Welcome to the second episode of Dear Jenny, a sewing advice column for everyone!
The whole Seamwork team is thrilled to work with Jennifer Wiese, the founder of Workroom Social, as she doles out the most helpful, inspiring, and REAL sewing advice you can find out here on the Internet.
Haven’t met Jenny yet? She founded Workroom Social, a Brooklyn-based sewing studio offering classes and retreats for adults. Through sewing, Jenny builds communities, stimulates creativity, and improves her students' confidence by empowering them to sew the clothes they want to wear.
This means she’s the perfect combination of your sewing best friend and your most inspiring coach. Jenny will share quick, thoughtful advice in this video series on the Seamwork YouTube channel.
So let’s turn this all over to Jenny.
I can feel the frustration and sense of defeat in this letter. I can feel it because I’ve felt that way too!
We all make mistakes at every stage of our sewing journey, no matter how long we’ve been sewing. And even though logically we know this is true, sometimes it can feel like we’re the only ones making mistakes. Like everyone else is just so good at sewing, and we may just suck at it.
Making mistakes feels bad. Whether that’s mistakes in sewing or other parts of our lives. We’re conditioned to believe that we’re most meaningful or valuable when we get things right, and we can be criticized, judged, or even punished for making mistakes.
(And raise your hand if you’re the person judging and punishing yourself.)
When we’re feeling like total failures, I find it helpful to remind myself that my feelings will likely pass. I say to myself, “Self, yes, I failed at something, but that individual act of failing, doesn’t categorically make me a failure. I am a lot of things, and a failure is not one of them!” Logically I can tell myself this, and remind myself that while my brain and my heart aren’t in sync right in this moment, my emotions will change with time.
4 Practical Ways to Build Resiliency
OK! Now that we’ve addressed our feelings let’s talk about some practical ways we can build our resiliency and regain our confidence so we can continue moving forward in our sewing journey!
01. Reframe your failures
I know you’ve heard it before, but maybe this time it will stick with you. Let’s reframe the way we think about our failures. Every mistake we make is an opportunity for growth, and I love the way Sewist Jasika Nicole has rebranded her failures as learning successes. Something can be a failure, while at the same time, it can be a learning success. Holding onto feelings of defeat long-term won’t help us improve or grow, so let’s take the time we need to feel our disappointment, then rebrand our failures as learning successes.
02. Reach out to others
The second thing we can do to bounce back from a sewing failure is to reach out to a sewing friend to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone. Whether you want to vent a little, listen to other stories of failure, or ask for advice, sometimes connecting with others can remind us that we are supported and loved, which should help reignite your confidence.
If you don’t have any in-real-life sewing friends, I love reading other sewists’ stories of failures on Instagram using #sewingfail. Or you could consider joining an online community like Seamwork’s or my community called Social Sewists. In Social Sewists you can share your mistakes with other sewists who will understand your disappointment, and if you want help or advice, you can ask for that too.
03. Keep records of your mistakes
I do my best to keep records of all my projects, no matter how they turn out. I find that writing down factual information about each project helps me from getting too emotionally worked up about them, whether they are successes or learning successes. There are lots of different ways to keep records of our projects, and the easiest to start right now is to grab a notebook and start writing down your notes.
In addition to writing notes, I find it super helpful to review my notes, and I usually do this in two different ways.
First, when I make a big mistake or a project just cannot be saved, and I’m feeling really frustrated, reviewing past projects can help relieve my frustration. Flipping back through my notes I’m reminded of my previous accomplishments, whether that’s a completed garment or a new skill mastered—we all have lots to celebrate when it comes to our sewing hobby. Going back and re-celebrating past wins helps me feel less disappointed with a current failure.
Second, I review my notebook before I start a new project. This helps remind me of past mistakes that are now 100% learning successes! And it helps me remember not to do that thing that didn’t work again.
04. Find a Quick Win
The last thing we can do to make sure our sewing mistakes don’t derail our future sewing plans is to work on something we know we can successfully accomplish. I like to work on this kind of project after big failures as my needed palette cleanser. For me, it’s usually something quick, easy, and familiar. A tried-and-true pattern made in a fabric I’m very comfortable with. Completing something easy for me refuels my confidence to tackle something new or difficult for my next project.
If there’s something sewing-related you’d love to chat about in a future episode of Dear Jenny, you’re welcome to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the last episode of Dear Jenny we talked about how your value isn’t tied to your output. Likewise, your mistakes don’t define you either. So when we make epic mistakes, let’s pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and continue making progress on this journey of ours.
Thanks so much Seamwork, and I can’t wait to see you next time on Dear Jenny!