Lesson Learned – Not all patterns are created equal.
I’m learning and growing. Every project is a new experience. I’m a completely different sewist from the person that made those pillowcases a little over a year ago. At that time I would have never thought I could pull off a wrap dress. Heck, that was when I thought you needed a “special” sewing machine to sew knits. As my grandmother used to say … “Bae, When you know better. You do better.” (Yes, my G-Ma was using Bae before Pharell and Miley.) I know better … when it comes to some things. With others I’m still learning.
One of the things I’m still learning – the foreign language of pattern instructions. Reading pattern instructions and a pattern envelope is like learning a new language. Or better yet … it’s like deciphering code. A secret code …. The Da Vinci Code. (Apologies, I digress) You get what I mean right? Deciphering the pattern envelope and instructions is something you get better with over time. And when I initially attempted McCall’s M6702 I thought I failed for two reasons. (1) Lack of experience. (2) I wasn’t completely grasping the pattern instructions.
Having gained some experience over the last 18 months or so … I thought I would try again. This was an exercise in futility. McCalls 6702 is my nemesis. I hate, hate, hate it with every fiber of my being. It’s terrible. Immediately after I publishing this post, I will burn the pattern … for no other reason other than it will make me feel better.
I’ll start where I failed … the V-neck. My last attempt I couldn’t get the V-neck to work. I even took it to an ASG meeting to get help from more experienced sewists. Their assessment. (1) This wasn’t an “easy” pattern, even though it was marketed as such. (2) The way the instructions were written were a bit confusing, even for them. After several attempts, I gave up.
I was able to get the V-neck completed on this try. Though I admit the following.
The instructions were still a bit confusing.
One thing I’ve noticed the more I sew. I don’t rely on the step-by-step instructions as much as I used to. There are some things you just know to do and they become instinctual over time. For example … placing the right side of fabric together. Trimming the seam allowance. Clipping curves. For this pattern, I relied very heavily on the instructions for the V-neck, I had to go back over and over again to get the neckline correct.
I’ve learned through sewing, that every step is a means to and end. There is a logic behind every step or technique in the instructions. Though I may not understand the why behind the step, I can usually be sure there is good reason for it. At some point I’ll acknowledge … oh that’s why I needed to do that! But for this pattern, there we several instructions where I couldn’t follow the logic. An example, the topstitching, on top of topstitching, on top of topstitching. To me this created room for error, and unnecessary stitching. I was topstitching on top of previous stitching not only on the V-neck, but also the pockets.
I was excited about this working pockets on the shirt. I’d never made them and they were pretty easy to construct. This was another area where I was asked to topstitch on top of previous stitching. I ultimately decided to omit some of this topstitching because it became bulky and messy.
I did get a lot of experience making button holes. Before this pattern, I’d only made one buttonhole for a skirt. This pattern called for not only working buttons on the pockets, but on the cuffs as well. I was so excited to have these design details, and they weren’t as cumbersome or as difficult as I feared.
But I got to the sleeves and that’s where I failed again. The pattern called for sleeves consisting 2 pieces. An upper sleeve and a lower sleeve. I cut them out. Sewed them together, and one sleeve wouldn’t fit. It was as if the pieces were backwards. I pulled them apart, sewed them together again. Same result. I went back to the pattern pieces and validated I cut them out correctly. Everything looked right, but it was evident I’d done something wrong.
I had just enough fabric to cut out one more sleeve. So I proceeded to cut out another one. I was so far in to the garment at this point. The last thing I wanted to do was to give up. Same result.
Being completely out of fabric, I had to give up. This pattern, just wasn’t for me. And when you’re out of fabric. Your options are limited!
Tell me, how far do you go before giving up on a pattern? What steps do you take when you’re having problems with construction? I’d love your insight.