Two Sewing “Oops” Projects, Rescued!

I’m sewing more of my clothes these days, and even with a lot of background in that art I still occasionally make some dumb mistake that threatens to ruin the garment.  Here are two examples – both the oops and the save.  Enjoy!

I had started a sewing reboot a few years ago, which included cutting out a large number of projects all at once.  Then I got involved with representing the Cabi line of clothing and felt I should be wearing what I was selling.  So those pre-cut projects sat for a few years.  And in those few years I gained a few pounds.  So when I sat down recntly to sew up this navy ponte knit sheath dress – Butterick #5559 – it was cut a full size too small for my 2020 body. Oops.

I sewed all the diagonal tucks – gorgeous!  But even sewing just the minimum 1/4″ side seams wasn’t enough to make the dress fit.  Amazingly I found the scraps tucked away in my fabric cabinet – enough to cut 2″ strips to insert into each side seam.  The strips tapered down to almost nothing at the underarm point so the armhole size stayed constant and I could set in the sleeve successfully.

Bravo!  Now the dress fit. But it was WAY to short for my age and my knees.  BUT – there was enough leftover fabric to add a band to the bottom edge, equal in width to the side-seam inserts.  That actually made the entire re-design look intentional and rescue the project.  A sewing friend even suggested that I do it again with contrast-color bands for a color blocked effect.  Hmmm…

Oops #2 was a different kind of cutting error.  I made this lovely drape-front sheath – the pencil skirt version – in a soft ponte knit from my stash (not the one we sell, but a lighter, softer, stretchier one).

Seams were just straight stitched for a quick fitting.  Then I serged all the vertical seams, letting the machine’s blade trim away the extra seam allowance width.

Unfortunately I had a friend visiting at the time and was secretly showing off how fast I could sew by running my serger full speed ahead.  At the curve of the pricess seam, some of the underlayer fabric got pushed up under the presser foot and right into the cutting blade!  Fortunately I felt something amiss and stopped pretty quickly.  But when I ripped out the errant stitches there was still a significant gash in the back of my new dress.

Not willing to give up, I patched the gash from the wrong side with a strip of fusible tape and then used a multi-step zigzag from the right side to secure the cut edges back together in the most inconspicuous way I could manage.

I wore the dress to services that night and got lots of compliments from people who wouldn’t normally notice a woman’s clothes.  And not one of them asked about the repair on the back of the dress — so I guess it worked.  And I learned to park my ego at the door of my sewing room, right?

I’d love to hear about sewing disasters you’ve recovered, and how precisely you did it.   Meanwhile you car read more details about the navy dress and the red dress on Pattern Review.


About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Joyce on March 10, 2020 at 6:54 am

    Your dresses look spectacular on you, Nancy! Great job!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 15, 2020 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks Joyce – I’m really ejoying it despite the challenges.

  2. Margo on March 10, 2020 at 7:07 am

    When I was about 13 my mother hemmed two suits for me for the spring season. One was a black and white glenn plaid. My mom accidentally cut the skirt on the hemline instead of leaving two inches for the hem. It made the skirt shorter but really stylish (1965) I loved it! I wore that suit until it wore out. It was the best mistake my mother ever made!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 10, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      We must be about the same vintage MArgo. I also remember when girls word suits and battled ourmothers about skirt lengths. “Throwback Thursday” comes on Tuesday this week.

  3. Suzanne on March 10, 2020 at 7:17 am

    Thanks so much for sharing these! I, too, found my skirt too short for my knees and banded my hem and I really like the effect. I recently restarted sewing after many years hiatus. I also purchased a serger for the first time and am in love! What a wonderful way to finish seams. I also use it on the cut fabric ends of new fabric purchase before preshrinking. I am truly enjoying dressmaking again!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 10, 2020 at 5:04 pm

      You are part of a big trend, Suzanne. I hear from loads of women that they are coming back to sewing and having a ball with it. Hope we can meet up in peron at one of the many sewing conferences around the country. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, check out You can search for any pattern you’re thinking of making and find out how people who have already used it rate it. And you can see their picures of it on their real bodies too!

  4. Gayle on March 10, 2020 at 7:32 am

    That navy ponte is spectacular! What pattern did you use for that Nancy?

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 10, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      Butterick 5559. I’ve added that info to the post now. Not sure it is still in the catalog, but you can usually find even discontinued patterns online.

  5. Sherry on March 10, 2020 at 9:36 am

    Nancy Nix Rice,
    Beautiful garments and creative saves — great job !

    • Mary Longren on March 10, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Really good saves on both. Very flattering patterns and fabric.

      • Nancy Nix Rice on March 10, 2020 at 4:56 pm

        Ponte knit seath dresses are one of my favorite wardrobe formulas. Take a look at this post for more on that topic:

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 10, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks – I’m really enjoying sewing more – especially as ready to wear bcomes less and less classic and more trendy-driven. Interestingly even some of my friends and clients who have never sewn before are signing up for classes for that same reason.

  6. Lisa Cothron on March 10, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    The mending almost looks like an intentional embroidery design, or signature.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 10, 2020 at 4:18 pm

      I’ll try to think of it that way – LOL!

  7. Linda Albert Young on March 13, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Brilliant rescues, Nancy!

  8. Janee Connor on March 15, 2020 at 11:48 am

    I was working with a student the other day, who did exactly what you did with the serger – cut a V-shaped slit in the curved seam joining the printed denim back yoke to solid denim back, on her color-blocked moto long vest. We repaired it exactly as you did, and the triple stitch zigzag blended in totally inconspicuously. She remained pretty calm, a feat in and of itself, and it helped that I had a story to share of having done the same on a bridesmaid’s gown I was making a few years ago. I was grateful that I’d had the experience and knew what would work for her!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 15, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      It’s always tough not to over-react to a mistake like that. She was lucky to have you to coach her through it. And I’ve enjoyed having other seamstresses and instructors share their experiences with the very same goof too. Thanks, all!

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