Monthly Archives:

February 2015

kcw: mistakes

mistakes: sarah from the crazy tailor

Hey all! Sarah from The Crazy Tailor here to (gasp!) tell you about my mistakes! Ha. It’s a book I could write. As creatives, you know that mistakes are what change us. They push us to try again, be problem-solvers, get even MORE creative. So let’s keep this positive – we need to make mistakes to grow!

I was thinking back to my childhood, when friends of mine were taking sewing lessons. Yes, I was jealous. They were learning how to sew tote bags, shorts, drawstring bags. I was still trying to figure out how to make my Barbie clothes fit. It seemed to me that I needed those lessons! How would I ever learn? My mom showed me the basics, and she made some of our clothes, but she loathed sewing. It was something she did to save money (back in the day when you actually could save money by sewing!). So I kept at it. I made little doll blankets, eventually figured out how to make a tote bag (remember, this was before Pinterest!) and eventually got interested in quilts. I don’t have a picture of the first full-size quilt I made, but let me tell you, I look back at it now, and wonder, what was I thinking? It was even for a competition! Ha, my hand-quilting stitches were so bad. But I did it. And I learned that you just need to be persistent!

I tried to make a few clothing items for myself in my teen years, but I always failed to measure correctly, thus never producing anything that was wearable. I decided that sewing clothes just wasn’t the thing for me, and I worked harder at making beautiful quilts.


Then one day, I got a job at a tailor shop. Well now. I was working with Italian-trained seamstresses. This was something new! I learned SO very much from them about fitting, taking measurements, how to properly reduce shoulders, and correct rise problems. How to do a european hem, and how on earth do you replace a parka zipper? Yes, I made mistakes. I pinned things incorrectly when fitting customers (I never poked a customer, but I did drop pins down my shirt once! But that’s a story for another day…), I cut things too short (really – measure twice!) and altogether learned SO MUCH. I eventually started work at a different shop that did a lot more bridal so I learned a whole new set of skills. I challenged myself to make-over my sister’s wedding dress from a size 12 to a size 8, added a sash and a bustle. From tote bags to wedding dresses – I got out of my comfort zone of quilt-making and kept going!

wedding dress

1. wedding dress, The Crazy Tailor 2. Wedding photo, Joe Alisa

Fast-forward to 4 years ago. I was pregnant with my first, a little girl, and I thought I’d try my hand at making baby clothes! Didn’t use a pattern. Didn’t bother to check into what a newborns chest size for clothing for be, I just eyeballed it. Haha. It didn’t even come close to fitting. Then I slowly began to notice these pdf pattern designers popping up here and there, but it wasn’t until I had my little boy 2 years ago that I actually bought some kids patterns! And I measured my kids! A lightbulb went on! It actually does work to measure twice and then cut! I’ve made a few garments for them that got scrapped halfway through, but for the most part, my sewing lately has certainly turned out far better than I even thought it could!

If you’re like me, and you like to wing it – stop! Sometimes it works, but you’ll have greater results if you take the time to measure every once in a while. I like to print out this chart and fill it out every 3 months or so to keep their measurements fresh in my mind. Go with silhouettes you love. Choose classic colors and fabrics and you really can’t go wrong! But most importantly, don’t give up on your creative dream!

spring contributors for kcw

call for contributors

Have you been enjoying reading our “Mistakes” series? I know I have! Next week our contributors will be back with the popular “Why I Sew” posts. Have you ever been interested in being a contributor for KCW?  We are looking for next season’s contributors and we would love to have you! Being a contributor lets you connect with fellow sewers, grow your blog, give back to KCW, and share your ideas about sewing with the world.

If you are interested in writing for KCW next season–even if you have”applied” in the past– please email me at Include a paragraph about yourself, who your sew for, and a few photos of what you’ve sewn.  Happy KCW!

kcw: mistakes

mistakes: saskia from vera luna

Hi there! It’s Saskia from Vera Luna again. How did Kids Clothes Week go for you? Did everything  go as planned? Did it involve smooth sewing or a lot of swearing and seam ripping? Are you satisfied with the results?

