What skills have you avoided (for no good reason)?



I used to avoid sewing knits. I didn’t have a great reason for this, other than that I was more comfortable with woven fabrics and knew more about how to work with them. They just seemed more versatile.

What changed my mind was discovering that I could whip up a dress in three hours. Or a skirt in one. And then I’d wear the hell out of them because they were so comfortable.

What kind of sorcery was this? Where had knits been all my life? Why had I written them off for so long?

The answer wasn’t that I was scared of them. The reason is that I’d told myself that knits “weren’t for me.”

I had no good reason for this. It’s just something that I had convinced myself of, and the longer I believed it, the more I stuck to my story.

This was a weird realization for me, because I love learning new things. I am not the type to wring my hands about my perceived abilities instead of just trying something out. For me, learning and growing is what makes sewing such a joy and I’ve learned to take failures in stride.

But still, we all have blindspots about what we can do, or even what we want to do.

We all draw these imaginary lines in the sand around certain skills. I’ve seen honts of it here on the blog, in your comments.

Sometimes these lines make a lot of sense. Maybe you prefer to buy fancy underwear because it feels more luxurious. Maybe you have no interest in working with little seams and small pieces. Maybe you’d just rather spend your time on sewing coats. Those reasons and feeling are totally valid.

But other times, we tell ourselves that we’re not interested in learning something because it just seems too big or overwhelming. Maybe we’re afraid of sucking at it for a while, which we inevitably will. But instead of admitting that, we just tell a little story to ourselves about how we really don’t want to learn about it.

Personally, I think we lie to ourselves a lot about what we can and can’t do.

What’s something (sewing related or not) that you have put into your mental “I don’t care enough” box? Are there any that you suspect are there for different reasons?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 101


Buttons! Well, buttonholes, actually. I had a few cockups with my old machine and was put off them forever. And then if they were ok I’d have huge problems cutting them. I only used to do them by hand – which is fine, actually, but discouraging when you want to make a Beignet or D&D Bleuet – so I never made them.
Now, though, I have a sexy Bernina 1008 and a buttonhole scalpel and am finally about to take the plunge:)


I find that buttonholes are one of the things that distinguish a really great machine (like a Bernina, in my opinion). They make a big difference.


I love my new machine for it’s buttonhole feature! Before, I had never and never planned to attempt a buttonhole ever. My old machine was ancient with a sideways metal bobbin that you almost had to duct tape in place to get the thing assembled. It ate threads and jammed regularly- no WAY would I have been able to do a buttonhole!

My new machine has a nifty lever, and a special foot, and button holes are a breeze! I could not make stitches in fleece, though, so those button holes were made differently- but without the regular kind having been conquered, I would never have wanted to try a new techique called bound buttonholes!


i tend to dive into most things without thinking too much about whether i can do them! i used to think that RTW tshirts were so cheap and so it wasn’t worth making them. so when i started sewing i just made things that i couldn’t buy easily to fit like dresses. as i sew more, i add different things to my repertoire – tshirts are a pretty regular occurence (and super handy during me made may!). i have never made underwear, but that is in my pledge for MMM too – to make knickers (have you seen the new measure twice cut once pattern line? so beautiful and tempting to use up pretty scraps!). bras will probably end up on the table at some point.

i suppose at the beginning of your sewing career, you want to make “Wow” items, but as more of your wardrobe becomes me made, you start to make more every day items, like knit tops and dresses, PJs, underwear.

i have yet to conquer trousers and jeans. this year will be the year (but i;m scared of fitting!)


That is so true!

Though for me, underwear sort of falls into the “wow” category, because I like making fancy ones. They’re so expensive to buy but so quick to make.


I would love to make pants, but I’m still afraid of zippers! I keep telling myself to buy one and just sew it on to scraps to get over the fear, but I’m procrastinating that.


I have acquired a fear of zippers from reading sewing blogs. I used to be able to insert them easy-peasy and I never thought twice about it; now, after reading the blogs of so many bad-ass sewers with zipper block, I totally get clammy hands when I have to put one in. I’d love to read someone write about how easy it is, just so I can maybe vicariously gain my confidence back. =)


I don’t blog but I’m sometimes tempted just to say ‘zippers are easy’ constantly just to combat this!


I’ll say it: Zippers are easy! They take a little more concentration and patience than sewing a seam, but it’s not like they’re conceptually complicated.

But I have a block on approximately 10,000 other things I know aren’t hard at all, so I sympathize.


Really, they’re very easy! I don’t have any problems with them – I prefer lapped zippers (I use Scruffy Badger Time’s tutorial) and invisible zips – and I even have a way of doing invisible zips so the seams match first time. EASY

amy w

Fitting is my roadblock. I can make home decor items, clothing for my niece (10) and nephew (8), but taking the time to do a FBA, shoulder stuff, slashing and spreading….. it paralyzes me. I just want someone to come hold my hand and walk me through it. I found some great tutorials on it, and I’m taking a craftsy class on fitting, but it is such an obstacle for me. It’s like being on a diving board, once you break through that fear and jump the first time, the rest of the time it’s easy. But you have to take that first step and actually do it.


