Three Projects I’m Avoiding

My sewjo has been missing for 2 weeks – thanks in part to a cold, but also because I’m avoiding several slightly-challenging projects!

Starting with the simplest, and working my way up in order of difficulty…

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#1. An FBA

I KNOW! I should know how to do these. I shouldn’t get intimidated by doing it wrong. But here I am, avoiding making a simple knit dress because I know it needs an FBA.

I bought this lovely very stable sweater knit with plans to make a 60’s-inspired shift dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. It’s a really large floral, so I wanted a pattern with enough darts for shaping, but not so many they’d break up the print. It needs to have sleeves, because Canadian winter is no joke. Seems like such a simple thing – but I couldn’t find an indie pattern that was what I wanted! Even Style Arc and Lekala let me down. I *almost* bought Big 4, but I just don’t have enough experience with them to feel confident in choosing the right size. In the end, I bought the Sew Over It Shift dress pattern. It doesn’t have fisheye darts in the back, which I would like, but it’ll do.

Then I started looking up FBA tutorials – so many options, and which one would give me the effect I wanted? Should I a) FBA the bodice only and blend the side seam out to a larger size for my hips as usual, or b) FBA the bodice adding width all the way down to the hem, and not add on as much at the side seam? Yesterday, I gave up and emailed Jenny from Cashmerette and Mary from Idle Fancy – two women who have done a lot of FBAs, and had written the tutorials I was looking at! (When in doubt, go straight to the source, ammiright?) They helped me choose an FBA method (b) and I think I’m ready to actually get started now. Thanks, ladies!

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#2. A Leather Clutch

A lady needs a purse to attend a wedding, right? Which is how I found myself buying this gorgeous metallic leather recently. Seems so simple to make a little zippered clutch (really, an oversized pencil case is what I’m aiming for). But again, there are so many tutorials and I’m just not feeling motivated to choose on and get started. Guess I should start by buying a zipper, right? So I need to figure out dimensions… and then I’ll have to figure out how to sew leather… ugh.

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#3. A Wool Coat

What was I thinking with this one??? I bought this beautiful raspberry boiled wool when I was shopping in Toronto with Sara and Kristen. I love boiled wool. I’ve always wanted to try sewing with it. But yet again, it involved a whole bunch of new techniques that I’m feeling to stressed to enjoy learning! How do I pretreat it? How do I sew with it? What kind of interfacing do I use?

My original plan is/was to sew the newest Hot Patterns coat, which has no lining and closes with snaps. Surely that’s the simplest wool coat to make? I still like the idea, I just have zero motivation to start.

Added to which, I’ve made a pledge with Jennifer from The Workroom Social and Heather from The Pug and Needle that this is the year we make coats! Aaagh! What have I done? I have absolute faith those two will bang out amazing coats, which is, frankly, the only reason I’m still even considering this project. I’m stubborn, and I need to be pushed on this one!

Help me, people! Make me get these project done! I’m a much more adventurous sewist in the summer when I’m on holiday… but the moment work stress kicks in for the school year, I really struggle with having to learn new skills and take risks in my hobby as well. If you have any advice at all for FBAs, leather or boiled wool jackets, I’d love to hear it.

PS. On the plus side, there have been some amazing Better Pictures Posts out there lately that always make me day! Jo made a jumping gif, Margo managed to jump and land prettily in high heels, which then inspired Carolyn in do a jumping pic, and finally, Meris writes about taking sitting, standing and moving pics with her iPhone on burst mode.❤


57 thoughts on “Three Projects I’m Avoiding

  1. Thanks for sharing! I know you are capable of tackling all of these. I have sewn a bit of leather – if you have a walking foot, use that, and remember than all stitches (punctures) are permanent. That finality is always what gives me pause when I tackle leather. But it sews together surprisingly well and fast. Do you have some cheap vinyl to practice on?
    Also, just think how well that metallic leather clutch will look with that vibrant coat.🙂
    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Meris! I do have a walking foot – phew! Do you think I need to go buy leather needles, or could I perhaps get away with using a denim needle? I’m trying to tell myself that I can always keep making the clutch smaller if I mess up the seams… but I guess the zipper is more or less final once I try it. Thanks for your suggestions!

