Simplicity 8338 fail

I’m feeling very discouraged about sewing today. Why don’t I just make my life easier and give it up? It’s usually when I make one dumb mistake after another that I feel this way. Or when I don’t read the instructions and do it my way, and then I realize I should have read the intructions, because I screwed up my project and have no one to blame but myself.

And then when I think I spent all day working on a dumb shirt to wear over my sports bra at the gym when I could have just bought something similar at the mall for a few dollars. Why do I do this to myself? I could have been doing something else more important instead of being hunched over by myself in my sewing room picking out ripped stitches. Simplicity 8338 fail

Take Simplicity 8338. A simple tank top meant to be worn over a sports bra. It seems to be the simplest of projects that get me the most discouraged. Obviously my armholes are terribly stretched out. Was it my fault or did the  pattern have a too long band? The truth is every band should be a different length since some fabrics grow more than others when it comes to knit neck and arm bands. After serging and then cover stitching I had the bright idea to rip out the seam and use elastic instead. Why did I bother cover stitching when I could see it was all stretched out? I don’t know!

Well, it took about forty minutes to rip out the armbands. Then guess what? I sewed the elastic onto the wrong side of my fabric ! I wasn’t about to pick out all those zig zagged stitches to remove the elastic so I wadded up the top and threw it into the corner of my room.Simplicity 8338 fail

Then I decided to try making another of these tops but in a tissue knit instead of the poly lycra stretch I made the first top in. Well, the armbands stretched out and were way too long for the armholes! So I decided to sew a strip of knit binding onto the armholes like you would a piece of bias on a  woven top. But it didn’t look right either. A day of frustration.Simplicity 8338 fail I stepped away from the sewing machine before I had a total meltdown.

I’m still deciding whether I’ll try to make another of these tops that I need for the gym, or just buy one. It’s kind of a boring thing to be sewing, and maybe it isn’t worth my time. I made a promise to make all my clothes this year, but maybe I’ll break it. What would you do? And do you ever feel like maybe you will never get it right, either?


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  1. says

    Have you tried using a fusible stabilization tape around the armholes and neckline to prevent stretching during sewing? It might help with this problem.

    Although I will say that sometimes projects just feel cursed and it is refreshing to move on. If you feel up to it, I’d give it another go, but if it is depressing you, move on and maybe try it again later.

  2. Erika says

    Hi Justine I’m a quilter and don’t really make clothes but I’ve been where you are. It’s time to switch projects and try it again another time. You need to breathe and have a glass of wine! I admire your determination, but I would wear the first one you made anyway. It looked good to me. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Keep with your goal of making all your clothes, it’s pretty cool. Good luck.

  3. says

    I think clothes are just hard – every single fabric behaves differently (especially knits!) so even if you get it perfect one time – the next time you make the pattern in a different fabric, it could still bomb. Even still – I enjoy making clothes (when they work out 😉 but I am also super hard to fit, so shopping is no fun…
    I’m all for sticking to a challenge (within reason) but if it’s causing you distress, then maybe it’s time to chuck the challenge. (temporarily, or permanently…) I mean, if your pride is the only thing intact at the end of the year – would you think it was worth it? (I think hair, and sanity, and joy are *more* worth it, myself 😉
    hang in there!!

    • says

      That is a good point Tracy. Sanity and Joy and health are definitely more worth it than beating oneself up over something silly that doesn’t really matter in the long run..

  4. says

    I’m right there completely with you. I have made so many things lately that just the thought of sewing something up right now makes me grumpy. So, I’ve stepped away for a little bit. I’m going to focus on crafts and if I am inspired to sew, it will only be something I have made before where the pattern is already prepared. I was on a mission to make mostly what I wear, but I think I have kind of burned myself out on sewing so much! My kids are older and want less now too. I actually went shopping the other day and bought myself a blouse! Oh my gosh that felt good to not make it. LOL

    • says

      Maybe I’ll change my blog name to the Grumpy Seamstress! I know you sew a ton, too, Shirley. A break is needed sometimes. Then you will feel like you like it again. I took off a few months last year to do other things. It helped a lot.

  5. Julie says

    Fortunately they are work out clothes! Just turn under the elastic and sew in place. On the green one, just make a few short “pleats” in the center back to pull out the looseness. Make it again another time – you now know what adjustments to make. Good luck, don’t give up, and wear them! I’ve worn workout tops that are in worse shape.

  6. Kathy Russell says

    I agree with Julie ! It is just work out clothes. Turn the elastic under and stitch down. I have found myself making mistakes when I’m tired or unfocused and assume I know things and don’t look at the instructions. Sometimes it’s just a bad sewing day (like a bad hair day). Walk away, take a break for a few days then decide what you want to do about it.

