This is more like a basket of notes than a
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.
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.
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.
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 private letters, but if you want to share this site with a friend, send him a copy of the URL.
If you know how to download the entire site for off-line use, please send me a link or instructions that I can post here.
Please notify me if you link to this site.
Comments and criticism are solicited.
to the writing page
Back to the personal page
Back to the cover page