Random sewing related thoughts


Hello everyone,

How come they dont prewash their fabric? They seem to be using it of the bolt?” You see even my hubs has learnt, through living with a sewing mad wife that rule number 1 of sewing is you prewash your fabric. So why oh why do they misrepresent sewing like that in the show!!!! I generally watch it as a reality TV show because well the contestants aren’t the best amateur sewers as professed – because why would you pit a newbie sewer who has never made a jacket (or even sewed a bias bound neckline) with a vetaran who has been sewing for 30 plus years? No to me its like a Big Brother of sewing. The other day (60’s week I think – they made the one thing I am buying that book for _ the Mondrian dress that I have coveted since seeing it first on FabriKated’s blog. But what on earth was the new judge wearing? Purely from a curiosity perspective – as a seamster when I see clothes I automatically deconstruct them but I could not figure out what she was wearing. Still its fun to watch.sewing-bee-mondrian-dress-1024x517


I have been reading a few books.

41fjf6csd7l-_sx360_bo1204203200_Draping The Complete Course by Karolyn Kiisel which I also borrowed from the library. I absolutely love this book and it has been added to my xmas gift list (Mr SNS now knows what to get me ). It explains everything step by step and something I believed had to wait till I had time to go to a night class seems within reach. It has some fabulous looking projects to do and it includes an instructional DVD.

070608_lgCouture sewing techniques has just blown my mind and changed my finish level. Its leveled me up significantly. I honestly did not appreciate hand sewing before but seeing all the fine gowns that are all made by hand I was like wow! I have been applying some of the techniques n my recent makes and I am not disappointed. I wish I had come across this book sooner. As it is, I bought form the US where it was so much cheaper than buying here in UK.

41hk5qo2b8olI borrowed this book by Dennic Chunman on pattern drafting. Its interesting in that it has what I consider to be avant garde projects so very much a fashion design student book. It excelled at explaining some reasons behind why things are done a certain way. Also interesting was his point that pinning on a dress form does not give you a good indication of how a dress looks on a real person (there are example pictures in the book but I forgot to snap them on my phone). He advocates using a real model early on in the process (key back to GBSB and their refashion challenge where they have to pin on a dress form). Though an enjoyable read, I shant be buying a personal copy for my sewing library.

New sewing tools that have bee amazing…….


I bought some beeswax on a whim during a late night phone browsing session as a result of reading the Claire Shaffer book. When I used it at first it was making the tangling worse and I abandoned it. But when I read further I learnt that you had to apply a bit of heat to it so I tried that the next time. Something strange happened and the thread went from being curly to bone straight and did not tangle at all. Its made sewing by hand a pleasure I had never experienced before.

I also picked up a loop turner and yes its worth the £1.81 and 2 weeks I waited for it to arrive from China!

I am also currently obsessed with trying to draft this lowered shoulder dress I saw in an optician waiting room magazine. Its a Peter Pilotto $1800,00 dress. With any luck I might finish drafting it in time for next summer :-).1048627_3


Images from matchesfashion.com

Thanks for stopping by, do you have  a book recommendation or sewing tool? Please share I learn so much from your collective experiences.

As always thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon. Happy sewing!





