Plan B

For all intents and purposes, I should be on my way to becoming a master seamstress by now. I mean, at this point I should have attended three sewing classes, and at least learned some nifty things about patterns, cutting fabric, fit, and so on.

Alas, it was not meant to be. My excitement about the sewing class was curtailed roughly and abruptly – first the class was postponed for one week, and then cancelled all together. I was pretty pissed off, no doubt about that.

On to Plan B – yet another sewing class! This time through the Boston Center for Adult Ed, rather than the Cambridge one.

Be the first on your block to sport the latest fashions or create unique pieces of your own! Cover reading and using garment patterns, sewing terms, cutting, assembling, and fitting. Most class time is spent altering patterns, sewing, and discussing individual sewing problems. Supply costs are additional and will vary depending on your project and fabric selection. Please bring a pattern of your choice by “Very Easy Vogue,” “Burda,” or “New Look” to the first class. When choosing a pattern prior to class, please consider a pattern that has three sizes in one, for easier adjustments. Access to a sewing machine outside of class is necessary to complete your project.

I signed up this morning ;).

This class specifically requires using a Very Easy Vogue, Burda, or New Look pattern, and the Simplicity pattern I originally chose won’t fly. I bet the instructor is thinking ahead, shielding the students from a lot of heartache – I haven’t heard the best things about Simplicity patterns.

No problem! I briefly considered making this Burda top (hahaha! hahaha!), but then came to my senses, and picked a nice gored skirt (Burda 8213), very similar to the Simplicity one I chose earlier:

It’s a no brainer – the style flatters me and I already have the fabric. The pattern calls for a lining, and if it looks like I can’t omit it, I’ll have to get some this weekend, too. The thing is rated “very easy,” so how complicated can it be?!? (famous last words)

While shopping around, I also noticed (and bought) Burda 8973, a more fancy variation of the same gored skirt:

I like the shorter skirt with the sheer overlayer. I like really girly crap, what can I say?!? It’s rated “some sewing experience,” so I’m saving this one for when my sewing anxiety is under control.

Well, I don’t have much time to mull over the upcoming sewing class.

Excuse me while I catch up (not just on blogs, on life in general).

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50 thoughts on “Plan B

  1. Ruth

    Looks like a good bet for a first sewing project. I’ll bet you take to it no problem.

    Did you have a good weekend in New York?

  2. earthchick

    Ooh, pretty skirts. It’s funny, in my sewing class last month we were supposed to use either Simplicity, Butterick, or McCall’s and she tried to steer us away from Vogue and Burda. Funny thing was, almost all of us ended up using a “forbidden” pattern (I used one of KwikSew’s learn to sew patterns).

    Good luck – can’t wait to see the FO!

  3. Judy

    Like both the gored skirts, and they don’t look TOO difficult! But I had to laugh at the bikini top pattern…hello, the bandeau is just a loop of cloth tied in the middle. I could even sew that, not that I’d wear it.

  4. nikki

    I’m itching to sew, too. I had to take my trusty elna in for a tune up. Turns out the old girl needs one hundred bucks in fixes. Ouch! Plus, she won’t be home for a week. I’m dying!

  5. claudia

    It is too bad that you are limited to public transport. My friend Astrid teaches sewing on Tuesday and Thursdays nights in her Wakefield studio (I go on Thursdays for the company, but I generally knit). You and she are very alike in your standards of workmanship and she knows more about sewing than anyone, ever.

  6. gleek

    great idea to take a class! this way you can not only learn from the instructor but other people around you. i’m sure it’ll be loads of fun!

  7. Jody

    Best of luck to you! I’ve been toying with they idea of getting into sewing too. I’ll wait to see how you make out with your sewing class before I venture there.

  8. Andrea Atkinson

    I have done a lot of sewing and the only time I ever had any trouble was with a burda pattern. Simplicity is really catering for people with little knowledge. My advice…read everything through as often as you need to. I’ve never taken a sewing class but I would love to help you. If only we were on the same continent.

    With your attention to detail and perseverance I think you will have a wardrobe full of clothes in no time at all.

  9. freecia

    That pink skirt really goes with the shape you seem to like. I’ve been entertaining the fact that I could make my own clothes, too, in the usual weekend it takes me to find clothes that fit…

  10. jackie

    I’ve taken the class at BCAE (taught by Eleanor) and she’s pretty flexible with the patterns so I’d bring the Simplicity pattern to the first class and check with her. If the class is in the same room as usual, be prepared for a really hot classroom – bring water! Make sure you try to get Eleanor’s attention early on because she goes from person to person helping with their specific issues and sometimes she runs out of time before she gets to you. Good luck!

