Fixing Mistakes – Piecing!

This is the first post in a series about something we all know about but nobody talks about:


Now what????

Yes there’s nothing quite like cutting into $120 a yard fabric and realizing you just goofed up!  But rather than living in fear of mistakes and procrastinating projects to avoid mistakes, I’ve learned to embrace them as sort of a form of creativity.  Some of my best ideas have come from figuring out a way to fix some mistake!

My mother always said to quit while you’re ahead, meaning when you start to get tired or make small mistakes, put it away for the day.  Take a break.  Sewing when you’ve had enough leads to more mistakes.  But even if you are at the top of your game, they still happen sometimes!

That said, I’d like to start off with a project where I did actually cut into $120 per yard fabric and realized I just messed up.  Big time!  I ordered the embroidered silk taffeta from Ebay to make a 1760’s waistcoat, which is a LONG waistcoat.  So it’s going to take a little more than a yard of length to do this.  I am pretty sure I originally ordered 2 yards.  Lining up pre-embroidered fabric is a royal pain in the ass – it is rarely setup to make mirror images since it is made for the decorator market.  So I usually cut out the first side and then turn it right side down and try to line it up on the remaining fabric.  Works great as long as you remember to turn it right side down!  I laid the piece on the fabric right side up and ended up with two left sides. 


There was no way to cut another piece since the mistaken left side came right out of the middle.  I didn’t want to spend another $240 so I ordered one more yard, knowing that I would not be able to cut one entire left front out of it.  Why is this OK?  Piecing!

Piecing is a period correct way to deal with fabric shortages.  Basically you join two pieces of fabric together in an invisible way or in a place where it will not be noticed.

Left Front – whole and cut out correctly.

My fabric is very busy which makes piecing easier.  The important thing is to match the pattern carefully.  I was able to cut a right front that matched up OK with the left front with only a small bit on the shoulder missing.

Laying left front right side down onto new piece of fabric – now I can see where to piece.

First I cut out the large piece of the waistcoat right front (shown above) and then I located a smaller piece of scrap fabric that matched the pattern.  I folded under the raw edge of this smaller piece and pinned it on top of the waistcoat right front, matching the pattern as closely as possible:

Fold under bottom of the piece and line up the pattern – pin in place.  I then put the right side down on top of the left side again and cut out around the pieced shoulder.

New right side with pieced shoulder pinned in place.

Getting ready to slip stitch piece with matching silk thread.

Closeup of pinned join.

Starting to slip stitch join by hand.

Tiny slip stitches to the right of the green leaf are nearly invisible. I used matching green thread to tack the leaf.

Finished join – front.

Finished join – back.  The last thing I did was trim the extra fabric so that the seam allowances on the pieces were about the same.

Unless you look really, really close, it is impossible to tell the front of the waistcoat was pieced:

Bill is on the right wearing the pieced waistcoat.

What to do with the extra expensive fabric?  I will probably make him a 1770’s waistcoat out of it as well.  Being much shorter, I can use the incorrectly cut left front and still have enough to cut the right front, even if it is also pieced.

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