Top 5 of 2012: Misses!

Uh-oh… now it’s time to think about my 2012 fails!  I’ve enjoyed reading your posts about misses– looking back over bad sewing projects teaches you lots about fabric choices and what works for you.  I’m sure your 2013 sewing will be so much stronger for it– I know mine will!

1.) Chloe dress


This pattern is so chic, and I love the color combo that I used, but I just haven’t been able to work up the nerve to fix the massive puckering issue I had with this dress.  I’ve picked it up a few times and almost gotten started, but every time I get so irritated and frustrated that I just end up setting it aside again.  Lesson learned: research new fabrics BEFORE you start sewing with them to avoid problems like this in the future!  Also, pay closer attention to instructions during the muslin process– I assumed that adding the binding to the armholes would make them higher, not lower.  Not the case.

2.) Scout tee

Love this pattern, even though it’s not a flattering shape on me.  LOVE the fabric.  Together?  Bad combination.  I feel like I have a stiff sack hanging from my shoulders when I wear this, so it sits in my closet unworn.  Lesson learned: make sure your fabric has the correct amount of drape for the project!  Consider if a style is flattering on your figure before you cut into fashion fabric (don’t just say, “eh, nothing looks good in muslin!” and forge right ahead with your project)!

3.) Hazel dress

I actually wore this dress quite a bit because it’s comfortable and has pockets, so it worked pretty well for hot summer days when I was out scouting.  But.  I never really feel that good in it– it’s just not my style.  Lesson learned: don’t make things that aren’t really your style just because you want to participate in a sewalong!  This is kind of a no-brainer, but I had to learn this lesson the hard way!  :)

4.) Banksia top

This one is a little surprising, but as much as I love this pattern and the fabric, it’s just too tight through the shoulders so I’m always afraid it’s going to rip when I’m wearing it (and it’s not very comfortable)!  This is entirely my fault– I made a muslin, but for some reason got distracted before I attached the sleeves.  I even cut them out, but just didn’t assemble them.  I need a good 5/8″ more on each shoulder.  I still wear this top often, but it feels pretty annoying to wear something that binds and pulls through the shoulders.  Lesson learned: be more thorough with muslins!  There’s no point in making a muslin if you’re going to rush through that process and not fit it correctly.

5.) Dixie DIY Hot Cocoa Sweater (unblogged due to my shame, sadness, and cowardice)

The Garment Which Shall Not Be Pictured

There are some really sweet versions of Dixie’s lovely (and free!) pattern on the ‘net.  However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a great shape for my figure.  And it was definitely not a good shape for me when I made it with a stiff, barely-stretchy, novelty-print knit.  I looked like a giant triangle, and when I removed the extra fabric on the sides that’s supposed to create a lovely drape (if your fabric has more drape than, say, a cardboard box), all that was left was a shirt that looks EXACTLY like a pajama top that I owned when I was 4 years old and I don’t have the guts to post photos of myself in it.  Lesson learned: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, DON’T BUY NOVELTY PRINTS.  You aren’t going to wear something covered in hot pink hearts.  And DEFINITELY don’t buy stiff, un-drape-y novelty prints.  JUST SAY NO.  Again, consider your figure!  If you hate feeling like a rectangle, don’t make patterns with little shaping out of unforgiving, stiff fabrics.  Sheesh!

So what is the main takeaway here?  Slow down!  Don’t just use any fabric that you have because you’re anxious to try out a pattern.  And do your research ahead of time, learn about the fabric, and consider your figure before making something that looks cute on other people.  Almost every one of these projects was doomed because I used the wrong fabric or didn’t resolve issues at the muslin stage.  That’s really frustrating!  I really like all of the patterns (except for the Hazel dress, which came together without any problems or even any alterations), so you may see some of these pop up in 2013 in a new and improved state.  Let’s just count all of these as (expensive, time-consuming, tantrum-inducing) muslins.

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61 responses to “Top 5 of 2012: Misses!

  1. I hope you can find a tiny-shouldered home for your Banksia, it’s the cutest!

    • I was thinking of removing the sleeves and seeing if I could wear it like that, but I’m not really sure what kind of weather situation is appropriate for a flannel tank top! :)

  2. Oooh, that Chloe! I wouldn’t have any patience to rework it either – Sometimes it’s just so much easier to start fresh! I guess the good thing about all of these fails is that they helped you narrow down what silhouettes you like… although like you, I can be easily tempted by a trend new pattern, even when I know it won’t suit me! (*cough, cough, Washi dress!*)

  3. So great to look back and reflect on your lessons learned. I could do this, too (but it might be a top ten:) Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I’m learning some of the very same things!

    • They’re hard lessons to learn, aren’t they? Sometimes I think I’m too optimistic when I approach a new project when I should be a bit more realistic about how it’s likely to turn out. :)

  4. You’ve really hit the nail on the head, re: fabric choice. I wish there was an easy way to figure it out, but it seems like it comes from experience and plenty of “failures!”

