Saturday, May 28, 2011

Updated: Ugh, Ugh, Ugh

I am beside myself - beside myself - about these fucking jeans.

OMG - I actually want to break something and I am SO judgmental of people who get frustrated and want to break things.

I sewed 15 practice buttonholes on fabric identical in every way to the interfaced waistband on the jeans. Each one worked to a greater or lesser extent - that is, after I figured out the right tension and settings etc. Spent an hour plus.

I worked on the FUCKING jeans and not once, not twice, not three times - five fucking times the buttonholer messed up the stupid waistband - which I hate, by the way. Did I mention I had already ripped off the first vile waistband, recut the entire thing with 2 extra inches and re-affixed it to the jeans (the top of which had stretched)?

Did I mention that took me 2 hours?

Did I mention these fucking things are probably too big and I would definitely not recommend sewing the natural-waisted pattern (vs the low-rise)? They're ridiculously high - and I say that as a woman who's had a child.

Did I mention that I finally said fuck it, to the tracks of thread, all inter-seamed, and scissor-slashed the buttonhole out nonetheless?? I know it was rash. As a creative being, I am not rash. I am measured. But in a fit of pique the likes of which made me want to slash my wrists I used the fabric as a metaphor. Maybe I need therapy?

So now I've got a hole where the button needs to go but it's not the right size or shape, nor is it supported at the outer edges by actual thread. It's a freakin' disaster.

I'm this close to actually throwing these things away. I've only ever not completed 1 project - and it never got past the muslin stage. It was the 2nd or third thing I'd ever made and I didn't yet have the skill to see the problem to the end. I cannot believe, given my do or die nature, that I'm seriously considering ditching this project but I am shaking from rage and disappointment in myself right now. I am drinking a glass of wine to calm myself down.

One last attempt. I'm going to try to find Patty's post on hand working buttonholes and see if I can save this thing.

I will not rip off the waistband and try again. Life is too short for that kind of misery.

Please tell me if you've ever had this awful sort of sewing experience. One where you wrecked things right at the end. I need to know I'm not alone.

I want to cry.

Update: So I worked on trying to fix the buttonhole by hand last night (an hour plus) but it still looks as hideous as ever. I even thew them in the wash. FYI, washing machines do not fix stitching as they clean.

Here's where I'm at (and I may do a more fulsome post deconstructing things, but in lieu of that):
  • I did put the button on and do them up. They are most definitely too big everywhere.
  • The crotch length is too low (not tremendously, but still requires tweaking). This is the most useful piece of take-away, should I decide (one crazy day) to revisit this pattern.
  • Were I to make them again, I'd go down a size (to the U), use the low rise pattern (though this doesn't address the need for a contour waistband), and shorten the crotch by half an inch.
Take away:
  • I have more (gorgeous) RTW jeans than anyone needs.
  • My Brother machine, for its many good points, is shit at doing buttonholes at the best of times. I cannot, in good faith, even attempt to use it for this purpose anymore (not like I've done more than 3 projects with one button hole, but you know what I mean).
  • I'm going to have to figure out how to use my Singer straight stitch with buttonhole attachment (the machine, arguably, I should have used all along - despite my apprehension about not understanding it well enough). I mean, the attachment comes with vintage, space-aged directions!
  • As a result of this project, I now know how to do a lapped zipper, twin stitch sewing on denim (or not), front pockets, back pockets with fancy stitching - and my top stitching has improved tremendously. This hasn't been a dead loss. I will use those skills many times, in the future, I am sure.
I'm going to put the jeans away for a week. Maybe I'll hem them and, at that point, put them out on the lawn for someone who won't even notice the Buttonhole Disaster 2011. I've decided to view them as a muslin (a very painstakingly finished one), as they've given me many pieces of useful information for future jeans endeavours.

Your comments have sustained me in a dark moment peeps - even if it's kind of pathetic to consider something as small (in all ways) as a messed up buttonhole a mega disaster. I know this is a trivial occurrence (though it may help me to understand myself and my motives better). I'm sure I'll write more on this later, but for now, work calls...


  1. Have you taken a hammer to the damn thing and flattened it like it was wiener schnitzel? (feeling very proud that I used the word Damn in blogland) I always admire people who can just pop it out in a sentence without wondering if others are judging! Can you tell how Catholic I am!) Anyhow, I just wonder how pounding the crap out of it and flattening it will help the buttonhole situation.

