking); cutting out; collecting zippers, buttons, facing, thread; all that stuff is part of the time it took to make the garment, but it isn't obvious when you present the finished item as "I sewed this over the weekend."

This is a very valid point of view, but then again, I could say that most of my free time is spent in preparation to sew! *smile* Since my life revolves around the pursuit of the perfect pattern, the best quality fabric for the cheapest price ~ I spend quite a bit of time, checking the fabric sites, watching the prices, and waiting for the best sale ~ sorta like watching the stock market for the best time to swoop in and get a stock at a bargain basement price! I know this makes it seem like I have a one track mind...Well I do! *LOL*

Although with this particular dress all the decisions except picking the fabrics were actually made during last weekend. The fabric was pre-treated, the pattern was cut out and the zipper pulled from the stash during the weekend. It helped tremendously that I had previously made the dress and had the notes and a blog post to guide me through the process quicker than if I was starting from scratch. It's also an easy dress to sew.

So while maybe some weekends it could be stretching it to say, "Sewn in a Weekend" this dress actually was!

Now the point of prep work is to allow you to sew something in a weekend, if you desire. There are sooooo many decisions associated with making a garment...some of which could tank the garment...some of which could cause the garment to never be made...some of which could cause the garment to be amazing! You need time to do the prep work. You need time to think things imagine what could and could not be. You need that time. But prep work is not least not in my book. Because if prep work counted, I would have an awesome amount of garments made...I am ALWAYS thinking of a new garment...a new technique...a new way to do something. I am constantly inspired to sew and create. So no...prep work does not equate sewing, at least to me!

Sewing is the actual process of creating the garment...handling the fabric...adjusting the pattern...cutting it out...sewing and pressing...fitting and finishing the piece. Now that part, can take one afternoon, one day, one weekend or a series of weekends or months. It depends on you...but I can guarantee you...I would never say that I sewed something in a weekend, if I actually didn't! Especially since I am a walking, breathing prep factory!!!


  1. It depends on how you see it. For me, I’m learning to take the sewing process in stages or I’ll feel overwhelmed.

    So for instance, if you’ve decided to create a garment in a number of days and you go to the store to get the notions for that particular project that to me is stage 1. Because then you’ll be going home and focusing on working on that project specifically.

    However, if you’re looking online for ideas and purchasing notions in advance for items that you’ll sew in the future, then that’s not part of any sewing process. You’re stocking up on what you’ll need, but you’re not sewing per se.

    I’m seriously starting to consider stocking up on items I’ll always need. This way I can omit this stage 1 of mine and get down to the good stuff. :):):)

    The cutting for me is another story. I guess I’m picky when cutting so it takes me a while. What I’ve resolved is to pre-cut projects this way I can pick one up and go full steam ahead. However, before I’ve pre-cut things I’ve planned, I’ve considered my options in terms of fabric, etc. So as to not change my mind last minute.

    I’m testing this new concept, so we’ll see how it goes.

    BTW, I think your dress is beautiful.


  2. I dont know why its so hard for folks to grasp that some people can sew a garment over a weekend.

    Depending on the garment, I can sew something in 1 day, from start to finish.

  3. To me sewing is like a new hair-do... your thinking "What?" ... well, do we count the time it took to grow the hair to get it to the point where we can get that new "hair-do"? Let's be pratical... if everyone everywhere counted every second that they "worked or thought" about a project that they had/have in mind... we would go crazy trying to keep track! Let's just be realistic the work that gets it complete is part of it... but when you group it together sit down til stand up cause it's done... that's all that matters! Getting it done... that and enjoying the finished garment/project! Enjoy the ride... say it with me.... enjoy the ride.... Deep Breath now.....
    Thanks Carolyn... you do great work!

  4. Interesting how your claim to a weekends work seems to irk some. Like all tasks some people are simply more proficient than others. For example in our house, I can clean up the kitchen after supper in a heartbeat(this includes wiping benches and cooktop) while on the other hand, hubby dearest clangs around for an eternity...leaves water everywhere and never wipes benches or anything else for that matter. He is older than me so in theory he should have had more practice and be faster...yes?
    So Carolyn, I know you are well organised and all that, but you are also obviously quick at the contruction/sewing element too. Obviously quicker than some others(me included)
    can't wait to see what you create this weekend!

