Failure: Cowl Top


Just yuck. There are a lot of problems here but essentially the problem is that I want to make clothes that make me feel good about myself and this top does not. Is it the pattern? Other cowls have been more flattering so maybe it is that this Sewaholic cowl has a different shape, higher at the neck. Is it the print? Maybe. Is it the clingy knit? Maybe.

I want to nail down whatever it is because I don’t want this mistake to happen again. I think I bought this fabric last summer after I bought two summer prints for easy, light dresses that I was also not happy with. They seemed perfect online, good colors, prints, cotton knits. On sale. But once I had made them into dresses I was unhappy with them. One seemed a little too Holly Hobby and the other looked more like a night gown. I remember thinking the cotton would be so light at the park on those blistering hot days, but it didn’t drape or swish very well.


Looking back now at the green one, I can still see why I liked it. Anyhow, because I felt my decisions were too prairie, I think I make some silly knee-jerk decision on this snow leopard print. I am sure it was on sale. I did wear it, once, just out of rebellion against the idea that this was a total waste of time and money.

. . .but I hated it and made some self-conscious statement to my friend like, “don’t you just hate this shirt?”

The other problem is a matter of record keeping. What did I have in mind when I bought this print? Was it the cowl or something else? Maybe I was going to make a rough draft for the maxi I want to make this summer? Something like that is sounding familiar.

Moving on from this sob story. What have I learned?

First, I un-subscribed from three different email alerts about fabric sales for a few reasons. I have a closet full of RTW (ready to wear / retail) items that I bought because they were on sale not because I was in love with them or because they flattered me. I do not want to repeat this bad practice with fabric at it appears that I was headed down that road. I might have to come back to this new rule after I give it some thought because I also love getting a deal on fabric and the green dress I made for Kirby’s opening night (here) would not have been possible if I had not bought four yards a delicious slinky green knit in 2009 at $2 each.

Second, more in-person and less online shopping. This is a hard one, too. No one reading this needs to hear about how little time I have to browse fabric shops. Plus, fabric shops in the Garment District of NYC have horrible hours and no sales. Prices hover around $15 an yard. Ouch. However–and this is a new realization—expensive fabric sews up much nicer than cheap fabric! Who would have thought? I realized this while working on my olive pants (an UFO (unfinished object)) and my Valentine’s Date outfit. Those two summer dresses I made and then didn’t love? They were also a pain in the a** to make because the grain seemed wonky and the edges curled and any seam ripping resulted in a shredded look. The material from Elliot Berman and A&K Men’s Fabrics was a dream to work with.

Third, and maybe this is really the clue to everything: I am going to buy fabric that speaks to me. This means buying less because I’ll be spending more per yard. This means I might have to put a pattern or project aside if I cannot find the fabric I want (I’m looking at you, sister-of-the-bride dress!) This means I can surf fabric sales with an eye for beautiful fabric, not for a good deal. I need to begin the search with a color (plum) or a print idea (peacock, vines, damask ) instead of beginning with “lowest price first.” This means (hopefully) I’ll start every project thinking, “I love this fabric!”

Until then, I have this riddle to solve.


I bought it at the same time I bought the snow leopard print. But for what? 2 yards: too much for a shirt, too little for a dress. The print? Well, I still like the teal hidden in there, but otherwise, what was I thinking?


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