Creative Growth = Failing Fast

Audra Hoy Chaimson    March 22. 2021

My favorite part about creating is the learning process. I love trying something new, seeing if it works, improving my skills, and then deciding if I want to keep perfecting a specific process or throw in the towel for the time being. It is pretty ironic for me to feel this way. I thoroughly dislike any type of failure elsewhere in my life, but I love failing fast and learning from it when I am in my creative space.

I crashed and burned pretty hard making my dress for our February Wardrobe Builder project and it was a complete test in resilience. I made my dress from a truly incredible Riley Blake chambray and everything was humming along swimmingly as I started my project. My darts were, hands down, the best darts I have ever created in my life and they fit my bodice pretty great without much tweaking.

As I was sewing, I was consistently trying on the finished sections to ensure that I was on the right path. My two back bodice pieces didn’t seem totally right and were gaping awkwardly at the arm holes, but I kept moving forward and told myself, “Well, maybe once the facing is on and the arm holes are pressed, I am sure it will all lay right.”

The rest of the dress came together great and I kept trying it on and it was perfect except for the gaping arm holes… (Do you sense where this is heading?)

I was near the finish line and all I had left was the facing and to hem the skirt.

I laid the dress out to start to pin the facings and the markings didn’t match up. “Hmm… that is weird.” I laid it out a few different ways thinking that maybe I just had something flipped or laying incorrectly. Then finally it hit me - OH MY GOODNESS. I put the back bodice pieces on wrong. I had swapped them so that the zipper opening was at the arm holes. I couldn’t believe it. I was almost done with my fun spring Betty Dress and now I had a pretty serious date with my seam ripper. I was flabbergasted. I mean, I have made dorky mistakes while sewing, but this one was a next level mistake.

I said some choice words, took a few deep breaths and sat down and started picking away at all my seams.

Since I had already made it once, it didn’t take as long to put it all back together as I thought it would - and I took the opportunity to drop the waist seam a smidge - so not all was lost. Except maybe a little of my pride. :-)

Let me know if you have had any similar situations while on your creative journey! We can all learn from each other and our trials and tribulations. I hope you are having a great creative year so far and are sewing along with us in Wardrobe Builder!



  • Linda MarraApr 06, 2021

    Hi, I have been trying to locate Nancy Zieman’s book entitled “Sew Simple with Rectangles and Squares.” I have checked every book source that I am aware of and can’t locate. Any chance of an old book laying around that someone would be willing to part with?

  • Ruth K.Mar 31, 2021

    When I was in high school in the 70’s, I made a lot of my clothes. I was making a peasant blouse. Everything was going well until I tried it on. It was way too tight!! I couldn’t figure out why . . . Finally I realized that when I sewed the side seams and sleeve seams in one process, I had sewed the 2 sleeves together as though they were the front and back, and the front and the back were now the sleeves. I was relieved that it could be fixed, but I had also sewn the hems in the “sleeves” and “body” of the peasant blouse. Lots of time with the seam ripper!!! You brought back good memories!

  • BrendaMar 29, 2021

    I was in high school, and had made most of my clothes. Working with a lovely shade of red polyester crepe, I was making a blouse to wear to have my school picture taken the next day. While at the ironing board, I melted a hole in one of the sleeves. My heart hit the floor. I had just enough fabric to cut out a new one. Made sure the iron was much cooler, but don’t remember if I ironed that new sleeve. I did wear this blouse for the pictures, and wore it for many years.

  • Kelle RisoliMar 29, 2021

    Back in Days when Home Ec was offered I made a sleeveless shift as my first project. Received a B+ and was quite proud of it. The first time it was washed, it started falling apart! Mom and I tried to figure out what went wrong – we discovered I had sewn the whole thing using the basting stitch! I wore it often after re-making it.

  • Janet Clifton Mar 24, 2021

    As a young Navy wife in the mid 1960s I was making a dress for a special party. I had found a very pretty peach silk brocade fabric with a silver lame piece for a stole. Having 3 young children, I was doing the sewing after they were in bed. I think my pattern must have been the style of yours. After working diligently on it, I tried it on only to find something was drastically wrong. Yup, I had sewed the back pieces with the zipper seam under the arms. It took awhile to figure out what I had done wrong, but at 11:30 p.m. finally sewed the last seam correctly and was able to wear it to the party. My husband being a very gracious young man told me I looked beautiful in it. I told him flattery would get him everywhere. Thanks for reminding me of a special time.

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