So What?

I got a really interesting comment from Xan this morning on the McCardell Update I posted a while back:

First, it has been with great difficulty that I have found time to finally comment on this post.

A real travesty indeed-silk charmeuse sprayed with sizing for this Claire McCardell dress? Not only does it give me the willies, I bet the fine designer of the pattern is rolling over in her grave.

I have had the gut-wrenching experience time and again seeing sewing projects online over the last couple of years borne from people sewing something just to sew something rather than do it in a respectable if not correct manner.

Yours here is obviously such a project. I understand wanting to sew from one’s stash of fabric, but first to mutilate charmeuse with spray sizing and then to do so in order to ‘shoehorn’ it into a Claire McCardell dress pattern for which limp, draping fabrics were never meant, what’s the point? What happened to taste? Do you go anyplace wearing this dress? Is it usable as a garment?

Never mind the fact that the print was not matched along the centerline of the front as San Antonio Sue pointed out on Nov.13-it is simply awful.

As always, I totally support anyone's right to be appalled by what I wear, and to be vocal in their disapproval. De gustibus, and all that, but I did want to respond to this comment, and not just in the comment thread.

(First, I wanted to clarify one thing — the silk was not sprayed with sizing, it was treated with Sullivan's Fabric Stabilizer Spray, which is washed out before wearing. The Sullivan's makes the fabric easier to cut and sew, but doesn't affect the fabric's "hand" after washing.)

This is the part I really wanted to respond to:

I have had the gut-wrenching experience time and again seeing sewing projects online over the last couple of years borne from people sewing something just to sew something rather than do it in a respectable if not correct manner.

It is the fear of encountering this snobby attitude that I think keeps so many people from sewing, and I think that's such a shame. Yeah, that dress was not the best I ever made, but — so what? I did wear the dress (to a wedding) and I got some nice compliments on it (from people who didn't know I made it, btw).

More importantly, I learned something from making that dress. It was an experiment. It was an exploration. You learn a lot more from trying something new than from doing everything in the "respectable if not correct" way.

I'm not saying "throw all the rules out the window!" (I wouldn't have made that dress out of plastic grocery bags or polyester double-knit) but I'd rather live my life trying new things (which are not always guaranteed to work) than making sure I only did exactly what's been done before, what's "respectable and correct," and nothing else. If you're only going to follow a recipe, why not invest in a few paint-by-number kits? (This is why I always ignore those "Copy Ready-To-Wear!" articles in sewing magazines. If I wanted "ready-to-wear", I'd BUY "ready-to-wear," people.)

It's the garments I make from weird fabrics, in fact, that have made me the happiest. Camouflage and stripey skirts, and curtain-fabric dresses, and on and on.

But, really — "gut-wrenching"? If seeing other people's not-quite-right (by your standards) efforts gives you actual intestinal pain, you might want to take some deep breaths and repeat "This isn't my problem" until it goes away.

The designer of the pattern, Claire McCardell, was herself an innovator. She pioneered ballet slippers as shoes, which would have been neither respectable nor correct in some people's eyes when she first did it — but she didn't let that stop her.

If you're just starting to learn to sew, and you're worried about attitudes like Xan's, think for a minute about what you want more: Making something that's "perfect" by someone else's standards? Or the experience and pleasure of planning, sewing, and ultimately wearing something that's a reflection of you, and not the equivalent of packaged cake mix? I know what my answer is.

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143 thoughts on “So What?

  1. I guess sending this poster tix to a Maplethorpe exhibit would be right out then?You sew whatever you want to and party on. It’s your backside, wear what you want on it!

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  2. What’s wrong with using size???? Its used in practically everthing sewn in the industry! Size is just a glue like substance that makes the handle of a fabric firmer and easier to manipulate. That’s why you need to wash everything you buy from a shop before use – sheets, clothes etc etc. For everyday sewing at home I use the humble spray on Dylon starch – quick spray, iron and its SO much easier to cut and work with slippery fabrics, stops seam puckering, fraying etc until its washed out. Brilliant. Cheap. And life is SO much easier! Like I said, its used in the industry to make mass production easier, so why not in the home sewing room?Erin, I love your blog and love how you dealt with this. I read the original comment when it was posted and did a ‘sharp inhalation of air’ muttered a few ‘tut tut’s’ and left it at that, but I’m so glad you’ve stood up for yourself!