44 thoughts on “Random sewing related thoughts

  1. An interesting read Hila! I like reading what others are up to, and not just on the sewing table. I’ve one of those turners and always struggle to get the turning process started even though I’ve seen others do it and it looks a breeze! My favourite gadget is my clapper, it flattens seams like you wouldn’t believe (if you’ve not got one!) Another thing I couldn’t do without are the scissors I received from Sewchet in the secret Santa – they’re mini ones with a needle keeper attached with ribbon. I can always find a needle now when I need one for hand sewing, which I too appreciate doing more than before.
    I’m looking forward to seeing your version of that expensive dress. Where do they get their prices from!!?? Money on it that yours will be even more dramatic than theirs 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have clapper but I hardly use it – I used it a lot when making the tailored jacket. SIlly prices for people with too much money to know what to do with! I’d never spend that much on a dress!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know, mine was a pressie, not something I’d have splashed out for but glad I’ve got it. I’ve showed it to a chap at work who’s into woodwork and told home if you could make them at a reasonable price I’d tried and sell them for him.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I have the Couture Sewing Techniques 🙂 it’s an amazing book, however I haven’t used any techniques described there, yet. But now that you mentioned it, I took a second look at it, and I think the more you sew the more you can use the book. I’m at a level where I’m happy enough when the garment is wearable, haha 🙂 I think I need more time to use advanced techniques. That Peter Poletto dress is amazing – I love stripes, although I’m a little bored of the open shoulder tops – those are all I can see on the streets nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice one- it’s always interesting to have these slightly random posts thrown into the mix, and they’re a great way to share ideas. I’m a convert to beeswax to, but only after about 35 years of sewing without it! I’ve always had a rouleau turner though. My most recent luxuries which have become necessities include my tailor’s ham [and silk organza pressing cloth] and needle threaders, especially the desktop gizmo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The book that changed my life is Pants for Real People. As a dedicated sewer and wearer of pants it’s 100% changed my fitting understanding and I would not make pants the same way again since reading it. Amazing and totally worth the cost – a bit ex-y as it came from the US and shipping wasn’t cheap. Next I want to get some of those lovely japanese books that have the amazing construction. They’re on the birthday list this year 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to get that pants fitting book. I am lucky enough to have my father in law live in the USA. He will be coming for christmas so I should have it by the new year 🙂 The Japanes books are lovely and I only ever tried it once using a library copy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for highlighting one of my own misgivings about GBSB. I’ve cautioned a couple of friends who felt inspired by the show about the importance of preshrinking fabric. I have a horror story of my own about one of the first dresses I made (from a Butterick Mary Quant pattern back in the mid-sixties) which I wore proudly for a day or two before mum washed it and it shrank to the point of being impossible to zip up.
    Another thing that worries me is the whole notion of sewing against the clock. I know we all end up doing it from time to time when we need a garment for a particular occasion, but it does tend to diminish the enjoyment of the process. I think it should be discouraged as a matter of principle for beginners. We all naturally speed up as confidence grows and eventually find the pace that suits us best.
    Like you, I was rather startled by the strange outfit worn by Esme Young on that edition of the show. Whatever it was meant to be, it didn’t work. It shows that even a former Swanky Modes designer with a dress in the V&A’s collection can get it wrong – which must be consoling for the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! and YES! The speed sewing concept is all wrong especially for beginners. I have been guilty of skipping essential things like understitching and clipping curved seams in a hurry to finish. It only served to diminish my pleasure in the process and the final garment.


  6. Oh, no! I did love the funky dresses Esme was sporting on the show. I thought her look was fearless, colourful and refreshing. You don’t see very often a lady of her age daring to wear original things. Claudia’s black and white outfits are cool but somehow conventional and Patrick is super classic. So the three of them offered a nice mix of different styles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought she was very chic and I do like her style. It was just that one dress I could figure out what was going on with it. Ever since I started sewing when I see people I see their clothes and how the clothes were constructed. This was the first time I was genuinely stumped 🙂


  7. I thought the idea is to wear clothes that flatter and I don’t think Esme’s did at all! A bit pointless being bold with fashion if it doesn’t flatter, in my opinion. The book I’ve had for twenty-odd years is “Patter Drafting for Dressmakers” by Pamela Stringer. I’ve found it invaluable over the years, even if it isn’t full of colour photographs or easy on the eye. Books nowadays are much better laid out, I think, but my old book has been used more than any other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never heard of Pamela Stringer before – I will be on the look out. I agree about flattering shapes. Esme, for the most part dressed very stylishly and chic. But that one I just couldnt deconstruct it – still havent managed to either 🙂


  8. I do love a random blog post. As far as GBSB is concerned it always faintly irritates me when they introduce the contestants as ‘Britain’s best amateur sewers’ but at least it’s a programme about sewing on mainstream t.v. so I’m grateful for that.
    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with that designer dress. I do love the shape but the fabric reminds me of a big roll somebody who used to work in a local textile factory gave me which I use for muslins which,in turn, reminds me of bedsheets.
    I have the beeswax which is great when I remember to use it but being more of a quilter these days than a dressmaker I couldn’t possibly survive without my rotary cutter and 24 X 6.5 inch plastic ruler – although I use the rotary cutter for cutting out round dressmaking patterns too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a similar plastic ruler as well which is so useful for tracing out patterns. I have a rotary cutter but I rarely use it – probably because I only have an A4 size cutting mat..


