Some time ago, I was reading Threads Magazine and came across an essay on levels of projects and the thoughts behind choosing projects and techniques to make them. The writer was comparing sewing to cooking. Look, they were saying: When you cook you don’t always cook the biggest, most expensive meals in the cookbook. Sometimes you don’t even need the cookbook. Sometimes you just make a hamburger. Or, if you need a really quick bite, you open the freezer and throw one of those sad hot pockets you’ve had since 1998 (don’t lie) in the microwave.
One of the things that I say over and over to people when they are trying to decide about projects and process is this: “Well, the Sewing Teacher® answer is ___, but let’s talk about what you need right now.” Because sometimes what you need is a quick win and a night out in something you just threw together from cheap flashy fabric. It doesn’t matter that you think you should be doing that Dior reproduction with 6 inner layers and 25 yards of silk taffeta, it matters that you are starting to doubt that this is fun and a journey. It matters more that you are losing sight of why you started sewing in the first place.
A good number of the people I interact with are professionals with important lives(tm). They may want to be the best they can be all the time, but a lot (A. LOT.) of the time what they really need is the ability to think of themselves as creative people – to be able to reconnect with that sense of both play and accomplishment that we tend to lose after childhood.
And so as proud as I am when someone knocks out a showstopper around here (and Lord do they), I am equally as proud when simple well-made skirts and dresses are photographed and fawned over. It makes the sometimes chaotic nature of the workroom have some kind of grounding. It feels settled when people are getting what they need.
So by all means, try to know and understand what the Sewing Teacher answer is when you come across something you haven’t learned or don’t understand like you thought, but never never never forget that, when you are sewing at home trying to finish that project at 3 am because you have to get up and go to work at 7: You need a win, not perfection.