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  3. What you do is called whimsical and thinking out of the box. Has she not watched project runway or know anything about fashion just because they say this is what is used for does not mean thats what you must use it for.

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  4. I was taken aback when I read Xan’s critical post about Erin’s execution of and fabric choices for the McCardell dress, but I have to jump in and praise Xan for grading and making available all these lovely couture patterns from the past. I’ve often seen lovely vintage patterns on reselling sites or on Ebay that are only available in a bust size 32, which I haven’t worn since middle school. To take the time to grade and make available these wonderful patterns to a wider range of body sizes is a labor of love. As are Erin’s efforts to sew up these wonderful dresses and reinterpret them in modern fabrics (like the Target curtain–rock on Erin) and incorporate them in her modern life. Kudos to both Erin and Xan for what they do in their own different ways to contribute to the creative world and creative process. I am inspired by both of them.Anna

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  5. I recently had a commenter on my blog that told me a dress I made for my 3 year old was soooooooooooo uglyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!My gut reaction, was how rude! My next reaction was “delete”.The Internet allows people to have no public personal recrimination for comments they wouldn’t deem to make in person for the castigation they would receive. Doing so on a very public and well read blog when you have a business in that area is a definite lapse in judgement.As to her comments on making things the right way with the right fabrics, I can see where she would like these dresses to appear as they were intended. They are quite beautiful as drawn. Unfortunately, women are not Barbie dolls and do not have those proportions, so really it was never in the realm of possibility in the first place.

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  6. What you do is called whimsical and thinking out of the box. That’s a good point. Erin’s is a style of its own, it seems to me, rather like the Eclectic Style we see in architecture…which began (I think) around the Turn of the Century. The Eclectic style could combine elements of all styles that had come before, and was often used when building less serious, more care-free homes, such as summer houses…where people wanted to relax, have fun, and throw off the rigidity of city life.Wikipedia says: Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.I like it! Sadly, some of our beautiful and LIVEABLE Eclectic architecture in Hollywood has vanished because preservationists are often less likely to have a firm set of standards by which to evaluate its “worthiness” (one of the steps in designating a site as a cultural or historic resource).

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  7. I will never understand the compulsion to be so gratuitously nasty about someone else’s work.I had been planning to buy a pattern from Evadress, but I would hate to give her the gut-wrenching experience of seeing how I chose to make it up.

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  8. Xan’s post drives home to me why I’ve learned to think differently. As a teen, I used to think, “Yuck, I don’t like that,” or, “That’s not right. How can they do that?!” Then I realized that I should be thinking, “Hmmm, I don’t get it,” which is an indication of my lack of comprehension and appreciation, and is not a judgment on someone else’s work or choices.Passing outraged judgment is better saved for moral issues, such as political corruption and human rights violations.

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  9. Erin,I must say I love your blog, and appreciate the energy you put into it. I like the way you handled the contentious comment in this particular entry. When we type things and hit the enter button, they are there for all to see; considering our words carefully, especially when leaving negative feedback, is an essential courtesy.As an aside, I love what you did with the nursery curtain fabric! Truly, you see things with an unique eye.Andrea

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  10. I think the thing about ‘home patterns’ is that you can do what you want?? If you go to a designer shop you buy their version of an outfit. If you make up a pattern yourself then surely you can do what you want? A list of fabrics is just as it says RECOMMENDED, not statutory!

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  11. Erin, you’ve always reminded me a little of Ms. Frizzle (of Magic Schoolbus fame) and this just seems like a moment when that’s especially true. What does she holler, as she stands there in those dresses that mysteriously morph into a pattern that shows whatever the day’s lesson is? “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” As your wonderful commentators noted, this is how we learn, and life’s no finished masterpiece; rather, it is a process of continual revision and process. Keep on sewing, and I’ll be here, a devoted fan, reading.

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  12. If my efforts had ever been met with the amount of condescension Xan shows in this comment, I’d have hung up my dressmaker’s shears long ago.My roommate, who is still learning how to sew, was appalled and said that hearing/reading something like that would cause him to trash his brand-new (GORGEOUS) linen fighting cotehardie and go back to his old surcote. (We’re SCAdians and make a lot of our own garb.)How sad that she has such a wealth of knowledge and such horrid presentation.I’m awfully glad I haven’t run into anyone like that commenting on my pitiful little projects.

