sewing small talk: what’s your least favorite part of sewing?

We all have one thing we don’t really like doing when it comes to sewing, don’t we? For me it’s probably the finishing: hemming, sewing on buttons, etc. Or maybe it’s not so much that I don’t like those details but that I don’t have time to do it. I always have a small pile of items that need those final finishing details once finally I sit down. I’ve been thinking that maybe I need to sit down and watch a movie or a TV show to motivate me to finish them. Others have told me they dislike cutting out patterns and cutting fabric.

what's your least favorite part of sewing?

What’s the one part of sewing that you delay or dread? And what do you do to motivate yourself to get it done?

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80 Comments

  1. Jack

    Fixing my mistakes

    1. Oh yeah, those! I forgot how much I dislike alterations, too.

  2. Nan

    For some reason, cutting out interfacing seems like such a bother. I saw a tip once that if you cut out your interfacing first, you’ll be so proud of yourself. I’ve tried that a few times and it does help.

    1. Interfacing isn’t the easiest fabric to manage, is it? That’s a good idea to cut it first!

  3. Hard to believe, but for me it’s starting. I’ll have dozens of ideas, go on a big tracing and cutting binge and then have a pile of things ready to sew. But I always then put off the starting…. Once I begin I thoroughly enjoy myself and wonder why I stalled, but my worst bit is starting.
    Oh and making muslins. I hate having to do things over and over, so anything that requires multiple muslins is a turn off.

    1. Susan

      I’m like you — starting is difficult. It all seems so daunting until I actually begin, when I become completely absorbed by the task, problems and all. Quite by accident, I recently discovered a way to deal with this, when I put a pile of fabrics on the floor and decided to sew these into a coordinated group of outfits. The task only had one starting point, and yet resulted in weeks of sewing happiness until all the fabrics were used up! Now I’m having trouble starting again, so am right now going to search through my stash for a collection of summer suitable coordinates and start again. Fingers crossed that it works again…
      P.S. I rarely do muslins. Blech — just hate them!!!

      1. That’s really interesting! And a good solution, too.

    2. This is exactly me, Shelly 🙂
      But looking at your output, i want to know what motivates you to move forward.

    3. Does it feel overwhelming at first? I feel that way when it comes to practicing viola sometimes.

    4. Bernadette

      YES! Hard to believe someone feels the same way

  4. Emily

    Interfacing, I hate ironing on interfacing. I used to make a lot of bags but lately I haven’t been able to bring myself to dealing with all the interfacing! Clothing doesn’t usually require much (if any) interfacing but it’s still my least favorite part of any project.

    1. It’s true, clothing often requires less interfacing than bags, where sometimes it feels like you have to cut all the pieces 2 or 3 times!

  5. Elisabeth

    Ripping out the things I should have done right the first time 🙂 I also don’t love anything that involves hand sewing so that gets put off for a long time.

    1. Janet

      If you’ll start sewing my cut pieces together, Elizabeth, I’ll be more than happy do do your hand sewing! I find it very relaxing and rewarding because I really try to make it look neat.
      I live in Canada and possibly you do not. It may not work out well for us…

  6. Lisa

    Buttonholes. I have buttonhole phobia. My buttonhole sewing skills are awful and my basic machine, which is great at everything else, doesn’t do a great job, even with the automated setting. So the thought of making something lovely and then ruining on the buttonholes means that I hardly ever sew anything with buttons. I know I should just practice, and maybe even take a sewing class at the local sewing machine store, but time is limited and I have yet to do it.

    1. For vintage machines, look into buttonholer attachments! Or consider getting a new machine. Truly, some machines do great buttonholes, some do not. It may not be anything you’re doing.

      1. teydyeone

        I have a lot of machines and it is true some machines just sew great button holes while others do not..

  7. Sarah

    I too hate button holes, so I switched to snaps and only do buttons very (VERY) occasionally.

  8. I always feel a little resistance to the interfacing step as well. Also, gathering skirts or sleeves. I don’t love gathering. I’m getting better at seeing these slightly less fun steps as “part of the process” but they’re still not my favorite.

  9. Frances

    I actually dislike clipping notches along a sewn curve. I wonder whether I’ve cut too few/too many and am always anxious about cuttting into the seam. Silly, isn’t it?

