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Feb 12, 2014

FIT Class #3 -- REFLECTIONS



I think of myself as a pretty exacting sewer.  My standards are high -- but maybe not as high as I thought!

This FIT class is making me work.  That's a good thing, but it's challenging.

The standard in this class is professional.  And that means everything has to be just so.  It's not enough that, say, a shirt cuff -- which is what we worked on yesterday -- look good.  If the cuff pattern piece is curved at the bottom, the cuff must show precisely that same curve.  If it doesn't, Professor B is going to let us know.   (The cuffs on the shirt patterns I use are almost all squared off at the corners, with the exception of the Colette Negroni.)

Shirt cuffs are something I never give much thought to.  They usually come toward the end of a project -- in fact, they're generally the last piece I add to a shirt -- by which time I'm eager to just get the thing finished already.  I'll sweat over a shirt collar, but a cuff?  Hardly ever.  Which isn't to say that mine look sloppy -- they don't -- but they're not as precise as they could be, or so I'm finding out.

In Tuesday's class, we learned how to interface our shirt cuffs (interfacing facing outward) with our fusible interfacing.  Last week someone asked what kind of iron/vacuum board we use.  The brand is Sussman; don't think they're in business anymore, alas.

The technique we used to create the shirt cuff is something that would be familiar to anyone who has ever made a men's shirt.  The biggest exception is that the 5/8" seam allowance is never used (anywhere on the shirt, actually).



We covered stitching, clipping curves, turning, pressing, and edgestitching, all to an exacting standard.  We gave considerable attention to rolling the seam connecting the outer cuff and inner cuff toward the inner cuff, so that it isn't visible from the outside -- much as one would to the seam connecting outer collar and under collar.  (One usually cuts the under collar a little smaller to facilitate this.  Apparently that's done on a women's shirt cuff but not a men's.  Who knew?)

There's something about sewing in a classroom that I find a little stressful.  I'm not used to having to produce something in a specific time frame, even though I'm a relatively fast sewer.  And using a machine that I'm not intimately familiar with is also a new experience.  Last night, I happened to sit at a machine that didn't have a faceplate with marked measurements.  I took my ruler and pencil and drew a temporary 1/2" line and used the edge of the presser foot for everything else.



Next week we'll be covering yokes, and wedging the backs and fronts between the two yoke layers, so for homework we need to cut these pieces out of our shirting and bring them to class.  We also need to produce four "beautiful" cuffs.  I guess I'll try to do these over at FIT since I need more practice on the industrials.  Something tells me the plaid shirt I'm currently working on is going to have beautiful cuffs!

In closing, in your sewing projects, do you make an effort to achieve what you'd consider professional sewing standards, or is good-enough good enough for you?

How perfect must your projects look?

Have a great day, everybody!

UPDATE:  These are the cuffs I made in class.

32 comments:

  1. I so look forward to your FIT posts. It's the next best thing to being there!

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  2. I'm beginning to understand that I don't really know what professional standards are-- so far, good enough was working for me. When I piece a quilt, I've gotten more and more exacting, because someday I'd like to make one with which I could win a show.

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  3. I generally work very hard at making garments as perfectly as I can. If it can be distinguished as not being at least very good RTW, then I feel like I've failed.

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  4. My level of perfection depends upon who, what and for whom I'm sewing. For me, good enough is usually the standard. Unless it is for a specific occasion, then I expect more. For my boys who are tween and teen in six weeks, I do pretty good. I want it to have ready to wear or better look. I don't want the negative mama-made look. For my husband, I try for absolute perfection. That may be why he gets the fewest sewing projects.


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  5. I try to make my projects look as good as possible. As a result, I'm not very prolific. But my goal -- not reached yet -- is excellence.

    You're in the right class to refine your skills, especially as you sew at home with consistency.

    The yoke class coming up is really good. The explanation was so much clearer than in a women's sewing class I had.