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  13. I enjoy reading this blog, but I have to say that when bloggers respond to negative comments, those are the least enjoyable posts for me. I understand that they are irksome, but I do tend to think more of those bloggers who are able to resist the temptation to use their blog as the forum to discuss these matters. It just rubs me the wrong way. Same with Letters to the Editor pages that insist on appending an editorial comment to each letter published — I think that it is not unreasonable to allow readers to have the last word sometimes, like it or not.

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  14. when bloggers respond to negative comments, those are the least enjoyable posts for me. I understand that they are irksome, but I do tend to think more of those bloggers who are able to resist the temptation to use their blog as the forum to discuss these matters. It just rubs me the wrong way. Xan, is that you?

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  15. Oracle, thank you so much for your kind message – and for the effort you made to make certain I read it. Heh. I don’t think anyone’s going to be putting me on any kind of pedestal as an iconic good person anytime soon; in fact, I was just recently castigated as a bully over at violentacres.com, in the comments section of a post on Nice Guys Don’t Get Laid Because They’re Creeps. It certainly took me aback. My sin was apparently in having the temerity to offer Nice Guys some actual tips on how to increase the likelihood of their meeting women who might become girlfriends. The offending lines were as follows: For doGs sake, guys, pick up a couple of books on etiquette – yes, etiquette – general grooming, and take dance lessons while youre at it, so you have something to bring to the table besides your somewhat elusive charm. My brother – late 40s, no hair, fat by anyones standards, and a very nice guy indeed, finally met the girl who was right for him – taller, blonde, pretty, 15 years younger, smart and geeky herself. For Petes sake, if you treated social skills as if they were any other skills to be mastered, and spent at least half the time learning them as you do whining about why women dont appreciate you as you are, you might actually find some women who would, in fact, appreciate you – because by that time, thered be something to appreciate.Id also like to point out to the Nice Guys who have only the fact that theyre nice to bring to the table, that the guys who are Nice, and also funny, or who are Nice, and goodlooking, or who are Nice, and also smart, or Nice, and have decent jobs, or who are Nice, and like to go swing-dancing, are automatically at least one step ahead of the guys who only have nice going for them. When a guy is nice, but also whiney, or nice” (yes, it warrants TWO sets of quotes) and misogynistic, that puts him TWO steps behind the guy who is merely nice, and THREE steps behind the guy who is Nice and enjoys gourmet cooking – and cleans up afterward.Nice by itself IS NOT ENOUGH. Its a flippin adjective. If its the only one you have going for you, go get some more. If all a woman had going for her in terms of a description was nice, you certainly wouldnt be lining up to date her. How do I know this? Because there are plenty of perfectly nice women in high school, in college, in graduate school, out working, who ARENT dating, and who would like to. Based on personal interviews with Nice Guys, and extensive reading, Nice Guys all want to date Pamela Anderson – or, these days, her younger sister/equivalent. Polish up your social skills, broaden your own criteria, and stifle your sense of entitlement, and your chances of dating and/or forming relationships should increase exponentially.For this, I was called a “schoolyard bully”, and it went downhill from there. It was my opinion that the person who wrote that (and more) had a perspective on the world, on women, and on me that was such as to prevent me from being able to communicate with him. If anybody would like to see me be excoriated, feel free to go over to violentacres.com; VA is a good, often a powerful writer, but she does curse a