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      1. I think I used leather needles – but i anticipate lots of future leather sewing for costumes so it was a worthwhile investment. I think leather needles have a unique sharpness (rather than just being heavy duty) to make the punctures quickly. My pack refers to it as “a cutting point” which should not be used on knits or wovens. So, I think leather needles would be good. Brooke might have some suggestions. I suspect she has worked with leather before.

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  2. Here are my thoughts – pretreat the wool by washing on gentle and air drying. That’s how you’ll probably wash it in the future, right? This fabric can handle it. I concur with Mary & Jenny about the FBA. That’s how my sewing teacher has taught me, too. I’ve never sewn with leather, but I’m sure there are great tutorials out there. My gut feeling is that you may need to start by figuring out how much structure you’ll need to get the look you want. You may want to line this with canvas, depending on the look you want.

    You can do it! One step at a time. I think the coat is actually the easiest. You don’t need to finish the edges of boiled wool – super bonus!

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    1. My brain is refusing the accept that the coat could be the easiest… but I’ll try to have a positive attitude about it! I’m glad to hear boiled wool doesn’t fray – I was hoping it would be an easy fabric to work with!

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  3. I’m scared of sewing leather too, so I’d dodge the pencil case! The FBA will be a doddle, you’ll see, it’s way easier to do than to read or even follow on a tutorial video.
    BEWARE HOT PATTERNS! Their designs are great, but the fit/sizing is bizarre, and the instructions are riddled with major errors. The owner does not bother to reply to queries regarding errors either…yes, I have personal experience of major HP sewing mayhem. I’d go for a Burda or big four pattern for coats, Big4 if you want good instructions, Burda if you’re confident enough to bridge any gaps. Coats aren’t hard, especially if you want an unstructured one- I made my first ones when I was very inexperienced, and wore them for years

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    1. FWIW, this has not been my experience with HotPatterns. My understanding is that there were some quality issues with the earlier patterns, but for the newer patterns, I haven’t run into anything that I haven’t run into with say, a Big 4 pattern (i.e. the occasional oddity, etc).

      And if you need help with anything, there’s a very active Facebook group that Trudy participates in and answers questions, gives fit advice, etc.

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    1. I”ll take a look at my local burda options. I’m looking for something really simple – walking the line between a cardigan and a jacket, really, so I can talk myself into actually making it!🙂

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  4. Oh, man—I love making coats and I LOVE boiled wool (even though it can smell funny.) the fabrics are SO nice to work with. I even love all the interfacing and crap. It is a bit intimidating to start with. I’d maybe recommend going with fusible methods for your first coat just because it’s faster and less intimidating. The key is one step at a time.😀 good luck with the leather and the FBA!🙂

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    1. Send some of that wool coat enthusiasm this way! Maybe I’ll just take my fabric in to the store and let my local Fabricland ladies tell me what interfacing weight to buy!

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  5. The boiled wool is gorgeous! Fabric envy here. I’ve had success with vogue coat patterns (not the designer ones bit the ones they drafted.) The instructions are great and the sizing is straightforward. I made a leather duffle recently and found it as my too bad to sew on with the proper needle and a walking foot. I was intimidated at first too but it wasn’t worth the worry…

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  6. Okay – all the cards out on the table?? I am feeling exactly like you about this winter coat business. I am not motivated at all, and am putting off the difficult bits. I desperately want a cascade coat, but I’m terrified of all the pieces and the leather toggles. I know if I just do it, I’ll be okay, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to break open the pattern!!
    Also I love the leather clutch idea – I sewed a couple of LBG Studio leather accent pouch and it was pretty easy. Just make sure you have a leather needle, and those little binder clips or quilting clips are awesome instead of pins.

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    1. So… wanna call the coat thing off? Or delay it, perhaps? I can’t imagine Jenn has had any time to think about it, what with moving and Camp Workroom Social.

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  7. Your Raspberry fabric is gorgeous. I find boiled wool really easy to work with. They have a thickness that makes them stabel and nice to cut, they don’t fray, and they sew up well. But make sure to pre treat it, as it can shrink a lot first time you wash it. But I understand you wheb it comes to the procrastinating. I too have a winter coat I can’t seem to get started on. My excuse is that the tumble dryer is broken and I need it to pre shrink my wool fabric.🙂

    Haven’t really any tips for you regarding the two first projects though,but I think that once you get started they will turn out great.