Fitting is tough, but I think it helps to think of it as a big ongoing learning experience. Instead of focusing on getting one garment exactly right, it helps to have the mindset of learning about your body as you go. It helps me, anyway.

amy w

I think I should look at it as taking time to learn the process and get comfortable with it and the details of my body shape instead of pressuring myself to get it done so I can make a specific garment.


Fitting is my bugaboo, too. I’ll happily rip out a zipper five times to get it right, or plunge into some new technique, make a hash of it, and say, eh, I’ll do better next time. But fitting, ugh. I have such a backlog of clothes I would like to make and fabrics I’d like to use, but I get so frustrated when I can’t figure out how to make things fit. I go through muslin after muslin after muslin but something’s always off and then I never make the final garment… It’s good to read your reassurance that it’s a long process!

I used to think that sewing lingerie was totally-crazy-no-way-no-how, but recently I’ve started to think it would be really fun. Ack! I’m not sure I have enough space in my head right now for working on a whole different set of construction and fit techniques!


Agreed! Sewing is attractive because of the potential of well-fitting items and being able to adjust styles to suit or make styles that would never fit from a store, but getting there mystifies me. I’ve followed tutorials for individual adjustments (full bust and small waist), but the overall fits still haven’t worked, and it seems such a waste of time and fabric and patience. I like the potential; I just don’t know how to get there. Easy-to-fit items are only a temporary solution, as they don’t always flatter my shape, and they’re as limiting as retail shopping.


Fitting is my problem too. I keep buying patterns and fabric, and then they sit there waiting for me to get over my fear. I’m making the Sorbetto top now just so I can be making something. I’ve got the new Guide to Sewing Knits book and I’m bound and determined that I’m gonna make that dress. Hopefully there will be a sew-a-long.


I also have many patterns that will not get made for a while until I figure out my shoulder issue. It was sad to make up my beautiful birthday dress and then have it cut into my shoulders so badly. I’ve since noticed it even in ready-to-wear clothing, but usually it’s not noticed because those things almost always are something stretchy!

Soon, though, with the help of my duct tape dummy Mia and probably a lot of muslin and internet research, I will unravel the mystery and then look out! There will be gorgeous clothes.


Hand sewing and Linings. I have no idea what I’m doing with hand sewing and it’s needed all the time! I know it’s silly but I can’t stand unlined dresses (other than sundresses) so since most patterns don’t have instructions for linings, I avoid making the dress. ridiculous, I know!
I also avoid shirts with buttonholes as Francesca mentioned above. But that’s because my machine makes crap buttonholes at best and eats my fabric at worst.


Sewing my own clothes!
I’ve crafted for years. I knit, crochet, ceramics. I’ve sewn bags, toys, done repairs and owned a sewing machine for years.
So why not clothes? Honestly not sure, but hypothesise.
1. Not happy with body shape – you have to get to know your body real well to make clothes for it, so making clothes just highlighted all the stuff I hate about my shape.
2. It’s not fantastic the first time (or 2nd or 3 rd) most things come fairly easily to me and if they don’t they’re not highlighted in stark reality again my pale flabby skin. So I can happily learn and practice, but clothes we’ll hmm I had to be prepared to not only suck, but to look bad while sucking!
3. Poor access to cheap fabric and supplies.

Anyway I watched the Great British Sewing Bee and was totally hooked. Seeing how one pattern can look so different by using different fabrics and how by shaping and drafting for your model, you can make some awesome stuff. I just had to get involved.

I still dislike my body, but I have to wear clothes and they might as we’ll be home made. Plus I spend hours learning, finding patterns and sourcing affordable fabrics.
I’m gaining skills and confidence. So all in all I win.


Have you given your local thrift/charity shop a try for fabrics? I have had great success thrifting old bed sheets (great for making muslins) and yards of uncut fabric for other projects. It takes a little hunting and you might have to buy fabric that you don’t have a specific project in mind for, but you can’t beat the price.


Great question. There is a fine line. I know well what I don’t like to do, even if I haven’t tried exactly that activity. Like, there is not much about quilting that would draw me to it generally, because I perceive it to be too demanding (takes a lot of repetitive focus) and a discipline I just don’t have or want to force out of myself. I just like doing other things more than I perceive the results would be for quilting. I might enjoy contemporary landscape quilting, but I would have to have a reason to do it. I just find sewing for the human form to be endlessly interesting.

I am afraid of going “off pattern”, because the pattern almost ensures success. I am afraid of failure, which looks like waste if I have to throw away or recycle the final result.

This makes me feel less creative, however, so there is a dynamic between those two feelings of safe success and perhaps less success technically in the final product, but more creative. Generally if I make something without a pattern I don’t admire the results as much because I didn’t take the time to draft a symmetric pattern, for example. I am too lazy to do that, and in a hurry to express my creativity. I know the discipline part is a weakness, but I can live with a weakness for the sake of happiness, and therefor tend to stick to premade patterns and instead work on embellishing or personalizing them in some, if that makes sense…

So if I know these things about myself, and understand the fear, doesn’t it cease to be a fear?


I’m the opposite…woven tops frustrate the heck out of me! I’ve tried a few and the fitting is so hard! Knits don’t have to fit perfectly, they are very forgiving.

I don’t understand why I can purchase an RTW woven blouse and get a good fit. I’ve tried a couple of different shirts, and 2 unlined jacket patterns….ALL of them had huge fitting issues. Mostly biceps too tight, and that tight feeling across the back if I stretch my arms forward.

Oh, don’t even get me started on “easing” in the sleeve cap. I’d love to visit a factory and see how a factory sewist does it quickly enough for production work. I can’t escape the feeling that there’s something not right about the way the home sewing patterns are drafted, or the way we’re taught, or our equipment.

There, I feel better.

Caitlyn M.

This article might make you feel better about sleeve cap ease:

There’s also a follow-up article on how to remove sleeve cap ease:


Thank you for these links – fascinating! I’ve spent plenty of time fiddling getting sleeves set in without looking totally homemade.


Ugh, YES to the whole sleeves/sleevecap business. One, I hate easing two curved seams into each other. Two, I can never get them to fit well. It’s been almost a year since I’ve sewn anything with sleeves (other than 1 coat). And yet I wear sleeveless garments very rarely, so sleeves clearly have a place in my life.


I avoid sewing because of all my past failures with fitting a FBA. I’m not afraid of anything else sewing related, but the FBA scares the pee out of me! I know how to do it practically(I could do a FBA in my sleep!), but I’ve never been successful with finalizing the fit. Even if it fits, I can’t face stepping out in public with anything handmade that covers my top half. I have a very large chest and a very small ribcage. I can’t tell if it’s a body image issue or a fitting issue and I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone’s opinion! Either way, as much as I LOVE to sew, it really takes the joy out of it for me and causes me to pause before jumping in. I have quite the bone yard of dashed sewing hopes and dreams in a box in my closet because of the FBA.


Have you tried curving the darts? Or perhaps sewing things with princess lines? Both of these can really help you get a perfect fit if you have a full bust and small torso.

Kate McIvor

I can also do a FBA in my sleep, but with darted bodices, I frequently end up looking like Dolly Parton. No thank you! Sarai is right, princess seams can work much better. I also just had a fitting lesson with Beth at Sunny Gal Studio. She suggested I just lower the bust dart by adding a few inches of vertical length between the shoulder and the bust. It worked great, and I think my bust looks smaller. In a couple of weeks, I’ll have photos up on my blog.


I’m avoiding seam finishes! For a while it was buttonholes, but I decided I really wanted to make a button-up shirt, so I got over that. But I finished all my seams with pinking shears! I think I probably avoid them because what I love about sewing is the comparatively-instant gratification: I knit before I ever sewed, and when I started sewing I realized that waiting weeks for a finished product is just totally not my thing. A few more hours for a beautifully-finished product really SHOULDN’T be a big deal, but… on the bright side it’s meant working with a lot of knits, which are such fun and so comfortable, as you say.
Many of the things on my to-sew list are there to be made out of beautiful delicate woven fabric, so I shall have to get over this. I’ll try looking at it as learning an entirely new skill, which was enough to get me through knitting, so hopefully it’ll do the trick!


For me it’s definitely linen fabrics. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feel of good quality linen fabric but I just avoid it whenever I have the chance. I think it’s because 99% of the times I’ve made something out of it some sort of traumatizing event has been taking place(rushed order, not fitting well, headache with pressing the garment, etc). I have made one dress for myself from linen and I think I will never repeat that process again.

Maybe I just need to buck up and get a massive win with linen. We’ll see.. :)

gabriel ratchet

interesting. linen is my absolute favoritest fabric to work with, and to wear.


Well, I just bought some linen and will give it a try! I’ve heard good and bad, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


Regarding sewing I for longed feared the FBA. Then I got a pattern with bust alterations slash lines on them, and figured I had no excuse. Best fitting dress ever! Then I continued with a blouse. Perfect! I can’t believed I feared it for so long, because honestly it wasn’t very hard. The downside is that clothes I thought fit well earlier now don’t fit since I have set myself a new standard.

The next step is learning FBAs for different types of bodices.


I have been avoiding making a pair of tailored pants. I am afraid of the fitting issues I know I will face.

Adri H.

