Aah, sewing mistakes. I’ve done so many over the years, and I’ll admit that I sometimes glance a bit enviously at fairly new sewists who seems to already have figured out what has took me years, or even decades, to grasp. I like to blame it on the internet, or the lack thereof, when I began my sewing journey. Compare that to nowadays when you can google everything and find tons of great sewing tutorials and tips.
But when I started back in the 80’s sewing information was scarce and many in my parent’s generation had dismissed the sewing tradition of past generations and moved on to more modern interests. Especially information on sewing with knits was nearly impossible to find, at least here in Sweden.
So I thought I should fess up and share some of the (many) sewing mistakes I’ve done over the years!
1. Woven and knit fabrics are not interchangeable
I’m sure some of might think “duh!” right now. Well it took my years to figure that seemingly easy principle out!
Some examples of those failed attempts
- Trying to make fitted a draped wrap top in woven rayon (hey rayon feels soft, so why not!)
- Making a cardigan in woven jacquard wool (a wool fabric with a pattern that looks like a knit equals a sweater fabric, right?)
- A fitted raglan sweater using a woven wool mohair fabric (if it’s mohair, it must be a knit, never mind that it has zero stretch…
2. Don’t try to make a garment smaller by skipping the seam allowance
While the sides will be smaller, I failed to understand that all curves, such as the neckline, crotch and armscye will actually be bigger if you don’t add seam allowance. Took me a while to figure that out!
3. I am petite and need to adjust my pattern accordingly
What, me, short?!? And to add to this issue, the difference between my waist and upper hip/tummy is 20 cm (8 inches) and if I don’t shorten the bodice, the smallest part of a fitted garment will end up right on my tummy. Took me years to figure out why garments were so tight over my abdomen.
4. Regular sewing machine stitches won’t work when hemming stretchy knits
I’ve tried to hem rib and lycra knits using regular zigzag stitches and even straight stitches (!). You can imagine how awful that looked, it was a wobbly, twisted, stretched-out mess to be exact.
5. Interfacing and fusibles are actually very useful, don’t skip them
In the beginning, for some unknown reason, I only used them for waistbands and cuffs, thus my button plackets, collars, pockets and fly shields all looked shapeless and wrinkly.
6. Some fabrics are just not made for sewing. Skip them and move on
Here is a list of common offenders:
- Soft rib knits without lycra that won’t recover when stretched out
- Loosely woven fabrics that will fray like crazy when you are sewing and then grow to become a shapeless sack when you are wearing the garment
- Fabrics that repels and breaks all kind needles, thus making it impossible to make proper stitches
7. When something goes wrong, analyze and learn from it
That was so not my modus operandi for many years, instead I just repeated the same mistakes over and over, not understanding why I got the same bad result!
Do you have any sewing “aha-moments” that you wished you’d figured out faster?