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.

The wrong fabric

Some you win, some you lose. I’ve been banging on about my striped version of Burda 117-02-2012 for weeks. I finished it last week and…it just doesn’t work. Here’s the evidence.

Burda 117-02-2012 stripes front view

Burda 117-02-2012 stripes front view

The back view’s not so bad. But the front is Wrong. I used to have a housemate who could pronounce ‘Wrong’ so that you could hear the capital letter. I can hear him saying it now about this dress.

Part of the problem is the stripe placement. What looked good on my sketches doesn’t actually work on a body. The stripes on the front shoulders need to go the other way. More like this, in fact:
Stripes front view - midriff slants top left to bottom right

I think it’s not just the stripes though, some of it’s the fabric. The shade of red doesn’t work on me, and it’s much too lightweight and clingy. There’s a reason I am not showing you a side view of this dress even though I matched most of the stripes at the side seams.

I made a Vogue 1250 with what was left over of the fabric after cutting out the Burda, and that was so horribly unflattering I have destroyed the evidence. (Well, shoved the dress in the scraps bag. The contents are going to a primary school where they will be chopped up for cut ‘n’ stick, so someone will get something pretty out of this project at least.)

So I’m writing this off as a learning experience. I still want to make a striped version of this dress but I’m going to wait until I find a heavier striped knit. And in the meantime I’m going to trace off a pile of autumn patterns and do some serious comfort sewing.