The New Sewer’s Sewing Corner Part 1

Hello Sewcialists and welcome to the New Sewer’s Sewing Corner!

Sew with the Flow

Well, in what seems like a flash, May is coming to a close and the Me-Made component is finishing up as well. I mentioned, in my Me-Made-aMAYzing post at the start of the month, that, at this stage in my sewing ‘career’, I’d have to spend most of May in the nude, as my personal ‘Me-Mades’ are few and far between. So, in lieu of wearing only hand-made garments, I pledged to try and sew a little bit everyday this month. I can honestly say that this did not happen. I don’t currently own a sewing machine, and, though I make the most of Thursday night’s Sewcialist Union, I had a tricky time fulfilling my promised quota.

Part One: The Ogden Cami

While it wasn’t everyday, (sorry!) I did manage to sew a little this month with the result that I now have two brand new True Bias Ogden Camis!

The True Bias Ogden Cami in Portofino Shirt-Weight Linen in Blue Spa
The True Bias Ogden Cami in Portofino Shirt-Weight Linen in Blue Spa

As a new sewer, I find that sometimes simple things evade me. I spend a LONG time reading the instructions before I even cut into the fabric, and, despite this, I still find myself making silly mistakes. All you veteran sewers out there will, no doubt, laugh at my antics. But, to my fellow newbies, I post this in the hope that you will also laugh at my mistakes, and then use them to avoid making your own!

Maisie's (Glaringly Obvious) Tips and Tricks

The first thing I will say is WASH YOUR FABRIC. This is a big DUH because most fabrics shrink during an initial washing/drying cycle, but for some reason it’s a step I continually forget. I recently altered a shirt for my boyfriend, and, while it turned out great, I had to tell him he can NEVER wash it because I failed to wash the indigo quilting cotton before sewing it to a light green linen. (Like I said, DUH!)  This directive has certainly made the prospect of wearing his shirt WAY more stressful than wearing clothes should ever be.

My first Cami was made from our awesome Portofino Shirt-Weight Linen in Blue Spa, and I remembered to wash it like an old pro. However, after the first Cami went off mostly hitch-less, I immediately became over-confident, and purchased some of our gorgeous Raw Silk Noil in Dried Rose. I was halfway through cutting my first pattern piece before it hit me – I’D FORGOTTEN TO WASH IT. Fortunately the damage was not too extensive. Though I had to spend a pointless amount of time unpinning and re-pinning pattern pieces, I was able to wash the fabric and pick up, pretty much, where I’d left off despite an inch or two of shrinkage.

Take it With a Grain of Salt

Next, remember grain – yet another thing I took for granted as common sense. Pattern pieces, more often than not, contain a handy dandy line with arrows on either end which indicate GRAIN. The Ogden Cami Pattern is no exception. However, the word is not as large and eye-grabbing as it could be. (Though, I’ll admit, I may not be the tool by which to measure ‘eye-grabbing’ since my vision is a solid -6/-6, rather than the desired 20/20 邏 .) But, the lesson stands: make a note of grain before pinning and cutting.


True Bias Ogden Cami in the Dried Rose Raw Silk Noil
True Bias Ogden Cami in the Dried Rose Raw Silk Noil

This particular pattern involves a lot of folding in half, and it wasn’t until after cutting my first large front piece that, like a restless spirit, the grain came back to haunt me. Luckily, my chosen raw silk lacked a ‘correct side’ and, since my folding job put the grain only a little off-kilter, I considered it an overall win.

Top Notch

My next mistake, maybe we should call it a ‘learning moment’, hit me like a V8 commercial. I’ll just skip to the moral: double-check that you have cut all the notches indicated before removing the pattern from your cut out pieces.

I realized – the hard way of course –  that it’s easy to miss a notch here and there. The Ogden Cami is simple enough that this was not a crisis. I was able to quickly re-lay pattern pieces, cut the missing notch, and move on. However, if/when I attempt a more complicated pattern, I am anticipating that missed notches will become a much bigger issue!

Bust a Move

The Ogden Cami is a free-flowing garment, and therefore the measurement which matters most is the chest. I decided on a Size 8 after measuring my bust and confirming my suspicions that I am still *sigh* 36″ around. However, I’ve since decided, now that I have 2 Cami’s behind me, that I would perhaps be more comfortable in a Size 10.

My Blue Spa Portofino has a see-through element which became much more noticeable after I’d sewn in the short lining. I’d anticipated being able to wear this shirt sans bra, if I felt like it. However, I found that the lining was shorter than I preferred, and, in fact, required that the girls be hoisted into place by a proper bra for the shirt to fall correctly.  I think, were I a tad less chesty (and at 36C I’m really very average), this would not be a problem. If I were to try this again I think I may size up as well as lengthen the lining piece by an inch or two for comfort’s sake.

Without A Trace

This brings me to my next realization. Having cut the pattern at a Size 8, I will need to purchase it again in order to size up. Not only that, but I have, since showing off my new Makes, had friends bigger than I ask if I’d sew a cami for them. As such, I find myself regretting that I did not trace the pattern. Tracing’s not for everyone, but I’ve found that this Cami is versatile, compliments many figures, and is something I would/could make again if ever I change sizes. The Confident Stitch sells Swedish Tracing Paper with a nice fibrous quality that makes tracing a breeze!

Too Close to the Sun

The Raw Silk Noil I used for my second cami is not see-through and therefore the short lining was much less a problem. I did find, as mentioned earlier, that my initial success with the Portofino resulted in an Icarian over-confidence with my second attempt.

True Bias Ogden Cami
Ogden Cami strap attachment

Feeling that this pattern was now ‘old-hat’ I carelessly pulled, pinned, and sewed the cami straps into place. (Using a handy pair of what I call – ever the daughter of anglers – ‘fly-fishing forceps’). Excited, I flipped the shirt right side out, pressed it, put it on and discovered that BOTH my straps were twisted.  It just goes to show:

a) I will never be above reading the directions, and b) Keep the seam-ripper close at hand!

All and all, I think this Ogden Cami excursion was exactly what it should have been. At times exasperating, but, overall, a success! It was a good pattern on which to make a few mistakes and learn a few good lessons.

As I write this, I can hear Wiksten’s new Shift Dress speaking to me amidst the sultry folds of our Cupro Tencel Linen in Ecru (both of which we have just reordered!). Wish me luck, and Happy Sewing!


2 thoughts on “The New Sewer’s Sewing Corner Part 1

  1. Diane Gatley says:

    Hi Maisie,
    Your article today was very interesting.
    I would say that none of your “mistakes” are exclusively new sewist mistakes. We all get excited about a new pattern, a lovely fabric, a special occasion that will be the debut of a new garment, etc. There are so many reasons why any sewist can forget a supposedly basic step, or hurry a little and make a big mess of something. I’m very glad you recovered from each “learning moment” and ended up with two wearable garments.
    Good luck on your dress. You have picked out quality fabric and a great pattern, so will be very inspired to create a masterpiece!

    • Maisie Gospodarek says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Diane! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in making the occasional silly mistake!I love the community of wonderful, supportive people that comes with sewing. The good news is my first sewing experience has only made me more excited to make something new, and I do hope that my Wiksten Shift Dress does turn out to be a masterpiece!

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