Two weeks ago, I had a total sewing fail.
I have myself to blame for this one. I felt like a quick project, and I already had the fabric – a lovely soft stretch wool. I found a vintage pattern for cigarette pants in my stash, and it looked quick and easy. I decided to proceed without a muslin, thinking that the pattern was SO simple, it would probably be fine.
I’m sure you can predict the results.
High(rise)s and lows
I expected that they’d be high waisted. I wanted high waisted. But I did not expect a rise that went all the way from my natural waist to a quarter way down my thigh. Imagine tight high waisted harem pants. It was awful. I adjusted as best I could, and then resigned myself to the idea that they were total wadders, and it was 100% my own laziness that was to blame.
The next weekend, I cleansed my palette with a sewing success. I made a pencil skirt that came out beautifully, in a lovely textured creamy wool with a lilac silk lining. I put a lot more time into the skirt than the pants, and it felt so good to have something go well.
When I finished the skirt, I realized that it wasn’t just laziness that had caused the first project to go so wrong, or the willingness to invest time that had made the second project go well. It was a pretty different mindset.
What could go wrong?
With the pants, I basically closed my eyes and pretended everything would be fine. I took an overly optimistic view of what would be required to make the project work for me and my body. I don’t know if “optimistic” is even the word; I didn’t think much about it at all, I just wanted to make something.
But with the skirt, I thought about all the ways it could go wrong. And then (more importantly) I took steps to make sure those things didn’t happen.
- I knew my fabric was a bit on the bulky side. So I made sure to trim or grade every seam allowance to get rid of as much bulk as possible.
- I spent a lot of time at my pressing table, using my clapper liberally to compress seams and keep them flat.
- I knew my lining pieces were easy to flip the wrong way, so I carefully labeled the right and wrong side.
In the end, I was able to sidestep all the problems that could have come up, because I realized ahead of time all the ways it could have been ruined.
Stop problems before they start
This made me think of other places I do this. Here at the studio, we did this recently before embarking on a big new project. The whole team got together and gave input on all the ways the project might go horribly wrong, and what we could do to prevent that from happening.
In the world of project management, they call this “risk management.” A risk is something that could go wrong, but hasn’t yet. By getting them all out on the table, the idea is that you prevent them from becoming actual problems.
It seems like thinking of all the pitfalls would be discouraging, but the opposite is actually true. It makes you feel more prepared, and prevents bitter disappointment later on.
This made me think, perhaps listing all the little things that could go wrong before embarking on a new sewing project could be a useful strategy for getting more out of your time at the machine.
What do you think?
Was there ever a time you wish you’d considered all the possible ways a sewing project could fail – BEFORE sewing?