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  8. Hurray for FBAs! Well..: not really. I’ll add a shift dress to my ever-growing list for my drafter😉

    On the coat I would strongly recommend NOT doing the washer/dryer pre treat method- I have totally ruined wool doing that. Id either steam shrink it with your iron or have the dry cleaner do it. And I have a bunch of tips for first time coat making here:
    http://www.cashmerette.com/2014/02/top-tips-for-sewing-your-first-coat.html
    Definitely critical to test interfacing before you go through with it – fusible works on some but not all. I highly recommend the Cascade – pretty easy and not hard to fit , I was the straight 18

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    1. Make us a shift dress! Honestly, I can’t beleive how few options there are in the indie world for such a classic shape. Would be awesome t have a version that could be sew with darts as a sheath, and without darts as a shift!
      I”ll go look at your coat post – I’m trying to encourage myself by your story about learning to make a cashmere coat by making a damned cashmere coat. Must try new things!

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  9. I hope you get your sew-jo back soon! I’m interested in hearing which FBA method you chose, I’ve had the same dilemma before so would be interested in hearing about your thoughts process.

    That wool is gorgeous. Boiled wool is good, no pretreating required as by definition its already shrunk. And cut it single layered, when I cut it double layered I injured my hand and my scissors.

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  10. I second (or third or fourth…) going with a Burda pattern for the coat. I know their instructions are sparse, but generally they get you there, and the fit had always been really good. You have the skills, just go for it! That leather looks great too!

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    1. I’m convinced – I’ll take a look at what Burda has to offer! It’s about time I tried a big 4 pattern again… there are lots of great options but I find the sizing intimidating to figure out!

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  11. We all go through periods of low sewjo although it sometimes hard to remember that it’s a hobby and to not get too stressed out about it. I am also hiding from a coat. I plan to use a vintage pattern and know I will need to muslin it first too and at the mo I really cannot be bothered. I love the colour of your boiled wool, I’m sure it will be a knock out when you do it.

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    1. High five for coat procrastination!!!🙂 Hope one of us manages to sew a coat before winter ends! (I’m in Canada, i’ve got MONTHS left of winte,r but not much time left before I have to wear ankle-length down instead of some cute wool coat!)

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  12. Lots of gorgeous fabrics & that leather! It’s hard to step outside my comfort zone on one project let alone 3! But I bet once you get started it will be fun & you’ll be so pleased with the finished items. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks, Noelle! I’m feeling better about things since blogging – maybe all I needed was a little rant and some encouragement?🙂

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  13. Can I say I’m in the same boat as your lovely self? My utter failure at every attempt at an FBA has really knocked my sewage for six. I just saw on Instagram you have rocked your frock so looking forward to seeing the result!

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    1. Thanks hon! The IG dress is a different floral dress (so many in my life!) – but it was Jenny’s wrap dress pattern that really made me realise how good fit could be if I just did an FBA. I thought you’d done some good FBAs this summer – you are ahead of me, at least!😉

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  14. Oh I hear ya… I’m trying to work myself back into post-vacation sewing but I left with a project in progress, which is a jacket for my husband. I’m completely unsure of how to fix the sleeve fit and waiting for inspiration to strike!

    Coat-wise… I would focus on finding a simple pattern and making a muslin. It’s an extra step but it’ll allow you to focus on simple sewing and fitting first! Then you can learn more about construction techniques. Pattern-wise, how about Simplicity 1759 with the rounded neck? It’s a similar silhouette to some of the longer cardigans you’ve been wearing AND princess seams should make the fitting much easier. I muslined another view, and the instructions were pretty good if memory serves!

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  15. I can understand the fear on the coat! I’ve got the fabric for a coat sitting around in my room too… it’s heading into summer here, though, so I’ve got a good excuse to put it off for a few months!

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    1. I’ve now delayed my coat so long it’ll soon be too cold for mere wool coats, and we’ll be into ankle-length down jacket season! Enjoy summer for me, ok?