lot, which may bother some folks. So your comments, Oracle, probably did even more good than you intended, because I’d certainly gotten my iggle feelings hurted from trying (I thought) to help.And yes, I did feel responsible, but more than that, puzzled, kind of hurt, and very anxious as a result of Xan’s posts. She’s written a couple of them now, and they just seem to be phrased so meanly, as if they were meant to hurt, not just disagree – yet my experience with her has been very different. I wasn’t happy that she was being so, well, mean to Erin in the way she phrased her opinion, but more than that, I was distressed because all I could think of was the harm she was doing to herself with her posts. We come here because we love the place Erin has made for us, and even those of us with different (sometimes very different) outlooks don’t enjoy seeing someone being what we perceive as deliberately mean. I know that Xan has had a very tough time, and that she is passionately devoted to what she is doing. I have cause to be very grateful to her; there are not a lot of patterns in the upper size range for vintage pattern lovers, and the fact that she has made these beautiful patterns accessible to all different sizes of women is a wonderful thing. And it’s obvious that she did it for more than just the money; she really does want all women, from tiny to plus-size, to have access. Xan reacted, in fact (or at least in my opinion), like a religious devotee who stubbed her toe on an apostate.If we were to get right down to the nitty-gritty, Erin’s sewing methods … well, they aren’t mine. I have been accused by other stitchers of being a perfectionist. I don’t actually consider myself one, because I don’t think my things are perfect, but I do sew differently from the way Erin sometimes does. HOWEVER … there are a couple of dresses on Xan’s site that I don’t think came out the way I would have wanted them to, had I made them. I’m not going to specify which ones they are, because I don’t think it’s important. Xan obviously sews with a great deal of care and painstaking precision; that said, the end results don’t always justify the work that went into them. So it is for sewing with all of us.Mostly I’m sorry she’s alienated so many of Erin’s ADaDers; I’m afraid it may have serious adverse affects on her business, which would be a pity, because I think, ultimately, Xan and Erin want the same things: to make pretty dresses, and the ability to make one’s very own pretty dresses, accessible to more people. Again, it’s two different people, with very different approaches; St. Francis of Assisi and Torquemada were both interested in saving souls, and they, too, used different approaches. I think the last thing that Xan would want would be to alienate other people from sewing; I suspect that might even bother her more than the thought of alienating people from her business, because her motivation in her business seems to be from love of the art itself and a desire to share it with as many people as possible.I’m not happy with intentional meanness in any form, and there does seem to be an awful lot of it on the internet. I don’t enjoy mean comments aimed at Erin; I also don’t enjoy mean comments aimed at Xan, because how does that mend anything? However, it’s also becoming apparent to me that intentions and appearances seem to vary vastly between the writer and the reader. It’s possible that Xan did not, in fact, intend her post to be mean, nor consider it as such. I certainly didn’t expect what I wrote to be interpreted as bullying, under any circumstance; nor do I consider myself a bully. Yet someone was able to interpret what I wrote, intending to be helpful, as bullying, and no amount of explanation seemed likely to deter him from his assessment.I certainly don’t want to be in HIS company; so … I’m going to cut Xan a break. I wasn’t happy when someone interpreted what I wrote in the WORST possible light; what right do I have to do that to someone else?Oracle, I’d like to thank you again – and quite a few of the other posters – for helping me with this. It does remind me, once again, that words have power, and what we say often has an unexpected ripple effect.

