Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789
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?
May 30, 2017 @ 2:39 pm
I love that outfit.
May 31, 2017 @ 10:49 am
Thanks Marilyn! ♥
Sue @ A Colourful Canvas
May 31, 2017 @ 11:53 am
OH my, where to begin!
You’ve made a truly beautiful dress, and for it to have come from a mis-make is all the more impressive! Well done!!!
You’re kinda telling my story today, LOL. Sometimes, our sewing projects just don’t work out….and it feels horrible. Sure, we learn in the process but after all the time we put into the garment we really love to have to something that fits perfectly, feels comfortable, and just generally makes us super happy!
Thanks for sharing the tip on double darts! I will definitely try it. Funny…I have Simplicity 2444 and it has two darts, but they are angled. One of the best fitting bodices for me. Knowing I can do double vertical darts is really going to help me with fitting other bodices!
May 31, 2017 @ 11:30 pm
Thank-you so much Sue!
I completely agree with your sentiments- as seamstresses we pour so much love into our garments- and we really want them to turn out how we imagine them! We have a lot more time invested than simply walking into a store and pulling a garment off the rack- while we might be sad it didn’t fit, it’s not like the hours it took to make something from scratch!
As for the darts, I read once long ago in a sewing book that you can rotate your dart to anywhere on your bodice. A quick google search of “rotating darts” brought up a lot of tutorials too. I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to take your pattern and modify it to make vertical darts 🙂
May 31, 2017 @ 6:16 pm
My own way of fixing pointy darts is to extend them slightly so that the last half inch or even a little more of the stitching is on the very edge of the fabric, barely catching, and then to tie the ends off in a square knot and use a tailor’s ham to press the dart on both sides of the fabric. It works for me, but the two-dart method sounds like a good fix, too. I will have to keep that in mind in the future.
I wonder if some of the too-large/fitting issues might be from the bias-cut of the stripes causing the fabric to stretch? Or the v neckline? I know my low necklines sometimes gape unless I take a little wedge out of the shoulders.
Good for you for persevering until you have a dress you love! I think we are always much harder on our home-made clothes than store-bought ones, and truly, your dress looks as good (if not better) as ones from the store!
May 31, 2017 @ 11:34 pm
Thank-you for your kind compliment 🙂
I try to sew my darts in the same method you use too, but for some reason this pattern was just not working out. I do wonder if it might be because of the bias cut or some such thing. . . I’m not sure what it was, but at least I was finally able to come up with a solution. It’s so often trial and error in sewing (sometimes more error than I would like!).
And yes, like you stated in your recent blog post too, we are definitely more judgemental in regards to what we make for ourselves.
June 1, 2017 @ 3:04 am
A fantastic rescue effort Nicole, it looks great!! I really empathise with your frustrations, it can be soul destroying. I have a bag of shame with a few unfinished items in…
I am only just starting to learn about darts, I’ve sewn three different types in the garment I’m working on. Fingers crossed… xx
June 1, 2017 @ 9:03 am
It is so frustrating to end up with pieces you don’t like, or don’t finish because you realize it’s just hopeless. (I just read about your Skirt of Doom and Top of Torment). Good luck with your new project!
June 5, 2017 @ 6:22 am
It’s so impressive to me that anyone can make their own clothes, let alone re-doing them when they don’t go right. I’m not sure I’d ever get past the annoyance with myself at the first failure! And that, my friends, is why I don’t sew 😉 For those that do though you end up with gorgeous dresses like this. I see the appeal! No one would know about the little things but you, of course, so to the outside world you’ve just got an amazing dress 🙂
June 5, 2017 @ 11:24 pm
Thank-you CiCi Marie.
Sewing is definitely not an “easier” method of obtaining clothing, and I definitely think it is better to recognize those things that we don’t enjoy doing and stay away from them rather than forcing ourselves to do them! For me that would be knitting and crocheting, and for others, sewing 🙂
June 5, 2017 @ 7:28 pm
I feel like I always say this when people talk about frustrating sewing projects, but I don’t see any of the issues that you have with it – just a beautiful summer dress. Love the hat with it, very New Look!
June 5, 2017 @ 11:25 pm
Haha! Thanks Jessica! I think that sewers are the hardest on ourselves- I definitely never see the issues with other people’s sewing projects either 🙂
June 6, 2017 @ 11:31 pm
I’ll keep that dart tip in mind for future projects, that’s very handy to know.
I’ve made many many failures, some were abandoned and others I’ve rescued. I’m a big fan of rescuing now. It’s always frustrating but very satisfying too. And not just failures either – I’m planning to rework my me-made maternity clothes into something new as well!
June 7, 2017 @ 2:44 am
It has it’s set of challenges, I agree, but I also love rescuing garments. Refashioning your maternity clothes is a great idea too!
June 17, 2017 @ 3:37 pm
I’m very impressed at your rescue, it is such a lovely dress. I’m glad you get to wear it now and I can’t see any of the things that you can see wrong with it. Fab outfit!
June 19, 2017 @ 4:29 pm
Thank-you Kate-Em! I think that we are hardest on ourselves 🙂
July 11, 2017 @ 12:24 pm
Do you have a tutorial or know of one I can use to split the dark? I’m making the same pattern and running into the same problem.
July 11, 2017 @ 1:35 pm
I think this is a common problem when fitting bodices 🙂
I didn’t follow this exact method- as I made my darts a little bit more vertical “straight up” and not so pointed towards the apex. I think this gave it a bit softer of a curve, and also didn’t throw my stripes off as much. However, this tutorial from Collette patterns is much the same method:
You can actually rotate your darts in any direction like this tutorial here:
By rotating the darts in any direction, you can ease out the fullness and put them exactly where you need them.
I hope this helps and if you have any more questions about it, I’ll see if I can answer them! Best of luck on your project- it really is a lovely pattern, once the fitting issues are out of the way 🙂