Beyond the UFO pile: Simplicity 1802 (also sewing bloggers are AWESOME!)

When a sewing pattern has you in tears and questioning your ability to sew at all…it’s time to let it go.

Sometimes there is no saving a failed project, it’s not always about making a muslin, fit adjustments, expert advice…sometimes it’s just a crap pattern and you are better off to just put it down forever and move on.

I’ve been working on Simplicity 1802 (aka The very Belated Birthday Dress) for about a month. On Saturday I intended the big push to solve all the bodice fitting problems and get it finished for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network meet on Sunday.

It did not go well.

On Saturday afternoon, after a lot of hard work, I had a small cry. I was just so frustrated and upset, it was all so stupid, it’s only fabric! Unfortunately I had fallen in love with this project. It was exactly what I was aiming for colour/fabric wise. I was SO EXCITED, I didn’t want to give it up, I didn’t want it to beat me.

But it had beaten me and it made me not want to even consider another project. I wandered half-dressed in a poorly fitting bodice down stairs to the Mannexe where I tearfully told my husband that I was terrible at this sewing business and I didn’t know why I bothered…

OK, I was emotional, that was clearly an overreaction, but I’m sure I am not the only one who’s been there. We don’t often share our fails on our blogs but they happen to everyone, and we should share them. It’s taken me the whole long weekend to realise it but there is no shame in a UFO (or a project that is beyond a UFO) if you learn from it. I think of myself as a fairly experienced and confidant sewist, I’ll give anything a go and I often succeed, so it might help some of you to know that it can happen to anyone.

I was going to go over in detail all the warning signs I ignored and the things I did to try and save this project.

How I should have listened to the little birdie who whispered to me that she had heard strange things about the draft of the Cynthia Rowley patterns for Simplicity.

How I should have been suspicious at the lack of FO images in a Google Image search (just two!).

How I unpicked and re-sewed the same two seams 20 times each (no exaggeration).

How by trying the bodice on after each correction combined with the lack of stay-stitching across the bottom of the bodice now meant it had stretched longer that the interfaced waistband.

How bemused I was at pattern instructions that would leave a lined dress with several exposed internal seams.

I even had photos and a sketch to illustrate my epiphany about the draft of the bodice pattern in general…

But I’ve moved on now.

I deleted most of the draft post I thumped into the computer on Saturday afternoon after my husband bought me a cup of tea and told me to give it up.

He said,

“Maybe it’s just a crap pattern, you should just make something else.”

He was right…but he also wouldn’t let me back into my sewing room. Apparently I’d had enough for one day. Sigh, he was right about that too!

Don’t tell him I told you 😉

So I didn’t rush to make something else for the bloggers meet, instead I had a fun Sunday afternoon with the most amazing group of girls who didn’t care that I was wearing a wrap dress I’d made in 2010. We all looked fabulous, as you would expect, and we enjoyed a deliciously varied pot-luck picnic and talked of sewing and life and cooed over a very serious looking baby Drake.  Earlier Johanna and I each received the home sewists pièce de résistance, The Unsolicited Compliment.

High five!

The online sewing community is the most encompassing, positive group of people I have ever been apart of and I have the immense luck (and joy!) to be able to meet many of those amazing women in real life.

Wellington’s weather didn’t disappoint either, I wasn’t worried, not even for a bit 😉

Now allow me to bombard you with photos:

A very small portion of the Wellington Botanic Gardens, glorious!

Nikki, Juliet, Kat, Maryanne, Emily & Johanna



Les tarts avec gelèe


No other picnickers were harmed in the opening of the bubbles, we swear

We found a random stranger to take our group photo, and since we were in front of the stairs it seemed only right to do a serious Sewing School photo shoot:

Kat & Drake, Emily (new member yeah!) Maryanne, Juliet
Johanna, myself & Nikki (photo courtesy of Kat, random Photoshopping by me)

And then we tried out our Blue Steel impressions…they may need a little more work 😉

Photo courtesy of Nikki

Almost everyone else has already posted their version of events so why don’t you go see what Kat, Juliet, Nikki and Johanna had to say about it?

I snuck off to Global Fabrics afterwards with Juliet to help her spend a voucher, not that she needed any encouragement, but there’s nothing quite like a little group enabling. We scored an additional Unsolicited Compliment to the tally, this time for Juliet.

