Tag Archive | patience

Great Balls Of Yarn

images-21WindThere comes a time in all crocheter’s crafting when they have to stop and “wind” a little…

No, not the thing that blows outdoors and makes a mess of our hair when we go outside, nor the drink we must stop and have some of to keep us sane while crocheting, that’s “wine”. And trust me, there is plenty of “whining” and “complaining” amongst us crocheters. But in this case I am talking about “to wind”, as in I needed to wind a ball of yarn. So, the time had come for me to whine about doing some winding.

aid460789-728px-Wind-a-Yarn-Ball-Step-1-preview-Version-2skein-band1As I looked at my buckets of yarn, I noticed many half used skeins of yarn. Skeins that were disappearing from the inside out as I pulled from the center of the skien to make my latest amigurumi’s. Skeins that were floppy and falling apart, no longer holding their once nice new shape. I also noticed that when it was time for me to start another amigurumi, I raced to the yarn stash to retrieve a nice new firm skein of yarn for the project, rather than deal with the half used floppy skeins lying in the yarn bucket from a former amigurumi project. It was finally time to remedy this by winding these half used floppy skeins into nice firm easily used balls of yarn.

TutorialIMG_4310Back when I first started crocheting, I found it very flustering to crochet from a hand wound ball of yarn. As I crocheted, the ball would roll. It would roll off my lap, across the room and down the hall, at which time I would have to stop crocheting, and chase down my ball of yarn. And worse, if I was crocheting in the car, the ball of yarn rolled off my lap and onto the dirty car floor. I quickly learned how to wind a ball of yarn so that it pulled from the center, just like a new skein of yarn. This was great except it took more time and care to wind the ball in this manner. Also as you crocheted from the center of the ball, the ball became half used and floppy just like a skein does as it is used, so you had to stop and re-wind the ball again. But, for me, it was worth taking the the extra time and care to wind the ball with the center pull and then re-wind the ball as needed, so as not to have to chase that crazy ball of yarn around the house.

IMG_3796IMG_4308So, as I sat down with a good movie and my bucket of floppy skeins of yarn and got to winding some yarn balls. When I was done, I had this gorgeous box of yarn balls and my creative mind went nuts. It was like I had purchased a whole new box of various skeins of yarn. I could see all kind of fun amigurumi’s made from these balls of yarn and I could not wait to get crocheting again.

So stay tuned for some fun new amigurumi’s from my great balls of yarn!

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Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

Simplicity 5540 -The Tomboy Dress

IMG_0024This dress is just too cute with the two matching fabrics, the buttons down the front, the gathered pockets and the little shorts. This little dress is a great design. A little girl can look so cute and proper for school with the buttons all buttoned up and then she can unbutton those buttons to reveal the little shorts to then ride her bike or run around the playground. It is the perfect tom boy dress in my opinion, and I could not wait to make it. The pattern front said that it was easy to sew, further encouraging me to get started right away. But, the pattern description was a little white lie. I quickly learned that for me this little dress was going to be a long and involved sewing project.

Picking the main fabric with the pink and white check pattern was easy. This fabric was purchased with the fabric I used to make the bubble top of my last post so many years ago, but this piece was actual yardage and not just large scrap pieces. One nice thing about this fabric was that it came out of the washer and dryer without too many wrinkles. I did have to make a trip to Joann’s to get the accent pink for the trim as I did not have that on hand.

P1040470P1040468I traced the size 6 from the pattern and after tracing the bodice and skirt, I noticed there were still many more pieces left to trace due to all the trim and tie pieces. This was not a problem, but it took extra time to trace and cut out of the pattern pieces, and then to cut out the dress from the fabric. Once I had done this my excitement to make this dress had not waned, so I was willing to put the extra time. Since there was not a direction to the design of this fabric, I put a little piece of tape at the bottom of the skirt pieces as I cut them so I could later identify the top from bottom on them.

The next thing I did was read the pattern guide twice before taking my first stitch. After seeing the number of pattern pieces for this dress and reading the pattern guide, I knew this was not going to be the easy or quick sew like the pattern cover had claimed it was going to be, but I decided there was a lot to learn from making this dress and it would still be fun to make. I followed the pattern guide closely as I stitched the trim and ties to the bodice pieces and then stitched the bodice pieces together. The upside down “L” trim pieces on the front of the bodice were tricky to stitch. I did an ok job on them, but I learned a lot and would probably do a better job next time.

P1040378Next up were the pockets. I will be the first to admit that I need more practice when making pockets, the shaping and styling of pockets as well as just making different types of pockets. I knew this fact as I started these pockets, but I was still willing to give it my best. If the pockets did not work out, I could just leave them off so there wasn’t any fear of messing them up. Still following the pattern guide, I made the casing for the elastic at the top of the pockets and inserted it. Still no problems had arisen so I continued on. Next came ironing the edges so that the pockets could be top stitched on. This was not working well at all. As I stopped to think about it, I decided I needed to gather the pockets to help get the round shape I wanted from them, much like you gather a sleeve cap when inserting a fitted sleeve. The gathers would not show on top of the pocket but it would be in the seam to help ease the curve.

