Inspiration from What Katie Sews has struck me twice lately…inspiration to sew up the terrifying-yet-chic clown suit, and also inspiration to ponder the sewing techniques and tools that are worth it or not after reading Katie’s Lazy Sewist Tips. Here are a handful of my own thoughts on what to bother with and not bother with. You’re sure to agree with some and disagree with others…let me know what you think!
Bother: Having a wrist-band pincushion
With your pins attached to your arm, you can never lose them somewhere in the chaos of your sewing area! Like faithful minions, they follow you wherever you go. (Which makes me think I should probably also get idiot strings for my reading glasses, because I seem to spend a good chunk of my sewing time looking around for where I left them last.) And as you sew you just remove pins from your seam and stick them back in the pincushion — no pins rolling off the table and hiding themselves in the carpet. But a word to the wise: when you begin a seam, check to make sure your pincushion is indeed on your wrist! More than once I almost did some unwanted amateur acupuncture on myself.
Don’t Bother: Pinning pattern pieces for cutting out
I bought 10 of these metal discs from the hardware store’s electrical section for about a dollar a piece and they’re all I use now to hold my pattern pieces in place on the fabric when I’m cutting out. Especially if you print out PDF patterns at home on regular paper, trying to pin that thick paper is sure to distort your fabric, not to mention your patience. Pattern weights for the win!
Bother: Owning a serger
Not everyone will agree with me on this, as of course you can sew anything you want quite well without a serger, but I absolutely adore having one. I wasn’t convinced I needed one at first, but when a sewing studio was going out of business and selling some used ones at a good price, I figured it was worth snapping one up. It turns out I find sewing with a serger really satisfying, and I wouldn’t want to do without it. (Why do I get the sense that now that I’ve put that out there to the universe something will go horribly wrong with it on my next project??) Anyway, I sew a lot of knits so it’s very handy for doing stretchy seams, and I like finishing woven seam allowances with it.
Don’t Bother: Measuring seam allowances for patterns that don’t include them
Need to add a 5/8″ seam allowance around your pattern pieces? Eyeball it. It’s fine. If there’s one thing you get to know really well as a sewist it’s how wide 5/8ths of an inch is.
Bother: Having a high-quality pair of scissors that feel great in your hand
Enough said, amirite?
Related: having a high-quality seam ripper. ‘Cause if you’re like me you spend waaaaay more time using your seam ripper than you care to admit. 😉
Also related: having more than one high-quality seam ripper. Because no one’s invented a seam ripper wrist band yet.
Don’t Bother: Plowing ahead when you are tired, hangry, in need of a cup of tea, having a hard time with a procedure, and/or feeling like Sewzilla is about to pay a visit for any of the forgoing reasons
Don’t cave in to that voice in your head that says, “But you only have two seams and a zipper left to sew…just get it done!” I have learned that I will regret heeding that voice’s advice. That voice is Sewzilla’s auntie, and only has Sewzilla’s best interests in mind. Sewzilla always shows up if I heed that voice. And then I have to spend extra time with my high-quality seam ripper.
Bother: Pre-washing fabric
As someone who craves instant gratification there have been times when I’ve cut into fabric the moment I get it home from the store, but I have learned to throw it straight into the washing machine the moment I get home instead. I have seen fabrics that bleed like crazy so I’ve also learned to wash the fabric by itself (or maybe with some crummy old cat blanket) to spare myself the pain of accidentally dyeing my clothes an unwanted colour. I should note that sometimes I don’t pre-wash ponte knit. Because ponte knit is such a fabric-of-the-gods that it doesn’t even need pre-washing.
Don’t Bother: Trying to sew everything perfectly
I marvel at blog posts that depict close-up detail shots of sewing perfection. (You know, the ones that are often accompanied by an apology that there’s some small thing wrong with it: a slightly crooked top-stitch, or a seam binding that doesn’t quite line up properly at the corner, or some wrinkles in the fabric. Something you probably wouldn’t have noticed yourself if it hadn’t been pointed out to you.) At first when I came across sewing blog posts like these, I figured this was probably the bar I was supposed to try to measure up to if I was going to be part of this sewing blogger community. But I quickly realized perfection is not my bag. Sweating details like that sucks the joy out of sewing for me. I do understand that for some sewists, striving for mastery of the skills is part of their joy, and I respect that. But if the cost of perfection is frustration and less joy, stop worrying about the imperfect details.
What about you? Does anything on this list resonate with you? What’s on your Bother and Don’t Bother lists?