    1. Frances, I so hear you! Cutting notche’s requires planning and such constraint—- more than I ever use——
      Except at work! I do have one tip. Consider the depth you cut each notch. Because I learned with children’s classics.
      A great sleeveless shift was over washed and dried and the cotton shrunk a bit and the notches I cut too far in had to be restitched by hand as the seam opened. Just beyond the edgestitching.
      A costly lesson to learn to slowdown, use very sharp snips.

    2. Caroline

      Hi. I actually cut my notches the other way so they’re bumps – that way you’re not actually cutting into the seam allowance! I still dislike doing them too though!

    3. Kate

      I’m a fan of using pinking shears for cutting notches. It reduces the bulk very effectively, and if you do it slowly with a curve in the seam allowance it can also do the grading for you.

  10. Stephanie Spann

    I’m terrible at the finishing steps (hems, buttons, etc.) and end up rushing through them to finish just so I can be done (and then it all looks terrible). Someone said gathering and I think I audibly gagged at the thought of gathering as well. But the thing I like least is making bias tape.

    1. tyedyeone

      Gathering is the worst. Best reason I am a fan of no ruffles fashion and home decorating. I barely survived the 1980’s with my daughter and Laura Ashely in home Interior..

  11. Enbee

    For sure, cutting the fabric. And then if it’s a knit garment, the hemming. Despite the excellent tips posted here I still struggle with double-needle sewing. I can whip out a t-shirt in 30 minutes, but then it takes another half hour to hem.

    1. Rosy

      Hate having to solve problems with my machine- tension, stitch length, changing to foot etc. Basic fear of technology really. I’d rather hand make a dozen buttonholes than try and make my buttonhole attachment work.

  12. Mary Kolb

    When I make a garment that doesn’t fit or when my daughter or granddaughter doesn’t like what i’ve Made is my least favorite part of sewing. But it is so fun and rewarding when they do like it, I quickly forget the other times!

  13. whosewever

    It used to be cutting out the fabric but I’m starting to appreciate the importance of getting that right! Now I dislike making a muslin and I’ve always had a fear of clipping into the seam allowance after I made a blouse for myself when I was 17 and didn’t notice I’d clipped too far until after I’d finished. I wore the blouse often though and never did fix it!

  14. Brenda

    I hate having to re-fill a bobbin in the middle of a project. You feel like you’re on a roll and then you have to stop and re-thread everything …

  15. Mary

    Seam finishing. Always hate doing that, especially on, e.g., Hong Kong seams.

  16. Linda Nelson

    Great topic! Putting the patterns back in the envelopes once I’m done sewing drives me crazy! Also, how to store PDF patterns once used. Nothing is small and easy!

  17. Penny

    The moment I always used to dread was trying on a garment I just finished only to find out I was unhappy with the look or fit. I have since become a strict muslin maker and learned to make style changes to tested patterns I love rather than always having to start from scratch with endless commercial patterns. That’s why I am loving the well drafted classic styles you have released lately Liesl, they are right up my alley and the options are endless. I also find having too many patterns and fabrics stacked-up waiting to be made into projects makes me feel overwhelmed by ‘how much I have to get done’ and zaps my mojo to sew. I have since learned that for me not having more than three projects worth of fabric and not more than three unused patterns helps to keep me motivated and enjoying my sewing time.

  18. Virginia Driver

    This is a bit off track but I just threw a shirt away that I spent several hours on today and am SO frustrated! I hate trying to figure out sizing and fit. I seem to need a FBA and then the item is too baggy…..I try to follow all the solutions for fit but cannot count on the garment turning out well…..it is hit or miss. I have been sewing for many years and am technically proficient yet so frustrated. When I make children’s clothes all goes fine. Does anyone else deal with this? Does anyone have advice to share? My joy of sewing is slipping away.

    1. liz n.

      I make a muslin first.

      Yes, it takes more time, but I got so sick of ruining a garment because this adjustment or that modification didn’t work–plus you waste the fabric you bought for the garment–so I just suck it up and sew a muslin first.

      All the problems get worked out before I cut into the actual fabric for the actual garment.

