Sewing: Fails and Frustrations

I’ve not done a whole lot in the past year with personal sewing. There are so many amazing patterns out there and the idea of sewing your own capsule wardrobe is something that I would totally love to do. In an effort to stretch my sewing muscles I worked on a few new to me sort of projects this winter.

Winter 2016: Sewing Fails and Frustrations

I’ve had this awesome velour by Anna Maria Horner stashed away for like years and I got the idea that I wanted to make a cape with it. I searched around for some cape patterns and settled on the Woodland Stroll pattern from Leisl & Co. I picked it for many reasons, but ultimately because it looked as if it had pretty simple lines. I decided not to put a typical coat lining in it, but decided to use up some of my fabric scraps and pieced together an interesting inside. Everything pretty much came together until it was time to do the buttons. I could not for the life of me figure out how to do the buttons on the front – and the ones under my arms forget it. I kept coming back to it, trying it on, seeing if I could figure out how to make it work and totally couldn’t. So, I’ve stuck it into a pile and I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. Thankfully it didn’t use up all my velour so I’ve got some redemption with it hopefully later.

Next up, I have been dying for a corduroy mini skirt and after ordering the wrong fabric I settled upon this red corduroy from fabricworm. It feels great and it’s super easy to sew. I’ve been eyeing this Moss skirt pattern by Grainline Patterns so I decided to try my hand at it. Everything with it was going great with it until I got to the fly front. To be fair, this is only the second time I’ve attempted one of these and honestly I’m so at a loss. Again, I’ve continued to set it aside, come back to it and now it too is stacked on the edge of my table for a later date.

I’ve been pondering the disappointment, frustration and shame that this gives me. To start two projects that I have to set aside…how can I be a sewing teaching and yet keep failing at the things I’m trying to sew? But I kept coming back to the idea that any skill worth having takes practice and grows. I know a million times more than I did 2 years ago and if I keep practicing and steadily plugging along – through the ups and downs – that’s where learning really happens. And who wants a teacher who knows it all anyhow? The best teachers are the ones who learn alongside you. In my opinion.

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pattern review {music box jumper} & {city gym shorts}

If you’ve followed my sewing adventures at all you know that I love Oliver and S. They are probably my favorite patterns to sew hands down. I’ve made at least half a dozen different garments designed by O + S and I thought this Music Box Jumper would be a piece of cake compared to some of the other patterns I’ve sewn. I was wrong.

O + S music box jumper

Don’t get me wrong, it is a pretty simple pattern. Just bodice pieces and skirt pieces – so not a lot to figure out how to construct. But for once I felt like the pattern directions were lacking. I mean, I’ve sewn pleats plenty of times, but it’s been a while and I don’t know how many times I reread the directions, pinned, pressed and then went back again because the pleats were off. They are still off on the finished dress, but at least they are off symmetrically!

Besides the pleats, I also felt like there was a step that I missed completely with the bodice. Maybe I just skipped over it when putting it together, but when I went to attach the bodice to the skirt they didn’t match up. I ended up taking out the center pleat a little to make it fit. But then when I went to make the facing for the buttons, I had to fold the bodice at the sides too – which didn’t seem correct. I’m not going to be quick to blame the pattern maker, because some of this could have been my own oversight, but I was a little frustrated when I was putting it together. Not my normal response when I’m sewing an O + S pattern.

Overall I don’t know that I would give this a one scissors rating. I really think it is a little bit of a tricky pattern to put together and if I was totally new to sewing and doing pleats, I would have been really frustrated by the directions.

O + S music box jumper

But…this fabric is divine and I really love how it turned out. This is Rae Hoekstra’s Lotus Pond collection for Cloud 9 and it feels lovely and lays so pretty. I will say that it leaves a mark though when you have to remove stitching. I don’t know if that’s a dye thing or what. I added some ric rac to the bodice and the hem and honestly that was the crowning mark. The chick loves it and so do I. Messed up pleats or not!


But because I like to finish off my sewing with something easy and successful, I decided to make a pair of shorts for my chick too. This is the free pattern by Purl Bee for their City Gym Shorts. I made a pair for myself a while back and they honestly are a weird fit for me. I think I’ll try again and make a size up. For my girl though, they ended up being perfect and a cinch to make. This fabric is some I had leftover from some other projects. The flowers are some Cloud 9 that was from JoAnns and the bias trim is Ed Emberley’s line from Cloud 9 too.

purl bee city gym shorts

The only hiccup I did have with these is that I think I mis-measured when I cut out the bias for the binding. It ended up being super skinny and a pain to sew on. Next time I’ll measure twice and cut once 🙂

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pattern review {O + S badminton shirt}

Oliver and s badminton shirt

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any amount of time you will know that I’m a huge fan of Oliver + S patterns. I truly give these patterns all the credit for teaching me so much about sewing and pattern construction. I’ve sewn quite a few independent and boutique patterns over the years and I always come back to O+S because it’s almost always a no fail pattern.

