Friday, June 27, 2014

An Inside Shot

I saw these dresses hanging and the inside view of the finished armholes made me happy.
  

See I know a lot of sewists finish off their armhole seams the RTW way by machine stitching them closed. Me, I'm over that. I want to go to the next level with my sewing. To me that means good hand stitching techniques, adding something extra to my garments that RTW omits so that the manufacturer can keep the price point down.  I'm adding more details to my garments because I don't have a price point...I have a point of view.

To me these finishing details separate the novice and the hobby sewer from the sewist who views this as a craft and an artform.  Because do you sew or want to sew like a person on the manufacturing line or do you sew or want to sew like the women in the couture houses in Paris?  

It's like the conversation presently making the rounds about what color serger thread do you use on the inside of your garments. I've asked the question here on my blog and it's now being discussed on several others. Honestly though I'm always amazed when people say they only use four colors (black, white, some form of tan/brown and GRAY). And before anyone loses their minds and says that I'm criticizing them, I'm NOT because you are free to sew whatever way you want. I AM, however, presenting another point of view...and that is...

"Don't you want the inside of your garment to be as beautiful as the outside?" Don't you want to learn and use the techniques that will allow you to wear your garment inside out? Or are RTW standards good enough?

You, alone can answer these questions and believe me, I'm not judging your choices.  However, I want to encourage you to reach beyond what you're presently doing sewing-wise and learn new skills.  Step outside of your comfort zone and try something different.  Grow in our craft - be more - be better!

Now I know some will say that all of these extra steps are expensive and you're right they are. You can cut some costs by buying items in bulk and on sale. You can cut some costs by producing less but of a higher quality. Or you can continue on as you're presently doing. Again your choice because that is really want sewing is - a series of choices you make to end up with a wearable, well fitted garment.

So those are my questions of the day.  Hard ones they are, hopefully thoughtful ones too...please feel free to tell me what you think...that I'm crazy...that I don't understand *LOL*...but know that your opinion will be honored because hey we all have a point of view...all I ask is that we play nice and respect each other's opinion.

So talk back to me...

...as always more later!





44 comments:

  1. Great armholes, and great questions. I love making pretty insides, and sometimes I think that I like the inside of my garments better than the outside! But I will also admit to only using black and white thread in my serger (until very recently when I actually purchased blue to match a garment). I don't know where that disconnect comes from. Most likely because I don't like changing the thread in my serger. :) But it's a shortcut that I'm not always happy with.

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    1. Grey and beige are excellent alternatives, alongside the B&W. Covers most. ;)

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  2. I don't even have a serger, so I can't be using mismatched thread! My finishing details vary from project to project. Sometimes I just turn and stitch th seams so I can get on with wearing stuff. Since I've started buying nicer fabrics, I have gotten more into nice finishing - lining, seam binding, more hand stitching. I like knowing that things
    Look lovely inside & out & will last the distance.

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  3. I feel like there are stages of sewing that people go through. Just like getting a perfect TNT pattern involves multiple garments with improvements on each one. I feel like my technique evolves in much the same way. This is another reason that your posts are so helpful- you talk about your techniques and show us the inside, and maybe that inspires someone to up their game. I guess there will still be a little bit of the attitude that heck if I am just making something super trendy because I want to wear it NOW, then maybe I won't worry so much about the insides. But many times I am really proud of a project where I took the extra time- I'll admit wanting to flip a dress I made last spring up to show the lining, but I avoided the impulse!

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  4. I absolutely cannot wait til I learn to sew actual clothes. I'm VERY new at this....still just making pajama pants. But I love your blog! I love the questions you ask. I love the inspiration. I love the great tips and different POV. I'm planning a trip to get patterns and fabric this weekend so I can start my garment sewing! Thank you!! Thank all of you for "helping" me!!!!

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  5. "I don't have a price point...I have a point of view." Words to live/sew by!!

