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Sewing gremlins

Tatsy | Posted in General Discussion on

What is your sewing gremlin–that certain step in a garment that you just hate to tackle?


  1. DesignandSew | | #1

    Cutting out the pieces.  I would happily hire someone to do this.

    1. Tatsy | | #2

      Mine used to be hems because I could never get them "invisible" enough. Then I learned to make them a design element and just have fun.  It helps to have a serger with a cover stitch, but I also use beads, fabric bands and fancy stitches to make them look less tacky.  Now I need to tackle button holes.  I have a hard time getting them straight even if I mark right on the fabric.

  2. fabricholic | | #3

    Making buttonholes. There is always something that goes wrong. Last time I hit an eyelet and the buttonhole went crazy. I used to try to put a buttonhole at the top of the back neck edge and it would never work. A woman told me to just move it down a little. Being a stickler about following the pattern, it never occurred to me. Also, I never got one to come out correctly with my new Hus. Viking, so I just try to watch the markings and hit the reverse button. That is usually a hit or miss.

  3. solosmocker | | #4

    I do a lot of bias bound necklines and am always afraid when I get to the ends and I have to tuck the ends in and finish them off neatly. I worry that I will end up with a big lump there. I haven't had that happen in a long time but I still worry. :[I have learned that the slightest difference along the path of a buttonhole can mess you up. I have a 35 yr old mechanical Kenmore that makes the most gorgeous buttonholes not matter what I shove thru. So I don't even bother on my Comp Pfaff for buttonholes. I can do them but its Murphy's Law that the last buttonhole will be the one to mess up and it will be at the top of the garment near the face, never a cuff. I always try to do the least obvious buttonholes first in case of error, figuring that by the last buttonhole and the most obvious I will have them perfected. Yeah, right...so the moral of the story is if you can pick up and old machine at a garage sale for 5 bucks, get it and try out the buttonholes. Might be the best 5 bucks you've spent in a while! Worst case, you can put it in your yard sale.

    1. BernaWeaves | | #5

      Strange as it may seem, sewing a straight seam and not wobbling around all over the place.

      I have to admit, that since I bought a new, modern machine, this is not so much of a problem as it used to be.


    2. fabricholic | | #6

      I've had the big bump at the end of a neck edge, like you are referring. It's been a while since it has happened to me. Maybe we have learned a thing or two about this sewing. LOL
      I have an old Singer that uses cams for buttonholes that does better than my new machine. I just want to do it on my new machine, because it should work. I am stubborn about it.

    3. Josefly | | #7

      I do my buttonholes the same way - those least obvious first, so I can get it perfect by the time I get to the ones closer to eye-level. But I always mess up on the most critical one. Needless to say, all the practice ones you do before you start on the garment itself are just perfect.Like Fabricholic, I have an old Singer that uses the cams to determine stitch style. Buttonholes were to be done using a regular satin stitch, down one side, pivot, change stitch width to bar tack, change stitch width again to go back up the other side, bar tack again - but no two buttonholes were ever the same. Finally, a couple of years ago I learned that there exists a buttonhole attachment for my machine, just like the one my mother used on her 1940's Singer, and that makes beautiful buttonholes all just exactly alike. It's a pain to set up, but then it's a breeze to use -almost hands-free. I cussed for almost 40 years before I got the new (old) buttonholer. :>)As for gremlins, my sewing machine seems to know when time is critical - and decides to give me trouble winding the bobbin. So I have to hand-wind bobbins!

    4. Tatsy | | #9


      I got that machine (or an older one) as a high school graduation gift from my parents.  It was used then but the buttonholes were perfect.  Maybe that's why I'm not satisfied with the ones my space age machine does.  I just loved to watch that attachment go around.  I traded it for a month's babysitting after I got my new (1973 Elna.)


