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Silly question

sweet_jenn | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi everyone!  I have a silly question.  What is a “facing”?  I’m making an apron for my grandma for Christmas.  It’s a Butterick pattern, which I usually avoid because they’re hard for me to read.  Thanks for the help!


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    Perhaps the best way to describe a facing is that it's a partial lining. You'll find facings around neck and armholes. In the case of your apron, probably at the top, to help support the straps that go around the neck? Facings serve a dual purpose, both providing a nice clean finish to the edges and providing strength.

    1. User avater
      sweet_jenn | | #4

      Thank you so much, Annie!  I couldn't find it in my sewing manual, but your explanation and the examples you gave help a lot.  Next time I see the word "facing" I'll know exactly what it means! :) 

  2. gailete | | #2

    There should be a pattern piece for it as well. Do you have trouble reading the instructions because they are unclear or the print is too small? We could help trouble shoot that for you.

    Do you have the pattern number? If I have it in inventory, I can look it up and see if I can help you more with the directions if needed.


    1. User avater
      sweet_jenn | | #3

      Thanks Gail!  I have trouble following patterns not because of their small print, but because I feel like I need to learn a new language just to read them!  Have you ever seen old patterns from the 60s and 70s at the thrift store?  They're always so easy to understand.  I think that back in the day, when EVERYONE sewed, they had to dumb it down a little so anyone could read them.  Now, with a much smaller percentage of people making their own clothes, the directions have gotten more specific, and we fresh newbies are at a loss.  And Kwik-Start designs are somewhat uninspired.  Nobody wants to sew that.  Ok, I'll stop my ranting now. 

      Grandma's apron is of the kind that slips over your head and ties in the back.  I chose it for the flouncy ruffle at the bottom, because she is the most feminine person I have ever met.  The "facing" in question goes on the sides of the apron, like a band.  Here are the pattern directions, and I quote:

      "For facing, turn in seam allowance on long notched edge of remaining band 2 sections, easing in fullness where necessary; press."  Underneath this is a rather unhelpful picture of a thin crescent which is the band, wrong side of fabric up.  The seam allowance is partially folded right side up to show you where to fold.  That part I get.  But the picture makes it look like the right side up seam allowance has been cut.  It is forked halway across the folded part, and the strip left behind looks like a ribbon.  Hideous, confusing directions and picture! 

      1. gailete | | #5

        Was the facing supposed to be a seperate piece? I hate it when they always want you to 'ease' as neccessary when they don't even tell you how to do it. Normally easing involves some gathering stitches or basting stitches, etc. Now these days you are supposed to do it somehow with an iron or while actually sewing.  But you are right about instructions. Occassionally I have had customers ask me questions about a pattern and I have to take the instructions out and read them all a couple of times to figure out what they are alking about.

        Anyhow I have around 10000 sewing patterns here at my house as we sell them on line and that is why if you can give me the pattern number I might be able to look at it see what it means, as you are right, to me your instructions are goobaldygok.

        I'm thinking if your picture looks like a crescent, does that mean the sides of the apron are rounded? If so the facing should also be somewhat rounded. If you really can't figure it out, think about if it would work to put bias binding on the sides and be done with it, because it sounds like that is what their intention is only they want you to do it with regular fabric.


        1. User avater
          sweet_jenn | | #25

          Hi Gail,

          It's Butterick B5125, a See & Sew pattern, and I am attempting Apron A.  I find it particularly amusing that "YES!  It's EASY!" is emblazoned on the pattern envelope.  If you have this pattern in your collection, I'd love to hear back from ou.

          Hope you have a Merry Christmas!  Jenn

          1. gailete | | #29

            Just checked our listed inventory and it isn't listed. Later I can check the boxes of unlisted patterns to see if we have and I'll get back to you one way or an other. Now that we are old foggies and the kids are grown up, Christmas Day ends up being much more laid back. I'm hoping to be up to straighting up the sewing presents mess in my sewing room and get back to other projects!


