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October 22, 2011

This IS Your Granny’s Crafting! Crankytown Edition

By Betty Crafter

Grrr!  Sewing is hard y’all!  Has anyone else noticed a higher level of frustration with vague instructions for vintage patterns?  It seems they assume a certain level of knowledge, maybe because in those days most everyone knew how to sew and knit and cook.   Or maybe I’m just not quite experienced enough to understand.  But I’m diligently plugging away on Little Betty’s cowgirl Halloween costume and this darn pattern is making me totally crazypants.  First of all, ever since I got rid of my serger, I’ve been at a bit of a loss on how to finish seams.  Well, this helpful pattern was kind enough to offer 3 methods:

a) overcast separately.

You mean, sew stitches around the edges of each side of each seam for the whole garment BY HAND?  Yikes.  Too labor intensive for me.

b) Turn edges 1/8″ and stitch.

Hmm…ok, maybe.

c) Flat Fell Seam.  Yay!  I’ve heard good things about this method!  But wait – stitch the seam on the outside?  Like sew wrong sides together?  And past that I can make heads nor tails of the written instructions or the baffling diagram.   So, turning the edges it is.

Then, every third word in these darn instructions is BASTE.  Baste this.  Baste that.  Surely they do not mean a hand sewn seam with long stitches, right?  Because that is my understanding of a baste.  And I can tell you right now that I am not going to be doing that.  So far I’ve been pinning when they say baste.  Can anyone school me?

Lastly, I don’t know why I always think it will be no big deal to make something with a collar.  But it always is.  Collars are confusing in the best of circumstances.  Paired with these ridiculous instructions, my life is hell.  Observe.

Face collar?  What the heck does that mean?  Even google didn’t know.  I finally cut another piece of the collar and sewed them together.  It looks ok, but dang!  How about a little elaboration?!  Place the collar between the medium dots?  No medium dots (or any other size) existed.  Thanks.  Clip at shoulder seam?  I decided this part was insignificant enough to skip since I thought the likelihood of me screwing the whole thing up by doing it rather than not was high.

I could go on and on but I won’t bore you with my sewing drama.  The encouraging thing is that what I do manage to get together isn’t looking half bad so far:

But don’t any of you go asking your old pal Betty to make you a custom western shirt for Christmas.  I’m likely to laugh in your face.  Or cry.

What have your experiences been with vintage patterns?

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9 Responses to This IS Your Granny’s Crafting! Crankytown Edition

  1. Sara in AZ Reply

    October 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Oh darn, I was just going to ask you if you could make me a western shirt too. 🙂

    I think help from our resident sewing expert is needed here – Andrea, help!!!

    I think the shirt looks adorable so far; and no, I have no experience with vintage patterns because I am terrified of them for this very reason!

  2. Andrea Reply

    October 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    They’re really not that scary – if you’re like me, and just do your own thing, heh. Do you have pinking shears? I’d pink the edges, personally, which is actually a period appropriate way of finishing – I am surprised your pattern doesn’t mention it! Alternately, I’d zigzag down the edges instead of turning them under, it’s generally quicker and easier.

    Basting totally doesn’t have to be done by hand – basting basically refers to a temporary stitch. You can baste by machine – just adjust your stitch to the longest setting, and don’t backstitch. Voila! Machine basting.

    Was this a printed pattern or unprinted pattern? Figuring out the markings on an unprinted one can be a bit of a challenge, but they are usually punched out.

    And yay for you, you did face the collar correctly! 🙂 It does look like you’re off to a good start, I can’t wait to see the finished costume!

  3. Pat in PA Reply

    October 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Ms. Crafter…you can buy “facing” at the fabric store–when I use to do A LOT of sewing, I was thrilled when they came out with an iron-on facing! The purpose of it is to just stiffen up the collar, cuffs, front placard (where the buttons and buttonholes go)to make a more finished look. You can buy it in different thickness or stiffness for different items, i.e, lighter weight for shirts or bodices, and heavier weight for say…blazers. Looks like you figured it out with using an extra piece of fabric—good job!! Love the shirt and especially the cowboy fabric…I used to make many western style shirts with the yokes for my hubby–I’d use plaids and was quite anal about matching up the plaids.
    I agree with Andrea…I always zigzag my edges to finish them off–it’s so much faster and easier.
    By the way…thanks for your website–I found it through Retro Renovation and enjoy browsing…I was born in early 1950 so I enjoy seeing many of your posts.

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      October 23, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Thanks Pat! I thought what you are referring to is called interfacing, which I have used before. I didn’t think it would be appropriate here b/c the instructions called for me to turn after facing, and I didn’t want the interfacing visible on the underside of the collar…
      I think I will definitely try zig zagging the edges! I’m ashamed to admit that I have sewn around the edges of each piece before sewing in an effort to finish the edges. It’s pretty time consuming.
      Thanks for stopping by – hope to see you often!

  4. Pingback: Sewing drama… | Betty Crafter

  5. Betty Crafter Reply

    October 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks Andrea! I have pinking shears somewhere but haven’t been able to find them since the move. Maybe I’ll invest in a new pair 🙂 This was a printed pattern, which made the absence of the dots all the more baffling. Especially since other pattern pieces had dots.
    I’m so happy I faced the collar correctly! I’m feeling a little proud of myself on that one 🙂 I do think this thing has the potential to turn out mighty cute if I don’t flub it up 🙂

  6. Susie Reply

    October 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I am thinking that face collar is the interface to strengthen and shape the collar.

  7. Kristal Reply

    October 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    It’s looking adorable – love the fabric choices! The piping looks awesome.

    Those instructions are maddening, they’re assuming you’ll do a lot of steps with one instruction. I’m afraid you won’t be very satisfied with the collar if you don’t put interfacing inside it. It’ll be floppy. You could go to the fabric store and pull out some other shirt pattern and just read through the instructions. Though at this point I think you know how to do it – just take it apart, iron on some facing, and sew it back together.

  8. RetroRuth Reply

    October 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Oh, Betty! I feel your pain. Vintage patterns and I DO NOT get along. At ALL! But yes, I think your finished costume is going to be mighty cute! I know you can do it. 🙂

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