Lingerie is my kryptonite. It seems every time I give it a try, I muck it up somehow. It’s like I’ve placed this imaginary limitation on my skills. I can work with plaids, stripes, knits, etc… I have no fear of so many other projects, but when it comes time to make a simple pair of panties… Oh alright, I’ll give it another try. :(

gabriel ratchet

car maintenance. i can spin, knit, weave, sew (although i don’t LIKE slippery fabric, buttonholes and my inevitably lumpy waistband finishes, i tackle them) and bake bread from scratch…. but i will not learn to change oil or flat tires, or jump dead batteries. one of the most important people in my life is lonnie, my mechanic, and if i could get a lifetime membership in AAA, i would.

Becky omnivorareview.blogspot.som

I was just going to comment with the same thing! I hate car maintenance and learning about engine-y things.

Lynn Mally

My zippers are pretty ugly. I wear pull on knit pants all the time, which I love for their comfort. However, I wonder sometimes if I am just avoiding zippers.


I avoid knits. Partly because I don’t have a serger, partly because I gravitate to clothes that hide my figure like linen and cotton. Drastically changing a pattern and fit has improved for me since I got a dressform. I think the idea of wearing anything more than a knit t-shirt has to change in my brain. Working on it.


I think of these things a lot, and not just in my sewing skills. I am recently embarking an a new career and have all kinds of self doubt, but nothing feels better than conquering something that is scary and challenges you in a new way.

Jennifer Lachman

Embroidery, I have some many adorable projects pinned, but I just haven’t taken the time to figure it out yet.


Linings. For some reason I’m sure I will end up with a muddled, unwearable twisted heap of cloth. The most I have done was line the inside of a bodice, and had to rip it out entirely not once but twice! Since then I’ve been gun-shy of trying another. I’ll read on some blog that a pattern didn’t come line but the sewist just decided to add on… (insert goggly eyes here…) just added it in?? I am in awe.


I highly recommend The Easy Guide to Sewing Linings if you want to learn more about them. It’s great!


For me, the thing I avoid probably falls into the category of small pattern detail. Things like stand collars, plackets, button bands, welt pockets – kinds of things where multiple small pieces of fabric and interfacing are meeting at counterintuitive angles, requiring precision, topstitching, etc. The cutting out is fussy, the interfacing is fussy, and it can be hard to visualise the relationship of the pieces to the final result.

I typically draft my own patterns and so many things about dressmaking are fairly familiar and un-scary to me, so I don’t even tend to follow directions because I don’t need them…but being glued to instructions again to figure out a placket just scares me! And yet I love, in theory, how wonderful a small detail can look.


I love sewing those kids of things because they’re so precise. Especially plackets. I don’t know why, I just find them so satisfying.


Anything with buttons I avoid like the plague. Even after doing a lot of practice on scrap, the buttonholes still look terrible. I’m not sure if it’s the machine or operator error. I also am paranoid that I can’t/won’t sew the buttons in an even line. Now that I’m writing this I feel so silly. I’m no sewing perfectionist, so I think if I simply dove in and bought a pattern with buttons it probably would turn out “okay enough.”


It took me a long time from learning to sew to sewing clothing at all because I was intimidated by everything. One of the first successful clothing items I ever made, and got actual compliments from family members about how professional it looked, was the tulip skirt from The Colette Sewing handbook. I had sewn darts, a facing on the waist and a facing on the hem, and even a zipper closure. It made me think I could do anything.

Now, I’m even experimenting with making things from my own patterns and trying elements that would have terrified me years ago. So, I’d say, there is really nothing that I won’t try at this point. Even if I fail miserably, I can always try again. And again…and again :)


That is awesome, and what a great outlook!


I’ve been avoiding learning to use the invisible zipper foot I bought, because I’m scared I will screw things up. But I had been avoiding learning to use a double needle and then tracing patterns, both of which turned out to be pretty easy and so worth it (especially the double needle)!


Buttonholes and sewing for myself. I do make bound buttonholes, but my old machine ruined a few things because it was so terrible at buttonholes so now I don’t trust my new one to do them right. I’m sure it would, but I just can’t pull that trigger yet. Bound buttonholes aren’t that bad, although they do take a little bit longer.

I sew clothes for my kids and make things for others, but it’s been a long time since I’ve sewed for myself. I have a body shape that’s very hard to fit, and although I know all the ins and outs of how to fit myself, I just…don’t. I’m very slow and don’t get much time to sew, and the thought of taking a month to make one pair of pants is overwhelming. I’ll buy some off-the-rack pants that gap at the waist and aren’t quite the right length instead, even though I know it’s not putting my best foot forward.


