Unpromising beginnings

I have something to confess: my first three makes were disasters. Here are the sorry details – and what I learnt from each one.

Disaster 1: I was too ambitious.

I started sewing when I was 14 – I was overweight, and I couldn’t find any shorts in Topshop that looked good. So my ever-helpful Mum suggested I try making my own. She was a keen sewer in her teenage years, and offered to help. But with a teenager’s attention span, I got distracted and gave up half-way through. Sadly I binned the remnants shortly before bold florals made a fashion comeback.

Photo of two pattern envelopes, McCalls 6007 and Vogue 9188.
The patterns for my first two disasters: McCalls 6007 and Vogue 9188

Disaster 2: I ignored the fabric suggestions for the pattern.

Disaster number two was supposed to be my prom dress. I’d just seen Before Sunrise, and fallen in love with Julie Delpy’s slip-dress-over-T-shirt look. So for our prom (read: school disco), I wanted to wear a slip dress – but in burgundy velvet. No, I’m not sure why either… Ever tried making a spaghetti strap from velvet? Not a smart idea. Again, my poor Mum helped me get started. And again, I consigned the half-finished garment to a drawer. Years later, I cut it up to make a cushion. But I still have the pattern, and I occasionally wonder about using it to make nightwear.

Disaster 3: I cut straight into my fabric without making a toile first

The third one was  a bootcut trouser pattern c.2001. I had a suitable fabric, but I didn’t know how to shape the pattern to fit me other than lengthening the legs. So I ended up with excess fabric at the front, and not enough room at the waist, giving me that second-trimester-but-trying-not-to-let-on look. Oh dear.

It was after that that I started reading up on fitting, and things have improved in leaps and bounds from there. But occasionally I do still have a disaster, and when that happens I’ll try to share it here for you to laugh at and learn from.


  1. […] are pretty much vintage in the sewisphere, I dragged out the first pattern I ever attempted (with disastrous consequences, all the way back in 1992) and it’s starting to look quite appealing again now. Since I currently own exactly zero […]


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