Skip to content

Decisions, decisions

2011 October 5
by elizabeth_admin

image from


Here I am, embracing my inner procrastinator. 

I bet you all thought I would be done with the Cashmere Goddess by now, didn’t you?  Hah!  I’m not.  Last night I knitted Jack’s sweater while I pondered some construction decisions that needed to be made on the Cashmere Goddess.

I knew I wanted to interface the hems and slit on my skirt so that they would have nice, sharp edges, but I didn’t know what kind of fusible interfacing to use on the corduroy (woven or knit? on the bias or straight of grain?) and where exactly to apply it (up to the hem edge or over the edge?).  I did a little internet searching but couldn’t find any specific instructions.  I left a comment with my question on Kathleen Fasanella’s site, but it was deleted for some unknown reason.  Then I found this manual this morning which answers a lot of my questions.  I printed it out for further inspection later tonight. 

This interfacing question and subsequent search got me to thinking though about how many steps and decisions there are in sewing a seemingly simple garment, a pencil skirt.  I think these endless questions and decisions that need to be made can be quite intimidating to a beginner.  I know I was overwhelmed by all those decisions when I first started sewing.  In fact, it kind of pissed me off.  I had already “decided” on the pattern, fabric and thread; why did I need to make all these other decisions too?  Why didn’t the pattern instructions “tell” me exactly what to do at every step of the way?  It was slowing me down.  I wasn’t producing as fast as I wanted to be.  I wanted to be my own personal sweatshop with an entire new wardrobe of clothes made by every month’s end.  I was impatient and hated “the process”. 

But lately, I have had a perspective shift.  I no longer look at these endless decisions to be made as obstacles to a finished garment or an unending time suck.  I don’t impose unrealistic deadlines on myself anymore because I know to anticipate the unanticipated question or decision to be made.  I know this especially when I decide to make my garment a little differently than a pattern suggests.  For instance, in just this skirt alone I made the following changes because of my vision of how this skirt should look, inside and out:

  • cut the skirt back on the fold
  • moved CB zipper to left side seam
  • lengthened the skirt by 2 inches
  • added a lining
  • use a funky fabric for the facing
  • interface the slit, zipper area, and hems.

All these changes mean more decisions need to made and might possibly mean a change in order of construction.  Further questions I need to answer on this particular project are:

  • Do I want to miter the slit hem?
  • What kind of interfacing should I use and where?
  • Could I add a waistband at this late date?
  • How do I deal with the lining and the front slit?

The main difference between my reaction now to these questions and decisions that need to be made at every step of the construction process as opposed to when I first started sewing is acceptance.  I now know to anticipate the constant barrage of questions and actually am energized by the questions and the quest for a garment that is totally me and made to my order.  I relish trying to find the answers to my questions in my reference materials and on line.  I like hearing what my sewing friends on Facebook do when faced with those same questions.  I like interacting with my friends over email and on the phone about the myriad choices we all make for every project and the why’s behind them. 

I think that’s the main difference between a beginner and a more advanced sewist.  A beginner can be intimidated by all the questions.  An advanced sewist is charged by them.  I am relishing this process of question and answer now as I never have before. 

It’s funny, but my best friend Cayce always teases me that as a 4 (numerologically speaking), the step by step process is both my bane and my salvation.  I used to hate process.  My whole life, I have always unerringly yet unknowingly chosen activities of which process is the main component.  Each time thinking I had escaped it only to find out after I was already hooked, how much a part of the activity process actually was.  My whole life has led me to this point.  Learning the same lesson over and over again.  I wonder what other lessons I will have to be hit on the head with to learn next.

This post was partly inspired by Myrna, a sewing blogger who is not afraid to ask questions of herself and nor is she afraid of the answers.  Myrna is constantly asking and seeking.  I love reading about her journey and finding out what her answers are.

What life lessons have you learnt through sewing?  Are you afraid of the endless decisions to be made or do you run to make them?