  9. Copying that dress is exactly what my DESIGNING DECEMBER posts are about! I’ll have to remember to include you when you finish your garment next year. Why buy when you can make it yourself! I have the loop turner and love it. I also have a couple of Claire Schaeffer’s books and they take sewing to a new level.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 1- I want to see that Pilato done up!!
    2- my husband dropped jaws at his work lunch table last week when a coworker admired a dress across the cafeteria and he scoffed at when the bust darts were placed. He was gleeful at telling me!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I pick up every thrift store book I find. Never know what gems I might find. People don’t pretend shrink, and they don’t straighten the grain, and then they hate sewing because the first wash ruins their work.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good, thought provoking post. I have more books than I care to admit to – but I have been sewing since …… well, I don’t really want to say.
    One of my most useful tools is a small pile of beer mats. Great for levelling your machine foot, pinning into to hold fabric temporarily, and putting your mug of tea on!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Loving this post and reading everyone’s thoughts, I need one of those loop turners and some beeswax, I have only been sewing a couple years and I’m building my sewing sewing arsenal up but found out the prewashing is a must. I couldn’t do with blogs, I don’t have one yet but have learnt so much from them and get heaps of inspiration seeing all the amazing makes, fabrics used and adjustments used

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love your selection of books, Hila. Good luck with all your studies. You’ve got an ambitious list of achievements and I believe your determination will see you through.

    I’ve used many techniques from “Couture Sewing”. The results are beautiful and definitely refined. I recommend doing a slot zipper with a running stitch. Then finish it exactly as instructed. Your zipper will look neat and be very flexible. The running stitch is more flexible than the pick stitch.

    I’ve found draping both helpful and frustrating. Anything I do tightens up. A size 4 becomes a 2/3. It’s as if I’ll need a size 8 or 6 form to get something close to my body shape. Even with some ease, it’s still tricky. I’m here to encourage you and maybe a few pointers based on my recent experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Emily Ann. I have been practicing the running stitch and you are right that its more flexible. Before I start draping I need to sort out a dress form. I have been looking at how to make a custom dress form using duct tape. I hope to get one done by the end of summer. Will keep you posted.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I’m glad I remembered. Also consider dress forms made with other kinds of materials. Right before I started French Fashion Academy I rushed and bought a Uniquely You dress form. It is a kind of squishy foam that adjusts to the size of the shell you put over it. It’s ok for fitting but not draping. The school told me it was not suitable. In fact my teacher said it would have been better for me to buy a used professional dress form. Even if it was discolored from use, it would take the pins easily and stand up to the repeated use.

        The stand for the form is also very important. The Uniquely You stand was very lightweight but lacked the substantial weight of a professional form. Wheels are great as is an easy ability to adjust the height.

        Since you’re just starting out, perhaps a 1/2 scale or 1/4 scale dress form is a good investment. You can practice draping and not use that much muslin in the start.

        Anything you make in 1/4 or 1/2 scale can be graded up to full scale and become a pattern you sew with. That is a whole other art form I know nothing of but it is out there if you have the time to learn.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Sorry I’m so late to this post, but enjoyed it very much. If you haven’t already bought the latest GBSB book, look at Fabworks Online as they have a free pattern to download. Or they did a week or so ago. If it’s not there, let me know & I’ll try sending it. Anyway, lovely post and I really need to try some wax again.
    (PS/Any spike in your stats was me looking for your BurdaStyle #103 pattern, which is my next purchase, for Autumn wear – just love the look for you, and hopefully me, too!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Del. I actually ended up buying the GBSB book from this season. I am impressed with the patterns in there – I’d actually make 99% of them. Cant wait to see you version of that Burda top 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Might have talked meself right outta the Burda for the first go-round as I’ve something quite similar from ages ago. The weather’s hot again, (we had 3 days relief) so have put everything on hold. But you’ll see it whether I order it, or hack it!

        Liked by 1 person

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