I’ve always believed that it’s possible to learn anything from a book, except skydiving and neurosurgery. So I’m not too afraid to jump into new techniques and challenges. Actually I have a hard time slowing down enough to do a muslin or test stitching with a project I’m really excited about, which is unfortunate, because them I often make avoidable errors that can’t be fixed after the fact. Sigh. However, I have made pants and pants with fly-fronts and welt pockets and lots of different kinds of sleeves including set-in and raglan and two-piece and bat-wing, and I’ve sewed with knits and wovens and slippery fabrics like silks and (the one I hated most) satanic taffeta, so-called because no matter what needle I used, it would break the tinsel-like fibre and cause it to run. So frustrating. But I did finish the dress and my daughter looked cute in it. I love zippers. I used to hate buttonholes but my new machine does them automatically, so now I love them. Yay for automatic buttonholes!

That’s not to say I do all these things perfectly, or even well sometimes.

But there are plenty of other things I avoid, and I’ve come to see that it’s usually because it’s something my mom values. Now please believe me when I say that no sane person would want to be my mother; she’s mean, vindictive, immature, and as a result also very isolated. And after about 40 years of doing everything I can to NOT be my mother, I’ve realized I take it to extremes. Care about fashion? Like shopping? Put effort into my appearance? Complain about things? Learn business skills? Make a decent living? God no, that’s something my MOTHER would do. It’s a bit silly and I’m trying to get over it.

That may not have been exactly the kind of answer you were looking for, but I’ll bet I’m not the only one. It’s funny. I tackled sewing and other crafty stuff because it was very much not something my mother would do (she shopped a lot and bought very nice stuff for herself), and I think for a long time I avoided sewing clothing for myself because, again, clothing was something my mother liked. So I bought and owned as little clothing as possible. Now that I’m trying to be a little but more aware of this dynamic in myself, I’m getting more and more into sewing my own clothes, making nice things from nice fabrics, and really enjoying it.


That is really interesting. I’ve heard a lot of stories that are the inverse of yours, of women sewing in order to connect with older generations.

But I bet this is not uncommon. When I meet other sewists, they often talk about how this skill seems to have skipped a generation.


Very true. My grandmother sewed all kinds of things, and my aunts are always telling me that I take after her.


Ooh, great question! Pants are the thing for me- I struggled with fitting shorts a few years ago and never got back on the horse! I tell myself that I don’t need to sew my own jeans, even though I wear them nearly every day, because I love my Levi’s, but really, I’m just too chicken to try them out! I feel like I will spend hours and hours and hours working on something that will look sloppy and won’t stand up to the heavy wear that my pants get.


Give them a go, I reckon you’d be pleased. I made a pair for myself that don’t fit right, I even managed to put puckers in the yoke to waistband seam. But people just don’t know that these are memade. Jean fit is really forgiving, the biggest problem I found was too much lycra meaning I had to take in side seams.

Take a look at the construction process Ande Whall uses for his jeans – I followed this and even though I got loopy threads my jeans are solid. They are super fast to make when top stitching is part of the construction process. If I hadn’t been learning I could have made the pair with 1 spool of 30m top stitching thread plus a bobbin of universal thread. The only gotcha is that he uses a button fly, it takes a little planning to adapt the process for a zip but it is worth it for the solid construction.

My irrational fear is of buttonholes. I use an old singer buttonholer when I have to (like on a pair of jeans) otherwise I resort to handmade.


I felt the same way about knits. I actually do have a good reason for not sewing with them–I only have straight stitch–but there was a time when I was also against them in principle, for making my life easier or something. Wearing woven blouses almost every day for three months changed my mind! Knits are a godsend…

I am also unreasonably terrified of welt pockets. They’re an adorable little detail but will I put them on things? Nope!

melissa evans

I’ve never put in a standard zipper. I first learned to do invisible zippers and have never tried it any other way.

melissa evans

Another thing I avoid is making muslins. Part of it is laziness another part is waisting fabric to do it


I rarely sew standard zippers. I think centered standard zippers are harder to get a professional look with. Invisible zips look great and are so easy, plus you don’t have to get such a precise color match.

But I do love lapped zippers on the right garment!


Tailoring. Tailoring is one of my greatest sewing fears. I’ve made a wool coat for my husband ages ago, but never went any further than that. Don’t know why, except making a jacket seems so much bigger and more daunting.

Making bras, too. It looks interesting until I get to the buying a pattern and fabric stage. Then, not so much. Knits are…sort of scary, only because I haven’t made a knit garment I’m happy wearing. I’m eager to give Moneta a go, so we’ll see.


Bras have so many components. Just the shopping part can be daunting.


mmmm, I would have to say trousers. two WIPs and a fitting shell later, I still do not have a complete pair of trousers I’ve made myself. I will complete the WIPs but fitting is a big issue.


