Tuesday, 10 May 2016

When Sewing Dreams are Crushed

What to do when projects don't turn out

Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote about Sewing Nightmares, sewing projects that go disastrously wrong. I'm revisiting this topic, although from a different angle. In that article I discussed how you deal with horrible accidents during sewing (like cutting into or burning the material, or accidentally sewing the wrong pieces together). This time around I was confronted with a different kind of disaster, and that disaster is being underwhelmed by the finished project. 

I purchased Simplicity 1198 sometime last year with the intention of making some Nu Goth tunics for my fall/winter wardrobe. I paid the equivalent to full price, which is something I never do when it comes to patterns but unfortunately Simplicity isn't available in Ontario anymore so I had to buy it online. I was super pumped for this project. I bought two different kinds of knit fabric in different colours. I thought that this pattern was going to become a staple in my collection, one that I'd come to depend on. WRONG! I sewed this tunic in the first week of my recovery. It was an easy sew, although my straight stitch didn't go so shit hot on the neckline and I wished I owned a coverstitch (an expensive overlock-like machine used for hemming knits). Two hours into sewing this tunic I started seeing problems. I'd put the garment on and the drape looked off. At first I couldn't put my finger on what that problem was...and then I realized it. It made me look pregnant. It looked like a muumuu or maternity wear. I'm smaller proportionately and this thing was like a tent on me. I felt awful about it. I tried belting it, putting in darts; I did everything humanly possible but it didn't look any better. After installing the sleeves I noticed that the sleeve cap gave the top a weird, boxy 80's look in the shoulders. The collar popped upright because of my obnoxiously narrow back, it was nightmare after nightmare. 

So what happened?

I finished it and gave it a nasty review lol. I bitched about it's flaws in an attempt to share my experience and warn people about the possible errors with this garment. These are mostly design errors. I think the top is meant for people with curvy figures. I've seen it on other women and it looks good but those women have boobs and butts, and I - well, you can probably figure out that I don't have much of either. The only thing more depressing than a botched sewing project is a completed one that you don't like.

I wasn't sure what to do next. I didn't feel inspired to sew anything else. I certainly didn't feel up to trying that pattern again. So I sat there and brainstormed for a bit. I hated the sight of this top. It just hung on my dress form, annoying me. I thought about how it fit me so horrendously and then I thought, "what if it fit my mom? Maybe it would look better on her." I gave it to her last week, and she really loves it. She says it fits wonderfully and it's very comfortable. Problem solved! Well, sort of. When I returned to the sewing room I still didn't feel inspired enough to sew myself another piece of clothing. Instead, I decided to take up something new. Quilting. 

I've never quilted before because I was too nervous. I decided that I would make my cat, Doodles, a blanket (the other cats would use it too, of course). When a Fabricland in my area was closing, I purchased a half a meter of quilting cotton with a fun cat print. I put it on the ground when I got home and Doodles loved it. He rolled around on it and slept on it, it was difficult to wrestle it away from him. I knew that I'd have no other choice than to make him a blanket out of it. So I did. It's made similar to a pot holder, minus the flame retardant batting. If you've never quilted before I encourage you to try a project like this. It's easier than it looks and the pay off is great. No sizing adjustments, just basic math and basic stitches. Easy peasy, and I think the Dood is pleased as well.

Let's review! What can you do with a disappointing project?

1. Put it on hiatus - If you put it away for a month, a week, or even a day, you might feel refreshed enough to pick it up and try it again later. When I get frustrated with a project it only inevitably gets worse, so I always break. How long that break goes on for depends on the garment and what kind of issues I've had with it. 
2. Try something else - Not necessarily sewing, as you might be so strung out you'll only mess up the next project. Start small and easy. Some people find crochet is a soothing creative outlet. Maybe try painting or drawing. Or take from my experience and try quilting!
3. Give it away - If you hate looking at it, like I hated my tunic, then try to see if someone else wants it. Maybe it just wasn't meant for you.

Anything I should add to that list? What do you think?



  1. I know that's such a disappointment isn't it? Sometimes I put them away and just revisit later and sometimes I just toss it in the trash. Ugh. I see you mentioned you were in Ontario. The Fabricland didn't happen to be in Guelph did it?

    1. No, it was in London. It happened in maybe three months time total and most people didn't hear about it until the last few weeks. I was disappointed to see that the "clearance" prices weren't really anything special.They were up to 75% off on the weird unknown fiber ends that almost no one ever buys, the rest was 50% off, which is their usual monthly sale price so I didn't think it was anything too special. I think in the end the only deal I got was on some bridal stuff. If one closed in Guelph too I tend to wonder how badly the chain must be doing. I don't want it to go under completely! At least they mark fabric down, I never see good sales at Len's Mills. I wish Joann's would come up here...

  2. Yep. The one in Guelph closed too. I used to work at the store on Wonderland Rd in London so I hope it wasn't that one! If you are ever in Guelph pop into the Lens Mill and say hello. We can pick out some Hallween fabrics together! :)

    1. That would be awesome! :) The Wonderland Rd location is still open, but I've heard rumors that there could be more closures. I hope not, I really like that location. There's an awesome lady there who studies corsetry, she's super helpful, it would piss me off if she were to lose her job.

  3. Yeah I would have looked at the pattern and thought as you did, that it would make a cool tunic. Maybe a very flimsy fabric with a lot of movement? Those sleeves do look very eighties. It does look very well made though. When I'm disheartened, I usually do a terrible job

    1. I had difficulty finishing this piece. A part of me really wanted to throw it in my unfinished bin but it was literally only a few steps away from being completed. I'm glad I pushed onward with it because it at least makes my mother happy. If I use this pattern again I'm going to try and round off or shorten the shoulder, I think that's what's giving it the 80's vibe.

  4. That is a real disappointment! Happy your mom loves her new top though! Your cat looks very happy with his new blanket!

    1. I'm happy she likes it, I hate to be wasteful! Doodles loves his blanket. He sleeps on it every day now. :)


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