Have you ever been really enthusiastic about a project, then unsure if you’re good enough to execute it properly? I have been working on a dress for a little while now. It’s a really exciting project, one where you eat supper double quick to get more time to sew in the evening, then end up hunched over your machine with tummy ache from eating too fast. But I was determined.
The project in question is a Lilou dress from Tilly and the Button’s book Love at First Stitch. It’s made from a space themed duvet cover I found in a charity shop and immediately saw as a dress. I have been excited about this creation for weeks, impatient for the day it finally exists in the real world and I can show it off to everything. Look, tree, I made a space dress! Hey, cat I see on my way to the shops sometimes, I made this, isn’t that cool?
It is cool. It’s very cool to make one’s own wardrobe, to customise your clogs into your exact style. However, we might not be very good at first, and this can be hard. I am most definitely a beginner. This dress is my first lined item of clothing I have made, and you can tell my inexperience easily. The main problem is this-
Having attached the zip, I tried the dress on for size, and found it to be way too big in the waist. It doesn’t look too bad in these photos, but when I tried it on I felt so unhappy with the fit I almost immediately ripped it off me and threw the dress into the corner. ‘It’s not right’, I declared, ‘It should be better. I should be better.’ I stared at the wonky zip, the off shaped chest, and the glaring sizing problem. It was ruined, and I had ruined what I was so excited about.
I left it for a bit until I had calmed down, and then tried it on again. I assessed the situation, and it really wasn’t as bad as I had made it out to be earlier. Yes, the fit isn’t great, but the centre back seam can be taken in and it should be fine. I had to tell myself to stop seeing the imperfections as failures. You’ve only been sewing solo for a short amount of time, I mean this is your third dress ever! Stop expecting yourself to be perfect straight off.
I haven’t got a finished dress to show you. I’m still working on making it wearable, but I wanted to write this intermediary post to say that it’s ok to not be good. You don’t have to be good at the thing you’re doing right away, or even after a while. The important thing is to keep going. Keep writing, or sewing, or whatever creative endeavour it may be. I’m going to keep sewing dresses with planets on, wonky zip be damned, because I’m passionate about sewing and I love the creative process. I’m going to leave you with this quote by American Radio Personality Ira Glass (Who I freely admit I had never heard of until two days ago, but the sentiment resonated with me) on why you need to keep creating, even if you think what you make is no good.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”