Getting it right the first time is definitely overrated. I’m pretty sure I’m right about this. I made good grades in school, I’ve done a lot of things right, I’ve often benefited from being right, and I still think it’s overrated.
Not that I don’t love to be right. I do. It makes me feel good and smart and virtuous, maybe even a little superior. But needing to be right, especially needing to be right the first time, can be a huge obstacle. If you need to be right, you can’t afford to be wrong. If you can’t afford to be wrong, you can’t afford to try. If you can’t afford to try, you can’t learn anything new. And what fun is that?!
I’m taking a pattern drafting class to learn how to create sewing patterns from scratch. You take specific measurements of a person’s body, and use those measurements to create a sewing pattern and then a garment that fits that person perfectly—when you get it right. There are lots of opportunities for getting it wrong. I’m surely right about that. This week I went to class full of enthusiasm for what I’d accomplished. I was enthused until I learned how much I’d done wrong: a dart that was too large and in the wrong place, a finished skirt that was too big, an unfinished skirt that was going to cling worse than cling wrap, and seam binding meant to be a touch of couture that was sloppy, bulky and just plain wrong. Well, darn.
How discouraging. I’ve been sewing for a lot of years. I’ve even been taking this class for a few years. I should know better. I should have it right. In fact, I haven’t made that many mistakes in this class. And there’s the rub. I haven’t made many mistakes, because I haven’t done much. As I started correcting my mistakes, I began to appreciate how much I was learning from them. Now I know what happens when the dart is too wide or comes from a certain angle. Now I know what happens when the fabric stretches. Now I know what to put under a skirt that clings. Now I know what happens when you stretch the fabric under the seam binding. Hmm, might be useful if I want a ruffled look.
And the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I wasted a lot of time not learning this stuff sooner. If I hadn’t been so concerned about getting it right the first time, I might have already made a lot more mistakes and gained a lot more understanding.
That’s all for now. I need to go baste together the latest revision of the muslin and see if it’s closer to right.
Oops, there’s more: notice what you notice about getting it right, being willing to be wrong, and the opportunities that follow. And have all the fun you can.