Aside World Magazine
Fall 2019 Issue
A Beginners Attempt at Sewing
Article and Photos by Tammie Conway
So, I came up with the bright idea--and then decided to act on it--that I would attempt to pattern and make a stock tie while I was on vacation. To give you some background, I just started sewing in the last two years and, of course, it was all due to side saddle. I had never really seen the need to learn before nor used a sewing machine in my life prior to this. I had REFUSED to do home-eck in high school, (because band was way more important... need I say more about my younger years?) so I really did not know how to do more than attempt to sew an occasional button back on or use dental floss to repair (and I use that in the most loose terms) a rip in my turnout blankets before we had people that actually did that for a business. (It is well worth the money for the "professional" to handle it).
Back to the story, Kate Hopkins and Shelly Liggett have been my primary educators on several "trips up north" during the last two winters, instructing me on how to make my own aprons, corset, and finally a Renaissance gown. I started off with them literally going step-by-step and all but sewing the pieces for me. "This is how you thread the machine…" I mean really beginner. I finally graduated up from the $99 Walmart special machine to a fancier one with more bells and whistles. (I can do button holes--yay!) I am by no means a proficient sewer at this point, but I thought to myself, you are an educated woman and have seen some stuff, you can do this, this is just a pillow case turned inside out with some extra curves, you got this, it’s easy (or so I thought) … Have you ever heard of having just enough knowledge to be dangerous? Well, that’s me.
I did remember to always start with cheap material for the first attempt of a project,
and that I needed paper to make my pattern. Well, at the beach things are limited, so
paper bags looked good & did the trick. It only required one regular size paper bag. I cut
the bottom out and then opened it (see pic to left). Then,I took my trusty second-hand
stock tie and inspected its construction to try to replicate it, ha. I could see a seam
between what I called pattern A & pattern B, so I made them each a different piece.
Then, there was elastic that connected to pattern C (see pic to left). I placed pattern A
down and pinned it on the bag tracing around the outside (see pic below to left). I
remembered that I needed to keep the stock on a consistent side, so it would connect
correct in the end, but later realized my “good” side (that’s what I call the face) was
actually face-down. Oops. So I had to flip my pattern markings later in the project
(hence the store logo in the later pics). I then messed up and cut it out without adding
the ½” seam allowance to the pattern--for all the pieces! (see pic below to right). Of
course, it wasn’t until later in the process, when I was in the cutting-of-the-fabric phase, I noticed I had boo-booed and had to take alternative measures! I repeated the pinning, tracing, and cutting steps with both pieces B & C carefully placing them on scrap pieces of bag, because I am lazy you know and who wants to cut up another bag?
So… YOU will want to do it correctly. After you trace the pattern, go around the edge and add another line that is 1/2” (or what ever you desire the seam allowance to be). THEN cut your pieces out. You will now have three patterns you need to mark before you start using them. I wrote where I would need to sew them together and where to put the elastic, labeled each A, B, and C, marked the button hole, and for safe measure wrote “up.” I then got out my clearance $3-a-yard fabric and kept the “good” sides folded together and played with my patterns trying to get them all on & with the fabric in same direction as my “original” stock I kept referencing (see below pics to left). I then pinned them down and started to cut beside the line, after the second cut I thought, this isn’t right… its going to be really skinny, oops I forgot to add the seam allowance! Soooo I then had to unpin it, move it over, re-pin it, and get out the ruler to add the ½” allowance line all the way around the pattern which I will admit took FOREVER it seemed (see pic below to right, you can see where I had started to cut and had to recalculate). After that I repeated those steps for pattern’s B and C.
I left everything pinned and cut out the fabric (see first pic to the
right, you can see the 1/2" seam allowance I had to add to the
pattern) then I sewed pattern C starting at the “skinny” side and
went around until I got back up to the other “skinny” side leaving
the gap (see pic to far right), so I could flip it inside out (exposing
the “pretty side of the fabric”). Next was the harder part,I inspected
how the original pattern A & pattern B were sewn together and
decided it appeared that the A & B pieces were sewn together prior
to sewing the outside edges and flipping inside out so I put the two
skinny pieces together, sewed across them (see pic below left), then
pinned open the seams with the “pretty” sides still faced together
(see pic below second from left), then pinned entire pattern A/B
combo together (see pic below second from the right) sewing around the entire thing (to essentially make a pillow) leaving the end open so I could flip it inside out as well. I measured the corners to make sure correct (see pic below to right).
The next part required the “phone a friend” option of the project, I left a message with Kate, then called Shelly to ask exactly where I put the “snips” with the scissors versus the “triangle cuts” on the turns to allow the project to be turned inside-out and things to lay flat. Is it inside curves or outside? Ended up after discussing with Shelly the triangle cuts go to the outside curves (wide part) and the snips go to the inside curves (see pic top left). I also needed to snip all the corners off (less bulk later) which I had actually recalled on my own! (see pic bottom left). I then remembered I needed the iron to see about pressing the seams down so when it was flipped right-side out it would lay flat. I luckily found one at the rental place, but quickly had to run back upstairs to get the scissors, because I needed a LOT more “snips” and “triangles” to get them to lay down (below in middle and right).
I was feeling pretty good by this point then realized I was going to have to get this entire “snake piece” flipped through two VERY tiny openings. In comes the “street shout-out” phase of the project- “MOOOOMMMMM, can you help me!” Thank God we were on vacation together. She showed me some tricks and after some wrestling with it we had both pieces flipped correct side out (see pic below left). We were now getting somewhere, or so I thought. Back to the ironing board to finish pressing. After only two presses I realized real fast something was not right, it kept puckering so again “mom!” and she was to the rescue. She worked her magic and after a lot of pulling and pressing it finally somewhat resembled a stock tie (see below right pic)but what did I do wrong? Mom asked, “did you wash and press the fabric before you started?” Um, NO! I guess I forgot that part in my overzealous push to make my stock so. I am guessing when we started using the steam, I think that may have shrunk and contorted the fabric, which had to have been part of my mistake, another may have been having the bobbin filled with embroidery thread and the top with regular thread? Well, we can’t cry over spilt milk, so guess we will keep pressing ahead.
Back upstairs I went to add the elastic pieces (pic below left) and close the two ends. Some of my other stocks have string holding the pieces together or they tac the two ends together on top and bottom leaving just a gap, but I have broken multiple of these type stocks and elastic seems to work the best for me (did I mention I am hard on things?). You could easily just sew up the ends then do either of these attachments, but I ended up folding the ends into the pieces, putting an elastic piece at the top and bottom of the hole, then just running a line over the top to close it up and sew the elastic in at the same time (pic below middle). It was pretty easy, and again, I think it may last a little longer for me.
The last step was adding the button hole to the center of pattern B towards the point down, so it will stay secured when in use. I did have to read how to do it again on my machine, but it wasn’t hard, and I got it done. Next, I compared the two and will admit mine is quite a bit smaller than the original, so I am sure the fabric shrunk in the ironing process and is probably why I have a few puckering spots, but for my first attempt and learning process it was well worth the time and is a fully functional stock (pic above on right) that I don’t think most people would realize is homemade! Please feel free to leave comments on our Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have other ideas on how my project went wrong or how to further improve it as I am a struggling beginner trying to make it in this side saddle world! Also, if you would like to have a copy of this pattern it will be available in the “Members Only” section of the website at www.sidesaddle.com.