11 Responses leave one →
  1. Karen Mulkey permalink
    October 5, 2011

    Elizabeth, you should be patting yourself on the back for the progress you have made since you began sewing (I read your first blog “sew a beginner”). As you’ve discovered sewing is a never ending process and I believe you’re beginning to enjoy the journey. I’ve been sewing for over 55 years and constantly find new ways and techniques to add to my sewing bag of tricks. I congratulate you on your progress and success!

  2. annie permalink
    October 5, 2011

    There’s a book out there, “If Life is a game, these are the rules.” It’s a serious book, ten or twelve short chapters. One of the chapters is something like, You haven’t learned a lesson when you think you’ve learned it, you only have learned it when you have actually learned it. Huge paraphrase on my part. But it reflects so many sewing lessons. Like measure twice and cut once. I haven’t learned that one yet and I’ve been sewing 60 years. Or make sure you have only the correct number of layers when you do start to cut. On and on….

  3. October 5, 2011

    I’ve learned to not sew when you’re tired, not to rush your way through projects, pay attention to detail and to always make a muslin (or two.) I always remind myself that this is why it’s called making clothes, not buying them.

    • annie permalink
      October 5, 2011


      • October 6, 2011

        Great Post! I agree – there are so many decisions to make with each project! I found it overwhelming at first, too, but now I really love going “off pattern” and adding those little extras. Although, the word that came to my mind was “masochist” rather than “more advanced sewist”. LOL

        • October 6, 2011

          Whoops! Not sure why my comment appeared here and not at the bottom. Oh well.

  4. Paula permalink
    October 5, 2011

    I’ve been sewing non-stop for 50 years, and am quite advanced. But I am slower and slower, and not sorry to be slow. It used to be “just obsessing about fit”; now it’s “loving the details”.
    I’ll take this opportunity to thank you for the Pattern Review shopping day (which I could not attend). I met you in August 2010 at that event. Looking forward to the next one. Also, glad about your son’s health!
    Paula in Albany, NY

  5. October 5, 2011

    There is a saying that is apt for lots of aspects of life which goes – the more you know , the more you realise what you don`t know. This seems suitable for the sewing process as well as in my professional life where I am always trying to keep up to date but often end up asking more questions that are answered. Interesting post.

  6. October 5, 2011

    I love that you’ve started to enjoy the process. Once you get over that hurtle, you really start to get into the creativity end and that’s when the real fun or magic begins. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post!

  7. October 6, 2011

    All the questions you have discovered about one pencil skirt are the same questions a good seamstress asks her client with every project. These are the same questions a designer must make before even making a pattern or sourcing the fabrics.
    You could make a checklist for every garment and then go down your list before you cut but some of thee steps as you have discovered only happen when the garment is in the “process” seeing how a certain area hangs and which sections need a little more stability and interfacing or understitching etc.
    Clients come to me with a plastic bag filled with their new fabric, so excited to think their fabric choice is wonderful. Then I must seem to be asking 20 questions about waistband stiffness, type of zipper, depth of hem faced or not, lined or not, top stitched or not, sizes of buttons. They say they are exhausted making decisions…I just laugh and tell them a custom garment requires all these decisions or they might as well go to the store and buy off the rack because someone else has made them all ahead of time. In my blog I share some unusual requests that wander into my sewing room every day and leave tips on how I wrestle with those alligators.
    Keep a record of your early garments as to techniques and interfacings etc as a reference and you will be so happy you did!

  8. October 6, 2011

    I think I am starting to learn patience, I am certainly learning perseverance!

    Just to let you know, I had to delete my blog, Making the Seam, because it was infected with malware. You can find me at

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

  • Follow SEWN...
  • My Weapons of Mass Construction

    Singer Featherweight 221 (1938)
    Baby Lock Imagine
    Brother 2340CV
    Husqvarna Viking Emerald 183
    RIP: Brother 1034D
  • Translation

  • I’m a proud member of

  • I support

    Project 95
  • Archives

  • Categories

  • The Trench Sew Along