Friday, December 3, 2010

Teaching, Fudging and Old Dresses

This post shall be about teaching and fudging, mainly, but since I don't have pictures of either, and a sewing post just isn't all that attractive without pictures, here's a Christmas dress I made, uh, ten years ago or so?

(Sorry for the ten-years-in-the-closet wrinkles.)

It's a BWOF pattern that I made after having loved 60s style dresses for quite some time, and deciding it was time to make one. I didn't sew regularly then (although I believe this was the Christmas I cranked out the dress, a girl's tartan Christmas dress and two fleece pullovers). The interior finishing is terrible, definitely fudged, but I'm not going to show it to you!

I also have acquired two sewing students. One is my husband's niece who just turned 11. When I show up at her house, armed with pattern magazines and an idea how to proceed slowly - you know, one session to choose and copy the pattern, one to cut and prep the fabric, one or more to sew - she informs me she would like to make this (pulling out an RTW garment) in whatever fabric, today.

Thus, last session, I made my first pattern copied from a finished garment (who's the student then?), in this case a very simple shrug with long sleeves. She cut it out, sort of leaving seam allowances, sewed it together, sort of straight, hemmed it and happily wears it now. Definitely fudged, but she had fun, likes the result, and who am I to say sewing a garment should take longer than a scant day?

My other student is my age, has taken a sewing class and made a couple of garments before, and likes to quiz me on "the right way" to do the next action. Half the time I have to admit that I just sorta, kinda do it like this or like that, and yes, fudge it. She is undeterred and says that she hopes a less perfectionistic approach to sewing will mean more fun and more frequent sewing for her!

What do you think? Would you prefer a perfectionistic sewing teacher, or a more laid-back approach?


  1. Good question! I teach a sewing class at my church group and I'm never sure which way to go. Mostly I try to cover both the "perfectionist" approach as well as how I generally fudge my way through. It's fun to see your students get excited about sewing, isn't it?

  2. I think what I prefer is a teacher who understands the desire for perfectionism and understands the techniques needed for perfectionism, but is smart enough to encourage fudging as a reasonable approach. In which case, sounds like you're doing great! Too fun!

  3. Haha, I laughed a your experience with your niece. That's great. Good for her enthusiasm and "no fear" approach. Maybe you can get her to go your more methodical route for the next garment and make something a little more involved... or not.

  4. I am a fudger, but I would like to know the "right" way before I don't do it. That said, I understand that there is more than one way to do most everything.

  5. I think I'd like a perfectionist teacher, since I know I can fudge things on my own. Like Adelaide, I'd like to know the right way things are to be done, even if I get creative with my own approach later! How fun to teach sewing!

  6. Isn't it fun that sewing has so many ways of doing things??? Different philosphies on what is the "right" way. I just learned a "fudge" in making welting (aka piping) for slipcovers. (that's my latest project I'm tackling(. I've always cut it on the bias, but just recently watched an EXCELLENT youtube and she cuts it on the straight grain. That blew me away, so I asked a friend's father, who's an upholsterer and he says he uses straight grain too. Seems RTW often has a different "right" way from sewing advice.

  7. Good for you! Well, I like to give the options - it doesn't take long to figure out which way people prefer to go - there are no hard and fast rules - but the fun part is an essential!

  8. Who decides what's the right way? Maybe I'm a rebel (: but I'm more interested in the most efficient way to do something as opposed to the right way. Others will prefer the easiest, or the quickest, or the most professional...

    I suppose a well-rounded sewer will be familiar with different ways to accomplish the same thing.

    Also, in working through making a garment from RTW with a student, even though you hadn't done it before, demonstrated something more important than learning one technique: how to figure out how to do something, and being unafraid to plunge ahead without knowing exactly what you're doing.

  9. The most important thing to me is how it looks on the outside. So show me how to make it look good on the outside and I'm happy. Have a great time with your students. It's very gratifying to pass on your skills.

  10. Oh, I like beangirls' response, probably because she's just a shorter, snarkier version of me. :D But yea, I would want to "know" the right way to do it but also appreciate the cheater's way of doing it in a pinch, if necessary. Those gems of information are so hard to come by as a newbie and so necessary to save your sanity and keep you sewing in hard times!

    I've found myself reading (and enjoying!) beginner's blogs who just jump in with both feet and to heck with the "right way" and just willy-nilly sew up a storm. Then love wearing their creations and spread their enthusiasm to me. That's awesome! It's making me appreciate the craft alot more. :)

    Thanks for your machine comments this morning're so right. The just having the machine is enough to be appreciate of indeed!

  11. Love that dress! What great design. My collection of Burda starts in August 2007; someday I'll look for a cache of older issues to round it out.

    It is a dilemma in teaching! I tend to do the approach you do--show the "right," meticulous way and the quick and dirty way. My mom taught me to sew and I was often frustrated with her insistence on doing everything perfectly, particularly finishing the seam allowances with a zigzag stitch (she doesn't have a serger). So I try to be mindful of that when teaching others.

  12. I like beangirl's response, too. I think there are times when you do need to know the "right way" to do things. Once you learn that, then you know when it's okay to fudge and when it's not.

    By the way, you are the first person to comment on my blog. Thank you! If you think that ice water bath sounds bad, you should see the snow bath! I just could not find that picture, though. Come to think of it, the ice water would be worse, wouldn't it?

  13. The perfect Christmas dress!
    Haha, I was going to say something exactly like beangirl, then saw that she had said it perfectly in her comment, then scrolled down and read all the comments saying how her comment said it for them too... lol!
    Enjoy your classes. It's wonderful that you are passing your expertise on to others, well done you!



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