PPC8- A Nauseating Mistake


when was the last time you made a sewing mistake that was SO major and SO disastrous that you had to throw your project away because it was totally unsalvageable? If you ask me, I can tell you EXACTLY when that was because it made me so sick that it literally has taken me over a month to just calm down enough to write about it! But before I tell you what happened, let me first give you a little background info.Β  πŸ™‚

Siirtolapuutarha” by Marimekko

A year or so ago I rediscovered the Marimekko website. I remember the day well because it was then and there that I stumbled across one of the most beautiful pieces of fabrics I have EVER seen. It was bright and bold and graphic and I fell in love with it immediately… but there were unfortunately several reasons why it was just all wrong for the particular project I was working on at the time.

  1. The repeat is HUGE, over 1.25 yards long, to be exact.
  2. The scale of some of these individual components is also HUGE. Some of these flowers are actually over 18″ across!
  3. AND, it’s expensive! At the time, it was over $75.00 per yard at that time.

So, I reluctantly set my thoughts about this fabric aside and moved on… but, everytime I start a new project I always wonder, “Will this be the time I can use it?” But when I first conceived this new design and started working on it, I suddenly realized that this time, at last, the answer was… YES!

And what a happy day it was when that fabric arrived! (Wow, like only TWO days after I ordered it!) Immediately I started carefully planning how I would place and cut my pattern pieces out in order to best showcase this fabric! (Now before you say anything, I knew this would probably never be the cover bag. As a matter of fact, I knew that this bag would most likely never even be a “sample bag”, and that’s because I knew right from the outset that this particular bag was going to be MINE!)

And for me, one of the best things about using a large, fun print, is the construction phase because there’s always a certain element of surprise in how the final look turns out. But in this case I was TOTALLY lovin’ this look! I was already picturing myself carrying this beauty all over Italy this summer and turning heads everywhere!

I had the exterior almost finished and was topstitching around zippered bag opening…
and then I saw it!Β Β Β  And my heart…Β Β Β Β Β  literally…


Instead of the zipper edges being safely enclosed within the top seam of the exterior and the lining, one side had literally come loose of the seam in a frayed and ruined mess. And here’s the thing…I’m not even really sure how it happened!

Did the zipper have a flaw in it?Β 

Did I trim too close to the curved seam stitching?

I’ll probably never know.
The only thing I know for sure is that this zipper is ruined and there’s no way to remove and replace it… so my bag is therefore… TOAST….Β Β  and I am heartbroken.

Oh I know… there’s plenty enough fabric leftover to try again, and I even made a couple of feeble attempts to do so, but I quickly realized that my heart wasn’t in it. It just seemed like no matter how I placed the pattern pieces, the finished result would never look anywhere near come close to my original vision. It would always just be an inferior substitute… So I placed what was left of the fabric and the ruined bag in a drawer, and there it will remain until …

So… what’s the most YOU’VE ever spentΒ on a yard of fabric?

and if you care to share….

it might make me feel better to hear about one of YOUR sewing disasters!

Oh, and and if you have any suggestions for salvaging MY disaster, I’m all ears!
Did you enjoy this post? If so, please feel free to share it via FaceBook or Twitter!

39 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. Wow, that fabric is beautiful. The most I’ve ever spent is $9.75 per yard. πŸ˜‰
    So sorry to read about your bag though.

  2. Susan Loggins

    Well, I don’t sew but I have been eyeing Doctor Who material that’s 18$/yard. My sister sews so maybe I could get her to make me something!?

  3. Barbara Wolters

    I can only imagine the shock of finding the flaw, especially on such an expensive yard of fabric. The most I have ever spent on fabric would be around $15 a yard.
    I must add, besides sewing, I am also a gourd artist. Once while finishing up some wood burning on a gourd for competition, it slipped out of my hands, flew across the room and cracked! So, I know exactly how you feel.

    • It’s awful isn’t it? But you know what? I’m one of those people who has a tried and true record of learning best by error, so once i figure out how this happened, it may actually be a good thing! πŸ™‚ (I hope anyway)

  4. Janie Farnell

    Once, when making a quilt for a Christmas gift, I was completely finished quilting and was just trimming the outside edges to start adding the binding, and for some reason, on the third side, I cut up in between the outside and inside borders for about 12″ before I realized what had done! I cut right in the seam line. I literally wanted to cry when I realized what I had done! So with 2 days to go until Christmas, I had to take that corner apart and add enough material to be able to seam it back together, since when I cut into the seam, there was nothing left to seam back to! I had to take apart just the seam line, since Both Borders were already quilted in a geometric variegated thread on a very dark blue fabric. So I couldn’t just take the border off and patch it because it would have shown too bad in the quilting lines. It took me about 3 precious hours to fix it, but when I got done, you would have had to know it was there to find it.