  5. Oo I remember the Chloe. I did feel for you with that puckering issue. I would probably leave it as well and have it as a fancy dress to go shopping in. Don’t worry about it – life’s too short! I’m so surprised to see the Hazel in there but it’s good to recognise what’s not your style. Perhaps you can do more skirts next year?

    • You know what– you make a great point! Life is too short to get fixated on problems! If you can fix it, awesome, but if not, don’t let it keep you up at night. :)

      I can definitely see myself making more separates this year. They really get more wear with my current lifestyle, except that I do love sundresses for hot summer days. I’m trying to keep that in mind as I make sewing plans for 2013.

  6. Your Banksia is so cute, what a shame it’s not quite right. Also I find it hard to judge with muslins too as you rarely get a muslin fabric just the same as your final fabric, there’s always an element of luck/chance.

    • That’s a good point– I always use regular muslin or crappy cotton for muslins, which doesn’t in any way approximate the weight or drape of linen, silk, wool, or really anything else!

  7. Gosh, I got a fright seeing you-know-who in your post… But really, I actually quite like your fails. What a pity that they just aren’t ‘right’ though! I know your frustration, and these days think hard about a pattern and fabric before getting the scissors out. We all make mistakes though!

  8. Oh Ginger I love this post. I could have been reading about myself except that I’m always too impatient to do a muslin! Maybe 2013 will be different although I suspect a similiar list of fails will appear again on my own blog. I especially love the one about making something just to be in a sewalong. I am constantly being caught up with the gorgeousness appearing on the blogs and thinking, ‘oh that’s so me’ when it probably isn’t!.

    • Hahahahaha– I’m glad I’m not the only one! I bet you’ll find yourself a bit more thoughtful in 2013. I’m definitely tired of spending lots of time (but usually, not quite enough time!) on something only to have it lie unworn and unloved. This year I’m swearing off sewalongs for patterns that I’m not in love with!

  9. Oh please re-do Chloe even if its from scratch as its so cute on you! None of these look that bad, but if it don’t feel right it isn’t! Thank you for sharing, I always love seeing what you’re up to.

  10. Oh Sonja, I love your honesty! This is a really useful exercise, one I might have to get involved in too ;o) I so surprised that your Hazel and Banksia are in this list too…they both look so gorgeous on you!

  11. I think you should try the Alma top with the collar. It fits me perfectly and I think the wider/higher placed collar will suit your frame :-) That said I love your Banksia top! It’s adorable!
    And I totally agree I’m going to stop doing sewalongs just because I want to do a sewalong – I need to want the end result otherwise it’s a waste of time… although I learnt a ton doing Sunni’s sewalong… I might just do hers!
    And I am also giving up novelty prints, I feel ridiculous in them. Although I am going to make my Cambie skulls dress sometime soon… it’s just too cute not to!

    • I’m really looking forward to trying the Alma out! It’s just so cute! I love the Banksia top, too. I’m going to have to make a new one with a better fit. :)

      It’s just so fun doing sewalongs, but let’s make a pact to only focus on ones that really work for us! But seriously– your skulls dress is going to be rad!

      • Just in case teh side zip of Alma is freaking you out – some bloggers have left it out. I made size 0 and can get it off without undoing the zip, but I like having it there as there is less stress on the fabric.
        Gotta make that skulls dress – even have the perfect blog picture planned! Just finishing off a jacket right now…

  12. Kat H

    Oh dear, it’s so funny how so many of the ‘misses’ we’re all documenting are because of fabric choice! *sigh* Oh well, it’s all about learning, right?! ;-)

  13. I concur- fabric choice seems to keep popping up in everyone’s miss posts. I have to work hard to ignore novelty prints… but the urge to buy crazy robots on fabric is hard to resist ;) I really do love your Banksia- shame about the shoulder issue :(

    • Oh, gosh, there’s definitely a time and a place for novelty prints. I just chose the wrong time and place, haha! I keep thinking that somehow I’ll be able to stretch out the Banksia and make it work! Oh, well, we’ll see…

  14. It’s been interesting to read what you liked, what you didn’t and what you learned. I’m sure you’re going to take these lessons into 2013 and make some awesome new garments!

  15. Jenny

    Oh, those novelty prints. . .
    When I first started sewing (all those long months ago), I had a vision of a wardrobe full of fun, quirky dresses made out of crazy quilting cottons–completely overlooking the fact that that’s so not my personality AT ALL. Now I know better. But because those cottons are so easy to work with and so very fun to shop for, I succumb to the occasional bout of crafty sewing to get my fix.

    • That’s a good idea– get your robots and dinosaurs out on projects that they’re appropriate for. I love the gals that have the guts to wear that kind of stuff every day, but I’m just not one of ‘em!

  16. Janet

    I love your honesty. I keep telling myself it is the process too not just the product. Fabric choice…..always a learning curve for me.

    • That is SO TRUE. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that we’re learning here– OF COURSE not everything I make is going to be perfect (heck, I’ve been sewing for less than two years!)! I’m trying to make better fabric decisions, but it’s not always easy.

  17. Amy

    I had to “like” this post in honor of all that you learned. Hopefully 2013 sewing will benefit from it!