Coats! Or any kind of tailoring, really. I have several coat patterns that I would love to finish, but it seems like such a massive job and if I can’t get the fit right, or I don’t like it, then it’s a lot of money and time wasted. I guess that counts as a good reason not to do it though, so doesn’t fit with the post title…


Sewing jeans, with all the topstitching,etc… I’m sure I could do it if I set my mind to it, and it would be heaven to have the perfect fitting pair, but it seems like too much of an undertaking for some reason…. Some day though I really should do it. The other thing is bathing suits. Not that it seems particularly difficult. It´s just a step that I haveń t taken yet. I’m sure it would be fun though.


Silks, definitely. I bought a few very nice ones at Mood last year and have a Dries van nooten floral silk staring at me everytime I open my closet. I am just too frightened of them, and the fabric spray that everyone talks about doesn’t seem to exist here in the Netherlands. Or is starch spray safe to use on silks?

Oh and what a marvelous discovery about sleeve cap ease. I always thought it was me! Please, indie designers, make a pattern for us without this darn feature!


The Albion coat and jacket has zero ease in the sleeve cap. I find that zero ease works great for low capped sleeves like a casual coat.




Improvisation. I have a hard time imagining/following through in an elegant way with subtle changes to a pattern that allow me to use the same pattern over and over without my wardrobe seeming samey. I love seeing how different people interpret indie patterns, because it gives me a visual understanding of how different fabrics, notions, and details work to radically change a pattern’s look. I think I just don’t have as much confidence in my fabric sense and creative vision to really differentiate multiple makes from the same pattern.

Or not yet at least. I am making (slow) progress.


How very timely! I’ve been making excuses for the past week about not getting started on a blazer. It will have a stretch silk charmeuse lining and I’m downright afraid of it. So add me to the list of people who fear linings!

Also, jeans!


There is nothing I fear in sewing. A good book, a google search and some time pondering solves nearly everything in my experience. Sometimes it requires a chat with my engineer husband to puzzle it out. There are things I’ve not tackled yet, but it’s not because I’m afraid. It’s because I have a wardrobe needs to fill. Pants! Sleeved dresses! A dress for my brother’s wedding! Tailored winter coat for Iowa’s winters! With a limited sewing time (and of course a bit of budget to keep in mind) I must focus. Lingerie seems like a great task for my process orientated personality to tackle, before I can get there, I have to get my pants finished.

I am not afraid to tackle new techniques or to practice. I’ve grown much as a seamstress (and knitter) by asking myself to learn at least one new technique with each project and to remember it is only yarn or fabric. It isn’t brain surgery.


KNITS. Knits are my biggest fear, mostly because my serger is a mystery to me in a way my regular sewing machine is not. But I’m determined to overcome that fear, one way or another. I have some gorgeous knit that’s been in my stash forever, I just need to make something with it.

I’m also putting off working on a costume because of buttonholes, which I just haven’t done before. My machine has an attachment that works pretty intuitively, and my mom swore by it (I inherited her old machine, which is old and heavy and amazing). I’m sure it won’t be that scary once I start, it’s just starting that’s the problem. But I have a button-down top sitting on my dress form right now, so I should, you know, get on that.


Same, knits! I’m scared of them. I’ll plough headlong into anything else I’ve never tried sewing before but I’m scared of knits! They just seem so stretchy and unwieldy and I’ve had enough disasters trying that I’ve had ties for my tomatoes to last me many years…


Knit fabrics are a walk in the park and top stitching is the same but my one thing I fear are zippers! Any zippers but especially fly front zippers in jeans etc. I don’t know why but I avoid them like the plague. I have the right sewing machine feet and I know how to do them but nope won’t go there …


I can sew, embroider, knit, crochet, cook, bake, draw, origami, paint, carve, reupholster and do all kind of home improvements (from hang a mirror to fix some pipes, add shelves, install lights, paint the entire house or change the floors). I learn on my own through youtube, books, magazines or blogs and there’s not one thing I won’t try. I also can ride a bike (or a horse), rollerskate, surf, jump in a parachute, and the only reason I don’t know how to drive a car is because I never had one.

All my life I’ve wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument but for one thing or the other always put it aside. For 7 years now I’ve lived with my boyfriend and his 3 guitars, keyboard, bass, ukulele and a few percussion instruments, and so many times he has tried to teach me but I’m in absolute denial.

Even though I really want to know how to do it, I think it is because I usually learn all by myself and am my own judge (and a very critical one, by the way), and I’m a little embarrassed that someone else will judge me in the early stage of my learning process the same way I do. Truth be told: I seriously doubt it, as I don’t think anyone would be THAT mean to me, but still.

Or maybe I just don’t want it bad enough. Who knows…


Linings, invisible zippers, buttonholes, outerwear!