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  16. Yet another (mostly) self taught sewist. I learnt to sew on my dad’s old machine (my mum does buttons… barely) which he purchased in second hand in the early 70’s for the sole purpose of sewing novelty ties in order to meet dress codes at co-ed ‘socials.’ (think foot wide polyester, extremely bright red and purple paisley corduroy and/or lace. those were the kind of ties my dad created.)so as someone who learned to sew on a machine predispositioned for smart-aleck-ness, i say ‘pooh pooh to you, Xan.'(also, this is coming from someone who sewed in a length of bias tape in a contrast colour right down the middle of her new dress because she didn’t have enough time to do button-holes. AND there was smiling fruits on said dress. and pockets too.)-Belindaooh! p.s. I was in a fabric store today and saw some clearance quilting cotton with little blue roses on it! and right away thought of you, Erin. Then i thought of me, and ‘shirtdress, big skirt…’

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  17. La Belladonna,Im very glad that my message to you hit the spot.I just loved reading your little essay above, and especially enjoyed the comments you made ot the other blog. I laughed through every bit of them, and read them out loud to a friend, who also enjoyed them thoroughly. Id already told this friend about what was going on in Erins blog reagrding the letter from Xan. After I read her your entire comment, she had this to say, and also said I could offer it as an entry to this blog if I wanted to. My friend is a professor of sociology.Some people who use online communication do not factor in that the only thing that a reader of their message has available is their words. Whereas, there is a great tendency in online communication for people to engage in it as though theyre in a conversation. Theyre unaware that they dont have the tools available that they have in a face to face conversation, or even a life voice conversation, to convey the intention with which they delivery their words. So that absence of being able to provide people with subtle cues leave their message embedded only in the worlds on the page or on the screen. So, it is easy for someone to receive their words as hurtful, cruel, pompous, whatever; when the person sending them didnt intend them that way and is often very shocked when theyre taken that way. Emoticons have been a tool that people have begun to take up to try to communicate something about their intention. But emoticons are pretty one-dimensional, and they cant accomplish what people accomplish in face to face talk.That point was with respect to La Belladonnas reflections on Xans message, and how it came across to her as mean. It may have been mean, and may not have been mean. But Xan failed to take into account how it could be read, if she didnt mean it to be mean.Regarding La Belladonnas mini-essay to the Nice GuysTM, and its being misread as bullying, that my sociologist friend who teaches university level students says that it has struck her that with the emphasis on visual communication and the de-emphasis on textual communication that accompanies this kind of communication technology, young people are not learning the difference between different tonalities in writing. They cant distinguish the style of a prescriptive or a descriptive text from one of irony and satire, and theyre very inclined to read literally, as though all that there is to get are the words. So in this case, its the reader that is not skilled at picking out the signs that tell them that someone is being satirical or ironic.

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  18. Obviously my previous comment needed a bit of editing. Sorry, folks! Hope it comes across clearly enough.”delivery” should be “deliver”.Last paragraph should lose a “that” and read, “…and its being misread as bullying, my friend who teaches university level students …”

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  19. Erin, reading this post and all the supportive comments make me teary-eyed with happiness that there are sewers like you that inhabit this planet.I love your blog and will always read it. :DP.S. LaBellaDonna, I heart you too. 🙂

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  20. That dress was simply gorgeous! I read you every day, Erin, because you are so much like me: you love to sew, you love words, and you are all about being unique and fun, not taking yourself too seriously, which Xan obviously does. If she hates people who work outside the lines, than she would hate me: I’ve made a skeleton-print shirtdress, a charm skirt (like a charm bracelet, but infinitely cooler- tacky plastic charms stuck all over the world’s most boring blue cargo skirt), and a bannana-print cotton corset top. I imagine she also deeply disapproves of Theirry Mugler, Jean-Paul Gautlier, and Elsa Schiaparelli. What an infintely pretentious person- those gut-wrenching pangs are doubtless from inhaling too much air while scoffing at others and overproduction of bile as she thinks of those awful people who dare to be *gasp, faint* different from her.

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  21. A perfect example of the echo chamber that is the blogging world. The safe bubble of the blog is akin to kindergarten, where you get nothing but encouragement and praise regardless of your output. Anyone who offers criticism is the boogeyman, of course.I’m with Xan on this one. I’ve been horrified time after time at some of the finished projects I’ve seen here. Inappropriate use of fabrics, mismatched patterns, waistline seams that don’t meet–which means the dress will never, ever hang properly on the wearer. (In fact, a while back there was a green dress photo posted here that I was convinced Erin had put up as a litmus test for sycophants. Sure enough, it garnered raves.)As hard as it may have been to read, Xan’s comment was right on the money. And no, it’s not about discouraging people from taking up sewing. These mistakes are common among new sewers. And they are expected mistakes. It’s not about being a “snob.” It’s not about being against experimental sewing. (Goodness gracious! Check out Xan’s amazing experimental work. It’s amazing.)It’s about NOT GROWING or MATURING in one’s sewing skills and treating the fabric and pattern with respect. Sewing is not brain surgery. ANYONE can do it and do it well–all it takes is a little care and time. For those us who enjoy the art and craft of sewing it can be “gutwrenching” (though I wouldn’t use that word myself) to see such output from someone who should know better by now.It’s time somebody finally said it, so I’m glad Xan wrote what she did, though it’s clearly fallen on deaf ears.