    • WOW! I’m so glad you were able to salvage it and especially in such fine fashion! I haven’t thrown my disaster out. If nothing else it will serve to keep me humble! πŸ™‚

  5. I spent 80 on a yard and a half of gorgeous wool crewl on sheer irish linen. Thinking of using on my kitchen window. Too exquisite to cut it may end up a table topper for a skirted table. Sometimes I get it out just to touch it. Hmmm think I will get it out today and and a decadent fringe!!! Will post pic on FB.

  6. I had a purse that I made for a customer that called for outside pockets on the front and back of the bag. I decided to get fancy and fussy cut fabric so it would look really pretty on the pocket. Since there was a layer of batting between the outside of the pocket and the inside of the pocket, I decided to get fancier yet and outline the design with my sewing machine, using a fine satin stitch with contrasting thread, giving it a quilted effect. I was soooooo proud of myself that I was able to be so creative… – until I went to give the purse to the customer. When I was showing her the pockets I had made for her, I realized that the quilting i had done on the pocket was done while it was on top of the purse fabric. Therefore, I had quilted the pocket TO the purse so that the pocket was closed and it was impossible to use. I was soooooo embarrassed! However, I was able to take the purse back, remove the pocket (AND all the stitching), make a new pocket to replace the old one. I skipped the fancy stuff this time! It turned out fine, but boy was I embarrassed! Hadn’t made a mistake like that in at least 100 years! lol

    • As much as I love to sew and create, sometimes it can be an infuriating process, no? But sometimes I learn important things from the mistakes I make. Small comfort sometimes though……….

  7. Barbara Epperson

    In 1975, I bought a 2-1/2 yards of fabric for a blouse without asking the price because I loved it so much. When she told me it was $37.50 a yard, I nearly swallowed my tongue. $87.50 total. That fabric is still uncut and unsewn in my stash.

  8. $50 a yard for some embroidered and beaded satin that I made evening purses out of. They turned out nice and they didn’t take much fabric. I feel ur pain though. I’d have to rebuy the fabric and do it over again, cause I’d never be able to get it out of my head otherwise. My disaster isn’t nearly so bad. I was rushing doing a wedding gown jacket (older bride, 2nd marrige) in Shantung, with 2 piece sleeves. I finished the shell about 10 minutes before her fitting. I hung it up to see that I’d put the sleeves in backward! They were pointing in the wrong direction!!! I prayed that I had 1/2 inch of ease and just sliced them out with my rolling cutter. Basted them back in and smiled like a fool when she arrived. Thank heaven they fit just fine.

  9. Linda Boothman

    I have a friend who does gorgeous embroidery but doesn’t sew. She brought 2 table runners to me with lovely fabric for backing and binding. Somehow when cutting the fabric with my rotary cutter I cut into one of the embroidered pieces. I knew the minute I started the cut that I was cutting more than that fabric but it was too late. There was a 4 inch cut….but thankfully between the embroidered sections. After my stomach settled down….I began to see creative opportunities. There were 3 separate sections of embroidery on the table runner. I ended up slashing at an angle between them and sewing a strip of the binding fabric in between! It turned out lovely….more country looking than the original look would have been. And, yes, I told her what I had done…..lol

  10. Is there any way that you can use Stitch Witchery or some other iron on to stabilize that area of the bag? So sorry to hear about this. I know that feeling when the bottom of your stomach just falls out and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The last time I felt that was when I realized that the front of my favorite Baggalista had an irreparable tear in it. I’ve salvaged the strap and some hardware from it, but I still can’t bring myself to throw it away.

  11. It wasn’t the cost of the fabric that was the sickening feeling, but the fact that I was putting together an Easter dress together, which included a smocked panel by the customer. I had the dress finished and ready to hem & press. The front skirt of the dress had box pleats and I had basted them in place while I constructed the rest of the dress. With less caution than necessary, I was clipping the basting threads and clipped through one of the pleats. Fabric was fine broadcloth and carried only in certain shops. After I let out a blood curdling scream and flailed my arms, I calmed down and thought of what I had to do to correct it. I ran to my stash and found a 26 inch piece of the same fabric and prayed that it would be long enough to replace the front skirt. It was! I had to remove the first one, which included french seams, piping and partially removing the sleeves. I worked frantically to finish it in time. Even writing this, reminds me of the stress of that day. The customers smocking was not even very good, so I never took another job from her. I didn’t want my construction abilities to be connected with her smocking.

