MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Jul 13, 2012

Sewing Fatigue -- Symptoms and Cures!



I suppose it was inevitable.  I've been working on this linen blazer for more than a week and I'm starting to get tired.  Not sleepy, mind you, but worn out and whiny.  There are too many techniques I'm doing for the first time and I feel like I'm sewing blind.  I hope everything comes out right but who knows?

My latest concern is the size of my shoulder pads.  I have quite a few pairs to choose from of varying qualities, widths, heights, etc.  The best quality pair I have, purchased more than a year ago from Steinlauf and Stoller, is just too big in the jacket.  Not too high, but too wide.



Do you see those folds just under the shoulders? It's like the jacket is hanging off the pads (at least that's what I think is happening; I hope it's not related to the shoulder reinforcement piece I made from an additional layer of fusible interfacing as per Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket).  Not good.



Let's talk about something positive, shall we?  Yesterday's big (and only) accomplishment was pockets -- three patch pockets, two of which had to match.  I followed Marta Alto's technique in her Jackets for Real People DVD and it worked well.  These are lined pockets, with the lining cut slightly narrower than the pocket so that when you turn it, the lining pulls the edges of the pocket under, ever so slightly.





You leave a gap at the top and pull the rest of the pocket through it (after trimming seam allowances).





You seal the gap with a bit of fusible web.



Voila! 





Instead of just pins, I used a little fusible web to hold the pockets in place while I stitched them; otherwise they'd creep.  I'd have had a much easier time if I'd put the pockets on earlier in the project, but live and learn!



The upper chest pocket is, oddly, cut at an angle at the top, I guess so when the jacket's on and the pocket's curving toward your shoulder, it reads as straight.  Go figure.





Today I hope to resolve the shoulder pad dilemma and address the lining.  It's attached to the facings,  but I still have to attach it to the armholes and vents.  Wish me luck!

Oh, forgot to mention: I turned the lapels out (the so-called turning of the cloth) -- basically OK.

In closing, readers, have you ever started a project that turned out to be much more complicated than you'd thought it would be, and started losing steam before you finished?

Any tricks to help maintain your mojo?

I'm all ears.

Happy Friday, everybody!

40 comments:

  1. To answer your last question, yes. As a result, I have a closet of UFOs appropriately named Area 51.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Area 51? I love it! Sounds like me, they are starting to accumulate in a dark corner of the room. Some just need a hem, others finishing details....What is going on????

      Delete
    2. Area 51 pretty much describes part of my sewing room closet, too. I have a pair of linen shorts I cut out in the 1980s and never finished. Not sure they'd still fit :-/ When I start losing steam on a project, I'll set it aside for an evening or two and do something completely different (like knit). But I try to think about the project before I go to bed. Sometimes, that helps me figure out the problem and get energized to resume the project.

      Delete
  2. Um...make that second-to-last question...

    To jump start my sewjo, I sew a pair of jeans or a simple top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sew a pair of Jeans??? Wauw - I'd love it that would be a 'jump-start-project' to me too! I have a lot of denim for jeans I never got around to make... I think I might even have 2 pair all cut out and ready to go... if only I could get arund to it.

      Delete
  3. if i had the answer of sewing mojo for you, i wouldn't have a bunch of projects in various stages of development...sounds better than unfinished haha

    ReplyDelete
  4. A big YES! I am currently trying to salvage a dress I'm making from a pattern I drafted. It looked cute in the sketch, but took a wrong turn somewhere...

    http://seersuckersally.blogspot.com/2012/07/project-that-will-never-die.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. If I get tired with a project I work on something small that will give me the sense of accomplishment. Otherwise, I get frustrated and/or rush to finish it and get sloppy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, honey, making a jacket is a serious time investment. The one I just did took 6 freakin' weeks. Of constant work. And I wanted to set it on fire semi-regularly. Now I just wear it and bask in the compliments. Keep on!

    ReplyDelete
  7. A sewing group to sympathise and to cheer you on is the answer to the moment when the sewjo goes on holiday! Peter, your sewing group now consists of?1700? We've all been where you are, have staggered to the last stitch sure that we never want to see that damned garment again we just want it out of the UFO pile, then a week later realised that it's actually just what we had hoped for when we began it. And the week after that we start in all over again on another demanding sewing project. Just remember that all of us out here are waiting to admire your finished blazer, whenever it arrives. PS since I'm in a bit of a funk about lining a jacket (not as tailored as yours, but I've put in a lot of work on it)I have my fingers crossed for some details on how you do your lining.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The jacket is looking fantastic by the way. I admire your courage to tackle this project. I know the wise thing to do to overcome fatigue is to walk away and come back to it later. That being said, if I can't finish a project in one day, it's over for me. I recently bought a supposedly quick and easy beginner pattern to make a little dress for my niece. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to join the shoulder seams. I got so frustrated, I threw the whole lot out, including the pattern. I would have done a better job making the pattern from scratch. So instead I made pillow shams. Quick, easy and instant gratification. And they look great on the bed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You know that you can trim shoulder pads down, don't you? I do this all the time for my narrow shoulders. You have to grade the layers. I also add layers for my low shoulder and tailor baste them in place.
    Men's jackets often have padding in that front shoulder area. The other thing to do with shoulder pads is to steam them into a better shape for your shoulder. I pin them onto a seam roll and steam them heavily. Leave them in place to cool and dry. I like to leave them overnight.
    As everyone has said, jackets are not quick, even with quick tailoring techniques. It doesn't even get much faster when you are experienced. Go out for a walk with those two cuties. Take a walk on the Highline. Whatever, but walk away for a breather you'll come back refreshed, if not cool.