    I love beautiful insides! The first time I did a really good job on the inside of a skirt, it made me SO proud and happy. With all the new colors I've added to my fabric stash recently I've ordered purple, blue and grey serger thread. I spend time picking out my regular thread and notions, sometimes visiting more than one notions store to find the right color. So cutting corners on the serger thread just doesn't fly with me anymore unless I am deliberately trying to contrast.

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  6. My grandmother taught me to sew and she said "Always make the inside match the outside," meaning exactly this! Take as much care with the inside as you do for the stuff that shows. Even if only you sees it.

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  7. When I began sewing my wardrobe two years ago (well, 23 months ago, if I'm being absolute) I chose simple, easy projects in order to build a wardrobe of wearable clothing quickly. I had come to the end of my ability to support RTW and the ill-fitting, poorly made items out there. Add in being plus-size, which also greatly limited my RTW choices.

    Now that I do have a decent wardrobe for all seasons, I am now concentrating on upgrading my sewing and making things with nicer fabrics and better finishing techniques. And I have you to thank for inspiring me.

    The insides of your garments are so lovely, but you make me feel like I, too, can do what you do. You are not intimidating like some of the couture sewists can be (and I mean that in the very best possible way!!)

    Please, keep showing your insides and finishing techniques! So few sewing blogs show the interiors and that makes you stand out from the crowd =)

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    Replies
    1. I am right there with you Beckie. I'm in a dire need of fashionable, well-fitting plus sized clothing. Couture skills are a goal.

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  8. Well spoken. Words that all of us can learn from. I'm no where near your level (still lurking in beginner land), but need to step out. Time slips away more often than not. Hope to take one step towards bumping things up this wend. :-). Thank you!

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  9. Well, I hate handsewing so I usually avoid it. Still, I don't like sloppy work so I guess I fall in between. My me-mades don't have to be couture to make me happy, but they do have to be well made. I will rip out until it's right, if needed. As for serger thread ... I prefer it to match, but I don't always have an exact shade so then it will have to blend. And since my thread stash is running low right now due to lack of real job/paychecks, I'm blending more than I like at the present. I'm much pickier about properly pressing as you sew, sewing straight, and proper construction.

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    1. Yes! My Me-mades don't have to be couture to make me happy, but they do have to be well made. I have a very limited amount of time to sew; it's all about hitting that balance between time consuming finishing details and gittin' 'er done....

      Maybe if I had a library of TNT's I could spend less time on fitting and more time on finishing.... ;-)

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  10. I find that, as I've progressed along the sewing journey, I've started to take more care with all aspects of my craft. In most cases, it's more of a 'when you know better, you do better' kind of situation. I also don't mind slowing down and taking the time to do my best work (on most garments - costumes are the exception). Most of the people in my life know that I sew, so there's always a fair bit of outside interest in my stitching and so I always have that in the back of my mind, too.

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  11. My grandmother used to show me the inside of her clothes, and she had dresses from Norman Norell and other fine designers of the time. She also had an amazing Bonnie Cashin coat that was to die for. The point being, that she always said that the insides should be as beautiful as the outside. Like you it's something I strive for. I love to use a Hong Kong finish on hems. Only I see it, but it's a luxurious extra and worth the time.

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  12. " I'm adding more details to my garments because I don't have a price point...I have a point of view."

    I love those words and your viewpoint. Keep it coming, woman!

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  13. My job doesn't allow for tailored clothes so I do happen to make my insides nice but couture-ish? No. Eventually I'll sew a basic set: blazer, trousers, skirt and sheath in a nice black wool because...those are necessary. But day to day demands things that are nice enough to meet clients in but not so nice that I'll be heartbroken if it gets ruined.

    Hand sewing isn't my favorite. I imagine I might develop a knack for it...but right now it's too cumbersome!! :)

    Thank you for still blogging for us even if you're not sewing a ton! :-D

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  14. I agree with Debbie. I'm a in-between girl . I've been working on improving my techniques and resolving fit issues due to inspiration from you and other fantastic bloggers. My OCD requires that I use matching serger threads. There are ways to save money so you can buy the stuff that supports better techniques such as buying stuff in bulk and on sale.