      2. Teaf5 | | #6

        After making about a dozen aprons as Christmas gifts a couple years ago, I'm fairly sure that they are really talking about "hemming" the side curves rather than facing them.

        That is, you just fold over & press the raw edge about 1/2", then fold it again and stitch it down, making about a 1/4" hem on the curved part.  Then, on the lower, straight part, you fold over about an inch & fold again, making about 1/2".  Then, you hem the bottom edge of the apron.

        On the curved area, you can usually do a 1/2" hem without notching the seam allowance, but if it gets too tight in the sharpest part of the curve, you can clip the seam allowance on the wrong side up to the fold for ease.  Once you stitch it down, the clipped areas won't fray.

        As the other poster noted, facing the top half of the apron front is another option, again, notching the seam allowances on the curve.

      3. sewelegant | | #7

        I do not think it was "dumbing it down" at all!!!  My impression with what you are encountering is very TODAY... people who have very little sewing knowledge are putting out patterns and instructions with the idea we all want to make doll clothes where the finishing is easy and quick!  The reason I say this is because I know someone who is selling her wares online.  She is a self taught sewer with no experience sewing clothing but she is selling accessories and an apron pattern "anyone can do".  At first she started out making all her own items and I had a hard time wondering how anyone would fork over close to 100 dollars for such workmanship, but it has been successful and now she has a crew of seamstresses doing the sewing and the workmanship is much better quality.  All it takes is chutzpah (a very fine Jewish word, I hope I spelled it right)

        I could no more make out what to do with your apron than you can with the instructions printed and yes, I have encountered the same unclear verbage in other patterns I have used lately.  It is a shame.  I hadn't thought much about it, but could this be a reason young people are not taking to sewing?

        1. Ralphetta | | #8

          Maybe they're hiring the same people to write pattern instructions that write electronic device manuals. I sometimes think they are paid by the word. I first noticed this years ago when I found myself with the "new" FAX machine and it ran out of paper. There were several pages of pictures and writing in the manual and I was very intimidated. When I finally finished, I stared in disbelief. It was basically like replacing a roll of toilet paper. Their instructions were so complex and ridiculous that you would have thought I was rebuilding the stupid thing. Ahhh, I just had another thought. Maybe the patterns are outsourced and it's a matter of translation. I think that's why the electronic things are hard to figure out. It's funny that I'm saying this, because I used to complain that particularly, Simplicity, left out basic info in order to brag about having simple to read instructions. Hmmm...it's always possible that I'm just hard to please.

          1. sewelegant | | #13

            I agree with you about overdoing the instructions.  How about a booklet that resembles a small dictionary?  After you settle down with a cup of tea and maybe a cookie to slowly absorb all the information you are going to need to know... it's only the first two or three pages you can read because that's all there is in English.  Any more we have to put up with at least seven or eight foreign language instructions and the extra paper just means clutter.  I find I cannot even cut off the excess because it interferes with the ability to save what I need.  I guess the positive side of this is I have picked up on the meaning of a few words in other languages, at least in the written form.

          2. Ralphetta | | #14

            Along that line, it suddenly hit me a few weeks ago that the reason I have more trouble reading instructions on bottles is not that my eyes are worse, (thank goodness)...it's because they now make the print much smaller so they can save space to print other languages. I would imagine that it's equally difficult for the person reading it in another language because it has gotten ridiculously small.

          3. gailete | | #15

            Last year I pulled out a new pattern to make a top and tried to read through it and then tried again. Finally got out a yellow highlighter and slowly read and highlighted the points that were important to what I was making, so I would know what I could ignore while making the top. Something that shouldn't have been really involved at all was confusing, and of course, the foreign language instructions do take up the room that used to all be devoted to the English instructions. Can't blame them for wanting to sharpen up production and it is the same reason that most patterns only come in two size ranges now instead of single sizes or 2-3 sizes per pattern envelope--cheaper to produce and not so many leftovers (smaller sizes don't sell well in my experience).


