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essay on patience added 1 March 2016
impatience illo added 15 April 2016
linked to 2017 diary, part one before 9 February 2017

 

ripped out a seam

Rough Sewing

This is more like a basket of notes than a book. 
On 28 May 1995 I wrote:

The art of sewing practical, everyday clothes for the family is dying rapidly, so I intend to write down what little I know in the hope that someone of a future generation may be curious to see how it was done.

Since then, I have been jotting down notes whenever my sewing made me think of something that a beginner ought to know, or some tip that made work easier.

As you leaf through these notes, you will find — perhaps to your surprise — that rough sewing uses most of the same techniques used in fine sewing.  When you sew for practical use, "saving time" is more likely to mean putting off the day when you have to do the job again than to mean shaving off a minute here and a few seconds there.


Patience

The primary difference between a professional and a dedicated amateur is that the professional does it faster — in sewing, patience can nearly always be substituted for skill.  (For some skills, the required patience means putting in ten years as an apprentice, but let's ignore that for a while.)

I'm facing armholes with bias tape today.  A professional, having done this hundreds of times in the last few weeks, would simply sew on the tape, relying on skill and experience to keep everything lined up and at the correct tension, and be done in a few minutes per armhole.

I'm pinning the tape around each hole carefully, matching the raw edges and easing the curve, using right-angle pins so that only an inch at a time needs to be perfect.  Then I carefully mark where the tape overlaps, draw a thread two seam allowances from the mark, and splice the tape.  Then I put in seam-line pins, getting most of them by pulling right-angle pins that have been secured.  Then I sew a toe's width from the raw edge, using the treadle machine so that I can stitch slowly, and frequently turn the handwheel.

It's taking the whole morning, but I get professional results -- when my patience holds out.

close-up of patience fail
Here we have a major failure of patience.  I could pick out those stitches, press out the crease, trim the facing to a uniform width, press in a new crease, and re-stitch — but hey, it's underwear.

Table of Contents

A list of plain-text files followed by a list of even-more-fragmentary HTML files.

I am now in the process of trying to organize this mess.  If you look for something and don't find it, please write to me and tell me what you looked for and where you looked.  Also write to me when you find what you are looking for, and it's half an article ending in a double ampersand — nothing inspires a writer like knowing that somebody wants to read.

 

Plain-Text Files

Oops!  I have discovered that some of these text files contain angle brackets.  Angle brackets in a file will cause some browsers to attempt to display it as HTML, which ignores line boundaries and multiple spaces.

It will take me a long time to correct the files.  In the meanwhile, if you view a file and it's all mushed up into one paragraph, click on "view source", and your browser will show you the file the way I wrote it.

Things

tools pictures of tools
notions
selecting and preparing fabric
types of sewing machines

Techniques

selecting and preparing fabric
drawing threads
cutting out
marking
basted arrows:  a thread-marking tutorial
stay stitching
ironing, pressing, flattening, and creasing
easing and gathering
calculating pleated ruffles
seams
edge finishes    includes elastic and drawstrings
sewing on buttons, hooks, snaps
buttonholes
pockets major update 17 March 2016
making bias tape
ripping seams
mending
threading a needle
hand-sewing stitches
securing thread ends
knots
winding spools
threading a sewing machine
machine-sewing tips  (updated 14 September 2010)
false-hemming a sheet  This page is for my personal reference, but I've included some explanatory material.

Misc.

general advice
insufficient fabric  (updated 10 October 2012)
annotated bibliography
book reviews (updated 3 March 2016
english to metric conversions
a crash course in math  (with special attention to bias tape)
wardrobes
fitting, pattern and design
Sue Felshin's Sewing 101 syllabus

Garments

shirts and nightshirts &&
pants
designing & assembling Broadfall Pants
ponchos
poncho shirt
women's underwear  follow-up to bra added April 2008
men's underwear
50's pleated and gathered skirts
aprons
Assembling Bike Knickers  personal notes stashed here so I can find them when the knickers under construction need to be replaced.
GARMENTS:  slippers &&
Trapezoid Circle Skirt:  was:  idle speculation, now:  project blog

Other Projects

household linens, scarves, handkerchiefs, flat things
bags, including pillows and stuffed toys

HTML files

These files wrap to fit your window.
If the lines are too long, narrow the window or make the type bigger.
If your browser refuses to wrap, viewing the source might allow you to read the text.

