A disconsolate letter poured into the Getting Things Sewn headquarters this morning addressed to our advice columnist, Miss GTS.
Dear Miss GTS,
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I should be excited to be in the Ready to Wear Fast year-long sewing challenge, but I’m depressed, and it’s only Day 4!
Over a thousand sewers have signed up, and some have already posted pictures of their first finished garments on the Facebook page!
Meanwhile, all I’ve done so far is give up on a pattern that’s described as “so easy even the schoolgirl can make it.”
I had high hopes for making a sleeveless jacket from Pictorial 7318, but the 1930s pattern-drafting mystifies me and I don’t know whether the fault lies in the pattern or in my feeble understanding.
I guess those schoolgirls in the 1930s all went to vocational schools in garment districts.
While I was folding up the pattern pieces and putting them away yesterday I was mad because I can’t count this project toward my total count, which I was planning to be awesomely awesome.
The one who sews the most garments wins, I’m already behind, and I’ll never make up the lost ground.
Miss GTS, what can I do? I’m miserable!
Sniffling in Columbus
It sounds like you’re suffering from a common malady called Compare and Despair. You are using a cheap, off-the-rack mental shortcut to compare your projects with other people’s projects rather than a tailor-made instrument to judge your results against your goals.
I could say “Just stop counting–right now!” but that would be as ineffectual as telling you not to think about a polar bear. Instead, I suggest that you radically change what you count.
The number of garments you make is much less important than how well you’ve planned those garments to work with each other. Leverage the power of capsules to create hundreds of outfits.
If you make 8 tops, 8 bottoms, and 8 jackets or cardigans that all go together, that’s 8 times 8 times 8, or 512 potential outfits. Is that impressive, or what?
And remember, zero is a number, too. How about aiming for:
- Zero wardrobe orphans
- Zero fabrics in unflattering colors or patterns
- Zero patterns that don’t work for you
- Zero Craftsy classes or sewing DVDs bought but never used
- Zero unfinished projects
But even creative counting can get you only so far. The most valuable lessons, skills, and knowledge awaiting you are unquantifiable. If you are lacking in pattern-drafting knowledge see how you can achieve your goals within your current capacities.
Before you can be a practitioner, you have to practice.
Learn more patience. Practice using your serger.
Learn more diligence. Practice fitting a pants pattern.
Learn how to ask for help in more ways. Take advantage of being able to ask your Craftsy instructors questions.
Push yourself to work on your challenge edge–and be sure to give yourself credit for it.
Also, take breaks.
So for a vastly more interesting, productive–and fun!–year, drop the self-defeating game of Compare and Despair and design your own game of Dare and Declare. Dare to define what you want to accomplish, and declare, “This is what I’m doing–you’re welcome to join me!”
I know you can do this, Sniff.
I’m counting on you.