          4. JeanM | | #16

            They have called the sheet a guide; they expect the sew-ers to check a sewing book if we want more info.  This doesn't always work too well with beginners. (or even the more experienced).  I read that when patterns for home sewing first came out, there were no instructions of any kind.  I guess people were so thrilled to have these patterns that that was minor to them.  Plus, most women did know how to sew, so probably a lot easier for them than it would be today!!

          5. gailete | | #17

            Kind of like the Marfy patterns, not only do you not get instructions, you don't even get a picture of the finished product. I don't know how anyone is brave enough to use them. But I have found that the more I study aobut garment construction the better I am about going my own way when putting something together.

            I believe it was Butterick that came out with the first instruction sheets called a Deltor. Their idea for this sheet was copyrighted!



          6. JeanM | | #18

            I'm with you on that one (Marfy patterns); I need instructions for everything.  I can't cook anything without a recipe.  Once the newspaper put out a recipe saying this is for all of you who say you can't even boil water without a recipe and the recipe was entitled, as you probably guessed, "How to Boil Water."  I thought that was hilarious and probably should have clipped it out and saved it as a joke.

            And good for you and all the others who proceed with garment contruction in their own way.  It seems like when I try that I realize at a later step that there was a reason they instructed us to do something in a particular way!



          7. sewelegant | | #19

            I think you are right!  I don't know how many times I have rushed headlong into sewing the garment only to have to go back and follow the directions after ripping out what I did.  I think I learned a great deal over the years from the direction sheets, but it is hard to pin point just where or how I gathered all the knowledge I now have.  Isn't it a shame we can't copy and paste it into someone else's brain.  We all have to learn on our own though.  Maybe that's why it is so satisfying to become proficient.

          8. gailete | | #20

            I just finished a project that was well on its way to being a wadder. I was making hubby pajama pants out of plain fabric, no right or wrong side, synthetic so was shredding all over, AND I was trying out a new technique from a book I got out of the library. After having to pick out all the seams at least once, I tossed them aside to maybe finish some other time. Well I finished my Christmas sewing this morning and so decided to finish those pants as he really needs them as 2 of his other ones are about to fall apart. Well the library book is gone back to the library at this point, so I was having to figure this out on my own as the instructions in the pattern weren't going to help. But I managed to get them done. They started out with French seams to help enclose all the shredding, but I couldn't figure out how to do French Seams in the crotch without the book's pictures so I had to do it my way, same with the waistband. Instead of sewing the elastic on and flipping it over, I went for the easy way and made a casing. Anyhow, I'm done experimenting for a while and won't try that again unless I own the book to keep referring back to.

            Unfortunately a ticking sound that I had been noticing for awhile finally revealed itself to me. Last night I read an article in one of the stacks of back issues of magazines that I have recently gotten and one of the articles was about noises and your sewing machine. I remember they had mentioned that a ticking type noise could mean the needle is hitting the presser foot and sure enough it has been to the point of wearing  a groove into the presser foot. So back to the shop for it. When I took in for servicing in the fall I told them I was hearing a funny noise and when they said everything was okay, I believed them. I am a bit upset and I certainly hope whatever is wrong is warranty work.

            Now I get to use my old clunker Kenmore that I got at a yard sale this summer, until my Christmas present gets here. Hubby let me pick up a used Pfaff with lots of decorative stitches and it was shipped today so I shouldn't have too much in the way of withdrawal. Whenever I get done with a huge project, I always want to jump right into something else. It is when things become near wadders that I close up shop for awhile.


          9. JeanM | | #21

            Oh, no.  Those repairmen should have paid attention to you and checked out everything!  They should have done some sample stitching to make certain all was well.

            What model Pfaff are you getting?

