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I used to sew something and if it wasn't perfect, I'd just decide to deal with it -- then end up hating the fit or the finish or whatever. Now I take the time to rip out and re-sew, or re-cut a piece, or remake... whatever is needed.
Kendra Van Cleave



It all boils down to two things: time, and care. Care can be summarized as a willingness to do things well, even if it's inconvenient.
Laurie Tavan


antique embroidery scissorsInconvenient is one word for it… frustrating is another. How many times have you spent ten minutes, half an hour, half a day working on a costume and then found that the whole thing was just wrong? You’re not alone. I’ve set left sleeves into right armholes many times. Sometimes the offending sleeve was even inside-out.


When the tears dry, the temptation is to deal with it and carry on. There’s no way you’re going to waste your time going back, is there? Life’s too short.


Or is it? Kendra and Laurie have both discovered that there is great satisfaction to be had by retracing your steps, even re-cutting pieces if you have to. Why? Because if you do carry on, even if the mistake is unnoticeable, you’ll always know it’s there. That dress will always be the one with the sleeves in the wrong armholes to you, even if other people sing its praises. It will be spoilt – for you. You’ll consider yourself amateur, even if all around are praising you.


The first time you do take the time to go back and start again, just wait for the feeling you get when you’ve done it correctly. The enormous swell of pride in knowing that it’s been done right is not worth passing up. You will know that you do what most seamstresses don’t. You will have professional pride in your careful work.


So how do you suck it up and go back when all you want to do is scream and incinerate the blasted thing?


Here’s what works for me. When you realise your mistake, put the work down and step away from the fabric and scissors. That’s right, take a break. In fact, put it away and pledge to come back to it tomorrow.


When you come back to the project the next day, have a short session just undoing what you did wrong. Then put it away again. This is a lot less daunting than trying to undo and redo all at the same time. Just do the unpicking – or if it’s a cutting mistake, sort out what’s right and what’s wrong, ditch the bad parts and work out whether you need more fabric. Order what you need and get ready to restart next time.


Then, on the third day, you can come back to the work refreshed and ready to work towards a renewed sense of your own professional pride and skill.


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