Let’s Talk Sewing Failures

Fit fails are a large part of the sewing process and something that really cannot be avoided unless you are drafting the pattern for yourself or comparing it against your fit block. Even then, errors still occur that can dramatically effect the fit of your garment and turn it into a sewing failure.

These failures aren’t often posted on blogs. Most blogs post about successes and wonderful pictures, giving most people having issues with sewing a sense that they are the problem. Sometimes, sewing bloggers may even have a poor fit, but not talk about the issues in the post. If you are like me and love sewing failure posts, then I wrote this for you! I think talking about fit, fabric, and sewing issues is extremely helpful for any sewist at any stage. Adjusting patterns for the issues that a sewing blogger reports on means that maybe someone else using the same pattern can avoid that issue in the future. Talking about fabric choices and the adjustments needed for lower stretch materials also helps anyone planning on doing the same thing in the future. I’m going to go over three failures I’ve had lately and speak abut why they failed and what was the issue. None of these will be modeled by me but I will talk about the fit issues in each.

Peppermint Magazine’s In the Fold’s Peplum top

The armholes are GIGANTIC. I sewed up a size K and HOLY MOLY… The armholes gape like crazy. The neckline is too large and gapes as well. The side seams come forward as well.

The neckline and armholes are a product of bad pattern grading. Side seams coming forward means I need an FBA.

In good pattern grading for larger sizes, the pattern would subtly reduce how the neckline and the armholes are increased. People who are larger, generally don’t have a huge difference in necklines, shoulder widths or armholes sizes. Larger biceps can definitely require more room to get through a top, but not that much. The armhole is so big that it stops where my bust point line sits. The neckline is a product of super wide shoulders. Sure, I have narrow shoulders but even so the straps on this top would sit off my shoulders to get the neckline to sit flat.

I’ll probably wear this with pjs and make darts or gathering to fix the issues. Overall, I don’t love the style of the top. I thought this might be the case for me. Without darts or shaping of any kind, it just sort of looks matronly and a bit like sleepwear.

Cashmerette Cedar Dolman in woven rayon

The Cedar Dolman is made for knit fabrics but can also be made in lightweight wovens. This Cedar Dolman was a cute idea in my head, but didn’t execute very well. First off, my size is a bit bloated right now and, as a result, the top fits me like a sausage casing. When you have a size that can go up and down depending on your health, it is really tough to manage fit. I cut this top out in the early summer and by now needed a couple of sizes up to fit. Now, this is partially due to my size change, but I am also not sure how it would work in a woven since the sleeves are a bit tight and I know that hasn’t changed for me. I will attribute this to chronic illness size changes, since I cannot attest to the fit at my previous size.

The frustrating part of it is that this may fit again soon. My size fluctuates a lot and goes up and down depending on inflammation. Right now, I am having major flares of inflammation.

How will I fix this to make it work? I plan on adding panels to the sides since I have some of the tropical fabric left. The panels will taper off for the sleeves, but still give me extra room there since they are slightly tight.

Blank Slate Patterns Denver Tunic

I really regret not trying this in a less expensive fabric first. First failure on this is the sewing. I really wish that instead of using my serger, I had done this on my sewing machine and just finished the seams with my serger. The serger pulls the fabric out of place so any careful print matching I had planned went out the window.

Second failure is fabric. The fabric is super thick. Blank Slate specifically warns you against this: “Heavier fabrics create bulky seams, which may be problematic on the front of the garment in particular. It’s also not a very stretchy material so the fit is TERRIBLE. It’s very very tight.

Overall, this is quite a cute pattern and I think it would work in a stretchier material without any pattern matching.

How will I fix this one? I am out of fabric for this, sadly. I think the only way to fix it is to resew the princess seams, remove the pockets, waistband, and neckband, where a lot of the bulk is making it not feel comfortable. I may also turn it into a cropped sweater to wear with dresses or skirts in the winter/fall and use a white ribbing to finish the cuffs, neckband and waistband.

Everyone has failures

Whether it is about fabric, bodily changes, or pattern issues, everyone has failures and no one is perfect in anything. I hate to sound like a motivational speech, but failures are opportunities for learning. Also, I should note that failures are sometimes just failures and sometimes we need to do it over and over again to suddenly figure out a different result. And no matter what level you are at with sewing or anything you are working on, failures will continue to happen. That’s not your fault. There is no fault in this…. sure choices got you there, but there is no need to blame yourself and feel like you cannot learn more and move forward. No one stops learning.

On a winning note…

I’ll leave you with a win from my recent sewing.

A pair of Blank Slate Barton shorts made in the cutest flannel for pjs.

My best advice with failures is to follow them up with quick wins using TNT patterns that you know work for you.

 

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Blank Slate Patterns Barton Shorts

Shortly after I was done pattern testing the Oceanside shorts, Blank Slate put out a call for testers for the Barton shorts. I really wanted to test them, but ended up not because I was testing a different pattern at the time. I got the Barton Shorts later with a gift coupon Blank Slate gave me for testing the Oceanside shorts. Win win!