I’ve made the coordinating badminton skort a few times and love how easily it comes together. It lends itself to so many easy adaptations and alterations, but I hadn’t had a chance to put the  shirt together until this summer.

Oliver and s badminton shirt

The bird fabric is an organic by Birch and the grey trim fabric is from the Ed Emberly collection. Both were lovely to work with and I love how they came together.

Oliver and s badminton shirt

The little tie on the front was actually some trim I ordered years ago from the Netherlands and never used it for what I had originally intended. I think it was honestly the perfect way to top off this little shirt!

This is a great pattern and pretty easy to put together. It came together in an afternoon and the hardest part were the “sleeves”. The original pattern has a ruffle on the shoulders and my chick is very anti-ruffle so we opted to leave that part off. While it did save a step, had I realized we weren’t going to add the ruffle I would have probably altered how I constructed that shoulder seam a little better. I also added some length to the bottom of the shirt.

Oliver and s badminton shirt

The thing I love about Oliver + S is that no matter what you sew, you end up with a garment that 1. doesn’t necessarily look like your mom made it (you know what I mean) and 2. you have a garment that looks so complicated to construct, but yet it really isn’t.

I would say this is a great pattern for an advanced beginner.

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throwback thursday {my favorite ever}

On Thursdays, I take a look back in my archives. After blogging for almost 8 years I find it’s refreshing to take a look back.

If there is one outfit that is top of my favorites that I’ve ever sewn for my daughter it is this one. I remember the day I bought this orange Japanese fabric (at my first ever visit to Textile Fabrics in Nashville) and this was also one of the first times I had sewn from Oliver + S (which I count as the one pattern company that has truly grown and stretched my sewing skills). It is the one outfit that I will never get rid of an she didn’t wear nearly enough. I love it from all the tiny frustrations and errors to the sweet little covered buttons on the back. Enjoy this post back from 2009.


O+S Outfit

This outfit has caused me to bang my head on the wall more than once…but now that it is complete I totally love it!

O+S shirt back

I showed off the shirt a few days ago, so here is the completed back.

O+S button

I’m in love with the buttons. This is why I just loved this fabric, those little frogs peeking out!

O+S Skirt

Here is the skirt. The placket part is a bit messed up (not sure what happened there) but other than that it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself!

Don’t you know what this little chick is wearing to church on Sunday!

Oh, the important stuff…the fabric is a Japanese print and the green is just something I splurged on at the local quilt shop. The pattern is Oliver + S: 2+2 Blouse and Skirt

And the quilt…next on the agenda now that I’ve whittled down my sewing pile (only to have it fill back up again after my girl’s weekend, but that’s another story!)

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an ice cream shirt

One of my favorite patterns to sew is the Ice Cream Dress by Oliver + S. Primarily because it is such an easy pattern to put together. I recently got my hands on a yard of Sarah Jane’s Wee Wander fabric and the chick and I decided a shirt was in order. I searched for a few patterns to purchase and then remembered that I could do a shirt out of the Ice Cream dress pattern. Win-win for me. Super easy to put together and I already had the pattern!

Oliver + S ice cream top Sarah Jane wee wander fabric

I ended up not having enough of my Sarah Jane to do the yoke for the top so I grabbed some fabric on a Hobby Lobby run and hoped it would work. It’s not a perfect color match, but I think it works just fine.

Oliver + S ice cream top Sarah Jane wee wander fabric

I decided to try this shirt without the little “V” in the front and I left off the fabric button loop mainly because I couldn’t find that piece of my pattern and didn’t want to mess with how long to cut it etc. I opted for a thin piece of elastic. I added some piping I had in the stash and I really LOVE how that turned out!

Oliver + S ice cream top Sarah Jane wee wander fabric

The only hiccup I continue to have with this pattern is how to do the seam on the back with the button part of the yoke. I always end up having to cut the fabric and I know I’m doing something wrong and I’m sure it’s an obvious mistake but I can’t seem to figure it out.

Oliver + S ice cream top Sarah Jane wee wander fabric

I let my chickadee search through the vintage button stash to find just the right button for the back… and she even sewed it on herself!

Oliver + S ice cream top Sarah Jane wee wander fabric

Here’s hoping a little ownership will encourage her to actual wear the shirt!

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