December 25, 2012

2012 Top 5 Sewing Fails

Round two of the 2012 Top 5 posts is all about the things that missed the mark. Gillian suggested highlighting the items that are UFOs, were worn once, or were just complete disasters. She followed up in her own post on the topic to say:
I didn’t mean for it to make us sound like we are trash-talking our bodies or sewing skills… In truth, I was just curious which clothes don’t get worn!
This is definitely a topic that I had wanted to investigate myself, as I'm trying to do a better job planning projects next year. I feel like there are a lot of items in my closet that I don't wear (me-made and otherwise) because they don't fit or flatter anymore, and why keep that junk around cluttering up my life? Identifying the problems can also hopefully help me avoid making similar mistakes in the future. 

As I was going through my garments for the year though, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't really make anything that I would call a true failure this year. The me-made garments in my closet that I don't wear are from mostly all from 2011 and before, and my skills and taste have changed, so it makes sense that I won't necessarily wear some of those items anymore. Probably as the years pass, I'll start to pass on some of my successful makes from 2012 too. Wardrobes must evolve, right? But anyway, I was able to identify the five that stand out as my 2012 misses, which for assorted reasons I don't or can't wear any longer.

First up, my one and only official contribution to The Sew Weekly- the Garden Tour dress, inspired by a garment of the same name from Mod Cloth. 

Simplicity 2145
Problem? Maternity size!

As you can see, I was pretty large with child at this point, and I knew when I made this dress that I was going to have to go back after baby came and make alterations if I ever hoped to wear it again. Well- guess what? This dress is hanging on the door of my sewing room, where it's been hanging since I wore it the first and only time I ever did. 

It really shouldn't be too hard to rip the skirt out and remove the five or six extra sizes from the width, but I'm sure that won't be the only change that needs to be made once I get going, and this dress is fully lined and really nicely constructed. Of course, that's a good thing, but I'm just not convinced that I'm interested in tearing into all that hard work. Maybe next spring, when I might get some instant gratification out of it I fix it. Future TBD.

This next top is really a garment that I hate to call a failure in any respect. This was my first FBA, which at the time I made this at about 6 weeks postpartum, I definitely needed. 

"Triple C" top up close and personal
Never grew on me, never wore it. Dyed it, donated it.

Sewing this top was a great learning experience and I'm really proud of the finishes. It has bound seams and perfect plaid matching, and those fiddly little button loops even came out perfectly! As a work of sewing art, this top qualifies as a hit, but I just never felt like it was me, so in the end, it's a miss.

At least 80% of the problem I had with this top can be chalked up to my fabric choice. I was trying to work with my stash and this vintage yarn-dyed plaid has a nice drape and feels great, so it should have been a good choice. I just don't wear these muddy, muted colors though, and I always felt like it just didn't work. As a last-ditch effort I overdyed it with a rich burgundy shade but it didn't make me feel any better about it. This top had been hanging around in my sewing room for too long, so about a month ago I set it free and donated it. Hopefully someone will appreciate the craftsmanship and will love it more than I was able to.

The next item on my miss-list is one that doesn't really belong here, but came to be on the list thanks to my own clumsiness. It's a modified Renfrew that I made during Me Made May with an open-knit that I found at the local fabric outlet.

May 31
Problem? Stained!

This top was a great basic, worn frequently and integrated seamlessly into my wardrobe. Who doesn't need more simple white tees? Sadly, the last time I reached for it I noticed that there was a mysterious stain on the front, so I sent it back to the laundry to soak with stain remover for a while, but to no avail. Whatever it is, it's there to stay, so this one gets retired to loungewear or pajamas. I think I might actually have enough fabric to revisit this one (or at least cut a new front), but I can't be bothered. I've got more exciting things to sew on my list!

Things like this dress, which also did not earn it's spot on the misses of 2012 list, in my humble opinion. I really love this dress, and it's impeccably finished and lined in fantastic, slinky polkadot lining. I love the color, I love the shape, I am incredibly proud of this dress! 