      (And yes, what is it about children’s clothing that they’re so easy to sew? Maybe because kids don’t have all our curves, lol!)

    2. Jacqueline

      Tracing off from a ready-to-wear garment that you love and fits well is a good way around some aspects of the pattern fitting problem. I realise this may not be an ideal tip on a pattern focused site (so sorry Leisl!), but having an arsenal of trace off patterns from well-fitted rtw means that you can overlay them on your wonderful new indie patterns and work through the likely issues by comparing the differences at key points (e.g. bust, waist, armscye, shoulder etc.). For example, I often swap out the armscye section and sleeve head from my favourite (best fitted) pattern [which happens to have been traced off a rtw garment] and substitute it into a newly purchased indie pattern where this part of the garment may not be as suitable for my shape/measurements. The best of both worlds!

    3. Kristen Shaw

      Have you tried Cashmerette patterns? I just finished a woven top and it fits perfectly! They have multiple cup sizes as a pattern feature. I’m so thrilled to finally find a pattern that works for my full bust.

      1. Many of our patterns have cup sizes as well. I think it’s very helpful!

    4. Kristen Shaw

      Liesl,
      Good to hear that there are some patterns available here with cup sizes! I’ll check it out. I just purchased a rather expensive Colette pattern without realizing that if you’re anything larger than a B cup, a full bust adjustment is necessary. They do include some good, detailed instructions on how to do that, but now I’m not even looking forward to getting started.

      1. Tiffany

        I have found that I need to make multiple rounds of alterations on Collette patterns, and I’m never truly happy with the fit. I’ve had great luck with Liesl’s patterns. I haven’t made any of the patterns with cup sizes yet, but I have done a FBA many times on her older patterns with great success. I just bought some plain white Liberty lawn for the classic shirt, and I’m looking forward to starting with the right cup size and avoiding the FBA. I’ll be making a muslin, though, just in case.

  19. Marsha

    Tracing or assembling patterns and cutting the fabric are my least favourite parts. I know that these will take me one or two windows of scarcely available sewing time before I actually get to the sewing part and it kills me.

  20. Linda Adam

    Buttonholes! My machine does perfect buttonholes but I resist until the last second. I have made perfect buttonholes only to mess up cutting a thread or two when I cut the opening! And my machine can adjust the width of that space to make it just a bit wider!! They see me coming. Lol

    1. Virginia

      I ruined a few buttonholes too…..until I purchased a small chisel-like tool specifically for cutting the buttonholes open. It is extremely sharp and does the job quickly and safely. Sorry I can’t recall the exact name of the tool but it shouldn’t be too hard to find. It’s a little gem.

      1. Jtg

        I have of those too. I never have figured out what it is called. I have always called it a, “button holer.” I went to several fabric stores trying to find a new one and every sales person thought I was crazy and had never heard of such a thing.

      2. Carolyn Ely

        My new machine came with great advise for cutting button holes. put a pin at the point you want to stop cutting and use a seam ripper to actually cut the material on purpose. I hate when I am ripping seams out and cut the fabric.

  21. For me, it’s the muslin. I hate making muslins. They take so much of my sewing time. Then, invariably, I discover that either I don’t need any alterations or I have no clue how to get the fit right. Or rather, I can see where I need to make changes, what needs to be pinned out but my assistant (i.e. my husband) doesn’t know how to do it right. I know how useful muslins are but I dread them.

    I also always tend to stall a little when something is a little tricky. So if I’m trying to match stripes, I’ll be hesitant before cutting and then again before sewing the seams where the stripes should match up.

    Oh, and choosing a size too! Especially for me. For the kids, if it’s a little too big, I figure they’ll grow into it. For me, it’s finding the size that has the amount of ease I want. Going by my measurements sometimes yields something too big (rarely too small though but it has happened).