 

Misc.

jersey 
                     thumbnail My Linen Jersey:   two photographs, and all the boring details.
      Bicycle jerseys are supposed to fit closely, to prevent wind-flapping, but I don't ride that fast any more, and linen does a great job of protecting you from the sun.
      Both the jersey and this file were revised in July of 2005.  Further comments were added in August.
      Blog for replacement jersey begun in September of 2009. Blog resumed after hiatus in May of 2010.  Final entry 16 August 2010.
      Pattern used to design an overjersey in December, 2014.  Construction detailed in my sewing diary.
Fly-Stitch Alphabet:   A quick way to write on textiles with a needle
Pattern Drafting:  A circle with a hole in it    (revised April 18, 2005) (copyedited May 16, 2007)
Pattern Drafting:  Slopers: a few remarks    (posted 29 January 2007)
Photographs of broadfall closures
Assembling broadfall pants
Photographs of shirts with and without bust darts
Sewing Bird:  A clamp-type clothes pin and some string assist hand sewing.
A thread dispenser improvised from what was handy
Toddler Apron:  A doll-sized adaptation of an apron pattern that once circulated on newspaper.
Yarns:  a photograph of some darning yarns
Point de Venise:  overlapping rows of buttonhole stitch on the heel of a sock.
Sewing kits:  Everything you need can be stored in surprisingly-small spaces.
Hand Sewing Stitches:  I can't draw worth a nickel, but I found a few diagrams of stitches in a 1913 elementary-school textbook.    Images replaced with higher-resolution scans 10 September 2013.
Embroidery Lesson:  I've yet to write the part where I describe the actual lesson, but if you already have a lesson plan, you might find this very simple medallion useful for beginners.
Get Out of Here:  a web site isn't part of the Web if there are no links to other websites, so I scraped up a couple.  dead links removed 16 May 2013
Old Web Log 2015 and earlier
Web Log dates of changes to Rough Sewing

 

Project Blogs

Diary of a Poncho Shirt:  new on July 31, 2010.  Shirt completed 14 August 2010.  New shirt started 15 August 2010.
Pattern Drafting:  A Knickerbocker Diary: detailed description of making a minor change to a pattern for short trousers    (posted July 13, 2008)
Making a Roll Pouch:  January, 2013
Making a pocket wallet:  20 October 2016
Making a pair of black slippers:  Begun 6 November 2014
Summer Dress:  Begun 16 March 2011.  Closed out at New Year, 2012.  Consists entirely of side trips.
Sewing diary for 2012, January–June
Sewing diary for 2012, July–December
Sewing diary for 2013, January–June
Sewing diary for 2013, July–December:  black bull-denim jeans, repairs, reading the White manual, buying eyes and rack dividers, starching edges for zig-zag, herringbone pants Real Soon Now (snicker), basting-thread sneer, propeller musing, slippers, pillowcase measurements, flowered T-shirt, spectacle-cleaning rags, shorten flannel-lined jeans, briefs inventory.
Sewing diary for 2014, January–June:  mending, slippers, hat (with pictures), snow-melt dams, briefs, pillowcases from old sheets, lengthen sleeves, T-shirt, madras pillowcases for futon pillows, bike knickers, headlamp for sewing machine, bra repair, drawing bias lines with a laser level, patching a linen jersey, linen-blend pedal pushers, change in embroidery-gig transfers.
Sewing diary for 2014, July–December:  pedal pushers continued, …
Sewing diary for 2015, January–June:  ripstop overjersey, patch taxicab jersey, sewed hardware cloth, fabric for black slippers, houndstooth-print linen briefs and bra, yellow cotton jersey, more embroidery-gig stuff, another headlamp for sewing machine, yellow-jersey briefs, <proposed>wool overjersey</proposed>, assorted repairs.
Sewing diary for 2015, July–December:  assorted repairs and alterations, finished yellow cotton jersey, the embroidery gig, new bodkin and other tools, finished yellow-jersey briefs, indexed notions pictures, bought ecru thread, new headlamp for the White, yellow wool overjersey, linked to hypothetical trapezoid skirt, made an embroidered-arrow tutorial,
Sewing diary for 2016, January–June:  assorted repairs, yellow wool overjersey, red ramie bras, slippers, bouquet garni bag, trapezoid circle skirt, embrogig.
Sewing diary for 2016, July-December:  assorted repairs, shirt shortening, slopping-around pockets, waiting-room work, muslin poncho shirt, cleaning the sewing room, russia-drill hat,
Sewing diary for 2017, January–June:  winter doldrums, cleaning up, bouquet-garni bag, assorted mending and alteration, pillow cases,

 

End Note

If you find these notes useful, help me to make them better.

For example, "&&" marks spots that need more work; I will, some day in the far future, search for these spots and do the work.  Is there one that you think I should work on *now*?  Is there a spot that needs more work and isn't marked? 

Have I left out something important?  Included something pointless? 

Is some explanation incomplete?  Is some point belabored?  Which parts are confusing? 

Do you have a question I might be able to answer?

Most particularly, where do you look for things?  If I've put something in a place where you'd never think to look for it, I can, at least, put a pointer to it in the spot where you do look.

Copyright notice:  the usual.  You may make copies for your own use, and use short quotes in reviews and private letters, but if you want to share this site with a friend, send him a copy of the URL.

Please notify me if you link to this site.

Comments and criticism are solicited.

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