Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quoted: Kenneth King on Sewing & Perfectionism

Reading the Threads blog, I was really struck by this great advice from an interview with Kenneth King:
If I were to say one thing and only one thing, it’s this: perfectionism is a disease, and a form of fear!

When learning the craft of sewing (which I believe is absolutely necessary in order to know what’s possible when designing), you should expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good. This is an acquired skill which can only be perfected by means of repetition—practicing over and over, learning from mistakes, learning when you can save something, and when you need to cut your losses and start over.

If you are afraid to make a mistake, afraid to ruin some fabric, or afraid to waste some time, you won’t ever get really good at this craft.

I've had issues with perfectionism over the years in a variety of fields, but not so much in sewing. Although I always try my best to go slowly and carefully and do things right, I don't get too hung up if a project doesn't turn out exactly as hoped. Even if the finishing isn't perfect or the stitching isn't exactly even, it's still the fabric and style that I wanted and usually fits me far better or is just more FUN than RTW. (Besides, if you look closely at a lot of RTW, you'll realize there's plenty of mistakes and uneven seams there too!)

(I realize after I decided to post this that Sarai had done so as well on the Colette Patterns blog, so clearly this really resonates!)

Some other odds and ends I've been reading:

  • b. vikki vintage has some wonderful images of lindy hoppers from various eras.
  • Susannah at Cargo Cult Craft has kindly scanned and posted the entirety of a fabulous 1940s booklet called Make and Mend for Victory as handy PDFs--learn to cut your own clothes (and baby clothes) from men's shirts and suits and more!
  • Peter at Male Pattern Boldness hosted a mini-debate on fancy seam finishing, the importance or lack thereof.

I have a tendency myself to want to finish seams perfectly, but my mother (who often doesn't bother at all) finds this funny. And when I did a little poking around inside the 40s, 50s and 60s dresses at a vintage store recently, I found most of the seams were just pinked, so I've been laying off the obsessive overcasting in favor of that finish lately.

In other news, lime won the day for my mini-wardrobe cardi!... and of course in order to reach the free shipping threshhold, I HAD NO CHOICE but to buy two yards each of these rayon lycra polka dot fabrics... enough for a top or skirt, depending. Sigh... I had better get to destroying that mountain!


  1. I love that quote by Kenneth King. There are so many times when, mid-garment construction, I start to stress about crooked topstitching or slightly uneven gathering. I always have to remind myself that I don't notice that stuff on any of my finished clothes that I wear daily. All I pay attention to is how nice it is to be wearing something I made myself.


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