On Hitting the Wall, and Not Giving Up

“Fail – The Red Spot Dress” was going to be the title of this post, until I realised I was already thinking of the best way to fix this mess of a dress, and I promptly reminded myself that I don’t do failure!  There is almost always something that can be done to fix disasters, I think most of the time it is just a matter of overcoming the mental obstacle.  It is no longer a 10k you are running – it is the marathon instead!

So, here’s the mess so far:

Too small in waist, too long in bodice, one side of collar is misbehaving (it’s in shadow here, but it’s twisting)…

See through, highly static polyester that sticks to your skin like a wet t-shirt…



On Hitting the Wall, and Not Giving Up:

I think most of us are resistant to unpicking our work.  I am definitely guilty of settling for second best because it is ‘only for me’, but this is unwearable.

“Ouch – that wall is hard!”

I’ve learnt – and it took me a surprisingly long time – that unpicking mistakes as soon as they happen is the quickest and easiest option.  Sometimes I go into denial and need to force myself to do this!  Leaving mistakes and hoping for the best involves compromise all the way down the chain, and usually compounds the problem.   Which only means extra unpicking!

Not giving up makes you a better sewer too, because you learn.  You learn methods of avoiding mistakes in the first place.  You analyse and learn why the mistake has occurred, and you learn how to remedy it.  Often you need to learn new techniques to overcome new problems.  By throwing the project in the bin, you learn nothing.

And of course by not giving up you eventually succeed – you end up with a garment you can happily wear so you can swan around like these ladies:

Hopefully that’s me next week!  Now, where’s my quick-unpick?…

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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

27 thoughts on “On Hitting the Wall, and Not Giving Up

  1. I commend you for your attitude – that's great strength of will! Your failure dress does look as though it has the makings of a pretty dress, so I wish you the best of sewing luck in turning it around!

    I've just finished a failure top – and I thought I knew what to do to fix it, but having seen the photos of my “fix up” idea pinned in place, it may unfortunately become a “put up with” instead. Or a charity donation 🙂

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  2. Don't give up – this dress is gorgeous, it just needs tweaking so you can feel comfortable wearing that gorgeousness! I'm going through a similar process with a pencil skirt I'm making – the outer shell came together in no time, the lining took forever to finish, then I tried it on and discovered I'd cut the lining too small and couldn't sit down in it. Doh! I was very tempted to leave it unlined, but it will look so lovely when it's done properly, so I eventually unpicked the original lining, went to the shops to buy more lining, took ages re-measuring the pattern, and have now cut out the new lining ready to stitch. I feel so much better knowing that I'm going to end up with a skirt I love.

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  3. Once I realized that unpicking is part of the sewing process, it became much easier to make myself do it. My “real” job involves both tedious data entry and near constant interruptions from those tasks. Once I realized that I was being paid to be interrupted, irritation at said interruptions eased immensely. Love the shape of that neckline and collar on you. It's worth the work to fix this dress. (And next time, don't use polyester.)

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  4. I'm working on a failed project now myself. don't give up! And please post about what fixes you do, whether the end result is perfect, or not.

    We can all learn from each other.

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  5. I'm working on a failed project now myself. don't give up! And please post about what fixes you do, whether the end result is perfect, or not.

    We can all learn from each other.

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  6. This post is very comforting. I am trying hard fiting a pattern and I am at loss to find a solution. I was thinking that I had better chose another pattern. But if I can sort that out I'll have learned something.
    Gail, we have not said our last word. I know I am not the best grounds to say it but will end this comment with ALLEZ LA FRANCE !!! lol

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  7. This is a pretty dress, so I think it's great that you feel like you can fix it. I agree with you about unpicking right away. Unless I am out of time, for some event or something, then I always unpick the minute I notice my mistake, unless it is un-fixable like when I had already cut buttonholes into my upside down jacket cuffs. Hang in there!

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  8. If you really don't like the way the fabric feels, then I would just class this one as the muslin then buy some nicer fabric and start again. Then again, I prefer to start from scratch than do a lot of unpicking.

    Julie

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  9. Thank you for this post. We are having a very lively discussion over at Stitcher' Guild on a comment made by Sandra Betzina that expert sewers tell her one out of two patterns they try are dogs. Fixing errors makes you a better sewer.
    Theresa in Tucson

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  10. It's worth fixing this Sherry- I think it'll look great with a few tweaks. I've just started back at a jacket that was meant to be a christmas present to myself -last year! It'll be ready for this christmas I hope. I hated the collar, but hated the thought of un- picking it even more 🙂

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  11. I love the neckline, it looks lovely on you. I think your attitude is great, but IMO you , can fix everything but the fabric. (Although I did have the thought of cotton voile lining flash through my brain after looking at Carolyn's poly chiffon dress earlier today). It is pretty fabric, but it has to feel nice too.

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  12. Commenting backwards on your blog here, but I am so glad you persevered. And I'm so glad you showed us one of your failures. It makes me feel so much better about my own. 😉

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  13. I'm chiming in very late, but I just found your blog and think I'll become a regular reader. I know exactly the point you're making with this post. I have three — count 'em! — disasters waiting to be unpicked and redone. I find I can't do it right away. One of them is a dress with four fitted panels each on front and back, seamed from shoulder to hem — and then I top-stitched the seams! That's THIRTY seams to undo. I've been looking at that thing, hanging on my sewing room door, for two months now. I'm just about ready to tackle it. Better late than never.

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  14. I'm chiming in very late, but I just found your blog and think I'll become a regular reader. I know exactly the point you're making with this post. I have three — count 'em! — disasters waiting to be unpicked and redone. I find I can't do it right away. One of them is a dress with four fitted panels each on front and back, seamed from shoulder to hem — and then I top-stitched the seams! That's THIRTY seams to undo. I've been looking at that thing, hanging on my sewing room door, for two months now. I'm just about ready to tackle it. Better late than never.

    Like

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