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Thursday, 21 July 2016

"It's got to be perfect...Now I'm determined, I'm gonna get it right" *

I unpicked a seam for the fourth time in order to stitch it again.  Despite this I still did not get the perfection for which I was striving, I think, partly, because so much handling and resewing had distorted the fabric a bit, so I settled for that fourth attempt at sewing the seam  I know it isn't exactly  right but will anyone else notice when I am wearing the garment unless I draw attention to it?
Recently I admired a sewer's polka-dotted skirt and immediately she pointed out where the pattern did not match completely.  A couple of days later another sewer, when I commented on how great her dress looked, replied that the belt ought to be a bit lower.  I know, when in the same situation,  I  hasten to point faults out with my sewing.  Do you do this also?  I would bet that many of you do.  Do you point out slip-ups only to other sewers or does it extend to whoever makes a comment on your garment?   If we were complimented on a ready-to-wear garment would we behave in the same way?
Why do we do it?  Is it due to a form of "impostor syndrome", the frame of mind where one feels that one does not deserve to be praised. Does a confession of a fault help expiate the perceived "sin" of not being "perfect"?  Has the proliferation of helpful bloggers and pattern reviews, writing about problems that arose in their sewing and fitting of a garment, made us feel that we need to point out our own complications and mishaps?
If I look at all the me-made garments that I have now (and some of these can be categorised as vintage! due to the length of time since I made them) only two seem to me to be without mishaps of sewing or fit- the zip perfectly inserted, the buttonholes exactly matching and evenly spaced, the pattern matching, the hem stitching invisible, the inside neatly finished, the collar points sharp and no bodging or tweaking.  Unfortunately they are not my favourite garments, they are very boring, and they are not the ones that get compliments.  Usually the favourable remarks arise due, not to the perfection of their construction, but to a striking fabric or unusual detail (sometimes this later has been created by me to cover up a sewing deficency- there you are, the urge to confess surfaces).
Etiquette says that you should accept a compliment gracefully.  Telling someone that the dress they have just admired is faulty is tantamount to casting aspersions on their judgement.  So, in future, if a non-sewer  gives me a bit of praise I shall try just to smile and respond with something nice about them.  However if it is a sewer and they ask me what the pattern was like to sew I shall probably regale them with stories of what hell the fabric was to stitch without puckering, how I misread the instructions twice and how I sewed the left sleeve to the right side of the bodice.  What about you?  How do you react  when someone congratulates you on something you have made?  What do people most remark upon?  I'd love to hear.
* Taken from the lyrics of the song "Perfect" by Mark Nevin


  1. Thank you for sharing Barbara.

    And yes, I do the same but I learning to say, "thank you" more often.

    It's not unique to sewing either. When I previously organised some events, including branding, brochures, and gifts, I was nominated for recognition awards. My response, it's a lovely surprise but the events are something I organise regularly, so awards aren't necessary.

  2. Spot on Barbara! As soon as you point out those little errors the other person's eye is drawn to the errors, and will find more! My husband and family are all sworn to secrecy. They are not allowed to tell anyone if I am wearing something I've made. As a result, usually what I'm wearing raises no comment at all which is just how I like it. I sew one of my own labels inside if I'm very proud of it, but don't if it's a botch-up!

  3. Yes - I do think that I point out mishaps to other sewers, but I do think that it is partly due to recognising where I would have liked things to be better or something to remember for next time. That said sometimes I look at my shop bought items and notice things that I wouldn't be happy with if I had sewn it myself!

  4. Barbara, this blog post is perfect! I completely recognise myself in this 'urge to confess' and no, it's not restricted to sewing. I do this a lot so even a colleague at work told me off for it. It is sinking in that I need to overcome this. I really had to laugh a full-throated belly laugh when you talked about all the sewing issues you could come out with towards a sewer! So funny and so very, very true! I could do this till the cows come home too.

    You make a wonderful point: when we downplay our accomplishments we also cast aspersions on the other person's compliment. Yes, their judgment. I had never considered that before in this light.
    I have a feeling that I will now take a very long breath and consciously swallow down what I was going to say before thanking someone... I might add that I enjoyed sewing it, or felt lucky in finding the fabric - something positive!

    Thank you so much for this post. Much needed.

  5. For me it's a Chinese thing to play down a compliment, like "it's an old thing" when someone pays a compliment. However many years ago, my friend scolded me about how it is an aspersion on their judgement like you said and I have now learnt to shut up and say thank you :)


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