Sewing Chatter: What’s Your Sewing Kryptonite?

Do you have a weakness when sewing?
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Image from Harts Fabrics.

Image from Harts Fabrics.

After talking about your sewing superpowers a while back, it’s clear that we’re all superheroes when it comes to making things. But every superhero has a weak spot.

What is your biggest weakness when sewing? Superman had Kryptonite, we all know what happened to Achilles’ heel, so what threatens your sewing superpowers? Zippers, buttons, something more ominous?

Let’s help each other out in the comments below:

  • How are you most vulnerable when sewing?
  • Have you found any great tutorials to help arm you against your sewing Kryptonite?
  • Have you ever been defeated by a project?
  • How did you fight back?
  • Also, informal poll: Do you know what Kryptonite is? We’ve had some mixed answers here in the office.

Announcing the Sprout Giveaway Winner!

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Finally, congrats to Megan for winning an Aster project from Sprout Patterns! We’re excited to see you put your sewing superpowers to work with this project.

Meg Stively   —   Communications Manager

Meg is here to help you. She's the smiling face behind our customer service and social media. Keeping in touch with our family of stockists, and shipping your orders all across the world, she loves seeing what you're making with our patterns.

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Comments 62

knitmo

My Kryptonite: Lack of time. I work full time, I serve as an elected official in my county, I have three kids and a husband who activities (not as many as some), we have a small fiber farm and I am involved in community theatre.

I fight against kyptonite by eeking out little bits of time here and there, and commitment from my husband to allow me to escape for a few hours every weekend to get some sewing time in. It also means I use a lot of TNT patterns, because I don’t have to take time to complete major adjustments, I know they’ll fit.

What is Kryptonite? It’s the only known substance that that can defeat Superman — it’s his ultimate weakness. Its a type of substance from Krypton (superman’s home planet).

Meg colettehq.com

I am really impressed with your approach to balancing time! I think time might be an “enemy” for many of us. That’s a great idea to rely on the patterns you know and trust.

Brenda London

Sounds like a full plate and pretty much mimics my life when raising my 4 kids. What I did during those years when I could not be in front of my sewing machine sewing what I wanted to sew (i.e.not for stage productions) was to do handwork. It travels well. I made tiny doll clothes entirely by hand for my own collection of antique dolls and I learned to crochet. Everyone got crocheted scarves during our rehearsals and run of The Miracle Worker. I also taught myself to smock; remembering the time I was sitting in the surgical waiting area smocking a dress for my daughter while she was having surgery. Interestingly I had quite an audience , women sitting around me as well as the staff all asking questions and admiring my work, it served us well in helping to redirect our nervous energy and worries. Good luck and one thing to keep close is the knowledge that this too will pass, kids grow up (but do not give away the beds, they tend to bounce back like on bungee cords) and your time becomes more of your own, particularly when we go from expanding our farms first, then cutting back as when our farm bodies scream for some less strenuous work (which was when I found a great deal of cash to be made by marketing my tiny hand made doll clothes on eBay). It is all fluid but the stitching and connections it makes endures. This year at age 65 I am still sewing of course (actually making clothes for me) but I am determined to learn to knit (enter Craftsy) to make mittens for the all the grandkiddos. So nice to read about another farmer extraordinaire. Thank-you to Colette for helping to keep us sewists connected.

Krista

One of my struggles is with bias binding on exterior edges–it’s so hard to get it right, and many times the instructions indicate it can be done in one step, but for me, it’s always two (or three, or four….). I’ve discovered WonderTape, which is a fabulous sewing notion, and I use it all the time. That helps ease the pain a little, but I would love to get stronger and better at applying it.

Another one is turning points–I’ve tried various things, but it’s a challenge to get those to look really nice. And sewing curves! I’m still working on perfecting that skill.

I haven’t been up on Superman much lately (LOL),, but from what I remember, Kryptonite was a piece of the planet Krypton where Superman came from. For whatever reason, whenever he was exposed to it, he became weak. It seems like the color green was involved, too. Fun question!

Meg colettehq.com

Wonder Tape was a game changer for me, too! Also, if you haven’t seen it already, David Page Coffin’s article on turning points really helped me out.