P1040403Because I only needed a small amount of gathers to round the pockets, I decided to use the serger method of gathering that I had read about recently. Using this method would take care of two steps. If I serged around the pockets, not only could I use the serger to make the needed gathers, it would also finish off the edges of the elastic at the top of the pockets. After serging the edges of the pockets, I found the needle threads of the serging at the curves and pulled them. This gathered the fabric together. I was then able to iron the curved edges so I could top stitch the pockets on. This left the serging messy with loops but I just tucked the loops into the seam as I stitched the pocket on. The serged gathers worked nicely for rounding the pockets and I think the pockets look pretty good. I still need more practice, of course but these pockets turned out well enough to leave them on the dress.

P1040400The next step I did of sewing the skirt and trim went smoothly. I used the floss method for gathering the skirt, then sewed it to the bodice, and then added the lining. The step after that is where I varied from the pattern guide. Before finishing the lining, the guide called for a fitting of the dress and adjusting the straps to the needed length, then stitching the straps in place and finishing the lining. Since I had no idea of what length the straps needed to be, I decided not to stitch the straps in at this time. I would instead attach the straps in the next step P1040475with the top stitching of the trim. This way, if the straps needed to be adjusted once it was tried on, only the top stitching has to be undone and not the lining finish and the seams inside where the straps are attached. I finished the lining’s stitch in the ditch seam with a little help from some seam to seam adhesive. Because the lining of the skirt was made from the main fabric and not a slippery lining fabric, the stitch in the ditch seam sewed rather smoothly and nicely. Unlike the last skirt I made, I did not have to go back and restitch any places this time. The final steps to complete this dress were the top stitching of the trim where I stitched the straps into place and then the hem and the dress was done.

DSCN0192The shorts were next in line to stitch. The shorts pattern was very basic, just 4 pieces in total with two front pieces, two back pieces and an elastic waist with no pockets. I believe that all kids clothes need pockets, so I debated if I wanted to add patch pockets or side seams pockets to these shorts. I finally decided on no pockets. These shorts would be better if they were straight and flat without the added bulk of pockets. This way they would be less obvious under the dress when it was being worn buttoned up fully. Yet I still wanted to add something to the shorts to give them a little flair, so I decided to add a little slit at the side seams. I finished the side seams flat before sewing the seam together. I then sewed the side seams stoping two inches before the bottom of the shorts. Next, I hemmed the shorts. This formed the slits on the side. I then stitched around DSCN0195the slits to finish up this added detail. The slits were easy to make and added a nice touch to the simple shorts. I made the shorts in white even though that is not a great color for a little girl to play in but the denim fabric I used is very durable and washes well. I am also hoping that the shorts can be universally worn, either with this dress or with the bubble top I previously made or anything else as well.

I feel that this completed dress and shorts set turned out great! I think it is a very cute outfit and will be fun for a little girl to wear. I learned a lot on the construction of this dress and I had a chance to practice pockets, top stitching and stitching in the ditch. I am happy that I stuck with it and endured to the end with this project. It might not have been an easy project like the pattern stated but it was worth the work in the end.

I’m an Avocado, and your a Peach!

2840100105001For many years now I have read the fashion design books and web sites about body shape, and for all my life I have been an apple shape, round all the way around and even red after climbing a flight of stairs. Now that I have lost some weight, I am becoming more of a pear shape because of how I am losing the weight. I have lost most of the weight so far in my arms, legs, bust and neck areas. I have even lost weight in my wrists, fingers and toes.

For pete’s sake!

Now all of my watches, bracelets and rings are all too big and will have to be resized. And I guess I am not as big boned as I always thought I was after all, because I now have much thinner wrists and fingers.

Darn!

It’s not all good new though, since my weight around my middle is not departing as nicely or as quickly as I would have liked. But since I have more weight to lose all over during the next year or so, I can’t yet say what my final shape will be in the end, but for now I am calling myself an avocado. So, with that shape in mind, I pulled out my next sloper pattern, a v-neck, button up the front, no collar shirt, to be altered for my current size.

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P1030439To start out, I took a few measurements off of my recently altered t-shirt patterns, some measurements from my current shirts that fit ok, and some new measurements of myself. The first alteration I made was take 1/2 inch out of the shoulders at the neck and tapered the shoulder seam to the armscye on both the front and the back of the shirt. This took 2 inches out of the neck in total. This in turn helped to bring the shirt back up around my neck, shortened the shoulder seams, brought the sleeve up more onto the shoulder and reduced the amount of cleavage that wanted to show. Wow, you wouldn’t think that small of a change would make so much difference, but it did. The next alteration I made was to take 1 inch off of each side seam.

