Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's time to answer some questions...

Okay, like I stated in my last post, there have been a few questions left that I really should answer.  And I would like to apologize upfront because I'm really lousy at this...answering questions I mean.  I always think I'll get back to them but time gets away from me...*sigh*

But first can I reply to a response left on the blog post, Experience vs. Enthusiasm:

Tilly wrote:
"Thanks for your thoughtful musings about my post. It's very interesting to read all the comments. Unfortunately a lack of decades of experience is something I don't have a choice about, as I only discovered the joy of sewing when I hit 30.

I don't know if I'm being overly sensitive, but some of these comments make me feel like I'm being criticised for only starting sewing in the past couple of years (there is a long - some say sad - story behind why this is, which I'm not going to go into online).

The reason I started my blog was to document my journey as a beginner. I soon realised that the fact that I was starting from scratch was encouraging other people who'd never sewn before to give it a go. And this is what I now see the point of my blog being - to inspire people to try sewing and to have fun with it.

While I may lack decades of experience, I have unbridled enthusiasm for the pleasures of making things with your own hands, precisely because it's new to me. As a wise person once said (can't remember who!), the best teacher of x is sometimes the person who has just learnt x. Not only because of their enthusiasm, but also because they know how to explain something to someone who doesn't know it, because it wasn't long ago that the teacher didn't know it either."

...this is not the entire comment but it's most of it...because Tilly brings up some good points.  However, the reason I've highlighted it is because I want Tilly and all new sewists/stitchers to know that in no way was I belittling your experience or where you are in your sewing journey.  I was attempting to encourage you to realize that you need to factor experience into your journey...and experience doesn't take decades to learn.  Some of it is learnt in weeks, months or even days...but realize that it really is experience that takes you to the next level.

Finally, I love all the new sewists/stitchers blogs.  I love the enthusiasm you have for our craft and I love the fact that it is being carried forward into the future.

Now onto the questions...

On Butterick 5620, Judidarling wrote;
"This fabric carries the day. I've never been comfortable using border prints because of my protruding stomach and large bust; I don't have a dress form, and my hems are usually longer in the front. Any hints?"

Judi - lately this has become my challenge too and I cheat.  I'm sure the fit experts have the proper technique for adding fabric somewhere in the waistline of the dress or skirt and then doing a proper hem.  Me, I add an extra inch to the back of the dress/skirt and then hem it unevenly...shorter in the front...longer in the back so that it hangs right on me.  Now if someone has the CORRECT way to make this alteration, please feel free to leave it in it the comments because I'm fully aware that I'm jerryrigging this! *LOL*

Regarding using border prints - please dive right in!  I love the uniqueness and the ability that border prints give you to think outside the box.  I've sewn quite a few borderprints lately.  I'm experiencing borderprintedness but I did buy a boatload of these last year and am just starting to use them.  Plus this is not something you see alot of in RTW plus size clothing so that makes them extra special to me.

Ann of Gorgeous Things wrote:
" I haven't tried the CC patterns, but I've found recently that the shoulder/upper chest area in most of the Vogue/McCall/Butterick patterns runs really, really big. I've had to go down two sizes (and there aint no way I'm a size 10) in that area and work from there. I wonder if they changed their sloper?"

Hey, you know I never thought of that...and thanks for pointing it out.  I will be on the lookout when I get around to using a new pattern time soon...muttering under my breathe!  *LOL*

In Another Vogue 1250, Elle asks:
"Does the stretch run parallel or perpendicular to the print? I ask because I have been eying several border print knits and am concerned about the stretch not going across the grain - where I need it. If the stretch runs vertically, did you encounter any problems in making/fitting the dress?"

Elle - I had to go and pull the dress out because honestly I never think about these things.  Seriously!  When you guys leave comments/questions sometimes I wonder why didn't I think about that!!!  Mostly I think it's because my hands are touching the fabric and contemplating what pattern to use...there is some tactile thing going on so when I'm laying the fabric on the cutting table preparing it for use...I can usually sense when something works and something doesn't.  Now wasn't that a real technical/scientific answer!  *LOL*  And for the record, after I stretched the dress, it has 4-way stretch.