Sherry Eck

Mine is setting in sleeves on boys shirts. I have tried everything I know to get them to fit without puckers, but still no success.
And general fitting anything I make for myself.

Lana

Me, too! Sleeves in general. I am ecstatic if one of the sleeves doesn’t end up with a pucker!

Jayne empireroombridal.etsy.com

Do you sew them in flat, ie before you sew the side seam & under arm seam? I find that is the only way to avoid the puckers. Trying to get a cylindrical shape, in to a cylindrical shape of a slightly different size is painful. Then you sew the underarm & side seam in one long seam. Saves time too.
However, method won’t work with a two piece jacket sleeve, because height of the sleeve seams don’t line up with the side seam. ?

Carol

Set in sleeves – hmmm set to drive me crazy sometimes and I have got better at them. I have to wait until I am clear headed and relaxed before I set them in. Some of my early attempts make me cringe and I wore them.

Amie

Like others, set-in sleeves. Mine always pucker no matter how many easing stitches or tutorials I read on different methods.

And then, non-guiltily putting aside time to sew. After the kid goes down, you only have 2 hours bed your own bed time. And there are million chores to do, knitting that can get done, and hubby-wifey time that needs to happen. Where does sewing fit in?

Brenda London

have you tried sewing directly on top of your ease gathering stitch line? I cannot remember when I hit on this one, maybe 30 yrs ago, but since them I have slipped those sleeves right in. prior to that they were a mess of pleats, tucks and stuff being caught in that had no business being in that seam. I have gone thru lots of seam rippers..Also, I put those sleeves in before seeing the side of the shirt or down the sleeve, then once the sleeve is in I pin the sides and the sleeve seams, and sew the seam. I start under the arm so I know my seams match, then go down to the bottom of the shirt before doing that hem and then restart again under the arm and sew the seam down the sleeve. The wrist area sewing depends on what I am doing to it as to whether or not I sew to the end of the sleeve or not at this point. I also found sewing toddler size sleeves a good way to learn, far less to handle.

Teresa

I think my Kryptonite is choosing patterns that are more advanced than my actual skill level. I keep telling myself that it will help me improve but it really just makes me discouraged. I am focusing now on easier beginner patterns and trying to improve my basic skills to gain more confidence.

Meg colettehq.com

Sewing definitely embodies “practice makes perfect.” I bet that after mastering some of the essential techniques, you’ll be sewing more advanced patterns in no time!

Brenda London

agree Meg! I think many of us forget that sewing should remain relaxing, it is not an Olympic sport and if you always stay with basic patterns and the results please you, why go to more difficult ones that may cause stress. It’s like having a baby, you will know when it’s time to make the leap,or not, and it’s all good. At age 65, sewing now for 60 yrs (yes, started at age 5) I am now taking on advanced patterns but finding them not particularly difficult, in fact I am enjoying them. That would not have been true in my younger years when I had so many things on my plate and did not need another source of what would have been stress for me.

Ryann

anything where I want to be really careful with a hem and/or hand sewing needs will send a project to the UFO pile faster than anything else.

I rely on my husband to pin my hems, but while he does a super job, it isn’t his favorite thing to do. :D Sometimes I rely on “oh, but I wanted to wear this on our date night tomorrow.” hahaha!!

Meg colettehq.com

I feel you with those hems. I used to resist hand sewing as much as possible, because I just wanted to finish quickly, but it’s starting to grow on me! It helps to make a nice little ritual of it — pour some tea, put on music, and work on your project in a comfortable place, like a cozy chair or couch.

Brenda London

I like hand sewing because it is portable and I am in total control but then again I like hand sewing in bed, so long as I hang tight to my pins.

Anne sewanneuk.blogspot.co.uk

My Kryptonite is sewing a lined V neck (in fine fabric). I haven’t found an antidote as yet, but suppose practice might do it!

ladyD

Collars and sleeves are something that never go right for me. Even when I carefully hand baste the seem to move and end up wonkey etc.
As for kryptonite. I was actually sewing myself a super girl costume recently.

Becky

Kryptonite: Resizing and correcting paper patterns after fitting a muslin.

