Long ago, in a land far away, a terrific blogger wrote this. It inspired me to embark on a similar exercise, revisiting the first garment pattern I sewed and considering the overall experience. How did my lack of knowledge change the process? Oh so many ways…
My first self-stitched garment was made from McCalls 5640, a plus-sized design with several top/tunic/dress options as well as the obligatory waste-of-paper-and-ink pants that are often included. (I mean, it might be a very good pattern and all that, but why include the same old elastic-waist, no-pockets pants in so many envelopes? How much unnecessary bulk is that adding to my pattern stash??)
The first thing that jumped out at me as glaringly ironic is the pattern size I chose. I had read enough theory to know that many sewists find it best to select size based on high bust, especially with Big 4 companies. So that’s what I did. And it fit great. But of course, after this experience, the more I “educated myself” about fitting doctrine, the more I had to overthink it. I’ve since tried the armpit-to-armpit measurement, shoulder measurement, full bust measurement, etc etc etc and had varying degrees of non-success, eventually returning to the high bust because it works best for me. Live and learn!
I don’t wear this shirt very much anymore; it’s kind of a laundry day item. A big part of the reason is the fabric. It’s a cheap quilting cotton from Hobby Lobby, which I intentionally purchased because I didn’t want to worry about messing up something expensive or beloved. I actually don’t mind the print, but I now understand that a loose-fitting design like this needs drape. Over the years, the surface of the fabric has softened and feels almost brushed, but it’s still rather stiff, appearing more “inflated” than it needs to… :)
The most significant mistake I made in the construction, I now find quite funny. The yoke facing is designed to be handstitched to the yoke’s seam allowance. But because of the allowance I had pressed under, or where it landed, or whatever, the folded edge of my facing actually hit about 1/4″ below the top of the gathers, so that’s where I attached it. I remember thinking it was kind of weird, but what did I know, so I pressed on. (My first lesson on following my instincts when sewing! Actually I’m glad I didn’t follow them this time, because otherwise I might not have finished it at all, too lost in confusion.) Needless to say, after washing, the gathers became puckery and you don’t have to look too closely to see the “invisible” slipstitches.
One of the interesting things about my process that hasn’t changed is this: I made the pattern three times that I can remember. I’ve since donated one of the versions, because I didn’t like the fabric. (And by the way, that slipstiching issue happened on ALL THREE of the makes, so I suspect the instructions were off. An issue that a more experienced sewer would likely have corrected without even thinking much about it!) Below is view A, which was either the second or third time with the pattern. I remember being quite flummoxed about how to do the armscye finishing with the bias tape, a technique that I love now.
I’m jaunting a bit further down this memory lane. Just as Karen did in the post that inspired me, I’m planning to make the pattern again. I’ll share the results soon! Well, let’s say sort of soon.
(Yes, the pics of me in the first make are a couple of months old — that’s why my hair is different… and the lawn is much greener…)