Yesterday evening I sat down to actually begin work on the muslin for my vintage blouse. I figured out the front gathers on the shoulder pretty easily, sewed up the shoulders and the sides… and then spent about the next 2 or 3 hours reading two paragraphs of my pattern. Vintage sewing patterns being a little skimpy on the instructions (if not downright pithy sometimes), it probably worked out to about 45 minutes a sentence. Argh.
The issue in question was the construction of the collar. Probably not a difficult construction, but for some reason I just absolutely could not wrap my brain around the instructions as written. If I were an advanced sewist or had at least a few collars under my belt I would have been able to figure it out regardless of the instructions. As neither were the case, there I sat in the dining room. And sat and sat and sat, and wondered. And tested one thing, then the next, then stared at a sentence for the umpteenth time while muttering that boy, was I ever glad I hadn’t lazed out and was actually doing this on a muslin!
I went to bed frustrated, having literally spent my entire night poring over something I wasn’t able to figure out. That’s usually the time when I’d curse and throw everything in a bag, perhaps never to see the light of day again. But I brought the pattern with me to bed. I looked at it while chatting with Mel for a few minutes when suddenly I shouted, “Oh my god I think I figured it out!!!” I raced out of bed, grabbed a sticky note and furiously wrote down some notes. (Because anyone who knits knows if you don’t actually write detailed notes when you’re working on something, instead thinking “oh surely I’ll remember that…” knows this is never, ever true, no matter how many times to try and delude yourself into thinking next time will be different. This is especially true if you have to work two of something, like sleeves or socks.) There’s only one more part I need to work out when I sit down to try it out tonight, but it’s probably because my brain can’t really sew in 3-D, despite my best intentions. Today, I ordered Clotilde’s Sew Smart. I have a great vintage sewing resource book, but I happened across this book when I was Googling for collar tips. I found a few sample pages on Google Books and knew right away this was a resource I needed (and a used copy cost less than the price to ship it). My sewing library is still meager, so the more, the merrier!
In other sewing-related news, I’m going to join the Swing Dress Sew Along at Casey’s Elegant Musings. Since I keep talking about wanting to sew my first dress, I figured I could use the extra encouragement of a sew-along. Plus, it sounds like fun! I do knit-alongs all the time on Ravelry and it’s just fun to participate on the same thing with a bunch of others, seeing what changes people make, helping each other out (though in this case I know I will not be a helper but a helpee). I’ve ordered the pattern but I’m sure selecting the fabric will be the toughest part. I’d love a light cottony print, perhaps… something to remind me that Spring will indeed show up… one day.
Now, let’s hope I kick some muslin butt tonight!
I have totally struggled through construction instructions too. Some makers are far more baffling that others and I few of them I have just outright given up on. But mostly, when I’ve stuck to it and really forced myself to figure it out, it is so rewarding and then informs OTHER patterns the might use the same technique. I must admit though, I’m largely a visual learner, so sometimes if the drawings are good I won’t even read the instructions – I’M CRAZY!
Hey I am joining the sew along too!!!! it should be fun!! Love your blog!
Straight Talking Mama! says
Hi there, I came to you via the fabulous Welcome to Deluxeville!
I know exactly what you mean in this post, I have been there so many times I can’t tell you and the worst thing is when you come across a vintage pattern that is wrong – believe me they exist! This sends you into a frenzy, so usually I just do my own thing.
I also took apart a blouse once I loved cos it was wrecked to use as a pattern but didn’t think to take photos of it’s construction, it took me forever to work out, but I did and boy was I happy I persevered!
Moe > I am a visual learned too. The graphic wasn’t so hot so it wasn’t helping the case. Of course, just yesterday in the mail I got another vintage pattern that I ordered that had a similar collar, and the photo totally made sense!
Brook > Thanks so much! I’m really excited about the sew along. I need to get crackin’ on picking fabric!
Straight Talking Mama > I am impressed that you were able to pull something apart to re-create it. How awesome that must have felt! I have a few items that I would LOVE to draft a pattern from. Maybe someday I’ll get there in my sewing!