  2. Quit it! Most likely not a populair way to end a project, but sometimes it can be a very healthy and healing thing to do.

    There seems to be no reason why you are still working jeans since
    1. you're not enjoying it
    2. from your writing it seems you won't like or wear the end result
    3. you're not learning a lot from this end stage and
    4. You're not enjoying it! (worth repeating)

    So what is the reason you're still working on them? and is that reason worth the anguish? (it might be)

    Although I certainly do not think we should make a habit of stopping at the first obstacle, Sometimes it seems that there's a holy command to Not Give Up, Because Otherwise You Are A Quitter That Will Never Amount To Much, and I'm pretty certain that this was not one of the 10 commendments. From your writing it doesn't look like you lack strong will, or tenacity,so obviously if you decide to stop working on something and spend your energy another way,there is no reason to see it as an terrible failure. You just learned a lot and moved on.

  3. I can feel your frustration seething off the page. My take? Since it's likely you'll never wear them, why not just ditch them now? You're right. Life it too short. I'm so sorry this project isn't working out as you would have liked. And you're not alone. I was once hemming a dress too quickly because I needed to be somewhere and wanted to wear it. When I was snipping a thread, the scissors slipped and I cut a big slit right in the front of the dress. It was ruined. I wanted to cry too.

  4. I hereby give you permission to throw the fucking jeans away already!
    You're sewing for the learning and an eventual product -- NOT for this particular product, which you already know isn't you anyway, right?
    I've given/thrown away sweaters, some finished, some un-, that I just knew weren't going to work. Yes, I could beat myself up about the waste, etc., etc., but let's face it: I'm not exactly knitting to be frugal nor is it out of need. And as far as recreational pursuits go (which I think knitting/sewing is, at least partly), I could be spending a lot more overall.

    Anyway, that's how I rationalize it so if tonight's rant and wine doesn't help enough, you have my permission to chuck 'em.

    And then you've got all that gorgeous British wool waiting for you!

  5. You have permission to stop, throw them away or burn them. Another favorite of mine is to take a pair of scissors and slash the he@@ out of them! You've gotten all the experience you're going to get at this point and all you're getting now is frustrated and angry.

    I've been sewing for over 30 years (gulp) and I've had more failures, whether from fit or fabric or this or that than you can imagine. And I'm like you I like to finish things but sometimes you just have to say enough!

  6. Not to the be skeptic K.Line - but let me say, Jeans are on sale for the weekend at Nordstrom:) Especially Hudson. I have yet to figure out the

    Well, you do have nothing to lose at this point (I'm taking a different view). I haven't attempted Jeans cause I love my RTW - and let me say that the J. pattern has the pockets a bit too high for my taste - and I'm a bit of a snob - with my meager sewing skills I don't believe I can compete with the higher end RTW. So, have some fun fooling around!! I do believe you should do an easy pants after this - some linen with an elastic or drawstring waist - get your pants mojo back:) Spend no more than two hours on that project and have some completed pants. Then, go back to the jeans if you wish!

  7. For starters, thank you all for your comments. It's been a bad day here in Sewingville, and all of this permission to put the jeans away has made me feel so much better.

    Connie: I DID take a hammer to them! On balance, I think that the cheapie Brother machine (that's served me so well in other ways) is just not good with buttonholes, in general, and particularly not with the thicker denim. This machine has managed to fail me on thinner fabric with the buttons before.

    Roses: That's exactly where I'm at! How do I get myself to understand that I will not go all to hell if I move on from one project. I mean, I have learned a ton so far - a ton of irritating techniques for the most part. (lapped zipper, pockets etc.)

    Couture: That is HORRIBLE! I feel your pain!

    F: If you're swearing it must be true!! :-) You know, I was all about to start my gauge swatches tonight and then realized I don't actually have needles that are small enough! My Denise set starts at a US 5. I need a 2 and a 4! I think the craft goddess is trying to tell me something. At least, once I finish work tomorrow, I'll have a purchasing experience to look forward to.

    Debbie: Ha! At this point I'm half way there with the slash and burn :-) If you have had these experiences and you're still sewing 30 years later, I guess I shouldn't panic that it's my slippery slope to non-productiveness.