After looking at the new cut line and my measurements and remembering my new avocado shape, I decided to taper the side seams and add the inch back into the hips. This gave the shirt a “A” shape. I was concerned that this was going to make the final shirt look too blousey at the bottom, but since P1030433this is just a trial shirt I decided to leave the “A” shape alone for now. Taking an inch off the sides meant that the bottom of the armscye was higher and that the armscye was now smaller so I had to take an inch off the sides of the sleeves too.

I did decide to leave the shirt the same length for now, because I figured I would be sewing a good sized hem on it because of my bust being smaller now. I did remember to do the final alteration needed and take the 1/2 inch off the shoulders of the facings just like I did with the shoulder seams so that the facing and shirt would match. With this all done, I was ready to cut out the fabric and sew it up.

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P1030436Since this was just a trial for the newly modified pattern, I picked a fabric that wasn’t my favorite but yet was nicer than my last trial shirt and could be worn to work. After washing, drying and ironing the fabric, I got to the cutting table. Because I did not know if my new alterations were correct, I did not want to just chop up my old sloper pattern, so I made slits in the pattern and folded the old pattern to my alterations lines to make the new cuts. This way if I need to adjust something later on the pattern was still usable. Later on, I would learn that this was a very wise move on my part.

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The sewing of the shirt went smoothly except for the interfacings. I don’t believe I will live long enough to completely master interfacing fabric. I had been using a sew in interfacing that sewed in just fine but now that it is attached to the fabric is too heavy. Maybe it will soften up with a few washings. One can hope I guess. Once again, since this is just a trial shirt, I just chalked the wrong type of interfacing up to a lesson learned. After finishing the shirt, I decided that the design and color of the fabric was just too busy for an embroidery design so I declared the shirt finished. Now it was time for the most important part, the wear test.

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P1030369I have wore this shirt a couple of times and although there is nothing wrong with the shirt and it is very wearable, I am going to make some more alterations in my pattern for my next shirt. Whie standing the shirt is fine, but when sitting the shirt presents some problems. I need a little room put back in the bust. I am ok with this because it will get rid of the “A” shape of the shirt which did turn out to be more blousey than I wanted at the bottom in my last trial shirt. I will have to add the same amount back in to the sleeves as well so I may need to lift the armscye up a bit so that I don’t lose that alteration when I add it back to the side seams. I also need to adjust the length of the next shirt trial, especially in the slits in the sides. The slits are there to help give you some extra room in the hips when you sit down, but the slits in this shirt are not high enough to do their job properly, so some adjusting is needed there.

The shoulder seam alterations seem to be good though and I like the fit around the neck. And after a couple of washings, the interfacing has softened up a little, but I am still very unpleased with the interfacing in this shirt. But that has nothing to do with my alterations. Yet, it was another good sewing lesson learned. Practice and patience is the key to all sewing, you know.

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I was, of course, hoping that this shirt, like the t-shirt, would be a good fit after the alterations but I knew not having the stretch of the knit to help the fit that my first try with it would not be perfect. And with that in mind, instead of moving on to my next sloper pattern, I have decided to do the right thing and make the new alterations to this pattern now and make another shirt from the newly altered pattern to get it right. As much as I want to say “Ok, that’s done.” I know that this is going to be a long process and I have to do it right. So its back to the drawing board for a few more revisions until I am happy with it.

Goodnight Blues Clues! (Part 2)

Let’s see. Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah… Simplicity 2771, Blues Clues pajamas with piping.

IMG_0002Another reason I say this pattern is not good for a beginner is that it is also tricky to stitch the back facing on with the curves. According to the pattern guide, you sew the back facing to the front facing, flip it over to the back, then fold over the raw edge, and finally you stitch in the ditch along the piping while making sure to catch the facing in the back too. Sure it sounds easy enough, but not without a lot of pins holding things together and folding and ironing, and sweat and tears. On the straight parts of the facing, it was easy to stitch in the ditch on the front and catch the facing in the back right through the folded raw edge, but on the curves it was too easy to stitch too far into the facing and not along the edge, missing the folded raw edge so that when you were done sewing, the raw edge just folded back out. Because of this when you come to the curve, you must fold more in to make sure and catch the raw P1030206edge, but then you end up missing the facing altogether. So then you try to fold it back out a little more and then you miss catching the raw edge again, or, like I finally ended up with, and you barely caught the raw edge here and barely caught the facing there. ARGH! I don’t know if it is just a matter of practice to stitch the facings on more easily, or if I need to come up with a better way of stitching them on. I stitched and unpicked and restitched and unpicked and restitched until I was tired of the process so I called the wavy mess I had on the inside of the shirt good enough for this try and moved on. (I hate to see a beginner try a project like this, get discouraged and quit sewing altogether due to the frustration of it. I certainly don’t claim to be the world’s best seamstress as shown by the wavy seam on that facing, but I have had successes in the past and so I have built up some patience with my sewing as time has went on. )

