Love to Sew,

Episode 7: Are You a Sewing Perfectionist?

September 19, 2017

Love to Sew - Perfectionism

Do you enjoy taking the time to make every detail the best it can be or do you make yourself crazy trying to get everything ‘perfect’? In this week’s episode, we unpack the topic of perfectionism as a community by sharing your thoughts and discussing how striving for perfection affects our sewing practice.

Blackwood Cardigan


Caroline’s muslin fabric is a 3.5oz Quilters Muslin (online source not found)

Instagram Comments:


Developing a perfectionism streak:
  • iamavd I find as I am getting pickier about mistakes as my sewing skills improve. Early on, I forgave/lived with mistakes and chalked them up as learning, but as I buy nicer fabric and take the time to make muslins, I’m spending more time to get it right.
  • toastedthread I love perfectly finished garments!! When I was first learning, it was discouraging but also motivating. As my skills have gotten better, it’s very rewarding to be proud of the finished project! It also forces me to slow down and put more thought into each garment- quality over quantity! #slowsewing
  • kateeprice I used to focus on making quick projects for a sense of accomplishment. Now I want to make things as well as I can. It’s never going to be perfect but I no longer steer away from more complex patterns and I spend time testing stitches on a scrap of fabric and looking at tutorials and help online to make it the best I can. Still never perfect!
  • sewrendipity I find that I am more of a perfectionist as I get better at sewing and will rip out a lot until it’s up to my standards. On the outside! Don’t look at my insides.
Showing your mistakes to non-sewists
  • famoustaralee I’m my own worst critic! I’m a perfectionist by nature but it just makes me batty when it comes to sewing my garments. I know, I know, I should chill out because seriously…who’s going to lift up your skirt to see your seam work?! I hope no one. Eek
  • jlothian If I were a perfectionsist I’d never wear any of my makes. I often point out my mistakes to non sewest, I’m trying to stop doing that as they are just trying to compliment my work. We are the only ones that notice so I don’t let it bother me.
  • thesewingbinns If it’s perfect you’re not learning anything. I always learn something in my mistakes. Not to mention I’ve never once had someone inspect my me makes
Going above and beyond with your finishing techniques
  • rimmazolo I love taking my time and making a good quality garment! I sew not because I have nothing to wear but simply because it brings me lots of pleasure, so why rush. I tell myself that if I want a garment with crooked stitching and poor quality, I can buy ready-to-wear for that, but if I want quality, I better make it myself!
  • Caroline’s Dress for her sister’s wedding:

Zeena dress

Suki Kimono


Sewing for others
  •  tarynlines If I’m sewing for me or my kids it’s not a huge problem. I was part of a sewing swap for a while and I had so much anxiety over which fabric the random person would like, thread, size…and I had to make it all perfect. I had to stop doing the swap cause I couldn’t handle the stress for just a silly thing!
  • ladysewalot It’s something I struggle with at the moment, because I’m currently learning to be a professional costume maker. Does perfection become mandatory when money is being put on the table?
  • some of Caroline’s Sewaholic Patterns samples
Does perfectionism ever stop you from sharing your makes?
  • oonajunni I haven’t instagrammed my past four makes because of perfectionism.
Does perfectionism take the joy out of sewing?
  • alphabet_thread …… I think that hinders creativity, for me sewing is my escape from reality so if I was constantly chasing perfection at the expense of joy, I probably wouldn’t sew anything at all!
  • crabandbee I’m a bit of a perfectionist but I find it comforting. My standard for perfect is as good as my best previous effort or better, so at least it’s attainable. Sewing is an area of my life where I get all the time I want to make it right!
  • handmadebyyaelI’m constantly fighting perfectionism as it just gives me anxiety. I wouldn’t have a handmade wardrobe now if I aimed for perfect. Of course I want to do my best and improve my skills but I try to be satisfied with good enough. For me perfectionism is the killer of joy and creativity.
  • adaspragg Sewing is the one area of my life where I’m not paralysed by ‘perfection’…I’m much more resilient in the sewing room
  • @terrapinna Perfectionism can rob me of the joy of making, because all I can see are the flaws in my work. I forget that there is a learning curve for sewing, just like for everything else. I view failure as something to be avoided rather than a learning experience.
  • @gilliancrafts  AHAHAHAHAHA – am I a perfectionist? I grew up with a very perfectionist older sister, so I instead channeled myself into reckless abandon and spontaneity! I HATE aiming for perfection in sewing because for me, it takes all the enjoyment out of it!


