A few brief impressions of a new Echino 9929

I finished that Echino 9929 I postulated a while ago. I’m quite pleased with it but I haven’t managed to take a full-on picture yet. Here are a few glimpses for you!

The zipper (notice my lovely, even basting and careful clipping of loose threads from the waist seam — uh, actually, not so much):

love a perfectly matching zipper tape

A fuzzy view of the skirt:

Echino 9929 in progress
Bright pink pockets:
inadvertently Georgia O'Keeffe-y


I’ll see if I can’t post a pic soon, I’m definitely wearing it this week!

What's the Fuss! (Or, how not to write about zippers.)

I made Simplicity 2226 this weekend (pics coming soon) and it’s a nice pattern — very straightforward, which is good as it’s intended for beginners. (I liked it because I wanted something that in my head I was calling “a Modcloth-esque bike-friendly skirt” — something that looked kind of kicky and cute, but had good pockets and wasn’t so full that I had to worry about it getting caught in my bike spokes.)

Because it was so simple, I pretty much ignored the instructions. (At this point, I can make a waistbanded skirt in my sleep. Actually, if I could be a sleep-sewist, that would be the best thing ever. Wake up to find myself hunched over the sewing machine, having just finished hemming something? Awesome!)

But in folding up the instruction sheets to shove them back in the envelope, my eye fell on this:

what's the fuss!



Leaving aside the slightly unidiomatic “what’s the fuss,” telling someone “oh yeah this thing you heard was hard is just a matter of simple steps” is step one on the list of ways to make people 1) fail and 2) feel bad about themselves for failing.

Because, honestly, zippers don’t just “appear complicated”, they ARE complicated. They require you to have both spatial eptness and patience, which are two things that it took me years to develop as a sewist. Sure, putting in a zipper is simple, but simple ain’t necessarily easy.

I’m not saying that beginners shouldn’t attempt zippers! I think you absolutely should — I think everybody should. Zippers for all! But underselling the difficulty is not the way to inspire confidence in beginners — because when they screw up (and they most likely will, I end up unpicking zippers at least ten percent of the time and I’ve been doing this for DECADES) they won’t think “oh hey zippers are hard, let me cut myself some slack and try again,” they’ll think “oh hey the instructions said this was simple and I screwed it up and oh noes I will never learn to sew!”

Lest you think I am overstating this, I regularly have this conversation:

Would-be sewist: “Did you really make that dress? I would love to learn to sew! I tried to make a skirt once … but I couldn’t put in the zipper right.”

Me: “Zippers are hard! They take a lot of patience.”

WBS: “I guess I just don’t have the knack!”

Me: “It’s really just practice.”

WBS: ::disbelieving stare::

It’s much better to be upfront about it. “Zippers can be complicated, but with careful attention and patience you can get one inserted straight on the first try 90% of the time.” I’d also include a list of things you can do to make zipper-insertion less painful, like hand-basting (some people have luck with gluestick basting, I’ve heard), making sure you have a good zipper foot, always sewing in the same direction on both sides, marking where seams should cross on both sides of the zipper tape (I always do this, it makes a huge difference in getting waist seams to line up), increasing the seam allowance if necessary, and so on. (Has anyone written a “Troubleshooting Your Zipper Insertion” blog post or YouTube tutorial yet? That would be genius.)

TL;DR summary: telling people something is simple makes them feel stupid if they don’t get it right the first time. Telling people something takes hard work but is worth it makes them feel great, even if they get sub-par results. (Psychology geeks: this is probably related to the “Fixed mindset/growth mindset” paradigm.)

Scenes from a Sewing Room

I’ve been a little scattered with sewing projects lately — not a lot of time to sew, so I end up doing the easy parts (pockets, collars) of dresses when I’m tired, and then leaving the hard parts (buttonholes, zippers) for some fresh morning (that never comes).

Here are some scattered pics of “coming soon” projects:

The Echino on top will most likely be a 9929; the red floral is a new pattern I’m working on. Here’s the pocket for it:
cheery pocket

Here’s another disembodied part, a collar, interfaced with organza (using temporary spray adhesive!), for a new black shirtdress. (This dress is so boring that I can only sew on it in ten-minute intervals, but I don’t have a Good Black Dress and what if, heaven forbid, someone died?)

organza-interfaced collar

I love this pattern, it’s been on the top of the stack for a while:
Woman W3 pattern

Maybe in this gingham?

Today's Pattern Story: McCall 4280




Blue: Look at them. They seem so happy.

Print: They’re like children.

Blue: They know they will die; some even know it will be soon.

Print: Fools.

Blue: Yet they keep on talking and dancing.

Print: What else can they do? Come now, we’d best be getting back to the ship.

Blue: Do you think they’ll even notice when the invasion fleet arrives?

Print: Not if the boys in stealth do their jobs right. Let’s go, this flesh suit is getting itchy.

Today's Pattern Story: Advance 6051



One Dress, Three Thoughts

Gray: Now, wait … was it, “you put your RIGHT foot in?” Or does the left foot come first?

Blue: Goshdarnit, there’s a cigarette burn in this dress, too. I’ve got to stop smoking in the broom closet.

Pink: I’ve had my mouth open like this for forty-five minutes and I haven’t caught a fly yet. Ha! Another thing Mother was wrong about!