The worst is when I decide to go down a full size after basting together what I was hoping would be a wearable muslin, ripping it apart, transferring the corrections, and recutting/remaking the muslin. My years-long coat and pants projects have been in limbo for most of that time for this reason, having decided to save and recut the muslin pieces (or make them anew). It’s especially hard to return to these longhaul makes when I have lots of options for quick and easy ones or TNTs. Perhaps if I just slog my way through fitting the muslins, I will feel encouraged to make the final garments out of pretty fabrics!

Trish

I find that my particular Kryptonite is goofing up seams. I’m sewing along, I pull it off the machine..and yikes! There are a couple inches of fabric that got into the seam that wasn’t meant to go there! So maybe some shirt tail ended up in my side seam, or some sleeve got into the collar…trusty seam ripper to the rescue!

For those of you dying to know this: Kryptonite is a bit of radioactive material from planet Krypton’s core, released when the doomed world exploded. It comes in different colors-red, blue and green, and..maybe black, I think. The radiation only affects Kryptonians, and the color of the Kryptonite indicates the effect. Green makes illness, saps powers, brings pain, can be fatal. Red lowers inhibitions, enhances negative feelings. I can’t remember what the others do. I read a LOT of comic books during my teens. They have such cool artwork. ; )

Lynda

oh mine is fitting for sure, narrow shoulders and torso so gaping necklines and armholes …..

Kath

Try cutting shoulders and above bust area one size smaller then grade up to fit your bust. Measure above the bust, if the difference is really marked it might be better to do a fba to accomodate the bust size. It’s worth the work to get a well fitted upper bust and neckline. I always have to do this. The difference between my upper best and bust is 9cms

Lynda

Thanks for your reply Kath, what adjustments are needed when sleeves are involved? Smaller size at the sleeve cap grading down to next size at the underarm to match the bust? It seems I’m not alone being wary of fitting sleeves so to fiddle with the size sounds like inviting trouble/kryptonite!
My HB is 78cm and bust 83cm so right at the 5cm difference I’ve read indicates the need for a FBA. tia

Kath

You are right Linda! Cut the top of the sleeves and the upper bodice section of the sleeves at the smaller size, then grade out to the bust size as you move to the arm Near the bust and to the underarm. That gives sufficient fullness in the sleeve.

Valentina alittlteblackdressblog.wordpress.com

Mine is gathering the fabric. Even if I sew three rows of long stitches it never comes out a neat gathering or it vest bad after sewing.

Christina

Button plackets and cuffs. Most likely because I am impatient, there’s so many fiddly parts, and I rarely attempt them. I am sure its like anything else, needs practise but its the first thing that came to mind when you said Kryptonite!

Marjorie

Defeated by a project? Just about, but… I was in a real time crunch to finish my dress for my son’s wedding. About the time I thought I could make the deadline, disaster struck! One end of the ironing board held the regular steam iron and the other, the little craft iron. Of course I had both of them going at the same time. While I pressed at the end with the regular iron, the craft iron melted a hole in the dress shoulder (Thank goodness for the polyester content…). Embroidery to the rescue!! I cut a tab to cover the hole and embroidered a subtle but beautiful multicolored feather on the tab. Voila! Design element and problem solved. I win…well, almost. At the wedding reception, someone accidentally poured chocolate sauce from the buffet al down the front of my dress! Fortunately the marriage has fared much better than my dress. I suppose chocolate sauce was the ultimate Krytonite for that outfit!

Piper

How cool you all are to share your weaknesses! And to know about Kryptonite. My weakness is I never seem to sew things I can wear in my daily life. I get very caught up in the artistic and historical aspects of sewing, but I would like to be more practical.

Nita nitadances.com

I am my own kryptonite, I think. There have been fitting issues with everything I’ve sewn. I’ve yet to finish something that is comfortable and looks nice. I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and sew pyjamas. Surely even I cannot screw up pajamas…

Rachel

Yeah this is me. I also have a pyjama project that I stitched wrong and I don’t think the fabric will survive the seam ripper… So at least you have company!

Kathy

Invisible zippers freak me out. I don’t seem to understand the instructions. A amazing seamstress friend said she’d give me a lesson one day!
I used to dislike buttonholes but have a new sewing machine now so they are a snap!

Ilonka

Well; main one is finding the time. I work full time, abd have 2 kids.
More recently, knits have been hit or miss. But this week I got a new serger to try to conquer them once and for all!!!

