The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Embracing Mistakes

Greetings! How are things in your part of the world? Fall is creeping in here, although the cicadas are still chirping so summer doesn't quite feel over yet. I love this time of the year, when change is all around us. I'll share one of my favorite poems in a few weeks when Autumn is truly here, but for now I'm enjoying being in in between the two best seasons.

I have a group class starting up this afternoon (machine sewing for kids age 9+) and that has me thinking about all the things I want to teach kids outside of threading a machine, the importance of pressing, and why seam allowance matters. You know, those aspects of sewing that go beyond the basic skills, things like being patient instead of rushing, and challenging yourself to go beyond "good enough" (clip those threads! press those seams! be proud not sloppy!). I think the most important of these extra skills is learning to embrace mistakes.

There is nothing more satisfying the finding your way around a mistake. Of course, getting something right the first time is exhilarating while failing after effort can be deeply frustrating. But rising up above failure? I think we remember those moments more than those of instant success.

Last week I wanted to do a quick project after finishing my Bombshell, which was a skill-stretcher. Angela Wolf's Ruched T-shirt pattern arrived in the last box I received from Wawak (so mad/glad they sell her patterns). I ordered this one after reading a couple of reviews on and because I had such success with her Angel Bootcut jeans. And this did not disappoint - it fit perfectly almost out of the box. For my first make, I wanted to do the version without a cowl (I've already chosen my fabric for one with). I was a little concerned about the neck binding - it didn't feel right, at least not with the fabric I had chosen. I went ahead and followed the directions and this is what I got:

Ugh. Definitely not attractive! Homemade, anyone?

I walked away from the project for a couple of hours to see what I could think up. I unpicked the coverstitch from the neckline, turned the binding completely to the inside and stitched again. This was better, but because the binding was wide, it kept wanting to flip up and peek out. I thought about unpicking again and reducing the width of the binding, and I also thought about doing a second set with the coverstitch. But the more I stared at it, the more I actually liked how it peeked out. I decided to press the neckline so that it peeked evenly, then stitched over the top row of coverstitch with my regular machine. And this is how it turned out:

So satisfying! I like the added interest at the neckline and I like that it's a bit more scooped (hello little piece of my tattoo!). I actually like this so much that I plan to do it again on purpose.

UPDATE: I later figured out that the binding is supposed to be a kind of mini-cowl, where you lightly twist the "cowl" before attaching it to the neckline. I will try this at some point.

I went into this project wanting an easy, quick project to clear my head after something challenging. I'm so glad I didn't get my wish! I don't mean to say with this post that mistakes and failures always lead to something wonderful. Sometimes we can't figure it out, sometimes it can't be fixed, and sometimes we don't have the skill level (yet) to go beyond. But sometimes when we take a deep breath and try to be curious instead of mad, we find something good.

How about you? When have you saved a mistake?


Yep, that's the sound of my Bombshell bathing suit, or at least it's the sound I made out of excitement when I was all finished!

So this is officially my second adventure in swimsuit sewing, but I'm pretty sure the first one didn't get blogged about because I never wore it due to it being better suited to someone with a torso about four inches shorter than mine. Not a good look.

But this suit? I feel fantastic in it! I wore it for about an hour around the house just because I could after sewing the last stitches.

And it's a good thing I did because the next week, when we actually went to the beach, I had to dress like this:

Okay, I do realize that my 5-year-old was fine in shorts and a t-shirt but she runs hot. It was 64 degrees out! I needed a sweatshirt.

I have wanted to make the Closet Case Bombshell for over a year, but second-guessed my choice because I wasn't sure it would suit me (and instead made the 4-inches-too-short suit. Good call.). I bought the pattern back in June but managed to procrastinate the work all summer. Karen's Made Up challenge got me to tracing, and cutting, and all the rest. I love books (I was a reading teacher in a former life) and I lived in England for nine years, so the National Literacy Trust is something I can fully support.

I used the lining as a muslin and took it in by increasing the seams allowance to 5/8" at the side seam. Luckily, I tried just a 3/8" for the real deal and that was plenty. I don't know if my main fabric had less stretch, or just all the layers and ruching made it tighter, but it was perfect as it was. No other fit adjustments were made. The only struggle I had during construction was that my regular sewing machine completely refused to sew zig-zag stitches in the rubber elastic around the legs and neck. I tried stretch needles, universal needles, ballpoint needles and even a Microtex sharp, but I had skipped stitches every time. I finally ended up attaching the rubber elastic with my serger and then topstitching with a straight stitch. I'd like to play with this some more when I make this suit again, as I think the neck will want to roll out without the zig-zag.

I love the back of this suit - all that ruching is super flattering on everyone.

I purchased the fabric last summer from Girl Charlee. I was on swim team when I was a kid, and my favorite swim team suit was a navy/white swirly print. I loved that suit, because everyone ended up with crazy tan lines since somehow the white part of the suit didn't really block the sun. It was like having a henna tattoo all over your body. This suit is black/gray/white, but the print pattern is close enough to call up the memory.

My only disappointment was that even after adding bra pads and a shelf bra to the inside, I am still not a B-cup in this suit. I know that it's probably asking too much for a swim suit to give me the same lift as my best bra, but who can blame a girl for dreaming?

Looking forward to seeing all the Made Up projects tomorrow!