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    1. The best part of FIT classes for me is that when I've had the time I've made myself experiment with different techniques and tools to find out what really worked for me. Outside of a class, I'd never have pushed myself to the same extent.

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  6. I really enjoy your class updates. So interesting!!

    Right now I'm a good enough sewer. I really need to take the extra time to get a good fit and perfect the muslin making process.

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  7. I cant resist being extra precise when I am making shirts, it sometimes takes me twice as long to add the nice (professional) finishes like sharp collar points, consistent top stitching, and smooth corners on the cuffs, but when I wear the shirt I feel a million dollars. I will happily rip out a collar stand of cuff that does not sit quite right, I know if I left it in that every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I would spot the error instantly.

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  8. I changed do collars with collar stands. I no longer do it the way my Big4 pattern tells me. I use the technique from David Coffin's book "Shiftmaking: Devloping Fine Skills for Sewing".

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  9. Good enough works for me because there are so many things I want to sew. There is a long queue of projects in my head and if I spend all day trying to get the "perfect" collar, I can't get the shirt (or shirtdress) done, which means those wished-for future projects aren't much closer to becoming a reality!

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  10. I think you have to have a balance between obsessing so much about perfection that you can't actually accomplish anything, and settling so much that nothing you accomplish is very worthwhile. I tend to push a bit too far for perfection to the point that I'm often in over my head, which causes its own problems. Still, pushing yourself to always do it better than you did the last time is the only way to keep growing and develop your skills to where you can handle anything you want to take on. The frustrating thing for me is always when I look at something I've sewn and I'm not happy with it because I know it doesn't look right, or professional enough, but I don't know what I did wrong or how to fix it. That's why you're so lucky to be in that class where you have the incredible resource of a professional FIT instructor, so that you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way by learning how the pros do it (rather than stumbling around trying to reinvent the wheel on your own).

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  11. The answer is yes I try to make everything to professional standards and after many years I make it 90% of the time.

    I'm glad you are getting something out of the course. I know you thought it might be too easy but if you had taken tailoring you'd be in over your head a tad.

    It's a different skillset to be able to finish something perfectly in class. Thats when pins and basting go out the window.

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  12. Peter, all of the info in these posts is so interesting and helpful; thank you. I've been on the haute couture trail in recent years, and I've found that sewing with pricey fabrics forces me to go to painstaking lengths out of sheer paranoia over wrecking the fabric. Also I want things to look vintage and not mass-market, so it's worth the effort.

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  13. lately i want more and more for the insides to be as beautiful as the outsides. i agree with everyone-- LOVE these posts! it's like we're going to school too (i am a big old iloveschool nerd).

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  14. I have tried for years to refine my sewing technique so that I am happy with the final result, with little success. The best compliment for me though was when I overheard my Mum telling someone about a garment I had made and said that you could hardly tell which side was supposed to be on the outside. I don't try so hard if it is just for me though.

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  15. I have found that my Uni projects are generally less 'perfect' than the stuff I make for myself. I simply don't have the time to perfect and re-do all my little mistakes like I do with my personal projects.

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  16. I aim for 'as good as I can' and it usually a falls into place. If I consciously aim for perfection I end up dissatisfied with what I've done. Does that make sense?

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  17. If I'm just slamming together a muslin to see how it fits etc. and I like it, I'll wear it even though it's not top-quality standard. I feel a bit weird about wearing it but I will do. I'm afraid my sewing went downhill after I started using a serger. I didn't always bother with the beautiful seam finishes.When I'm going for the real thing though I want it to be couture quality. Absolutely Grade A, top notch. I feel better when I wear clothes that are beautifully made. Everything feels right. Thanks for asking.
    And thanks for keeping us in the loop as to your classes at FIT. It's good to know what's considered top quality by industry standards. Have fun on the industrials!
    You said 5/8" seam allowances are not used – what seam allowances are used?
    Barbara

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  18. I try for perfection every time. I just can't help it!
    You are planning on showing us step-by-step photos and instructions when you make your own cuffs, aren't you??????

