Jun 12, 2009

Mistakes in Sewing Instructions

After doing many patterns over the years with students and the ones I use for my projects, I start seeing many mistakes in the instructions. This makes it very hard for a new student to learn the right way and the wrong way of doing things.

There's one thing that makes me go crazy when I see it in instructions is leaving exposed seams when working with layers of fabric. When you're working with two layers of fabric you always want to hide your seams to give it a more professional tailored look.

Yesterday one of my students made Simplicity patter 4163. It's a "that's so raven" top pattern. She made view F. It's a very cute halter top. Perfect for the summer.

In the first step you sew your straps and attach them to the top of the fabric of the front. You place the liner fabric on top sewing around the underarm and neckline holding in the strap in place. When you flip your fabric with the right sides facing out the strap comes out and your seams are finished where the straps are attached. After they have the two sides of each top they want you to sew them together exposing all your seam allowances as shown in the closeup picture.

To me this is a mistake. Anytime you are working with two layers of fabric there's always a way to hide your seams.

The one mistake in the pattern instructions - They are using two layers of fabric in the top to make the halter. They tell you to sew all four layers of the fabric together at the center front seam. And again sewing the two layers of fabric to the front bottom. You can see all your seams on the inside of the garment. There's a better way to do it where you don't see your seams.

So remember - always tell yourself "two right sides together. This is the trick to sewing.

If you take both sides - place two right sides together matching up the top seams and sew your seam. Match up the liner fabrics and the outside layer fabric. With all layers coming together at the top and center seams you might have some bulk in the seams that need to be cut out. But when you flip the fabric so the right sides are facing out your seams will be hidden.

The same thing when you're sewing the skirt part of the front to the top bodice. They are sewing the two layers of fabric to the one layer of skirt leaving the seam exposed. If you just sew the skirt (bottom half of the top) to the outside layer of the halter part of the top you can hide this seam too. Press your seam going up and bring the liner fabric over top of your seam folding under the edge to match your seam allowance. Sew the liner fabric down by stitching in the ditch or doing a top stitch.

Again when you're working with two layers of fabric there is always a way to hide your seams. Doing it like they show in these instructions will give you the same end results but it's sloppy with all the seams showing on the inside of the garment.

I hope this helps you with your perfection level. I know when I see them do things like this in the instructions it makes me crazy. I tend to tell my students to dump the instructions and I'll show them a better way of doing it.

Until next time,
Enjoy your moments ~ make them "sew" much fun,


  1. Shabby sewing techniques and errors in pattern instructions are one of my pet peeves. Pattern directions are not complete, nor are they instructive in good sewing technique. Grrrrr!

  2. Yeah, me too. There's nothing more aggravating than incorrect or confusing sewing directions. I rarely read the directions. Shame on me. I usually look at the pictures. I'm a puzzle person. Or,,,, I make up the directions as I go. I sometimes get in trouble doing this.

  3. I am in total agreement with you! What about when they leave out a part entirely. I've had this happen too. Then I'm searching the instruction sheet over and over and it's just not there.

  4. Yes, this drives me crazy too! Although it took me several years of sewing before I had enough confidence to deviate from the instructions or to even consider the fact that the instructions might be mistaken.

    Quick question - with your beginning sewing students, do you always start with a specific pattern, let them pick any pattern they want, or go somewhere in the middle and give them some choice, but also some constraints? What patterns do you recommend for a beginner? Thanks! :)

    Take care, Gwen

  5. Sewing is easy, reading patterns is what really takes skill. This is why so many beginners become intimidated or discouraged with sewing with patterns.

  6. Thank you for posting this Cindy. I encountered this while making another messenger bag. The pattern didn't show to cut the right and left sides of the bag. It had both sides on one pattern. When you went to sew it together you had two right sides! Nice!! That would have made for an intersting look. LOL like shoes on the wrong feet.

  7. Any one can tell the positive aspects in a sewing or other processes but finding out the negatives and mistakes is very harder thanks for shared your knowledge with us.