Fear of starting a project because of perfectionism
  • maze.handmade Oh yes I am a perfectionist! I love that about myself and hate it.m at the same time. It makes me work hard and learn even harder with every task, but it is so hard to start a project because of it. Trying to decide on just the right combination of pattern, fabric, notions and then worrying about whether a certain style would look good on me, trying to think over and over about every detail – silhouette, length, print scale or better solid just to be safe…. can and often does feel agonizing. And once I make all the decisions, it is usually a pleasure to sew.
  • @terrapinna I put off some of the larger projects on my list (jeans, coat, button down shirt) because I don’t thing I will be able to make them well enough that I will want to wear them. On the flip side, I have found that that more I sew, the more I am able to think differently about my abilities and accept the less than perfect results. Just thinking about this and reading what I have written makes me want to tackle some of those things that I have been avoiding!
Are there things in sewing that are ‘worth fixing’ and things that are not?
  • Can we think of example of garments we have made with mistakes that made the garment not our first choice to wear?
  • tri2sew Totally depends on the goal. Will rip out a zipper 7 times if it doesn’t line up with the waistband to the umpteenth fraction of a millimeter on a dress I plan on wearing to an important function, but will totally go with the flow on something more casual.
Thoughts on perfectionism for beginner sewists
  • blueprintsforsewing I’m a reformed perfectionist! It’s made me a much happier sewist. I have a rule with my students called the ‘three foot rule’ which means if you can’t see your mistake from 3ft away, you don’t have to fix it.
  • rosegardenln Since I’ve only been sewing a short time; I focus on one skill at a time and try to work through it. I give myself grace in all my projects but also try to improve each time. ❤
  • worthydesignstudio I absolutely love the feeling of something turning out just perfect, but if it goes a bit wrong, I just go in for the motto that me and my college buddies used to say when we feiced up… “it’s a design feature”!
  • jessandhen My craft personality tends towards “eh, good enough” so my zigzagged finishes work for me. If they start to fall apart too quickly then I’ll learn more about higher level finishing. I kind of find the minor flaws of my makes endearing–i call it the hand of the maker and it reminds me all the time that I made that!
“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield. When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun, and fear is the annoying backseat driver.” Brené Brown


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Follow Caroline! Shop: Blackbird Fabrics, Instagram: @blackbirdfabrics
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  1. Kathleen says:

    Speaking of perfectionism…when you mentioned my name on the podcast saying you were going to PLAY my voice mail I panicked. OMG I thought – what on earth did I SAY?? And how is my voice going to sound? hahaha perfectionism sneaks up on us everywhere 🙂 Thank you again for such a fabulous listen and you guys REALLY are perfect :))

    1. Helen Wilkinson & Caroline Somos says:

      You sounded great! We loved getting your voicemail. 🙂

  2. Vicki says:

    Just listened to the latest episode and had to chime in: I live with a perfectionist, which means that it sometimes takes forever for them to start something (or finish it). The project gets blown out of proportion in their head, to the point where expectation and reality can never meet. I’m more of a “just git ‘er done” kinda person, which explains the raggedy look of some of my previous garments….but you can’t improve if you never try.

  3. Samantha Green says:

    Yay! I call it a unpicker too!! Totally didn’t know it’s real name was seam ripper for waaaayyyy too long 🙂 You made my day with that! Great show as always ladies.

  4. Callie says:

    I’m not a beginner, exactly, but I’d definitely place myself amongst the lower ranks of the experienced sewists. I felt like such a giant failure when I made even the tiniest mistakes on a project, but then I started noticing way worse mistakes on store-bought things, from shirts to belts to pencil bags. Now, depending on the mistake/project/visibility, I may or may not fix it. Either way, I brush it off, toss my hair and continue right along.

    (I just found this podcast this morning, and this is my first episode! I can’t wait to catch up on the rest!)

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