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Changes to this page:
essay on patience added 1 March 2016
impatience illo added 15 April 2016
chapter on seams made hypertext 18 April 2018
linked to 2019 diary, part one 4 January 2019
linked to 2020 diary, part one 6 January 2020
linked to mask essays in progress 24 June 2020
moved poncho-shirt diary 12 November 2020
corrected long-dead mailto address to current address 28 September 2021

20 October 2022
It appears to have been much longer ago than the September
before last since I updated the table of contents.
When I wanted to compare the Web copy of my sewing diary
to the intermediate notes, to make sure I'd transcribed
each one before deleting it, I discovered that one can't
get there from here. I've been devoting the crippled
computer to keeping the diary updated, neglecting all else,
and it turns out that nobody has had access to either that
file or the 2021 file.
I'll correct that Real Soon Now.
Meanwhile you can correct an older URL to 2022SEW1.HTM

Monday, 20 March 2023 added an item to the "spine index" of 2023 diary.
Thursday, 30 August 2023 corrected a typo. Will update spine index Real Soon Now.
Monday, 9 August 2023 linked to two new project blogs.

Table of Contents


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.


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.


tools pictures of tools
selecting and preparing fabric
types of sewing machines
calling-card sewing kit — not finished; please nag


selecting and preparing fabric
drawing threads
cutting out
basted arrows:  a thread-marking tutorial
stay stitching
ironing, pressing, flattening, and creasing
easing and gathering
calculating pleated ruffles
edge finishes    includes elastic and drawstrings
sewing on buttons, hooks, snaps
pockets major update 18 April 2018
making bias tape
ripping seams
threading a needle
hand-sewing stitches, illustrations from Jessup
securing thread ends
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.


general advice
insufficient fabric  (updated 8 August 2020
annotated bibliography
book reviews (updated 23 September 2019
english to metric conversions
a crash course in math  (with special attention to bias tape)
fitting, pattern and design
Sue Felshin's Sewing 101 syllabus


shirts and nightshirts &&
designing & assembling Broadfall Pants
poncho shirt
Diary of a Poncho Shirt:  new on July 31, 2010.  Shirt completed 14 August 2010.  New shirt started 15 August 2010.  File edited beginning 12 November 2020
women's underwear  follow-up to bra added April 2008
men's underwear
50's pleated and gathered skirts
Midnight thoughts on a six-pocket apron
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
Face Masks, Niqabs, and Veils:  Scattered thoughts, beginning with an aborted tutorial. Begun in April of 2020, posted in June.

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.
You will note that this file has a "maximum line width" style to make it legible on landscape monitors.  This style will gradually be added to older files as I find time.



                     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.
      Cotton jersey begun in 2022 and reported in a separate project diary.
      planning for cotton-linen jersey begun in summer of 2023.
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

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
Copying an 18th-Century Cap:  Begun 2023 October 14


Sewing diaries

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–July:  winter doldrums, cleaning up, bouquet-garni bag, assorted mending and alteration, pillow cases,
Sewing diary for 2017, July–December:embroidery gig, assorted mending and alteration, sweat rags and skillet wipes, not adding pockets to gauze-lined linen dress, marking socks, hemp hat, making a sun visor out of a deplorable hat, emergency tatting shuttle, arrow tutorial, pumping bike tires, scrubbing cookie sheets, old Singer needle, linen bras,
Sewing diary for 2018, January–June:  assorted mending, finishing the bras, new sheets, contriving to put thirty-three yards of muslin on a shelf, not patching tights, retrofitting store-bought tights, binding cat quilts, documenting a quilt binding, frayed flag, armrest cover for computer chair, musings on pleats, pockets for old T-shirts, shortening grubbies at waist,
Sewing diary for 2018, July–December:  assorted mending and alteration, sewing with sciatica, finish pockets for old T-shirts, finish shortening grubbies, reduce entropy in the sewing room, plotting and planning bike jerseys and do-rags, shorten worn pillow cases, stop-tear darning, size up left-over printed linen, rice bags, found webbing, hemp/cotton jersey (HCJ) briefs, wool felt available,
Sewing diary for 2019, January–May:  HCJ briefs continued, resistor code and the seven-segment display, lit-crit of web sites, ad-hoc blanket, matching stripes in lap seams, another blanket and a sheet, mending & alterations, yellow-linen woven bike jersey with matching do-rag and scarf, rice bags,
Sewing diary for 2019, May–December:     linen jersey continued, midnight musings on shirt vents (read all of June), magnet pockets for curtains, assorted mending and alteration, another gray blanket, shelf to the head, alter coin-catcher of wallet, square snack bags for storing elastic, joining elastic, rantering, re-sewing buckle on sandals, assorted afterthoughts to yellow jersey, lost my fervor for poncho shirts, knife pockets on tights, wooden fid for undoing seams, darning silk, wallet, meditations on a new coin purse.
Sewing diary for 2020, January–June:   wallet continued, found a thimble, found the basting thread, more wallet, darned wool jersey, crochet hooks still missing so I repaired a snag with an upholstery needle's eye, hemmed gray blanket, failed to figure out how to buy silk thread, started darning silk tights, cobbled a ripped pillow tick, shortened an underdress, marked knee hose, darned the other silk tights, baseball-stitched hole in poly tights, marked new gloves, hemmed a bed sheet, patched flannel, repaired a wool jersey, re-attached buckle to old sandal, broken stitches in briefs, darning torn pocket, neat trick for printing labels, more mending, out of white 1/8" elastic but can't shop, notes on darting sweat pants to make house pants, masks, masks, and more masks, photographed my ripstop overjersey, more mending, frayed pocket opening on jeans, shortening purchased pants, padded insoles for too-loose sandals, observing a T-shirt collar, cases for king-size pillows, niqab.
Sewing diary for 2020, July–December:   pillowcases, one-tie mask, frayed hems on bras, dumped Comcast, niqab musings, temporarily repaired broken sandals, photographed my linen jersey, assorted mending and alteration, linen sweat rags, neck-hung magnifier, learned what a "partlet" is, forgotten books, wallet revised, worn flag re-hemmed, many references to the mask diary, ripping a seam, bar tacks mark sock pairs, air-erasable marks are permanent, looking at my scrap collection, sorted fabric on closet shelves, added neckbands, not-sewing in a parking lot.
Sewing diary for 2021, January–June:   darning silk tights, photo of accidental sewing kit, continued adding neckband, binding frayed bra necks, split seam on silk turtleneck, Easy Home sewing machine, Parkview mask, gauze mask on treadle, picture of windbreaker, pleated masks, more mending, replacing the phone pocket on the yellow jersey, sorted more fabric later,
Sewing diary for 2021, July–December:  
Sewing diary for 2022, January–December:   begin new veil, beta briefs.
Sewing diary for 2023, January–June:  old shirt becomes garden shirt, a dozen yellow underpants made of curly jersey, many complaints about my crippled computer, started work on quilting-cotton bicycle jersey, soft-muslin veil, shortened two pairs of sweat pants and added velcro to pockets of second,
Sewing diary for 2023, July–December:  assorted mending,
Sewing diary for 2024, January–June


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 quotes in reviews and other essays.

If you know how to download the entire site for off-line use, please send me instructions or a link to instructions that I can post here.

Mirror sites are welcome as long as you don't pass off your opinions as mine.  Do notify me that your copy exists.

Please notify me if you link to this site.

Comments and criticism are solicited.

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