Friday, July 25, 2014

Why it's (sometimes) ok to quit

If I commit to something, I do my best to see it through to the bitter end.  Seriously.  One time I pair skated 3 shows a day for an entire summer with broken ribs.  I just like to finish what I start, and I don't think that's an uncommon trait.

The thing is, though, I have a reason to skate through injuries.  It's my job.  But not everything in life is so serious.

Sewing is definitely on my not-so-serious list, and today a difficult sewing project taught me a valuable lesson: it's ok to quit a sewing project when it stops being fun.

So here's a picture of the completed sewing project that sparked all this pontificating.  My mouth is smiling but my eyes are screaming this is embarrassing -- I'm not proud of this top!

I made it using the New Look S0547 pattern and some super soft and stretchy knit fabric (which the pattern called for).  I picked out this particular pattern because it looked pretty easy, and since my sewing skill set is pretty slim, I liked the idea of being able to follow a pattern to a T without having to think too much about it.

But then I didn't really end up using the New Look pattern because the smallest pattern size wasn't small enough for me at all.  By the time I achieved a reasonable fit, I had taken 4 inches out of the waist and at least that many out of the straps.  (I know I'm small, but is it normal to have to downsize a pattern that much?  Perhaps part of the problem was that my fabric was too stretchy?)

I was actually still feeling pretty good about the project after all the downsizing, but things took a turn when it was time to make the neck band.  I tried 5 or 6 times and never succeeded at making it lie flat.

So why does it look ok in the pictures?  Because I pulled up the finished neckline a solid 2 inches on either side near the arm holes, and I sewed it down kind of like a pleat.  The awkward pleats are pretty invisible in the pictures because of the (awesomely forgiving) print of the fabric.

It's true that the finished product is reasonably wearable, especially if I were to cover up the armpit pleats with a cardigan, but here's the thing: I'm not proud of it.  I normally feel proud of projects that I've finished either because they look great or because they're a little imperfect but I learned a cool new technique from the process.  But this time I just spent a lot of time frustrating myself, never succeeded at learning how to make the garment correctly, and the finished product is something that I won't wear very often because it doesn't make me feel good.

So here's the takeaway: from now on, if I'm not having fun with a project and I'm not learning from it, I'm giving myself permission to walk away from it.

If you count that revelation, I guess I did learn something, so perhaps it was all worthwhile? Yeah, I'm going to go with that.

I'm also thinking I'll have better luck with an indie pattern that comes in more sizes and some non-stretchy cotton fabric that will be easier to sew, so here's my new fabric!

I love fabric shopping!

I also think my new pattern looks really cute.  It's the Tiny Pocket Tank from Grainline Studio.  I'm really hopeful that this one will be a big success, and it helps that my sewing guru (aka boyfriend) will finally be back it town!  (Why in the world did I try a sewing project in his absence?!)

Image via Grainline Studio

So what do you think about all this?  Do you prefer to see things through to the bitter end, or do you give yourself permission to quit sometimes?

I'm working on giving myself that permission.  After all, all this crafting I do really is just for funsies.

Here's to a new (tank top) beginning!


  1. It's fine to give up sometimes! You have a job, and it seems like sewing, knitting etc are things you do to relax. We all need that--don't let them become work too! I think the top looks fine :)

  2. I'm determined to see things through too but realised when I was moaning about a book I wasn't enjoying but was determined to finish that there really is no point in doing something you aren't enjoying, especially when it's supposed to be a hobby.

  3. I do it with books too, and sometimes movies...yeah I guess projects too...

  4. For what it's worth, I think the top looks really cute on you! It's too bad it wasn't that good of an experience. I can't sew at all, I really want to give it more of a shot. For me I generally give up on something when I've committed too much. I say yes too often and try absolutely every idea that comes in my head.

    Kindness is the best accessory,


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