  11. Kit

    For your first couple projects stick to simple lines and no complex details. You also want “easy” fabric, for example a cotton or cotton-polyester blend without stretch. It’s just like knitting – start with straightforward stuff in a yarn that lets you see what you are doing and get more complicated with each project. Eventually you’ll be able to do it all. Gauzey fabrics are slippery and often need edge finishing so they won’t unravel on you. Don’t use for your first project or so. It will come. This doesn’t mean you can’t have girly – ruffles are actually quite easy, once you’ve mastered gathering you’re set.

  12. Sara

    A gored skirt is a wonderful choice for a pattern. You’ll love how easy it is to get a perfect fit. After basting the seams, try it on inside out, and you can get that fit *just* the way you want it.

    Lining and a zipper? Not a problem. Lining fabric can be fiddly to work with, but you’ll get the hang of it.

    I prefer Vogue patterns over the others for clothes. They don’t take the same shortcuts as the others, and I like the result a lot better.

  13. kelpkim

    after seeing your entry for the needle cases and wanting more and more–i had to have one! i went to my local Jo-Ann’s fabric store and it sucked. then i went to this great store nearby called Stone Mountain and Daughter and found the cutest fabric with little sheepies on it prancing around. and i got some oilcloth to make a tablecloth. and also some buttons for some bibs i’m knitting…and also some stuff to iron the sheepies fabric to stiffen it up a bit. and i’m going to make the knitting needle cases you posted on your blog! i just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration and i think i’ve just opened pandora’s box with sewing…i bought a machine off of ebay this past weekend…i can’t wait!!!

    :o)knit/sew on!

  14. Sue F.

    Those skirts are really pretty; they definitely flatter a curvaceous figure and you’ll get a ton of use from them.

  15. annette

    Great selection of patterns!! I taught sewing for many years!!! Feel free to email me with questions!!! I am a sewing die hard, now teaching my 25 year old daughter!!!

  16. Necia

    Hi Grumperina,

    I’m learning how to sew too. May I suggest the following books: Sewing For Dummies, and the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. The best online sewing forum I’ve run into is Pattern I bought my sewing machine used from Craigslist and it had no manual, nada. I used the books to learn how to thread it, and a combination of all 3 sources to attempt to sew a straight line. So far so good. I have a dress in mind, but I think I need to practice my sewing first. Good luck chica. I’ll be watching and rooting for your success.


  17. gigi

    Oh I can’t wait to read about the sewing adventures! I have also just gotten back into sewing in a big way – so satisfying. So fast (compared to knitting).

    I can just tell that you are going to be a natural at it AND those skirts are going to be prime wardrobe bits

    sew away baby

  18. maureen

    Oh, I started sewing my own clothes at age 11. It was very satisfying until I whipped up a Vogue suit pattern (at age 26) never a problem with sizing, and discovered when finished that it would fit a very tiny 8 year old girl.

    Stick to knitting. You never feel frantic, it is tactally erotic and soothing to the umpteenth degree. Maureen.

  19. Kat

    Most Honorable Grumperina – your most humble knitting jedi wishes to teach you – most honorable knitting master – my most humble of sewing skills. I can help you in your sewing endeavor and in short order you will find yourself a sewing jedi master. I await to assist your at your most honorable convenience!

  20. Kate

    You just crack me up! You jump in to everything with both feet don’t you. Yes, this pattern may say “easy” but a gored skirt (or a shaped gored skirt) with a lining and a zipper will not be the easiest things you could choose for a first project. I’m sure that you will succeed marvelously though.

  21. Norie

    Oh DEAR –

    Having sewed nearly everything since I was 10 (so we’re talking over 4 decades now) I’m pretty sure Burda isn’t your best choice for a starter. I’d urge you to start with a Simplicity. Yes, the gored skirt is lovely, but measure, measure, measure — since the flare of the pattern looks completely ridiculous if it zigs where you zag. Burda patterns are generally wonderful – their style and lines very nice; but they do assume a certain amount of skill. You will find, after a bit, that your collection will tend to be them – the designs are much more detail heavy.