    Like Nakisha, my job does not lend itself to fantastic fabrics because sometimes things get ruined. I need to make clothes that I can walk away from with only a little bit of heartbreak.

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  15. A tailor who started a blog recently said matching serger thread wasn't necessary. I cringed. His skills and shortcuts are on point. I know there is a difference between being a sewist and a tailor, and sometimes the two can overlap. I hate it when someone asks 'did you make that?' My main sewing goal is to create a wardrobe that surpasses the quality of department store RTW (which is not much these days), adding couture techniques as I grow.

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  16. I'll have you know that since you posted about thread matching, I have added pink and green to my serger thread collection. That brings me up to five color choices now :)

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  17. I have been struggling with details on finishing stuff for myself. I will make some HORRIBLE mistake at the very end, almost on purpose, after ripping and redoing all the way through it. My fingertips snag thread like the devil, and it just gets exhausting and I will let one awful loop or two go. I've started moving zippers to side seams to avoid that spread at the end on the neckline.

    If I'm getting paid for it: Wow. Those jobs are perfect!

    Right now, it's all summer play clothes for working in the shipping room. Shorts in novelty prints that don't show dirt!

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  18. I don't have a serger, so now I'm finding that in my quest to have both beautiful and long lasting self made garments I plan my seam finishes before I've even cut the fabric out. I french and bind whenever I can in my woven garments. For my knits I don't have as much choice, but try ever so hard to avoid ripply hems and seams. Thanks for the great post.

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  19. Great question (and I love the comment "I don't have a price point, I have a POV." I learned to finish the inside just as much as the outside also, that is why I rarely use a serger ('tho I have one) as I learned to just finish the seams on the machine. It seems more natural to me. When I used to cross stitch like a fiend (before I went so blind) I was the same way, the back HAD to look as good as the front. I have them framed and hanging all over, and Iove knowing that inside those frames, the back of the work looks as nice as the front. :)

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  20. I'm all about improving too. I figure if I spend so much on sewing machines, then I darn well better be producing worthy garments. Thanks for your inspiration. And, the nudge to get more serger thread colors!

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  21. Yes ;)
    Even better, to machine stitch only the lining to the seam allowance. The seam will keep the lining in place forever, but doesn't show on the outside. This also goes for the neckline.
    I made an attempt to explain it all here, but have to make sure I get it right for you, so I will pounder on it and get back to you.

    The end result of this seam will be stunning, and your effort worthwhile.

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  22. Well, I am one of those who doesn't change her serger thread, but I love your quote "I don't have a price point, I have a point of view." Words to live by!

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  23. i'm kind of an in-between... it really depends on what i'm making. i finish everything neatly, but if it's a casual dress chances are everything that can be done by machine will be done by machine. i don't have a need for "workplace" appropriate clothing, but if i did, i would definitely go with higher end finishes like you show. great post!

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  24. I also don't have a serger, so that's a non issue for me, but I always match sewing machine thread to my fabric. I was taught that way and was surprised to find people who don't do that. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't have to.

    As to finishing, as I've just begun this journey to sew a handmade wardrobe (inspired in large part by you), I find myself slowing down with the intent on these pieces lasting a very long time, so the finishing speaks to that. I don't want fraying seam allowances or slopping sewing in my garments. That they are also beautiful inside is a by-product of the desire to sew for the long haul and hand sewing is not something I shy away from, due in large part to the many quilts I've hand quilted. There is something satisfying about a row of neat hand sewn stitches.

