Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning to slow down

Hand-basted sleeve/armscye seam

The other day, I cut out a newborn-sized baby gown (McCall's M6103) from a cute little green knit with pink ladybugs on it. The pattern seemed to be very straightforward--front, back, sleeves, drawstring hem at the bottom that I'm putting elastic in instead. However, I ran into trouble at the very beginning (!) while attaching the picot-edged elastic to the neckline. The machine didn't seem to want to feed it through and would get stuck and just stitch in one spot for awhile. Also, even though I pinned the bejeezus out of it, in some places I was sewing on just the elastic (that is, not attaching it to the fabric). I wasn't sure how to solve the feed problem, but I knew it would be easier to make sure I was sewing on the elastic + fabric if I hand-basted the elastic onto the neckline first.

I dunno, I seem to have this psychological/pride issue with basting. I have this sense that I should be good enough at the machine to not need to hand-baste seams together or trims to the garment. Why I think this, I don't know, considering that I'm a relative beginner at sewing. When I point that out to myself, I then say to myself that I should practice, practice, practice to get better, not use hand-basting as a crutch.

I maybe need therapy.

At any rate, I realized that could: A) stitch and rip out and restitch and rip out until I became so frustrated I gave up on the entire project OR B) I could just hand-baste the elastic on the neckline and then machine stitch it and move on with my life. I decided to go with choice B. And, of course, the hand-basting did make the machine stitching a lot easier (as did pulling on the elastic slightly while I stitched) and it wasn't very much trouble to take out the basting stitches afterward. So, lesson learned. Then, I turned to the sleeve where I encountered another point of stubborn pride: easing in fullness.

Easing is when you sew one piece of fabric to another piece that's shorter. So, there's more fabric on one side of the seam than the other. The instructions usually just tell you to attach the sleeve (it may suggest basting first), easing in the fullness, which is something I've tried to do on other garments via pinning with limited success. It always gets bunched up in one spot or I get little tucks in places when it's supposed to be just a smooth line. I think one way to avoid this problem is to stitch a gathering stitch along the longer piece of fabric and gather it evenly, then pin the sleeve to the armhole, then hand-baste to make sure I've got it the way I want it, then machine stitch it. But, again, I have avoided using this method due to pride.

Actually, it's not just pride that keeps me from gathering and hand-basting and such, it's time. I am not much of a process sewer (one who sews just for the enjoyment they get from stitching), I'm more of a product sewer (one who sews primarily because they want the finished project). So, I'm not a fan of going slow or doing things the long way. I want shortcuts. But, I've finally, finally come to accept that if I want a good quality finished product, I need to do whatever it takes to make that happen even if it means doing things the long way (like hand-basting picot-edged elastic to a baby gown).

So, I'm trying to slow down and enjoy the process more, like how soothing it was to do the basting by hand, actually.

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