Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about sewing as a well-being activity. Enhanced well-being isn’t usually why someone starts sewing, but it is an amazing by-product of the activity. Sitting down to sew for a few minutes on my most hectic days can wipe away all the stress. I see it in classes, too. As students gain confidence and simply focus on the task at hand, calm settles over the workstations.
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I STRUGGLED WITH PERFECTIONISM IN MY PROJECTS. I WOULD OBSESS OVER LITTLE IMPERFECTIONS AND SPEND TOO MUCH TIME RIPPING OUT STITCHES. I REMEMBER FANTASTIC PROJECTS I DIDN’T ENJOY BECAUSE OF BARELY VISIBLE SLIP-UPS. NOW I LIKE TO SAY THAT I AM A RECOVERED PERFECTIONIST. I STILL GET A THRILL FROM A PERFECTLY STITCHED PROJECT, BUT IMPERFECTIONS DON’T GET ME DOWN.
Teaching children to sew is the perfect antidote for curing perfectionism. Children love the experience of sewing. Their idea of a straight line often differs from my definition of a straight line! However, kiddos are just happy to be sewing. They love their final projects, imperfections and all.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR EMBRACING IMPERFECTION IN YOUR SEWING:
Give yourself permission to be bad at something. When I’m learning a new technique, I know the first couple of tries will be wonky! But each iteration looks better than the last. And remember, you are learning a skill that most people in the world have no clue how to do!
If you can’t see it from across the room, then it’s not a mistake. When sewing, we are up close and personal with every stitch. We often dwell on tiny stitches that most people will never notice.
Remember that done is better than perfect. Do you really need to rip out that seam? Or can you let it go so you can finish and wear your new garment? We want to wear those handmade clothes, not spend all our time ripping out seams!
Focus on the process instead of the finished product. My best friend is a product stitcher. The payoff doesn’t come for her until she has finished the project. I tend to be a process stitcher. What I am most excited about is focusing on my craft! Then, it doesn’t become so dire when I need to spend a few minutes correcting a mistake
Don’t point out your mistakes to others. When someone says they like what you’ve made, just say, “Thanks, I made it!” Resist the urge to point out every flaw. No one will ever know if you don’t point it out. And if someone does notice something amiss, then you just smile and say it was a design choice!
- Remind yourself: this is how we learn. There’s that saying, “Stop scrolling and make something.” You can’t learn to sew by scrolling social media, reading a book, or watching a video. You may absorb the factual information, but learning how to sew is a tactile experience. You have to learn how to hold the fabric to produce the desired results while also operating the machine…it’s a lot. You will mess up, and when you do, you’ll learn how not to do something.
Above are some pictures of my son wearing a button-down shirt I made for him when he was little. When I finished sewing, I had him try it on, and I was immediately deflated. While the shirt was beautifully constructed, my little guy has a very long torso, and this new shirt was definitely too short. I stewed on it for a couple of days. I decided that I could try to fix it, or it would go in a drawer and never be worn. Finally, I took the scissors, cut off the bottom, and fixed the shirt by adding a strip of fabric for length. Look how happy he is in his shirt at the top of the post! He doesn’t care that it wasn’t “perfect.” This shirt remains one of my favorite makes, and the alteration became a really interesting detail!
Do you struggle from perfectionism in your craft? What are some of the things you do to overcome that feeling?