Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

This is what it looked like on my bike ride home last night:

Really dark. Really wet. It was close to 9 o’clock when I got home, without a tidy blog post written for today. I’d spent the last couple of hours doing ‘just one last thing’ before packing it up. And even when I left, I felt bad leaving where there was just so much to do!

Then I got out on my bike and it was dark. Really dark. All afternoon it had been pouring rain and since I’m near a busy intersection, I’d heard tires screeching all day as people tried to stop their cars. I like to think I’m confident but I was feeling a little afraid! The first couple minutes of my ride were kind of scary. (Have you ever rode a bike in the dark? Seems fine until you try it!)

As I pulled into the driveway, I instantly knew what to write for today’s post, and this is it. Don’t be so hard on yourself! (It’s what I have to tell myself or I’ll end up biking home late in the dark over and over again.)

What I mean is: don’t compare your sewing productivity to other sewing bloggers. Don’t be overly critical of sewing mistakes, and don’t dwell on failed projects. We all make mistakes. (Even me.) It’s all a learning experience! Sewing is about making awesome things, but it’s also about the process. Try and enjoy the sewing process, rather than rush to get it done! Don’t stress over whether you’ve picked the exact right pattern for your perfect fabric. (I’m so guilty of this one! Plenty of ‘too pretty to use’ fabrics in my collection.) If you only have a little bit of time to sew, then make a little bit of progress on your project. Just think – you’re leaving yourself wanting more, chances are you won’t get bored of it! What I’m trying to say is – don’t stress yourself out over sewing. Don’t turn it into a chore or a competition. (Unless it is in fact a chore or a competition.) From reading the comments on the How Do You Make Time to Sew? post, a lot of you struggle to find time to sew. And many of you wonder how everyone else does it, and feel guilty when you’re not as productive as you want to be. Let’s all try not to be so hard on ourselves!

I hope this isn’t too touchy-feely for a blog post – it’s what I felt like saying! It seemed right after talking about sewing seasons ahead so we’re not behind, then wondering how everyone manages to fit sewing into their busy lives, and then not having time to write a proper post for yesterday. Thanks for listening and have an awesome weekend!

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36 Responses to Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

  1. Kylie September 16, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    This is a really timely post for me as I’ve been feeling pretty down about not making time for sewing lately. But you know what, I feel a little better after reading your post Tasia. Thank you. I plan to have an awesome weekend (and maybe even squeeze in a little stitching). I hope you do too.

  2. karen September 16, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Thank you so much for that. I find myself falling into that self-depreciating cycle sometimes and I hate it. This summer I made two items out of knits that didn’t quite work and I was convinced I could NOT sew knits. It actually made me glad I blog because I was able to look back and see all the knits I have sewn that have worked out. So thanks for the reminder. I also think it is SUPER scary to ride a bike at night, especially in bad weather :)

  3. Stephanie September 16, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    I tell myself that all the time (and so does my husband). I am learning to look at “failed” sewing projects (fit not quite right, something not laying right, or the style turned out not to be flattering on me) as sewing lessons. I used to get angry because it seemed like money was wasted, but since I have learned something from vitually ever mistake, they really are reasonablly priced lessons. This is especially true when I am trying new techniques because I can never make myself just practice numberous times on scraps; I try them once and then go on to the garment. The dress I am currently working on, a Ralph Rucci Chado shirtdress (Vogue), has welt pockets with flaps, which I have never done before. They look good when I am wearing the dress, but close examination reveals small areas that could have been done better, and I will definitely do a better job the next time I try them.

  4. Michelle @ If Toys Could Talk September 16, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    This is an awesome post, Tasia. I read a number of awesome sewing and quilting blogs and sometimes have to remind myself not to compare my own sewing (and time management!) skills to them. I know I’ll have more time someday when my children are a little older. :)

  5. Seraphinalina September 16, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Absolutely! That’s a great post. I think we all get caught up in the “should’s” of life. It’s one thing to have a reason to push your self a little harder, or take a risk, but it should not be to the point of feeling guilty or beating yourself up about mistakes. Going back to your post about finding time to sew, it’s about priorities and the process. Sometimes life is going to make it hard to be as productive as you “should” be. Sometimes there will be setbacks, but if we accept we are doing what we can with the time constraints we have, then what is there to be upset about? Mistakes let us learn and it doesn’t matter how long you have been sewing, there is always something to learn.

  6. Erika September 16, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Thank you for posting this. I’m guilty of all of the above! Esp about finding faults in my work, I can tell everything that’s wrong in a garment I’ve made before I point out what I’m happy with. I used to find a lot of time to sew, but my work hours have gone up a great deal the past year, and I keep expecting from myself that I’ll sew as much as before, which just ins’t possible.

    A timely post! I’ll try to stop once in a while and remember to not be so hard on myself =)

  7. Vicki Kate September 16, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Too ture. I’m glad you got home safe and I know what you mean about riding in the dark and bad weather. Good lights are a must! Thank you for replying to my emails to yesterday, I hope they didn’t delay you too much.

  8. Leezee September 16, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Interesting post, Tasia. After reading the comments about the “time to sew” blog, I was wondering if anyone besides me sees all the flaws in what you’ve created and then is embarrassed to wear it, even when those flaws are probably invisible to everyone else. Maybe I could get some insight from the group if you’ve ever felt like that, and how you overcame it.

