Life Lessons from Sewing Lessons

Last week my student and I met. She made this jacket. It’s  made out of a lovely wool that arrived in a Fabric Mart Mystery Bundle.   There is a cute collar on the jacket that we drafted together.
Attaching the collar left a raw edge on the inside of the jacket. My student had run out of sewing steam. When I suggested covering the raw edge with ribbon that attached to the jacket with iron on mending tape…my student loved the idea. It worked.
Unfortunately, I had left a bit of the iron on mending tape on my ironing board.  I pressed the jacket and fused the mending tape to the lower center of the back.  I got most of it up, but the jacket has an ugly blog on the back, and it was my fault.

I felt terrible. My student felt awful, and probably really angry and me as well, but she was too polite to yell at me.

This is the blob.
The fuseable blob is 6 inches up from the ham and is just about in the middle of the back of the jacket. 

During the week I consulted with my wise sewing buddies at the Creative Machine sewing Discussion group. After   discussing several options, ,y wise sewing friends advised me to tell my student that this was a ‘design opportunity’. All of us who sew have been faced with an awful error at one time or another.  Often the fix just makes the whole piece better and more interesting. This is something I have practiced more times than I can remember.

My student is young though, and is still convinced that she can make things perfect.  When my student came today, I shared what my wise friends told me. I told my student that sometimes when I mess up  I need to run around the house and curse for a few days.  That sometimes you need to think about the problem for a while before you can come up with a good solution.  We both agreed that the jacket was too good to junk. My student asked for another week or so before we tackled it again.

She suggested that we make a long sleeved t- shirt this week. I was wondering how I could teach a new sewer how to draft a  set in  sleeve.
I suggested that we use the shirt she was wearing as a pattern…As I looked at it I realized that it’s design was perfect for a new had a cut on sleeve with an extension. Hurray!!  This was doable even for a beginner.
I folded her shirt in half, traced the front and the back onto parchment paper. I also traced the sleeve extension.

My student cut out the front and the back from red rayon jersey. As she sewed, we discussed if the fabric for the lower sleeves should be cut out of the matching or a contrasting fabric. After the main body of the shirt was sewn, my student tried on the shirt and was really pleased. She bound the neck. Luckily the ugly bits of sewing were at the back.  I realized as my student began teasing me during the lesson that she was not still angry at me about the jacket.   I talked a whole lot about making mistakes, and how you learn to make it part of the process.

My student chose a black knit mesh for the sleeve extensions. sewing them to the shirt . My student hemmed both the shirt and the sleeves. It was a long but wonderful lesson. She wore the shirt home. My student’s mother was really impressed. She called me  to thank me as soon as her daughter came home.100_3115100_3114
I ought to have pulled the shoulder seams back before I took the photos. It really does fit more gracefully.


  1. Run an ice cube over it and then try to scratch it off with a fingrnail -- like you woul do with chewing gum.

    I couldn't figure out the "profile" part, so I just used "anonymous."

    Michele Brakewood

  2. Michelle..that would have worked if i didn't try to remove the gunk with a hot iron.. I think the plastic altered the color of the wool permanently..the hand has changed as well under the blobbo.


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