What To Do If You Don’t Like What You’ve Made with So What If I Sew

We’ve all been there. The fabric is carefully chosen, the pattern is one you’ve wanted to try for ages, you spend hours carefully assembling the garment, you try it on and then…nothing. There are no fireworks. You just don’t really like it…

It might not be that you hate it or there’s anything wrong with it, you just don’t love it. It’s not you. You don’t feel great in it. And it doesn’t matter how beautiful made it is or beautiful it looks on the hanger, if you don’t like it you don’t like it.

Think about it, when you’re in a shop you generally try a garment on before you buy it. Even ASOS allows you to buy things and send them straight back if they don’t fit. But what do you do if you’ve poured your heart and soul into making agarment from scratch and you just don’t like the result?

Firstly you need to know that you are not alone. Contrary to what Instagram would have you believe this happens All. The. Time. Statistically it has to. However what happens more often than not is we don’t share the makes we don’t love. We try them on, look in the mirror, sigh, and the consign them to the back of the wardrobe where they will never be worn again but we won’t feel bad for getting rid of them. Maybe we share one or two pictures of them from a nice angle but most often we just try to ignore that they ever happened.

Sadly we often blame ourselves and think it reflects badly on us as sewists. But if you think about it this view is completely mad! We don’t have a crystal ball (unless you lot know something I don’t) so you have no way of knowing whether it will look good on you or not. I wouldn’t walk into a shop and expect everything in there to suit me so I don’t know why we do it with garments. It hurts more when you absolutely adore the pattern and you see other people looking stunning in it.

I’m sad to say that this is the experience I’ve had with the Friday Pattern Company Davenport Dress. A pattern I’ve wanted to try from the second it came out and one that I still adore even if my version didn’t suit me too well. I teamed up with Oyin to try out this pattern, she gave me 2.5 metres of gorgeous sage green cotton poplin and I got making. It was all going really well. I absolutely loved making it, the instructions were fabulous the fabric was gorgeous to work with but when I tried it on I was just a bit underwhelmed.

This topic came up when I spoke to Oyin on her Sew LetsTalk IGTV feature, we discussed how you aren’t going to like everything you make. How we need to cut ourselves some slack and about what we could do to get over those blue feelings. So today I wanted to give you a toolkit to help you deal with sewing fails. We are going to talk about practical steps but above all, I want every single one of you to know that this happens to absolutely everyone, you are not alone.  

Consider Why You Don’t Like It

Firstly it’s a good idea to step away, put some comfy clothes on that make you feel good grab a beverage of choice (I range from tea to hot chocolate to wine to a vodka tonic depending on the severity of the fail) and have a think about what you don’t like about it. Rather than be overwhelmed by general and often somewhat nebulous disappointment, take the time to site with those feelings and see if there is anything concrete you could do to make it better.

With my Davenport I sat down and tried to pinpoint the areas that I didn’t like and I came to several conclusions:

The main issue is the size and the length. I felt like I was drowning in fabric. My measurements put me in the medium bracket but due to the amount of ease in the garment I made a small. In reality I should have gone down to the extra small as I am a 5’2” and that dress is drafted for somebody who is 5’6” – I felt like I was wearing a structured georgian tea gown rather than a comfy work dress. I had good reasons for making the small, I wanted to make sure I had enough bust room, but on this occasion it was still too big.
For my frame the sleeve ruffles need to be smaller and protrude less as they made me feel very broad.
The sleeves are incredibly full and I didn’t find It comfortable for my frame.
The pattern recommends cotton, cotton poplin, linen however I think next time I would use a viscose so that all the ruffles and gathers flowed rather than standing out from my body. There is a lot of volume in this dress and I don’t think it helps that the cover image is made in a fabric with greater drape so you don’t know how much volume there will be.


Can You Do Anything About It?

Before you consign your garment to the depths of the wardrobe consider – can you do anything to make it better? You are after all the talented garment maker who put it together and you have the power to completely take it apart again if you want it.

In my case I’ve come up with the following list of actions to improve my davenport:

- Take volume out of the sleeve side seams.
- Reduce the length of both the mid skirt and the ruffle to make it more        proportionate to my frame.
- Shorten the sleeve ruffles to more of a cap than a full on ruffle.
- Grade the bodice so I’ll keep the breadth at the bust but grade it down at the waist to get provide some shaping and reduce bulk.
- And for next time, make an extra small!


There are other options as well. Could you refashion it? If you love the bodice but hate the sleeves, cut them off! If you hate the bodice and love the skirt, keep the skirt and put in a waistband. Its your garment and there are no rules so you can do whatever you want with it.

If You Can’t, Or Don’t Want To, Don’t Worry!  

At the end of the day you may not be able to fix it or you might not want to and that’s okay. Throw it to the back of the wardrobe, give it to a friend a family member, cut it up and use it to stuff a tailors ham. And post about it. Tell us about your fails! Guaranteed you’ll get ten messages from people who’ve done exactly the same. Lets make the sewing community somewhere to share our successes AND our failures. It’s not an either or scenario.

So today I’ll leave you with this mantra, repeat after me:

It’s okay not to like everything you make.

Thanks Jess


Jess used a cotton poplin to make this beautiful dress, do take a look at the link below for our selection of Cotton Poplins.

Cotton Poplins