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  19. I'd love to attain perfection but, in truth, good enough is okay too.

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  20. Well, you know the theatre rule: 50 feet away is the closest it'll be seen! Just kidding though, I try to be pretty precise, especially on things I'm going to wear or give to other people, but I know most people won't notice it anyways.

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  21. Love hearing about your class. My projects are all home projects, and depending on what it is,good enough is usually fine with me, but for some things I will try and make it perfect. Cuffs would drive me crazy. Your cuffs are always beautiful. I can't imagine how you could get them any better.

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  22. I probably would have said that lately I strive for perfect, but I wonder if I know what perfect is. Maybe I don't since I can't imagine more precise sewing than what you already achieve. I suppose there is always something more to strive for. What an experience you are having!

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  23. Perfection or as dam near as you can get, because only you know the bad bits, and only you know they are their, but it nags away at you. Ain't sewing a bitch lol
    Started sewing at 16 mother said to me " son I'm not buying your clothes so you better start making them"
    see BITCH. Pissed her of though because I was better at it than her, so she bought me a butch industrial sewing machine for my 21st.... See not Such a bitch after all......

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  24. Fine dress shirts can be distinguished from casual shirts in many ways - fabric, style, details, etc. But the biggest difference is in the precision of execution. I have many students who buy exquisite fabrics, custom buttons, expensive thread and use the latest stylish or traditional patterns, but if they can't cut, mark, sew and press with precision, they aren't making a fine dress shirt.

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  25. I look forward to your FIT posts so much! They are a treasure chest of information.
    There must be a balance between "perfection" and "good enough" , feeling frustrated and feeling satisfied. I'm still looking for it!

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  26. I find I'm more or less precise depending on the fabric. For example, on a flannel shirt, where the stitching is less visible, I am more lax than on a cotton lawn shirt. When I sew knits - I'm less precise partly because I lack the skills for sewing knits precisely on my old Kenmore, and partly because knits are more forgiving of a little seam-wobble here & there.

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  27. While going to fashion design school I worked a full time job at night and went to school during the day. Let me tell you, if you are operating an industrial machine, don't doze off. I don't know how I know this. Just don't.

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  28. I always would take difficult courses as electives in college as I liked a challenge and exposure to different fields. My friend was majoring in fashion merchandising and took a professional sewing/tailoring course of some sort so naturally I wanted to take that as an elective until she brought her beautiful project by and her grade was a D - . I thought it was fabulous though I had only started attempting to sew at the time. It freaked me out that I might fail a course (totally foreign to me with a 4.0 at the time. That ended any desire to take a college level sewing course though I took many through the years of the sort that the home sewing crowd attend. You are so lucky to go to this yet it must be a bit nervewracking to not only have to achieve perfection but have a time limit to get it done. Perhaps now I would see imperfections in my friend's project but back then I thought it was fabulously sewn and a very advanced project. I am really enjoying getting to tag along to this class with out the stress of perfection and getting it done in record time. I love perfection, record time not so much.

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  29. I do the best I can, usually. Sometimes it's "just get the darn thing done.!"

    Thanks for sharing about your FIT course, it's probably the closest I'll ever be to a real sewing class on better methods than what's in the sewing patterns usually.

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  30. I first learned to sew in grade school as a member of a 4H club, entering projects in our "Achievement Days". with top winners going to the State Fair. My mom was a perfectionist and her desire to have me create perfection drove me away from sewing in my teens, except for doing some slap dash theater costume work in college and an occasional alteration on thrift store finds. When started sewing again just a few years ago, the first thing I needed to get over was striving for perfection. My mantra was and still is . . ."You're Not Being Judged".

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  31. I love well-done. Can be a problem! Right now I'm stressing and futzing over a bias collar tie on a MUSLIN!! that I don't even intend to wear. I really enjoy the time and effort of learning and sewing as expertly as possible. A big part of the pleasure for me.

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