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  22. CLF, it’s okay if you don’t like my sewing. Heck, I don’t care if anyone but me likes my clothes. (Would I wear the colors, patterns, and yes, inappropriate fabrics that I do if I did?) But I think you’re missing the point — you may think that Xan’s comment wasn’t about “discouraging people from taking up sewing,” but that’s the effect it has. When you think that there’s a cadre of censorious experts out there who will be tut-tutting every error, no matter how small, it has the effect of making MANY people not want to start sewing. Your standards differ. We get it. But there’s room for everyone in the sewing world, including screw-ups like me who insist on using the wrong fabric and occasionally are too lazy to rip something out to move the waist seam 1/4 inch. All I can say is, there are plenty of other places on the internet to read about sewing (including Xan’s blog) … I certainly don’t have a monopoly, nor do I want one!

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  23. As hard as it may have been to read, Xan’s comment was right on the money. And no, it’s not about discouraging people from taking up sewing. These mistakes are common among new sewers. And they are expected mistakes. It’s not about being a “snob.” It’s not about being against experimental sewing. (Goodness gracious! Check out Xan’s amazing experimental work. It’s amazing.)CLF- Xan’s comments were mean and they used hyperbole to convey the depths of her “disgust” at someone doing something she wouldn’t ever stoop to. If you can’t see how that would discourage beginning sewers to see someone who has a great deal more experience, and the guts to put what she makes on the internet for random people to be “horrified” over, then you’re as blind as she is. I enjoy Erin’s stuff because she reminds me that perfect can be the enemy of good, and that sometimes, even when things don’t turn out how you envisioned them, you can still learn *something* and that *IS* maturing as a sewer, despite your dismissiveness.Thank God you don’t see what I have to audacity to sew! Hand-sewn seams that aren’t perfect, and patterns that don’t always line up exactly. You’d drop dead from sheer upset.

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  24. CLF, well. I don’t know what to say. Erin said it well. The crux of the matter is that she makes stuff for HERSELF to wear, not to sell. Does it matter what it looks like if she is happy with it? I expect you shudder with distain whenever you see someone in clothes from Primark or some other cheap shop?

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  25. There are ways to give criticism so that you both encourage and respectfully instruct, and there are ways to give criticism so that you belittle and hurt. Your criticisms should match your intentions.Perhaps people should be given more respect than patterns and fabric.

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  26. There are ways to give criticism so that you both encourage and respectfully instruct, and there are ways to give criticism so that you belittle and hurt. Your criticisms should match your intentions. Perhaps people should be given more respect than patterns and fabric. Thank you for putting that so perfectly, LibrariAnon 🙂

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  27. “I’ve been horrified time after time at some of the finished projects I’ve seen here. Inappropriate use of fabrics … It’s about NOT GROWING or MATURING in one’s sewing skills and treating the fabric and pattern with respect.”Here’s the thing. There are blogs about exquisite and careful sewing — TheSewingDivas comes to mind. Erin does not, has never, claimed to be one of those blogs. Her blog is about dresses. Dresses she’s made, vintage dresses she admires, dresses her readers have made; no promise of exquisite workmanship.You are choosing to be horrified by coming here. It’s as if you went to the local diner and were outraged that they precooked the hamburgers and slapped them on the broiler. If you don’t like diner food, don’t go to the diner.Me, I like Erin’s wholehearted embrace of cloth, the world, and of sewing; she throws herself face forward into whatever she does. If she occasionally faceplants, well, it reminds me of myself.It’s okay to be an amateur. It’s okay not to *care* about taking it to the next level. And it’s okay to cheerfully blog about what makes you happy and what you love.