Well, sewing clothes for myself again. I learned to sew in 7th grade, (1979-80) and did well, and then only took sewing again as an elective in 9th grade. Then I tackled matching plaids and gathering in the same 3/4 length skirt (what was the designer’s name, the 80s version of Little House on the Prairie?) and a wide-wale corduroy jacket with 2 piece raglan sleeves, semi-elasticized waist, patch pockets with flaps, separating zipper with placket (is that the right term? It hid the zipper.) I started and finished so much stuff that Mrs. Gretsch told me to stop handing things in for credit, I had an A, and told the other students that if they had a problem and she was busy, to come to me and see if I could help. I made beautiful welt pockets on a pair of jodhpurs that I never finished, because I (thankfully) realized that adding saddle bags to the hips is not a Good Thing. The early 80s were great for sewing straight from the pattern, *no need to fit! Oversized is IN!* I made four versions of one shirt pattern. Today, I am leery about trying to alter patterns to fit my large bust/small rib. I can’t afford a good dress form, and I’d have a hard time trusting someone else’s judgment on whether or not the muslin fits properly or needs tweaking. All in all, I’m not avoiding the technique, I’m avoiding a possible failure of execution, i.e. a wearable garment.

Hep Kara

I can totally relate to this! I’ve realized though that while my attempts at FBAs so far have not been perfect, they’re resulting in items of clothing that fit MUCH better than rtw. And they’re gradually getting better still. The point where I reaaly get paralyzed with fear is between the muslin and cutting the fashion fabric. I’ve got two projects sitting in that area of limbo right now…


Zippers have made me cry.


Where do I start?

Knits (I’m terrified of trying to cut the fabric accurately. The actual sewing I think I’d be ok).
Trousers and shorts (HOW WILL I MAKE THEM FIT??? :o( )
Dresses (Again, how will I make it fit??)

I was quite happy to dive in and just do it when I started sewing, but some recent disasters (garments that I spent days on and are painstakingly made but just do not fit) have shaken my confidence. I need to snap out of it and give something more complex a go!


One day I might sew a swimsuit……………… me this is the highest level of ‘knit’ sewing!

Elle harris

I’d really like to make a really comfortable pair of trousers. So that’s fitting and fly zips. I’ve bought clover and other trouser patterns but always find an excuse :(


Sewing with knit material & button holes!

Xenia Kathryn

Not to bash on any pattern brands, but mine is using a pattern made by a certain big 4 company that starts with a “V”. My mom always avoided V—- patterns, and I never understood why until I tried one myself. Ugh. Maybe I need to give it another shot, now that I have more experience.

I do like sewing knits, but I usually feel more “put together” in wovens… however, I’m working on being open-minded about adding more handmade knitwear into my sewing queue. Maybe there’s a Moneta in my future? :D


I have had the same experience. The final products don’t fit and they are just too small. My sister, more experienced working with them than I, said they make patterns for flat people, not people with curves. That description meshed up with what I was finding.

Mikhaela from Polka Dot Overload blog

Buttonholes and hemming. I have a really nice machine (a Viking Platinum 730) that I love but somehow I manage to muck the buttonholes up every time and can never get them evenly spaced or stitching properly.

And hemming… I have made maybe 50 or 60 garments so far in my sewing journey and I am rather ashamed by the percentage of knit dresses and skirts I just leave unhemmed because I struggle to figure out the right length, to get the hem nice and flat and un-rippled and my husband doesn’t feel comfortable helping me pin the hem to level it. It’s a huge mental block.

(I do hem all my pencil skirts and straight skirts, it’s the fuller, drapier or circle or half circle skirts that flummox me).

gabriel ratchet

two thoughts:

1) on the buttonholes, don’t try to mark the whole buttonhole…. do some practicing, so you know what the machine is going to do from the very first needle insertion, and then you need only mark that point. it’s easier to get them spaced properly that way. if your machine is mucking them up, then you should arrange a session for the two of you with a viking dealer. a thread tension adjustment might help with the balance of the stitch between upper and lower thread, or a stitch length adjustment for better coverage.

2) especially on a fuller skirt, don’t try to pin the hem all the way around while you’re wearing it. mark the length you want in only one spot, or perhaps the side seams, and then lay the garment flat on a surface large enough to support it, pin it up carefully, and then try the garment back on to check. if you watch a tailor, they never mark all the way around, they generally mark in one, at most two, places. i do it this way because i don’t have a sewing helper, either.


Does pattern making count? I know a bit of pattern manipulation (like adding pleats or gathers), but I always feel like pattern drafting is something I’d have to really study and focus on. I’m all about “the journey rather than the destination,” but I barely have enough time or energy to sew as much as I used to, so I’d rather just cut out a ready-made pattern and know it will end up a finished, wearable garment.

Perhaps if I went about it through practice– draft just the sleeves for a sleeveless dress, turn a zip-up top into a button-up top, that kind of thing. That’s pretty much how I learned how to knit, so I don’t know why I’m so intimidated to teach myself pattern drafting.


