Terrible Tuesday: the sunflower dress {sewing disaster}

I was looking at old photos this week and look what I found… eek! That’s me at 17 (graduation photo) in a dress that I made myself. Was it obvious or what? I don’t think many other gals my age were walking around covered in sunflowers in 1993. What made me pick that fabric? It’s really cute and all, but to wear? 

{Note: I don’t mean to put myself down. I know that’s unhealthy. But I do think it’s healthy and fun to look back and laugh at silly things we did in the past. And to be happy with how far our skills have come!}

I obviously hadn’t mastered the skill of matching the right fabric to a pattern. I don’t claim to always get it right now, but I do think I have gotten better. I remember (yes, I can remember 20+ years back) that I found that sunflower fabric in the quilting section because there were other coordinating prints nearby. And now I have learned that most women’s apparel patterns aren’t especially suited to quilting fabric because it just doesn’t drape right. {Thank goodness most of my favorite quilt fabric companies are now printing on beautiful lawn, voile, and knit fabrics  too!}

Just one more so we can all cringe together… the bangs! the perm! the wrinkle free chubby cheeks! Which are worse, my chubby cheeks back then or my crows feet around the eyes now?

But I do have to point out one thing that hasn’t changed: I love to wear my own ‘makes’! I remember planning that sunflower outfit carefully, deliberately choosing to wear something that I made.

And it’s still true this year… in our last family photo I deliberately picked out a dress sewn by me:

I love this dress that I sewed from soft knit fabric. But alas, it had it’s own construction mishaps that I might have to share in another ‘Terrible Tuesday’ post.

So let’s have an unannounced linky party… do you have a ‘terrible’ sewing picture to share? Whether by fabric choice, trying something beyond our current skill set, or simply equipment failure (blame it on the sewing machine), I’m sure we’ve all experienced more sewing disasters than we will admit. 

So dig out those pictures and share!


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  1. Your pictures are so cute, and this is such a great idea for a linky party. If I made clothes, I am sure I would have a pile of pictures full of sewing disasters and bad choices. I will have to do some searching for a quilt disaster. I know I must have them.

  2. Sheila Perl says:

    You were absolutely adorable with your bangs, curls and sunflower dress!! 😀
    I don’t have a picture of one of my disasters but one of them was a pair of pants that I cut out and sewed together with no pattern and no experience on the sewing machine, I couldn’t figure out how to install the zipper so I sewed it by hand! Luckily, my shirt covered that mess!! I did wear them several times, somehow they fit nicely. LOL!

  3. Lilacflower says:

    Maybe I’m out of vogue but I really do like that sunflower fabric you used for your dress! You were beautiful then and now!

  4. Ophelia Chang says:

    These are beautiful photos of you. We can all see it, why can’t you? Why are we so generous to everyone but ourselves? Your sunflowers were uniquely you back then, and even if most adolescents don’t take the time to appreciate one another, the retrospectoscope should be kinder.

  5. amy mayen says:

    I think I remember sunflowers in 93…it’s hard to remember! I have a blog full of epic disasters. I linked a post full of Christmas fails…I just couldn’t sew anything right. I’ve sworn off holiday prints to this day. Love this post and the sunflower dress share! Can’t wait to see what gets linked up.

  6. I’ve been sewing since I could thread a needle, so since about 7 or 8. My mom taught me how to sew on a machine when i was 9 or 10. In 8th grade I took home ec. I had been sewing some of my own clothes. The teacher had us measure ourselves and customize our patterns to those measurements. I told her if I did that the skirt wouldn’t fit me. She asked how I knew that. I told her I had made that pattern before. I still had to make the skirt how she told us to. Needless to say the skirt didn’t fit at all. I couldn’t even get it over my thighs. Lol The teacher tried to fail me. Until I said that I had done everything the way she wanted it. I think I threw the skirt away afterwards.

  7. When i was in 7th grade, i made a horrible jumper out of light blue calico fabric. It smelled like burning oatmeal when i ironed it. We had to wear our project to school to get a grade. I wore a HUGE pink glittery sweater over it all day.