    ReplyDelete
  10. BTW, the jacket is looking very good. The lapels are nicely done and it fits nicely. Figure out what level of fit you can live with. This is really your first tailored jacket? Don't be so hard on yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for sharing the pocket tips - really good to know about the slightly smaller lining. Yes, when I made a coat I was working blind and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Baby steps, baby steps... Go easy on yourself and do little bits at a time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. When I can't find ready-made or recycled shoulder pads that look right for a garment, I make my own so I can get just the size/shape/thickness I want. They're just layers of batting or foam sewn together in the center, and then shaped a bit. Your jacket looks great and will be worth the work when it's finished.

    ReplyDelete
  13. love your tip on fusing the pockets before stitching them on! i'll have to remember that.

    as far as loosing steam before a project was finished... the only time i really thought i wouldn't finish something was the wedding dress i finished recently for my sister. that was torture! how happy was i to shove the thing in a box and ship it to her! (though secretly i hoped it got destroyed in the mail just in case it didn't fit properly... the thought of making any alterations, no matter how slight, was too much to bear. thankfully, it fits her!) take a break from the blazer and come back in a day or two to finish, it really looks great!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm also making a jacket right now for my bf, and it is a lot of work. And my sewing skills are nearly as advanced as yours! The jacket I'm making involved cutting apart his existing jacket, patterning it, and figuring out how to put it together, by studying the existing jacket, and using some resources (like tailoring). I'm down to hemming and buttonholes, and unfortunately, my featherweight with the buttonholer just doesn't want to sew through my fabric (a thick, dense cotton herringbone twill). So i'm using my zigzagger which makes crappy buttonholes. My plan is to pay a tailor to do them for me.

    I'm wondering - how did you hem the jacket? I'm thinking of just taking mine to a tailor to do that. My jacket isn't lined, and I didn't leave enough seam allowance to do a 1" topstitched hem (what the original had). Blind hem?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if you have vents or anything, but why not cut a 1" strip of bias from your fashion fabric and create a hem facing? That way you can have a real hem with heft, which should help with the drape of the jacket. My hem is just a standard 1" hem, which will be folded up and then the lining will be slipstitched on top of the hem, most likely.

      Delete
    2. That's a really good idea - I don't think I have enough fashion fabric left :( I have barely any (haven't check for a while) and the shop I got it at is sold right out. Perhaps I can just use a matching cotton twill?

      Delete
    3. i do have one vent, at the centre back.

      Delete
    4. I would use the closest thing that will look OK (no one will really see it) and is heavy enough. You can also add fusible interfacing to the facing to give it more weight and heft if need be.

      Delete
  15. What I do? Throw it in a drawer. Pull it out again after 10 years and then wonder why I never finished making this awesome jacket. It only needed buttonholes!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm notoriously too ambitious with my projects. Usually I'll take a break and finish something easy to prove to myself I CAN finish things.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Losing steam? Yea! On almost every project with more than just a few steps. Oh, but the reward...and pacing is important. I did an elaborate renaissance gown/costume with head piece out of upholtery fabric for a friend that took weeks and weeks and weeks. My Motto is: Never give up, never surrender.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nice work-you are a real tailor.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This video, and her others, always give me a pick up. Every sewist and crafter I am sure will relate to Leslie Hall's fabulous Craft talk!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWVzIfUfjGk
    Listen to Leslie - work through the pain!
    BTW shoulder folds - I think the pockets are a little to 'blame' also, as they naturally try to fold in on themselves. Honestly though had you not mentioned it I've not have noticed. It looks great and will soften with wear so chillax!

    ReplyDelete
  20. This jacket looks GREAT. Except, of course, for those folds in the front...And even those aren't so bad! Methinks it might well be also because the material isn't heavy enough; I seem to recall an instruction about putting a'shield' of hair canvas in the front of a suit jacket to prevent the jacket from slumping into the hollow between the shoulder and the chest; in other words, right where your "problem area" is. I think it was a Kenneth King tutorial right on the Threads' website! Maybe you should check it out!

