fail friday :: a visit from steffani lincecum

welcome to another fail friday!  fail friday is chance for bloggers to showcase and celebrate sewing and crafting failures.  why? because life is messy and so are things behind the sewing machine! we might as well laugh at them, right? right.

failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor  ~truman capote

this week I am really excited to welcome Steffani Lincecum.  Steffani is a sewing instructor, pattern maker and author who lives in Wisconsin.  she’s the author of the brilliant book patternmaking for a perfect fit (my review of the book is here) and is currently busting out some sure-to-be-awesome Craftsy classes that will be launching in January 2013, so we will have to look out for that!  this is literal, she is actually in filming this week!  in fact, she just shot one that included buttonholes a few ago.  buttonholes, as you will discover, are a bit of sore point for Steff.

Steff’s background is pretty exciting…she worked in costume making for television shows and movies like “Will and Grace” and 3rd Rock from the Sun”, she has even made custom pieces for Madonna!  who can claim something like that?!  on top of all that talent, she is also very funny and not afraid to ham it up for our benefit.  and that is lucky for us because she decided to share a pretty hilarious story including a ‘crime scene reenactment’ photo.  she is a real treat, I’m telling you.  and, offers a great reminder that sometimes a fail is, well, just a fail and the best response is to look back with humor.

her blog stitchcoach is a great resource for pattern makers in particular.  and, according to Steff it is “usually about a month behind on being updated, but has occasional flashes of brilliance that really should not be missed.”  welcome Steff:


I have the ordinary sewing at 3 am and putting in the sleeves of that Amy Butler Shirtdress in bass-ackwards sort of sewing fails lately, but when I was asked to guest blog this and the word FAIL settled in, there is only one story that stands out to me as the single most mortifying sewing experience of my life.

I was just out of grad school at Tulane, where I got an MFA in Costume Design, so you’d think I would have been a little more savvy, but well, NO. I was not. Or maybe I was just really frazzled. Yeah, lets say I was really really frazzled. Anyway. I was doing an internship at my first professional theatre costume shop. These ladies were grizzled veterans, and I was the newbie. My job there was to assist the designer. I did a lot of shopping and taping up receipts and dressing shows in the evenings. We were about to open a really big show. A musical version of Jekyl & Hyde. The costume shop had been making these beautiful custom made clothes for months. The shop was pushed to the limits and I  volunteered to help with some finishing sewing. I was presented a newly made silk victorian blouse for the lead actress in the show. It was finished all except the buttonholes. The shop manager handed it to me tentatively. Did I know how to do buttonholes? Pshhhhhh. Of course I could make buttonholes, I had an MFA for goodness sake, I’d just been making Empire tailcoats the year before in our costume shop and had just done my thesis show, Spring Awakening, a huge period piece. Buttonholes? Hand me that blouse…

So I marked them and stitched them out. No problem. They looked pretty nice! Then I opened them ever-so-carefully with a seam ripper and handed the blouse back to the shop manager, beaming.

All the color drained from her face.

The buttonholes were all horizontal, like on a tailored jacket, or maybe an Empire tailcoat instead of vertical as they should be on a ladies blouse.

Photo: This is a professional stunt blouse in a closed environment. Please do
not attempt.

There was an audible gasp throughout the entire shop.

I wanted to crawl back under the machine.

They used the blouse.

A nightly reminder 8 shows a week of my place in the pecking order.

I’ve never made that mistake again.



ah, so good to start a friday with a funny story.  Thanks Steff for sharing.  it’s so good to know that even a seasoned veteran can make a mistake.  my sewing room errors should not slow me down, Steff was obviously unstoppable!

 stay tuned for next week, when we have the final (sniff) fail friday, a visit from Stephinie at gypsy forest!

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