          10. gailete | | #22

            I'm getting a Pfaff 1473, it has the stitches I am missing plus lots of others ones. I love Jenny Haskins quilts and want to use some of the stitches that she uses and this machine has most of them. My machine that putzed out on me is a Janome 6500. I don't know much about the 1473 except I bought it from a repair shop and the pictures of it looked good. It also has the creative designer to make your own stitch designs. Not sure how that will work. I've never had or even been near a Pfaff so I'm hoping I won't be sorry-I took a big chance. I love my Janome but it is missing some features that I wanted like a free arm and the Pfaff also has that.

            I've dealt with this Janome dealer for years now and they had better treat me right!



          11. JeanM | | #23

            I have the 1475 which came out a few years after the 1473 and has 3 additional features.  I have been quite happy with it.

          12. gailete | | #30

            Do you know about when the 1473 came out? That was something I didn't check, don't know why I didn't, but it was hard enough just trying to find out how many stitches, etc. the machines made that I was looking in to. Not everyone selling a machine remembers what it was they were looking for when THEY bought it.



          13. JeanM | | #32

            I got the 1475 in '91 and I believe it had been out about 2 years.  There was a short time between the introductions of the 1471, 1473, and 1475, so I estimate that the 1473 came out in '87, but possibly as early as '85.  If I find out more precise info, I'll let you know.

            Before I actually sewed anything on mine, I played around with it for a time because it was so much fun having all of these stitches and the various settings that could be done to make them look different.  In fact I have an entire notebook of them.  After some time with this, my husband asked if I was ever going to actually make something with the machine.

            When I first looked at it I told the clerk that I was not in the market for a machine; I just wanted to see what it could do.  I am so glad that I wound up buying it.



          14. gailete | | #33

            That is what I'm looking forward to is playing with the stitches to see what I come up with! Even though my machine has decorative stitches they seem somewhat squirrely for stitch building although I can do it, but I have one scallop satin stitch. Total less than 10 decorative satin stitches I think,  I'm looking forward to about lots of different ones!


          15. gailete | | #36

            Thanks for the time frame on my Pfaff that should be here by January 6 (counting the days!). I've been straightening up my sewng room which partly consisted of getting my growing magazines collection in order. With the time frame, I pulled old Thread issues out and found an ad for the Pfaff 1473 which made me feel even better about the machine even though it is 20 years old, but freshly serviced. I hope to get alot of use out of it. It is exactly what I wanted. Not sure how efficient that Creative designer gadget is going to be, but it should be fun to try.

            Now what should I do today? Clean, work on the website, putter in the sewing room???


          16. JeanM | | #39

            My estimate of the time frame of these machines was close.  (#9315.33, Dec.25).  I am in the process of cleaning out/clearing out my sewing room and came across some info I had written down.

            I was talking to a rather chatty tech at Pfaff and he was giving me all of this info and I made notes on an envelope.  The post mark on the envelope is from '93.

            This is what I wrote:

            ---1229-- came out in '78 (I think this is the model people consider to be a real workhorse)

            ---1469-- 1st one built with microprocesser on ROM

            ---1471--'85-- had RAM

            ---1473-- 64K RAM

            ---1475-- 64K

            ---next machine out is the 7550

            The list isn't complete, but may give you a better idea of the year.

            Now you can see why I need to clear out my sewing room!  I take a lot of notes and need to find a better way of storing them!  I'm sure there is more info; I just haven't come across it yet.  LOL

          17. gailete | | #40

            From your other note I was able to track down their first advertisement in a Threads magazine (the only sewing magazine that I have that goes that far back) and amazingly enough, an article written by David Page Coffin, discussing how to use the Creative Designer! It appears to have come out in about 1989. 20 years old, but if it does what I want it to, that is all I ask. I know that if I got a new sewing machine currently being produced, I'd find all sorts of comments and tips about the machines, but stepping back in time is a bit hard as these came out almost pre-internet when Prodigy, Genie and Compuserve were the discussion boards of choice. Are those sites even still viable? I never used them as I didn't get my first computer till 1995.