  8. Michelle White says:

    I love this! I think you totally pulled off sunflowers well.
    AND you also had some talent to even sew your own clothes.
    In the 80’s I got a wild hair in Junior high to sew something for myself (and I hadn’t sewn anything previously). I bought the fabric (teal cotton) and proceeded to hack it up into jagged pieces. Ooops. No idea how to read patterns. I never did make that jumpsuit.
    Maybe that is a good thing. LOL

  9. Michelle White says:

    I love this! I think you totally pulled off sunflowers well.
    AND you also had some talent to even sew your own clothes.
    In the 80’s I got a wild hair in Junior high to sew something for myself (and I hadn’t sewn anything previously). I bought the fabric (teal cotton) and proceeded to hack it up into jagged pieces. Ooops. No idea how to read patterns. I never did make that jumpsuit.
    Maybe that is a good thing. LOL

  10. Rachel Provencher says:

    I think the jumper is adorable, especially for ’93. Don’t be so hard on yourself! I took sewing lessons from a professional with extra help from my mom when I was 12. We all had to make an A-line skirt, but in our choice of color in cotton. Mine was purple (can you imagine?) AND it had a zipper! Talk about a disaster! Of course I never wore it! However, those lessons gave me the foundation to start sewing again when my first child was born (I have 3), and it continues today with 5 grandchildren. I also started quilting in 1982 and still do today. I’ll be 70 this year and I pray daily that I never lose my eyesight, because I cannot imagine my life without sewing!

  11. Sandra Cogbill says:

    I don’t have a picture, thank God, but my first major sewing project in Home Ec was to make an skirt & vest out of flannel. My mother didn’t sew and the teacher didn’t explain the difference between cotton flannel and trouser or suiting flannel and I made a skirt and vest out of blue plaid shirting flannel. Horrible choice that I can laugh about now. After 50+ years can still remember that disaster. Gave up garment sewing in favor of quilting several years ago.

  12. I totally had a sunflower dress in the early 90’s! You were definitely not alone! 🙂

  13. I seriously used that exact fabric to make a dress for my daughter in 1993.

  14. Sandy Stephens says:

    I still have some of that fabric!! I have made several purses out of it too!! Man, it still looks good though 😉

  15. You are 10 years younger than my younger sister but I distinctly remember when she went to the graduation dinner for high school – it wasn’t prom because it was a very small private school and the graduation dinner accommodated everyone. HOWEVER, she wore a very 17 year old’ish dress as opposed to the mature dresses the other girls wore… Her pink dress was very pretty – appropriate – and in fact the other girls took one look at my sister and said "I feel so foolish in THIS". I am so glad you have sweet memories of the background story of this picture.

  16. I recall wearing a sunflower printed dress when I was 17 too. It was an off-cast of my mum’s…should have given me a clue, but the fabric was just so pretty. I also cringe at the thought of having worn it, these days. <sigh> Fortunately we grow… 🙂

  17. So cute! My mom sewed me a couple of similar dresses back in the 90’s out of florals with the scoop neck. I also have pics of me with nature shots. The 90’s were not the best fashion decade…wonder if those styles will ever come back "in." Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  18. This is the first time I’ve looked at the fails, but thanks for posting them. When I started 20+ years ago I barely knew how to thread my machine, let alone what all of those weird sewing words meant lol. Now I do costuming, quilting, and various other crafts. These make me feel SO much better about my past (and current) sewing fails!

  19. Doogers_wife says:

    So, I DO Have a picture of myself at 13 (I think) where I was wearing a sunflower covered vest (however I did not make it). That would have been 1993 (if I was 13). I am NOT about to dig it out and show you (mostly because I am in the middle of moving and we close on our first house tomorrow), But I do remember seeing it and hearing the "thud" on the forehead as in the "coulda had a V-8" commercials! HA! It was definitely an early 1990’s thing. You’re not alone. It was a fad. It’s only our fault for "following it". 😉

  20. Laura Valane says:

    I was browsing your tutorials (which I LOVE, because you even add when to change the presser foot and things like that, which is GREAT for me because I am just learning to sew) and I ran across this! I recognised the fabric the moment I saw it because my aunt made a sun dress for me with the EXACT same fabric!!! I was 14 at the time. I am pretty sure my mom still has the dress, and I definitely have pictures… somewhere… 🙂 Thank you for sharing! You did a great job! I remember I also had to wear an undershirt under my dress, too 😉

  21. I think you look great in that picture. Happy in the full frame and contemplative in the close up. Why so hard on yourself? Plus, that’s a cute dress and what a neat thing that you felt confident in your sewing to wear something you’d made?

  22. (Un)Fortunately I don’t have a picture of the skirt I made in Home Ec. It was a long skirt in light blue chambray with a cushion-sized patch of red calico on the butt! The colors were almost a match to the choices on the pattern. What was I thinking!?!?

  23. Jane Sprague says:

    Caroline, you were beautiful then, and you’re beautiful now, both inside and out!

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