Another high five!

I saw the beautiful fabric from the failed project in the $8 bin (I think I originally paid $12.95/m at The Fabric Warehouse) – so I grabbed a couple more meters, determined that one failed project didn’t mean I couldn’t have a dress made from this pretty cotton print. I picked up a second bolt too, it’s a strange pink and blue/green diagonal strip and it smelt really weird, like bad fish, but I was assured it would wash out. I have no idea what it was from, maybe the dye? But both have had a pre-wash now and the smell is gone.

$8/m cottons

Monday was Wellington Anniversary Day so Hubby and I spent the day at the beach. We photographed my oldest un-photographed FO (I’ll share that with you tomorrow, yeah, go New Years Resolution!) and then in the afternoon I sat down and started to go through my fabric stash.

I love my stash.

I know that is horribly superficial and materialistic sounding but, like my home library, I consider it a beautifully curated collection of my favourite authors, except that these authors are colours and prints in the genre of jersey and cotton sateen, amongst many others 😉

(Librarian friends please forgive my gross overuse of similes)

My stash – January 2013

When I sit on the floor and pull out the pretty pieces it’s like fabric shopping in my studio, it makes me happy, but more importantly it makes me want to sew!

I chose this beautiful $5 remnant I picked up from The Fabric Warehouse in April 2012 and began to look through my patterns.

This is me getting back on my sewing horse:

I have a few dress patterns out at the moment for inspiration and I am seriously thinking of declaring 2013 to be The Year of the Dress…for me anyway 😉

Now here is a good segue to another post I was going to write separately but I’m smooshing on to the end of this one instead:

from Sew I Sewed This (click for source)

My 2013 Re-Sew-lutions:

  • No plan? No worries!
  • More Sewing Meetups…MOAR!
  • No more crying over stupid patterns
  • No imagined pressure, no imagined guilt
  • Lots of pretty dresses please
  • Re-learn to enjoy photographing my FOs, have fun doing it
  • Maybe a bit of stash busting but I kind of do that anyway 😉

Thanks for reading my bumbling rambling post, I’m off to do some fun sewing now xx

footer_machine with stitches1

36 thoughts on “Beyond the UFO pile: Simplicity 1802 (also sewing bloggers are AWESOME!)

  1. Aw, sorry to hear of your trials and tribulations with your dress pattern. We’ve all been there. I have a UFO pile and I’m a fairly new sewer still! The blogging outing you ladies had looks like a lot of fun! I love the sewing blogging community and wish I could meet every one of you. That’s why we need teleportation (Star Trek). When are they going to get on that?

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  3. I’m sorry you had such a rough time with that pattern.
    But I’m glad to see that you are going to make Vogue 1250 to make up for it. It’s the only dress I’ve made in years. It turned out just wonderful. Just what you need to renew your spirits.

    • I’m so glad to hear you love Vogue 1250, I have seen so many great versions online on every body shape so I am just crossing my fingers and going for it! 🙂 I have one other top secret project to finish this week then it should be a quick and gratifying project, it’s all cut adn waiting for the machines to be re-threaded then look out! 😀

  4. I think I would write or e-mail Simplicity and see what they have to say. It would seem that they should send you a coupon for a new pattern after all your work. If they have a toll free number call – it is always better than writing. Good luck – you certainly stuck with it.

  5. Fabulous post and thanks for being so honest about your learning experience. I sincerely doubt that you’d find a fellow sewer who can’t relate – I certainly can. I’ve been brought to tears/nervous breakdowns over patterns/fabric/sewing techniques…you name it. And you’re exactly right – sometimes it’s not you! It’s a crap fabric, crap pattern or it just wasn’t right to begin with. Good on you for having the courage to let go when you needed to. No sense wasting all that fabulous creative energy on something that’s making you miserable. I’m also really happy you were able to get more of that gorgeous fabric to make into something else! It’s kinda like vindication, eh? I like your resolutions – especially the one to HAVE MORE FUN! I’m with you on that one :)))))))))))))

  6. Oh lord I didn’t realise just how much of a hard time you had with that freakin pattern and I’m so glad we managed to distract you from it. thank you for posting about it though as it will come up in hits for other sewists looking for reviews and FOs. Saving someone else the same pain.