    • Well… this is quite a story! It makes me thankful that this mistake really only affected ME! I’d whole lot rather do it to myself than someone else. That must have been unbelieavably stressful! πŸ™

  12. Hazel Dickinson

    don’t give up yet! I call these creative opportunities, I have done them often enough I needed a name πŸ™‚
    It would take a bit of hand work but how about adding a bias trim to cover the area. If you put it on both sides of the bag on the inside it would look like a design feature. Let us know if you have the heart to try, sometimes it just isn’t worth the effort but this seems to be.
    Best luck Hazel

  13. What can be sewn can always be unsewn – can’t you unpick? Sure you lose your seam allowance but it should only result in a slightly smaller bag. Or am I really off the mark?

    • well… the seam was double stitched since almost the entire seam was clipped and trimmed and THEN… topstitched. The process of picking it apart would probably be a frayed mess.
      it would probably be easier to just trim off the top 1/2-3/4″ of the bag. I may go back someday and do this, but this would render this bag basically useless as a test sample for this new design, since a change of that magnitude totally alters the dynamics of the bag.
      Maybe I’ll drag it out at the holidays and fix it as a gift? ………… It could happen. πŸ™‚

      • Um, Kathy, I don’t think so… You love this fabric too much to give the redone bag away as a gift. When you are calmer and not so stressed about it, remake it and give it to *yourself* as a gift. You’re worth it!

  14. Tommie O'Sullivan

    You need a different kind of seam ripper. The scalpel type of ripper will take apart any kind of seam relatively easily and quickly. I’ve taken apart seams that have been top stitched, have piping or welting, zippers, etc. I really think you’d just end up with a slightly deeper curve than you have now. Hardly noticeable.
    You may need to stabilize the fabric if it seems to ravel. No Show Fusible Mesh is a good choice since it doesn’t tear easily and it won’t change the hand of your fabric.
    If you’re too frustrated to tackle it, just send me the bag and I can do whatever you’d like, rip, stabilize, insert the zipper, seam, or all or any of the above and send it back to you to finish.

    • What an incredibly sweet offer. Thank you ever so much. Maybe someday I’ll feel inspired to tackle it (and I might try to find me one of your scalpel rippers).
      For right now it serves to keep me humble. πŸ™‚

      • Tommie O'Sullivan

        Glad to offer. The best seam ripper is the Havel Ultra Pro. It comes with five extra blades so when one gets dull, just put a new one in. The cost is around $10, I believe and a six pack of replacement blades cost about the same.

        The other is the Gingher seam ripper. It costs more than the Havel, but is very comfortable in your hand. The replacement blades cost more, too, but they seem to stay sharp longer. The cost is about $50, and a two pack of replacement blades are around $25. Best to find a Gingher sale

        The best way to use it is to pull your two pieces of fabric apart with some tension on the fabric, and then touch your blade to the stitches. They will just fall away. Don’t pick at stitches like the old fashioned seam ripper. It will take forever.

  15. Kathleen Barden

    When my daughter was planning to be married, in the late ’90s, I bought a yard of lace to fit onto the bodice of the linen wedding dress was I was making for her. I paid $110 for that yard of lace. I fussy cut the lace to fit perfectly around the sweetheart neckline, short sleeves and back, then appliqued the entire piece in one whole. I fray checked all the edges, including all the individual motifs that were so carefully cut to make it fit. It was spectacular. I still have the dress and all of those lovely motifs. Six weeks prior to the date, she broke the engagement and canceled the wedding. She loved the dress,[just not the guy]. If she ever chooses to marry, she wants to wear that dress. Not exactly a disaster, but a difficult time, for sure, with lots of heart break.

    • Oh that’s sad. So much work to sit in a closet. Maybe someday she’ll decide to dye it and wear it anyway? πŸ™‚ I know you’re glad she didnt go thru with the wedding, but i wish you could have the pleasure of seeing her enjoy the dress. πŸ™‚

  16. wisconsin dragonfly

    Wait! Don’t give up! Just take a step back and a few deep breaths! This is the perfect “creative opportunity”!
    Surely you can disassemble the pieces. Then some fuseable interfacing on the offending piece. Maybe add some co-ordinating or complimentary fabric to lengthen the offending piece for the zip to be applied to and taadaah! And who knows maybe you will even like it better than your “original” vision. Especially when you add the satisfaction of “developing” this “creative opportunity”. πŸ™‚

    • Well… I really appreciate all of your wonderful ideas, and if I wasn’t in the midst of developing a new pattern, (and on a strict timetable), then this actually could be a fun diversion. But alas, there’s just no time for “off-roading” right now. Maybe another day… another time.

