Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sewing is Not Like Riding a Bike

About the time all my overtime started at work, I had the bright idea I would start sewing again and make something for my granddaughter's first birthday in September.  It seemed like a good idea at the time and her birthday was still three months off so it didn't feel like pressure.  Now her birthday is just two weeks away and I'm a long way from finished with her birthday gift.  What was I thinking?!

The pattern is Simplicity 5310.  Don't let the company name fool you ...there is nothing 'simple' about this project!  I've got about 10 years of experience crafts and sewing.  Mostly I've done handwork ...crewel work, embroidery, crocheting, even tried tatting for a while.  I learned how to make clothing from patterns when I was in high school.  Our mother was an excellent seamstress and she taught all three of us girls how to sew from a pattern.  I made my own pinch-pleat lined draperies when I was a newlywed in my 20's.  I know how to use a sewing machine.  I didn't think it mattered that all of my experience was 25 or 30 years ago.  I figured, 'it's like riding a bike, right?'  Umm ...maybe not.

This is the pattern.  Cute, huh?  Looks simple enough, right?  By step 3 on the pattern, I knew I was in trouble.   

It's the nose that's giving me fits.  The pattern piece is only about 3 inches wide and 2 inches tall.   How could such a small swatch of fabric be so uncooperative!  I struggled with it twice, two separate days for about an hour.  The confidence and enthusiasm I'd been feeling for the project was eroding at an alarming rate.  But this morning I decided to see if I could find some reviews for the pattern ...maybe some pointers from other people who had made this pattern.  I found this website,, and joined with a free membership.  There were eight reviews posted for this pattern.  A free membership only entitles me to read reviews less than six months old, so I could only read five of them.  Three of them were exactly as I would have posted if I were to review this pattern ...'NOT simple!'  'Diagrams do not match up with the pattern pieces!'  'Terrible instructions!'   'Worst pattern I've ever worked with!'  The ladies that left these reviews claimed to have 20-30 years of experience.  One lady said she was a professional seamstress with 35 years of experience and she still had to start over with this pattern two or three times.  Whew ...that made me feel better.   Maybe it wasn't just me.  Misery loves company and looming defeat craves it!   

Two of the reviews were very positive and said they would definitely make this pattern again.  But even those writers admitted to making 'minor adjustments' to the pattern and the assembly process.  Granted, there were three reviews that I couldn't access with my free membership.  But judging from the five reviews I could access, I'm definitely not in the minority in having difficulty with this pattern. 

Now I figure I can look at this two ways.  My granddaughter's birthday is just two weeks from tomorrow.  I have this weekend and next weekend to pass or fail in my attempt to make this for her.  Based on those negative reviews, I could convince myself I would be justified in scrapping the whole idea of making her something and just go out and buy her a gift.  But instead I've decided that I'm going to take heart from the fact that at least two people claim they were successful in making this project.  I will have to dig up a little more determination but I'm going to give it a whirl.  I guarantee there will be adjustments to the process and possibly to the end product.    If I'm happy with the result, I'll do a follow-up post and show you how it turned out.  If I'm not happy with the result, there may be a follow-up post, but no pictures.  At that point, I will be out of time and will have to go buy my granddaughter a gift.  But at least I will know I gave it my best shot.  

Yeoldfurt is off on a mission of his own today.  He left for the gun range about thirty minutes ago to test out his latest batch of reloads.  I'm sure he'll be doing a post to report the results.  He looked five or ten years younger when he waved as he drove off this morning.  He had the same kind of 'happy' you'd see on a kid's face if you announced, 'we're going to Disneyworld!' Yup, doing something you love definitely has a rejuvenating effect. 


  1. Good for him...time at the range makes us all smile. Several years ago my wife wanted a sewing machine. Had great plans. We bought it. She got it home and set it up and sewed something. Once. The machine sits in a back bedroom, an artifact.

  2. Fudge, fudge alot, you're a big girl now, you can fudge the pattern, the girl will never know!!

  3. Stephen, the sewing machine I'm using now was a Christmas gift to me from Yeoldfurt in 2007 because I thought I would start sewing again. I 'played' with it for about a year but never really made anything on it. Until now. Successful sewing projects are part skill and part inspiration. But regardless of how skilled or inspired you might be, they also require significant blocks of time to accomplish. Maybe that doesn't work with the other demands in her life right now. But when she's feeling inspired and has the time, she'll start sewing and she'll think of you with every stitch. In the meantime, that 'artifact' doesn't eat so it's OKAY.

    Don't ya know it's never a bad investment to cater to your honey's whims?

    : )

  4. Mrs. Redneck read this and wanted me to tell you she feels your pain. She to has had to call in reinforcements for something she thought would be simple. I on the other hand would have just drew in the noise with a sharpie.
    Good luck with it.

  5. AKA ...ya had to mention chocolate, didn't ya!? Way to distract a girl!

    I'm making progress. The nose is still has me baffled, but I've got most of the rest of the pieces done. I'm tweaking (fudging?) the tail ...not because I couldn't make it work doing it their way, but because I think I can improve on it. At this rate, I may have it finished this weekend and have next weekend free for some play time ...or a whole 'nother project I haven't even thought of yet!

  6. MDR, all my reinforcements are too far away for any more than moral support. Both of my sisters are excellent seamstresses (way better than me!) but one of them is two hours away and the other is two STATES away.

    I'm making this thing out of soft fleece. Drawing on the fabric with a sharpie would be a disaster ...the fabric would soak up the ink like a sponge. Absolute last resort, I'll EMBROIDER a nose by hand. A little extra work but it would look better than drawing with a sharpie, I promise! LOL

    Tell the Mrs hello for me and happy anniversary!

    Yeoldfurt is using Wordpress now. Here's the link...

    He still has his blogspot site too.
    Here's the link for that...

  7. A few years ago I bought a Simplicity Crafts pattern for a shoulder bag. Looked SOOOOO simple. Ugh. Two weeks later I decided to chuck the pattern and draw out one myself on some brown paper bags and try to do it that way.
    The pattern I bought was just plain weird.Never had a problem with Simplicity clothes patterns, but I think somebody in the crafts department seriously dropped the ball!
    Good luck with making the modifications!

  8. Lamb, that's probably what I will do with the nose at least. The pattern calls for safety eyes but I think I'll embroider/crewel the eyes and then fashion some eyelids out of some of the remnant. I think even the part about how much fabric to buy was way off on this pattern, I seem to have an awful lot of remnant left over. I guess it's better they had you buy too much than too little ...THAT would be worse problem!

    I think it's going to be cute when I'm finished. I hope I'm not speaking too soon! LOL

  9. boy HB, that brings back memories.
    My Mom, rest her soul, could sew anything. She used to split the upholstery off furniture and use it as patterns to recover furniture.

  10. I've know people that could do that, kx59 ...I wouldn't be that brave. But I sure admire the ones who are! I have about two thirds of the stitching done. Short seams, assembly, stuffing and a bit of handwork is all that's left. Well, and the NOSE.

    This is a three day weekend and I'm still optimistic I'll get it done. We'll see if my optimism is well-founded.

    I enjoy the blog you and SB have, by the way. I think it's great that you both post on one. I enjoy reading what both of you guys post.