The balance between “measure twice, cut once” and wild creative abandon.
When I was seriously learning to sew, my mentor was a perfectionist. She is an amazing seamstress and crafter, but oh my god, she was obsessive about things being perfect. She painstakingly went over the delicate art of pinning the tissue thin pattern to the fabric, the importance of surgeon like accurate cut along the perimeter of the pattern, and how to carefully and perfectly re-fold the pattern, ironing it down to its original size. I remember carefully unfolding a years old pattern,still in perfect condition, and wanting to run. How was I supposed to use this? I couldn’t even get a newspaper back to normal after reading. My anxiety kicked into overdrive and what was suppose to be a fun activity became a test of my endurance.
All the guidelines and suggestions on how to do things the “right way” made my brain itch. Why measure twice? Couldn’t I just eyeball it? Wasn’t this suppose to be about creating some type of fabric magic? How am I suppose to use these scissors to cut that perfectly straight? What if we just added a little bit here? No one will notice if the seam on the inside is long will they? I believe we managed to cut half of a dress pattern out that day. And we never attempted it again. My dress remains unmade to this day.
Sewing became something I pursued on own, trying new patterns and projects. I was gifted an ancient Brothers sewing machine and used it the best I could. When my drive outgrew the machine, I joined the modern era and got a shiny white Singer. The more I did, the more I learned and the more I wanted to do. But one thing stayed constant, nothing I did was perfect. Functional? Yes. Decent looking? Yes. But perfect? Oh noooo. No, no, no.
This isn’t a philosophy that’s limited to my creative life. My everyday existence is a series of “good enoughs”. My shoe strings don’t match but my shoes stay tied. My 4th grader had cookies for breakfast, but he didn’t go to school hungry. My fabric is stored in a plastic tub all mixed together but that’s how I see things. That’s how I match fabrics and get ideas.
In the middle of all my barely contained chaos, beauty exist. In a perfect world of order and perfect, I don’t think I could make things work. I need this mess, I need this disorder, I need to be able to cut before I measure twice. I follow patterns now, but I am not above changing them when I have a better idea.
This half ass spirit is part of my design. It’s how I do things. And I think accepting that is important. There’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. There’s also nothing wrong with being the mess I am.