sewing mistakes


DIY, fashion, process, sewing, styleMartha PorterComment
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Have you ever made something, and run into problems as you went, but perservered? Have you ever sewn a dress that you love so much, you forget the inside is a complete disaster? What am I getting at? I sewed this dress over a decade ago, and have worn it consistently since. Before I added the patches (a bunch of them are my own designs!), and since, when I wear this dress, I get so many compliments. But there’s a surprise: the inside is a mess.

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Vogue 8280 is now out of print. It was released in either 2007 or 2008 to mimic the sensational Galaxy Dress by Roland Mauret. I was living in New York at the time and working in fashion. I often sewed clothes for work, or fixed up busted vintage pieces, or got mutilated samples out of the free bin at the DvF office and fixed them up. I was resourceful when it came to getting new clothes.

For some reason I was home at my parent’s farm for a week or so. My mom drove me to Joann’s, where I fell in love with this pattern. I remember she bought it for me full price (!!!), along with the fabric and zipper. What a treat! She was not pleased that I skipped lining fabric. I have no idea what guided me to select this stretch denim, but it was a choice that has withstood the test of time.

*I originally made the dress in plain denim. Years later, I was a little bored of the dress and wasn’t wearing it as often, so I added the patches and boom! it was back in regular wardrobe circulation.


I sewed this on my childhood White sewing machine, which was kicking around the basement until I brought it home to Brooklyn last Christmas. I had been sewing clothes for well over a decade when I made this dress, and was pretty fresh out of RISD, where I had taken pattern drafting classes. I remember making a few careful pattern adjustments, like grading out at the hips, and lengthening the bodice. I skipped making a muslin, but should have been smooth sailing…..


Look at those darts. This photo is of where the bodice meets the skirt, and the darts are 1. not even close to being lined up and 2. not symettrical. WHOOPS. It’s been a while, so I cannot offer an explanation about how this happened, though I can tell you that I am not particularily precious about anything I make (because I make so many things all the time, probably), and art school taught me to soldier on in the face of a deadline, and to stomp my own perfectionism for the sake of finishing a project.


Next, we have the inside of the dress at center back. The zipper is hand pick stitched in, because there is no greater torture than installing a zipper with my White machine. There are a few funny things happening here. Did I line the dress, or install the zipper first?? At what point did the self lining just not line up, and I decided, screw it, I’m just stitching this shit down?

The truth is: I have been wearing this dress for over 10 years, sometimes with great frequency, and I did not know the dress was this sloppily made until I went to take these photos.


I worked at Tibi for about 5 years, and they have a fully staffed pattern making and sewing room. I wore this dress to that job all the time, and never once did someone mention my sewing (and I know they would have, because they did on other pieces!). If you wear something with comfort and confidence, no one will suspect it’s a mess on the inside. (It helps that this dress does fit me, it just has some interior construction issues.)

I’m not encouraging you to make the inside of your garment messy - I strive for a professional finish with every garment I sew - but sometimes it happens. I just want to give you permission to love and wear that garment anyway. It might become a favorite! XO, Martha