    Pammie: Don't I know it! And it's not like I don't have 12 RTW pairs that already fit me cutely in the closet. What's my issue?? I think I need to make an aline skirt next :-)

  8. Yes, if Mater is swearing that means you DEFINITELY have permission to ditch the jeans!

    I'm sending hugs and good karma your way. xoxo

  9. Oh, I'm so sorry! :-( It definitely sounds like you should probably throw them away....or perhaps light them as a sacrificial fire to the almighty sewing gods? ;-)

  10. I can't do buttonholes in denim on my machine to save my life. Well, maybe with my new vintage buttonholer, not with the actual attachment that came with the machine. I gather you can get them done at tailoring/alteration shops, too, but I suspect you're beyond that.

    Obviously feel free to burn, slash, give to child for "refashioning" (my usual route), but I'd be curious if you can get them at least to a "try on with waistband" stage to see how they fit. Although if you don't think the high-waisted version will be a go, maybe that's not worth it. In which case, slash and burn away.

    I always find the waistband application for stretch jeans a bit hit-or-miss. The waistband doesn't stretch as much as the jeans, so there's this give-and-take to figure out the right amount of fit and easing. And the Jalie pattern waistband is dumb, although maybe fine for full-rise jeans. I'm all about a contoured band myself, but that may be just because I wear my jeans lower.

    Grum. I'm so sorry. I totally wanted you to kick denim ass. :(

  11. Lordy - chuck em. No, I've changed my mind and am now with Debbie - burn them. Yep. Fire the buggers! Oh it will feel fun especially if you're not going to wear them. Only if handpicking the button won't work or you can't be arsed doing it!

    Sigh. BTW my old little brother couldn't do button holes either but I thought it was me. LOL, though it probably was both of us.

  12. That A line skirt is gonna rock! I'm glad you don't need the damn jeans. I think you should eliminate them, that way they aren't a UFO.

  13. Take a break, do something else and come back to the jeans in a few weeks/ months! Or, if you know they don't suit you just chuck them away.

    I feel your pain though, I recently also had to put aside a project as all I was doing I was doing wrong.

  14. OH my, even though I am coming in after part two, the frustration is steaming up my office. Don't hold on to them a week, just ditch them. You learned more than enough, and you don't have to sew everything you know. As you said, you have cute jeans..

    I have to say the ugliest most mom-jeans jeans I ever had on my body were a pair I made, in a sewing class with an "expert" fitter. I couldn't throw them away because I paid so much money to learn to make them. I relegated them to the garden and that fucking pair of jeans would not die. Not only were they the ugliest pair of pants I've ever owned, they were the sturdiest. I finally gave them away, and someone took them. But I highly recommend not following my path and giving them away immediately. I abandon projects and give things away all the time. Life is too short and time is too precious.

    I'm still not eager to attempt another pair of jeans even though I know a lot more now.

  15. So cute, from you and Susan -- my blog persona almost never swears. IRL, it's a very different story. And your sad saga seem to require it, no -- demand it! So fuck yeah, I can swear when the occasion demands.

  16. If it's any comfort to you, I agree that (a) the straight Jalie waistband is a serious blot on the otherwise very good pattern and (b) making the buttonhole in a finished jeans waistband is a pain in the you-know-what. Do try your vintage buttonholer on a sturdy old straight stitch machine. Do not use a contrast thread because it will be ugly (I found mine had trouble on my jeans and didn't produce a perfect buttonhole like it usually does). Go around twice or more if there are still too many skipped stitches. Remember that you will not be walking around with the buttonhole exposed, because there will always be a button in it. Good luck!!

  17. All I can say is do yourself a favor and try to not let your obvious tenacity convince you that you must revisit this jeans pattern before Fall. And a-line skirt it up to prove no sewing mojo has been lost.

  18. K-Line - I also think that RTW jeans have some very detailed pattern tweaks. I can only wear low rise or those pants seriously below my natural waist. Jennifer Stern on her blog talks about some things the RTW people do and jeans adjustment to fit your figure (around Jan - Apr 2010). I may take her class eventually on PR - I am now intriqued about jeans - but, like you, I have some ridiculously awesome RTW jeans (although I'm a 31-32 right now and they are 28-30 waist:)).

    Good luck with your next project!!

  19. Burn the bloody pants!!!! Just torch them them - and enjoy the act!

  20. Throw them away! And do learn to use the Singer buttonhole attachment. It's not hard to learn. I caution, however, that even it might have trouble with a buttonhole on a pair of jeans. Jeans are just hard to make at home without specialized equipment, IMHO.

  21. I'm late to this party, but I just want to say step.away.from.those.jeans!!! While sewing can be a great learning experience that you can have fun doing, anything that isn't mandatory in life (i.e., taxes) that is this painful and angst filled should just be abandoned. I have seen you make beautiful things. And your first sweater? Love it! But unless you actually are enjoying punishing yourself like this? Make something else. Throw them away. Now.

  22. Awwwwhhhhh---I feel your frustration *hugs*!

  23. You sew therefore you are!

    You are a star. I still haven't made a garment in ages so don't be too hard. Denim is difficult and you can always turn the jeans into a skirt and use the leftover denim for patches or patchwork xx

  24. Oh, I gave myself permission to give away or throw away bad projects a few years ago, and haven't looked back since. I just went through my sewing closet and threw away three (3!) skirts in varying stages of completion. There is no sense in torturing yourself with things that don't make you happy. The flip side is, I really really need to get in the habit of making muslins. Every time.

  25. I just read your update and totally feel your pain!

    The machines have their limitations. Perhaps the Singer with buttonhole attachment is the answer, or maybe consider sewing important buttonholes by hand?

    Really, the knowledge is the most important thing. I know you know, you just need some time to sit with it.

  26. I want to break things all the time! :-)

  27. Oh God girl, I feel your pain.
    Now you can understand why I pushed my stereo (it was an old, crappy one) onto the ground when the disc wouldn't play. I was working on my spring line and getting frustrated as hell... and lacking sleep. Needless to say, I haven't replaced the stereo!

  28. Once again, these comments have sustained me - since (in my bleaker moments) I'm not entirely over this disaster... :-)

    Susan: :-)

    CGC - it's an appealing suggestion.

    Taran: That's a great idea! Child "refashioning" object. Yesterday she made "jean warmers" out of her old skinnies. And I'm going to have to figure out the contour waistband thing. It's the only way to go...

    Emily: Let's blame the brand!

    Mae: Yay for skirts!

    Suzy: It's so demoralizing when you're in the midst of things not working...

    Mardel: How does it always work that way?! The item you can't bear to chuck (but that you don't like) lasts till all eternity. Hilarious story!

    Kay: I'm going to have to get to know the Singer better - and that space aged button holer. Thanks for your tips. I'm sure they will come in very handy...

    LAP: I don't feel there's any danger in that :-)

    Pammie: I think we can't compete with the industrial machinery and commercial denim in most instances.

    DaneMum: I can see were a group of fire-loving bloggers here! :-)

    SewingLibrarian: I'm going to figure out that button holer. It's on the agenda.

    Elle: Thank you for reminding me that I have made some wearable items :-) It's hard for me to admit defeat. So I'm choosing to concede this round to "the learning opportunity goddess" :-)

    Vic: Thank you!!

    Kate: Such good ideas for repurposing! I know you're going to get back into the sewing at the right moment.

    LSCG: I usually give things away with very little looking back. But this one is a bit tougher...

    Susan: It's hard to sit with the learning experiences that haven't worked. But it's a requirement in this game :-)

    Wendy: No! Not you!!

    Stacy: I was hoping you'd comment! If this can happen to you then there is hope for me! xo

  29. Last night I tried to finish my fab cashmere jacket with some buttonholes. I practised my buttonholes on double layered, interfaced offcuts and they worked! When I got to my jacket though the damned foot snagged my fabric (grr) and then proceeded to eat instead of sew and I tried a few things but it kept getting worse. I think the problem is that when you actually sew a buttonhole on a garment there are lots of seams nearby that get in the way of the foot. I think I've heard of some little tool that gets around this problems but I can't remember what it is!!! In any event even if I had one of these things my machine's buttonhole foot wouldn't fit over it (as I know now). I spent this afternoon carefully unpicking - still looks bad though. I'm tossing up between taking the jacket to a buttonhole service (so maybe there's one in your area too - I think they usually do wholesale stuff) and putting snaps on with big fake buttons on top to cover the mess. It's so disappointing. If there are other problems with the jeans too though I don't think you should keep trying to save them. If it was me I think I would enjoy going somewhere where I could throw them, maybe wrapped around a brick. So perhaps a pier... Good luck with the next projects!

  30. G: OMG - what a horror story! But your new jacket, now completed, is just fantastic. Hopefully you can forget the trauma as you enjoy the jacket.