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



Jan 21, 2013

Poly Folly or "know when to fold 'em"



Readers, you know the saying that when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging?

Yesterday I decided to see what I could create with the four yards of polyester suiting-type fabric I purchased in the bargain section of Fabrics for Less for $2 a yard.  I bought it thinking I could experiment with making a contrasting plastron on my McCall 1939 pattern.  And experiment I did.

I cut and interfaced my plastron pieces (pic shows interfacing before fusing).



I shirred my bodice.



I painstakingly added some of that gathered vintage lace I picked up at the flea market last week to the plastron and attached the embellished plastron to the bodice.



Next, I cut and attached the collar.



I even bound the edge of the polyester collar with some poly satin bias binding I unearthed in my notions stash.



But the more I sewed with this fabric, the more I was reminded of the uniform I wore when I worked at Burger King one summer as a teenager: the same spongy thickness, sour smell, and soft creases.

And then it hit me: I'm not digging this.  I don't like the way it looks and I don't like the way it feels.  Could it turn out decent?  Perhaps.  But I don't want to try.  I think I got my eight dollars' worth and if I didn't, them's the breaks.  On Tuesday I plan to donate what's left to the Salvation Army.

I'm not 100% sold on the print fabric I bought on Sunday either, though it's of considerably higher quality.  It's making me think of a vintage Seventies Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress more than a 1930's day dress.  I may just have to look for something better.



Readers, do you ever start a project, have second thoughts, and just scrap it?  I know many home sewers have a closet full of UFO's, but with the exception of a corduroy blazer I started two years ago and never finished, I haven't had too much first-hand experience with them.

If you're the type of person who generally soldiers on till the end of a project, is it something you do more out of duty than out of a firm belief that you'll like the result?  (Is the cost of the fabric ever the deciding issue?)

We're all entitled to the occasional "poly folly," right?  We needn't punish ourselves.

What was your poly folly, or its closest equivalent?

Happy Monday, everybody!

45 comments:

  1. Firstly, it isn't considered a UFO if you never intend to finish it.
    B) The effort is not wasted; you've learned something.
    3) It didn't cost much. Some lessons are MUCH more expensive. Ask me how I know...

    No punishment necessary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your comment Sondra, it isn't a UFO if you never intend to finish it. I think she is right Peter, and you did learned something. I learned a new term--plastron--from reading your post. I thought it looked good.

      Delete
    2. I love your comment, too. I particularly love your way of structuring your points, though. :D

      Delete
  2. it was worth MUCH more than $8. ...as a lesson.
    You will never buy fabric like that again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never say never but I think you're right, Bill!

      Delete
  3. I never touch polyester. It doesn't feel good on and then there is the static cling problem. Life is too short.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my experience, some blends are not that bad. But I avoid it whenever I can, too.

      Delete
  4. Peter, I was just drafting the second post for my upcoming sewing blog, about sewing projects I've stalled out on and why, and how I can get out of the ditch and back on the road. I took a break to see what you were doing, and today's subject is spookily timely, again.

    I'm thinking of Kenneth King's comment on the Threads website, I believe, that you have to sew "acres" of fabric to get good. So you've just learned more.

    I commend your not holding onto UFOs. I think indecision and insufficient commitment are the major reasons for mine. Just realized this now. Okay, then I'll figure out what I need to decide, and what commitments I need to make. And the big one: what do I want to accomplish?

    I also commend your keeping a clear (yet flexible) vision of what you want to accomplish. You recognized this fabric wasn't going to perform the way you wanted it to. So, now you know, and you're on to the next thing. You didn't didn't stay on a futile path, determined to "tame" the fabric.

    Hugo Lindgren wrote recently in a New York Times Magazine piece that "Pixar's in-house theory is: Be wrong as fast as you can. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process, so get right down to it and start making them."

    Speaking of which, it's time to get back to my draft.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yup, I do it all the time. I started out making "The Party Dress" from Mary Adams book, and I used 2 yards of cotton that I had from ages ago and loved (then). When I got to the end, I realized that it would probably look appropriate on someone 10 years younger than me! So now it's unfinished and I wonder if I should finish it and sell it or donate it, or maybe find a teenage girl who needs a quirky betsy-johnson-ish mini prom dress?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's dressy enough to be a prom dress, I'd look for an organization that helps underprivileged girls who can't afford a prom dress and donate it to them.

      Delete
    2. Oh excellent idea, thank you!

      Delete
  6. Take the sides of the top off, add some ties at the bottom, and you have a dickie for Cathy! Time well spent, a project you might be able to use in a future photo shoot, and you can still ditch the rest of the poly.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have no UFOs. If I see a project's going south, I pull out the pins and just get rid of it. If you don't love it, or at least like it, you will not enjoy wearing it either. Why keep something around to remind yourself of failure? It clutters the sewing room and the mind!

    ReplyDelete
  8. If it doesn't feel right, it will never be right. Good call, as far as I'm concerned.