    Enjoy your new project :o))

    • That was my plan, it sounds like I am not the only one to have big problems but there are no horror stories online yet so this is my warning to everyone 😉 haha

      A wonderful Sunday afternoon definitely was a great distraction, I always feel so inspired to sew after chatting with other sewists!

  7. That fabric looks really lovely, it’s great that you could get more. Shame the dress didn’t turn out, it would have been fantastic. I haven’t been at the crying stage but boy, have I been frustrated sometimes.

  8. Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience, you’re right: we all go through ups and downs in sewing. I read the other day: “There is no such thing as screw-ups in sewing. There’s only design opportunities.” So… as the saying says… “Keep kalm and sew on!” 😉

  9. Aaaah, THAT PATTERN! A friend of mine tried to make that last year… with both of us, each with a fair bit of sewing experience, we still couldn’t get it to fit, sew & work right. Eventually it ended in the bin, fabric, pattern, the lot! Sometimes you just have to call it quits, and don’t let it get the better of you! Loving the fabric for your new project though! Great sew-lution, sewing should always be fun! 😀

  10. I’ll have to come back and actually read your post later, but I wanted to stop and say that we really do have very similar tastes in fabrics, as I also have that floral/stripy fabric! That.. the peacocks… we’d have to be careful what we wear if we ever meet up IRL!

    • Hehe, yes! Or we could do it on purpose 😉 Can you imagine us fabric shopping together? I can see us at the counter confusing the assistant while we each ask for cuts from the same bolts.

      I am interested in what you made the peacock fabric into, I am considering the Colette Parfait at the moment, I have to check the width between the front skirt seams to see if I can get a whole bird in between. We are supposed to have a long hot summer this year so I might be able to get it made it time for at least one wear before Autumn hits us.

  11. Thank you, from a newbie garment sewist for writing this blog post!
    Other halves are so very good at cutting through the emotional haze with some obvious words of wisdom! And I love the sewing blogging (and tweeting <- get on board) community! Lovely, supportive & always ready to offer advice.

  12. Oh that’s awful. Yep, I’ve been there before, more than once. In fact my man has asked me once “Do you even enjoy sewing?” when I was particularly distressed one day. But I’m so pleased that your hubby knows his stuff and was able to be the perspective you needed, and that you’ve found the fabric again so that you can make something worthy of it, and you! Good luck with your sewing horse!

    And very pleased that the meet-up was brilliant, and looking forward to the next one!

    Also, your re-sew-lutions are brilliant! Good luck!

      • Mine was amazingly sweet and supportive last night as I laboured over my bridesmaid’s dress! He cut through all the crap and shoved the fabric under me – I was convinced I’d never get it finished in time and he just made me sew until it was done. Support group is an excellent idea!

  13. i love your husband’s comment “maybe it’s just a crap pattern.” and i love your re-sew-lutions – “no more crying over stupid patterns” =) happy sewing! your meet ups sound like so much fun!

  14. So sorry to hear the Simplicity pattern ate your pretty fabric, but pleased you were able to get more. It’s a bit heartbreaking when you put in so much work and it still won’t come together for you. (I’m sure even Tim Gunn occasionally flags his ‘make it work’ ethos, and says ‘this ain’t gonna work!’)

    I bought some of the teal diagonal stripe fabric in the last Global sale, and am plotting how best to use it. Something with chevrons ….. mmm?

    • Thanks Wendy – yes, I think even Tim Gunn would tell me to put it down and make something else fabulous 😉

      Did you stripes smell bad too? I was so thinking centre front seam chevrons when I picked it up too! Great minds…

  15. Ooooh the meet up looked like so much fun, I am so sorry i wasn’t able to make it along, had to be back in the South lsland to start travelling home. Sorry that awful dress made you cry – how terrible .Thanks for sharing your stash. And how sweet is Drake – he is a serious boy isn’t he!! x

    • Oh I didn’t know you were over here, we could have worked the dates for you, next time ok?! Would love to meet you IRL 🙂 I hope you enjoyed being back xx

      I have dried the tears now, no more wasted emotions on silly patterns, I have too much fabulous fabric to make up, haha

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