A year ago, I bought fabric to make the girls some curtains. Lovely purple fabric with sparkles--I even wrote a post about how I was going to organize and unpack and make those curtains.
Well, friends, I never did finish unpacking, and I never got organized, and I never made the curtains.
Now I'm in a new house, where I've been for seven months, and once again I have not finished unpacking, I haven't organized, and I hadn't made those darn curtains. I decided that I had to remedy at least one of those.
But. I don't sew. Not really. Oh, some of you may think I sew, because of the post I did about the Halloween costumes I made last year. But in reality, almost all of my sewing projects end up disproportionate, with crooked seams, and with countless other errors. Why? Because I'm a perfectionist.
Take a look at how my process usually goes:
- Fall in love with a fabric or an idea.
- Buy stuff (generally with a couple yards of extra fabric, because I'm bad at estimating).
- Look at it over the course of several months.
- Consider trying to start, but decide I'm too scared to cut the fabric in case I mess it up.
- Feel guilty for having bought stuff.
- Work up my courage to try.
- Deal with whatever household/childhood crisis occurs the moment I think I might actually start.
- Pull everything out a few months later.
- Chicken out again.
- Convince myself that I don't actually care what the finished product looks like.--THIS IS KEY.
- Haphazardly, with little measuring, much guesswork, and a lot of crooked seams and starting over, rush my way through the project.
- Hold finished product, feeling both proud and sheepish--proud that I actually did it, sheepish that I did such a shoddy job.
The problem, I've come to realize, is that I have no balance with my perfectionism. It's either crippling, as in steps 4 and 9, or completely set aside, as in Step 10. I know there has to be some in-between area, where I can genuinely try my best on a project but still accept gracefully if I mess it up; but I have yet to find that area for sewing.
Perfectionism is something I've dealt with my whole life, and I have different levels of it in different areas. It can be a benefit, such as for helping me get and keep my scholarship in college, or when I'm copyediting a manuscript. But in things like sewing, it can be a real roadblock to personal progress.
I made curtains. I made it all the way to step 12. And you know what? The girls love them. (I won't tell them that I royally messed up the valance because I didn't measure it--I'll redo that another day.) And maybe if I push through to step 12 often enough, I'll find my balance point. Meanwhile, I at least got that purple fabric out of my drawer.