Hi Sewcialists! I’m Laquana from Made by Laquana.
For the Sewcialists Sew Brave theme month, I’m going to be completely transparent with you. Almost every project I start, I have some degree of apprehension during the process (audible gasp). I know I’m not the only one, right? I’m always asking myself, is this the right fabric for this project? How will it look on me? Can I pull this color or print off?
I don’t know about you, but I really hate when I spend a ton of time on something and it doesn’t look like I envisioned. I also struggle with what to make, there’s so much I’d like to make, and with all the shiny fabric and patterns, I’m never quite sure what I want to make and how long it will take. I have to tell my self, JUST DO IT!
From my analytical mind, I typically evaluate every step, ugh, it’s exhausting, my left brain is in overdrive and it can prevent me from moving forward. Winston Churchill said “Perfection is the enemy of progress” so in my quest for a perceived degree of “perfection,” I’ve realized good is good enough! I have to be ok with what I produce and take my time in producing it.
I used to say “practice makes perfect,” my husband (a performance improvement guy) said to me, “You know babe, practice actually makes proficient,” and that should be the goal. With proficiency will come speed and expertise. Well, why didn’t I listen to him before! I have to remind myself of this, your goal is to get better and to enjoy the process, that’s it, everything else will come. Sewing isn’t a cheap hobby for me so I tend to think a little about what things cost and how much time it takes to make something.
I know that mistakes are a big part of any process and more so in the creative space, it’s most often the best part of a project if I allow it to be. I’m a recovering perfectionist and cutting into fabric can sometimes be crippling. Did I measure properly, is this print going the right way, etc, etc, etc…? These are valid questions, but they shouldn’t be crippling to the point where you never cut the fabric or make the thing.
I don’t know about you, but it’s exhausting and really no fun, so there are a few things I do to keep that negative self talk and “fear” at bay. First, cut myself some slack, out of all the people in the world, I should be kind to myself; laugh, learn and move on.
Second, cut the damn fabric! There’s tons of fabric out there and there are tons of patterns out there. If I mess up, so what, it’s not a reflection on my character and entire being as a human!
Third, practice and play around with fabric and techniques before cutting into the good stuff, but don’t wait too long, cut the good stuff. I have a list of my measurements (I check this every couple of weeks or so), list of typical adjustments, list of types and weights of fabrics for certain projects, and I add an additional, just in case, 1″ seam allowance to major seams for help with fitting.
Finally, I never, I mean never, judge a project until after I’ve pressed it (I’ve read this somewhere and it’s great advice). OK, whew, I’ve done my due diligence, I’ve allowed my left brain to get things set up so the right can create.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty: I have over 20 yards of selvage and Cone Mills denim, and another 20 yards of specialty denim, ya’ll, I know! I had no, I mean no intention of every cutting this stuff. Don’t ask me why, I just wanted to keep it, look at it and touch it every so often. I would rather go to the local fabric store and get something on sale then to cut my precious fabric. I told you I was being transparent right? I have over 50 yards of fabric I purchased from Fabric Mart‘s brick and mortar last year, and over 30 yards of fabric that I purchased from the Garment District in NYC that hasn’t been sewn. Ok, ok, I realize this is insane so, guess what? I cut the damn fabric! I owe it to myself to sew with it and wear it, no more hoarding fabric!
I’ve wanted a denim skirt for the longest time and I love Cashmerette patterns so, I made the Ellis Skirt. The cone mill and selvage denim in my stash didn’t have any stretch so I chose a stretch denim from my stash. I know her patterns are solid and there’s so much support for the home sewist in the Cashmerette Facebook group. I felt using this pattern would be a great project to use my denim on! Working with solid patterns or TNTs help me feel confident when using the “good fabric.” I’ve paired the skirt with a mashup of the Springfield top and an out of print dress pattern made in chambray last summer. I always use the Springfield top to check armscye and upper chest fit on sleeveless patterns. Both of these garments I love and they were totally worth it! Are these garments perfect? No, but neither am I, so we are a match made in heaven!