I got a lovely linen rayon fabric from fabricville and some cotton lace. I made a 3XL and compared the crotch curve to my Oceanside shorts and made adjustments for that (full butt adjustments and a bit of shortening of the front crotch curve plus a bit longer length). The other change I made was to use 1 inch elastic instead of 1.5 inch elastic. I’ve confined my rant on that to my TL:DR review at the bottom.

They fit perfectly when I first sewed them…

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

My husband took this photo in Niagara Falls. Then the shorts got put in the dryer and they shrunk a bit overall. Unfortunately, they ride up now when I walk and are tight in the butt now. They were just perfect in Niagara Falls. The cotton lace shrunk as well and the hem flips up a bit. Oh well, lesson learned. I will be washing and drying linen twice next time since my green Oceanside shorts also shrunk a bit. I still love the shorts and wear them far too much! I’m definitely going to make more.

Overall, I like the Barton Shorts more than the Made with Moxie Prefontaine Shorts that I made last year. I prefer the side seam pockets and the shape of the side seams more. The Barton Shorts were also a better fit for me and sit more comfortably for me. The size range is also better for the Barton shorts. I’m at the top for the size range, but at least I didn’t have to grade them up!

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Blank Slate Patterns Barton Shorts
  • Pros: Lots of options for the hem (lace, bias tape, etc) and the length.
  • Cons: Decent size range, but being at the top means that it won’t be a good option for people bigger than me. Maybe it is just me, but I find when a pattern recommends 1.5 inch elastic it’s pretty unnecessary. I have tons of 1 inch elastic in my possession always and most patterns use 1 inch elastic for shorts and elastic waist pants. The Misty Jeans also have 1.5 inch elastic and I’m just like… why?! Maybe it is a Canadian thing that 1.5 inch elastic isn’t available everywhere and is so much more expensive when I can find it, but dang it…. I just hate 1.5 inch elastic. The Oceanside shorts use half inch elastic and that drove me a bit bonkers, too. I changed that to 1 inch elastic as well. I just don’t know… I am probably being too picky about it, but damn…I just want 1 inch elastic. In the long run, it’s an easy adjustment to make to patterns, but I just don’t really get using the wider elastic. Okay, done this weird elastic rant…. LOL
  • Make again?: Definitely. I’ll probably make a couple PJ versions since I love kicking around the house in these. I think the shorts would also be a great gift!
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md4/5 stars

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

For the final challenge for Indie Pattern Month at the Monthly Stitch, I shared 8 garments that I made in July! The challenge was called Indie Royalty and involved making 2 or more garments. I guess I am just an over-achiever. Originally, I planned to make two for the other challenges but I never got them finished in time. Summer tends to be a busy time and the end of the competitions just never fell on a date that worked for me. I had friends and family visiting and all sorts of plans that got in the way of sewing. The challenge was due on July 31st instead of the Friday. That meant I got all the things I had planned done. I made the following:

  1. Blank Slate Barton Shorts in a floral linen rayon blend with cotton lace trim. I’ll write a separate blog post on this later since it is my first time using the pattern.
  2. Cashmerette Concord t-shirt in Hello Kitty print cotton lycra. I made my usual a 22G/H graded to a 24 at the waist. It’s seriously my favourite shirt to date. I want to wear it all the time.
  3. Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan in a lightweight rib knit with white and green stripes. More on this in a different blog post later.
  4. Blank Slate Oceanside shorts in green rayon linen blend. I made a 3XL again. I compared the pieces to the final pattern version since I made the tester version before and decided to go with the tester version again. It looks like I would need to do a few adjustments to the final version of the pattern for fit so I decided to continue using the tester.
  5. Cashmerette Dartmouth top in pink monkey bamboo jersey. I made a 22G/H graded to 24 at the waist. I had to shorten the length by about 3 inches. It might have been because the fabric is really drapey and heavy. I love it. It fits perfectly.
  6. Decades of Style Three’s a Charm Jacket in black jersey. I’ve made the jacket before and really liked it. The pattern is made for wovens but I really wanted to try it in a knit. I love the style. It ends up as a boxy jersey jacket.
  7. Cashmerette Upton skirt hack. I made a 24. I had to shorten the length to fit it on my fabric. It’s made with green cotton fabric. I gathered the skirt instead of pleated and extended the waistband by 2 inches to get an overlapping back for my closure. I think next time I will shorten the front waistband by an inch and half since it ended up a bit too long.
  8. Cashmerette Webster dress in a soft pink and white patterned cotton. More on this in a later post.

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

 

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

I love how I accidentally made a nicely matching capsule wardrobe. I bought most of the fabric at the thrift store and it just happened to go together really well. I got the Pink Monkey print locally, the linen rayon fabrics were from fabricville and the cotton lycra Kello Kitty print was from a Christmas gift exchange at a Sewcialist meet up here in Toronto.

These two collages don’t even show every combination for the capsule wardrobe:

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

An Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

I’ll be sharing more information on each garment in the next couple of weeks and probably another Swoon cardigan since I just got some super cheap sheer white fabric from Fabricland for another version. Stay tuned!