Recently I was asked by the fabulous ladies of Simple Simon & Co. one simple question. What do you wish you had known when you started sewing? I thought about this for a while, because really we learn so many things along the way. Things that make you bang your head and say, why didn’t I know that before? Like when I learned about using a safety pin for turning fabric tubes. It was truly a lightbulb moment for me. Or how to sew knits so that they don’t get wavy seams, changed my sewing life.
But what do I really wish someone had told me, what do I wish I had known known deep down in my core before I started sewing?
It doesn’t have to be perfect. And that’s ok.
We here at the Sewing Rabbit believe that everyone can sew, truly. If only they would try.
I started sewing when I was 9 years old, embroidery and cross stitching. My Mom would buy me the little kits and I would spend hours picking out the different floss colors. I loved it. I didn’t start sewing apparel until after my first daughter was born, more than 7 years ago. At first I couldn’t even sew a straight line on the machine without the thread getting all bunched up. My Mom ended up flying out to Germany just to show me how to properly thread my machine. Once I knew that, it was game over. (BTW – Need to know how to thread your sewing machine? Try this tutorial by Tilly and the Buttons.) I worked my way through German patterns, googling translations, googling sewing terminology (what is a gathering stitch?), googling just about everything to try to figure it out. I sewed every day the second my newborn daughter went to sleep, and pushed that cheap entry level sewing machine to the limits until the moment she would wake up. It was a love affair, and I was determined to get it right.
But I wish someone had told me it didn’t need to be perfect.
I used to compare my kids handmade outfits with store-bought clothing and always ended up feeling ‘less than’. Their seams were always perfect, how did they get that beautiful inside stitch? The hems were always straight, nothing looked wonky, the fit was usually better, everything lined up perfectly. And to make matters worse, the store bought version usually cost less too.
What was I doing wrong? Why did I bother? I always felt like a failure when I would bring my daughter to the playground in something I made and someone would ask if it was handmade. Yes, yes it is. How could you tell? In fact – my self esteem over my handmade creations was so low, that I stopped seeing the compliments people were trying to give me. If someone complimented something I made, I started pointing out all of its faults to them. I could’t just say ‘thank you’. I felt compelled to point out the uneven hem, or the buttons that didn’t quite match up. This person who didn’t seem my mistakes in the first place, who was truly just impressed that I had sewn something, walked away knowing all of my faults as a seamstress.
I realized something one day that changed everything. My daughter, the person I was sewing all of these outfits for. She LOVED them. She truly didn’t see anything wrong in a single thing I made for her. All she knew was that Mommy made it…for HER. And she felt so special and loved and could’t wait to put it on and wear it proudly. When people would stop her on the street and tell her how beautiful she looked, she would immediately respond with, ‘Thanks! My Mommy made my dress.’. It wasn’t until that moment that I started beaming with pride. Not because I made the dress, but because my daughter was proud of me.
In her eyes, it was perfect.
I am still not as good as the store-bought clothing, even to this day. They will always have nicer finished seams, cost cheaper if bought at Target, and take way less time. But there is one thing that store bought clothing can never do.
They can never emit a sense of pride or love. When someone asks me now where I got my outfit, I smile widely and say I made it – THANK YOU. And that’s it.
I guarantee it has flaws, I don’t need to point them out. I guarantee that there is something I probably still want to change / fix on it. That’s ok. And I guarantee I know what I will change or do if I make another one – and thats great because I am still learning. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and thats ok.
Perfection, like beauty, is all in the eye of the beholder. What you make, what you create, regardless of flaws…is perfect. You handmade something from scratch, I mean – how awesome is that?!! So don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t compare yourself to the seamstress who has been doing it for a lifetime, or worse – the factory version. Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.
If you are looking for some good beginners sewing resources, try these…
And be sure to stop by Simple Simon & Co. for more tips from fellow bloggers and seamstresses, and hear what they wish they had known when they started sewing!
Just know – you are awesome. And what you make is awesome.
So don’t be so hard on yourself! As always, thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…