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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not my best work, but who said I was perfect?

I am very pleased with the progress of my first shirt blouse after a husband-going-away-sick-dog-70-papers -to-mark few weeks. 

The fit is perfect. My square shoulder alteration combined with the D cup sizing built into the pattern seem to be a combination that works for me without much alteration intelligence on my part. This is a combination I will look for in future.

I was worried, and rightly so, about the collar on a stand. I have made these before with mixed results and this time I followed Pam's highly recommended method . 

Check Pam's instructions out if you want to see a skilled professional doing a slick treatment that turns out perfectly.

If you want to see how imperfect me executed this take a look here:

This is actually my worst side of the collar but it makes my point.

This method has you sew the collar to the band, stitch the under side of the band to the shirt, and topstitch the band down. 

It should work. 

You can see however that I had the problems I expected which were about that pile up of fabric layers at the spot where the front of the shirt and the collar band meet. I figure there are about six layers happening here in about a 1/4" space.

This is the kind of sewing challenges that you can pull off if   you have a lucky day, but you can't call on lucky days to happen just because you want them to,

What you see here all looked fine at the pressing, getting ready to sew stage, but once that needle and presser foot started happening things moved around. I also tried very hard to get a nice edge stitch going on around the curve and that too is pretty iffy.

Which brings me to a large and universal question. Why do some methods work for so well for some sewers and not for others?

I have run into this before. Approaches that some sewers swear by that I can't get to work for me. Serging on clear elastic would be in the category for me, for instance. When I try that the stuff gets sliced to nothing and then sprongs around the room.

So this approach to attaching the collar, where basically the collar/band is just supposed to slip on, makes sense but requires some careful work in small spaces.

I usually don't do to well in confined spaces.

So next shirt up I am going to try another approach. And after that probably another one. One of my goals with this is to get this whole collar thing to a point that I can rely on myself to do this so it turns out, without a lot of angst.

It is a question of finding a way to do this that is compatible with how I work as a sewer. 

Right now I suspect the method that has you attach the band first and then slip in the collar has potential. This is the burrito system David Coffin uses and I have in my book Sewing Magic which he worked from too. Might do that next, we will see.

In the meantime I am going to finish this shirt and treat it as what it was, a learning experience. Chances are the general public is not going to see this collar glitch quite the way I do.

We all know this blog is not one of those that you go to for ohs and ahs. I love those blogs and you know which ones - they give me something to aim for, but it does record the struggles of someone who loves to sew and is just trying to get better.

I am reminded too about an older woman who inspected something I had made, with great effort, in one sewing class.

"Don't worry dear," she said, patting my arm. "Only God is perfect."

Well who can argue with that one?


RuthieK said...

Looks pretty good to me!

LisaB said...

This may not be any comfort, but I tried the same method on my shirt and had less than perfect results as well. Since others love it so much, I was pretty hard on myself for not getting it right. In a way, your band makes me feel better that I'm not the only one who didn't get it just right.

By the way, my samples looked really good, but I didn't use interfacing in my samples. I think that made a difference due to the extra thickness in the real thing. I do intend to try again, though, with a slightly different interfacing application. I don't like not being able to do something well. :-)

Sue said...

That's your first one! The next one will be easier, I'm sure it comes down to practice ;)... like most things.
I like Pam's way of attaching the collar but I always forget to stitch the inside piece first and end up hand-stitching it down. I don't mind hand-stitching at all though. Our own mistakes are glaring to us but quite often not even registered by anyone else. Wear your first white shirt with pride!!

Jane M said...

Oh, Barbara, I so agree about these collar bands and clear elastic. I want Pam's method to work perfectly for me but my results look lumpier than ever. The alternative burrito technique works for me although I still do hand stitching, which never bothers me either. I know I'd get better with LOTS of practice....but there's always a new proect to start. Enjoy that new shirt....and the many more you've inspired this month.

Irene said...

It looks pretty good. Nobody is going to poke their nose right up to your collar to inspect, and if they do - ... As far as why certain things work for some and not for others, I'm coming to the conclusion that a lot of it has to do with the sewing machine being used. On my old machine I used to get perfect topstitching without even trying. With my new machine I have to fiddle with tension, stitch length and so on. Still doesn't come out perfect. Always gets hung up on corners and bumps. That said - have a look at some RTW pieces and see just how (im)perfect the results are. And that's with an industrial machine. It will make you feel SO much better about your own efforts.

a little sewing on the side said...

Looks pretty good to me, too! No one will come up with a magnifying glass and ask to see the worst side of your collar. I always do hand-stitching, too, like some of the other commenters. Pamela does beautiful work and she's had lots of practice. Lots and lots of practice! Enjoy your shirt and show more pictures if you get a chance! I bet it looks very smart.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I just found your blog through the "White Shirt project," and I'm really enjoying it.

I fixated on the collar stand shirt style when I was about 12, and I've been sewing them for 40 years. (I must have made a couple hundred shirt collars.) I've tried the techniques you've mentioned, memorized David Page Coffin's book, and I still often get the sort of results you're showing in your picture.

The high-dollar menswear shirts that have perfect details are not only sewn on industrial machines (which are amazing), but use high quality interfacing and fabrics that just aren't available to most home sewers.

I scored some remnants from a factory about 20 years ago, and that fabric was a dream to sew--everything worked the way it was supposed to.

So, a nutshell, don't worry about it; the thing that really makes a difference in how it looks on you is good fit. I enjoy my closet full of imperfect shirts, and perhaps someday, I'll figure out the ultimate collar stand technique. (And the cuffs--those are imperfect too.)