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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Handling Sewing Frustrations, with Sarah Veblen | Episode 64

Video: Threads magazine

Author, teacher, and fitting expert Sarah Veblen takes on sewing frustrations and strategies for dealing with them in this episode of Sewing with Threads.

Top sources of frustration

Sarah, who is also a pattern designer and sewing teacher, knows well her own sewing frustrations and those of her students. She shares six top sources of aggravation:

  1. Sewing technique snafus
  2. Ripping out
  3. Patternwork and fitting issues
  4. Sewing spaces
  5. Having too many choices
  6. Being productive

Sarah touches on each of these and offers suggestions for dealing with them and ways to avoid them completely.

Handle your sewing frustrations

Address sewing-related annoyances first by recognizing when you are getting frustrated, she says. Oftentimes, the indicator is somatic—a clenched jaw or knotted stomach muscles, for example. That’s when it’s a good time to pause for a few slow, deep breaths or to take a break by walking away for a few minutes.

Sarah prevents sewing headaches altogether by making test samples of everything from the planned stitching to the interfacing.

Muslin to Pattern by Sarah Veblen

She also offers tips for making muslins, or test garments. A frequent Threads contributor, Sarah has written many articles about fitting, including “From Muslin to PatternThreads #212 (Dec. 2020/Jan. 2021).

Thoughtful solutions

Sewing frustrations: Ripping out stitches with a seam ripper
Photo: Sloan Howard

Tune in to learn more of Sarah’s practical solutions to handling and even preventing sewing upsets, including when and how to rip out stitches and how to get back to your sewing space after an absence.


This episode of Sewing with Threads is brought to you by Wild Ginger.

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Sarah Veblen portrait by Marcie Levendusky.

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  1. josgirl | | #1

    This was a very helpful episode with Sarah Veblum. The discussion about making numerous muslins brings up something I have struggled with. Where to source cheap fabric for making numerous muslins, (other than the actual muslin fabric which is usually available at low cost). Sometimes as she mentioned, a knit or a silky or a drapey fabric is definitely needed for the muslin. I find myself in JoAnn Fabrics scouring the aisles for an appropriate and low cost fabric for a muslin. Thoughts, suggestions?

    1. carolfresia | | #2

      Hi, josgirl,
      You bring up something that we all struggle with. I usually do what you do--look for the cheapest possible fabric that has similar properties to my final fabric. Sometimes I find remnants in my stash that can work, and I piece together a muslin from assorted suitable fabrics. As long as the weight, drape, and stretch are OK, it doesn't matter if a green top has purple sleeves! This is for the first muslin.

      Once I've gotten the major fit issues dealt with, I may buy nicer fabric in a color or print I like, and make a wearable muslin. The resulting test garment may not be perfect, but it is often quite serviceable. In fact, some of those wearable muslins have turned into favorite clothes.
      Carol Fresia
      Editor, Threads Magazine

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