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.

 

Pageboy Outfit Plus a Cashmerette Harrison

Recently, I made two pieces for two different costumes. I will eventually share those costumes with you, but I decided to share the two pieces together.

 

It looks a bit like an outfit worn by a member of the Newsies cast. I just need suspenders and a pageboy hat.

Now if only I could jump that high and do the splits without dislocating my hip! hahah!

I made the vest using the Cashmerette Concord t-shirt pattern with the v-neck. I used a hacci knit in a dark grey/brown colour and put bands on the armholes and the bottom hem. It was a quick garment to make up and it took me about 30 minutes once I factored out serger issues.

The capri sweatpants are made using the Blank Slate Patterns Forsythe trousers and using a jersey sheet from the thrift store. I put elastic in bands on the hems of both legs.

I know I made this capri sweatpants for a costume piece, but they are super duper comfortable and I throw them on so often that I need to make another pair so I don’t wear out this pair since I need it as a costume piece going forward. The only thing I would change (and you can’t tell in these pictures) is to switch out the slash pockets for side seam pockets since jersey fabric tends to droop a bit more and the pockets don’t look that good.

I also got an old UFO finished. I haven’t actually made the Cashmerette Harrison pattern in the final  version. I tested it, though.

What you can’t see is how incredibly uncomfortable I am in this top. That’s not really a pattern issue, but a few different issues. 1) The fabric I used is actually a poly cotton. I bought it thinking it was cotton and being told it was cotton to wash it and go….uh this is poly cotton. Disappointing. Too bad you can’t do burn tests in stores to prove store keepers wrong. Anyway, it’s been a while since I bought it and it was only 5 bucks for like 4 yards so I am not going to complain. But I hate it. I originally made this with the longer sleeves and then needed to chop off the sleeves to see if that would help. It did a bit…. but not really. 2) OMG my sewing is wonky on this…. I didn’t have consistent seam allowances for it at all. 3) I just don’t have symmetrical shoulders at all (thanks EDS!). The button band just does this super weird thing in the centre because one breast is higher than the other and it’s throwing those double princess seams in weird directions. It’s not really an issue when it’s only one princess seam per side or when it’s a darted bodice, but on this style… it just doesn’t work for me. 4) I am bigger than when I cut it out so it doesn’t fit well at all…. booooo.

I will be putting this in the donation bin, but I wanted to share it. It’s a good pattern but just doesn’t work for me and that is okay!

I am definitely thinking about making a pageboy hat….

 

 

Blank Slate Forsythe Trousers

As part of the Curvy Year of Sewing, I decided to make the Forsythe trousers to fit the pants/trousers theme for Jan/Feb. I made Blank Slate Patterns Forsythe Trousers, an elastic waist trouser with front pockets and back welt pockets. The trousers can either be full length or capri length. The Forsythe Trousers go up to a 55″ hip. It’s not an amazing size range: my 55″ hips just make it into the pattern’s 3XL size. I have a double belly, big booty and a waist that is about 7 inches smaller then my full hips. I haven’t done a lot of pants fitting and have only just begun with it, but this pattern is great for beginners. They are like secret pjs and are so so sooooo comfortable to wear.

The first version I made was with a lightweight denim with deers and stars on it. I made the capri length in anticipation of wearing the pants for a trip over the holidays to Cuba. The fit wasn’t perfect. I did my usual adjustments before this pair by adding to the back rise (big booty adjustment) and scooping out the front crotch. The back fits pretty close to perfect for my first version, but the front crotch definitely needed more scooped out of it as there is some pooling of fabric in that area.

I forgot to mention in my CSC post that I changed the waistband so it was 1 inch elastic. That, of course, means only skinnier belts can go through the loops. It does also bring the rise down a bit more. I prefer rises to hit under my belly button.

My second version is made using a lightweight stretch suiting material with stripes throughout. For this version, I scooped out more in the front and actually lowered the rise a bit at the center back. There is maybe a few more tweaks that could be made, but overall they fit pretty well and I really love them. You’ll notice in both versions I left the back pockets out. I am not a fan of back pockets in general. I have them on a few other pants I made, but I just don’t like them. I never use them and find that they don’t really add any benefits for me. I do, however love the front pockets and think they are a great size. My phone fits in them so that makes me happy.

I took about 4-5 inches off the hem to get them to fit correctly. I didn’t go for the cuffed hem, but instead made a 2 inch deep hem.

 

Blank Slate Patterns always has great instructions that are easy to follow. I also find that their patterns are pretty standard and I can make the same adjustments. I actually used my Barton shorts pattern to help me get a good fit with my first pair by comparing the pattern pieces to make my adjustments.

 

I’m a big fan of how the pattern looks on me and I am definitely going to make it again.

It’ll be a great addition to my work wardrobe.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Blank Slate Patterns Forsythe Trousers
  • Pros: Simple pattern. Great for beginners with great instructions. Fits well with minor adjustments.
  • Cons: Size range could be a bit better, but I do fit into the size range so that is something.
  • Make again?: Absolutely after a couple more adjustments. Destined to become a TNT pattern.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md4.5/5 stars

 

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!

Blank Slate Oceanside Shorts

April was a busy month for me. I was slow to recover completely from the pneumonia. I am still a little low in energy in comparison to before, but the pneumonia is definitely gone. My chronic cough is now being managed fully by medication. I’m so relieved that it is finally responding to the many meds I am on. I am also not having a lot of sinus issues likely as a result of the antibiotics.

I saw a doctor last week who may have significantly changed how I approach my life. It’s a shame that she was a specialist and is not part of my primary care, because the advice and guidance she gave me was excellent. The biggest take away is that she advised me to focus on keeping a steady weight instead of losing weight like other doctors. She commended my nutrition, but said to supplement that with a long list of vitamins. I’m supposed to stop doing heavy housework and focus on using my hands for the things I can’t give up, like sewing and cardmaking. Guys, I basically got a prescription to get out of housework. Haha!

No braces for me yet. I’m probably going to get finger splints, though, on my own. Other than that, KT taping is working wonders. I actually went to bed last night without a throbbing hip so it seems to be healing my hip bursitis. The overall joint dislocation and cartilage damage is still sadly happening, but the bursitis was extra pain on top of that and terrible to deal with. It was especially difficult for sleeping.

Spring also tends to be a better time for me as there are more warm days. Unfortunately, there has been a steady stream of rainy and cold overcast days which is leading to migraines, but there is sun on the horizon!

I managed to get some of my sewjo back last week with pattern testing. The deadline with pattern testing tends to get me back into the sewing mood. Blank Slate is a great company to test with if your sewjo is low. Their process tends to include tighter deadlines and lots of fitting and fit guidance for the larger sizes. I think it’s pretty effective for getting a good fit, learning fit tips, and testing that the pattern can do the pattern alterations you need. It’s always a positive process and really puts me back in the mood for sewing.

The Oceanside pants/shorts are an older pattern recently sized up to 3XL. I made the 3XL and did 4 muslins to get a good fit in the shorts. There are a couple of changes I would make going forward: add a couple of inches to the hem of the shorts, make them in capris length, and embellish like crazy: I’m talking scalloped hem, laced hem, bias tape finishes…. etc. In other words, I am happy with the fit I have for them now. There are minor issues there, but they are minor. They are great for a relaxed fit short with an elastic band waist.

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

I made my shorts in a turquoise linen that I got from the thrift store back in the fall and used lime green buttons for the pockets. I need all the linen now to make a bunch more.

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Real talk now. I haven’t worn shorts in public since I was really really young. When I was a teen and bullied horribly, I stopped wearing anything that remotely showed my shape for a really long time. When I was 25, that started changing when my friend Lisa took me clothes shopping and challenged me to buy fun clothes. I also self-harmed and my legs were covered in cuts from age 16 to 21. I now have the scars internally and externally, but have emotionally healed so much and haven’t self-harmed or had a suicide attempt since I was 21. I’m so proud of myself for how far I have come since then. Now I mostly wear skirts and dresses in the summer with little bike shorts underneath to prevent chub rub and for the ever fun wind incident. But shorts…. Not sure why they are still a barrier for me. I feel like I must have worn them and gotten some mention from the bullies on how they felt about my legs at 13 and stopped wearing shorts as a result. My legs became a target for me and I stopped showing them. I even stopped swimming for the most part. I loved swimming but I stopped feeling comfortable in a swimsuit. After healing my mind, I’ve done a lot to find joy in my body. I have a genetic disease that has effected me my whole life and I can’t change those genetics. I can only care for it and love it and try to stop it from deteriorating further.

Shorts are something I’ve been making over the past year in various forms, but I haven’t made a pair that I felt comfortable leaving the house in. I have a few more cut out and one UFO needing a quick fix. But these really helped me remember my goals to overcome these irrational clothing fears. I also need to get back to that UFO two piece swimsuit that I was making back in the summer so I can join the YMCA and get back in the water.

It was great to have the opportunity to test the shorts and be reminded of the things I want to make to support loving my body.

Look at that butt:

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

That’s a good butt.

Yes, Another Hat!

Yes, another hat. I’m really focusing on busting those scraps!

Recently, Blank Slate Patterns put out a testing call for their new slouchy beanie pattern and I snatched that opportunity. The pattern ranges from infant to adult sizes. It’s a reversible beanie. You can use one colour or try cutting two different colours for a neat look like I did for one of my beanies.

Not much to say except that the project is fast and a great stashbuster. I will be making a few more and sending them off to my friends for their new babies.

Slouchy Beanie

Slouchy Beanie

My first version is using leftover scraps from my Wonder Woman top from a few years ago. It’s a cotton rayon jersey with a nice drape and perfect for the beanie.

Slouchy Beanie

Slouchy Beanie

My second version is made with two different cotton lycras. One is a feather print leftover from a concord tank dress made in the summer and the other is a pink scrap acquired recently from a friend purging some of her stash. The cotton lycra doesn’t have a good drape like the cotton rayon jersey, but it still works.

Slouchy Beanie

Both hats are made using the tester pattern. Overall, they worked really well.