  22. Sara a.

    Cutting, whether with shears or a rotary cutter, tracing or pinning is no fun for me. I’m not the biggest fan of hemming either, but then I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  23. Fitting is my biggest challenge and trying my muslin on for the first time triggers anxiety. I just HOPE the fitting adjustments ahead are not going to be TOO daunting and that with a good fit the garment will actually suit me. I’ve made up a couple of blouse muslins lately and was horrified to see there was no way I would ever wear that style (The Sewing Workshop Sienna & Cortona Blouses). Besides that it was going to be too difficult to figure out how to adjust them so they would fit well. So I’m onto a different blouse pattern…my muslin is almost completed and I’ll go through this process all over again 🙂

  24. Liz

    I dread making something only to find that it doesn’t fit, doesn’t suit me, or that the children (toddlers!!) won’t wear. As a teacher and a mother of two, I find it hard to make time to sew at the moment so any time I do actually sew I feel a lot of pressure to get it just right.

    1. Oh, this is mine too! There just isn’t enough time in the world to keep iterating a pattern until it fits just right – especially when my son will keep on growing.

  25. Joyce Montgomery

    I love doing the finishing parts. I hate with a passion laying out the fabric and cuting out. I think in part it hurts my back leaning over, but it’s more than that, just not sure what. And I too really don’t like fitting, just give me the pattern that will fit!!! Love constructing, best ever

    1. Carolyn Ely

      My biggest roadblock is pinning the pattern onto the material.

  26. bdizzine

    I am frozen when it comes to sewing. I love looking at patterns, buying and just looking at all the fabrics. I get to the point where I pin and cut out the fabric, sometimes just match the fabric with the pattern I love and then…..freeze! I have patterns and fabric on hangers together ready to go for one or two years waiting for me! I don,t even know if I’ll ever finish anything. Arrrrgggghhhh

    1. Susanne

      Oh, how consolatory that I am not the only one… My sew-jo vanished down the drain a year or two ago, but I simply don’t stop buying patterns and fabrics, always dreaming about all the possibilities. Let’s found a self-help Group!
      Before this, I used to hate tracing, btw…

  27. Sharron

    Cutting out the pattern/fabric. And making a muslin. I know it’s important and I’ll be SO much happier w a finished project if I muslin first, but ugh. I just cant even start..

  28. Mindy

    Hemming. It always feels like it takes forever to do.

  29. Marking the pieces after I’ve cut them out. And when I am lazy and skip it, boy do I regret it!

  30. Judy Cinerari

    Buttonholes, buttonholes, buttonholes!

  31. Interfacing…definitely interfacing. I agree wholeheartedly with @Emily about the bags. I have lots of request for dopp kits and other pouches, but ironing on all that interfacing is so tedious. And I find the lightweight interfacing for collars and button plackets the worst to work with – snags on everything!!

  32. Sherrie

    My least favorite sewing activities are1. Sewing while the bobbin is empty. 2. Replacing a broken needle
    3. Using a seam ripper. We all know that we ripper what we seweth…lol…
    .

  33. Elizabeth Lewis

    I look forward to finishing, because the garment can then be worn, but I tend to rush through the hand sewing bits. I am trying to find ways to slow down and do it as well as the other construction. I’ve started listening to podcasts which tend to help my hands focus while my brain is distracted by audio entertainment.

  34. For all that I’ve done them, the one thing I dread more than anything is closing the seam below an invisible zipper. The zip will go in fine, interesecting seams meet up perfectly, but then I get a damn bubble at the bottom of the zipper, and it’s redo city. Blergh.

  35. Sarah

    Hand sewing anything…I feel like I don’t do it correctly no matter how many tutorials, etc I watch, so I avoid it at nearly all costs or put off finishing garments that require some hand sewing…

  36. Sarvi

    I love handsewing, love cutting out, don’t exactly adore buttonholes but far prefer them to snaps or zips. My least favorites are installing zips, attaching collars, transferring markings and finishing (especially knits). Too bad we can’t set up a swap where I could trace & cut for somebody else, and they could hem for me!

    1. Jukay

      Does anybody else still use tailor’s tacks to transfer markings? It maybe seems to take a little longer but the decision to use trickmarker (will it have disappeared before I get round to sewing that piece), chalk(will it work on this fabric), carbon paper(ditto) in reality takes longer. No need to overthink, just do the tailor’s tacks and those markings are transferred.
      I don’t like hemming either…not when I have to make a decision over length. Obviously the decision making bit is my downfall!

  37. Kim

    I spend to much time and wish i could avoid matching the print on the fabric so it continues in the same place around the back of the bodice, around the sleeves and the skirt.