Andrea asked:
"Has anyone irl ever noticed that you have 2 other dresses that are the same pattern?"

I've only worn two of these to work so far.  The gray and black one was worn with the cardigan all day so I don't think you would even realize what the underlying dress was.  However, after working here for the last five years, everyone knows I sew 90% of what I wear.  So besides compliments, the comment I get most often now is, "Did you just make that?!  It's nice!  When do you find the time!?"

Ginger asked:
"which pattern is your woven replacement?"

It is Butterick 3195 circa 2001 which is now out of print.  I need to get to this dress...I'm just gun shy right now! *LOL*  That CC dress really knocked me for a loop!

On The Great Fabric Migration, Sharon asked:
"What is your favorite way to label fabrics in your stash?"

Sharon since most of my fabric collection is from Fabric Mart it arrives with a little white sticky telling me how much I bought, how much I paid for it and how many yards are on it.  But for the pieces I get from other places, I usually add a 1"x1" square of paper that says the same thing.  It is affixed to the fabric with a straight pin.

Okay that's back 10 posts...if I missed a question, leave it in the comments section and I'll try to answer it.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for ALL of the comments you leave.  I truly appreciate the time you take to not only read my blog but to write them up.  Thanks again!!!

Parting Shot:
I'm growing tomatoes on my balcony and they are getting big! always, more later!


  1. Oh my gosh, I'm so jealous of your 'maters. hehe . Mine are just babies...I got a "late start" this year!

    Love your blog Carolyn, but you knew that! :)

  2. I think your way of adjusting for the longer front (compared to back) is just fine. It certainly gets you the desired result!

  3. On Hem length
    You might have your daughter pin a hem on a dress so that you can see exactly where it should be to hang right. You can then use that knowledge on other dresses.

  4. "technique for adding fabric somewhere in the waistline of the dress or skirt and then doing a proper hem."

    It's different for a dress vs. a skirt since they hang from different parts of the body.

    On a skirt, you would adjust before you added the waistband/facing. For most of us plus girls with tummies, it's a tilted waist and the hem hangs lower in the front than back. For that, you remove from the front waist tapering to the sideseams. If you need extra in the back for a booty, you would add to the back waist.

    On a dress, it's usually a larger bust that affects the hem, or forward/rounded shoulders, or rounded back. You need to decide which and adjust at that area of the pattern.

  5. Oh dear, poor Tilly! You seem to have killed her with kindness. Most of us who have sewn for years are not disparaging of new sewists -- we are thrilled to have new victims to unload knowledge onto. (My own child learned years ago to leave the room when I begin to randomly spout sewing tips and hints.) And you are right that experience is an excellent teacher, and that anyone new to a craft has to be willing to keep plugging along until the craft is second nature to them. I love to sew. I am so glad that you do, too.

  6. "I've found recently that the shoulder/upper chest area in most of the Vogue/McCall/Butterick patterns runs really, really big. I've had to go down two sizes.."

    I have found the same thing! The rest of the measurements seem to be accurate, but I recently have had to take in about 2 inches around the upper chest area. I have also found that a lot of their v necks fit very low.

  7. Another note to Tilly: Like anything else, there's experience then there's experience. Fifty years of doing something exactly the same way isn't the same as x number of years exploring and learning. Experience counts, to me anyway, when I look at the pattern instructions, snort and do it the easy and equally valid way. Experience gets you through salvaging things that otherwise could be wadders. I've got 50+ years of sewing having been a too tall, too thin kid, too poor kid who had to sew or go bare, but that doesn't mean I don't pay attention to the brave young sewists and their adventures in making clothes. It does mean that if/when they don't know how to do something, I might be able to offer a bit of help. So enjoy! Forge ahead. I'll be cheering you on.

  8. Tomatoes too !!! You are multi-talented :) Ms Carolyn officially have another huge fan to add to your list.


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