Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Why are we sewers our own worst critics??"

KMQ: "Debbie I agree with you...your ensemble looks like much so that if you ship it to me I'll wear it and kick the crap out of anybody that says I ain't the sh*@. LOL. I think your outfit looks just perfect. Why are we sewers our own worst critics??"

I promise, I'm not singling you out as a bad thing, KMQ. I got your meaning and giggled. But your last statement had me scratching my head a little.

Was I being my own worst critic? If so, I didn't mean to be. I point out sewing flaws only on this blog, not in real life. Trust me, I'm not one of those people who gets a compliment and then follows it up with a self-deprecating sidenote. I say "Thank you" and smile.

But KMQ's comment made me think I should explain that I point out sewing flaws here so that maybe others can avoid them or learn from them, or even just simply relate. Sewing is solitary and sometimes it's nice to know we're not alone in our joys or our oopsies.

For instance, the pattern matching being a little bit off across the front of the fleece jacket? I can live with it. Really. I promise, it's not going to bug me every time I look at it. I know (as another commenter said) I'll either be in motion when wearing this in real life or it will be unzipped. I know probably no one will even notice anyway, least of all mention it. But do I wish it was a perfect match? Yes, I do. I'm happier when I don't make mistakes. I think that's normal. I admit that I can be a little OCD about fixing mistakes if something is fixable. But if it's not, or I'm out of fabric or time, oh well. Move on, next project. I've also learned that as a finished garment ages, I stop noticing my mistakes and enjoy the creation as a whole.

So, by my pointing out that I forgot to figure in the zipper when matching the print, I was hoping we could all learn something, and by typing it out, that *I* might remember for the next time. My memory works better if I've made a note somewhere, even if I never look at that note again.

That's all.


  1. I so agree with your comments about acknowledging what I would do differently next time....which is totally different than beating myself up. In my younger years I would point out flaws because deep inside I wanted outside validation and reassurance. The nice part about becoming "an adult" is that I can feel competent and contented as well as open to improvement and suggestions. Those are skills I've always admired in your reviews and tutorials, Debbie.

  2. Right on! I was so glad to read your post.

  3. When people who know I sew ask "Did you make that?", I immediately pounce on the person and say "How could you tell?". Most of the time, they don't know enough about sewing to critique my top-stitching or set in sleeves. I really am way too critical about my own sewing. I'm going to take your lead and enjoy my creations more.

  4. You wanna see OCD? How about the time my dearly beloved tried to replace a 14" piece of trim, and used an entire 8 foot stick to cut one "just right"? I hear you on knowing our flaws and trying to remember not to do it again. And I know you'll enjoy the fleece jacket in South Carolina in November. (And since Pembleton's close to the shore, you just might want a warmer coat, too).

  5. Since it's a rhetorical question, here's my 2 cents (or 3 or 4). I can think of at least reasons.

    First, we sewers are up close and personal with the project while sewing it. Our eyes examine it closely while cutting, we watch it go through the machine, we look at it closely while pressing. Sometimes we forget that most people are looking at the project on a living, breathing person from several feet away. In that sense, it's all perspective.

    I could also get on my feminist soapbox a little and talk about how women are trained not to be too prideful about our accomplishments. Better to mention some flaw than appear boastful.

    I appreciate your perspective on it and appreciate that you're providing an educational service.

  6. How you respond to a compliment is a cultural thing, it has very little to do with how you feel about either yourself or the thing being complimented. The American 'thank you' response is hard for foreigners to learn, and it's also one of the things that makes Americans look like arrogant jerks to the rest of the world. So use it with caution, or at least awareness.

    I agree with you completely that a sewing blog is not someplace where you want to pretend to be perfect. How are you supposed to improve if you don't learn from your mistakes? Sometimes you do something stupid, where you already know better, it's good to remind yourself and everyone that paying attention is important. Sometimes you're truly stumped, and then some good souls will leave suggestions in the comments. In any case a sewing blog which was an uninterrupted catalog of triumphs would be totally boring to anyone but the author.

  7. Debbie I don't feel singled out because I too do the same thing. I think we are so critical of our own stuff because we know that we are capable of making a nearly perfect garment but get down on ourselves when we make a less than perfect. I also agree with Elaray. I don't want my garment to look "homemade" it's just that people get so used to use making everything that they're just curious. I'm glad you weren't offended by my comment...I have a sick sense of humor!

  8. I do the same thing, but I've found that if I just sit on it a little while and wear it anyway, I forget all about the little flaws. Even things I thought were "HUGE" at first. And...yeah. No one will ever notice but us anyway!

  9. "why are we...our own worst critics?"

    maybe: when we do something that matters to us; we expect perfection. (rightly or wrongly)

    i like reading Cook's Illustrated, because they talk about their trials and mistakes in getting to a "perfect" recipe.

    same reasons i like reading sewing blogs.

    Perfection comes from MAKING mistakes and listening to others who are willing to tell you what to look out for (as you make your own).

    I'm used to imperfect, after 60 yrs, i expect to make mistakes. it's allowed me to live a happier life.


  10. You are right about sewing being solitary. When I meet another sewer I start babbling about the little difficulties I encountered in the project - because who else is going to sympathize except another home sewer? I think we sewers discuss the flaws not so much because we are down on ourselves, but because we really want to connect with each other past the solitariness of the pursuit.
    That said, I along with Elaray start to silently freak when someone asks "Did you make that?" I start to wonder if they are asking because something is glaringly off.

  11. I totally cosign this post :)

  12. Of course, we criticize our own work. That's called "learning from our mistakes". You and other bloggers who share mistakes are increasing that learning curve. Like you, those critiques remain with myself and my blog. I continue to feel a bit of pain when asked if I made that. At the same time, my friends know about my sewing passion. I have to remember the question usually is not a criticism of sewing ability. I just go look at my few RTW. I see lots of mistakes that would drive me crazier!

  13. We need to be self critical if we want to learn from our mistakes. But, as you say we should only air it to our sewing friends. The general public won't notice so why tell them?

  14. Thanks for the info re the zipper front,Debbie. As soon as I read your explanation, I mentally filed it for future reference,as I can wear fleece where I live.
    If you hadn't shared that, I would be none the wiser, and then made the same miscalculation.Sharing our awkward moments helps everyone.
    Aless(in Adelaide,Australia)

  15. I read blogs in order to mentally follow someone's journey from idea to completed project. Like any epic journey, it's filled with challenges, crisis, and chaos. So I expect to see "battle scars" and "band aids". I also appreciate reading about someone's mistakes as many times I sew merrily along without even realizing I am in the danger zone of making a mistake, such as you outlined in the post previously. Thanks!!


Thank you for each and every comment. I appreciate them all, but I have to be honest and let you know that I'm usually bad about answering questions. I hope you understand that there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.

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