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  16. Love your fabrics! The dress will be gorgeous, and the coat too. Handmade Jane did a lovely boiled wool coat, beautifully lined ( http://www.handmadejane.co.uk/2015/01/finished-boiled-wool-coat.html ), and posted tips for working with boiled wool here: http://www.handmadejane.co.uk/2015/01/tips-for-working-with-boiled-wool.html I expect you’ve already seen these, but thought I’d say, just in case! Have fun, can’t wait to see.
    I’m now procrastinating with my Liberty fleece, as the wearable muslin Grainline Linden I made has some fit issues I’m not sure about…

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    1. Thank you! I’d forgotten about those post, but I’m sure she’s got great advice!
      Hmmm, Liberty fleece? I’d hoard that a bit longer till you have a pattern you love!

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      1. The theory was, make a couple of wardrobe staples in fabric I love, so I’d be wearing gorgeous things for everyday times… but now I’m not sure! Grainline Morris? I don’t know! It’s half term, and I just want to SEW ALL THE THINGS!!! 😄

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  17. Nice fabrics! I’ll admit that I find FBAs intimidating as well–I’ve never been able to get one to work when it wasn’t princess seams, so I usually have just made things bigger and taken in the waist instead. But I have two button down shirt patterns on my list, so I need to figure that out.

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  18. I too am avoiding a coat. This will be my second coat, and I found that for the first one, what got me through it was an unavoidable deadline – I promised myself I *would* have it ready to wear to meet my mother (also a sewist – she taught me) at a certain event. I was up sewing bias binding on at 11pm the night before. I’d never have done it otherwise. Sounds like your blog pact/challenge may help there …

    Leather: walking foot & leather needles and you’re set. I’ve found that leather’s actually a really co-operative material to sew with most of the time, though take care over any bulky joins. It’s much less scary than it seems.

    Best of luck! Keep us posted …

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  19. I’d start with the FBA. And I agree with your sources about which one to choose. It’s a good skill to have and constantly useful (if it works for you). As you know, I’ve never done an FBA that worked on my body (really narrow, really buxom), but I’ve got my own method that does the trick.

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  20. Ooooo these do look like great projects!! As for advice…I know nothing about a full bust let alone a FBA. I’m sure that you will totally work it out perfectly! Boiled wool is so beautiful and I have seen some gorgeous coats made from it. Most of the ones I have seen didn’t have finished hems….lots of raw edges. I too have a leather (faux) purse waiting in the sewing queue…not sure why I am procrastinating…

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  21. I am a major procrastinator! As a matter of fact, I am doing it right now. I have my frocktails outfit and a test garment to finish before the weekend. Instead I am reading blogs. But in good news I finally did my better pictures project homework and I nailed a jumping shot too. Jumping shots seem to be the order of the month.

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  22. I’ve made two Sew Over It shift dresses in knit and I’ve been really happy with the results. I didn’t size down, preferring instead to keep a slightly loser fit (so I could eat all the pies) but really could have done with an FBA. Fancy sharing your method when you finish? Like you I’ve tended to shy away from them.

    Good luck with the projects!

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  23. Like Kat, I’m procrastinating right now by reading blogs instead of doing my course homework (a shirt yoke by the clean finish method ie burrito method) and moving forward with wedding stuff. I feel overwhelmed by my choices, too many patterns I want to sew and too much fabric! (including leather…)
    For you, my advice would be to choose just one of your 3, maybe the FBA as that will be needed again and again (and I’ve done them so you can). As far as sizing is concerned, I don’t see that Indie is easier to work out than big 4; each Indie is different from the other and big 4 is ‘supposed’ to be standardised. To do a decent FBA though I believe you need to do a toile (muslin) and measure! At the very least, you need to know the pattern tissue measurements. I agree with method b.

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  24. Oh I do this all the time; avoid stuff that’s “too hard” so you’re human! It’s the same reason I’ve not sewn with any jersey as yet. The fear of the unknown. For the leather clutch, you could try the Pattern Runway Fold-over clutch which is a free pattern. I’m yet to try it but really want to. In fact, reading this post of yours reminded me about it so maybe I’ll make one for my work Christmas lunch.😀 http://patternrunway.com/shop/fold-clutch-free-sewing-pattern/

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