  38. Kelley

    Just getting started can be a problem for me too. I get all motivated to sew and I trace and cut, and then my mojo totally disappears and I don’t feel like sewing. I’m actually in a slump right now. Multiple projects ready to go but no desire to begin.

    1. Janet

      Kelley, what are we going to do about this problem we share? I have two projects (two that I remember) cut out and ready to sew. They’ve been that way since the fall and because they’re for winter I have no desire to sit down at my lovely newish machine!

  39. liz n.

    Cutting out the fabric and pattern pieces.

    It’s just boring beyond belief.

  40. Janet

    I love to buy fabric and to accumulate patterns. It’s deciding what to do with what I’ve bought and getting started that I find most challenging. Of course I also take ages deciding what to wear some days!

  41. Holly

    When I was young, everything I sewed fit right out of the envelope. Now that I’m 60, nothing fits. Nothing in a store and no pattern. I haven’t had a button up shirt in 10 years that fit. So I buy a pattern, and make a size 14 with a FBA which yields a honkin bust dart that looks like s*it to accommodate the girls. Yet, another shirt that looks horrible. So, back to the drafting board to try moving this dart into 2 darts. Now it gapes at the armhole. This is an $18 pattern. And I’ll have to sew it one more time to get it to work. Let’s see that 8 yards of fabric at $15 a yard. 3 yards of fancy shirt interfacing $10 a yard, 27 buttonholes and buttons $12, 2 spools of thread $6) I’m close to $200 bucks and still don’t have a shirt that I’m proud to wear. I would cut interfacing all day, hand sew all day, and cut and mark all day, if I could just sew straight out of the box. Please could all of you pattern designers put in cup sizes or work on dart manipulation? My least favorite part of sewing is the FBA.

    The tool you need for cutting button holes is a “Clover Button Hole Cutter”.

    1. Sarvi

      Holly, have you tried using cheap muslin fabric? It’s around $3/yard. You work out all the issues with that, then you have a master pattern that fits you well everywhere. Then you can bulk-sew yourself 3 shirts (or however many you like). It doesn’t save time but it does save a lot of $$$

      1. Holly

        Sarvi, at the ripe age of 60, I’m using my fabric stash. No muslin left, only cotton, linen and wool. It is what it is. Still the silk is too precious to think of using. Probably wrap me in it and bury my chubby little body.

  42. Stefanie

    Set-in sleeves. I despise easing. I can *never* get it right. I hate hate hate it.

  43. Diane

    After 50 years of cutting on the floor with shears, after a double knee replacement I’ve had to learn to use a rotary cutter on the table. My confidence has disappeared and I’m afraid to cut anything.

  44. Jan Cooper

    Those darn buttonholes!! I find that I avoid patterns that have a lot of them. Arg!!

  45. Pamela

    I hate searching for fabric when I know what I want but can not find quality fabric in Vancouver, Canada. Years ago it was easy. Now I have to order from the internet. Not nearly as much fun as feeling all the fabric and wondering what you could make out of it!

  46. Susie

    By far my least favorite part is assembling print-at-home patterns. I dread trying to match and line up so many pages perfectly. Theoretically, I guess it could be seen the same as sewing, matching things up with precision and all; but with actual sewing I can see my progress, this step just feels so joyless.

  47. Sophie craig

    I love to wear circle skirts, or very gathered skirts. But i have a hard time fitting lol that material in the waist band. Nd it ends up looking home made.

  48. Susan Terrill

    I think my least favorite part of making a garment these days involves either printing out a PDF pattern, taping the darned pieces together and then tracing the size I need, or buying a lovely expensive paper pattern which I love and have so many of and tracing off my size before I can even get started on sewing. Luckily I have a nice sized dining room table, but it is not always big enough and, as some other commenter have said, my back really aches.

    When the pattern envelope says, “you can make this in 2 hours.” and I cannot even have the pattern ready in that amount of time, I feel really discouraged as a sewist.
    I also agree with the buttonhole people. years ago I had a button hole attachment for my mom’s old black Singer machine. it was awesome. It came in a green box and had little metal disks that made perfect button holes.
    I also hate interfacing.

    So happy to know that I am not alone. lots of patterns and fabric and my buttonholes are waiting.

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