kcw: mistakes

mistakes: miranda from inspinration

I hope you had a very productive KCW, I know I had. I really tried to challenge myself (in a normal week I already spend a lot of time sewing) and actually sewed seven garments (the cutting and planning was done before the week started so I really just sewed). Overall, the sewing went surprisingly smooth but I did of course make mistakes. Let’s do a quick summary of a few of them. I didn’t pay attention to detail and put the ears of the giraffe too high. During the sewing process I turned and returned the reversible top inside-out unnecessary for 4 times because I thought I already sewed to the end. With the snake shirt I missed a layer while using my serger leaving a small hole.  I managed to draw a line on the right of the fabric for the panda dress, which remained visible after construction (although I hid it for the photos).

mistakes11. Giraffe dress 2. Reversible sling top 3. Snake shirt 4. Panda dress

One of the reasons why I like blogging is that I can tell the story behind the clothes I make, there is usually more than “I picked the pattern, I made it”. If you read my blog you have noticed that I regularly discuss mistakes I made. I do this because on one hand laughing is healthy and self humor is great (I love reading about other people’s sewing mistakes). Writing my mistakes down is part of my coping process. On the other hand somebody might learn from the way I solved my mistakes, because I usually do manage to create a good workaround. I think I have never actually thrown out a garment because of a mistake. Mistakes create a challenge, a problem that has to solved, and I love solving problems. Often creativity is born from mistakes.

One source of my  sewing mistakes is a lack of concentration. Without enough focus  I start sewing wrong pieces together, or (partly) miss sewing a layer. In my case a lack of concentration is usually due to rushing or fatigue. Knowing your pitfalls is the first step to recovery.  I now avoid sewing past my bedtime, my sewing stops at 23:00 the latest.  Sometimes I find myself making mistakes earlier in the evening and also then it is best to stop the project for the night. Pushing on only makes things worse. Another source of rushing behavior is sewing against a deadline I created myself.  I now also avoid giving an estimation of the how much time my sewing will still take. I noticed that if I told my husband I would be finished in 20 minutes, Murphy’s law kicked in and my seam ripper had to appear.

mistakes21. Too much of a good thing 2. Forest trousers 3. Dino shirt 4. Sewing on skirts

Although I  make mistakes during the actual sewing, my typical mistakes involve copying and cutting pattern pieces. I try to cut both my fabric and pattern paper as economically as possible which sometimes leads to non-economical situations. I will tell you about a few of those situations. I love working with knits and those patterns often have the same front and back pattern except for the neckline. You can easily draw the different neckline, so I usually only copy one of the bodice/dress pattern pieces (saving both time and pattern paper). In the past I copied only the front piece of a dress, this led more than once to the problem of accidentally cutting the front twice because I forgot to draw the higher back neckline.  The first dress in the collage shows an extra seam below the collar that should have hidden the seam but that was another mistake (sometimes they pile on). I have removed this source of mistakes by only cutting back pieces.

The dino shirt from the collage, that I also sewed during KCW,  is another good example of economical behavior gone horribly bad. When I started copying the hood onto my pattern paper I was too close to the side of the paper, moved the paper and redrew  at approximately the same spot because I didn’t want to throw away the piece of paper.  When I cut the paper piece I accidentally cut the wrong line. I noticed that the hood pattern looked a bit off but I assumed this was part of the pattern. When I sewed the hood to the neck I realized it would never ever fit. Then I checked the original pattern and saw my mistake… The solution I came up with was putting in a contrasting piece in the hood. I could have cut a new hood of course but then I had to throw away the wrong cut pieces and that I just couldn’t make myself to do that. To avoid this mistake all together in the future I should redraw with another color.

Another big frustrating mistake is cutting the same pattern piece without mirroring it. This is especially a problem in case of scarce fabric. When I upcycled one of my own trousers, I cut the left back leg twice and I than I was out of fabric. I solved it by covering the wrongly cut leg with a layer of knit. My son loved the trousers and was sad that only one leg was that happy. While cutting that pair of trousers I also managed to cut the same pocket three times, not managing to fix my mistake the second time neither.

Not paying attention to the small details of the explanation, thinking I do not need it, is another source of my mistakes. I once made four onesies at the same time. I had made a smaller size so I knew the fit was great. When all four were almost finished I realized I had used two alternative front pieces instead of a back and front piece. I now had four bad onesies, try to imagine my frustration about fabric and time waisted. The biggest problem was that the onesie was too short (I decided to ignore the relatively low back neckline), so I used the body parts to make dresses. One of them is the fourth picture in the collage. A similar issue is me being too lazy to go back to the original pattern to determine the exact position of buttons, thinking I can eye-ball them, wrong! Always go back and safe yourself the frustration afterwards.

In the introduction I told you that I drew on the right side of the fabric of the panda dress, this is a regular mistake for me.  I always use a child washable marker  (a huge cost saver compared to washable water-soluble markers) to draw my pattern on the fabric. Sometimes, when I am drawing a symmetrical piece I draw on the front, these are the moments I draw something wrong for sure. This is mostly a problem because I prefer make pictures before the first wash, the lines wash out, so not big mistakes, but it is still very frustrating, because these mistakes just shouldn’t happen at all.

The worst mistake I ever made, I only did once. While sewing a dress, my fabric folded and I made a big cut in the middle of the skirt with my serger. I actually cried, I did manage to salvage the dress, I ironed a strong stabilizer on the inside, but from up close the hole remains visible.

So here  they are, some of my mistakes, I hope you enjoyed reading about them. My general advise in dealing with mistakes is take some time. I usually get the best ideas in bed. I know that I have to take some distance. An idea to solve it will come, but it takes a bit of time.  Hand sewing is a great solution to many small mistakes, in the beginning I tried to tackle a small hole with my sewing machine or serger, but this is often not the right way to go. Just sit down on the couch, breath, fix it, and enjoy your creative solution.

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  • Reply Laura J. May 5, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Love this. I have done just about every one of these things. A common one for me is to sew the bodice to a skirt inside out. Then pull it and sew the skirt part inside out.

    • Reply Inspinration May 6, 2015 at 4:52 am

      Oh yes, those situations are horrible! For me the best thing is to just give up for the night, mistakes will keep piling up. Although I feel I have to go on, just stop, rip the seam and start fresh the next day.

  • Reply Diana May 5, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Great post Miranda! It’s good to know we all make mistakes, and the best part is how much we can learn from them.

    • Reply Inspinration May 6, 2015 at 4:53 am

      Learning is the best, but I sometimes feel I keep making the same mistakes over and over again 😉

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