introducing :: FAIL FRIDAY (a little late)

I’m so excited to introduce a new November series on the blog called fail friday!  it’s all about…you guessed it…failure on fridays.  not because failures happen only on friday, that is not the case, in fact, they happen all the time.  but, fail friday is about discussing those failures instead of shying away from them.  {hurricane sandy has me a little behind schedule but I know you will forgive me or you can be really nice and pretend it is actually friday! yay friday!}

I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens.  Life is only about the I-tried-to-do.  I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try. –nikki giovanni.

as a sewist and a crafter, I fail all the time but I rarely take a picture and post it on my blog.  and, I am not alone.  in fact, a quick scan of the blog world can leave a girl feeling like she is the ONLY person out there who owns a pair of shants….shorts on one side, pants on the other.  but, I don’t think I am the only one.  I mean, maybe not everyone has shants but they got something tucked away that just simply didn’t work out.  and, when the world that is presented to us looks perfect and glossy rather than messy and imperfect like our own world it starts to feel distant from our own.  like a thing we will never achieve and it gets discouraging to even try.

and, as a sewing instructor I just can’t let that happen.  this world, this place of sewing/crafting/making/trying that is made up of so many creative people blogging about what they do and how they do it…IT’S IMPERFECT and that is its charm.  that is what makes us not the mall! every time someone creative stretches their skill and tries something new they are risking a fail but they are also reaching for what is new and exciting and unexplored or reinterpreted.  even if, for that person, the new thing is threading a sewing machine.  because we have no idea what glorious things will come after they discover how to get it humming.

for that reason, I want to celebrate and showcase failures beginning with my own.  and then, I’m passing it around to lovely and brave guest bloggers: meg from elsie marley, mary frances from this is marzipan, abby from while she naps, and ellen from the long thread.

I hope fail friday can be a place to share as well as find inspiration and humor because sometimes it is just plain funny when something looks god-awful.  but, I also want to elevate failure and search beyond the part that failed to mine for the pieces that might just be a creative breakthrough or at least the-crap-I-needed-to-make-to-get-to-the-good-stuff.  so, here goes:


failure is authentic & because it’s authentic, it’s real & genuine, & because of that, it’s a pure state of being. –douglas coupland

I need to start by saying I consider this a minor failure on my part but I found it an interesting one because I was just unwilling to give up and call it a failure.  I kept trying to make it better but could only manage to make it worse.  everything was wrong with this. but, I will start at the beginning.  the assigment I had was simple…make one quilt square to be included in a quilt to celebrate the arrival of a new baby.  my only restriction was size, it had to be 6″ X 6″.  I felt a lot of pressure, though, because my lowly quilt square was joining in with lots of others made by very creative and talented people.  I had only one nap-time to finish it.  what I made was this:

a complete, laughable failure!!  the colors didn’t work.  it was way too busy.  admittedly, each individual fabric was nice but I must have been sleeping when I put them all together!  I tried to make it better by adding in some embroidery in addition to some machine appliqué, which made it even busier and sloppier. things were getting worse by the minute, I tell you.  to top things off, it wasn’t even square!  it was like a bad date and I was trying to make it better by talking a lot to cover up the awkwardness.  by this time, I had put a lot of time into making this haggard creation and nap time is not always very long.  but, I had to chuck it. chuck it!!  this date was over.

and, once it was in the can and I was able to start over from scratch, I made this:

it didn’t even take long (still the same nap time!).  it uses the kind of simple design I long for with bright, lively colors that actually work together.  my embroidery turned out elegant; not too little, not too much.  in fact, I have used this same design concept three more times since making this.  the process of struggling embarrassingly, completely and ridiculously with the first quilt square paved the road for an easy, creatively satisfying process of making the second one.

now, please don’t get me wrong.  I am sharing the second quilt square not to cover up my failure with a kind of “quilt square happy ending” but instead to suggest an optimistic perspective toward failure. that suggestion is:  perhaps failure can be viewed as a more friendly partner in the creative process…a mere piece of drudgery that one must slog through to get to something better.

so, go forth! make some crap! love it! laugh at it! and, if you want to share it, leave a link in the comments!  we are in it together. and, come back on a real friday to see what the amazing, honest, and talented elsie marley has to share!

12 Comments on introducing :: FAIL FRIDAY (a little late)

  1. anne
    November 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm (5 years ago)

    This is one of my favorite happystitch posts ever. Unfortunately, in my case, the story of “my pair of too-small mittens” isn’t very funny … but I did learn a thing or two. (A very *obvious* thing or two, in retrospect!)

    • ahappystitch
      November 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm (5 years ago)

      thanks anne! are you sure they aren’t even ‘funny looking’ because that counts!

  2. darci
    November 10, 2012 at 10:07 am (5 years ago)

    Sometimes figuring out what you don’t want to do helps you decide what you DO want.

  3. amy
    November 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm (5 years ago)

    This is the best idea for a blogging series that I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for doing this. So-called failures are important too!

    • ahappystitch
      November 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you so much! I am loving it so far. Failures are important, and they aren’t even really failures if we get something out of it!

  4. Jodi Pins
    November 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm (5 years ago)

    great idea for a series! I have made many ill fitting and odd things. It is so sad to see all the time flushed away when a project is a failure…. I need to start seeing the process as a whole not just the end result.

    • ahappystitch
      November 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm (5 years ago)

      great point! it is nice to feel you got something out of a failure.

  5. Stephinie (gypsyforest)
    November 19, 2012 at 8:49 am (5 years ago)

    I found via Meg~ Just spent some time reading your back posts. Love your voice and crafty photos…. and this fail friday idea is awesome!

    • ahappystitch
      November 19, 2012 at 8:53 am (5 years ago)

      So glad you found me! Thank you for your sweet words.

  6. Stephinie (gypsyforest)
    November 19, 2012 at 8:50 am (5 years ago)

    I found you via Meg~ Just spent some time reading your back posts. Love your voice and crafty photos…. and this fail friday idea is awesome!


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  1. […] to round two of fail friday!  fail friday is the showcase and celebration of failure…the funny, the ridiculous, the big […]

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