Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Confessions of a Perfectionist

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.

That's right.

Take a look at how my process usually goes:

  1. Fall in love with a fabric or an idea.
  2. Buy stuff (generally with a couple yards of extra fabric, because I'm bad at estimating).
  3. Look at it over the course of several months.
  4. Consider trying to start, but decide I'm too scared to cut the fabric in case I mess it up.
  5. Feel guilty for having bought stuff.
  6. Work up my courage to try.
  7. Deal with whatever household/childhood crisis occurs the moment I think I might actually start.
  8. Pull everything out a few months later.
  9. Chicken out again.
  10. Convince myself that I don't actually care what the finished product looks like.--THIS IS KEY.
  11. Haphazardly, with little measuring, much guesswork, and a lot of crooked seams and starting over, rush my way through the project.
  12. 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.


  1. These are so cute! I do the same thing, I talk about doing things but it takes forever for me to actually do them.

    1. Thanks! Just don't look at them up close. ;-)

  2. Love them. I don't know where you get your perfectionism from ;) Sewing, the bane of my existence :)

    1. Haha, Mom, the difference is that you actually made the effort to do things the right way. I don't even do the little things I know I should, like pressing hems before I sew, measuring instead of eyeballing, etc.

  3. What fun curtains!!! Perfectionism stops me or sucks the joy out of so many thing :/. I must keep on keepin' on though :).

    1. Agreed. The girls and I went and bought fabric today for yet another project. I think I'm a glutton for punishment...


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