LiviaRose rosepetalsandfaeriedust.blogspot.com

Kryptonite, that is such a good description; somethings are almost paralyzing. I have three: procrastination is #1 and besides the normal reasons dread of #2 and #3 cause this.
Zippers were the first that came to mind. I dread them; I cannot achieve that perfectly smooth transition from seam to invisible zipper (and also, I broke two of my zipper this week; I think I somehow place them too close to the seam so there is too much strain).
The final major issue is my blonde propensity for incredidably stupdid mistakes in everything. I already have difficulty following exact directions, and then I just don’t pay attenion. Case in point, the skirt I want to finish today has the pockets facing backward, not a huge fix, but still infuriating. And when I get mad in sewing, I stop for a while before my mistakes increase.

PsychicSewerKathleen tarotbykathleen.ca

I have to agree with Teresa that my kryptonite is taking on patterns that are above my skill level which is hard to determine until I stumble into it :) the experienced sewists will recommend that you push yourself just a bit – reach slightly above your skill level but that’s hard to know! Sometimes it’s the pattern, sometimes it’s the fabric but when I’m stumped at every turn, spending more time unsewing than sewing I start to wonder if I’ll ever get to the point where I can say I sew all my own clothes :)

Patty S. masteryourmachine.wordpress.com

Interesting blog post, really made me think:

~ How are you most vulnerable when sewing? Probably time management. I always think something is going to take less time than it actually ends up taking. Either because of life interruptions, or simply misjudging the amount of time a particular pattern takes to make. That makes me frustrated, and sometimes have to fight becoming disinterested in the project.

~ Have you found any great tutorials to help arm you against your sewing Kryptonite? A few on this blog for sure! Lakes Makerie has a couple. Same with Grainline Studio. YouTube is also a great source for figuring out tough sewing skills. It helps to actually see someone tackle a tough issue, successfully. I am a visual learner.

~ Have you ever been defeated by a project? Yup, probably more than I want to admit, lol! One I remember well, was trying to make a fitted, lined wool boucle jacket with welt pockets. O.M.G. The fabric really wasn’t suitable, too loose and wobbly. It just fell apart in my hands, trying to manipulate the stupid welt. Should have used leather or canvas, ugh. Tossed the whole thing in the trash.

~ How did you fight back? Got smarter about better prep work. Read through the pattern, don’t try to force some fabric I’ve fallen in love with to work for a pattern that is ultimately unsuitable for that fabric. Either find another fabric to use, or another pattern to suit the fabric. Spend more time planning.

Kryptonite? Well, I’m probably one of your more “mature” readers, so yup, sure know what that is!! It is a green mineral from the planet of Krypton, Superman’s home planet. It is radioactive and weakens all Kryptonians.

Linda

Buttonholes….I have avoided some of my most desirable patterns like coats because of buttonholes.

Deb

My kryptonite hits before I start sewing! I was poor growing up, and learned to find the cheapest option, and always get it on sale. I too, am a mature reader, and back in the day, fabric was inexpensive and sewing was the way to save money. My fabric choices still reflect this. Sometimes I get to the end of a sewing project and realize cheap fabric looks cheap, no matter how well you sew it. This is ironic–I sew in part because I’m sick and tired of the cheap clothes, cheaply made, that are sold today.

This is a really tough habit to break! I tell myself repeatedly, “don’t cheap out, you’re worth it,” but there are so many wonderful sales out there! I think I need to join Cheapskates Anonymous….

Brenda London

Making muslins is my kryptonite. I know the value in them but the frugal farm gal in me sees them as a possible waste of fabric and time. I have collected up some really inexpensive fabric to make muslins and that helps but only a bit. I tried making “wearable muslins” and again I struggled, not willing to possibly ruin a piece of fabric that may have gone to good use. Guess I need to accept that fact that a muslin is good use! I still struggle with this.

Shirley

Fusible interfacing. I can’t get it to adhere uniformly, though I’ve tried every technique I can find. And, the last time I used it, it puckered after gentle, cold water washing.

francesca

Maybe pre shrink it?

