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Is there such a thing as perfect?
amysayssew
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amysayssew
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Date: 8/9/09 5:57 PM

Lately, it seems as if every project I've attempted, I've run into some sort of problem.

Today, I began working on an apron. I've sewn two before - each with a different pattern - so I thought this would be an easy project. It turns out I was wrong. The instructions called for me to fold the raw edge of the top of the apron 1/4" and then baste close to the fold. Then I was to sew a regular stitch over the basting. My problem was that the basting thread matched so closely to the apron fabric that I couldn't see it! And because I was stitching over the basting thread, I didn't want to use contrasting thread for the basting, as it would be difficult to pull out. So, after trying to stitch over the basting multiple times, the apron looks a little mangled.

My question is, when will my projects start to look like they aren't homemade? I really enjoy sewing, but I'm getting frustrated by my lack of success. I've invested too much time, money and space (my husband gave me one room of our apartment to use as a sewing room) to give up, but my morale is getting low. Has anyone else felt this way?

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Buffalo Modern Sewing Group: http://bit.ly/buffalomodernsewing

zazzie
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zazzie
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Quebec CANADA
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Date: 8/9/09 6:22 PM

What can I say ... Most of what I know, I've learnt it through mistakes. Reading books and articles on sewing helps a great deal in learning techniques also. But there is nothing like experience ...

I bet that next time you will baste, you will either use a very contrasting thread and/or avoid stitching on the basting.
One lesson learn from that apron.

Thankfully, you do not need a thousand techniques to make a nice lookign garnment or decoration item.

One of the many good things about PR, is that you can learn from OTHERS' mistakes.



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There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. - L. Cohen.

ElizabethDee
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ElizabethDee
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New York USA
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Date: 8/9/09 7:29 PM

Perfection is a distant ideal for me, and I can't let it come too close or I could not get started. On anything! Do you know the old saying, Do not let the Perfect become the enemy of the Good?

How about taking some satisfaction in having made yourself what is probably a very pretty apron? The next time you make this apron it will be that much closer to perfect, and as Zazzie said, you will never make the basting-thread mistake again. There is nothing like making a mistake to teach you not to make it ever again. And I ought to know.

When you said that the apron looks "mangled," I wonder if you have steamed or pressed it yet? Often a good steaming can reverse the effects of a little too much twisting of fabric.

Hope this helps!

nancy2001
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nancy2001  Friend of PR
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Date: 8/9/09 8:07 PM

One way to perfect a project (or at least avoid noticeable errors) is to make the same item with the same pattern over and over. Just keep at it, and if you do it enough times, you'll get the hang of it.

By the way, I don't think there's anyone on this board who hasn't felt extremely frustrated at one time or another by the way a project (or a string of projects) turned out. Fortunately, if you stick with sewing for a while, many of the tasks that seem so difficult for you now will become incredibly easy. So just forge ahead and ignore the nagging feelings of doubt -- everyone has them, and they don't mean anything.

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No sewing project is ever a complete success nor a total failure.

Gloria W

Gloria W
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Arizona USA
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Date: 8/9/09 9:15 PM

There is no such thing as perfect, but no one needs to be. Fashion is more about the illusion of perfection than perfection itself. I'll bet that most of the drop-dead beautiful things on PR have hidden flaws that only the people who sewed them know about.
The only way to learn a skill is to practice. Did you ever learn how to play a musical instument or play tennis? No one expects to take up tennis and then go to Wimbledon the next month. Give yourself time to acquire skills. Sew, sew and sew some more. Find projects around that house that won't matter if there are small flaws.
Try a small lapquilt, just to get comfy with your sewing machine. If you aren't worried about fit, maybe you can loosen up and let your creativity flow. Most of all, keep at it. It's a skill that will serve you for your entire life.

Nancy K
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Nancy K
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In reply to amysayssew


Date: 8/9/09 10:33 PM

I have been sewing for many years, but when I started to sew knits I had one wadder after another. I read everything I could on sewing with knits including great tips here on PR, and kept on sewing. Rocketboy talked about sewing one item over and over again until he really learned how to do it. His work is great. He makes a gorgeous shirt. Was his first one gorgeous, I doubt it. The thing to remember is that we all make mistakes, even experienced sewers. Find something you would not mind having multiples of and make more than one of them until you really know how to make it. Remember, no one else will notice every little mistake that you see. They aren't examining it at close range. Oh, and a good seam ripper is a must. As I said, I've been sewing for many years and I still need to use that seam ripper.

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www.nancyksews.blogspot.com

MaddyGranMa
MaddyGranMa
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New Jersey USA
Member since 5/8/09
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Date: 8/9/09 11:05 PM

I am so sorry that you are feeling frustrated, but I admire your courage in speaking out. Most of us would just let the frustration grow as we sit inside a dark closet all alone. I have not belonged to PR for very long and most of my experience in sewing was for interior linens ( I had a business for many years) and then in project design and making my own patterns (for a design Teddy Bear business that was fun and overwhelming at the same time). This said, I'm now, flash forward 15 years, trying to double back and learn how to sew apparel, like the people on PR do it. The reason for this long story is that I worked successfully for about 12 years reading how it "should be done" and then finding what worked for me and what didn't. Maybe there is another way you could think of to accomplish the 1/4" seam thing. One way that comes to mind is to try the same approach on a sample piece of material..or two...or three?
Or how about knowing it doesn't work so easily for you and increasing the size of the seam and using some application like Steam a Seam? Or perhaps finishing that edge with a decorative binding that would give the seam a clean finish? Just because somebody wrote something in a pattern package doesn't mean that you need to fit neatly into their box.

I can tell that you have dreams and goals for your sewing; you've set up such a great place for it! Turn on your favorite music and have fun! I think that a few months down the road you'll be really pleased about what you have accomplished!

CarolynSue
CarolynSue
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Date: 8/10/09 1:48 AM

I have sewn for almost 50 years. A few weeks back I made a blouse. I fiddled and fiddled with the da** thing and it never did come out right. I kept trying because I liked the fabric. After many stitch removals I decided that enough was enough. In the trash it went. The pattern instructions were crazy or maybe I was, will never know, but in the trash it went and the pattern is going there too. So don't give up, just keep trying, you will eventually get it through trial and error.

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Carolyn from Conroe, Texas

MarthaA24
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In reply to amysayssew


Date: 8/10/09 1:51 AM

As AzCat said there is no such thing as perfection. I think what there is instead of perfection is called good enough. And even that is a matter of perception, because what I call good enough you might call perfection simply because I have been sewing for many years and I have more experience. But that doesn't mean I don't strive for perfection, which means I do the best I can and keep working on doing better.

The suggestion of sewing the same pattern over and over until you get better is a good one.
Another idea is if there is a new skill in sewing that the pattern calls for, make a little sample before you do it on the garment. For instance if you had made a little sample, say about 8 inches long, of the top edge of the apron you could have seen what you liked or didn't like about what you did. You could rip it out and try again or you could think about what might have worked better. Example: since you were basting with a matching thread to the apron, if you had used smaller stitches then it would have showed less and probably wouldn't have shown at all after you top stitched or you could have basted just over like an 1/8 inch of where you were going to top stitch then it would be easy to pull out the basting stitch or you could have used a small fell stitch on the back side which would permanently hold down the folded edge and not really show on the right side and then top stitch. I just finished my DD wedding dress which was a challenge for me. I assure you I made any number of samples of things I was doing and I did them until I was happy with it. Did I achieve perfection with this dress? NO but it was good enough. Also I'm really the only one who knows where the areas of perfection lack. There are certain things if I were to make the dress again, which I'm not , I would do differently. I definitely learned a lot. My goal was to make my DD a magnificent dress that fit her beautifully and blow everyone at the wedding away with the dress. I did achieve that and so it was a success. But I will tell you there are a few areas on the dress that annoy me still and if I had thought about them longer before did them, I would have done them differently, but that's O.K.. I think it's that part of me that helps me to become a better sewer.

Also remember when someone else looks at what you have sewn, they aren't going to look at it with a magnifying glass.So the mistakes you see, others may not notice.

There are always lots of ways of doing something. When you have learned more, if you don't like how the pattern is doing it, doesn't mean you have to do it that way. As a beginner it is harder to know what the choices are.

Under Patterns and Notions there is a thread called Let's start a library with many good books listed. One person even mentioned some of the books on the advanced sewing list are good reading for beginners. Maybe I'm crazy but I enjoy reading sewing books especially ones like couture sewing techniques that shows how really nice clothes are put together.
Simply the more you learn the better a sewer you will become. Also becoming a better sewer, part of it is learning the techniques and some of it is practice.
Another good tip I was reading on PR to help make your projects not look homemade is to press at each step along the way.
Plus one of the WONDERFUL things about PR forum, if you are working on something and you aren't happy about how something is turning out, you can post questions here and lots of good people will give you ideas that might work better.

Even though you weren't happy with the top edge of the apron, from what you posted you were thinking about what the problems could be. That's great, so pat your self on the back!

Quote:
And because I was stitching over the basting thread, I didn't want to use contrasting thread for the basting, as it would be difficult to pull out.

If you need to pull out basting thread you stitched over, it is easier with tweezers providing you can see it and clipping fairly closely to where it is stitched over.
I didn't aim to write such a long post, but you said you enjoy sewing. So keep at it, you will get better. We all feel frustrated sometimes. Don't rush yourself, take your time, do the best you can, don't compare yourself to someone who has been sewing forever and one day soon you will say "Wow, I made that!" Learning anything takes time, the more you do something the better you will get and the faster you will get.
Martha

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Martha

Sewnsewmom
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Sewnsewmom
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In reply to amysayssew


Date: 8/10/09 2:25 AM

You've had great advice here. I'm not going to top it! But I just wanted to say that I can understand your frustration. I too at times feel the same way. Sometimes I think that I've sewed long enough and should know better. But honestly, I've sewn real seriously for 1 year. But what a year it's been! I've learned to sew dresses for my little girl. The first one that I made was a wadder and I stuck it in the back of the closet. My dd kept begging for it. She didn't notice the imperfections, only I did. But I have kept at it. Now I have some dresses that I've made for her that I'm proud of. Yes, I do know the imperfections. Yes, there are times I think when will I get this right? But mostly I learn and enjoy the process. I've made other clothes too. Not only for my dd, but for my ds and myself. One thing I made my ds are some shorts. I know the mistakes, but he's been wearing those shorts all over the place and has been rough with them. And they have continued to look good wash after wash.
So, yes it takes awhile. But it's so worth it! And you will be proud when you can say that you made whatever you sewed yourself!

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