Society has misled us with the adage “practice makes perfect.” A more accurate saying is “practice makes progress,” and if you adopt this phrase as your new mantra, you’ll find more joy and less frustration in your sewing—even when you make mistakes.
To answer your question, does sewing ever get easier—yes, I think it does. If we do something regularly with focus and intention, it’ll get easier over time. Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easier every time we sit down to sew, but generally, if we practice a hobby regularly, our skills and knowledge will grow, making us better at our hobbies today than we were a year ago.
I first started sewing clothing 20 years ago, and to this day, I continue to make mistakes. Some silly and some epic! So if you’re anything like me, I think you should expect you’ll make mistakes throughout your sewing career, and that’s 100% OK.
Even though I can’t help make your sewing itself easier, maybe I can help make using your seam ripper feel easier by talking through 4 reasons we’ll always make mistakes in our sewing.
4 Reasons Why You’ll Always Make Mistakes
Each project is unique and will have unique problems
Even though you’re doing the same action with each project—you’re sewing—each sewing project is unique.
You’re using different sewing patterns, different fabrics, and different techniques, some of which might be totally new to you. In fact, A Puzzled Sewist says in their letter, they’re “making everything from pajamas to jeans,” two very different projects which will have their own unique problems to solve. And even if you’re only making the same sewing pattern over and over again, imagine all the different problems you might encounter if we’re making plaid flannel pajamas vs. linen pajamas vs. bias-cut silk pajamas. Though each of these pajamas is similar, you’d experience different problems with each project.
External factors will influence your ability to sew well
Sometimes you have great days. Sometimes you have bad days, and this can impact your sewing. If you’re under a lot of stress at work or dealing with difficult situations, you might not be as focused or clear-headed when you sit down to work on your sewing projects. You might turn to sewing as a form of self-care or stress relief, but garment construction requires critical thinking and a keen awareness of what you’re doing. If you’re tired or preoccupied with other thoughts, you might find yourself sewing shirt collars upside-down like I did.
Deadlines can turn a fun situation into a stressful one
Let me set the scene for you. You’re leaving for a vacation in a few days, and you decide you have nothing to wear. You definitely need to sew a vacation collection to bring along with you. Or you have a big event at the end of the week, so you decide you have just enough time to sew a whole new outfit for the occasion.
How many times have you panic sewed a new project under a self-imposed tight deadline? I know I’ve done this more times than I’d like to admit! And the pressure of these deadlines can cause you to make mistakes.
Sometimes, you just plain mess up for no reason at all!
And that is both to be expected and absolutely OK.
Making mistakes doesn’t make you bad at sewing. You don’t need your sewing to be perfect to enjoy yourself, to learn new things, and to make wearable clothes.
So instead of waiting for that day when your sewing skills will be perfect, I hope you’ll join me in embracing the perfectly imperfect because if you do, you’ll find that your sewing is perfect exactly as it is at any given moment.
The next time you need to pull out your seam ripper, I hope you’ll remind yourself that practice makes progress, not perfection. You’re definitely better at sewing today than you were last month.
If there’s something sewing-related you’d love to chat about in a future episode of Dear Jenny, you can send me your letter at email@example.com, using the subject line “Dear Jenny.”