Top 5 Fails of 2020

Can we just stat by saying that in the entire suck-a-thon that’s been 2020, there’s no such thing as “fail?” There are just things that didn’t go the way we want them to go. Which is pretty much everything.

Still, in taking stock of some sewing projects that went awry, I must acknowledge a few projects that failed. Part of the “fail” comes from my attempt to try new things – new patterns, new “looks” – that didn’t really pan out for me. I suppose this is what happens when you have a decent stash of patterns and fabrics, and too much time on your hands.

I started with some free summer skirt patterns. While neither of these is a “fail” exactly, they both required substantial work from me to make them wearable. That is, way more work than I’d bargained for.

The blue and white skirt is the “Justine” from Ready to Sew. It had some serious errors in sizing, drafting and construction (gory details here). On the right is a free A-line skirt from Bernina’s short-lived patternmaking software. Really just the worst experience – sizing, drafting, instructions all crap (gory details here).

But – at least I busted my embroidery unit out of its box again and managed a 12-color design for the pockets – it only took four tries to get it right:

Hummingbird embroidery saved this sad, sad project

Next up are these shorts from Vogue 9246. I thought the asymmetric mock wrap look would be cool – trying to get the “edge” back in summer my wardrobe after all those girly skirts. Unforch, the mock bit just looks weird, not chic – it kind of balloons out awkwardly. Perhaps in full-length pants it would work, but for shorts it’s a no-go.

Weird-ass shorts and wonky-ass top.

This McCall’s 2094 top out of stretch poplin isn’t the greatest either, but at least it’s wearable. I made a lot of mistakes with it – I somehow put the buttons in the wrong place, and I didn’t cope well with the fabric’s stretch – the hems and facings are wonky AF.

This next project was so bad I didn’t even blog it: Kwik Sew 3926.

Slippers… yuck!

I saw someone else had sewn this pattern, and it looked so cute. I needed new slippers. I had lots of scraps around to make some. So I gave it a try. They fit way way way too wide and are hellaciously uncomfortable to wear. They went into the donation bin right away.

My final and most devastating fail, though, is this Faye dress, from the Fall 2019 Fibre Mood magazine:

Who’s the biggest fail? You are!

Gory details here, but the summary is this – this was an expensive dress that was a lot of work and used a lot of fabric. But the hem is irretrievably messed up and therefore unwearable.

The fault is all mine. The rayon challis I chose is too unstable for the bias edges of the hem. It keeps stretching and growing, and I cannot make it straight. I might turn it into a top at some point, but for now it sits in my closet, judging me…

In Which I Use 3 Hours of My Life and Nearly 5 Yards of Fabric

Yesterday was blustery and cold – seriously it’s like someone flipped a switch on the Connecticut climate – so it was the perfect day for the time suck that is the “Faye” Dress from the Fall 2019 Fibre Mood magazine.

To review, here’s the dress:

Faye Dress From Fibre Mood Fall 2019
Line drawings of Faye

The line drawings do a good job of showing the pleats and sweep of the dress, while the model photo shows the dress’ generous ease.

There are very few blogs or photos of this dress sewn up, and I think I know why.

  1. The trace-off was a nightmare. The skirt’s sweep is so wide (and the pattern pages so small) that you have to piece the skirt pattern together. The fronts are made up of four large chunks. I was so confused I almost gave up. Finally I figured it out.
Front piece – tape together four traced pattern pieces !

2. The dress is a massive fabric hog. My size calls for 400 cm of fabric that’s 140 cm wide. For those of us in the US, with our archaic measuring system, that’s 4.4 yards of 55 inch wide fabric. Oink indeeed!

3. The dress is massive overall – I am fortunate to have a big area to lay it out in. I don’t see how someone could manage with a small space.

Of course, I could not stop there. I had to buy this large-format print rayon challis because it was just so dramatic and edgy, with its asymmetical, animal-inspired, high-contrast look in my favorite colors.

5 yards to go!

I laid it out on the entry hall floor and got cutting in one layer. For such a big piece, a throw rug and a T-square are invaluable tools. Assuming your rug is straight, you can line up the selvage along its edge and use the T-square to line up the pattern’s grainline, like so:

Carpet makes a good cutting mat.

It’s not possible to pattern match this fabric for the skirt – at least not without buying many more yards than I’d already invested in. So I followed the next-best strategy of matching dark area to dark area, light area to light area. That should be fine, especially since the skirt has so much volume and drape.

Two fronts, pattern pieces complimenting each other if not exactly matching.

(Aside: At this point, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Gurl, you have a metric ton of Oriental carpets in your house.” Yes I do. I live in Connecticut. It’s the law.)

After the big skirt pieces were done, I could get fussy with pattern matching the sleeves and bodice pieces.

Sleeves, matched as a mirror image

At the end of about 3 hours, was exhausted from crawling around on the floor. I had a pile of pattern pieces, safety-pinned to their paper templates:

Pattern pieces

And a bit of scraps along a selvage and a few bits here and there – but less than I could have imagined when I started this project.

Scraps

(Another Oriental carpet aside – we chose this carpet for the entry hall and staircase in part for its roasted-chicken motif. Here’s a closeup:

This twin bird motif is supposed to be pair of peacocks, but they look like roasted chickens. If we were an aristocratic family, the roasted chicken would feature prominently in our heraldry. This is second-best.)

Then I had a gin and tonic and lay in a coma for much of the evening. Cheers!