Sewing Fail: The Peony Muslin

Last Wednesday I cut out all the pieces for my wearable peony muslin and sewed them up. The bust darts on one side were lower than the other (I have no clue how that happened) and the back was still too big. So, Wednesday night, I ripped the whole thing apart.

Flash forward to Saturday. I resewed the darts, lowered the neckline, and increased the back darts. Success! It started to resemble a well-fitting garment.  I felt so empowered. I stayed up late working on it and finished sewing and attaching the skirt to the bodice.

Sunday was finishing day. I tackled the invisible zipper problem-free, then decided to finish the neckline with bias tape. This is where things went wrong.

Since this was a muslin, I just used some stiff, cheap quilting cotton I got at walmart like 2 years ago. I didn’t have enough to do sleeves, pockets or facings, just the main dress pieces, so I figured bias tape would suffice.

When I lowered the neckline 2 inches, it took on a squarish shape vs the bandeau it’s designed to be. After sewing in the bias tape, the neckline didn’t lay flat. It kind of curled outward. Overall, it was looking good and by this point I was feeling super empowered. I clipped the corners of the neckline a little, but my husband recommend I clip them more.

I went outside and started clipping. Then, I looked down….I had clipped through the fabric on the bodice!!!! NNNNOOOOOOOO!!!! Somehow it had folded up under the seam allowance or (more than likely), I wasn’t paying attention.

I don’t have any pictures of the hole I made because I sprung into problem solving mode. I could get an iron on patch, but that would make the neckline too stiff.  Colette Patterns sends out weekly sewing tips called Snippets (They’re a pretty interesting and quick read, so go subscribe). A few weeks ago, they recommended using the decorative stitches available on your sewing machine to finish garments.

Ah Ha! This is what I would do. I would embroider right over the hole and now one would ever know it was there. Not so fast, Sarah. Things don’t work that way.

My terrible embroidery attempt and neckline which curled outward

My terrible embroidery attempt and neckline which curled outward

I purposely picked a thick diamond shape in hopes it’d be wide enough to cover the hole. The needle landed in the hole I’d cut and completely distorted the shape of the diamond. UGH!!

See the third diamond from the left side? It hit the hole and went all side goggly

See the fourth diamond from the left side? It hit the hole and went all side goggly

Not only that, but overall, the decorative stitching looks like shit. Seriously. I don’t know if it’s a tension issue, something with me pulling the fabric (I contentiously tried not to pull), sewing around the curves, but my diamonds are different widths. And I ran out of bobbin 3/4 of the way across the neck.


Diamonds get smaller as you go from left to right

I showed the half finished faux embroidery to my husband and I knew further salvage attempts were futile.  He wouldn’t give me an opinion. No opinion = bad opinion. Finally he said “I guess it looks okay.” So I said, “What does that mean?” He said, “If it were me, I’d just redo it.” Crash and Burn.

This is how the dress has been sitting since I gave up (until I hung it up to take these pictures).  See that orb? Maybe that means I have a ghost in my sewing room 🙂 When I retook the picture it was gone….oooooooooooooohhhh


My pile of failure (and maybe a ghost)

I’ve accepted my fail. Despite my disappointment, the dress did have a few problems:

  • There was still a little bit too much room at the upper neckline.
  • Small gap in the front neckline too, which didn’t help the fact that the neckline wanted to curl out anyways.
  • Even though a resewed those stupid darts like 4 times, they still managed to not be perfect. One side was slightly longer than the other. When I went to resew them the last time, my marking pencil had completely rubbed off the fabric, so I had to lay the pattern on top and re-mark the darts. I messed up. One of the waist darts was pretty much centered with the waist gathers. The other one was at the left hand side of the gathers. I don’t know if you can see, or if that makes sense. The point is, they weren’t even on the left and right sides. See?

Hard to see, but darts don’t match gathers

Overall, it’s probably good that I made it unwearable; otherwise, I would have worn it, even with all it’s other problems (I just felt so dang fufilled). I thought about trying to make it v-neck, but with the dart problems, it’s probably better to let it be.

Next time I make it, I will:

  • try to adjust the back some more
  • take some fabric out of the front neckline
  • still lower the neckline because as-is, it goes up onto my throat, but maybe only 1 inch
  • be extra careful about accurately tracing the darts onto the fabric before any sewing occurs

Chris (husband) is out of town and I don’t have a camera remote or feel like doing the selfsie, so I don’t have any pictures of me wearing the dress. I was going to hang it on the hook on the back of the door so I could get a whole dress shot, but I don’t want to disturb Ms. Sadie Mae 🙂

"Let sleeping dogs lie"

“Let sleeping dogs lie”


Fabric Fails and Successes

A few weeks ago Joann’s was having a $1.99 Simplicity pattern sale.  Since I have so many patterns that I haven’t sewed yet, I only let myself pick two.  I chose Simplicity 1693 and Simplicity 1755, a Leanne Marshall pattern. Here they are:

Simplicity 1693

Simplicity 1755

I love both of them, but I really, really need some shirts. Right now I mostly wear college t-shirts since I’m working in a research lab for now, so I figured I’d do 1693 once I finish the peony. Right after I bought these patterns, I got an email about’s clearance sale, and I took the bait. I immediately looked for their shirting section, and I bought three different cuts of polyester shirting. I think they were like $3.49/yd and I got 1.5 yds of two of the fabric and 2 yds of the other so I could make the 3/4 sleeved version (view A). I don’t know that much about polyester, but my justification was something like this, “The grocery store I worked in high school had polyester smocks, and they were pretty nice.” I obviously have a few  things to learn about fabric.