    My focus, as I've said is on making quality pieces from good fabric that last through many seasons and one thing I've already noticed is that when I wear something I've made, I feel good in it. My confidence is greater because of it and it is funny how people have started to notice. I'm still flailing around for a personal style, but I think that is a result of years of buying RTW that didn't fit properly and piece-mealing my wardrobe, one ill-fitting garment at a time. I've made myself a color scheme reference paper and my fabric purchases must fit into that. Hopefully, this will result in many pieces that go with many other pieces.

    Even though I am not a plus size gal, I still get lots of inspiration from your posts, as I have to do several adjustments to the patterns I buy. I'm only 5'4" and a D cup, so there's always the shortening and the FBA that needs to be done. But if it hadn't been for your blog, I wouldn't have done either of those - I would have just slapped the pattern down on the fabric, cut and sewn and been unhappy with the results. Thank you for your willingness to share with all of us and for asking these great thought provoking questions. Many blessings to you and yours!

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  25. I don't own a serger, so I am (slowly) learning proper finishing techniques. They don't come easily at first! But a weird thing happened. I finally joined the ASG and suddenly I want to bring my best game to the sewing table... all the time. Good enough isn't, not any more.

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  26. Initially I learned sewing by watching my grandma sew. She tailored garments for herself, my mom and me, and she was really good at copying a design just by looking at a picture. She rarely made a muslin, although that didn't always work out easily. So sometimes a lot of improvising was involved. Still, eventually the garments she made looked beautiful on the outside which included the use of high quality fabrics like wool and silk, but she never strived to make top level finishings. Nonetheless, she did a lot of handsewing. Hand-stitched hems, lining inserted by hand, all that, she did on a regular basis, mainly because that was the way it was supposed to be before RTW became big. But her approach to sewing was completely utilitarian. She liked it, but she didn't sew as a hobby and therefore she wasn't keen on prolonging the process. As an artist she would always prefer spending her time drawing and painting.

    Later, when I came to refining my sewing skills, RTW was my yardstick. In a way, my high regard for RTW techniques is due to my personal journey in the fashion industry. I learnt industrial pattern making, but never had a vocational training as a sewer. I learned a lot of advanced sewing techniques in my first years working as a pattern maker, along with how a garment has to be planned out in order to fit the industrial construction process. That certainly shaped my view of sewing. In my mind I am kind of still making RTW prototypes, even though I have been allowing myself to more handsewing lately.

    Not long ago I realised that, being a plussize gal, in terms of fashion I have been stuck with the oversized style of the nineties. For many years I never even thought there was a more flattering option than long, wide tunikas for me. I was wrong, the plussize revolution made me realise that. Reevaluating shapes, I am now slowly rebuilding my wardrobe. But right now, unfortunately, my sewing time is very limited. So I have to focus on the fitting, the design and the overall quality of the garments I make, but couture finishes just for the heck of it would be too much of a luxury. Just like my grandma would see it.

    But don't get me wrong, it's not that the seams or anything were sloppy, I definitely strive to make a well sewn garment, and if the design demands it I finish hems by hand, it's just no seam-binding or other beautiful extras. And I confine myself to a couple of colors for serging thread. I even like the blended look, I see non-matching thread, if well chosen, as a fashion statement in itself, another thing I learnt in my early years in the fashion industry.

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  27. I've been a bit hit-or-miss about matching my serger threads. I definitely like the looks of matching. You've inspired me to RE-DO the armhole and hem of a lace dress that I love, EXCEPT when I see the grey serger thread! (Don't we all hate a re-do?)

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  28. As always a thought provoking post from you Carolyn, thank you for the good read. On the subject of sergers I always match thread to garment as it is important to me to have a good looking inside. However it depends on what and why I am sewing whether the finish is couture or mass market. My daughter needs a wardrobe fast so everything is neat and tidy inside but machined with as little hand work as required. I am sewing a jacket as well and that is incorporating as many hand techniques as needed. Look forward to seeing your next project.