In contrast to most I dread sewing with wovens. They are not as forgiving or comfortable for me so I seem to avoid them most of the time when sewing for myself. The second part of this is fitting, – it takes time and more so for anything woven than it does for a knit.
For my daughter, it’s a bit different since she has a youthful, easier figure to deal with and can get away with fitted things, both woven and knit.
Ironically, I really dig pattern manip and have a lot of books and took 2 Craftsy classes on the subject and found it all totally entertaining. Go fig.
In the “I really don’t care” slot I can plug in bras- they seem too fiddly to me. I’m not full busted and can still get away with a bra extender. For awhile, panties were also in this catagory, but they are moving out of it because of fit and the inability of some makers to cut their pattern on grain. Also don’t like how some of their elastics feel next to my skin.


Yeep, where to start? Mainly with pants and shorts which Ive partly conquered thanks to the Sewaholic pants pattern (perfect for pear-shaped people like me) and super thin, silky, drapy fabric which I now spray with starch before cutting but recently its occcured to me I have a huge phobia of BUTTONS!! I have never ever sewn a button hole in the whole 3 years I’ve been sewing!!


After one terrible attempt at a soft bra, I decided that I’d just buy bras because I didn’t care enough to bother making them. Well, my weight has gone up a bit lately, I no longer have a single bra that fits me properly and I’ve finally cracked it. I just ordered bra pattern and kit today and hopefully eventually I’ll get decent enough to make a good one – even before the weight gain I can’t remember ever having a comfortable bra. Hopefully I’ll get over that fear!

Hryssoula M.

Many things, unfortunately. I am an awful sewing procrastinator. But my worst nightmare are hems. I have never done one, I aways pass them to my mom.

I have a good mind to sew something entirely by hand, just to get the fear of doing things out of my head. I find that about details, handsewing is better althought it takes forever!


I avoid sewing shorts. I WANT to sew shorts, but IDK if I can make them as tight as store-bought ones without them ripping apart. I’m plus sized too, so I need stretchy denim… Ehhh I’d rather just wait for a sale and buy them then!!

kriston lion

I’m super afraid of jackets-I think because of the cost of the material! I’m in Seattle so I definitely need something waterproof. I don’t like doing muslins. I just hack until its wearable or I scrap it and use it for making dog toys. Maybe I need to get over that! hahaha!


Sometimes, when you have never done something, it becomes a part of your identity. If you have never baked a pie, and you are considering to try it, you might think that if you do you will no longer be able to say “I have never baked a pie in my life”. The small act of baking a pie takes a way a little part of your identity.


This is so true. It’s strange how fragile our sense of self can be, and how it sometimes inhibits us from even tiny changes.


Thank you for putting words to this! My husband is a chef and SO often I say, “I can’t cook” when in reality, it’s just that I don’t cook. I’m feeling empowered to change this.


Shoulders! Who isn’t afraid of shoulders! All the dresses I’ve made have coincidentally been sleeveless.

I drafted my first tshirt last week and sewed in shoulders for the first time and they came out perfect. Taking the time to focus on the pattern and measure twice and pin the crap out of it really helped and reminded me what can happen when you don’t rush!


I feel the pain of all who fear buttonholes. My 50 year old, rock-solid Singer has a semi-attachable buttonholer (“semi” because it always wobbles loose mid-hole.) The great woman with whom I studied theatrical costuming enforced “Hole-phobia” , because there’s no time to fuss with buttons during quick costume changes. As a result, I can insert zippers like a pro, but flee in terror from button holes.


Underwear because (mostly) nobody sees them and they seem finicky. Lapped zippers because I just don’t get it, even after many tries. A nice curved, fitted waistband on a skirt- they never seem to come out just right so I use a facing, more comfortable anyway. Upholstery because it demands precision. Sewing is a happy time for me, so I do only things that make me happy. But reading blogs and sewing books, watching videos does help- things that I used to avoid I can now do without too much worry- regular zippers, using the hemming feet on the machine, the invisible zipper foot, etc.

Jayne Douglas

…skills I avoid…ha! There were/are many, but I found that if I just focus on that one thing I want to learn, like putting in a zipper. I read, read, and reread different sources, I can do it. I practice, rip out, on cheap material with cheap zippers. Got it. Now to use that invisible zipper foot I just ordered. I read plackets just now, something that has been bothering me for a long time. In the 50’s our sewing teacher taught us to make simple gathered skirts with a placket. I would love to that again simply because…. I thought, maybe my simple sewing book has something. There it is! Its on a sleeve cuff, but I think its adaptable. So off I go, always hopeful.


I make quilts, and knit sweaters. The skill I have avoided learning but really really really want to is – sew a few of my dresses myself! I have the required fabrics, patterns and other supplies – I just need some courage. I’m super intimidated – and I have pretty much exhausted the reasons to avoid it, because, it is just fabric and if I mess it up – it’s fine, it’s just fabric. But I just need to find some courage to do it. Your blog is a wonderful inspiration – and your Instagram is a vision of how a handmade wardrobe could be! I just need to make myself take that step.

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