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  28. LibrariAnon, thank you. “Perhaps people should be given more respect than patterns and fabric.” That pretty much sums up my attitude towards people AND sewing. I taught myself to sew when I was six. This puts forty-five (FORTY. FIVE!) years of sewing under my belt. What does this mean? It means I sew better than some people, and not as well as others. I choose to believe that when people compliment someone else’s work, they mean it. Someone writes in that she loves a dress that Erin made? Maybe she did. Maybe it’s much more complex than something she’s ever tried. If I look at the same dress, and the waistline seam jars me, I compliment the colour. Or the fabric choice. Or the print. Or the bravery of the vision. There’s almost always something to compliment, even if it doesn’t happen to be the sewing technique itself. And while Xan certainly has made some lovely things, she’s also produced some garments which I consider not entirely successful. The fact that I don’t write to her to point it out doesn’t make me “a sycophant”; according to the way I was brought up, it makes me “polite”. It’s a subset of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” I can see for myself how the dress is made, and don’t require someone else to point out any flaws it may have. Of course, if someone asks me for tips on how to better or more easily line up patterns in the fabric, then I’m off and running, happy to share what I have to share. Why is it wrong to have a safe bubble where people can feel free to experiment? Erin shares the museum specimens with us as well as her own work; we’re capable of seeing the difference. There are people who come here who are willing to try things they never thought they could do because of Erin’s encouragement. I’ve offered some very functional tips, myself, in the past; the folks who don’t care for them are free not to use them, and to share their own tips instead. *I’d like to take a moment here to point out that a good many of the gowns churned out hastily under the aegis of Charles Worth, the “Father of Modern Haute Couture”, have been described as … not very well sewn. Sashes cover up clumsy waistline seams, etc. If it was good enough for Worth, why shouldn’t it be good enough for Erin?There are plenty of other wonderful blogs that emphasize perfection; this blog is more about joy. Joy in doing, joy in sharing, joy in learning, joy in experimenging, joy in falling flat on your face. The great thing about the internet is that a simple click of a mouse will take you to where you’re most comfortable.Sara, believe me, it’s appreciated. Oracle, once I realized after the first post or two, that at least one poster was determined to take anything and everything I wrote as badly as possible, I stopped responding; stopped reading the comments, even. Will I make myself nuts if I go back and have a look? Ugh, or find out someone posted under my name? Once I realized that the one poster assumed he knew everything he needed to about me from my name, I knew that it was hopeless.So I came here for some joy instead. 😉

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  29. No problem, Cookie and La BellaDonna. I’m glad to be part of the commenting community here, and and glad to help make it a good place to be.La BellaDonna–at the risk of sounding like a sycophant, do you have or have you ever considered writing your own blog? I think you have a wonderful perspective, and I am one of those people who loves your tips.

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  30. I’ve read this in amazement – what a fuss! Xan has an opinion – albeit a very waspish one – about Erins dress. Erin replied (she is entitled to, it’s HER blog) and there is uproar about HER having an opinion about Xan’s comment? Xan, CLF and various ‘Anon’s’, if you don’t want people to find you lemon-sucking wasps, don’t write such drivvel?!!Critisism is critisism, unless asked for and given constructively.Praise the good, turn a blind eye to the bad UNLESS an opinion has been asked for AND you can be helpful in your critique, not nasty.

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  31. LibrariAnon, thank you! I’m glad you enjoy them. I’m not in a position to maintain a blog of my own right now, so I leave my eggs in the nests of others. Erin is kind enough to give me room to play here, and that’s all there is for now: a comment here, a comment there, an occasional guest post.In the future, though, I would very much like to, and I will certainly let you know when that happens! 🙂

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  32. Now I have a question for Xan, what is the ‘correct way’? Because in my years of sewing (16, I’m 21) which isn’t as many as some of you, I have come across many different ways that people teach as the ‘correct way’. Heck, I have learned and used two different ‘correct’ ways in two different fashion departments at different schools in the past few years, on top of the way I grew up using, and the way at one place that I work, and another at a different work place. Which is correct?Anywho, I really life the dress and didn’t even notice that the pattern didn’t match up until it was mentioned. I really like the dress.Things to now ponder at work (where the is sewing involved): What is the ‘correct way’ to sew? What does ‘treating the fabric and pattern correctly’ mean? Does it mean no experimenting and then not being able to learn and grow from the mistakes that would have been made from it? If we were all to do those things going back through history, what exactally would we be wearing today?

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  33. Re the previous post – I love it!!!!Though I suspect in her mind that the ‘correct way’ is whichever way Xan does it, I don’t think she has an open mind to any other ‘correct way’.Now, to my mind, the correct way is the way that gets it done. First rule is, will it work and then is it fit for purpose. However you reach that is up to whoever is doing the work!!

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  34. What’s funny for me is that I’m a tailor (apprenticeship and everything) and couture-level dressmaker (thanks Grandma! she worked for the best in Paris)–no longer a pro, but I still keep up. And I don’t care if most people don’t sew at this level. So what. I applaud anyone who wants to improve their skills to the level they feel comfortable with, but I really don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it or being disgusted and disturbed by their efforts. I also think you learn by doing– maybe you learn what is “wrong” only by trying it (and then you can learn to improvise from there) instead of blindly believing someone else.

