Something I’m trying to improve is not beating myself up when a sewing project fails. Rather than threatening to throw my machine out the window and burn all my fabric in a backyard bonfire, I’m moving towards a stage where I have a bit of a swear, walk away and then see “failure” for what it is, just part of the learning process.
I’m looking at you Drape Drape top 2012. When I eventually worked out how to get it on it looked like an enormous pair of y-fronts.
See? Look at these learning stages from 2009. One of these things is not like the other. Two of these things are kind of the same.
I was doing my usual “oh why do I bother? I’ll just head down to the bloody high street like a sane person and be done with this shit!” rant a few months ago and, after I’d calmed down enough to be reasonable, Emil told me “You’re just learning. You’ve just learnt something new through messing something up”.
This is something I tell my students on a regular basis. At this point in the year pretty much ALL I seem to be doing at work is marking essay drafts. When I hand back their drafts full of corrections in green (never red) ink, the students look disappointed that their first draft wasn’t perfect. They then go on to focus on all the negative points and completely ignore anything positive they’ve produced. About a year ago, I took to highlighting the good parts, with a yellow highlighter. My usual line is “see all this stuff in yellow? It’s good. Use it again and again in any essay you can apply it to”
I guess the colours in my marking scheme are like a banana. Yellow = good. Green = not ready yet.
That’s something else I need to remind myself. Yet. “I can’t do that” should really be “I can’t do that yet”. Let’s not get carried away with this, it probably doesn’t apply to everything. After all, we don’t keep leaping off the shed roof thinking we’ll eventually work out how to fly much past the first few attempts. Sometimes you have to tell yourself “I don’t know if I definitely can’t do that yet”.
And sometimes you need to say “Aw, fuck this”. And walk away. But that’s OK because it gives you an opportunity to try out some creative swearing. So you still get to learn some new combinations of profanities. Like when I made this obscenely difficult and low-cut Drape Drape all-in-one.
I’m embracing the learning process. In fact, I’m finding that messing up means I have to be more creative in the ways I salvage fabric from things that don’t go to plan. And that’s when I’m happiest, I like the challenge. I like the satisfaction, and the surprise, that comes with pulling off a success when it started as a fail.
I also just want to be honest about what I do. My blog isn’t slick and full of perfect seams and aligned stripes and I’m fine with that. I’d like to be better, sure, but I’m not competing with or comparing myself to anyone. The online sewing community is really, really very supportive when it comes to this. It’s one of the few spaces where people are genuinely co-operating selflessly and I’m grateful for that and all the people I’ve met via twitter, and the sewcialists.
This post was partly inspired by this excellent comic by Stephen McCraine and partly inspired by an excellent, honest human being and friend Sandra who passed away a few weeks ago. Life’s too short to pretend to be perfect.