            Seeing some of those old ads are pure nostalgia for me especially when I come across an ad for the New Home Memory Craft 8000. I remember standing in a grocery store flipping through a sewing magazine and seeing the ad, saying 'finally' to myself and walking into the only sewing machine dealer in my town (a New Home dealer) the next day and telling them I wanted the 8000. They didn't even have a floor model yet! Now that I'm on disability I no longer can keep up with the latest and greatest (who could afford to) just for a hobby's sake. I do love test driving machines when possible. I tried out a Brother in the fall and thought it way to slow for me. Anyhow I think I got a good deal and hope I get lots of use from from my new Pfaff. I don't understand why UPS ground is so pokey though! Even some of my meds that travel by UPS haven't gotten here yet, but it seems odd that something shipped on the 23rd wasn't even scheduled for delivery until the 6th!

            Thanks so much for your help, I may have to ask further questions :)


          18. JeanM | | #41

            My collection of Threads begins in '93 with a few from '90-'92 so I wouldn't have that issue.  I could do a search here but I doubt that would have something from that far back.

            Today the Creative Designer would seem slow and too confining because of all the embroidery machines out there, but I was quite happy with it and it was the only machine on the market that could do that.  Look out for booklets by Glynda Black such as Creative Pfaff Programming for the 1471, 1473 and 1475, published by Treadleart, where she also had some articles.  Her directions are quite clear.  As she always says "It takes a lot longer to give out the directions than it does to actually do it".

            Good luck and have fun with your machine.  The wait can be excruciating (sp?), can't it?

          19. gailete | | #42

            The wait can be really long! I checked the UPS tracking today and found that they have rescheduled my delivery to Jan 8. The machine was shipped on the 23rd and has been sitting in Oregon for a week now at the same site! My experience with UPS ground delivery is that my item is here within 2-4 days from wherever it was sent. Sitting for a week and not even traveling anywhere is nuts I don't care if it is a holiday season--I thought they geared up for that!

            I will be looking for older info on the creative designer. I also saw an ended auction for a self-published book on what to do whith all those stitches specifically for Pfaffs. I have all the Threads back issues now and it is fun to see what was going on and big news back 20-25 years ago in the sewing world! I also have some older Sew News magazines and they have been fun to read. You never know when you are going to find a gold nugget of information.



          20. Sancin | | #24

            Do you think your needle may have been bent? That happens to me all the time. One needs to look at it from the side or else take it out and roll it around to discover if it is bent. On the other hand, I have purchased presser feet that were supposed to be compatible, but weren't and when another was tried they worked. Regarding instructions - do you think pattern companies 'contract out' their patterns to non English speaking countries - certainly everyone else does. When I phoned for help for my computer I got India, the Phillipines and finally Montreal. The employees try hard but it is hard to know how they are assessed when hired, by whom (do they understand anything) and whether they are supervised. Some jokes that go around on the net regarding signs in other countries are funny, but not when you are trying to figure something out. Sometime colloquial language is the only understandable way to understand something, language only understood when you live it. Anything that sounds stilted, I get concerned. Fortunately, in most things I can muddle through without full instructions or ignore them if I don't understand them and do it my way.

          21. gailete | | #31

            Definitely not the needle as I change those about every 4 hours or so depending on what I'm making. My hubby who is very skilled (he restores pianos for our living) got out some tools to check that it was the needle 'shaft' and not the pressor foot part, etc. Then I pulled out a rulled piece of paper and moved the needle to three times--far left, middle, and far right and poked a hole in the paper. The needle holes did not line up with each other as they should have.

            I'm going to wait for the beginning of the year when our sewing store hopefully won't be so busy. When they were a young store, they always had time for you. Now with many years under their belt, they have employees and are very busy and I don't feel like we get the same kind of attention we used to.

