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Saturday, 18 March 2017

2 Ways to Fix it and Feature it!

We've all been there...
Oh, oh! You're merrily cutting or sewing along and it suddenly occurs to you that you've made a big blunder.

How many times has that happened to you?

Not even once? Well, maybe you're lucky or maybe you just don't want to admit it.

For the rest of us — who have felt that sudden outbreak of sweat and that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach — this post is about fixing a couple of common sewing mistakes and making the most of that old adage of, "if you can't fix it, feature it".

Actually, I've always had an issue with that saying. It should be if you need to fix it, feature it!

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In all fairness, sewing is actually quite forgiving of mistakes; most everyday boo-boos can be fixed. As I once said to someone who wrote and asked me all manners of detailed questions about how to sew up my Crafty Cosmetics Caddy, sewing is not like laying concrete.

The old stitch ripper probably resolves the vast majority of our issues. The only times when we really want to hit the panic button is when we make a mistake with our fabric allocation — or somehow damage it — and then find out that we have no more of said fabric; or, we are too far along into a project to consider redoing it.

First thing I would suggest to anyone in the situation of realizing a drastic mistake is to stop and take a deep breath. Put down all your sharp tools and walk away. Unless you truly want to tear the thing apart and destroy it, that's probably the wisest thing to do in the moment. (And here is where I truly hope that your mistake doesn't come with a deadline to fix!)

So far in my renewed sewing adventure, my biggest oopsie was cutting the fabric too narrow for my messenger bag. (For one of my test projects from a couple of weeks ago, I actually cut the fabric too wide, but that's essentially an easy fix, although it does waste fabric.) The situation had all the earmarks of a disaster, since the fabric was a remnant and there was no option to re-cut. What's more, the mistake affected three separate pieces!

Customized messenger bag by eSheep Designs
The nifty black band down the middle was an accident!

My solution — and this will probably be your solution too if you're ever faced with the same mistake — was to slice the fabric in half vertically and add a contrasting strip between the two halves to make up the difference.

This technique also works if you end up not cutting something on the fold when you were supposed to. Depending on what it is, inserting a contrasting strip of fabric may be a good style choice in many such situations.

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Or — if you don't choose to do it in the middle — you can also add strips to the sides.

My pattern tester Verna had an issue with the side panels of her Diva Envelope Clutch and decided to fix the problem by adding some extra slices of contrasting leather.

Diva Envelope Clutch by Verna Groger
The little extra that was added to the side panels of Verna's Diva Envelope Clutch...

Worked out great and no one would ever know that it wasn't done intentionally.

An accent of contrasting fabric is also the solution that Pam over at Threading My Way applied to a dress made from a pattern named for something close to my heart: Pride & Prejudice.

Such a sweet dress and the bottom band looks like it was meant to be there!

Pam has also written up a few blog posts of her own that deal with other oopsie remedies. Check out this one in particular that I had a laugh over.

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Daryl at Patchouli Moon Studio shares the following with us.

"I was making an appliqué wall quilt of a vase with poppies. I fused and blanket stitched around the appliqué shapes. I don’t recall when I noticed this but there was a leaf that had a slash in the fabric! Oh no! I couldn’t rip it out and redo without making it worse with holes showing, so I got creative and sewed a butterfly button over the cut fabric on the leaf, but first I applied some Fray Check so the slash wouldn't get any larger or fray. That was an easy creative fix."

Quilt by Daryl (Patchouli Moon Studio)
Daryl's fanciful fix is so not noticeable in her finished quilt!

If your fabric imperfections are larger than this, appliqués or similar add-on embellishments may be your solution.

Find something that fits in with whatever you are making — like a bead or lace flower for a prom dress — and attach it. Even if you're forced into adding a few more of whatever it is in order to balance out the effect, the end result can still be amazing. And no one will know that it wasn't meant to be there from the beginning.

For some more (horror) stories, take a look at this post from Threads Magazine. And if you've got your own story — and solution, of course — let's hear it in the comments below!


  1. I love fixing oopsies in a creative way. I sure makes you think outside the box. Iam currently sewing a cross body bag with a gusset that is supposed to be sewn around the 2 corners, but I keep getting puckers!! I do not like sewing a gusset unless the bag is curved. So I am going to rip it out a 3rd time (yes a seam ripper can be your best friend, ha!) and sew sides and bottom and box the corners. I hope my idea works, because I hate to have wasted my time making such a nice front to this bag and not get it finished.

    I have used the adding a strip to make a fabric larger for an inside pocket to a bag also. When using a strip of the exterior fabric on the interior pocket like that, it makes it look like it had been intended all along.

  2. The black strip on the messenger bag looks like it was always meant to be. I love it!!! No one would ever know, unless you told them.

    Good advice on walking away when things go wrong. It's amazing how different a problem can look after a good night's sleep.

    I still use that zippered pouch with the wonky stitching fix. It's in my everyday handbag.


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