Rachel

I’ve never successfully modified a pattern to fit my boobs, so I usually assemble a top and then give up. FBAs are great in theory, but in practice I end up with weird wrinkly fit that I don’t know how to fix :( which is disappointing because boob fit is the prime motivation for me to sew rather than buy clothes that don’t fit me

Rachel

Not sure if that makes my boobs my kryptonite :D and yeah, I know what it is. Christopher Reeves’ green nemesis

Anon

Trying to get badly drafted patterns to fit, most recently Rue. I made three muslins of this patterns with a tonne of adjustments but it still didn’t fit. Have now given up on this and Colette.

Caroline

My Kryptonite (big green radioactive rocks from Krypton) is toxic negativity. You know, like the kind you see from anonymous negative dillholes? The kind just designed to hurt people and bring them down? My solution is to ignore obvious dickey, and I sure hope everyone else does, too.

Hey, apropos of nothing in particular, does anyone remember RED Kryptonite? It turned Kryptonians into TOTAL B-HOLES. You know, like the anonymity of the Internet sometimes can.

Lily

Props.

Dee

Wow! While the post you were referring too was marked anonymous, the tone really wasn’t inflammatory. While you may prefer not to hear that someone has given up on Colette, name calling really isn’t helpful, or kind. I am actually surprised that your comment was approved as it appears to be in violation of several of the Community Guidelines.

There were legitimate problems with Rue. And knowing that people were having to make multiple muslins (in one case seven) while trying to get Rue to work was felt to be discouraging by many who were participating in or following the Sewalong.

I sincerely hope that Colette gets the drafting issues with their patterns figured out, and look forward to seeing if they produce more vintage-feel patterns.

Dee

I just realized that it might not be clear that my previous comment was in response to the Nov. 6th comment by Caroline.

Jenny Sandoval

Gorgeous, but funky bodice seams — even princess seams. I always need a FBA and a BBA (broad back adjustment.) Though I’m a 32DDD, 25″ waist, 34.5″ hips, I have shoulders like a linebacker — bony linebacker! Gross, I know.
It’s a killer to see the newest Seamwork top, or the newest Megan Neilsen dress, and know I can’t make those seams. It’s like, “Ooh! So pretty; me likey!” and then “Oh no. Those seams. I can’t adjust that!” *tears*

Tracey

My kryptonite would have to be fly zippers. I just can’t imagine in my head which piece is supposed to go where and it inevitably takes more than one attempt to get something passable. I have YouTube videos and tutorials but mostly just avoid doing them!

James

My biggest problems are, first, almost nothing is available where I live. Fabric stores are like hen’s teeth and if I do make the 2+ hour trip to get to the nearest one of any size they really don’t have much that I want. Extremely limited inventory and very few things beyond the very basics. The people who work there know next to nothing about anything they are selling, just underpaid clerks.

My second problem is that there are so few patterns that really interest me, a retired man in his 60s. What I intended to make when I got my machine was motorcycle gear, riding suits, bags, etc. I have yet to find a pattern that is easily adapted to any of it.

Probably the biggest is that since things here, where I live not this site, aren’t that inspirational I tend t be pretty lazy. I have tons of time but not much to work with. BTW I’m an American living in the Philippines.

Brenda London

I feel your pain. I live in upstate NY but there are no decent fabric stores within several hours drive, so unless I take the train or bus to NYC I order via the internet and have my favorite stores. Perhaps you should check them out as well as comparing shipping costs. As far patterns for outdoor items such as jackets, bags, gear, fabrics and notions I have found http://www.rockywoods.com/ carries everything that I have ever needed as well as inspiring new projects just looking at their products. For mens clothing, Vogue has some very nice patterns as well as Kwik Sew, both of which seem to fit better and have more style than other large brands of patterns. There are some really terrific patterns for menswear coming from independent designers, this site has a nice selection: https://threadtheory.ca/ and most patterns can be obtained via the internet if you have access to a printer, good stash of paper and tape. Good sources of fabrics online: we all have our favorites, Mood Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics and Fabric Mart Fabrics get the majority of my fabric budget along with Rockywoods.. Each issue of Seamwork Magazine has a swatch section with shop info . We also have no access to the many nice sewing workshops offered around the country so I go to Craftsy.com. Their sewing courses cannot be beat (and they have frequent sales). There are blogs by sewist men too and they would be able to give you some good info with a man’s focus, my fav is http://malepatternboldness.blogspot.com/ but there are others as well.