            I love the lady who is 30 and was sewing the sail cloth and just wanted to see what the machine would do! I love playing around when I have gotten a new machine just to see what they do. I felt sad as I was searching for another machine to see people with machines up for sale that had embroidery components that they had never used! Another was selling a machine she had had for a year and had put it in the closet and never used it and now that she had a baby she wouldn't have time to sew! I not only had my kids in the house but a housefull of day care kids and still in a two week stretch made about 9 garments (which was a stretch for me). Nobody died or ate poison. Kids need to understand that they aren't the center of the world and mom should have hobbies. Before anyone jumps me for being nasty, one of those children I was raising was autistic. I love my boy, but he wasn't the easiest kid on the block, but that didn't keep me from my sewing machine. It was his brother who got into my sewing one day and cut a big hole in a top I was making.


        2. gailete | | #9

          A while ago at Barnes & Noble, I was looking through one of those--Anyone can sew these simple designs books. I was appalled, not only was it not very clear how to make the items, the items were of very poor quality which they cover up by pretending they are some kind of 'shabby' chic stuff. What is wrong with showing someone how to sew a straight seam and do neat finishes so that your item will last? But maybe making items that last isn't what they are thinking about in our throw away world. I see the same thing in some quilting books with the samples being shown where piecing lines don't meet by a good 1/4" or more (although they do in the instruction diagrams) and down right messy. Some of the finest quilters out there are so good as to draw your eye to one spot on the quilt and it takes a lot of looking and then you see that the piecing didn't fit right and was whacked off willy-nilly to fit the border. This of course isn't mentioned in the instructions as what to do when your pieces don't fit.

          I see the same thing with the editing of books. I used to never or very rarely catch typos in books. Now just about every newer book I read has multiples of spelling errors or wrong words inserted. I don't think it is so much dumbing down, as ignorant people are doing the proofreading, designing, editing, etc. It is spilling out into all parts of our society. Then something like sewing, which to do well needs good instructions, has someone who is only 'doing a job' proofing instructions gets more concerned with making them fit on a certain amount of instruction sheets than acuracy.

          Don't even get me started on the 'deconstructed' garments nonsense! Clothes that look like they came out of a chop shop. Apparently being used as an encouragement to get younger ladies to sew or would that be un-sew?

          I am pretty much a self taught sewer, and several years ago I decided I wanted to get rid of that homemade look and do a better job on sewing. I have been studying couture techniques, and sewing articles to learn better how to sew and I have been improving. It gives me such a good feeling to finish an article that looks and hangs well because I took that extra time to do it right.


          1. starzoe | | #10

            Ah, now you have hit some of my more sensitive nerves - errors in books, particularly spelling errors. It just grinds my teeth to see typos. Added to that, there are those readers out there who just have to alter spelling, add their comments, mark parts that are of interest to them, etc. in library books. Sometimes I just give up, post a note in the book to the librarians to make sure they don't think I am the vandal. And let's not go into newspapers where articles go right from the computer to the printing with the only proofreading done by the author. And 's when it is not appropriate.I once got a library book on mid-1800 Brit explorers in Africa, lots of photographs, very interesting but some misguided puritan had neatly cut out all the body parts that inflamed their sensitivities.As for sewing, I can hardly contain myself when I see really shoddy work being sold by entrepreneurs, and at such high prices. I must admit that there have been occasions when I have had to say something snarky about the workmanship....bad me, I am getting cranky in my old age.As for pattern instructions being unclear, it is perhaps the newer sewers who find such a problem so often. With experience most of the difficult parts will make sense.

          2. gailete | | #11

            I know I make lots of typos myself as I have dyslexia, so I think that excuses me.?? But when people are making a living editing something, you would think they could try harder. I hear you about books and the editing some do. What I really hate is when they try to change something that shouldn't have been because they didn't understand what they read. That is awful about the old book being clipped, lets hope it was some lady from 1810 (understandable maybe) instead of a punk from 1990. I have brought books back to the library and tell them I didn't do it when it was an almost brand new book, checked out 1-4 times with coffe stain circles on the pages (I don't drink coffe so I know I didn't do it), spines broken, etc. The librarian told me that newer hardcovers aren't lasting as long as they used to and by about 12 checkouts the book is shot which is a shame.

