A Cautionary Tale - Trimming Too Close to the Seam


Remember my recent and beloved Peter Pan collar blouse pictured above? After just its third wash I noticed this...



As you can imagine, I was devastated...but I knew exactly what had happened!

When it comes to sewing curves most of us fall into two camps. Those who leave a generous seam allowance and clip into it. And those who forgo clipping and trim the seam allowance as close as they dare. I fall into the latter camp as I find clipping fiddly and I prefer the flatter results that trimming can achieve. Doing this has mostly turned out fine for me, as I normally work with cottons. But with my black viscose, just like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun (or trimmed too close to the seam).

So heed my warning people - when working with fabrics that fray be VERY careful when trimming seam allowances. DON'T trim too close to the edge or your seams will weaken and eventually come apart. I'll even consider clipping next time!

The saddest thing is that I know I won't replace this collar, even if it's easy enough to do. I'm just not wired that way - once a make is done, it's done! I'd sooner make another of these blouses from scratch than spend hours unpicking and trying to fix this one. Pigheaded, but true! 

I hope sharing this sad tale will help save some of you a whole load of heartache in future. What's your cautionary stitching tale?

48 comments:

  1. ARGH!!! How awful! Unfortunately I feel your pain. The neck of my linen washi has gone like this....but I clip rather than trim! So I warn you, don't clip too close to the seam either!!!!

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    1. Oh no Suzanna, sorry to hear that! Doing anything too close to the seam is dangerous I guess!!!

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  2. Oh no! I know what that feels like. My tale is don't cut open buttonholes with a seam ripper unless you have a pin in the end. Had to cut a whole new front to a Colette Beignet. I was devastated

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  3. Ugh, Ive had the same problem with a frill on a rayon jumpsuit I made my daughter. She loves it to death but I cringe now when I see it, so will have some unpicking to do! But I also hate clipping, so I had to expect it!

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    1. Oh dear Bec, that must be so annoying!

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  4. Oh knickers! What about sewing some black bias tape around the collar edges, and call it a design feature?! ;)

    I've learnt to step away from the sewing machine when something isn't going right, and come back when my mind is fresh, otherwise I make a complete mess of it!

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    1. Lynne, that's a really good suggestions...maybe I can salvage it if I try!

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  5. I'm sad to see that collar go - it's so darn cute! I wish you would make another one :)

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    1. I know, I know! Well people's suggestion to try bias trim or lace might be an easy fix!

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  6. Trim, but with pinking shears - the best of both worlds.

    And maybe you can put a black trim on the collar edge. No picking involved. :-)

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    1. Great advice on both accounts, thanks!

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  7. Oh no! I learned that the hard way as well with a favorite top along the shoulder seam. :(

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  8. I've had it happen to me. You could sew some black lace trim to the collar to save it.

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  9. Oof. I've totally done this! And like you, once it's done, it's done, there's no going back. Well that's just one more reason to make another one!!

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    1. It's a terrible way to be wired, but I'm not sure I can re-wire myself...haha! If I don't fix this one, I will be making another for sure ;o)

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  10. Ooh Lynne that's a good idea! Marie I've just written a post (with a link back to yours) about altering clothes you have made and how hard it is to motivate yourself to do it! I hate alterations so much! I do think Lynne's idea is a good one though - no unpicking involved at least!

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    1. I've seen and commented on your post...from now on you are my alterations goddess!!!

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  11. Sorry :/

    I was a close trimmer and now I'm a slight trimmer/clipper. I will not go back and "fix" something. I know I won't.

    Sadly, as I've finished 2 pair of pants, I have also walked around with a pin holding up the hem of a RTW pair of pants. So sad! LOL!!! Alterations are not my thing at all.

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    1. Haha, this is hilarious, not sad! I'm sure we've all done similar things ;o)

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  12. Oh it's such a cute blouse, I really hope that you make another one!

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  13. How frustrating! I am kind of paranoid about this, so I usually use fray check after I clip curves.

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    1. I need to seriously look into fraycheck!

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  14. Oh Marie, how sad! But I'm exactly like you. Once it's done, it's done, so I understand not wanting to fix it. I hate working with curves for this reason but I'm a close clipper too (though usually work with cotton as well), so this caution may make me change my ways.

    While done is done, perhaps embellishment doesn't quite count: maybe you could sew up the hole, then add black lace trim around the edges of the collar to cover it??

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    1. I think the embellishment route is the way forward, you people are geniuses!!!

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  15. Something worse than it fraying in the wash is when I trimmed my seams, while inadvertently clipping a hole through a right side layer on my new look 6799 dress! Argh!!! I had to improvise a belt loop to cover it up. I like people's idea of a lace trim to cover up the fraying bit! Thanks for the reminder. I'll be a more careful trimmer from now on. ..

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    1. Gah, that's horrible...but well done for improvising. What a smart move!

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  16. I've not been sewing long enough to have too many disasters...yet! But I will heed you advice and clip away.

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  17. Oh, I feel your pain! I fear putting stuff in the washing machine and delay it as long as possible. Bad Things happen in the washing machine. I think there must be a small woodchuck in there who likes to chuck fabric rather than wood ...

    And on fixing, oh I am the same! I have a skirt whose waistband could be fixed, but also more of the same fabric so it'll probably be made again from scratch. Every time I've tried to "fix" something there's been some compromise involved that I never got over and the item hands in the closet unworn. Better to start fresh.

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    1. Andrea...I feel exactly the same about the washing machine...so many times my handmades come out of it with random holes and rips. I wonder if it's poor construction on my part, but I don't see what I'm doing wrong!?!

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  18. Oh dear! Sympathies... My cautionary tale is always check your iron setting - I spent a good 20 minutes turning out a silk sash last week and making sure the corners were beautifully crisp and square. Went straight to the iron, didn't check the temperature and promptly burnt a big hole in the end :(

    I'm usually a trimmer over a clipper but I tend to reinforce seams with an extra line of stitching. So far, it's worked!

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    1. Oh my goodness, that must have been such a sad moment! Top tip for everyone though, thanks for sharing!

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  19. Guilty. I've made myself stick to clipping because I've done this too many times myself.

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  20. I had the exact same thing happen to a collar that I made from some leftover wool suiting. I washed the shirt and the edges exploded in a few places. Since it wasn't a really good shirt, I just hand-mended the edges and put it back into rotation. When it gets terrible I'll get rid of it, or cut out the collar. I'm sorry your shirt got ruined though.

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    1. Hmmm, it's just one of those things I guess!

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  21. Ahhhhh no!!!!!! So sorry this happened :( On the bright side there are some awesome ideas in these comments.

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  22. It`s worth doing some decorative stitching on the edge, such as picot edging. Maybe you can save the blouse.

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  23. Ohhhhhhh noooooooo! This is so sad!

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  24. I'm with you on replacement. I'm that it's done it's done gal too. I too have experienced slim seam sadness boo :(

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  25. I've just made the same mistake on a seat cover for my motorhome. Gutted!

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