I think a common misconception about sewing your own clothes is that by sewing your own, you can achieve a perfect fit each time and you will end up with a closet full of clothes you love.
In theory that is true, but I think every seamstress has, at some point in their sewing life, sewn something that has turned out terribly wrong. A complete failure. A dud. The fit is off, it’s too small, it’s too big, it has wrinkles where there shouldn’t be any, the armholes gape, you loved the look of the pattern, but once you put on the finished garment, you realize that you don’t look quite like the model. . . I could go on.
Making your own clothing is incredibly satisfying, when you end up with a garment you love, but incredibly frustrating when it turns out badly. While making a muslin, or tried and true patterns are helpful, sometimes despite all of your careful preparation, you end up with something that doesn’t turn out like you thought it would. This recently finished dress (Vogue 8789) that I’m sharing today, is one such example of dress that went wrong, but I was able to salvage and make something new out of.
I sewed a dress out of this fabric four years ago, based off of a pattern I had made for another dress I have. I loved the other dress, and really liked the fit and style. It had a fitted waist, like Vogue 2962, but with a regular sleeved top, not a halter. It was, I thought, a tried and true pattern, so I decided to make another out of this striped cotton. However, when I finished the dress, the bodice ended up too wide, and the neckline gaped. It looked OK, when I stood still, but, as I don’t usually stand in one position all day, it was rather ill fitting and uncomfortable. I wore the dress two times, and then promptly removed it from my closet and threw it into the box of shame (aka- box of unfinished sewing projects) where it sat for four years. 🙁
This past October, when I took part in Slow Fashion October, I made a decision/ pledge to use up my stash and finish up my UFO sewing projects, before I started embarking on too many new projects and buying new fabric without any plan of what I was going to make with it. And, when I saw “The Vintage Fashion Challenge” prompt on Instagram for today was “Me Made Style”, I knew that it was finally time to tackle this dress. And, as I wanted to highlight the stripe design, I decided that it was a perfect time to try out Vogue 8789.
So how did I like this pattern? I did end up sizing down and that worked, although I think that if I ever make it again, I will actually size down once more, and do a full bust adjustment instead for a better fit. The muslin for this pattern worked out really nicely, but (again) when I sewed up the bodice there were many fit frustrations. I couldn’t get the darts to lie nicely, and they kept having bubbles on the ends of them that (to put it rather bluntly) were quite, um, nipply. I did so much research about darts, consulting sewing blogs and books and reading about how you need to keep them 1-2″ away from the bust apex, etc. but nothing was working. Finally, I read in one of Gertie’s old posts about using two small darts, rather than one large one, as a large dart will always end up being pointed. One of my sewing books recommends never doing a dart larger than 3/4″. So, I took out the dart, marked the apex and then drew two new 1/2″ darts, and the problem was instantly solved! If you have ever faced difficulty with pointy darts, I would definitely recommend using two small darts!
As for the rest of the dress, it went together quite well and I finished it up (even matching my centre back zipper perfectly). And they all lived happily ever after, right? Wrong! I tried the dress on, and it was too big! At this point, I despaired of ever having a striped dress, but I resolutely picked it out, and then refit the bodice, with my mom’s help. And then I sewed up the rest of it, and it was a success this time.
When I look at this dress, I see all of the problems with it. There are wrinkles on the back that shouldn’t be there. The skirt seam ended up being on the front. The waist seam over the zipper doesn’t match up exactly. But, overall, those are just nit picky complaints, and ultimately I have ended up with a dress that I love. I have worn it once already and I know that it is going to end up being a new favourite. I am also glad that I was able to save this dress, and make something “new” from it. So, the moral of the story is, when you turn out a new garment and it ends up being a failure, instead of despairing, see if you can turn it into something new. Although, maybe don’t wait for four years to do so 😉
Have you ever made a garment that was a complete failure? What did you do? Were you able to save it, and turn it into something new? Have you ever tried Vogue 8789?