Top 5 misses of 2013

The Top 5 lists are back!


Head on over to Gillian’s blog to grab an icon and check out her suggested lists and thoughts on why looking back on our projects is a useful exercise. As a navel-gazing type, I needed no convincing to join in again.

I’ve still got some unblogged 2013 projects and hope to share them before I do the hits as some of them are contenders. I’m optimistically assuming I won’t sew up a spectacular failure in between now and New Year’s. So, in chronological order, here are the 5 projects that have not stood the test of time.

1. Sweater Renfrew
What went wrong: fit issues

This picture really says it all. I tried to wear it anyway for 6-7 months, but I now know that I needed to widen the shoulders as well as make them more square. I hated how it lifted off every time I moved my shoulders. It’s been sold to a thrift store, and I hope it’s found a good home with someone who is more slender- and sloped-shouldered than I. Shouldn’t be hard! I recently re-visited the pattern and was able to employ some of the fit knowledge I’ve gathered this year to make the necessary alterations.

2. Natural-blocking tunic
What went wrong:  low-quality fabric, sewing inexperience


I really, really like the concept of this tunic but I always ended up feeling a little sloppy when I wore it. The seam between the top (cut on the bias) and the bottom (on grain) looks a little wavy. The tan linen (yep, THAT tan linen) didn’t wear well throughout the day. I ended up cutting it to a shirt length, which helped, and it went into a dye vat this morning. We’ll see if it survives!

3. Basic black sweater
What went wrong: low-quality fabric

This sweater is still in my closet, but its days are numbered. I made it out of a rayon slub knit that I purchased at Pacific Fabrics when I couldn’t find a sturdier black sweater knit. It attracts lint and generates tons of its own. I wore it to the salon to get my hair cut, and the stylist looked like she didn’t want to touch it when she went to hang it up. I felt some shame, but continued to wear it because it worked so well with my tank tops.

I think this is the worst sort of fail, because I don’t think this garment will be desirable enough to donate or sell when I decide it’s too disgusting to wear. It feels very wasteful! I suppose I should looking for a textile recycle option. I’d really like to re-make it in a nice sweater or linen knit and will make every attempt to vet the quality of the fabric!

4. Wiksten tank hack
What went wrong:  hasty sewing, fit issues

I was still figuring out how low to make the neckline on my Wiksten tanks when I made this variation, and it’s just too low. I chalk this one up mostly to hasty sewing, because I think that’s why I overlooked the neckline. I’m pretty sure this tank has embarrassed me in public. I need to unpick the neck and arm bindings so I can fix it. By the time spring rolls around, I’m hoping to feel motivated as I really like the two-fabric design and the button placket.

5. Isabel-inspired PJ pants
What went wrong: hasty sewing, “meh” design

I think I was just too much in a rush to finish these pants for the Pajama sew-along to do them justice. I was adapting a pattern on the fly (and very quickly). I wish the slant pockets came in further. They’re a little big through the leg and the elastic cuffs hit at an awkward spot. I didn’t even want to wear them to lounge around the house. They were sold this weekend to a thrift store. Still, I’m glad I tried to improvise and I used thrifted fabric.

By my count, the culprit tally is fit issues (2), low-quality fabric (2), hasty sewing (2), sewing inexperience (1) and “meh” design (1). I’m not that concerned about the last two. I think it’s exciting to learn something new by making a mistake, or by dreaming up an idea only to realize it needs tweaking. Fit issues also get easier to tackle with experience. It’s the hasty sewing and bad fabric that I’d like to work on in 2014. I’ve been rushing through less projects this year and I’ve noticed a huge uptick in quality (and I tend to catch fit issues that come up.) The fabric issue isn’t completely in my hands, but I think a mixture of educating myself on the feel, look and structure of good fabric will go a long way – as will trusting my instincts. If I think back to when I purchased the black rayon jersey, I remember my desire to get it sooner drowning out the voices saying the fabric wasn’t quite right.

Taking a look back at last year’s misses, I had 4 instances of unsuitable fabric (too thick, too thin, no drape, etc.) and 2 instances of hasty sewing. I do feel like my fabric choices have improved immensely, so it’s nice to not have that problem pop up this year! And while I have the same number of hastily-sewn projects, I sewed a lot more projects this year – most of them, without rushing.

Are you reflecting on your year in sewing?


33 thoughts on “Top 5 misses of 2013

  1. I think the Wiksten tank looks so cute! and I love the top of the lounge pants! The length wouldn’t be good for me though. I wish I had taken better pictures of my fails now!

    1. Thanks, Kriston! I really should fix that tank. And I don’t think the lounge pants were a great length for me either! I think I took decent pics of these projects because I thought they’d last through the year. Sew and learn!

  2. I love this idea! It’s so nice to hear your reflections on what you’ve learned from your mistakes. Oh and you should definitely fix the wikisten tank, it’s far too pretty to go to waste.

  3. I need to do this! I have quite a few garments I sewed this year that don’t get worn! And I agree with everyone else, that Wiksten tank is super cute! You need to fix it up and put it back in wearing rotation!

