What To Do When You Hate the Garment You Made

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Shortly after making the decision to try my hand at sewing my own clothes, I made my first garment.

I was excited about the pattern and couldn’t wait to get the garment done so I could wear it.

A vintage pantskirt pattern
I found the pattern at my mom’s house. She’s kept many of the patterns she’s purchased over the years. It was described as easy and only had one main pattern piece. I thought it would be a good pattern to start with.

I decided to make the short version and it took me a few days to complete the pantskirt.

As soon as I finished the garment, I eagerly put it on.

Stepping in front of the full-length mirror, all my feelings of anticipation plummeted.

I hated it.

Instead of looking fun and flirty like I had been envisioning, it was bulky and stiff. I felt ridiculous wearing it.

I texted my mom, “Do you want a good laugh?”

She replied, “Sure,” and I walked across the street to her house (hoping no one would see me).

When she saw me she couldn’t understand why I hated it. She said it looked like the fit was a little too big and the material wasn’t as soft as it probably should be. But, overall, the garment didn’t look bad.

When I told her how I felt wearing it, she told me that was part of the learning process.

She went on to explain the more garments I sew, the more I’ll learn about what I like and don’t like.

In addition, my sewing skills will get better and I’ll eventually be making garments I love.

But all of this will take time.

Feeling better, I headed back to my house. My sister Michelle was pulling in her driveway. (She lives next door to me.)

My first thought was, “Oh, no. She’s going to make fun of me.”

Bracing myself, I waited for her to get out of her car. When she did, she greeted me and started talking. She didn’t say anything about the pantskirt.

After about a minute, I asked her if she had any comments to make.

She looked a little confused and said, “About what?”

“These ridiculous bottoms,” I replied. “They look horrible. I feel like a clown.”

She told me she didn’t think they looked horrible. She added that she felt like they were a little big and the material was too stiff but didn’t think they were funny looking.

My 17-year-old niece pulled up just then, hopped out of her truck, and came over to us.

She said, “Cute shorts, Aunt Nicki.”

“What?! I think they look horrible,” I replied.

She shrugged and said, “I like them.”

a handmade pantskirt
When I first put on the pantskirt, the hem was even. After walking in it, the hem became cock-eyed. One more thing not to like about the garment. :/

After talking with my mom, sister, and niece I realized the pantskirt had not been a complete waste of my time.

In fact, there was a lot that could be learned from sewing a garment that I ended up hating.

Bask in the Joy of New Learning or Improved Skills

Even if the finished garment isn’t something you would wear in public, think carefully about each step of the process you went through to create it.

These steps could include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Pattern selection
  • Fabric selection
  • Gathering all the notions
  • Laying out, marking, and cutting the pattern
  • The skills necessary to construct the garment
  • Fitting the garment
  • Finishing touches

Reflect on all the positive things.

Maybe you tried a new construction technique.

Or you were able to insert a zipper without having to refer to any notes.

It could be it took you less time to wind a bobbin or thread your machine so you actually had more time to sew.

When I went looking for the positive aspects of constructing the pantskirt, I realized there were a lot of things I learned and skills I practiced. Those things include:

  • laying out the pattern so it was lined up accurately with the grainline
  • sewing mitered corners
  • sewing a casing
  • inserting and securing elastic
  • turning a long skinny piece of fabric right-side out to create a drawstring
  • inserting the drawstring through the casing
mitered corners
The top circle marks the mitered corner on the right-side of the garment. The bottom circle shows what a mitered corner looks like from the inside of the garment.
waistband with elastic and drawstring
A: Casing and elastic B: Casing for drawstring C: Drawstring with a finished width of 5/8″.

Make sure you take the time to recognize and bask in the joy of new learning and improved skills. You achieved growth even if you don’t like the finished garment.

You’ll be able to take these successes and apply them in future garments.

Be Specific About Why You Don’t Like the Garment

Chances are the entire garment isn’t horrible. Try to pinpoint exactly what it is that you don’t like. Is it…

  • the fabric color or design
  • the fit
  • the length
  • crooked seams
  • an uneven neckline
  • the list could go on

Before talking with my family, I thought the pantskirt as a whole was terrible. However, I was able to get specific about what I didn’t like. Those details were:

  • the color
  • the fit on my hips
  • the waist was too loose
  • the uneven hem after I walked around
  • the width of the drawstring (it was more of a drawBELT)

It doesn’t really matter what the things are that you don’t like about a garment.

What’s important is you can identify those things and make a plan for the future.

Avoid Making the Same Mistake Again

Once you determine what you don’t like about a particular garment, the goal would be to not repeat the same thing again.

This may be easier said than done.

If the thing you hate is the fabric, whether it was the wrong kind or the color doesn’t look good on you, that’s a mistake that can be easily avoided in the future.

If what bothers you about the garment is skill-related (like a puckered neckline or crooked buttonholes) it will probably take time and practice until you achieve a level of skill where you have construction you are happy with.

The good news is you can practice a particular skill on scraps of fabric. You don’t need to wait until the next garment to try again.

If the issue is the fit of the garment, that could require some research on how to address the fit of handmade garments so they fit your body the way you want it too.

Creating handmade garments does require a level of skill.

When you identify the areas where you struggle, you can create a plan of action for learning and apply new knowledge to future garments.

Get Another Person’s Opinion

Maybe the garment isn’t as horrible as you think. It could be that you’re too close to the project and all you can see are the flaws.

That’s exactly what happened with the pantskirt. Looking at myself at home in the mirror, I was discouraged and deflated.

After talking with my mom and sister, I felt better about the pantskirt even though their opinions did not change my mind about how I felt in the garment.

They were able to see what I couldn’t. Plus, hearing what they had to say helped me figure out what to do when I end up with a garment I hate.

Next Steps

Have you ever been excited about making a piece of clothing only to reel in disappointment when it’s completed?

garment in a trashcan
I actually didn’t throw the pantskirt away. The photo is for dramatic purposes. 🙂 I tightened the elastic so it fits better around my waist. Despite all the things I don’t like about it, it’s comfortable and will be good for hanging out at home or doing yard work.

If this has happened to you, don’t let it dampen your desire to create a handmade wardrobe.

To keep the momentum going on your journey to sewing your own clothes, make sure you do the following:

  • Bask in the joy of new learning or improved skills
  • Be specific about why you don’t like the garment
  • Avoid making the same mistake again
  • Get another person’s opinion

Ending up with a garment you hate is a fantastic opportunity for learning.

Contact Me

I’m committed to learning how to sew my own wardrobe and discovering another way sewing can bring joy to life.

Together we can learn and celebrate as we fill our closets and drawers with garments we love!

If you decide to join me in this adventure, I’d love to see what you’re making. Send photos of what you’ve sewn and any sewing questions to nicki@theruffledpurse.com.

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  1. This is the first blog I ran into that sounds like a real person wrote it instead of a robot I’m very excited about getting your letter. Years ago after I had my first child I took a sewing class so I could make my little girl dresses and I became fairly good at it but now years later…. And being in a wheelchair I’ve decided to take it back up I have a very large sewing room and it is so cluttered and I have forgotten a lot of things I’m happy to think that I found some place where I can find help and not feel so ignorant. I’m positive I’ll be getting in touch with you soon. Thanks so much

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy the newsletter, Pamela. Decluttering your sewing space may feel daunting at times but enjoy the discovery of hidden treasures. As you get things in order, you’ll find as if a weight has been lifted and you can turn your attention to sewing. Don’t hesitate to email me with any questions or just to talk sewing.

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