The first time I tried learning to sew was in school. You know when everything has to be perfect and if it isn’t you had to seam rip it a million times until it was just so. Needless to say, that is not exactly my style of learning to sew. I know it was meant with good intentions to get us to learn to sew the right way. With that being said, I feel like we all learn a little bit differently. Both times I tried to learn to sew and was pushed toward making it perfect, I gave up. I personally learn better by trial and error. I needed to learn by leaving that messed up seam to realize later, in fact it doesn’t lay nicely and I actually don’t like it. Or on the flip hand, maybe I didn’t do something perfect, left it, and realized I really didn’t care. Like that lining that is slightly messed up inside a dress. Sure I will work harder next time, but for my personal use, I don’t really care that it isn’t perfect as it doesn’t effect the outside appearance.
Yes I learn by experience vs someone telling me how it should be. I actually kind of rebel against being told how something should be done. I feel like there is many different ways things can be done. I also feel like each of us experiences life a little differently. We each have our own idea of perfection. Even though perfection is not a real thing, I think we have our own view of good enough. When I started teaching myself to sew I began forming my own view of good enough. I found out when I began to sew, good enough was the simple act of completing a project all by myself. To actually complete it, imperfections and all instead of throwing it aside because it wasn’t perfect enough. Yes, some completed projects never got worn/used, they were way too messed up, but some on the other hand did have imperfections, but I was pretty stinking proud of the fact I sewed it and it was good enough.
As I sewed more and more, I learned more and more. I made mistakes and learned from them. I finished a project only to decided to improve on the next one next time. This one didn’t turn out as I was hoping, but it was good enough for this time. I gave myself the grace to improve on projects instead of beating myself up over the fact that they weren’t perfect. By all means, when we are learning anything, we will never be perfect right off the bat. No learning a skill takes lots of practice and patience. My patience was worn thin when I had to do it just right the first time.
Now that I am past the learning to sew phase, don’t get me wrong I am still learning things every single day but I am past the beginner phase, I have to remind myself still perfection is not a real thing. I think it is easy to get wrapped up in being a perfect seamstress. I feel like there is this idea that if I sew it, it has to be perfect. That somehow I am competing with ready to wear garments. Let me share a secret with you. Ready made garments are far from perfect. Just take a look at one. First of all half the time they aren’t even cut on grain. For example, many of my ready to wear cami’s twist at the seams, and don’t lay flat because they were cut off grain to squeeze as many camp’s on the fabric as possible. Another common thing with ready to wear is seams ripping out. I have repaired a few seams for a friend, and as I was looking at the seams, I could totally see why they ripped out. It was sewn poorly and didn’t quite catch the entire seam allowance the whole way through. Setting aside the actual construction issues with ready made garments, they also don’t fit everyone nearly as nicely as handmade. With handmade you can easily grade between sizes to achieve the perfect fit. Ready made you are at the mercy of the size.
I am not sure why we place so much stress on perfection on ourselves. Progress? Absolutly. It is in no way wrong to strive to be the best seamstress you can be. I continue improving my skills and learning. Progress is a whole different ball game. Perfection is progresses fate. It stifles out the desire to continue to try because we all too soon realize we can’t achieve it. That is why when we decide to learn to sew we absolutely cannot strive for perfection, ever. Even now I have to remind myself I can’t strive for perfection, only progress. As I learn I will become better and better. If I never allow room for mistakes, I will slowly lose desire and give up because I believe I will never be good enough so why try.
So my sewing friend, I want to share with you a few thoughts to remember when you are sewing toward progress over perfection.
Remember nothing in life is perfect: When you are sewing, remind yourself of the imperfections in ready made garments. If you finish a garment and it is not perfect, remind yourself it is ok. We are our own worst critics. No one is going to notice if your line of stitching is slightly crooked. Give yourself some grace, move on!
Fix the things that need fixed with grace: Know that it is ok if there is a a pucker where you don’t want it, or something is crooked. By all means fix them if they are hugely noticiable, but as you are fixing them, remember it’s ok to make mistakes. You are learning and next time you will have a much better understanding on how to avoid the mistake. Don’t be annoyed that you made the mistake and believe you will never be good at it.
Realize it is a process: I think it is safe to say that no one starts out sewing doing it with major ease and no mistakes. We need to realize that it takes practice and mistakes along the way to become good. The professional seamstress? They made mistakes and learned. We don’t go from no knowledge at all on sewing to an overnight success in one project. No it takes many projects to become really good at it.
Find your good enough: If you are just learning to sew, your “good enough” may be just completing a project. That is totally awesome and you did great! On the other hand for a more advanced seamstress their “good enough” may be unpicking the seam a few times until it is exactly like they want it. That is totally awesome too! It just all depends on your skill level. As long as we are progressing, our “good enough’s” will look much different. Always remember, everyone started in the same place, with absolutely no clue what they were doing.
So my friend, please, please, don’t let perfecting keep you from sewing. There is imperfection all over, but it can be beautiful. And even when something looks like it was perfectly sewn, know that if there were no mistakes made in that garment, the seamstress made many mistakes getting to that point ;).
I want to hear your thoughts on perfection and sewing! What keeps you moving forward, progressing your sewing skills? Comment below and lets encourage each other toward progress over perfection!