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P1030158Here is where I ran into a little snag because I did not follow the pattern guide when I started this project. In the guide, hemming the shirt is the step you are supposed to do before starting the piping, so the facings are shorter than the front of the shirt because IMG_0001you had already shortened the front of the shirt with the hem before you added the facings. But because I had sewed the piping and facings first, I had to unpick the ends so I could do the hem and get the facings length to match. Luckily this was less of a problem than it could have been because it was on the straight part of the facings and not the curved parts. It was just a minor annoyance, and I had to take a much larger hem than I would have liked to since I like longer shirts. If I make this pattern again, and I probably will, I am going to cut the facings longer at the start so I can finish them differently. Because I had sewed this the way the pattern had called for on the hem and the finishing of the facings, it will be difficult to shorten or lengthen the shirt if I need to later. Plus the finishing of my flannel piping was a little bulky as I sewed through the 6 layers of fabric. If I had purchase some cotton piping, it would have been much less bulky to sew, but I still think it turned out ok and I learned a LOT.

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P1030159I had similar issues with the way that the pattern guide said to finish the piping and hem of the sleeves so I did it my way instead. I sewed the facing to the sleeve before I P1030162sewed the sleeve up. Then after sewing the sleeve, I folded the facing up and stitched in the ditch of the piping. Even though I was stitching in the ditch again around the sleeves, it is a straight line, so it was not that difficult to do. And by sewing it this way, if I need to shorten or lengthen the sleeve later, it will require less unpicking. It was a little tight stitching around the cuff, but I did it without any problems and I will say that practice make perfect. The second sleeve was much easier to stitch than the first one was.

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P1030192My third reason for saying that this pattern may not be the best choice for a beginner is the buttons. It took time and patience to get them placed down the center and looking in the right spot between P1030185the piping. There was no forgiveness on placement. They had to be centered or they looked funny. I won’t say I did a perfect job on the buttons but I tried.

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With the shirt finished, the pants were an easy sew to complete the pajamas. The pants have no pockets and no piping. I thought about putting some piping on the pants at the hem or down the side seams but decided not to. Four seams, some elastic at the waist and 2 hems and the pants were done!

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Like I said, I will probably make this pattern again and hopefully soon so that I don’t forget all I have learned, but for now on to more projects!

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Slit Placket Trial #2 – To Infinity and Beyond

In a sewing room far, far away the slit placket saga continues…

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Applying everything I had learned from the first shirt, I stitched the next shirt placket very carefully. The resulting placket was once again not perfect but far more acceptable. Still not really pleased with the results,  I did some unpicking and stitched it again. It was better, but not quite there. More unpicking and another try. It was better yet again but, after the third try,  the fabric was starting to become unhappy with the unpicking and restitching. Flustered, I grabbed some scraps of fabric and tried the placket again with the scraps. Guess what? Perfect! Argh! Was the type of fabric causing my problems? So, I grabbed more of the green scraps from the shirt and tried again. The results were good but not as good as the previous scraps. One more try out of the green scraps and the result was perfect. Wow did I really master the skill that fast?

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Not believing that I had really mastered the skill on the third try, I decided to use some more scraps and do one more trial run. As I thought, it did not work at all that time. I had not yet mastered this skill. The result was terrible. Having plenty of scraps, I tried again. Nope. Tried again. Nope. Again. Nope. Rather than letting this frustrate me, I tried to learn something from each try. This really surprised me about myself. Usually, I would let this trial and error thing get to me. I would get angry with it, throw it against the wall and shred the pattern. After the fifth try, I finally make a placket out of the green scraps that was not bad. The next was better, and the last almost perfect. I then tried once more, folding it the other way as if you were sewing a girl’s shirt and it came out great. I decided trial time was over and returned to the shirt front.

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Unpicking my work one more time, I tried the placket again. The result was not perfect but it was the best so far on the shirt. Because of the wear on the fabric. I called it good. Before I take another stitch on the shirt though, I have decided to wash the shirt front to make sure I don’t get the same mess as the first shirt. I don’t believe that I have yet fully mastered the skill of slit plackets, but I feel like I am closer than I have ever been before. As with all of life, right now, luck has a lot to do with the success or failure of a slit placket for me, not skill.

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While the child’s shirt front is in the washer, I am going to start construction of the husband’s next shirt. I need a success story here. Hopefully, his shirt will just sew up and not give me any hassles. You know, it will be my third item I will have made using sew in interfacing. Wish me luck.