One of my fabrics. This one is really see through.

My fabric came last week. Big letdown. Super big. I should have known by the price. It feels and looks so cheap. is kind of see through, and very slippery. It reminds me a lot of lining fabric. Locally, Joann’s is the only place to buy fabric, but our Joann’s is really small and doesn’t have a lot of selection. I was hoping this would workout, but alas, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I think I really need to be able to see and feel fabrics before I buy them.

More polyester. I was going to make view D out of this one.

This was going to be View A

I know it’s probably not so much’s fault, as it my own. I went back and reread the descriptions and they all say “This polyester fabric has a beautiful fluid drape and smooth hand. It is perfect for creating shirts, blouses, gathered skirts and flowing dresses with a lining….” I happened to focus on the “perfect for shirts and blouses” part and less on the “flowing dresses with a lining” part. Saying “flowing dresses with a lining” is just another way of saying “see through.” Anyways, I’m going to try to return them since they have free returns.

I did get one good thing out of this order though: Amy Butler Alchemy Voile Sketchbook in Butter. (I borrowed this picture from an etsy seller because my picture looks way too wrinkly and I don’t have time to iron right now)

Amy Butler Alchemy Voile Sketchbook Butter. I LOVE it!

AHHH! It’s so pretty. I love it! Now I wish I would have bought more than the 2.5 yds I did. I should’ve spent the money I used for the shitty polyester on this beauty. Anyways, I’m not sure what I’ll make with it. If I have enough fabric, I’m thinking I might make another peony if I can ever get the one I have fitting correctly (more on that to come) or a sleeveless Simplicity 2444, which was the first dress I ever tried to make. It was kind of a fail. I ended up quitting before finishing, but I kept the dress, so I can use it as a muslin. I might try to make the short sleeved version of this dress, but I’m a little short on fabric.

Simplicity 2444. Maybe with Amy Butler voile?

I’m still working on the peony. I copied the pattern pieces transferred all my muslin markings last night. I’m going to try to get another (hopefully wearable) muslin of the bodice done before the weekend. I’ll update when I’m done.

Colette Peony Madness

I haven’t sewn in over a year, well clothes at least. I’ve made some valances and curtains, but that’s besides the point. Even when I did sew clothes, I normally sewed them by the pattern, and if there were any fit issues, it went to the recycle bin.  I always wanted to learn how to fit, but living by myself, and not having a dress form made it difficult. Anyways…flash forward to now. I’m married, which means I have a fitting buddy 😉 One of the reasons I started to sew in the first place was so I could have clothes that fit perfectly, but it’s turning out to be harder than I thought.

I’ve had the Colette Peony pattern since Christmas of 2011, and I never got past cutting the pieces out. Well, last weekend I decided it was time to sew her up. Since I want to focus on fit, I decided to make a muslin, something I’d never done before. From my first muslin, I realized that I needed to move the waist darts out (wayyy out) and according to this tutorial, that meant the bust darts needed to be moved up as well. The picture below is what happened after those adjustments. I feel like the bust darts are now too high. I’m going to try lowering them back to their original position, then shortening the waist darts. Hopefully this will keep the necessary proportions.  Plus, I think that I need to add about an inch to the bodice length.

Colette Peony bodice.

Colette Peony bodice.

I think the neckline is too high on me and now I’m starting to wonder if the shoulders need to come forward a little bit. I will talk to my photographer about cutting my head off in future photos. I don’t think his heart was in this photo shoot.

Peony Bodice 2

Peony Bodice 2

The back of this thing is a hot mess. There is huge gaping at the neck, and lots of pooling. I cut everything in a straight size 2, but am wondering if I should try cutting a 0 in the shoulder area and grade to a 2 at the waist. It’s something I’ll ponder.  So, I started to sew a zipper in, but ran out of bobbin.


I think I need to do a swayback adjustment (this will be my first), so I asked my husband to pin the horizontal fabric (On a side note, we’ve been married almost 2 months and it’s still weird to say “my husband”). He complained a lot, but I think he liked seeing the transformation. We’re both engineers and it was kind of fun to collaborate and try to figure this out together. He thinks I need to widen and lengthen the darts along the neckline to take care of some of the gaping, so he went ahead and pinned it. I’m not sure lengthening is the answer. I don’t want it to look like two vertical seams running down either side of my center back. I think more research is needed, but I think we made progress.


Any thoughts or suggestions on any other alterations? Help is welcome.