  5. I am another that spends a fair bit of miscellaneous time "planning".

    In fact, today I spent a large chunk of time researching interfacing options, notched collar techniques, and books about fitting. All this for the dress I hope to make sometime soon (McCall's 4769).

  6. It's perfectly possible to make a dress in a weekend - I've done it many times. Like Carolyn, you just have to be organized. And if I am making something I have made before, I don't have to consult the instructions. I can do the steps in an organized way and maybe even in better, faster way. I once made my daughter's first communion dress in 4 hours (not counting cutting out) My mother in law said I'd never finish on time. But of course, I did. So it is perfectly possible

  7. I agree, prep work is not sewing. If you sit down and sew and you don't get distracted, which you obviously don't, then it is certainly possible to get a lot done. Like sewing a dress in a weekend. The beauty of a tnt pattern, as you have written about on more than one occasion, is that you can cut it out and sew. Your dress is not particularly complicated and you aren't fitting. Even I could get it done in a weekend and I am an easily distracted sewer. Not slow, but a bit ADD. I have emulated you on numerous occasions lately in my quest for a larger sewing production. I have a stash of the 1000 meter Guterman thread, I bought a stash of zippers in all the colors I have for pant sand skirts on my trip to NYC. At 30 cents a piece it was a great savings over Jo Ann's, which I hate anyway. I have interfacing in every weight I could possible need. You get the picture. I have a number of tnt patterns now, and others that I have prepared.
    I do a lot of sketching and looking at fabrics to see what I like together. That takes time but it isn't part of the sewing. Getting ready to sew is what makes it possible to get a project done in a weekend. Keep inspiring me to emulate you Carolyn! I need to get more sewing done so that I don't have to resort to rtw!

  8. I don't get people questioning whether you complete one in a weekend or not. You know where you are going with it, knew the pattern, was organized, etc. If I had no distractions, and stayed focused, even I probably could put a basic dress together that fast, but I do have many distractions and have a hard time staying focused. Sometimes, too, I anticipated it too much and really take my time because I am unsure and second-guess myself, too.

  9. I don't sew if I'm not "inspired" by a particular fabric, or color, or by a pattern. Once the inspiration hits, I can cut out and put together an entire dress or skirt and top in a weekend, especially using the TNT patterns. To me, thinking that this floral fabric would be a great skirt from this particular pattern, then grabbing the fabric and placing it where it will remind me to work with it is not part of the sewing process, any more than deciding that you'd like chicken for dinner on the train ride home is part of the cooking process.

    And since you've obviously done a lot of sewing, you should be very fast, and better than many people. Let's face it, being good at something takes a lot of practice (back to your 10,000 hours post a couple of months back)!

  10. I think there are some people that like to figure out everything about a project before they start.

    And then there's me, who mostly just wings it.

    With my approach (and I'm a beginner - not a total newbie, but certainly not expert/advanced), it is perfectly possible to sew a dress in a weekend. From start to finish. Would I get other things done that weekend? Some, sure, but not everything.

    It does help that I have a rough list of upcoming projects. So, I can buy multiple zippers/notions at a time.

  11. Well, I imagine that even if you did add up the time spent on the things listed, it wouldn't cut into the weekend that far...

    Fabric prep, unless it's something like steam shrinking, basically takes ten seconds to load the washing machine, a minute or so to put detergent in and start it running, and a few minutes at the end of the cycle to hang it/lay it out to dry - which then of course takes time, so obviously it's probably not going to be feasible to do that during the weekend in which one is sewing the dress, unless the fabric can be tumble dried.

    But during the time the washing is going on, one can assemble the thread, zipper, buttons, etc and put them in a little pile next to the sewing machine. If using a TNT pattern (another great reason for me to get on with these!) then you don't have to faff around measuring/adjusting the pattern, and once the fabric is dry you can just start on cutting out. I can cut out a simple garment in about an hour, and that includes going and having a cup of tea between large sections ;) I'm sure you can work faster!

