Basics + Techniques | Sewing

Sewing Disasters that Make Me Want to Either Cry or Curse

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Warning: There will be snarky and sarcastic remarks below.

Sewing Disasters that make me want to either cry or curse. Otherwise known as UFO’s. You know the kind that make you wish you had never taken up sewing. The kind of sewing disaster that causes you to lose your religion. That’s what I’m talking about.

Question:  When do we throw in the towel and call a sewing project a massive F-A-I-L? 


I was doing so well sewing this Ottobre top. I have even gone on to make more, bringing my total Ottobre top count to be three. More on that below.

Ottobre Top

I guess I was feeling a little confident in the fact that I could whip up a couple of tops that fit nicely and look good enough to wear in public. Maybe I will try something new.


You know, it always starts with a piece of fabric. And I had this pretty piece of teal lawn that wasn’t too transparent and would make a nice top. I wanted something loose and breezy and I didn’t think a solid would work on my go-to Ottobre top.

Sewing with a Pattern

So, I found this pattern. I love the pin tucks which give it texture and make it a little roomy. A perfect top for seasonal transitions here in Texas. Plus I could wear it to church and no one would see my rapidly developing farmer’s tan.


The top I want to shriek about discuss today is one that I cannot get to work. I have made, remade, unpicked, and resewn the muslin so many times. I mean, look at the pattern. It isn’t that difficult. I’ve done pin tucks before and princess seams. I cannot even tell you when it started to go wrong.

First, I did a full bust adjustment. I’ve done them before and had great success. I googled how to do a FBA with princess seams. OK, Got it. When I made my first muslin it was still a little tight through the bust and arms. I readjusted. I also made the necessary pattern adjustments in the shoulders and overall length of the garment. I’ve done this hundreds of times with most of them being a success.

Sewing Disasters

So, why this top? Where did I make a wrong turn? When is it time to just say this one ain’t gonna work and then move on? Apparently, I am slow to learn. I went back and tried a second time. At this point I am now starting to believe in an undiscovered psydrome that I just invented called sewing psychosis.

In order to avoid therapy for sewing psychosis, I pulled out my Ottobre pattern and some pretty pink voile I had recently purchased and two hours later I had made this top. There really wasn’t much to it. It turned out perfectly and I love the fit. Must’ve been designed by angels because making this top restored my sewing mojo. Plus, I still have the pretty teal lawn waiting to find it’s perfect pattern mate.

Sewing with a Pattern

I know I have a long way to go where pattern fitting is concerned. But the devil pattern didn’t seem that difficult and the style appeared to be pretty forgiving. Isn’t that just like the devil. He lures you in with confidence and then bashes you so hard you turn into the Swearing Sewist. 

New question: Do you have any patterns that were designed by the devil? Have you ever been turned inside out by a sewing pattern? Do tell ~ so we can commiserate and cry in our thimbles.


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16 Comments

  1. Lesley, I have made clothes for 50 years now, 3 years ago I started to make a summer dress for my daughter……or should I say I was helping her sew a summer scrappy dress! Cutting out ok, no problems bodice pieces match up, first strap put in as lining attached lovely, all going well. Second strap….sewn… No incorrect, unpick, resew, no incorrect. Did this over several times, daughter frustrated, gives up, all pieces rammed back in the bag. Move on to two months ago I found it again at the bottom of the fabric pile. Ironed it all sewed the strap and would you believe it….perfect! No idea why it didn’t work before but never mind. It will be worn this summer! Perhaps you need to do the same, ignore it, do other things and try again when you’ve forgotten all these latest disappointments.

  2. Way too funny!!! Not for you…but for me to read. I cut out 2 new maxi skirts. One deep pink and the other is teal. Both linen blends I bought years ago. Simple go to pattern…straight, side slit. Sewed one. I did a flat felled seam on one side and a split flat felled seam on the other. Nice, I thought. Tried it on yesterday afternoon…just to check the length for hemming. I stepped in front of the mirror with a smile knowing it was going to look nice. The image in the mirror was shaped like a penguin!!! The skirt doesn’t hang, it poofs. Stiffly. A wadder.

  3. I think anyone who sews has had this experience once or twice (or more). Sometimes the same great pattern works just right, and other times it is as if you are trying to make the wrong puzzle piece fit in the wrong place. I, too, have a few UFO’s put back to finish because of disappointment in the fitting or sewing process. I am determined to dedicate one month (July) to work on these projects, and either finish them or send them back to the scrap pile for a “new beginning” in another land of sewing opportunity. My advice is just don’t give up. Sewing sometimes not perfect, it is an art and artists do sometimes have a bad day creating. It sometimes is all about timing! Good Luck!!!