Destroyed by stain remover! Test!!

So what's it doing on this list? Well, again, this one landed here due to my own ineptitude. The skirt was stained with a greasy stain, and I took a (natural) stain remover to it, determined to save it. Well, the greasy stain is gone, but I was left with multiple large spots of discoloration from the stain remover! 

I haven't decided what I'm going to do to try to salvage this dress yet, but I will do something. Maybe a soak in something will help? I honestly have no idea. I guess I could try dying it, but I don't know how the stained area would take the dye. I might be able to cut a new skirt- I'll have to see how much fabric I have left. Anyway, this is a sad one, but as the dress won't be worn in this condition, the misses list is where it goes for now. Future TBD.

And last, but not least, one of my most recent makes brings us to five. It's another Renfrew, the Renfrew of Quiet Desperation. You may recall that I mentioned the curious nature of this fabric when I posted this finished object a few weeks ago.

Distorted by distaste for water!

It's "foil jersey" and the bolt was labeled dry clean only and also marked with a warning that the fabric may crock. I haven't uncovered any evidence of crocking, but perhaps I was mistaken in my initial assessment that the mysterious fibers in the fabric were unicorn hair. It seems more likely now that they derive from a water-hating creature akin to the Wicked Witch of the West, as this garment did not survive a trip through the wash.

Well, that's not entirely true, I guess. The garment survived intact, but I could see the moment I pulled it from the load that things were not well. The top is now approximately 2/3 its former length, and cartoonishly wide. Finding this curious, I ran a 5" x 5" test swatch of the fabric through a delicate wash and dry cycle to see just what would happen. After the wash cycle, the swatch measured just 3.75" long and was nearly 6" wide. There was no change after drying and ironing. That same math seems to apply to my new (crop) top.

But Tiffany, you ask, didn't you prewash the fabric before you made the top? Everyone knows that's the first thing you should do! And yes, I really always do, but in this case, obviously, the answer is no. I did not. But I refuse to take all the blame here! The bolt said dry clean only, and I hadn't yet determined how I was going to care for this garment once it was sewn. Perhaps just a quick freshening steam bath in the dryer? Alas, I never had a chance to decide, because my ever-so-helpful husband threw it in the wash the day after I wore it for the first time and it's now crazy short/fat size and residing on the back of a chair waiting further instructions.

I'm actually really tempted to buy another small piece of this stuff and make this top up again. I'll prewash the fabric this time, obviously. Despite the weirdness of the material, I really did like this top, and it was a nice basic addition to my wardrobe with just enough sparkle to make it interesting. If there's any remaining in the 50% off bins the next time there's a sale, you may see another rendition in the new year. With a bigger cowl, maybe. And less pinking shears.

So there it is. I'm pleasantly surprised that I don't have makes on my list that I just did a truly sucky job of sewing, or that fit terribly horribly wrong. And I don't think I abandoned anything this year to languish as a UFO. If I did, I buried the evidence so deep in my sewing room that I've long forgotten about it... I'm mostly pretty proud of the things I made this year. For the most part they're well constructed and I keep learning new things about fit and making things work for my body, which is great! I have high hopes for next year. I just need to be more careful so I don't spend all my hard-earned time on things and then ruin them with coffee or sloppiness or whatever. But also, at the same time, I'm a mom- and my life is messy! I don't want to have to treat my clothes with kid gloves, or insist that my toddler not touch me with his chocolatey hands. I wash. And my clothes do too. Or at least, they should. And with proper precautions, they shouldn't shrink! Ah, well. Live, learn, etc. 

But it is interesting to see what happens to the things we make after we make them, isn't it? I always wonder if items are getting worn in real life or not, and I always feel like I really like things the moment I finish them, but then the shine wears off and I don't exactly love them so much later. I think it's helpful to go back at the end of the year and really revisit and see where they are now. Don't you?