    Now, having recommended you start with something else and having read your blog for a while: I also realize you’re a bit stubborn and enjoy a good challenge — so I say — GO FOR IT. You’ll not really be happy with something else, and it’s important to really love your first few projects. My only serious advice is to purchase some nice sturdy fabric that can handle some abuse and do the initial seaming with a loosely stitched line so you can try it on and determine where you need to alter the skirt. Trust me, knitting is far more difficult than sewing. (oh, wait until you ‘get the bug’ and start producing the yard goods yourself — I got sucked into weaving by being a serious sewer – and weaving is a WHOLE other ball of wax)

  22. Martha

    I think I have only ever sewn Simplicity patterns–which are, unsurprisingly, quite simple–and the worst I can say is that they tend to run big. They have “2 hour” patterns that might take longer than 2 hours but boy, nothing could be simpler and a good way to learn the basics. So don’t rule them out entirely 😉

  23. Annie

    I love the tulip skirt shape (I’m actually knitting one up right now – guess what for…?)

    I agree with the teacher of the class – I am not the biggest fan of Simplicity (in the costume shop where I worked in college, we called them “Stupidity” patterns) After 3 years of costume construction in grad school I usually augment my own patterns pretty heavily, but I like Vogue and Burda.

    Norie’s correct in that Burda does assume a certain experienced, but they also assume a certain intelligence and I find that is VERY helpful. You’re a smart, amazing woman – you can do anything!


  24. Charity

    That looks like a great pattern. I love the “girly” stuff, too, and tend to wear skirts most days in nice weather. Have fun in the lesson!

  25. Lucia

    If your sewing learning curve is anything like your knitting one, you’ll probably be designing for Prada next week.

  26. v.j. kohout

    To any other beginner I would suggest to pick an easier pattern; all those pieces and the flare, not to mention the lining, hemming, etc. But, you would not be challenged by a straight skirt or an a-line skirt. So, go for it!

    P.S. I thought that you already finished one of these skirts. Must be someone else’s blog I saw it in.

  27. Brandy

    Isn’t it funny how everyone has different opinions? I consider myself fairly accomplished on the sewing front and always have problems with Vogue. I have a friend very accomplished who always loved Burda patterns and they always looked great on her. I think you have more of her build than mine–I am very lumpy and bumpy. But I would get excited reading a book on organometallics, she was an english major….

  28. Miss Tonia

    I’m a self-taught seamstress, and used to own my own costume business. I really had no complaints about Simplicity patterns, or any other patterns for that matter. I do like that you can fold Simplicity’s pattern pieces back the way they were to fit back in the pouch, as they have a specific way they fold, unlike McCall’s and Butterick.

  29. Nanc

    I’m sure that you’ll be fine with the sewing. It’s amazing how a little bit of knowledge and guided experience can help with much more. It’s like a good stem, which blossoms into near infinite possibilities. The more you try, the more you’ll learn.

    I have all the confidence in the world that you’ll be cranking sewn projects out like… well, like Super Eggplant soon enough! ha!

  30. diana

    Love the super cute new skirt pattern, but am a little disappointed that there will be no Burda halter top in your future.

  31. Red

    Oh, I never thought of looking at adult Ed classes for sewing. Languages yes, but never crafts. I’ll have to try that once I move.

    And get a sewing machine, but first I have to get there and have a place to live…

  32. carolyn

    I’m glad you are back – I’ve missed you. I really like those patterns, now I may actually have to sew something. Oh, Lord how I hate sewing – it will be a bad word fest to say the least. Sigh…see what trouble you get me in to?

  33. caty

    I used to sew a lot. Each pattern company has a different “fit” for the same size. I used to prefer McCall’s or Butterick. Simplicity was okay but tended to be fit very loose.

    Your project looks like it will be a good one. Be patient and ENJOY the process. (Once, while I was still in high school, I said a very, very bad word as I flung a dress across the room because I had to rip out the zipper AGAIN. My mother didn’t scold because she understood.)

  34. Susan

    That Simplicity pattern you chose originally is VERY easy. I made it a few weeks ago in denim and it turned out great!

    Don’t listen to anyone’s opinions of patterns. Everyone has a different way of understanding instructions. Some folks like Burda, some Vogue, some Butterick, etc. It just all depends.

  35. christina

    I love sewing and have been doing it longer than knitting actually! I love Burda! Their instructions are sometimes difficult to understand (translated from german) but the fit is probably one of the best on the market in my opinion. I love the pattern you chose, it is a great one 🙂

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