  4. I do know just what you are talking about. I’m tall so the main reason I started sewing was because I couldn’t find clothes that fit right,(this was 1960’s) and I could make a pair of slacks in a couple of hours. A-line dresses were very popular and if I bought one the lines just weren’t right on me, and I had made a few without any problems. One day I found some beautiful material I just had to have a dress made with this very colorful psychodelic material(after all it was the 60’s). Then I found a Butterick pattern for an A line dress, now I had A line dress patterns that I had made without any problems, but this one had beautiful long bell shaped sleeves so I bought it. I wanted this dress for a special date in two weeks, so every evening after work I would work on it, I can’t tell you how many times I ripped the seems out and started over, finally I called my best friend who just happened to be an amazing seamstress and she helped me finish the dress. I tossed that pattern and never ever bought another Butterick pattern. I have to admit since the slacks and jeans are made longer now and I can even buy tall sizes I really don’t sew much anymore, I keep saying as soon as I finish my projects around the house and yard I’m going to start sewing again, haha I don’t think I will ever be finished.

  5. My kitchen chair seats had gotten flat and I decided to add more foam and cover them. But after all my trouble the foam kind of “shrunk”. I didn’t want to go through that again so I bought beautiful fabric to sew chair pads with a ruffle that would tie on and totally cover the other disaster . This was not a good fabric to ruffle! It was too thick and frayed easily. I got one done and it looked great! But it took forever so it was two weeks before I made a second one…4 weeks before I made a third. See where this is going?

  6. Hi, sometimes we all feel that we have, a UFO in bag or storage bin in our sewing rooms. I have found that no 2 fabrics or needles or theard are the same..Where needle and thread are concerned size of needle and type of thread, cotton vs. polyester, larger eye vs. smaller, and type of needle, fine, universal, sharp, ball all play a part in sewing… This is not the devils fault, just a learning curve… Check your thread, needle, fabric and seam guide to see if it makes a difference… In quilting, polyester thread makes a difference in piecing fabric as it sometimes looks like a scant 1/4″ seam, but after pressing, check that seam again…Oh boy….So put it aside for now and do some research on your machine and it’s ability’s or even foot types and see if you see a difference….And remember not all patterns are designed by the same person, or using the same universal size chart, it there one, I wish….Good luck, I know that you can percivere….

  7. Lol…I think that anyone who has sewn for any length of time could relate! My latest pattern disaster started with a teen at my church asking if I could sew her prom dress…of course! When is prom? Saturday….they brought me the fabric Tuesday night!!!! No problem…fitted bodice, strapless gown, boning and a waist stay…did I mention that I had never sewn in boning or a waist stay before???? All was progressing well until I got to the part where I had attached the lining to the dress…with no opening to turn right side out!!!! It’s Friday night, I still have a bolero jacket to cut and sew together, and my dress is turning in this infinity loop!!!!! I even took it to the local sewing store to see if the ladies there could help me figure out what I’d missed. Turns out, I didn’t miss anything…the instructions did…so I picked apart the top, pulled it through an opening, seamed it, then pushed it right side out and finished the dress!!!! She was beautiful!

    Hopefully, when you have a chance to cool down and take another look, you’ll find whether it’s a missing instruction (or two!) or just tiredness getting in the way of understanding! Good luck!

  8. I just bought a sewing machine at a garage sale and ran a few practice stitches this morning. My machine did not come with a manual, but it’s a pretty basic machine. I hope I don’t end up crying in my thimble before too long, haha! I’m just starting my sewing adventures!

  9. I have that same pattern. It is safely one of a million in the pattern stash so I will probably never know the frustration!! Lol

  10. I meant to comment the day I read this, but life got away from me. School is out and I have more time now. I have been sewing for twenty plus years and have had more than my share of pattern debacles. Years ago, I was cutting out a skirt for a special occasion. The fabric was a suede like material. I did not take the nap into account, twice….ended up making suede stuff bears…arghh. Then I tried corduroy because I’m a glutton for punishment…mistake….but I finally got it made with additional corduroy and a bonus corduroy bear. I learned more about nap than I really wanted to know, but it has come in handy over the years. I mostly make quilts now….there have been MANY times where cursing was involved and there are a few projects in boxes aka UFO’s in the sewing room. I will get to them and make more! Making another garment lickety split and successfully was smart. You wouldn’t want to sully your new sewing room with bad sewing psychosis karma. 🙂

  11. I’ve just pinned this-I can’t sew at all so have never had ‘sewing psychosis’!

    Thanks for joining the Say G’Day Saturday linky party. Hope you can join us again this weekend.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  12. I just made a sewing disaster. It was supposed to seductively curve over my breasts and then fan out just below the waist. I made it in velvet. The more I look at it, the more I hate it and want to cut it to pieces.

    I will wear this at home or under a jumper because it’s still velvet – just not the shape I want, despite undoing, cursing, reworking etc.

    However, I learned that stretch velvet is an absolute pig to work with and it does not take to pins and tucks and dart and particularly not to gathers.

    Ho hum.

  13. This post may be old, but it is wonderful and well written Thank you for the encouragement to put the disasters aside, and keep on going. Stumbled across this at a time of discouragement and you and your commenters have made me laugh out loud and cheered me up. Thank you.

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