the gifts of imperfection


It was a week without sewing, all my attention taken up by the project above. I was very concerned about how it would come out because I have very, very little experience with embroidery. I was getting stuck in a sketching loop, with the sketches not leading to anything usable.

I needed to simplify, and I needed to get to work. Kati Lovasz’s Uptown Folk Blouse to the rescue: I didn’t copy the embroidery patterns in the end, but they helped me sketch out my own without overcomplicating the design.



I could tell you about all the things I could have done better, but I wonder whether those are really the most useful things to say here. Sure, I learned useful things from this project as we do when we decide to take up something new. It might work or it might not.

My experience with making things so far tells me that a lot of the time you can salvage the losses and even turn them into surprisingly good new ideas. In this case I made a gift someone liked! Maybe sometimes it can be as simple as that.

Every now and then I stumble upon a discussion online bemoaning today’s “sloppy new sewists” and their uneven hemlines. It just takes me back in time to school and the fear and resentment I felt knowing that my first attempts at knitting were to be graded. And they were, and I can tell you I didn’t do well. Back then I thought it meant I was hopeless. Today I think it isn’t fair to grade someone’s first attempts at something. It tells us nothing about their aptitude, but it’s a great way to scare them away. And to undermine the learning process, which at its best is full of mistakes, experiments, recursive loops, and whatever detours and adventures the learner might take.

Is it really better for people to shy away from doing things just because their early attempts will likely be sub par? I don’t mind uneven hemlines. I prefer a world with them than one in which no one bothers trying because they might fail.


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

5 thoughts on “the gifts of imperfection”

  1. These are beautiful, well done! I totally agree on your point about a learning curve – one of my recent dresses has a very uneven hemline, which is annoying, but at least I now understand how important it is to hang a dress before hemming. We all learn from our mistakes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – they are beautiful Miss Kalimak! I haven’t seen too much of the online moaning (yet) you mention, but I shall try my best to avoid it! It’s amazing how quickly a certain type of person who is proficient in a (ny) skill forgets what it is like to be a beginner. I’ve seen it, as I’m sure you have, in every area of life, but it seems even more of a shame when this lack of empathy is displayed in a pursuit, i.e. sewing, that one is undertaking for pure enjoyment. Sad, really.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I think that these are absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been looking for a project to take with me on a two-week trip (starting this weekend! to Europe!!), and I think that you’ve inspired me to try my hand at embroidery again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you all! It’s not easy to write a joint reply here.

    I definitely recommend giving embroidery a try. If, like me, you’ve been spending a while vacillating, I say, just five in. There’s lots of tutorials and inspiration online. The key, though, is not to overcomplicate your first project. I do like how portable a project it can be.

    I’m prone to bout of what Sarai over at the Colette Blog has called “DIY anxiety.” Stumbling upon negative discussions online doesn’t help and I unfortunately seem to have a radar for those. Do you ever have DIY anxiety? How do you get unstuck?


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