Posted on 19 Comments

Sewing FAIL

125/365: May 5 - Bad sewing day


It was not a successful sewing day for me on Sunday. But, hey, before we get to that, let me show you something that I sewed a few weeks ago that is not a miserable disaster! I’ve been meaning to post about these, but I kept forgetting to photograph them while I had some daylight.

05 shirts 03 05 shirts 01 05 shirts 02

Ok, so these are the newest Built By Wendy Simplicity 3835 shirts in my closet. They join about a million others, but I keep making this pattern because I know I will be happy with the results.

These are both cotton lawns in gingham. I couldn’t decide between red or navy, and then I couldn’t decide between tiny checks or big, so I just finally got two: one in each color, in two different sizes. This was pretty inexpensive fabric, so why not?

I also made two different sleeve lengths. I wanted one that was longer so I could wear it with my Milady vest, and another that was shorter and would be good for the summer with shorts and beachy pants and such. I am pleased with both of these. So, yay!

Now on to my not-so-happy sewing…

05 shirts 04 05 shirts 05

I wanted some sleeveless Summer tops. I like to have my shoulders out when I’m in the sun, so I can avoid weird mid-arm tan (oh, ok, burn) lines, and I’m thinking ahead to our annual end-of-May beach trip. Sooooo excited for that!

I saw that Beki has been making some sleeveless tops using the free Sorbetto pattern from Colette. You may have noticed a bunch of Sorbetto images in my Flickr favorites this weekend. I was doing my research. My research suggested that I might want to consider a full bust adjustment. My first mistake? ignoring my research.

My Sorbetto looks terrible on me. I actually didn’t bother finishing it – the sleeves are still unhemmed. It’s far too wide, and far too short. And the stitching around the neckline? Oh, just awful. If I want to try this pattern again, I probably need to cut out a size much smaller, do a FBA, and add a few inches to the length. I’m not sure it’s worth it, though. I can’t decide if I have the potential to love this pattern on me or not.

05 shirts 06 05 shirts 07 05 shirts 08

Hot on the heels of that failure, I dug through my patterns and looked for one I remembered tracing from a dress I liked. A long time ago, I had made modifications to it to improve it, but I guess I wasn’t quite finished with my editing, because I ended up with another awful, awful finished object.

First? Too wide. Again. Second? I had wanted to take advantage of the built-in hem on the vintage sheet I was using, but apparently I lined the patterns up poorly, and the back hangs over an inch lower than the front. This was really really long anyway, so I can easily cut the bottom off and re-hem it, but I doubt it’s worth it. Even if I can make it more narrow in the waist, the neckline annoys me.

Here’s the thing: every time I try to make a sleeveless shirt, I end up with something too wide, too short, and with a collar that doesn’t lay flat. Is this because I’m busty? Or is it because I’m lazy? Or maybe a little bit of both? It seriously doesn’t matter what pattern I use. Always too wide, too short.

I think one of the reasons I love the Built By Wendy design so much is that elastic in the neckline is super forgiving, and the pattern itself is super easy. I am considering forgetting about the other patterns, and spending some time modifying the BBW pattern to be sleeveless. I am not sure it can be done in an attractive way, but I’m about ready to admit defeat on all of the other patterns I’m trying.

It’s funny – in just about every craft I do, I enjoy fiddling and making changes, but sewing? Not so much. I want it to be perfect right out of the gate, and I hate having to make multiple versions in order to get it right.

I don’t suppose you can suggest a super easy (read: foolproof, and in plain english) pattern that would require minimal fussing to fit “the girls” properly, but not look like a tent in the process? In the meantime, I’ll just be hacking at my BBW pattern and seeing what I can come up with…



Sign up for occasional Polka Dot Cottage news and get a coupon for 10% off your next order!

Don't worry, we won't bother you more than once or twice a month!

Posted on 19 Comments

19 thoughts on “Sewing FAIL

  1. I love the successful tops. I have the same problem with you at sewing, I’m just not good at fiddling & getting the right fit.

    1. I lose patience very quickly. Although, now that there is a few hours between me and my last attempt, I am kind of feeling like I might have it in me to try Sorbetto again. Maybe.