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  35. I think the skill of sewing is like any other skill (say woodworking or writing) – there is A LOT to learn in the journey to being a master, and not everyone wants to follow that journey. Yes, a bookshelf can look stunning with dovetailed joints and exquisitely carved adornments, but what if “holds together and keeps the books off the floor” is all you want? Yes, an expert narrative can keep one enthralled time and time again, but what if you just want to tell a quick story to a friend? Or what if you learn how to swing a hammer, and then are much happier with a pile of found materials, banging away and seeing how many crazy things you can come up with rather than following the traditional path of a carpenter? What if you’d rather sit with the 5 year olds and print haphazard letters with crayons vs. the next epic poem? Part of me loves the Knowledge, so I will at times devour the Sewing Divas and some of the very instructional posts over at Stitcher’s Guild. I do like trying out new skills like welt pockets or creating linings. But when it comes down to brass tacks, the most fun I ever have is taking something crazy, like bits of tossed off clothing, and see if I can piece it together into something Great. Usually I have to break quite a few Rules to get there. At least half the time it turns into disaster. But that’s what makes it exciting.So I can see the viewpoint, if not the expression, which aches when taking another step on the traditional path of learning could elevate the project in their view (I think so many times with my own projects – if I only had…. I’d like this piece so much better). But my actions show that I land firmly on the “jump in head first and d@@# the consequences” and “if you can’t see the error 10 feet away from a galloping horse, it doesn’t matter”. I do firmly believe in getting a read on the goals of the person in question before offering “advice” – and I don’t remember Erin ever bemoaning a lack of couture-level sewing skills or commenting on how much time she had and how she loved to baby each project to perfection. So why would anyone ask her to change *her wardrobe* based on *their sewing goals*? It’s like clutching your heart and telling the weekend handyman to throw out that bookshelf because the corners don’t perfectly line up.Luckily, I don’t think Erin is about to give up on this sewing thing because someone else put high standards out there as the only goal to meet. I really hope beginning sewers out there don’t lose heart either. I also hope that those who do want to learn how to create underpinnings and structure to a dress so that it falls just so, don’t stop at sewing straight lines and say “I can’t get it like the professionals”. Choose your goals, find your teachers, ignore the critics that don’t get your vision ;).

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  36. As someone who is only starting to sew, comments like Xan’s are unhelpful to say the least. And not a very good idea from a business point of view– I liked a bunch of the patterns on her site, and probably would have bought a few if it hadn’t been for her bad attitude towards potential customers. I put a few in a cart, but the more I thought about her comment, the more I thought that those were dollars I didn’t need to spend– or could spend someplace where I wouldn’t potentially be excoriated for using what I’d bought later. In short, she lost a sale, but got to keep her condescension. Besides, I quite *liked* your take on the dress, and how is one to discover new things– or just practice?– if they don’t try them out?

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  37. So posting again ( I am Anonymous from Dec 17th at 7:38 pm). I have come to one conclusion from my ponderings. That we would be wearing…..nothing. Or togas. And no offence to anyone, but I don’t need to see any more naked people. I see enough of them as it is at one of my jobs (dresser backstage at shows). Another thing I though about was the fact that after seeing Susan Hilferty speak about how she created the concepts for the costumes for ‘Wicked”, none of it could have been done if she had treated the patterns and fabric with respect. And after getting to see up close (and touch) some of the costumes, I’m glad she didn’t give them that ‘respect’ and experimented. And I’m glad so many other designers have too. As nice as togas could be in warm weather, freezing might be a small problem.And like Dr. BC, I decided not to order patterns from her due to her attitude. Sorry, but treating one person with lack of respect does damage your business.PS: I learned another ‘correct’ way to sew where I volunteer restoring vintage garments. And now I am off to do some things that are probably not correct to see if I can create a tree costume, including, but not limited to using a cheese grater on fabric, using Crystle gel on the fabric, the seeing if sticking some fabric in the blender will give an interesting distressed effect. My boss suggested the last one and I just think it could be interesting.

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