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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Cashmerette Cedar Dolman: Pattern Hacks

Today I am sharing two garments I made back in March… One of the items was waiting on a repair before I could take pictures. I’ll talk about that a bit later.

Both garments are made using the Cashemerette Cedar Dolman as the starting pattern. I really love this pattern for its versatility. It’s a great pattern to “hack.”

First up is a dress version. For this version, I actually used the Cedar Dolman I made as a pattern tester. I added a neckband and sleeve bands. Knowing that I was going for a loose fit, I didn’t want to cut the length of the Dolman too much. In the tester version, I made the tie version so I cut the tester off just above the tie. It’s probably about 4 inches off the bottom. For the skirt, I just added two panels that were the width of the back and the front.

I added pockets to the side seams and sewed the tops of them into the skirt waist. The skirt waist is sewn to the bodice and then about an inch and a quarter below that, you sew again. Then you press that extra up and sew a line of stitching to secure it and then feed the elastic in through that. It’s the same method used for the Colette Myrtle waistband in this tutorial.

This is the kind of dress that you just throw on after work or on the weekend. It’s comfortable and easy to make as well! I made it using a bamboo jersey in mauve that I got from a friend. I really really love this fabric. It wears well and is durable.

Up next is the garment I had to repair.

This Cedar Dolman hack is exactly like my striped one, but this time with ruffles on the sleeves! I simply cut two strips of fabric, folded them in half lengthwise and then gathered them and sewed them into the seams while I sewed up the side seams. I made sure to have the ruffles fall down towards the sleeve hem.

I wore this once and then washed it and a few holes appeared in the fabric. Luckily, they aren’t super noticeable after I sewed them up; they are on the front but closer to my armpit. It’s a rayon spandex from Water Tower Textiles. After two washes (pre-wash and then washed once after it was constructed), the holes appeared. I’m really disappointed. The cut was from the end of the roll and I am hoping it was just a fluke since they were transparent about a flaw on a different part of the pieces. I’m probably not going to contact them since they told me there were flaws on the end piece and I got extra fabric as a result of that. I thought I had cut around them all, but didn’t catch these small holes that then became bigger in a wash. It’s sad but not the end of the world.

The top will be an at home top because of the holes. It’s super comfortable and I love those ruffles. They do weigh the sleeves down, though, and make the ruffles under the elbow instead of above. I think I would just use one layer of fabric next time and serge or baby hem the edge to reduce the weight and the bulk since it was also difficult to serge over all those layers. I have some lightweight hunter green jersey that might become another one of these soon because I really love it.

I plan on trying the top out in a woven next possibly with some colour blocking fun.

Striped Cashmerette Cedar Dolman

Today I am sharing a post that I originally posted on the sewcialist blog for Striped month. 🙂 With a few extras for my blog. 😉

This post breaks all those silly rules that society makes up.

As a plus sized person, we are often told about what to wear to “flatter” our shape. To many people in the plus sized category, that means to disguise our shape or make us look skinnier. You can read Mary’s article on the Curvy Sewing Collective to hear more thoughts on the word flattering.

Stripes often make the list of patterns that plus size people should steer clear of and I definitely don’t agree. I think stripes are for all people of all shapes and sizes.

I love stripes and find they make me feel great. There is no hiding the fact that I am plus sized so I might as well wear what I love and find joy in what I make. Ultimately, the joy I get from making clothes I love translates to me strutting in confidence in the world. For many years, when I obeyed the dumb rules of flattering, I would not feel as good in my clothing or enjoy wearing them. When I let go of that, and lived confidently, I felt a lot better about my body.

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I made this top to throw all rules out the window. I think you can feel pretty empowered by letting go of all the rules.

The pattern is the Cedar Dolman top from Cashmerette patterns. I used Gillian’s hack to add sleeves to it and I added a cuff to the sleeve as well as a hem band and a neck band.

I tested the pattern. However, changes have been made since and I am not going to share my test version. I also tested the Belmont leggings at the same time. I will also not be sharing my tester version of those either. The changes made in the final patterns of both lead to a much better fit so it makes no sense to share the tester version.

The Cedar Dolman fits just as expected. It’s meant to fit loosely and drape over the bust. I really love it and it’s a great pattern to use as a base for all your hacking needs. I plan on making the pattern several times more. I really love the top. I want to try it in a drapey woven material soon.

The fabric I used is a super soft double brushed polyester knit in mustard with white stripes from Water Tower Textiles.

Yellow is a colour that I really really love but I avoided wearing it for years and years because of a comment when I was younger of how I looked in yellow… something along the line of pale disgusting zombie. I realized that I needed to let go of that. Yellow makes me happy and I wanted more of it in my life. I think I look and feel fabulous in this mustard colour.

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Breaking the rules again, I made no attempt to match stripes in any way. I find that as we sew, we get caught up in doing things the right way. We want to match those stripes perfectly. Often that prevents us from sewing and having fun with something that is supposed to be a hobby. For me, sewing is all about the fun. Everyone can absolutely have different standards, but I wanted to let go of it for this project. I have enough going on that I didn’t need to stress over stripes. I needed to feel empowered and confident. I definitely don’t think it is bad that someone takes the time to match stripes perfectly, but if that act is stopping you, don’t stress. Just sew!

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My top has the stripes strategically placed on the diagonal in order to further not care about matching the stripes. I also cut the top on the fold. The Cedar dolman is cut with two front pieces and two back pieces, but cutting on the fold meant I could avoid stripe matching again. Huzzah!

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Maybe this post should be titled lazy stripe tips. Ha!

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Want to avoid matching stripes? Have then all go in different directions! With the diagonal stripes on the front and back pieces, I made the sleeves and sleeve cuffs have horizontal stripes and the hem band with vertical stripes. I cut the neckband so the white stripe went all the way around.

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The whole project made me feel great, and I now have a lovely yellow top that I love wearing and brings me a lot of joy! Not only is it a super soft, warm, and comfortable top, but it also makes me feel great. What could be more ‘flattering’ than that?

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Cashmerette Cedar Dolman top
  • Pros: It’s a great pattern! I can’t wait to try the workout top.
  • Cons: I’m not sure there are cons. It’s a simple pattern with a great size range.
  • Make again?: Absolutely!
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars