Hits and misses

Ever have the impression you’ve been sewing a lot of duds? This year my productivity has been down and I seem to have produced more failures than usual. Right now I can’t sew at all because I’m in the middle of moving and everything is packed up. So it seems like a good time to try to work out how to improve the hit rate for when I can get at my sewing machines again. Is it that I’m choosing the wrong patterns? The wrong fabric? Or something else?

So here are the failures. First of all, Vogue 1317. This really should have worked. It’s a Chado Ralph Rucci pattern, and the (fake) suede I made it up in has a wonderful texture. However I think I’ve only worn it once or twice. The fit is off, and the sleeves on it are drafted in such a way that you can’t raise your arms. It makes for a great shoulder line but it drives me up the wall when I have the dress on. I bought some more suede to have another go at it, but since then I’ve seen some suede skinny trousers, and they appeal much more than another attempt at this pattern.

Vogue 1317

Burda 134-06-2012 also ought to have worked; horrible fabric choice and sizing problems killed it. I might try this one again at some point though. The fit problems (tight skirt, weird length on the bodice) are easy to fix and there’s always more fabric out there. Again I think it would be better in a knit than the woven I used.

Burda 134-06-2012 front view

Vogue 8825 didn’t even get finished. It’s lurking in a plastic bag right now. I can’t quite bring myself to chuck it out yet, but I know I’m never going to complete it. It’s a beautiful pattern, but the style’s really not me.

Vogue 8825 envelope

And then we have two that seemed quite successful at the time, but I haven’t worn as much as I expected.

My violet version of Burda 122-09-2010 looks nice, but it’s too tight and short to be entirely comfortable. I love the pattern, and have other versions that were much better; it just needs a fabric with more stretch than this one. The twin needle hem has broken in a few places but I have no desire to make this any shorter by hemming it again.

Burda 122-09-2010

And Vogue 8866 photographs really well…but I rarely find the right occasion to wear it. And again it’s a little too tight. I’ll certainly make it again, but this version really belongs in the dressing up box.

Vogue 8866

So do they have anything in common? With most of them the problem is that they don’t fit. Which makes sense, because I only stopped wearing ready-to-wear because home-made clothes are so much more comfortable. It’s reassuring that the problem is likely to be fixable: it’s not that I’m sewing the wrong things all the time, just the wrong sizes – or the wrong sizes for the chosen fabric anyway. Hopefully once I get my new sewing space into a usable state my hit rate will improve.

26 thoughts on “Hits and misses

  1. I love both dresses that you said are “too tight”. its just my type of fitting style.

  2. You should see my basket full of ‘rejects’!! I’m merciless towards what I produce, and for me it often takes 2, 3, and even 4 versions of a pattern before I fully understand its ‘nature’ and make the best choices in terms of fabric, texture and color. Designers make tenths if not hundreds of samples for one garment. Its no surprise we often do not get it right on the first try. But I think your stuff looks great and I like your sense of adventure.

  3. Darn! V8866 is one of my faves that you have made. And I love the fabric you used. I have been having a ton of non-wearable items too. A bit discouraging, that.

  4. I always think that clothes should allow an impromptu ‘funky chicken’ should it be required 🙂 Shame that you’re not happy with the fit of these as you look fab in all of them.

  5. That’s too bad! All of those dresses look like winners, but I understand what you mean – if it isn’t comfy or doesn’t get worn, then it really isn’t a winner no matter how much blog appeal it has, right?

  6. I agree with Elizabeth! 8866 is definitely a keeper! It is nowhere near too tight! It is chic! Please finish 8825. I have a hunch it will look fabulous on you. I liked Burda 134-06-2012, I just think it needs to be a bit longer like 8866. I love your style and I am amazed at the amount of work you put out. Thank you for sharing your sewing adventures!

  7. What you think is a miss I think looks wonderful. Perhaps the statement ‘ We are our own worse critic’ applies here. I never think about my misses, I live happier that way!

  8. thanks for posting this – it makes me feel better about my own flub-ups – the most recent one being a jacket that I put a lot of work into that I will never wear – it fits weird and is somehow too small.

    For myself, I decided to dial my sewing back to simpler patterns and Always Make a Muslin first. My new rule – No sewing the fashion fabric until I work out the fit issues in the muslin and adjust the pattern as needed! I prefer to wear simple lines anyway and I think this way I will actually improve my sewing skills by making the effort to concentrate more on a good fit.

    Do you make a muslin when you are trying out a new pattern?

    1. I’ve got out of the muslin habit lately. I think the last thing I muslined was a coat! I really wish I had made one for the Vogue 1317, given how much work there was in it. I’m with you on generally picking simpler patterns these days though, or at least ones where the fit is less critical.

  9. I often find that the first version is never quite perfect. Something always looks good in a model photo or in the drawing, but it ends up looking different on us or maybe even if it looks good it doesn’t function well. Or we want to make something fun or pretty or different and it just doesn’t work in our lifestyle. I totally understand how something can have blog appeal but then not be a functional wardrobe item. Sometimes things look great in photos, but just don’t work in real life. Other times the photos I take look horrid, but in reality the garment works out great. I think it always take at least one or two outings with a garment before you can really know if it works for you or not.

