What is the most essential tool needed to ensure sewing success?

I’ll let you figure that out.  :-))

Ever think professionals never make mistakes?

This post is about what went wrong while these rompers were made. (Hit this link to see how the shirt was made.)
Tip: Just about anything that goes wrong when sewing can be fixed.

Well-used stitch rippers
B. Finished, little red rompers, size 1.

Ever have a day when it seemed as though nothing would go wrong, and then it almost seemed as though you had forgotten how to sew? That happens to all of us. Sometimes it seems as though for every stitch sewn, three need to be ripped out. Unfortunately that’s that way it seemed to go when I was making these rompers (Pic B). Fortunately over the years I have become very good at ripping out stitches.

Here is what went wrong 
C. Layout

First of all I should have laid the lining patterns on the cross grain so that the selvage would act as a seam finish for their bottom edges (Pic C). Fortunately, because the fabric is fairly light-weight, the edges could be turned up without creating a seam line on the outside of the finished garment.

D. Pocket lined with shirt fabric


I cut the pocket lining from the shirt fabric (Pic D).

This worked out OK, but if I had cut the pocket lining from the self (principal fabric used to make a garment) I wouldn’t have had so much trouble preventing the lining from showing at the bottom of the pockets.

Tip: Always sew any item, such as a pocket or trim, to its piece before sewing that piece to the garment.

E. Invisible zipper is set
Fortunately there was no problem setting the invisible zipper

The invisible zipper sewed right in (Pic E).

Tip: As done in industry, always set the zipper first, or as soon as possible when sewing a garment. 

Want to set invisible zippers without all the problems and that crazy invisible zipper foot one has to use?

It’s a breeze if you use the detailed, easy-to-follow, fully diagrammed instructions for setting an invisible zipper with a traditional zipper foot, included in each of these books: Six High-End Zippers, Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry, and Sewing Pants and Skirts.  I developed these instructions for my fashion degree students when I was teaching at Jefferson University.

When I set zippers the first thing I do is pull out the instructions I wrote. Don’t think for a minute that I don’t refer to my books. Setting zippers is tricky. Who needs to remember all that stuff?

I then sewed the front belting onto the front romper, but found, to my horror, that the belting and pockets were not aligned

Ouch! Where’s that stitch ripper?

Off comes the belting from one side of the romper
G. Belting on one side is wider than the belting on the other side.
F. Belting does not match at center front.


That meant I needed to remove the belt, sew another belt strip for one of the fronts (Pics F & G).

Tip: Always fix as you go. If you wait, you will just have to tear out everything you have done since you made the mistake, which takes even more time.

I also needed to remove and resew the pocket on one side of the garment
H. Pocket removed. Pins show where pocket needs to be resewn


I. Pocket pinned in place








I  removed the left pocket which had not been placed correctly (Pics H & I). But in the end it was worth the effort. This is part of an outfit for my new little cousin. I want it to be perfect.

Why I wrote this post: One evening my neck was very painful and because it was I kept making mistakes as I demonstrated the sewing lesson to my adult students. I was SO embarrassed, but I was amazed because they didn’t seem to mind. They later told me that they had thought I never made mistakes and were so glad to find out that I did. I thought you might also like to know that things don’t always go so well for me either.  ;-))

Tip: Keep ripping!



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© Laurel Hoffmann, 2019.

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Marlon Jackson
    January 12, 2019 7:12 pm

    Hi Laurel I love your article.

    • Contemporary Fashion Education
      February 13, 2019 6:31 pm

      Thanks, Marlon! You are a great student, eager to learn, easy to teach. It was great having you in my classes. So glad the relationship has continued.

  • I would also occasionally make mistakes helping bra makers sew their bras. And I have to unpick a lot when I am sewing. Sometimes it takes a few times for the brain and hands to coordinate and get things right. I keep going no matter what. Sewing is now a lot more fun even with the mistakes I still make. This is a great post and the romper is so cute.

    • Contemporary Fashion Education
      January 16, 2019 9:54 pm

      It separates the professionals from the amateurs.

    • Contemporary Fashion Education
      February 13, 2019 6:31 pm

      “As ye sew, so shall ye rip.” It’s what separates the amateur from the professional. Sometimes it seems as though I rip two stitches for every stitch I sew. In the factory nothing is ever ripped. But that is because the operators are sewing garments that have been tested and corrected so as to prevent the need to rip. When one is making one-of-a-kind, ripping just goes with the turf.

  • Contemporary Fashion Education
    May 18, 2019 11:13 am

    Thank you! Laurel


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