A Home Sewing Manifesto

homesewingI once heard the pattern maker and teacher Marcy Tilton describe herself as a “recovering perfectionist.” That’s one problem I don’t have, since I was never a perfectionist to begin with. In fact, I think that many people who sew spend too much time worrying about things that don’t show or won’t easily be noticed, worry that takes away from the joy of sewing.

One of the bedrock rules imparted to anyone starting to sew is, “Make the inside as beautiful as the outside.” But why, I ask? Do we wear our clothes inside out? Do we live in terror of getting to the hospital not only in dingy underwear but with mismatched serger thread on our seams? I can think of times when it is important to have a beautiful interior—a wedding dress that will become an heirloom, a jacket that you intend to take off and drape over your chair. But should anyone care if I ignore the interiors of my knit tops?

I have never met Becky Home-Ecky, the dreaded example of someone whose work always looks homemade. Of course, it is easy enough to find people wearing clothes with mismatched stripes or plaids. However, I’ll bet that most of those clothes come from ordinary stores, not home sewing machines. Unless your friends are sharp eyed perfectionists, I doubt if they spend their time measuring the distance between your buttonholes. In fact, I doubt if most people examine buttonholes at all.

Don’t get me wrong—I am not an advocate of sloppy sewing. I take classes and continually try to improve my skills. But there is a point where the perfect can be the enemy of the good. Here is my position: Make the outside as beautiful as you can, and make sure that the inside doesn’t scratch.

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3 Responses to A Home Sewing Manifesto

  1. I’m with you, though I’ve found it’s worth the extra effort to de-scratch with a nice silk lining.
    My latest trick on unlined clothing is to use super-sharp Kai pinking shears to give the seams a “vintage” look. Quick and easy!

  2. Jen O says:

    For me, I sew a garment to make it last, and this usually means finishing up with zig-zag overcasting or overlocked seam allowances, then I consider it done!

  3. Brava! I used to think “perfectionist” was a compliment, but am finally learning that “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.” In other words, it’s better to do a “good” job than not to do anything at all because your best might not be “perfect.” For me, the fear of “not doing it perfectly” leads to procrastination. Another saying I’m trying to master is “Done is Good.”

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