    Or, failing that, maybe you could call that guy (can't remember his name) who makes all his own suits and has appeared in Vogue Sewing a couple of times..I'm sure HE could advise you on hoe to solve your problem!

    But, f'r godsake don't give up! The jacket looks GREAT otherwise and the problem appears relatively minor! You are doing FINE, all things considered, and someone has already pointed out that making a jacket like this is NOT a 'speedy' process!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Shoulder pads are easy to make - any thickness and any shape to fit the garment and one's preference. But I use graded layers of fleece, not batting, which eventually will migrate. I often make thin shoulder pads for blouses, some of which have necklines too wide for any purchased pads

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm impressed. Remember, if you need a break from a project, take it. I routinely get frustrated, usually with the pattern instructions. I put it asite for a few days, then come back with fresh eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You have been sewing for three years and have not one unfinished project???? Bravo. I am impressed by your sewing skills but even more impressed that you finish every project you start. My credo is never put a UFO out of sight. It needs to be nagging at me constantly or it never gets finished.

    ReplyDelete
  24. A pair of swim briefs. A ton of work for such a small item. I think I redrafted the pattern 3 or 4 times, had one pair that my serger chewed up and spat out. At the end of the day the pair is wearable, but just barely. I still want to make another pair to perfect my techniques, and complete them in a fabric I actually want to wear (white lycra is great for muslin but I'm never wearing these in public!).

    On the plus side, I learned to use my cover-stitch machine with them, and fell in love with it, as it's an absolute breeze to sew with. The project also caused me to replace the blades on the hand-me-down 40 year old serger I have, and now it too sews like a dream. The process has actually made me a lot more confident in my pattern making/sewing abilities, and learning to think through the sewing process.

    One thing I'd love to see for menswear is a book that walks through all varieties of garments and shows the many ways to construct the garments in a professional manner, complete with photos. I'm often uncertain of where to use interfacing, and how to reinforce seams. Seeing as how there are a limited number of the types of clothes men wear, I think this would be a completely viable project.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Tailoring does take on the weariness of a marathon after a while. Have a sewing free day!
    Re the shoulder pads gently prise them apart and take out a layer or two. good for correcting shoulder assymetry as well as you can make them different thicknesses.

    ReplyDelete
  26. We are too hard on ourselves, so sewing friends really help. And exercise. ON UFO's, to-day I finished a summer dress I drafted in 2010, and wondered WHY I waited. Instint compliments (ramie/cotton gauze). What helps is a sewing notebook, with swatches, and tension, stitch size. And pattern changes. This way I see I really was working (LOL), and can repeat if I wish, or further tweak. Keeping a record of what I am doing. And sewing buddies....Cathie, in Quebec.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The jacket looks awesome and fits great. Well done on the progress so far. I can totally relate to your sewing fatigue with the jacket construction as I am currently going through the same experience myself. The easiest way I can handle this well known challenge to any sewer is to focus on one milestone/stage at the time. I allocate 1 hour every day to work on the jacket which equals to 7 hrs a week. So far with all pattern draft/ fittings and fabric cutout stage it's been 4 weeks.. No rush slow but steady is the motto ... Don't be hard on yourself mate and treat this jacket as a project ....

    ReplyDelete
  28. Remember the corduroy jacket? Often you throw way too much technique at fabric that can't hold up that much. It's perfectly OK to take a break in the middle of a long project, whether with a small easy item or from sewing altogether.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Here is a tip from a blogger called Peter Lappin. He writes a really good blog called Male Pattern Boldness, in case you want to check some more of his fantastic posts.
    In his post of july 29, 2010, he gives this sewing tip : "make sewing your play and not your work" . And, he carries on like so : "Life is stressful enough without adding even more stress...Blah, blah, blah, Remember why you're sewing in the first place, BLah, blah blah...Just keep going and maintain a sense of humor."
    How would you like to put his advice into practice ?

    And, I think your jacket looks really good. I'm sure Peter Lappin of July 29, 2010 would be very impressed to see how good your sewing skills have become.
    E.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eurielle, that's not fair: using my own words against me! LOL

      Delete
  30. I recently finished a four month long project. From selecting the fabric, selecting and re designing the pattern, to sewing an extremely difficult to sew fabric. I envisioned and tested each step before sewing. I took long breaks when I felt disappointed, and returned with new eyes a few days later. I always only had one step to do or maybe two. Then I stopped. Mistakes were made when I thought I could power through. I was not professional, with sewing stamina and work hardened technique and expertise to carry me through easily. So I prepared, focused, and then stopped when I lost focus. It eventually was all as I had envisioned, and the work paid off very nicely. So take time to think, and decide what you want. You will finish this well, because it is so nearly perfect already. Good Luck.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails