My Grandma used to say to me “measure twice, cut once” and of course I would smile at her, nod, and carry on hastily with my cutting out and sewing.
Everyone makes mistakes sewing, no matter how long you’ve been at it. Only last week I sewed a bag together, muttering to myself that it seemed smaller than on the picture I was basing it on, only to find the other side panel had dropped on the floor and I hadn’t sewn it into the bag. I was too far through the construction so I put the whole thing into the bin. It couldn’t be resurrected, it couldn’t be fixed, it was no good.
As difficult as it can be, looking at something that has gone so badly wrong that it cannot be fixed can be de-motivating and draining. So throw it away and move on. Other times, fixes are possible.
Over the last year I have made a number of work shirts and (potentially) big mistakes were made:
1. I sewed the sleeves on the wrong way round on the first because I failed to mark the sleeve pieces correctly when cutting out and thought I could get it right. After sewing on-and-off since school, I still couldn’t remember that the double notches mark the back of a sleeve, single notches mark the front! The sleeves had been constructed with flat-felled seams and unpicking wasn’t possible for various reasons. So I wear it and no-one has noticed.
2. On the exact same shirt, I was on the final step – cutting buttonholes. I had read somewhere on the internet that cutting buttonholes with scissors was so old fashioned and people use a seam ripper. “Who’d have thought, what a great idea” I remember thinking to myself. Oops! Not only did I cut myself a 4” buttonhole, it wasn’t straight. I failed to read the bit that said “put a pin at the top and bottom of the buttonhole to prevent your seam ripper from ripping too big a hole”. I laughed, I didn’t cry and I got out the fray check and then zigzagged over the offending hole. So I wear it and no-one has noticed.
3. My final shirt trauma was fitting the collar to the shirt using a new method. One of the final steps involved trimming back the collar stand. Hmm, it didn’t go well, I effectively lopped off the front corner of my collar stand and shirt. It was linen and Liberty cotton lawn and to say I was horrified isn’t an over-exaggeration! So I came up with a patch that could be sewn in place and dabbed some fray check on to be doubly sure and, two years later, I still wear it and no-one has noticed.
One of my teens wanted her maxi skirt turning up half an inch. I hate hemming but reluctantly did it, but didn’t measure properly and took it up with my overlocker over 2 inches, causing teenage trauma. Luckily, I kept the bit the overlocker had lopped off and sewed it onto the bottom and got away with it. Another great cover up.
So be pragmatic with your mistakes. Fix if you can, but don’t let that mistake make you think you’re no good at sewing. I smile at my mistakes each time I wear my shirts but smile even more when it goes unnoticed!
Alison runs Scissor Sistas – check it out!