  7. Nicole G says

    Please don’t despair! It’s sewists like you that constantly inspire me. Although I would love to sew all the time, and I certainly have the raw materials for it, I feel like I don’t because of what you described above. Please don’t give up. Hang in there – for yourself & me!

    • says

      Thank you for your support! I almost didn’t post this because it’s a little embarrassing to show my failed projects, but I’m glad I did so I can commiserate with you all!

  8. Carol Gardiner says

    Justine, you are so sweet and brave to show us the things you make that you are not happy with. Most people only want to show off their successes. When I am making a new pattern it can take me a lot of tries to get the fit correct. I love sewing with knits because my philosophy is that if it doesn’t look just the way I want it to, I can use it for the gym or to sleep in. Because knits are comfortable even when they don’t look great. No one sees me at the gym, and my family doesn’t care what I sleep in. 🙂 I have found that stabilizing tape is very helpful to use around the armholes and the neck when sewing with knits. I even use it to help keep the hem from stretching out and rippling. And yes, I would wear those tops to the gym.

  9. Mandy says

    I have had some snags in my sewing a few times.Especially when trying something new. First time I made dress pants for my son I somehow sewed one leg inside out when attaching and I had to rip out the stitching on my daughters dress because I forgot to cut out a second panel for skirt and was wondering why it wasn’t as full as the pic. showed. Usually when I experiment on my own its after I am done with a project that I discover an easier way to make it. If we dont make mistakes we don’t grow. Even the most professional sewers have their setbacks . I’ve walked away from a project a time or two to come back to it a week or so later when I am mentally ready to try again. Don’t give up! But if its too frustrating and draining then go to another project and tackle it again when you feel your ready to try it again with a clear mind. LOve your projects, they are inspiring!

  10. Sandy Osborne says

    Justine, I feel your pain. I’ve been really frustrated by a few projects. I usually put them away for awhile — sometimes I go back to them and sometimes I just have to give up. Like Carol (above), I applaud you for showing us your “problem projects.” I’ve seen your work, and you are amazing. I know you can figure out a solution. But I also support you any time you think you should just give up on a project. Sometimes it just feels good to look forward and start a new exciting project rather than getting frustrated by an existing difficult project. Although, I suspect you are a tenacious person and will figure something out in order to keep your promise to yourself. No matter what, you are an inspiration to so many of us

    • says

      Thanks Sandy! That is a really nice thing to write. I appreciate it. Things are better today! I figured out the problem after sleeping on it! Sometimes we need to just sleep on things.

      • Sandy Osborne says

        You are so right about sleeping on things. It’s amazing what our brain will figure out while we’re sleeping! I love when that happens and you wake up eager to try something that came to you in the middle of the night.

  11. says

    Ahhhh, the joy of learning! Mistakes teach us every bit as much — perhaps more than — our successes! I once made an evening dress for an award ceremony out of GORGEOUS silk. After 50 years of sewing, I’m no beginner. But I followed directions, and the neckline (cut on the bias) stretched until I could nurse four babies right out of the front of the bodice. Bad for a sixty-something! I learned to think for myself and not to depend on directions. I learned the power of a bias cut (even a design line) to stretch. I wadded that dress and threw away four yards of silk. But the lesson was worth it! Your lessons are teaching you too! One might be, when frustration mounts take a break BEFORE you make yet another mistake. I’ve learned that breaks keep me from making additive mistakes and enhancing my irritation!

    • says

      Thanks for the sewing wisdom Bette. It’s good to know everyone has their off days. Even those who make awards dresses! I’d love to see how it turned out.

  12. says

    Definitely time to step away from this one for a bit. I recently finished something I am just not happy with and it does take the fun away from sewing doesn’t it! Also incredibly infuriating that you can get it for so cheap in the shops, makes you feel like you should be able to churn it out no problem! but its not always the case. Thank you for sharing this experience though!

    • says

      Yeah I know I can buy one for seven bucks at Walmart mart yet this took me all day. But I can’t think that way or I wouldn’t make anything, I guess. Sewing is usually more expensive especially for simple things like tees.

  13. says

    Justine- the only sewing vow I ever stuck to was destashing. I found I just don’t like rules, even self imposed ones! The binding on the second top looks good from here. I’m seeing lots of low armcyes with the whole sports bra showing and a few inches of skin. I kinda like it! I’ve noticed lots of raw edges on higher end sports wear too. Just hack them even lower and if you don’t like the style, gift it to someone does!

    • says

      I actually like the armholes to show the bra. Just not the ones I made. Haha…talk about homemade in a bad way!