Monday, November 24, 2014

Learn From My Mistakes - an occasional series

One of the great things about sewing blogs is learning from the experience of others. Good and bad. In this occasional (well, we hope not too often!) series we will share our errors and disappointments. After all, mistakes are okay so long as you learn something from them, right?

Friends, I (Jane) made a wadder. In international sewing parlance, that's a project you just want to wad up into a ball and throw across the room. I made a wadder, in silk. Gaaahh!

Project: Colette Myrtle in woven fabric.
Yes, it's all dodgy mirror photos for this one, which reflects (geddit?) how I feel about this dress.

Mistake #1: Deviating too far from the pattern's recommended fabrics.
Remember Fiona's Colette Myrtle she made in our Black Organic Cotton Ribbing? I wanted one; who wouldn't? But I thought I'd try a woven fabric. I tried on her black frock and the fit was large on both of us, but the fabric is quite heavy and has considerable stretch. So I made this up in the same size. In this silk... what is it? Substantial, shiny, crisp-ish... taffeta? Certainly not the lightweight and drapey silk crepe, cotton voile, rayon challis etc as recommended by the good folk at Colette. It was gift fabric sitting in my stash and I'd never been sure what to do with it. Wearable muslin? Why the heck not? Let me count the ways.

Mistake #2: Not making a proper, throwaway muslin.
Sure, I'd tried on the knit version and liked it. But had I made a muslin out of an old bedsheet or similar, I would probably have realised this style is not for me in a woven.

The fit, technically speaking, is not bad. The bodice is quite good and the waist, despite my trepidation halfway through, is not too tight.

But the style is just wrong on my (pear) body shape. In the knit fabric I had not realised how full the skirt of this pattern actually is. Possibly, in a fabric that has a lot of fluid drape, such as a rayon challis, this might work. But I was thinking I might like one in a Liberty Tana Lawn and this 'unwearable muslin' has shown me that would be a mistake.

We can't all wear everything, can we? Here's an example of how I used the proper muslin process a while back to discover that a 1960s pattern was not for me.

As quite a few people sewing this pattern have noted, the creation of the elastic casing at the waist is a slightly odd multi-layered process, and in woven fabric, to my mind, rather fraught.
As you can see at the front waist I achieved a nasty unintended pleat, and there's considerable wonkiness going on. I just ploughed ahead at the time for the sake of trying this thing on. Something would have to be done if I was to try saving this dress, but ... nah.

Other observations.
1. Silk has static cling. I've never attempted a garment in silk before so this was news to me, but apparently it's a thing.

2. Fiona tried this on and whilst we measure in roughly the same pattern size, she has much narrower hips and the skirt draped much better on her than on me.

3. A bit of internet searching revealed a few people had difficulties with the sizing of this pattern. I believe it comes down to fabric choice. There's so much difference in stretch, drape and recovery with knits. I think in a spandex knit or one with minimal stretch, the sizing would be quite accurate. If your knit has a lot of stretch (like the rib knit Fiona used), I'd recommend to go down a size. Oh, and don't go up a size if only your hip measurement indicates it, because the skirt is accommodatingly full!

4. I think the design of this pattern is a bit plain/basic for a plain woven fabric. In a woven, the (very simple) construction is more obvious, and a pattern would help distract from things like the elastic waist.

5. I may still make a Myrtle for myself one day, in a knit. But meanwhile, other projects await!

So, what to do with the silk wadder?
Not just a worn-out bedsheet to be tossed in the bin or rag pile. Oh, the guilt. Actually, I had a great idea to salvage a lot of the fabric. I'm going to cut it up and make more Christmas gift bags. Yay.

Well, here's to learning from our mistakes.

- Jane x


  1. Why dont you make it into a skirt and top, a shame to waste such a gorgeous colour silk

    1. I know, it seems a terrible waste, doesn't it... all those poor little silkworms! It's actually more of a bright blue than the silvery turquoise it appears here. I have to be honest and say I don't think I would wear this in any form, even though it's not an unsalvageable disaster. Christmas bags will be used over and over and not just languish at the back of my wardrobe!

  2. Thank you for sharing this Jane - kind of sad that we learn best from mistakes though ;-) - I have a few mistakes that I should get around to blogging too....

    And this will make beautiful Xmas bags!

  3. Oh no! Sadness! I have this pattern and really want to try it in a knit but I also had my eye on wovens, and so for that, I am very glad you shared. That fabric looks gorgeous and it will make perfect christmas bags! Onwards! Find something really fun to sew next.


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