Brenda London

an idea for a riding jacket comes from jackets worn by my son and his wife. They look like regular flannel shirts, on closer inspection, it is a plaid fabric (not cotton)and lined with a wind and tear resistant breathable light weight outdoor fabric like the kind available at Rocky Woods. They ride all over the place, from cross country in the US to cross country in Costa Rica to the deserts of CA (they live in CA) and do not like to call attention to themselves as looking like they have expensive gear worth stealing or being rich people worth mugging. So far they have remained safe.They both love those jackets and of course they paid well over $100 each but looking at them, a shirt pattern would work perfectly if you customize it to include a couple of pleats in the back and armscye gussets to allow for room when bending over. I add gussets to most of my husband’s shirts and jackets so he has room for layering and working in them, got my instruction on gussets on youtube.

James

Finding the fabrics & notions online isn’t much of a problem. My favorite vendor for these specialty fabrics, like Kevlar and 1000+d rip-stop nylons as well as things lie leather, is Textile_specialtist on Ebay. I’ve bought from them a number of times and have always been happy. I suggest them to anyone working on outdoor clothing or projects.
The problem is getting things to me here. Shipping is $65 (24x24x26 box from CA.) but it takes anywhere from 2-3 months to reach me door. Of course you need a lot of stuff to fill that box. I wish I could buy that much fabric but at $20-30 per yard I’m not that rich,, hahaha.
What I’m trying to make are riding suits, complete with armor, designed for the extreme tropical climate here 90 degrees & 90% humidity and of course the tropical sun.
But here even something as simple as cotton jersey to make Ts is nearly impossible to find even if you do take the all day trip into the city.

I thank everyone for their input and will be checking out all the listed sources for patterns that might be adapted to my project.
I already have the Kevlar fabric & thread but will have to find the perfect pattern before cutting into my stash. ;-D

Sarah anachronismsarah.blogspot.com

My Kryptonite:
Getting distracted. Too many ideas, never enough time. Especially after the Internet finishes eating up my time, and giving me more ideas.

Shirley

Zippers. Period. I can study and practice, but there is no confidence there AND I truly have never once in my life sewn in a zipper I was totally satisfied with.

Linda

My kryptonic issue is and always has been jacket lapels. I now plan all projects to avoid to due to the sadness of failure.

Amanda enrichedmacaronis.etsy.com

Cutting. The planning and the sewing are easy, but that long and careful cutting stage just kills me. I’ve got a Neenah dress all picked out, the fabric just ironed, I’m so excited to sew it and wear it! I just can’t get to cutting it because it’s so boring and precise.

That, and having no time after working a full time job. But I can find it when I need it, so that’s not really full-on kryptonite.

megan

Precision. I was a knitter first, and its really easy to fudge mistakes and keep going, knowing no one will ever see. Sewing does require a bit more precision than that, and its really easy for me to justify not pressing, or not tracing accurately, using the cross-grain, etc. Unfortunately these things show up more in the finished object!

Jayne empireroombridal.etsy.com

After decades of sewing I still dread zips. Doesn’t matter what I do they are always uneven, particularly in a dress with a waist seam. Even if it’s only a 1-2mm out. It drives me crazy.
I am also a rusher. I want it finished now! But if I plan & take things slowly & use all those tried & trusted skills, I can do a spectacular job. I think it’s being an alteration seamstress, i’m in the mindset that everything has to be quick.

Bobbie

Anything silky or slippery, from cutting out to sewing. I know that although I have been sewing for over 40 years, I have never mastered them. I can’t say that I am anything but an intermediate sewer because of it. The only good thing is those kinds of fabrics have never really fit into my wardrobe anyway., which is probably why I never mastered them.

Janette

Bit late to the party, by t better late than never.

My own perfectionism strikes when trying to get princess seams to fit my high bust line, and not bag around the neck or the armholes. I will actually put things off, in case I can’t make it as well as I want to, and I’m the first person to point out mistakes.

I also hate making repeated muslins. All that tweaking, and faffing about …… I just want to sew the trousers, lol.

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