I’d like to hear from you: do you struggle with cutting the fabric, being kind to yourself when you make mistakes, using an “advanced/scary” sewing technique, and or sewing “difficult/advanced” patterns? What tips do you have to push through and get’er done?
Laquana is a wife and mother of two born and raised in Brooklyn, NY now residing just outside of Raleigh N.C. She is a full time Accountant and Financial Analyst by day and a sewist by night. She loves to travel, sew and collect sewing patterns on her quest to have a stylish, well fitting wardrobe. As a plus sized sewist, she works hard at fitting the garments she sews ensuring the mash up of pattern, fabric, color and texture produce great looking garments.
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This is a GREAT looking outfit!!!
That looks amazing on you! I also really like ‘practice makes proficient’ – it feels healthier and more useful than ‘perfect’!
That is a beautifully made set and so well put together. You should be very pleased.
“Practice makes proficient” — that’s brilliant.
One way that I have overcome my perfection paralysis is to try to take a perfect-is-the-enemy-of-the-good approach. I won’t get better at anything if I don’t do it because crazy brain is telling me that it must be Just Right (or better).
Now, if I could just take the sew-when-I-can advice…
Ah, making a mistake isn’t a reflection on your worth as a human being. I relate to that! It seems so ridiculous when you say it out loud, of course a sewing blunder doesn’t have any impact on your character or worth, but it feels so real. Probably too many life complications to make this challenge, but my plan was to just make something. Anything.
“I cut the damn fabric!” Love it!
So glad you decided to cut into that fabric!
I’m so glad you wrote this. I do the same thing. I have anxiety before I start a project and I just need to START and cut the fabric! The skirt is so cute on you. I want to make one too. Happy sewing.
Your post came at such a great time. I was just telling my husband yesterday that I was going to give up sewing. Yep, I am sooooo critical of what I sew. He, of course, said that my clothes look amazing (lies); but that’s one of the reasons I love him so much. Anyway, back on topic. I am struggling, feeling like nothing is good enough. Your post has inspired me. I love the saying “practice makes proficient” and will try to make this my mantra when sewing. What you are wearing today looks amazing on you! Thanks for the support – I am so happy that I have found another great sewist to follow.
This is a beautiful skirt. Love the whole look! 🙂
I’m just learning to sew. In a sewing class, I was working on a really cute tee shirt, and… well… I sewed one of the sleeves on upside down! I still haven’t gotten around to fixing that! You are inspiring me!
Thank you for the inspiration!!!! You and I are roughly the same build and I would have never chosen that for me, but you look FABULOUS!!! Thank you for helping me and others realize our potential. We are only limited by ourselves.
I can’t wait to cut the fabric! I want to make everything, right now.
Wonderful job, thank you so much for posting. Blessings, Connie
Wow looks amazing! While reading your article I saw myself! You are an inspiration!! I have so many ufo’s because they are not perfect! Or gorgeous fabric I can’t cut!! You inspire, thank you.
Thanks very much for this. I have a stash that’s too good to cut into, too. People tell me that that is pointless, but your blog was the first to make me actually take that on board. ‘Just cut it’ will be my thinking from now on. Thanks!
Your outfit looks great on you. I can relate to all your sentiments but as time goes by, I have noticed a definite improvement in my confidence level and I’m sure you will too.
Dear Laquana, boy am I glad you wrote this! I have been a social media fan of yours for awhile because your makes are sooo good and you look sooo amazing in what you sew. When I read that you have attack of nerves too, I admit that I at first suspected that you were just writing it to make us feel good – but your text read real. I believe you. Thank you soooo much for sharing. I also have some cone mills denim that I am terrified to cut into although my try out cheapo den8m worked out beautifully…practice makes proficient and I declare war on perfectionism! Thank you!
Thank you for this! As a relative newbie to clothes sewing I’m starting with fabric bought from charity shops, and even then I have to steel myself to cut into the fabric!
What perfect timing! Your post is exactly what I needed to read today. We’re you listening in on my thoughts? Thank you! I am going to the cutting table.