  17. This may not work and it depends on how much of the tape is left. Can you open up the enclosed area about two inches on each side? Then take some grosgrain ribbon roughly the same width of the tape and place it under the zipper tape using a feather stitch or serpentine stitch sew over the shredded tape as far as you can go on either side. Just go over and over the shredded tape until it is fully impregnated to the grosgrain. When that is done, add fray check. Or frog the whole thing and replace the zipper. Just a thought—Denise

    • I actually like this idea a lot Denise. I’m not sure I could still use this bag for a show bag when i was done though, which is kinda the point right now…. but when I get time later on this year, I may revisit this bag with this fix in mind.
      Thanks a bunch!

  18. Another option is to remove the zipper and pick apart the bag back to the zipper installation step and redo with a new zipper. You might have to slightly modify the opening to take care of the shredded area. Only you will know it isn’t the perfect way you imagined it. Everyone else will just think it is a gorgeous bag.

  19. I’m sorry this happened! It IS a heartbreak when “the perfect thing” gets ruined. There have been lots of good ideas for redeeming the project, not as a “show” bag, but for yourself. I have NEVER spent so much money on a yard of fabric! My budget doesn’t allow it. But the expense will, I hope, help you — in time — to see what can be done. I’m so relieved to know that you “threw it away” into a drawer and not the trash!

    It seems like anytime I am stressed or on a deadline, I make some dreadful mistake. Just last month I was making a book bag for my grandson and (to save time, ha ha) I made both the outer bag and the lining at the same time, and forgot to leave an opening in the lining to turn the bag. (DUH!!) The seams had been trimmed and heavily zig-zagged — no taking THAT out! So … I cut a two-inch slit in one side of the lining (having put some heavy fusible interfacing on the wrong side for strength) and inched the bag through the slit to turn it. I handstitched the edges together and fused my label over the slit. PHEW! My grandson is only 5 years old, so even if it had been noticeable, he would not have known. But my DIL is always bringing out stuff I’ve made to show people — I live in fear that she will show stuff I’ve goofed up to someone who WILL know it’s a mistake!

  20. OH NO!!! Marimekko fabric makes me swoon, and I can see why you love this sew much. It’s such sturdy fabric…I can’t tell what happened to create this “issue.” I’ll be very interested when you have time to figure it out and let us know.

    I was making a intricately pieced coat on deadline for an exhibit. When sewing the coat together I discovered that the back section was about 6 inches shorter than the side sections and the front! Needless to say, I did not get it finished for the show. It took me a loooong time to fix it because of the piecing design that had already ended at the bottom. I added a section–having to eek out enough of the right fabrics. Anyone else would be hard pressed to see my mistake, at least. Of course I had to add to the lining, too, then I found that the coat is a bit snug in the armscye, so it needs gussets! It’s been languishing in my closet for a long time. Maybe this is the year to fix and finish it.

    I’ve spent quite a bit on pieces of fabric, but rarely a whole yard. I’d guess in the $40 to $50 range.

    Chin up!

  21. The most I have ever spent was $150.00 a yard for sequined bridal lace fabric for my daughter’s wedding gown. Since it was several years ago I can’t remember the exact number of yards I purchased but I used it as the upper bodice & long sleeves on an empire style gown. After reading & re-reading articles on laces & layouts, I took the plunge & cut. No problems. Sewing & lining areas for support with English netting, again no problem. Then I needed to lightly steam…needless to say I lightly steamed but the result? Several cloudy sequins that I had to rip out & replace by hand. I can laugh abt it now but I know I spent over 60 & several hundred dollars on the gown. I gained a ton of experience & found that working with lace can be very forgiving, much more than your Marimekko fabic. Good luck with finding a cure for your problem.

    • I’m glad it worked out with this wedding gown. I didnt have the honor of making my daughter’s wedding gown. Looking back now, I’m not sure i could have withstood the stress! πŸ™‚

  22. I bought a beautiful wool challis for $75 a yard and I still haven’t had the nerve to cut it. I bought it in 1989. I pull it out every once in a while and dream. πŸ™‚

  23. I don’t remember the cost of the fabric, I was making my daughter a full length cape out of something really yummy, a very soft nap on one side and a soft suede-like reverse side. I cut in both directions of the nap. When I went back to Hancock’s they were all out but they found enough at another store to allow me to finish it. The store was 1 1/2 hours away but the project was IMPORTANT. And then I messed up the cut again. I’ve still got all the pieces, some of them are fairly large and I keep hoping I’ll think of something to make that will take advantage of how the fabric feels against the skin, but it’s been at least five years and I haven’t used it yet…