  4. User avater
    Becky-book | | #8

    I usually think of a Gremlin as something un-expected that went wrong. I used to choke at buttonholes, but this machine does them one-step (just change to a weird foot and set the dials right!) pretty easy... famous last words!  I went to finish the blue counter change dress I posted photos of (notice I did not show the back!) What do you know the button holes so nicely done at a convenient time in the construction ended up on the bottom layer of the placket.. don't ask how I managed to do that, I don't know!! soooo I think I'll do some more buttonholes where they need to be and just sew the buttons over the unopened ones in the wrong place!


  5. flossie | | #10

    I definitely hate buttonholes -  I make samples and they turn out beautifully but the one in the most noticeable position on the garment always goes wrong!

  6. Teaf5 | | #11

    Sleeve fitting, definitely, followed closely by collar bands.  On my latest blouse, after struggling with the collar band, I just took it off altogether, made a center back facing, and reattached the collar without a band.  Looks good, feels more comfortable, and I could stop battling the lumps, bumps, and twists of that band.

    Sleeve fitting for me usually means shortening the shoulder seam even more than I already have, usually after I have attached the sleeves at least two times.  Pin-fitting just doesn't seem to work, so I now attach the sleeves in a long machine baste, assuming that I can restitch if it's correct but easily tear it out if not!

    1. Tatsy | | #12

      I'm fussing with a jacket sleeve right now.  Luckily, it's tough enough fabric that I can just grab both pattern pieces, rip them apart, and start over.  I've started using soap to mark where my body lines actually fall on the garment.  It's coming along slowly.  One thing I've found is that the more you have to rip, the more knowledge you pick up.

      1. Teaf5 | | #13

        Here's a tip for sleeves--learned after too many rip-outs to count--instead of setting them in all at once, sew just the cap first, check the hang of the sleeve, and then sew the rest of the seam. 

        Unless you're sewing for a competition, it doesn't really matter if the underarm seams match perfectly, and often, my problem is that the high point of my shoulder is nowhere near the one marked on the sleeve.  By sewing only half of it and checking the fit, I end up ripping out only half as much seam. 

        Good luck on that jacket!

        1. Tatsy | | #14


          Thanks for the tip, but it's a bigger problem than that.  I have very small arms and even though I did my normal adjustments before I cut out the pattern, I neglected to paperfit the results.  These sleeves are about twice too big--I look like I'm playing dress-up in somebody else's clothes and they hang offgrain, so I'm trying to figure out how much needs to come out of the body of the sleeve and how much to add or subtract in the sleeve cap. 

           I go back to school tomorrow so I'm going to let it rest for awhile. Instead I've been restoring some order to my sewing room and I'm going to make a verrry simple skirt with a basque, an elastic waistband, and a rolled hem.  Thank goodness for sergers.

  7. moira | | #15

    Until a couple of weeks ago I would have said cutting out was one of the less enjoyable parts of being a dressmaker, but since I invested in a rotary cutter and board, it has become a pleasure! I bought these tools, and the big wide transparent ruler that goes with them, with a view to using them for patchwork, and then tried them on cutting out a garment. Already I find it hard to think of going back to scissors. I've posted about this in another thread, and someone wrote a reply to stress the importance of proper and careful use. How right - this rotary cutter is lethal if used without the greatest of care, but fabulous as a tool used in the right way. Moira

    1. solosmocker | | #16

      This is how I cut and I don't consider it a chore at all. Once you are comfortable with the process, invest in a hip curve and a sleeve curve. Use these for the curved areas like necklines and armscyes. You will be amazed at how they line up. Congrats on your discovery!solo

    2. Tatsy | | #17

      I actually enjoy laying out and cutting.  My short-lived experiments with rotary cutters were disastrous, so I've invested in some Kai shears and they make cutting out a breeze.  The french curves, angle measures, and that big 6x24 grid ruler are wonderful.  I also invested in a metal T-square which makes lining up the grainlines a lot quicker and probably more accurate.  Detail work is probably my favorite part.  I find it so relaxing to concentrate on each bead or fine stitch and let the rest of the world take care of itself.

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