All the ways I have failed

All the ways I have failed

When the sewing blogs, such as mine, show successful makes one after another, someone may think that that’s the whole story. They despair with their makes not knowing how many projects the blogger has that are left unfinished and buried into the basket of forever-ufos (ufo = un-finished object). Lately, I have struggled with many unsatisfactory projects, so I decided to write about it. And no, despite the headline, I these are not all the ways I have failed. My multitude of failures could never be summed up on a blog post whether they are about sewing or other things! But enjoy!

My latest frustration…

Failed Ottobre coat.

… is this cat coat from Ottobre design 4/2019. There are several problems with it, the smallest being that it is way too big for my daughter, who needs coat now. I chose to use this microtex fabric, while the coat was designed for stiffer fabrics.

I started with the little details, such as the cat ears and the appliqués. It took a lot of time and despite using a sharp microtex needle, I still got a lot of skipped stitches that I had to fix. Furthermore, I also noticed that this fabric was very hard to press neatly.

I decided to line the coat. Adding the lining wasn’t so simple, when the sewing instructions included steps where the lining got in my way.

The most frustrating thing was, however, when, after all these struggles, I realised that the blue fabric did have a wrong side and a right side. When I saw it, I had already done hours and hours of work. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had enough light to notice that the one side of the fabric was glossier than the other. But now that I see it, I can’t un-see it!

Yesterday, I went to the mall and bought S a new coat. I don’t know whether I will finish this at some point but right now I have decided that enough is enough with this project.

My big pile of UFOs and failed projects

This is a pile of things that I am storing in my ufo basket:

the contents of my ufo basket.

The oldest items are a little over a year old. I think that I have thrown the older ufos away at some point. Let’s go through the pile together!

Lekala blouse with pleat

This is Lekala #4654 blouse. With Lekala patterns, I have noticed that the pleated things have more problems in them than other patterns. This is not the first pattern that did not work at all. I definitely should have made a toile first. This failed blouse feels like I’m wearing it the wrong way around. The pleats open up and look plain ugly and the blouse is unwearable. I never finished the hem, since this can only be used if I chop it into pieces and use the fabric for something else.

A failed Lekala shirt #4654.

Butterick dress B6318

Failed summerdress

This rumpled thing used to be Butterick B6318. After I did the first fitting, I realised that, a) the fabric looked awful on me and b) the kimono sleeves did not work for me at all. Actually, the whole dress looked like a sack.

I tried to make this dress work by cutting out the sleeves and lowering the neckline. This way the fit looked better, but still the fabric wasn’t talking to me. Before drafting a new collar, I gave up the whole project. I think I will use the dress fabric later to make something for S.

Tailored jacket

Last year I was super hyped after I had just made my trench coat. I wanted to delve further into the world of tailoring and I decided to make a tailored blazer. I got all the materials and bought this 1989 pattern from Marfy.

Tailored jacket toile.

I had heard a lot of good things about Marfy patterns. You can see from the toile below that I really started with great enthusiasm. I thread traced all the sewing lines and pattern markings and tried to make excellent work.

However, after I tried it on… The fit was just awful! The back was way too big while the front was too small. Honestly, I felt so disappointed after paying over 20 € to get this pattern. I could have drafted a better fitting jacket by myself! After this, I completely lost my interest. The toile has been in the ufo bin ever since…

My husband’s shirt

This next project is actually something that I still want to finish. This is a shirt for my husband. I have made a few shirts for him before and am always trying to improve on the fit. However, this time I overdid myself and made the fit worse at the shoulders. I realised that I could fix the shirt by replacing the back yoke and moving the shoulder seams forward. That is the reason for the hole between the shirt back and the collar. I ripped out the old yoke but I am scared of finishing the shirt. I know that if I fail the second time the chances are that this will be buried deep into the ufo bin for good.

Unfinished shirt for my husband.

My husband’s trousers

Some trouser toiles for my husband.

Trousers are my nemesis. The poor toiles above are one of the several I have made for my husband. The problem is that if the trousers look good, they don’t feel right. If they feel right, they look awful. After several failed toiles, I didn’t want to ask my husband to do any more fittings for me. I think that I will have to take a pattern from an existing pair of trousers rather than use any ready pattern that is available.