            I sell sewing patterns on line and I get some really strange questions about the patterns which tells me when it is a newbie sewer asking them. I try to be real patient and helpful as we want to see more folks sewing don't we. I have gotten questions on this order: how long are the seams? what is a princess seam? can I have this in blue? will I need to alter this tuxedo (I'm selling patterns remember)?  what do you mean I have to make this? People that have no idea about sizes, ask questions about making things out of fabrics that won't work or about an advanced garment for giving at Christmas when from the questions you know they barely know how to sew much less receive a pattern the day before and have it finished in time to give on Christmas day. Like I said I try to answer as thoroughly as possible to be encouraging and someday when I have time, I'd like to get my website improved so that I can direct them to better answers than mine. Then to have people out there telling these same sewers that there are no rules, do your own thing, when no matter what you do in sewing, there are some rules and the more you know them and follow them the better your garment will look.

            I finished getting all the back issues of Threads that I needed in the last couple of weeks and it has been such a pleasure reading them. Today was an article about sewing beautifully embellished garments using fine stitches, silk ribbon, beading, etc. The samples were gorgeous and I want to try the techniques (Andrea Gabrielle I think was the author) but anyway, this is the type of beautiful sewing that if you don't use proper skills, you can't ever accomplish the beauty these garments have. This is an example of the more you know the better it looks. This is the lovely sewing I would think everyone would like to be doing (not necessarily embellishment) that shows they take pride in their work. Not enough people take pride in their work anymore whether for pay of pleasure and it is sad to see.


          3. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #12

            I was just over at the Etsy site looking at the goods of one particular seller. She is well known for recycled and redesigned thrift store and "back of the closet" type clothing, usually using several pieces to make one. Her prices are rather shocking particularly when you see the quality of the sewing. Some would likely call it art, but I was/am appalled at the lack of pure sewing quality I am seeing. I understand she has sold her clothing from LA to Washington DC. Also one of the accessories she makes has been featured on the cover of a nationally published magazine and in the book about that accessory genre. She was also the featured designer in the Spring 2008 issue of another magazine. It may just be that funky is not my style, but this, in my opinion, goes beyond funky into embarrassing.Just my opinion, of course, but I can see new sewers not taking the time to learn how to really sew when this is what is proliferating the market. Let's don't even talk about the quality of writing and/or spelling in current publications. Although, I inherited many books from my favorite aunt, and, wordsmith that she was, she had made notations in them in the margin about spelling, punctuation, and word usage. I would not part with those books.

          4. User avater
            sweet_jenn | | #27

            I would love to get rid of that "homemade" look, too, but I'm not that skilled.  When my Grandma passed away, I was helping my mom go through her clothes and even at the age of ten, I could tell just by handling them that they were made different, better.  I said as much to my Mom, who explained that Grandma had most of her clothes made just for her.  She turned over a hem to show me how beautifully and invisibly it had been finished, and I was in awe.  I really hope that I can hone my skills and someday, someone will turn over my hem and gasp, too.   

          5. sewelegant | | #28

            Don't worry, you will hone your skills more and more the more you sew.  It always amazes me how awed people are that I "made it"... and they do not even see the flaws that I think are screaming... look at me!  You pick up little hints all the time as to how to do something better.  I always pressed, but never had a wooden clapper and wish I had found it in the beginning because pressing a seam and applying that wooden tool can be the difference in home-made and couture in your finished product.  It also makes the sewing process so much easier.  I was 50 before I finally acquired one.  I always thought it was just for tailoring so didn't need it.  Grading the seams well is equally important in my book and allowing for "turn of the cloth" makes a world of difference in how something will lay.  Just like any other art... copy the masters.  When you find someone you think sews well, copy their techniques and follow their advice.  I think Sandra Betzina and Nancy Zieman are two fine examples of skilled seamstresses who are readily available to us and worthy of our attention.  One last word of encouragement:  if it doesn't look right... rip it out and do it over!  If you do not have the patience to do that you may never reach the goal you want.  Happy sewing from another self educated enthusiast.