    I sewed a simple sleeveless pullover dress in a total of about three hours, including measuring the pattern, cutting, sewing, ripping and adjusting the shoulders. I didn't pretreat the fabric because I am lazy and because I can afford for it to shrink a little (it's knit and kind of loose at the moment).

    It was spread over about a week, but evidently could have been done in a day if I'd felt up to that.

  12. All I can say is we're all on different levels :)
    Really, I've sewn so long that it comes second nature to me. I can make most things in a few hours. That's not prep time because you do have to preshrink. It doesn't take me long to decide what notions I want to use usually but your right...make a wrong decision can cause something not to come out looking so good. But I look at it this way. It's all art. What I like the next person may not so I will never tell anyone I don't like the fabrics and such that they have picked to work with. It's all good in someones eyes.

    Enjoy "them there" sewing moments Carolyn...hehehe

  13. Even factories have to have prep time before starting a new line. I like to think of a using a tnt sort of like factory sewing and confess to making five identical simple summer shirts from the same fabric piece last year. I had the coverstitch, the serger, and the sewing machine all threaded up (7 cones) so got to skip the thread changing and such. Boring yes but still is a very efficient way to sew.
    I don't think one can count prep time really as it is usually done while doing something else (like prewashing while hunting down thread,zipper etc),tracing the pattern. I have spent multiple days tracing off and fitting a new pattern or even deciding on what pattern and fabric to put together. I only count the time I turn on the machines and actually stitch the item together as sewing time. Not that it matters anyway if it takes a lifetime or a couple of hours, it is my project and I am totally in charge of the production time. mssewcrazy

  14. The weekend is two days. Please....Even if you don't do any prep work, you should be able to sew a simple garment in two days. But maybe that's me. I think for most people who sew all the time or who make the majority of their clothing, you are constantly prepping for the next sewing project. when you buy fabric: are you going to wash it, steam it, or dry clean it; you're constantly making sure you have enough thread in all colors, zippers, buttons, pins, needles, etc. I think of it as part of the process of making a garment, but it's going on all the time or most of the time.

  15. Many a times I have made something over the weekend, or in one day. A dress is certainly possible. Probably even a jacket if it is a TNT. And I love the way you think about sewing all the time....wouldn't it be great if just thinking could produce the garment? What a full wardrobe we would have, lol.

  16. I think it is easy to plan and sew a project in a weekend.

  17. An interesting, thoughtful post.
    Thanks for sharing.

  18. Good, thought provoking post! I 'could' in theory sew an outfit in a weekend, LOL! I just sometimes can't get myself motivated to do so. But I will say I've smocked & sewn a dress in a weekend's time. That's a lot of work, though!!

    I guess I would count steam shrinking & cutting out & interfacing as part of the "making" process. I'm on the fence about prewashing. Just because I normally DO do that part right before completing the garment, so it becomes a part of the process.

    I probably wouldn't count collecting zippers & buttons, etc. but that's just me. On the other hand, when it IS me, I don't normally sew as organized as YOU!! :D So I normally DO collect zippers, buttons, etc. in the middle of the sewing process!

    (just IMHO, but I also didn't take Kai's remarks as rude...just another point of view.)

  19. I don't really think of prep time as part of the sewing process unless I go directly from cutting to sewing all in one day. But more often than not, I will cut out a bunch of projects and then stash them to work on later. It is really rare that I cut and sew a project on the same day. And I don't really plan projects because I am a pattern and fabric collecter. So I buy based on what I think I might eventually make with something....if I find an awesome knit, I just buy 3 or 4 yards because I could make a dress with that...not because I know what I am going to make it. So "prep" for me would be impossible to evaluate, because every time I am on a fabric website, that would be prep, and then tossing all those fabrics in the wash before I put them away, but then that fabric may sit for months until the mood strikes me, and I have the right pattern for it. Plus I stash zippers and buttons so I can work on a project when the mood strikes me, and not have to wait to make a trip to the fabric store.

    So I guess in a rambly, rambly way, I am saying that I don't think of prep time as part of the sewing process, because it can be so remote in time from the time that I actually sew the outfit.


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