    PS: There is a prequil book to Color Me Beautiful called Color me a Season which talks about the personality traits accompanying each season. It also talks about iris patterns in the eye as a way to help determine each season which sounds funky but is fun stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think we are all entitled to stop mid project if it is not feeling like our time is worth it. We do this for fun, right? When it stops being fun, I say stop :)

    I have a teal/aqua (really, hospital scrub color!) dress that is horribly unflattering in every way. I stopped mid-way, then we broke up and I moved on :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have a few poly-follies, but they tend to be from bits of scrap that I was just playing with with no proper plan in place.

    As for stopping mid-project? I do that sometimes, but discipline myself to come back. I am struggling with a tailored jacket right now - not the instant gratification of a pretty dress, certainly - and have sewn a few things for my daughter in the meantime.

    My stash, however, tends to be projects I have not yet set scissors to. I spent much of Sunday making a binder of my inventory, with notes. MEEP. I should *not* be let near a fabric store for anything but lining and notions for a very, very long time.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I probably have more unfinished projects than completed (SHAME and DISGRACE). It's probably because I'm a fabric whore (another subject for another time) and subject to whimsy (I don't mind soldiering on but sometimes it's soooo not worth the effort).

    I can't believe you only have ONE unfinished item!

    One day I'll get there...

    ReplyDelete
  12. poly folly. did you just coin that? last night i reorganized my stash when i couldn't find a lining (that still does not exist) and i made a small section for WTF was i thinking. it's entirely made of poly folly. and one piece of striped silk that is completely baffling to me. actually, hmm....

    ReplyDelete
  13. Since I muslin most everything before I make it, I have very few UFOs lurking around my sewing room. However, if the going starts to get real tough (to the point where I'm thinking about pulling my hair out and destroying all my sewing machines in a fit of rage), I will absolutely toss the offending garment to the side and let it sit for at least a month so it can think about how bad it's been. Sometimes, I can work out a solution that fixes the problem and everyone is happy. Sometimes the UFO stays a UFO, unless it becomes scrap fabric. Either way, I don't let myself feel bad about it. There is too little sewing time as it is - I'm not going to waste it on something I don't feel good about making in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  14. For some unknown reason I seem to be good at saying "uncle" and moving on rather than letting a project become a UFO. Honestly I think it's better to cut your losses at the poly folly phase than force things!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'd rather scrub the toilets than to finish something I'm not enjoying. That's the advantage of sewing for pleasure versus necessity. It's not as though you'll have to go around naked if you don't finish this dress.

    ReplyDelete
  16. you learn something, so nothing is wasted. you'd waist your time if you completed a project you don't like working on for an end result you don't like either.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I declared 2013 as the year for me to finish my "closetful" of UFOs. I think my UFO problem is this: I get my project to a certain point and then when I can't figure out how to get the right fit or I'm tired of putting in/ripping out the zipper for the third time, I get gun-shy and lose my way/confidence. And it's hard to pick up where I left off when I fear further frustration. (Did you see that accidental alliteration? My English teacher would be so proud!)

    ReplyDelete
  18. It is good to know when to quit. Anyway it's not a ufo it's a partially completed muslin.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You know what they say-- you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em! Sewing is way too time-consuming to spend hours and hours working on something that you'll never actually wear.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Methinks you just reinforced your own distinction between cheap and a great find. WE all have one under development, I feel, and there is not one true 'Rubicon' of value, but for all of us there is a line in the sand (screw using consistent metaphors) between a bargain and a bit of cheap c-rap :)
    BTW, I just made the husband a shirt, would love to know what you make of it!
    http://sentfrommyiron.blogspot.co.nz/2013/01/introducingthe-shirt.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. I sometimes use cheaper fabrics to make a muslin, or a wearable muslin of patterns i'm not sure will work for me. But I know what you mean about the fabric. I bought some grey last year, make a jacket and dress from it - but I really don't like the fabric and consequently don't wear it much. It was useful for technique practice though.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Having made your muslin already, would you consider looking online for one of the companies that make vintage reproduction fabrics? I've never used them, but I've heard good things...

    ReplyDelete
  23. this post has gotten me to think about my own UFOs. I think I'll tackle some of them today!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I've soldiered through too many times and ended up with something that never got worn or went straight to Goodwill. Knowing when to fold 'em is an art form! You've inspired me to stop when that little voice says...........this is really terrible, move on.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I bought a stapled-up clear bag of yarn at Savers the other day because I was sure it was some exotic fiber. Turns out it was the cheapest acrylic and even when I tried to save face and wind it for "later" it had so much static electricity that I couldn't keep it untangled enough to wind! I just threw it away. No sense in subjecting another person to that insanity.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "Spongy" is such a good description of the kind of fabric I used alot when I was first starting to sew. Cheap poly gaberdine that would never press properly at the seams. But it was a stepping stone to learning to sew inexpensively. Although whenever I see it now it makes my skin crawl !