  2. I have a similar kind of problem with blouses. I measure 38″ around the full bust but have narrow shoulders and a cross-chest measurement of someone who would measure 32″ at full bust. So what I do is make the smaller size to fit my shoulders/chest, then do a full-bust adjustment to accommodate the girls. Kind of fiddly, but it works. 🙂

    1. I really should have just done that from the start. I ended up doing it the following day, and what a difference. I’m so much happier with the fit now.

  3. I think the just a ruffle instead of sleeves thinkwould work on the built by wendy pattern, like the sleeveless one here
    or you could make the sleeves on the bbw top a whole lot shorter and wider and then turn the hem into a casing for elastic. I removed the elastic from the armholes of a sleeveless peasant blouse I had and ended up w/ something very much like the 3835 top only w more “swingy sleeves.

    1. I saw that one when I was googling the other night- very pretty! Thanks for the idea 🙂

  4. Hi, i just read your posts… to get a colar to lay down right..takes trimming and a light pressing with each step. try that and see if it helps. maybe a blouse with darts on the sides will help you.

    1. Thanks, Linda. I ended up doing a full bust adjustment, and I am so much happier with the fit. The collar is much better, too. I think maybe the puckering collar was a sign that I’d made the wrong size.

      1. so glad you didnt give up!!! ;D

  5. muslin, paper, friend, pins, pencil….check
    pattern that is driving you crazy…..check
    trace pattern on paper, cut out, have friend pin you in it, have friend adjust where needed for “the girls”. Cut out new pattern in muslin, have friend pin on and adjust. baste. try on and adjust as needed. pull basting out, put new basting in, try on again. when fit is good, mark the basting lines and undo it all. voila…a new pattern made to fit

    1. I don’t know what’s the matter with me, but all I could think of when I read your comment was, “that’s too much work.” Of course, that’s silly, because if I did manage to get a perfectly-fitting pattern out of it, that would be worth its weight in gold!

      1. oh lordy…..would not want you to work too hard, but….once this is done the pattern is fit and made JUST for you…..and can be used again and again and again……

        1. Oh, I know, I’m just being lazy and whiny 🙂

  6. Oh no! I can honestly say that I’ve been there MANY times. Girl, if you’ve got boobs then you need to do a FBA, especially with sleeveless tops because the shoulder fit is so important. It seems tricky at first, but you can do it. I’ve found that choosing my size based on my upper bust measurement then adding extra room by doing a FBA to my full bust size works most of the time. It usually ends up too wide, but then I take out the excess at the side seam. A FBA will add more length, but with my sorbetto I still had to add about 2″.
    Your gingham tops look great! I’d love to make a sorbetto in gingham. So summery!

    1. You are, of course, right! I went ahead and did it. And I appreciate that you mentioned taking it in on the sides, because that ended up being key for me, too. I love the idea of one in gingham – go for it! I should resist, since I already have two gingham tops now, but I do think I’m going to make myself a polka dot one…

  7. Sewing for self can indeed be an exercise in frustration and perseverance. I’m sad you are disappointed with your Sorbetto because the fabric you’ve used is wonderful! The first thing that struck me when looking at the photo before I even read your words was that on the neck trim you hadn’t changed your thread to match the solid pink. It takes just a moment and hides all sorts of imperfections in the steadiness of the top stitching.

    As stated by a previous commentor, a muslin practice one, while at first look can seem a waste of a lot of time, but in the long run, if you end up with a pattern that you will use dozens of times as you have with the BBW pattern then it is worth it.


    1. I didn’t have the right color thread, and to be honest, by the time I got to the neckline, I already knew this was not going to be a pleasing garment, and so I wasn’t very careful. But yes, you are definitely right. Matching thread would hide all kinds of wonkiness 🙂

      You’re right about the muslin, too. I resist, but the truth is, I always learn something important about the construction of a particular pattern the first time I make it, and it often doesn’t even relate to fit. For example, with this one, I now know to be careful with the front pleat when I’m doing the bottom hem. It’s easy to feed it into the machine improperly and end up with an ugly fold.

  8. I think you may have just scared me off trying to sew a blouse!

  9. […] put some distance between me and the failed sewing from yesterday. Distance […]

Leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.