We decided that this week would be devoted to mistakes. Of course it is tempting to  only blog about our highlights and ignore our failures, but the truth is, we learn most from our mistakes (at least, if you’re not me…ahem. More on that later)

So without much further ado, here -in reverse order-  is my Top 4 of Mistakes:

Coming in fourth are serger mishaps. Fortunately, these don’t happen very often anymore (hence fourth place), but they were quite common when I started using my serger. Especially when serging sleeves, fabric would fold up at the underside of the garment, and be caught in the stitches or even cut off. Having learned my lesson the hard way, nowadays I always take great care in making sure that all fabric is nice and flat when feeding it through the serger. Still, sewing an item only with the serger -apparently the way to whip out clothes in no time – is lost on me. Too scary!

At third place, you’ll find necklines.  I sew mostly with knits, and the main hurdle of each tee or sweater is to create a neat, non-wavy neckline. I think I might finally have mastered them: during this KCW I actually made two reasonable necklines in a row…. The trick: measure the circumference of the neckline and cut your ribbing at 3/4ths of this length. That is enough, really! Another strategy is to avoid necklines altogether, by adding a hood, cowl or envelope neck.

The second place is firmly taken by sizing errors. I never really measure my kids’ sizes, and usually just eyeball it. I take a garment that fits them quite well and estimate the measurements based on that. Whereas this strategy usually works out quite well, I often end up with clothes with weird proportions.

ahoy5I wanted to be sure that this sweater would go over the baby’s head. It did… It even fit over my head…. O, and did you notice the weird placement of the elbow patch? That’s what I mean… (not to mention the mismatched stripes on the sleeve)

Here’s a random list of some of my measuring mistakes:

  • A sweater for my baby with a neckline that was so wide that it fit around my own head,
  • Veery skinny jeans,
  • Sweaters with sleeves that were too long (not a big problem, just extra work to hem them again),
  • Sweaters with sleeves that are a tad short (a bit more of an issue),
  • Highwater pants,
  • Elbow patches placed too high and knee pads well below the knee…. (oops),

However, my most epic sizing failure must have been when I started off making a tee for my one-year old, and ended up with one fitting my tall four-year old… Can you believe that?

The stupid thing is, I know that this is my personal pitfall, but I don’t seem to learn from it. A lot of these errors could have been prevented if I had taken the time to measure my kids and adjust the patterns accordingly. But I always want to get to the fun part as quickly as possible, and skip this important step.

space raceThis started out as a tee for my one-year old. It ended up large enough for my four-year old. See the lightblue patch on the waistband? Yeah, also a measurement error…

My  number one mistake -beyond doubt-  is the yarn-dyeing experiment that resulted in exploding wool. Last autumn I tried my hand at yarn dyeing with food coloring, vinegar and a microwave. I had read some tutorials on the Internet, but they all prescribed slightly different amounts of  ingredients  and cooking times. So I decided to wing it and follow the instructions loosely (recognize a theme here?). I put the yarn in a bowl with water, food coloring and a few spoons of vinegar, put the stuff in the microwave, and let it simmer for a few minutes. As you can imagine, it looked and smelled as if I was brewing some toxic concoction. At some point, I left the kitchen to fetch something upstairs, leaving the microwave simmering on. Suddenly I heard a loud bang, followed by an outrageous shout from my husband. I came back to find the inside of the microwave completely covered in blue spatters. My husband was furious, and wasn’t calmed by my remark that it was just food coloring and  perfectly safe… I had to promise him never to do it again.
However, I might secretly repeat it, because the end result was great!

yarn dyeingMicrowave yarn dyeing – very cool, but explosive!

So, those were my mistakes! I’m not sure if you learned a lot from it, but I do hope you had fun reading about my stupidities…