My stripy pair of trousers

Summer trousers with fit problems.

This project sums up many of my most common reasons for why my projects fail. I made my own pattern but did not calculate enough ease into it. Then I made the pair out of cheap fabric and made it really quickly. I don’t know why I didn’t even bother interfacing the front facing.

I have worn these trousers since they are actually finished. I just threw them into the bin thinking that they would benefit from some kind of belt. However, after all this time, I think that I could use the fabric to make something for S rather than finish trousers that do not fit me very well.

Sew Over It Tulip skirt

Unfinished tulip skirt by Sew Over It.

This is the Tulip skirt by Sew Over It and it is practically finished. I’d only need to hem it but then I lost all interest since I feel that the fabric doesn’t really work for this pattern. The tulip shape would benefit more from a stiffer fabric but this was a remnant that I happened to have at the time I bought the pattern. I think I still need to check it over to see if the project could be salvaged. If not, I can always turn it into a skirt for S.

So much more trouser problems

Trouser toile in progress.

These trousers are part of my ongoing project on making a perfect trouser pattern for myself. I have no idea how many test versions and changes I have made to this pattern. The number may be close to 50.

I seem to go around in a circle. First, I get whiskers at the front. Correcting the whiskers leads into too much fabric at the crotch. Correcting that leads to more whiskers and then further correcting that leads to a camel toe that leads to more whiskers. At some point, I then decide that the problem is at the grainline or something else that leads me to cut a new pair. Of course, I can’t find exactly the same kind of fabric which leads me into another circle of fitting and correcting…

I will get to use these… someday

I will get to these... someday.

My ufo basket is also a place to throw those old garments that need fixing, the garments that are completely worn out but that I’d like to cut into pieces to take the fabric or the pattern to make new garments. Unfortunately, these garments get forgotten so easily when they are neatly out of sight. I will get to them… someday… perhaps…


Despite all my frustrations, I accept that the failed projects are part of my sewing hobby. I am always trying new things and I experiment with new patterns, fabrics and techniques. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I am trying to have fun with my sewing hobby, so at some point it doesn’t make any sense to force myself to finish a project that gives me no joy.

What kind of projects do have in your ufo pile? How do you feel about un-finished projects? Do you have any good ideas what do with my projects listed above? Comment below!

This is all for today! Happy sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


  • Florencia

    I love your post! I think ufo’s are frustrating but also a learning curve. I have a few sitting somewere. I also have old close thinking I can reuse the fabric for something else but for some reason I don’t get very inspire with the fabric.
    For your pants wiskers, try adding 1/2 inch in the center front st the top, tapering to nothing before the curve starts. That made the trick in my case and the wiskers disapear.

  • klaugen

    I have sewn so many clothes that has not worked out. I wrote about it on my blog last year and I think I want to share another post about it, I think it is importen to show that some projects does not work out each time.
    It is good to see that other sewing blogs is having the same experience as me.

  • Johanna

    Thank you for sharing this. Trousers seem to be my nemesis, too. I did a Craftsy Class to make a pant sloper. It turned out ok, but not sure if I am going to use it after all. At least the class taught me a lot. Right now I am finishing the Anise Jacket and just loving making it. Your winter coat was a real inspiration for me to use real tailoring methods.

    • Li Fén

      Thank you for sharing. You really don’t want to see my pile of UFO’s, haha. Fit should be checked by another seamstress. So I would suggest follow a course or even better find a soulmate in sewing ;-).

  • runsewread

    I’m commiserating with you. I can identify with every one of those challenges in one way or another. It’s hard to explain why some of the best plans and efforts just don’t come together. Those black & white checked trousers look like they have promise, though. Probably some of your other items do, too.

  • Marcia

    Great post. It sounds like me! – Only my UFO’s are for me only!! WHY do we keep them? Do I really think that some day I will/might finish them?

  • R0se-Marie

    This is a very reassuring post. So happy to read that other sewers make things which do not make it into the wardrobe, or don’t finish things because there is no way they will end well. Thank you, and best of luck moving forward! 🙂

  • Janet

    This is fascinating – thank you. I’m always reassured to find that I’m not the only one who has some mishaps along the way. Trousers are my nemesis too – it’s sooo difficult to get them fitting correctly.

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