    ReplyDelete
  27. I have just written a note to self - to try on my 2 UFO Empire dresses, to see if it is a good idea to finish. I love the style, the fabric, but was having a bit of trouble with fit, as my pattern alteration skills were in the baby stages....I did give a UFO assymetrical bias skirt to Stephanie, age 22. She loves it, and will finish. By the way, she adores Betsey Johnson clothes, if you want a good home for that dress. She is size 10. My sewing niece. My UFO challenges are mostly about fit. I have some really good fitting books now. We learn as we go. And, for extra inspiration, I am perusing a pile of Neue Mode, and Burdas, in German, French, and Italian, and English. Hubster got for 5 cents each. All patterns inside. Too yummy. Helps me be more daring with trims, pattern combinations, etc. Too boring also causes UFO's.Cathie, in Quebec.

    ReplyDelete
  28. My stash is full of horrible polys. And I've kept them because I thought they would be good for making muslins, but as you discovered yourself, horrible fabric is no fun to work with and you end up losing faith in what might actually have been a worthwhile project. I bought the fabrics in the first place because they were on the $2.00 table at my local discount fabric store. I have kilometres of the stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Consider that sunk cost and move on. Why sunk any more time into it as well!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I had a similar poly blue outfit when I worked at Micky D's one summer. The thought makes me shudder, and brings back the smell of the grease traps and the whole teenage staff sweating.

    Good job knowing that fabric could never make you happy. I liked the way the muslin draped, so maybe a dressier version of whatever that was? I remember seeing a lovely Liberty fabric that would look fantastic made into that dress.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I just ordered some suitings from Fabric.com, and in my haste to buy sale fabric, I didn't even check the content. They arrived at my house, not wool, but polyester. One in particular reminds me of the matching pants and jackets suits my second grade teacher wore.... *sigh!* I haven't decided whether to keep them and try to make pants, or donate them. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. donate it and buy some more but hurry! You can get 15% off right now and free shipping at fabric.com for only this week - found the coupon codes here : http://findingitforless.com/fabric-com-coupon/

      Delete
  32. While I totally agree about the poly folly, I major don't agree about the dotted fabric. That fabric is perfectly correct for the '30s or '40s, which were much more graphically adventurous than people today realize.

    I know patterns like that can evoke the '70s for many people, but that is because the '70s stole a lot from the '40s, just like the '60s stole a lot from the '20s.

    My grandmother had stuff she made in the '30s and '40s (she was not only an excellent seamstress, she was the Queen of Re-Styling), and many of the prints she wore were decades old, yet still looked contemporary during the '70s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was my original thought, Sandy, which is why I purchased that print in the first place. But then I started to doubt myself.

      Delete
  33. I have a stash of poly satin bridesmaids dresses donated to me by a friend who had a bridal shop - Dessy models that were discontinued. They've hung around my workroom for several years now; I got as far as removing the layers of tulle stamped with "Sample" but the prospect of re-styling something so petro-chemical is less than appealing. I can't bring myself to throw them away, tho, since they originally cost the proverbial arm & leg.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have a dress on my work table right now that is trying very hard to become a UFO. For one thing, I didn't realize when I bought the fabric online, that it has a very obvious one-way print, so I didn't have enough. I went back and was very fortunate to be able to buy more, but now I've found that there is just no way to cut the circle skirt pieces out... if I make a seam up the center front piece, maybe, but I'm pretty sure I am going to stop now before this gets much worse. I LOVE the fabric and can make something else out of it (perfume bottle print silk charmuse!)

    On the other hand, I have swept an entire stained glass window panel into the bin because I knew I was never going to finish it, for various reasons. It was weighing me down and taking up all the room on my workbench! It was a very freeing thing to do, and my skills in glass improved vastly after I moved on from that one panel. I've done many more panels and three lamps since then, and have not had any more stained glass UFO's. But I know I can give myself permission to walk away from it if it happens. We practice out arts for enjoyment, after all, not torture and guilt.
    ~Kelly

    ReplyDelete
  35. Luckily, for my sanity's sake, I can almost convince myself that some things I make don't feel right and are probably just 'apprentice pices' that will teach me something, even if the lesson is NEVER DO THIS AGAIN. That said, my poly folly was a jersey yoked-back LBD that I agonised and tortured myself making ove a month.....I wish I'd had the sense to just give it up.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "...I will absolutely toss the offending garment to the side and let it sit for at least a month so it can think about how bad it's been." LOL I do that too LLADYBIRD!

    I have two or three garment UFOs left over from classes. I need to get back to them. I also have a maxi dress that was cute on the envelope, but when I cut my size, well, it is too big, and I am not sure of the go-forward steps needed. I really LIKE the dress and the fabric though, so I may restyle the back and try again.

    There is always a point in my projects where I tire of them or am frustrated with progress, or it just doesn't look promising. MANY times it came out just fine, so I have to be careful to not give up too soon. For a while I gave myself too much permission to walk away and that wasn't good either. It's a balance.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails