Posts Tagged ‘fail friday’

fail friday :: a visit from *gypsy forest*

it’s that time.  time for the final fail friday.  I have thoroughly enjoyed running this series and feel so reassured that not only do we all make mistakes but we also know how to laugh at ourselves while we do it.

never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat ~~f. scott fitzgerald

this week, we are visited by stephinie from gypsy forest, who definitely knows how to laugh at herself.  stephinie is one of those lovely, thoughtful voices that is a true joy to read.  she brings a great calm to the chaos and whimsical, humorous tone to boot.  she is also a very talented maker of quilts and play silks and lots of other things that manage to elevate themselves from ordinary to infused with meaning under the great care of her hands.   here is stephinie:


“So,” my husband asked me. “What’s on tap for my Gypsy Mama this month?”
As a side note, my husband is a brewer and sailor. I might need to give you a translation book if you came for a visit.

“Welllll…..” I began. ”I’m going to share a post in another blogger’s space about failing and craftiness and why it’s all good.”

Immediately he had a smirk on his face.

“What?” I asked. “What is so funny about that.”
The smirk turned into a giggle. Then laughter.

I figured he must have thought of some great creative failure of mine that I must share with you.

“Is it the sweater I’ve ripped out three times?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“The satin dragon costumes?” I asked.

He laughed more and finally said “Pumpkins! Bahahahaha.”

fail friday guest post on happy stitch
So. In all honesty, and due to my husband’s most ridiculous behavior, I will tell you the truth. I gave up pumpkin carving about ten years ago. I did carve one that said “LUKE” one year, and put a plump baby boy inside for a photo-op. But that’s it. Why? I hate messing up. It’s not pretty, but it’s honest. I have a tendency to pick the most intricate design I can find. I line up my tools like a surgeon and begin carefully carving each piece. I hold my breath in the hardest of parts. I can only imagine my family thinks I look like a mad scientist as I carve. Inevitably, I get half way through it before one tiny little seemingly innocent slice ruins the whole thing. I screech, the husband laughs, and I want to throw the pumpkin in the street. I figured for the sake of my children I should give up this hobby. And you know? There is one less pumpkin harmed every October. But the joke? The joke is here to stay. Every autumn that sweet man of mine asks “Five pumpkins or six?” I don’t even answer. He teases to the kids “Mama doesn’t really do the pumpkin thing.” Only two of my four kids are old enough to remember when I last carved one, thank goodness. Joe loves this. I think it’s his favorite joke. “Well, it might be hard. But is it harder than carving a pumpkin.” I will never live this down.

So there you have it. My very not-so-pretty-or-grown-up-moment. We all have those. We all make mistakes. Again. And again. And if you’re lucky enough to have a supportive guy like mine behind you, you can learn to laugh at yourself. Which is really the best thing you can ever do. While I haven’t exactly picked pumpkin carving back up, I have learned to sew and knit. I’ve become a pretty darn good cook, I can use a camera, and some days I even call myself a writer.


fail friday guest post on happy stitch
So while some might look at the pumpkin thing as kind of a failure, I look at it as a jumping off point. I’m slowly learning to let go of my inner perfectionist. The first dozen or so pairs of pants I sewed had upside-down fabric on the pockets and uneven legs. But I promise, no one will notice when you put your adorable kiddo in the pants.


fail friday guest post on happy stitch
I have a smal business selling handmades, and I regularly sew the right and wrong side of the fabric together. This still causes me to screech sometimes, but I don’t give up. And neither should you. Keep encouraging yourself the same way you do your friend or your children. To live this creative life, you have to be okay when things go awry. Because they will. Once in awhile if you’re lucky, you’ll learn something awesome or amazing by it. More often than not, you’ll just have to laugh, pick up your seam ripper and tell yourself “this is easier than carving a pumpkin.


I think I have a new pumpkin motto.  thanks Stephinie!

and, there you have it.  the fail friday series….the official cheering section for this corner of blogland, is complete.  hope to have the occasional addition here and there but for now it’s time to focus on our upcoming holiday and the new year!  thanks everyone for joining in the fun.

fail friday :: a visit from steffani lincecum

welcome to another fail friday!  fail friday is chance for bloggers to showcase and celebrate sewing and crafting failures.  why? because life is messy and so are things behind the sewing machine! we might as well laugh at them, right? right.

failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor  ~truman capote

this week I am really excited to welcome Steffani Lincecum.  Steffani is a sewing instructor, pattern maker and author who lives in Wisconsin.  she’s the author of the brilliant book patternmaking for a perfect fit (my review of the book is here) and is currently busting out some sure-to-be-awesome Craftsy classes that will be launching in January 2013, so we will have to look out for that!  this is literal, she is actually in filming this week!  in fact, she just shot one that included buttonholes a few ago.  buttonholes, as you will discover, are a bit of sore point for Steff.

Steff’s background is pretty exciting…she worked in costume making for television shows and movies like “Will and Grace” and 3rd Rock from the Sun”, she has even made custom pieces for Madonna!  who can claim something like that?!  on top of all that talent, she is also very funny and not afraid to ham it up for our benefit.  and that is lucky for us because she decided to share a pretty hilarious story including a ‘crime scene reenactment’ photo.  she is a real treat, I’m telling you.  and, offers a great reminder that sometimes a fail is, well, just a fail and the best response is to look back with humor.

her blog stitchcoach is a great resource for pattern makers in particular.  and, according to Steff it is “usually about a month behind on being updated, but has occasional flashes of brilliance that really should not be missed.”  welcome Steff:


I have the ordinary sewing at 3 am and putting in the sleeves of that Amy Butler Shirtdress in bass-ackwards sort of sewing fails lately, but when I was asked to guest blog this and the word FAIL settled in, there is only one story that stands out to me as the single most mortifying sewing experience of my life.

I was just out of grad school at Tulane, where I got an MFA in Costume Design, so you’d think I would have been a little more savvy, but well, NO. I was not. Or maybe I was just really frazzled. Yeah, lets say I was really really frazzled. Anyway. I was doing an internship at my first professional theatre costume shop. These ladies were grizzled veterans, and I was the newbie. My job there was to assist the designer. I did a lot of shopping and taping up receipts and dressing shows in the evenings. We were about to open a really big show. A musical version of Jekyl & Hyde. The costume shop had been making these beautiful custom made clothes for months. The shop was pushed to the limits and I  volunteered to help with some finishing sewing. I was presented a newly made silk victorian blouse for the lead actress in the show. It was finished all except the buttonholes. The shop manager handed it to me tentatively. Did I know how to do buttonholes? Pshhhhhh. Of course I could make buttonholes, I had an MFA for goodness sake, I’d just been making Empire tailcoats the year before in our costume shop and had just done my thesis show, Spring Awakening, a huge period piece. Buttonholes? Hand me that blouse…

So I marked them and stitched them out. No problem. They looked pretty nice! Then I opened them ever-so-carefully with a seam ripper and handed the blouse back to the shop manager, beaming.

All the color drained from her face.

The buttonholes were all horizontal, like on a tailored jacket, or maybe an Empire tailcoat instead of vertical as they should be on a ladies blouse.

Photo: This is a professional stunt blouse in a closed environment. Please do
not attempt.

There was an audible gasp throughout the entire shop.

I wanted to crawl back under the machine.

They used the blouse.

A nightly reminder 8 shows a week of my place in the pecking order.

I’ve never made that mistake again.



ah, so good to start a friday with a funny story.  Thanks Steff for sharing.  it’s so good to know that even a seasoned veteran can make a mistake.  my sewing room errors should not slow me down, Steff was obviously unstoppable!

 stay tuned for next week, when we have the final (sniff) fail friday, a visit from Stephinie at gypsy forest!

fail friday :: a visit from *no big dill*

welcome to the december version of ‘fail friday’.  I am so excited to be able to keep going with this series!  fail friday, if you don’t know, is a chance to showcase and celebrate sewing and crafting failures.  life is messy and so are things behind the sewing machine sometimes.  too often, the dazzling world of blogs can get a little, well, perfect.  fail friday is a chance to own up to mistakes and discuss how, many times, they are actually really valuable to the creative process.  and, maybe those mistakes are even the gateway to something even better!

 if we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. ~henry david thoreau

that is certainly the case for this week’s guest blogger, katy dill from no big dill.  katy is not only a talented, talented sewer she also balances prolific sewing with parenting 6 kids and cooking like a pro.  check out her recipes here and her incredible sewing tutorials here.  she also runs a fantastic sewing series called once upon a thread, which features children’s clothing inspired by children’s books.  quite a magical combination, right?  I’m so excited she agreed to join fail friday! welcome katy:


Friday Fail is such a great series idea because we all have failures, even Martha Stewart.  In fact, sometimes I find myself liking and appreciating the results from “failures” because it pushes me to come up with creative solutions and many times the details I include to cover up mistakes are my favorite part of the whole project.  Recently I was making a jacket for my preschooler for the alphabet series on my blog.  Each week they learn a new letter and I’ve been making an outfit that correlates, so there’s not a whole lot of time to make mistakes or I would get behind.

The jacket pattern didn’t include a lining, so I was using the actual jacket to make my own lining and accidentally cut into the fabric about an inch, so the seam wasn’t going to cover it.  I think it was late at night and I just started laughing, and decided to go to bed and think it over. 
The next morning when my wits were more about me, I decided to use some fusible interfacing on the wrong side to keep it from fraying and as soon as the lining was in, I added a decorative ribbon on the outside to cover what was still visible.  Then I added another piece of ribbon, I liked it so much!

The fabric I used for the lining was of mystery content and shrunk a significant amount when I pressed it! so it turned out to be too small once it was all pinned. 

I didn’t have any of the fabric left except for little scraps, so I snipped it right down the center and inserted a box pleat.

 You wouldn’t even know that I hadn’t intended that to be there.

The hole-y ribbons really make the jacket.  And in the end, I find that it’s through mistakes and mishaps when my creativity is really given a chance to work.
Thanks, Melissa, for hosting this great series, and for inviting me to share my “fails” ;).


amazing, right? I wish all my mistakes looked that awesome.  but, I love the way that katy ‘covered her tracks’ and then loved the results! that is why I love fail friday because that kind of thing happens all the time to me! I really do love the path that failure takes me on sometimes.  thanks so much katy!  got a failure to share?! post it to the flickr group and tell your story…I would love to have a collection to share in January!  there is a lot of love in that paragraph.  whew, I am really feeling it today.

fail friday :: visit from *the long thread*

another friday, and this one marks the final in the november fail friday series (sniff), it would make me a little sad except I decided to extend it into december right up to the Christmas holiday (yay!).  consider it the accompaniment to all your holiday making!  in case you are new here, fail friday is a series of guest posts showcasing and celebrating sewing and crafting failures.  why? because the more honest we can be the more we can embrace the imperfection and enjoy all the stitching, sewing, knitting and making without that big looming perfect hanging over us.

you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.  ~mary pickford

with that, I am so excited to welcome ellen luckett baker as the final november guest blogger.  I have admired ellen’s work for such a long time…before she had written books and designed an amazing fabric collection, when she was just an amazing blogger and sewer.  and now! well, she has taken her great talents and her friendly, encouraging voice and brought it to the amazing (and pretty, oh so pretty) book 1,2,3 Sew published by Chronicle Book and the follow-up 1,2,3 Quilt, which will be available from Chronicle Books in Fall 2013.  ellen is also the designer behind the first fabric collection that made me want to take out a big loan, live like a shut-in and sew constantly.  her collection, Stamped, is so elegant and playful and also is a cotton/linen blend for the Japanese company Kokka(I do love me some japanese linen)…so many amazing things rolled into one!

you can read all about her craft and sewing projects on her blog The Long Thread.  ellen lives in Atlanta with her husband and two daughters.

welcome ellen!


Thanks to Melissa for asking me to be part of this Fail Friday series! It’s refreshing to see a realistic look at the process of making things.

I believe that mistakes are simply part of the creative process, so I don’t see them as failures, by rather as experiments that teach us along the way.  And as it happens, I had a couple interesting failures just yesterday as I was trying my hand at wet felting again after a few years.

Obviously, these didn’t turn into felt balls as I’d intended, but I’m sure my nine-year-old can turn these wool fuzzes into something great for her dolls.  And every time I make a stuffed animal, my dog is sure to get a new toy from one of my cast-off experiments.

As I was thinking about this post, I kept coming back to this Michael Jordan quote that my dad sent me a while back after I’d been rejected by a fabric company.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

My father is an optimist who after every meal says “That’s the best meal I’ve ever had!” I did not inherit his cheerful outlook on life, nor his affinity for inspirational quotes.  And I’m not know for perseverance.  After college, I had a job in a chain music store and when it became clear that I would have to wear a blue button-down shirt every day, I left for my lunch break and never came back! But the quote my father sent actually made me think.  The more chances we take, the more opportunity we have for failure; but when we take chances, we also open ourselves up to the possibility of success.

I have found that I fail repeatedly when making things.  I taught myself to sew by trial and error and I hate reading directions.  I even hang pictures on the wall without a measuring tape, making holes in the wall repeatedly until I get it right.  I find that when I make a mistake while sewing, I just have to take a break to relieve the frustration.  Then I can come back an hour late, the next day, or even after a month and try again with renewed determination and more knowledge than I had before, because now at least I know one thing that doesn’t work!  I don’t know if it comes from getting older or becoming a mother, but I just don’t want to give up any more.


what a wonderful way to end the november fail fridays! I feel positively filled with inspiration (and a little weepy!).  thanks ellen.  do check out her post here about what became of her felting project!

keep watch for next month when we welcome no big dill, gypsy forest, and the stitch coach!  want to share your ‘fail’? add it to the flickr group and tell your story!  I’d love to get that growing and share a few here come January!

fail friday :: visit from *this is marzipan*

it’s friday and that means it is time for another fail!  fail friday is a series of posts showcasing and celebrating sewing and crafting failures.  why? because life is messy and so is crafting and the more honest we can be about that, the happier we can stitch…and learn and laugh and embrace our imperfections. feel like joining in? post in the newly created flickr pool and share your fail story!

failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something ~ morihli veshiba

this week, I am thrilled to have mary frances from this is marzipan stopping in.  mary frances happens to be one of my oldest blog-world friends and we had the wonderful opportunity to actually meet in real-life recently.  and, she is just as thoughtful, honest, funny, and all-around wonderful in 3-d as she is on the world wide web.  (she is also one of those people that is beautiful and glow-y while pregnant…her family is waiting for their third right now.)  she brings all of those traits to her sewing, which makes her a blow-you-out-of-the-water kind of maker and brilliantly skilled photographer and writer. so, I feel especially lucky to have her ‘fail’ here today along with some brilliant tips and tricks on sewing with vinyl.  welcome mary frances!


hello happystitch-ers!  I was so pleased when Melissa decided to launch this Fail Friday series, because a) I fail at sewing projects all the time, and b) I am always relieved to read that it happens to others, too.
Most of my Fails end up stuffed in a bin in my closet.   You know the one–it’s thickly lined with guilt and trimmed with broken promises to return and salvage whatever unhemmed skirt or three-sleeved jacket has been banished there.  Still, sewing is a learning process and even when I don’t come back to a project-gone-wrong, I am certain that I take away lessons that make me a better sewer going forward.  Really, I am mostly OK with The Bin.
But I want to write a little today about what happens when you CAN’T settle for leaving a project behind.  Like, when a sewing Fail is not just for fun, but supposed to fulfill your volunteer requirement at your kids’ school.  Ahem.
Sewing With Vinyl; or, Pressing On When Your Presser Foot Is Wrong
Montessori schools have a lot of special materials, each with their own special container to keep things easy for the kids to use and put away.  One of those materials is the nomenclature or three-part cards.  These little sets present vocabulary labels along with diagrams and definitions for sets of terms ranging from art terminology to parts of a mushroom.  My boys’ school would like to move from the  ziploc bag storage system they are using now to a more-sophisticated vinyl folder system that will keep each type of card/label separate within the set.
And they needed someone to make these folders–200 plus of them, sewn from vinyl.  I am lucky to share the “seamstress” co-op job with a professional textile artist(!), but neither of us had any experience sewing with vinyl.  And it turns out that sewing with vinyl is kind of tricky.
Without going into all the gory details, let’s just say that my first attempts at making these guys were . . . frustrating.  Vinyl has a weird combination of stickiness and slipperiness that makes it difficult to cut and nigh-impossible to feed through a sewing machine under “normal” conditions.  On another project, I would have let myself give up somewhere between the second crooked cut and the umpteenth thread jam.  But, thanks to the forces of necessity and the generosity of the internet crafting community, I came up with some potential solutions, tried a few, and found some that worked.  And the packets didn’t come out half bad.  (There’s a metaphor for life in there, folks.)
I share more sources for vinyl-sewing tips and tricks below, but here are the ones I’ve discovered and found most helpful as I work through this project:
–Cutting:  If you are working with a large roll of vinyl, it really helps to have a second pair of hands to help steady the vinyl as you make your cuts.  Otherwise, the vinyl will shift during cutting and send your scissors/rotary astray.  I found a rotary cutter to work best, and I also found a large metal ruler from my husband’s woodworking supplies to compensate for the extra length of the large roll.
–Needle selection: You’ll want a heavy-duty topstitching needle, or even one designated for leather.  Change it often, as the vinyl will dull it more quickly than fabric.
–Thread: Similarly, a heavy-duty thread performed best.
–Stitch type: I used a zig-zag for all stitches, to avoid a single line of holes in the vinyl that might result in tearing.
–Presser foot: ***Here is where I ran in to real trouble.  When the double thicknesses of vinyl were refusing to feed through my machine, many of the sources I consulted said that you need a specialty foot–teflon, walking, or roller feet are mentioned in various places–but I was hoping to avoid a special purchase.  A little more Internet poking resulted in the best tip of all: you can usescotch tape to cover your presser foot and plate to provide a texture that will feed the vinyl through your machine smoothly.
–Other warnings: Layers of vinyl will stick together, so you’ll want to treat any edges of pockets with stitching or some kind of fabric tape to make them accessible in the finished product.  And look out for your machine’s thread trimmer when you are removing the piece from under the presser foot!  Since vinyl is stiffer than fabric, it’s more likely to get dragged through that tiny blade accidentally, ruining the piece you just finished sewing.  Not that that happened to me or anything.  Definitely not twice.
And that’s it!  It’s a good experience to HAVE to persevere on a project, because then you experience the joy of finding solutions when it seems all is lost.  I’ll close with some additional resources and projects that employ vinyl:
Here are a few sites that share multiple approaches to sewing with vinyl and similarly-coated fabrics (like PVC and oilcloth):
Slick Tricks at
How to Get Leather or Vinyl to Glide Smoothly Across Your Machine at
Oilcloth Tips at SewMamaSew.
For the very ambitious, MJ Trends (a source for buying vinyls and PVCs) has a detailed guide on apparel sewing with these fabrics.
Inspired?  Here are some great tutorials from around the internet for sewn vinyl projects:
Too Cute Card Holders at Rosey Corner Creations.
Clear Vinyl Tote Bag at Craftinomicon.
Sewn-In Vinyl Pocket Notebook at futuregirl.
Clear Zipper Pouches at Make It and Love It.
Paper-Vinyl Wallet Craft at Martha Stewart.
As for myself, I think it would be fun to make a wall-hanging jewelry or notions organizer that combines fabric and vinyl.  Ashley’s (pictured above and with a tutorial available at her site, Make It and Love It) is super cute.  Or how about a larger version for your kids’ rooms for racecars, Legos, or dolls?  I didn’t get around to trying it for this post (blogging Fail!), so maybe one of you will do it first!  You’re armed with vinyl know-how, now let me know how it goes!
fantastic! it is hard not be be inspired to sew with vinyl when faced with such an impressive list of ideas! am definitely inspired…lots of gift possibilities in that, I would say.  thanks for sharing miss mary frances! I’m awfully happy you failed, for my benefit at the very least.

fail friday :: a visit from elsie marley

welcome to round two of fail friday!  fail friday is the showcase and celebration of failure…the funny, the ridiculous, the big and the small mistakes that makes us beautifully imperfect.

failure is unimportant.  it takes courage to make a fool of yourself–charlie chaplin

I am so excited to welcome the inimitable meg from elsie marley!  in addition to running the amazing and inspiring bi-annual kids clothes week challenge, meg is a fervent sewer, decorator, baker and mother.  her hip, spare style sense is matched only by her witty and honest voice.  she is truly unparalleled and not one to shy away from an elbows-on-the-kitchen-table type of conversation.  so much so that I think much of the blog world feels they are sat down right next to her.  indeed, a few of her posts motivated this whole failure series.   so, grab a mug of something hot and settle in because, here is meg!


Hello happy stitch readers! Meg from elsie marley here to show off my fabulous failures! You may know every spring and fall I host a sew-a-long called the Kids Clothes Week Challenge (or kcwc for short). It is a week of frantic sewing and while many beautiful things get made some pretty awful looking ones do too. The latest edition of kcwc went unbelievably smoothly for me, but there were still a few rough patches. May I present exhibit A and exhibit B:

double fail

Let’s start with A, shall we. The plan was to upcycle one of my old shirts using Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee pattern. I screwed up on the very first step: I cut out two front pieces instead of a front and a back. No problem, I thought, one mistake I can roll with it–even though it is a pretty big one. I hatched a new plan with a redesign in mind and started to sew.

the pretty good

Looks pretty decent from the front, eh?

the ugly

Whoa! where did that crazy, ruffle-y piece of poo come from? Fail! To make the front piece into a back piece, I had to patch it. I thought hey, I’ll use the gray ribbing for the patch and all the edgings and then make some epaulettes thingies too so the whole thing looks like it was intentional. I sewed one patch on, too small. Ripped it out. I sewed the second patch on, a little bigger, but still too small. Ripped it out. Cut the patch out again, said screw it, I’m sure this one is big enough and I serged it.

the good and the ugly

It was a little wavy at this point, but nothing an iron couldn’t fix. I soldiered on: made the shoulder patch doo-dads, sewed the sleeves, then put together the whole shirt. The neckline was the last thing and wow! it took the back patch from a little bad to OMG there is an enormous, fat, dead, gray worm on your back! Of course my son loves it. The shirt is pretty much a failure, but had I not kept at it I would never had added the shoulder detail, which I am totally in love with. And a little back yoke could look cute too, if it’s less dead-wormy.

lapped tee fail

Sometimes you keep at it and good things happen, sometimes you keep at it and things go in the toilet. I started this shirt 2 years ago. It was for my oldest son, who was then 3. I tried to size up the 90 minute shirt pattern and I sized it all wrong. The lapped collar too overlapped (ha!) so the neck hole was very small (I remember him making dramatic choking noises when he tried it on). The shirt was short sleeve then and the sleeves were all kinds of wrong too. So it sat jammed in a corner, because the fabric is this lovely soft jersey (I used it for baby pjs too) and I couldn’t throw it away.

Now my youngest son is 3, so I unpicked the sleeves, cut new ones, tried to fix the collar, and then sewed the new long sleeves on. The collar is better, though a little big. The sleeves, on the other hand, are crazy janky now! One juts straight out to the side the other one is weirdly big. I think I need to stop trying to make this shirt work and pick it apart and start over. Sometimes a project can seem cursed: no matter what you do, every bit goes wrong. As my grandfather would say, “As you sew, so shall you rip.”

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!

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