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  29. I would say I match the effort to the project and the fabric. A lovely blouse out of expensive silk is going to get the best of everything in sewing technique. Same goes for a coat or blazer. But a simple T-shirt to pop on and wear casually to hang out with my dog is going to be finished by machine using simpler less time consuming methods.

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  30. Interesting! I think about this a fair amount actually. I'm with you on the armholes and necklines: I really prefer not to have any stitching there, so I'll go the extra mile to line to the edge or do a facing, and hand-stitch when necessary. When I'm making a special garment, I take extreme care with the insides to make them as beautiful as I can. But when I'm making an everyday item I tend not to be as fussy. I still take care, but don't make a garment that could be completely reversible.

    And yes to many colors of serger thread - not only for matching, but for fun color contrasts!

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  31. "I don't have a price point - I have a point of view." I think I will print and frame this quote Ms. Carolyn. It deserves to be hung on my sewing room wall - and you will be properly referenced!

    A serged seam is NOT a "professional" finish. This is not an opinion. This is a statement of fact. The reason for the invention of the serger was to mass produce garments quickly and thus cheaper. A serged finish is a "cheap" finish any way you look at it. What difference does it make if the thread matches or not?

    Other than a coverstitch machine to finish knit hems, there is really no reason for a true sewist to own a serger. IMO threads should always match, so rethreading a serger each time isn't much of a time saver and certainly doesn't justify the cost of a serging machine.

    I understand there are those of you that live in knits 100% of the time and if so, I understand the fascination of a serger. But for beginners, using a serger is simply learning a bad habit from the start. For instance finishing the seams on an unlined jacket - these should NEVER be serged as they will show and therefore indicate a "cheaply made" garment. All other seam finish options should be explored.

    So ladies (and gentlemen if applicable), rule number one to "up your game":

    Ditch the sergers.

    I truly doubt anyone can produce a true professional that will argue this point. A even doubt the validity of the "tailor" mentioned in a post above that has begun a blog discussing his using a serger. If he is a true tailor, and he has begun using a serger he has done so to lower the price point of his garments. Ask him.

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  32. I think I swing back and forth. I do a good amount of hand-stitching to finish seams because like a clean edge minus making a facing. Tho, I can be honest and say my garments don't really look as nice on the inside. My attention span can be a big conflict with me.
    When I am in NYC, I did buy thread in bulk but still end up using the neutral colors serger thread. Another "excuse" for not always matching the thread is space.

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  33. My sewing journey has been just that a journey. I'm am continue to challenge myself and my skill. I do like clean lines and hand sewing does allow that. I always want my garments to look nice on the outside as well as on the inside so I strive for that when I sew. I was taught basic tailor techniques so owning a serger was not on my must have list for me. I won't say I will rule one out to. I do want to up my tailor and pattern making skills,

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  34. " I don't have a price point....... I have a point of view." What a great line Carolyn! Your clothes are always made with love and certainly finesse

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  35. Great questions. So much better than the pointing and laughing that has happened recently. As a new sewist, I've tried to force myself into good habits. This of course doesn't always work, but I do try to learn techniques instead of shortcuts. Thank you for showing the rewards that might come from doing things the couture way.

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  36. Most instances I just serge, fold twice & stitch and settle for that. On other occasions, if the garment is unlined & sleeveless, I use flexi lace hem tape or FOE. As for serger thread, I blend the colors.

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  37. You DO know calling you out on my blog was just a friendly tease?? (I'm sure you do ... but I wanted to respond to be sure you saw the gleam in my eye when I was posting.) I love your questions and reading everyone's responses which show how different we all can be, yet united in a common love/obsession.

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    1. Girl please! Wasn't worried about it at all, that's why I replied! *smile*

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  38. What a fantastic photo! I love hand sewing (couture) techniques, and your armholes are such eye candy for a sewing nerd! Thank you so much for posting the pic.

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  39. Thought about you Carolyn when I watched this Marcy Tilton video on YouTube, and heard her views about serging and bias seam finishes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeqDoLjKG_E

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