  4. Thanks for the list. It’s great to learn from others with more experience. Fabric quality can make or break so much. But when you’re just starting out like I am, it’s hard to cough out the dough. The sale rack is my friend.

    As for the black sweater, you may want to check with your local spca. They may know of sewers who collect old clothes to use as stuffing for dog beds (if it’s really not wearable anymore).

    Also, did you take a fitting/pattern making class? Or was it all just learning on your own?

    1. Hi Jill! I agree that splurging on fabric – especially as you’re gaining confidence in your sewing skills – can feel uncomfortable. It’s strange, though – you can definitely pay for quality, but you can also pay a lot for bad fabrics! The rayon knit was actually pretty expensive and the linen wasn’t cheaper than higher-quality stuff I’ve bought. Thanks for the tip on checking with animal shelters – I hadn’t heard of that.

      I’ve been self- and internet-teaching myself about fit since I started sewing. It’s a pretty deep topic and I know I’ve only scratched the surface. One of my goals this year is to learn more about pattern-making so I can have a more foundational understanding of fit.

  5. I’m so glad we are doing this again this year. It’s really interesting to see where you consider your fails. Damn bad quality fabric – but you are so right that failing because you are doing something new is ok 🙂

    1. It’s taken me a long time to come to that realization – you can’t succeed at everything you try for the first time, and it’s ok to fail at new things! And yah, the bad quality fabric is a bummer.

  6. So interesting to read your list. I think it all looks great, but I suppose the test of a garment is in the wearing. Also, as pretty much a beginner, I can learn from everyone who posts (yay!). Food for thought!

    1. Thanks, Philippa! I really do like to put my sewn projects through their paces, especially since I’ve been focusing so much on wearable basics. An unwearable basic isn’t doing anybody good! I’d be curious to see what interesting trends come out of surveying all of the posts. P.S. I don’t really think of you as a beginner!

  7. I think I’m a bit like you – most of my misses this year have been related to poor fabric choice – either too heavy or poor quality. I’m trying very hard to make better choices when i do purchase fabric. I hope you do rejig your wiksten tank – it’s so lovely. Shame about your pj pants – I loved these when you made them but I hope their new owner enjoys them! Looking forward to your hits!

    1. The thrift store snapped them up, so hopefully someone will buy them and love them – maybe someone shorter than I! I’m excited to hear how your fabric purchases affect your sewing projects next year.

  8. This is such a great idea! I’m guilty far too often of getting caught up in the excitement of the next project, without really evaluating what I’ve just completed. It looks like a useful way of helping determine future projects too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! Although the biggest bummer about that rayon knit fabric is that it was expensive!! I felt like such a sucker. The brain couldn’t say no to instant gratification!

  9. this is so useful for self-reflection and learning. sometimes i go back and look at my past makes and just cringe! fortunately, those reactions are few and far between these days.

    1. Your projects are looking awesome and highly wearable these days! I think the best thing about cringe-inducing projects is that they got you to your current skill (and taste?) level.

  10. I get sucked in by low-quality fabric, too… Even worse when I cave to cheap prices and buy online! One of these years I’m going to learn to pay more.. but not quite yet, I think! 😉

    1. Online fabric shopping is definitely how I ended up in the tan linen situation – although to my credit, I ordered a swatch! I just didn’t realize how much washing was going to reveal the true crappy nature of my fabric. It’s tough. I’ve stopped shopping at a few online stores because the quality was consistently poor. I’m trying to get better about ordering swatches – even though it failed me in the case of the tan linen – but it’s about as exciting as making muslins!

  11. I love your approach to this list – I may copy your format when I write down my hits and misses! And I see that I had a lot of the same troubles as you: hasty sewing, inappropriate fabric choices, inexperience and fit issues. The way you’ve written this post makes it so easy to assess where things went wrong, so you can work on them in the future.

    I’ve also had fabric recycling on my mind; I’ve got 2 huge bins of leftover stuff that’s not big enough for garments, but that I don’t want to end up in a landfill. I’m hoping to spend some time researching my options on that front in the next couple months, so I’ll look forward to hearing what you have to say too!

    1. Please do! I’d love to hear what worked and what didn’t for you. I felt like you had a really adventurous year in sewing.

      Let’s definitely share some fabric waste diversion tips soon. Your bra project was a great start!

  12. This is so interesting. Quite a few of your misses were garments I really liked on you, but I guess a photo does not quite capture quality of fabric or personal comfort when clothes are actually worn in real life. Wishing you a 2014 filled with high quality fabric choices and loads of calm sewing time so as to avoid the hasty sewing culprit!

    1. I always think the same thing when people post their misses – I remember admiring a lot of those projects! But it’s true, you can’t really evaluate everything about a garment from a photo. I think I need to write down “high quality fabric” and “calm sewing” and post it somewhere I can see it!

  13. Your face in the top 2 photos is priceless! I really enjoy reading these year-in-review posts and hope to write up at least one of my own. Looking forward to seeing your top 5 hits!

  14. Great reflections from your misses. I too love your Wiksten, make sure you do come back to it when the right season comes around, too good to waste!

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