My #Sewing Top 5: when garments fail…

Hey everyone, I’m back with my penultimate #SewingTop5 post, and this time it’s my “top” five misses. In case you missed them, you can find the other posts here:

Righto, let’s delve into the bin of sewing fails, shall we?

The Aster Blouse

Colette Aster Blouse in ditsy floral poplin

The Colette Aster was my first fail of the year and I was so disappointed after I’d gone to all the trouble of finishing it really nicely with French seams and expensive pearl poppers. Really, it serves me right for not making a toile, but I was imagining this as a wearable toile and wanted to spend time practising some shirt making techniques.

This one really goes wrong with the fit. The neckline gapes and there’s something very wrong with the overall shape over the bust and waist. I suspect it would have worked much better in a drapey viscose fabric, and this stiff cotton poplin might be partly to blame. However, I lost heart with trying this pattern again and relegated it to something to wear whilst gardening. And then only ever wore it the once during Me Made May (the pic above). I suspect this one might end up at a local charity shop sometime soon.

Lesson learned: think carefully about the fabric drape required for the look I’m after, and don’t skip a toile with new-to-me woven patterns!

The Hemlock Tee

Grainline Hemlock tee

Now, I’m not blaming the pattern for this one. The Grainline Hemlock is a really comfortable tee and looks fabulous on so many people. I think again, this was a bad fabric choice for me–that beige does nothing for my skintone. And in terms of the pattern, I’m just not a big fan of necklines that high and the loose fit–I like a more fitted t-shirt.

This one is so comfy it does sometimes get worn for gardening or lounging, but I don’t feel great in the colour. Strangely, it worked well for a long cardigan the year before, but this close to my face it’s all wrong. Perhaps I will take it apart and make a top for Gabriel out of it at some point. He might actually look good in that colour with his brown eyes…

Lesson learned: never sew with colours that don’t suit me, especially up close to my face.

The “Should have left it White” Blouse

Butterick B5895 dye incident

Again, this was one make I intended as a “wearable toile”, and was never all that keen on the original white fabric. I sewed it up with cotton thread thinking I could dye it afterwards if it fit well enough. And although it was too cropped for my liking, and the collar was a little too wide, I decided I liked it enough to go ahead and dye it. Big mistake.

Not only do I really dislike the way the purple looks over the leaf pattern colours, but the cotton thread shrunk in the dye bath and now all my carefully stitched french seams and darts look puckered. ARRRGH! Still, it’s useful as a toile and I’ll be making this pattern again, but next time in a fabric I actually like.

Lesson learned: always dye fabric BEFORE sewing the garment up!

The Nice Dress

Colette Crepe dress

I’d been wanting to make the Colette Crepe dress all year, as it’s such a cute summer dress on other people. I was totally seduced by the look of it, and the promise of that easy wrap fastening. The toile stage went well, so I cut into my fabric and merrily sewed it all up (which took ages, btw)

And then… it looked floppy, and didn’t fit right, and the ties pulled it in too tight against my skin in the heat and the knot was uncomfortable against my back when I sat down.

I suspect part of my problem was in using a stiffer cotton for the toile and then super drapey viscose for the final dress. But I also need to remember that there’s a reason I don’t have summer wrap dresses in my wardrobe, and it’s because I really hate feeling constricted at the waist when the weather is hot. I do think this dress can potentially be fixed, however, but removing the ties and converting the back to a centre zip. Hopefully with some adjustment to the side seams I can also deal with some of that excess ease at the waist, but that might be fixed anyway simply by it not being pulled in by the ties.

Lesson learned: remember what styles of clothing I find comfortable (and more importantly, don’t find comfortable!) and make toiles in a fabric with similar drape to my fashion fabric.

The Corset Top

I was so disappointed with this one, mainly because it’s a pattern I’d been looking forward to making for over a year and I put a huge amount of work into it with all the hand stitching. It just doesn’t feel like me  when I wear it, and I think I’ll have to accept that the styles I used to love just don’t work for me any more.

It’s not that there’s anything really WRONG with this one, but I don’t like the way it looks on me. I’d like it to be loved for itself, so this will probably end up in the donation pile this next year.

Lesson learned: think really carefully about whether styles fit in with my wardrobe, and if I’m not sure try out a quick toile before committing to a huge amount of time sewing a final garment.


All in all I’m really pleased with how well my sewing has gone this year. Even my fails have been a learning experience, and I’m counting one as a successful muslin (the Gertie blouse) and really hoping another (the Crepe dress) can be saved with some alterations, so it’s really only three utter fails.

I’ll be back again tomorrow with my final #SewingTop5 post, and this time it will be my goals for 2018. Yay!

What have you learned from your sewing fails? And do you try to save them or do you just move on to the next project?

2 thoughts on “My #Sewing Top 5: when garments fail…”

  1. What I’ve learned from my fails is that they often come when I am expanding into a new technique or skill. I start with an expectation that I will think of it as fabric play rather than a succeed/fail mentality, and I recycle the fabric used rather than just throwing it away. I am not big on toiles because even the slightest change in fabric weight or content can make garments fit differently. I make sure to try on a lot while sewing, and fit on the fly. Thanks for your post which is full of great reminders!

    1. I really like that idea of fabric play–I think I’ll have to adopt it myself. I do fit on the fly as well, but I’ve found particularly with woven bodices it’s worth me taking a bit of time getting the shoulder fit right. I have narrow shoulders and if the fabric isn’t cut and sewn right for me I tend to get major neckline gaping as a result. But we’re all different, and I totally agree that toiles are at their best when sewn in the right fabric. Often I’ll treat a lining as the toile and then can still hopefully use it in the finished garment.

      That said, there are now a few pattern designers I’m getting to know the quirks of, and can make a fairly good guess at the alterations I’ll need before I start. I need to get braver at just automatically making them on paper before I even cut into my fabric!

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