  18. too funny!
    I am seriously thinking about sewing a block a month (a free craftsy class) hoping it will siphon off my urge to sew with inappropriate fabric.

  19. Oh, your poor Chloe, it looked so awesome from the front! It’s so easy to get caught up in a sew along or just see a pattern look great on other bloggers and get carried away. Good plan to only join in when you really love the pattern and know it will suit your style!

    • It’s so hard, but I’m trying to step back and take a breath before I click “buy” on a new pattern! I want to make sure that it won’t be a huge waste of time, money, and effort. :)

  20. I like the Scout Tee on you, but if you aren’t happy, have you tried putting in some darts to give it some shape? I also like the Hazel, but had issues with it myself, my theory is the skirt isn’t full enough for gathers. I recently made one (still to be blogged) and put two pleats in the front and two in the back which gave a much better finish.
    Agree on spending more time thinking about the fabric before going ahead and cutting it – I do that too! I am also a shocker for not finishing muslins (or even starting them!).

    • I think you’re onto something about the Hazel skirt. I think I would like it much more if it was a bit fuller and I could pleat it more (or if it was a slimmer skirt, more like the Lily dress).

      I can’t believe how good your fit always is if you don’t do muslins! Nicely done!

  21. I hate that banksia not fitting- it is too cute!Also- the chloe puckering is so uniform, it looks like a plan, no one would think any different! Even your fails are adorable!

    • Hahahaha, they’re kinda frustrating this year since they were close to being right, but just not quite there. Sometimes it’s less annoying to totally crash and burn– you almost feel gleeful trashing a terrible project!

  22. Amanda

    Novelty prints: they’re just so cute and inviting! A girl can only have so many pairs of PJ’s! The real problem is, stores like Jo-Ann’s, Hancock Fabrics, & Hobby Lobby have such a large percentage of novelty prints/craft-type/prom dress fabrics compared to their selection of RTW fabrics.

  23. I wonder if the Chloe dress could be saved by some really good pressing? Gorgeous Ann did a tute on this – I find it the only way to press when working with silk or other tricky fabrics that tend to pucker at the seams.

    • I’ll have to go back and try that again. Someone actually sent me that tutorial the first time around, but I had my old clunker iron back then. I might get better results with my new one (that actually has working steam!).

  24. Amy

    I love your Hazel dress and it looks really pretty on you, but I know what you mean… some things seem so good in theory but I get so excited by theory I can’t see the forest through the trees. I also love that you experiment with so many different independent patterns.

    • It’s just so exciting to try something new! I got really pumped up by the interesting (to me) construction of the bodice and didn’t really notice that I don’t like the skirt or the straps. Whoops!

      I really love trying different indie patterns. They are generally closer to my style than big 4 patterns, and it’s just so fun to support people whose personalities come through their blogs so much. Sometimes I feel like I actually know indie designers like Kristiann from Victory or Elisalex from By Hand London. :)

  25. Zoe

    It’s a shame that you don’t feel the hazel dress is your style coz it looks so damn cute on you! Happy New Year lady xxx

  26. Sniff. The Chloe still breaks my heart. It’s the worst to spend all that time and end up with a mess. Sad face. Also, that scout tee fabric is awesome!

  27. I feel your pain. Fabric choice does make all the difference. That Banskia top is so freaking cute!! I just bought some fabric like that to make pj pants for my hubby but I think I might have a new plan for it! ;)

  28. such a shame about the Chloe dress! It’s definitely a pattern worth revisiting (either to fix the dress, or make a new one) as it’s so cute on you! Same with the Banksia – it’s so adorable. I’ve found fitting the shoulder/back area quite a challenge this year – perhaps 2013 will be the year I crack it!

  29. even though you think these are “misses”, they are incredible! i especially love that last top – wish I could sew like this!

  30. I think I could really gain from all these lessons and advices! But sometimes it’s so hard to resist the temptation when everyone else is making beautiful versions :)

  31. Becky

    I guess at least you were able to take away some valuable lessons from these fails! It really is a shame about the Banksa top in particular, because that one is totally adorable. Since there probably isn’t much call for a flannel tank top, what if you took the sleeves off and added new ones in a solid color with a little more ease at the shoulders? Or perhaps just take the sleeves off and wear it as a layering piece over a knit top with sleeves?

  32. Erin

    Oh man, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed to see your adorable Banksia made the list but I understand how no matter how much you may like something if it doesn’t fit right you’re never going to be satisfied with it. That said when I was buying similar fabric to make a wintery Cambie I totally added some extra yardage to make a blouse as well. I didn’t have the Banksia pattern & wanted it a bit more fitted so I used my Alma pattern that I already knew would fit. While I love both my Sewaholic makes with buffalo check I know I’ll get more wear out of the blouse. On that note check out the Alma dimensions on the shoulders for tightness & fabric choice really makes a difference. My flannel version is looser than my eyelet one & I cut the same size for both. Regardless I’m glad you shared this blouse despite it falling a bit short because it inspired my hit!

  33. Pingback: Ginger Made: Hazel, V. 2 (Or, the “Insert Portlandia Joke Here” Dress) | Ginger Makes...

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