    Anyway, I think most of these dresses look great on you in the photos, but if you have identified the main problems with them then hopefully next time they will turn out better because the styles definitely suit you. Looking at the photos I agree that Burda 134-06-2012 will probably have a better drape to the top if you use a knit. I might suggest maybe lengthening the skirt on it a bit too? It might help a bit to balance the proportions of the top. And I have to agree with the others – keep Vogue 8866 around – even if it has to be saved for a special occasion, find an occasion to wear it!

  10. I think one of the most challenging things about learning to sew our own clothes is making sure that we have the right fit as well as matching the right fabric to the right pattern. Even I have problems getting these right at times. You are doing the right thing by learning from these garments, moving on and using what you’ve learned in future garments.

  11. It is so difficult to correlate, a new pattern with fabric and whether or not you will actually like a finished garment sometimes, I have done it more times than I care to remember. I have several very attractive boxes sitting on top of my wardrobes with articles of clothing ready to refashion, that I have made and then decided I do not like. Have to say though, that all these dresses photograph very well and look very nice on you.

  12. Dearest Cybe,

    I think your fabric choices are great, but I notice two things.
    All but the turtleneck dress have ended up being too short by just a crucial inch, notably the suede number with the skating skirt, or too tight for wearing, which is so solvable. I always add 2 inches to the skirt pieces so that I can play with shoe heels and knees, etc. at the end.
    Meanwhile, you may be suffering something similar to me, which is that the clothes you design for yourself don’t match your life, as you say you haven’t found yourself pulling these items out too often.
    The blue/purple dress is great but bold. Take it to the movies or theatre if it’s too bright for the office.The hem can be upgraded by adding a two-inch band of black or contrast fabric around the bottom and sleeve hems. And are the sleeves ironically just half an inch too long? Anyway, I do love that dress.
    The Vogue turtleneck item is also a keeper perfect for cocktail parties, so I guess you have to go to more of those. It captures your sleek, futurist vibe so well. There is nothing wrong with that dress. You look fab.

    You inspire me to post about my own failure with a Burda skirt that has blocked my mojo all summer.

    I love all your work and remain deeply inspired by your consistent style,

    Big hug,

    1. Thanks! I completely see what you mean about the lengths. I can’t remember if I added any length to the Chado Ralph Rucci skirt pattern before making it up. The hem is faced so practically impossible to lengthen once cut. I must remember to lengthen the skirt for the next attempt. I like the idea of adding bands to the Burda dress. I’m wanting to go rummage in my fabric stash now.

  13. Well, like everyone else has said, they don’t look like flops. But you know how they feel.
    I think matching fabric to the pattern is the biggest challenge, even more so than fit ( and stretch and recovery differences between fabric effect fit too).

    One way to perfect our sewing would be to make the same pattern in different fabrics till we got it right, then just stick with it. But how boring would that be!

  14. Alright, if
    Im not jazzed about something it helps me to restyle it with different accesories and sometimes the new look will help my relationship with it- some outfits get along better in groups. These are all too lovely on you to ditch- how can we make them better friends? oh, its also my wish that you finish 8825- I’d like to say that you and I have the same outfit!

  15. Any chance that adding an under-arm gusset would save the first dress? Opening the side seams and sleeve seam just a little ways at the armpit would tell you whether you would gain the space where you need it. Otherwise, tant pis!

  16. Interesting. I hate wearing poorly fitting clothes too, they can be so uncomfortable. I’ve not always found toiles very helpful as the fit can change such a lot when you use a different fabric.

    Good luck with the move. Will you have a nice sewing room in your new home?

  17. I love that last turtle neck dress on you. It looks perfect on you.

    I totally know what you mean about the fit! I’ve sewn a lot of muslins but haven’t gotten past that stage. I just can’t get anything to work the way I think it should

    Good luck with your new space.

  18. I just recently went through some of my makes and 3 of them have not been worn. I thought I loved them… but I guess I didn’t! They just weren’t as flattering as I thought they initially were. I do love that amazing electric blue on you- but I understand you have to feel comfortable in what you are wearing! ~Laurie

  19. I wouldn’t call any of those dresses failures but then again, we are our biggest critics. As for the style actually being flattering, I think a lot of seamstresses have that issue because it’s not like you can try on a pattern!
    A recent dress I made has the same issues with the sleeves, its so annoying!

  20. Thank you for posting this, it makes me feel so much better about the boxes of unwearables on top of my wardrobe. Having said that I think they all look great on you, but if they don’t feel right then you won’t wear them. At least you’ve worked out what you need to do to make them work, either in current form or in future versions. I try not to think of my failures as failures and try to focus on what I have learned from them, even if it is that I don’t suit a particular colour or style.

  21. I know that feeling … you sew garments with great eagerness and then they end up in a corner of the closet. However, all is learning … I love Burda blue dress, it’s in my wish list …

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