        3. User avater
          sweet_jenn | | #26

          Ha ha!  So funny you should say that!  I also know of someone who sells her "wares" online, and the quality and craftmanship could not be poorer.  I honestly do not understand how she manages to get even a single customer.  Sewing takes time!  You'd think that if you were investing the time and effort to sew a garment, you'd take a little pride in your work.  But no.

          I don't know why young people don't like to sew.  I am thirty, not exactly young anymore, and I like to sew for a silly reason:  my machine is AWESOME!  I call her Bessie.  It's one of those old Kenmores from the sixties that weigh a ton, have all metal parts, are indestructible, and will stop at nothing.  Once, bored out of our minds, my sister and I dragged it out and stacked up layers of sailcloth to see how many it would stitch through.  We stopped at eleven, but only because the needle broke; the motor could've powered through another eleven layers if we'd let it.  It made such a businesslike hum, yet such beautiful, even stitches, that I just had to learn how to use it.  Bessie and I made all new home accesories for my apartment- tablecloths, pillows, valances, runners, you name it.  But duvet covers and curtains are baby stuff- you don't even need a pattern!  It's garment sewing that I'd like most to learn.  But I find myself thwarted by these heinous, evil pattern companies.  Kwik-Sew has many learn-to-sew patterns with easy directions that define terms as it goes along PLUS lovely, helpful pictures.  Sadly, Kwik-Sew patterns are as ugly and uninspired as I've ever seen. 


          1. maggiecoops | | #38

            I'm butting in here I know, but don't discount Kwik sew because they are ugly, there are after all only a few basic shapes to all our garments. Raise or lower a waistline, swap a vee neck for jewel , cowl, square or slit one. Add or take away a collar, move a dart from the side seam to an arm scye, or to the shoulder line. With just a few basic patterns you can create the full range of garments in a pattern catalogue. A flared skirt is only a straight skirt slashed from hem to 1/2 " below the waistline and spread open. Take a look at how the garment industry attaches waistbands, inserts zips, attaches linings. You can adapt those techniques and use them with the Kwik sew patterns. I love couture finishes, but when the couture houses first started, sewing machines weren't that adaptable and seamstresses were cheap. There are instances when hand techniques are better than sewing machine techniques, as in blind hemming.

            Use your paper pattern from Kwik Sew, follow their beginner instructions, press as you go, not iron, but pressing, and your sewing will improve. Look at the styles being sold and see the basic pattern hidden in the garment , chances are they will come down to about 5 different shapes. Marry the shapes to the Kwik Sew teaching patterns, buy a good pattern manipulation book and experiment.  I'd rather garment sew, I'm terrified of soft furnishings, after 45 years plus I still can't make a decent cushion!


          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #43

            I have to agree with you Maggie.  Several of my most favorite patterns are Kwik Sew and they always look up to date and fashionable.  The styles are classics, and the fabrics I choose are good quality and fashionable.  They are easily modified if I want a higher or lower neckline.  Shift or omit a slit in a skirt and it is a whole new look.  Most patterns have at least two or three choices to mix around.  One pattern that is still in the book, I have been making for a very long time, and I still see that style every year in the stores.  A princess line dress with a flared skirt is never out of style.   Cathy

  3. gailete | | #34

    I was able to get into my unlisted patterns and also searched my picture file to see if it was a pattern we had sold, and unfortunately it isn't one we have so I can't help by looking at it for you. I am curious about a so called easy pattern calling for a facing in an apron pattern though.


    1. User avater
      sweet_jenn | | #35

      Hi Gail,

      Thank you so much for checking for me.  I really appreciate all your extra effort!

      I see you're getting a brand new machine.  How fun, like getting to know a new friend!  Best of luck with it!  Jenn

      1. gailete | | #37

        You are very welcome. Any time. We have about 10,000 patterns in the house so chances are good sometimes I have the one a person is looking for :)


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