When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!

Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.

Sound familiar?

Hand dyed yarn by Eleanor Shadow
This hand dyed yarn looks great at first glance, but in reality it’s “muddy” – the colours have somehow blended into each other in a not-so flattering way.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.

The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.

The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?

(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)



Silk cocoons


A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).

I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.

Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.

The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.

The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.

I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.

It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.



Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?

While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!

I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).

One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.

The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!

The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.

The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.

Detail of Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated as sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.

I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.

My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…



That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?


Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.

Enjoy your weekend!

12 thoughts on “When things don’t go as planned, improvise

  1. Your dress actually looks better with the added material – it was lucky you needed to do it!

    The cocoons are Fabulous with a capital ‘F’! And the embellishment on the background is just right.

    Would love to see your overdyed yarn but as you say it does look very pretty in the photo.

    Jane knows how to get a good picture!

    1. Ha, thanks! It’s a quirky addition and I’m very happy with it 😀

      Those cocoons shall haunt me forever (in a good way). How on earth my brain decided to dunk them in hot water is anyone’s guess…

      I’ve overdyed the yarn already, but am planning some other additions to it. I’ll definitely post it on my own website. I’ll let everyone know if the Moderators don’t mind 🙂

      Jane is great at photos and cracking bones, haha!

  2. Nice improvisation Leonor! Good examples of how mishaps can be turned into happy accidents with the application of coffee, a quick curse and a bit of creative thinking. Love the dress!

    1. Thanks, Karen! These were definitely great reminders to me that not all “failed plans” are failures indeed.

      I’m very happy that the brain that sabotaged my work was also the one to suggest the alterations 😀 Not all is lost, haha!

  3. Love the dress, the fix looks like it is supposed to be there. Aren’t moms something else?
    I like what you did with the cocoons. Next time just let them cool, then reshape them and they will be fine when they dry.
    The yarn looks very nice. it is so hard to get fibre to show properly in a picture.
    The lambs are adorable.
    Do let us know when your blog is up and running.

    1. Thanks, Ann! I’m really happy the fabric incident looks purposeful 😀 Yep, mums are curious creatures (although fathers can also take the cake, the first time I showed up with a rusty sort of red hair my father laughed and said I resembled a particular breed of Dutch cow…)

      The cocoons were completely tangled, and some had flattened completely, I’m afraid. The “aggregated mess” you see in the photo is how they were and trust me, I tried to salvage them once cooled. Ah well 🙂

      That yarn is now mid-transformation! Once the blog is up and running I’ll let everyone know (if permitted, hehe)

  4. Great fixes Leonor, as someone said at some point “there are no failures, only solutions”. And yes, mom’s comment made me laugh. That would be something my mom would say too. And please, do share your blog once it is up and going. I’m looking forward to seeing the yarn fix.

    1. No failures, only solutions… and opportunities for growth. It’s a good mindset to have!

      I think your mum and mine must have learned their craft at the same school 😀

      I’ve done the first part of changing the yarn, am now contemplating a Part II. I’ll be overhauling my website starting next week, so once I’ve added the blog I’ll let you know. Thanks for the interest, Ruth!

  5. Your dress is just so cool Leonor. The fabrics were made for each other so fair dues to you. Taking a moment out to rethink, curse and get back to business does the trick (I must try that sometimes – I suspect it beats losing the head totally. Love the wall piece.

    Best of luck with your blog.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: