Learning from Mistakes

I have a LOT of sewing projects on my plate at the moment, so I was hoping today to check at least one of them off my list. Hmm, no such luck, I’m afraid. And because of that, you’d think I’d NOT post about it, but in fact, I think it’s good to. Not only because it saves today’s endeavors from completely going to waste, but I think it’s kind of nice to see failed projects in Blogland, because there are usually so many polished-perfect projects showcased and real life doesn’t always give you such luck. So here’s what happened…

I have a wedding in Texas to attend in October and knowing we would all need to be dressy and my 3-year old wouldn’t last very long in a suit, I thought it was the perfect time to order some of my Mexico Springtime fabric from Spoonflower on their new cotton-silk fabric.


The wedding colors are orange and navy blue, so I altered my pattern to coordinate with those colors. The navy turned out a bit more of a deep purple, but that was fine by me. I found a really clean and modern vest pattern from Leila & Ben and opted to cut out the 4T sizing for my pattern, since my little guy is big for his age.

Not only is this technically my first-ever garment made from a formal pattern (I typically make things up from scratch and being a visual learner, I often get overwhelmed by reading all the instructions and not following them so easily without seeing an example), but also as I’ve mentioned before, I just got a new sewing machine. So I thought it was a perfect time to bust that out and give it a test run on this vest. Nothing like upping the challenge by adding new variables left and right to it, no? I’m crazy like that.

So I prepped everything and began my sewing today. My first glitch occurred when I was sewing up the collar piece. The pattern calls for everything to be finished with a topstitch and after adding that to the collar, I stared at it and realized I just didn’t like how it looked. Crooked and just not pretty on silk. Too utilitarian-feeling for a fancy fabric. So I sighed (probably also rolled my eyes) and decided to recut new pieces and sew up a new collar. Clearly I didn’t sigh enough to relax and focus, because I proceeded to cut out the patterned side of the collar without catching that it was UPSIDE DOWN. Noooooooo! Alas, yes. There went attempt #2 and without waiting long enough to start weeping, I ran back to my fabric pile and cut out the collar pieces for a third time. This time? Bingo! Here are my three lovely collars in a row. At least the other two are long enough to use for a headband or something. Giant bookmark, perhaps?

After feeling like I had now amassed the required mad skills to be a professional collar-maker, I moved on to finishing up the rest of the vest. My son was at the grandfolks for the day, so I didn’t have a chance to try it on him until all sewing was done. And herein lies the ultimate flub. Ready for it? You guessed it. It didn’t fit. *Giant sigh* I was completely crestfallen. It looked so good and I was so proud of being able to mark it off my list; it only needed a couple of buttonholes and buttons which I was going to try for-the-first-time-ever on my new machine.

Son came home and tried it on. It’s barely passable. Turns out I really needed to not use up the allotted ½" seam allowance that was already built into the pattern, but rather cut and additional ½" out all the way around. Plus because my son is so tall, it really needs to be a great deal longer for him. Nonetheless, here’s the almost-finished vest:

Not too shabby (yes, I need to iron it flat; I’m not the best of friends with irons, you know). Now I just need to see it on a matching sized child and it will look perfect.

So what am I going to do now that I’ve used up most of the striped fabric and the orange lining? Well, first I’m going to bed, so I can wash away the woes and start anew tomorrow. Then I’m going to figure out what other orange or possibly navy fabric I can find to line a new vest and make it all over again using the remaining Mexico Springtime fabric I have left. I’m going to adjust the pattern to be bigger and longer and give it another go. Wish me luck! 

Have you had failed projects leave you crestfallen? Are they sitting in half-sewn up states somewhere in your home in a fabric pile? Ever come across them and wonder what the heck you were trying to make? Or do you just toss out the also-ran versions of your projects? Tell me about your sewing project mistakes. It’ll surely make me feel a bit better about a sewing day lost. 😀