  9. Corinne September 16, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    This post is true, needed and honest. I am always amazed at the super prolific bloggers. More power to them, it is not me and never will be. I have a busy life and the sewing and blogging are squeezed in. I do believe this is more the norm than the exception. I give you so much respect for the challenges of Sewaholic. All this hard work will pay off for you, I am sure, but being realistic about our time and abilities make the process enjoyable rather than tedious. My example is my Mother. Surrounded by ladies who sewed, crafted, and decorated she tried and tried. Everything she made was not so good. She struggled with buttons and hems, but did manage to make two dresses, one had the sleeves in backwards, then she gave up. She was a great cook and a master gardener and when the family sewers complimented her on those skills that she had and they did not her goals changed. That was her a-ha moment, she was never going to sew, anything. I continue to believe in the system of starting small, building skills and advancing in knowledge as we sew. Many sewing errors result in wanting to do too much too soon. Patience, practice and practical projects feed the sense of accomplishment and advance us as sewers.

  10. Lauren September 16, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    ohhh, i hope you have lights & reflectors on your bike (yes, BOTH lights & reflectors!)!! barring that, yes, riding in the dark is kind of scary, although i’m pretty used to it since i mostly ride at night :) i just realized that all my jackets are black, though, so i think i’m going to make myself something in a bright yellow for more visibility!

    i think it is good advice, though, to definitely take a step back from time to time when one starts to feel overwhelmed. i have to remind myself that i’m not superwoman and that no one expects me to be… and it’s ok to make mistakes, and to fall behind on me (self-imposed & usually absurdly tight)deadlines.

  11. frk.bustad September 16, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m constantly fighting guilt – guilt for not sewing enough, guilt for not blogging enough, guilt for not being efficient at work, guilt for not seeing my friends as much as I should, guilt for not giving something back to the sewing community (i.e. tutorials) etc. I’m trying to teach myself NOT to compare myself with other bloggers who have made it, and I’m trying to rather sew than blog. I’m always in awe to bloggers and seamstresses like yourself, but I try to stay in awe rather than feel guilt and envy… So all in all: I’m working on not being too hard on myself, and I keep reading brilliant blogs because they (e.g. you :) ) give me so much inspiration and joy! So thanks again for this post!

  12. Stephanie September 16, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    Thank you for this post, Tasia! I also regularly feel guilty for not sewing as much as I could (particularly the last couple of weeks this past August, when it was just too sweltering hot to do much of anything, let alone sew!) and am now making up for lost time. Finishing my dress from Gertie’s Bombshell online class (finally), and trying to make one or two last late-summer dresses before starting a piece or two for Fall. *crosses fingers* I trip on my own two feet when it’s sunny out, so stay safe on your bike ride home in the rain!!

  13. Mary September 16, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    The Mother in me wants to say “You be careful out there riding in the dark!” Very thoughtful post…thank you Tasia!

  14. Molly September 16, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    That’s really true. I have been getting lots of comments lately about how much I’ve been sewing and how jealous people are, but I want to say “well, I’m unemployed and have no kids!! What else would I be doing?!” It’s definitely something to remember, give yourself a break!

  15. Sofia September 16, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    I love this post. I can’t agree more that I strive to be perfect at things, everything actually, and it sometimes is more of a stress than an exciting goal. I tend to spend too much time on things trying to get them right, or if I don’t get it or can’t figure it out, I get super frustrated and start to get upset. There have been so many times I made something, and it wasn’t perfect but I wore it anyways, and everyone LOVED IT. Most people around here can’t even sew a damn button on, so why on earth would I expect them to see fault in my garments I made? The day I get something absolutely perfect, I’ll pay you ONE MILLION DOLLARS. But for now, I’m fine being semi-perfect. :)

    • Leezee September 18, 2011 at 5:23 am #

      @Sofia: @Sofia:
      Thanks for the comment, Sofia. Your insight, that most people can’t even sew on a button so do I really think they’ll know what’s wrong with my dress, gave me a shot of confidence and has become my new mantra. It really made a difference in how I feel about my sewing, and I am grateful for the help!

  16. Ann September 16, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Last winter I went to a bike store and bought a lightweight mesh reflective vest that I could pull on over my coat for my ride home. Of course it’s not a guarantee, but it made me feel a lot better and I think it was money well spent! You just have to remember to keep it in your work bag, or in your bike basket, or whatever, so you have it at night when you need it.

    As for the main topic, I really appreciate this pep talk! It helps me to think back to a year ago and realize I’ve tried a whole bunch of new skills since then. I haven’t mastered them all, but some are starting to sink in…

  17. Nan York September 16, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    This is a wonderful post. I often fall into looking at other sewers blogs thinking oh gosh I need to get with it and do even more. Thanks for reminding me I don’t I’m at my own pace here.
    However when giving sewing lessons to a friend I was really upset with her for only wanting to concentrate on finishing the skirt so she could wear it on Sunday. She was leaving some really terrible work inside the waist band I felt saying no one would see it in her rush to completion. I told her you never must have a deadline like that just do what you can and do it well not the rush to finish sewing is not about that but to be proud of the work you did.

  18. sallyann September 16, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Riding in the dark–eyes wide open. Try to be familair with a place or places that you could walk into if you became concerned. A reflecting garment would be a real plus.
    As for sewing, I tend to “should” myself to disraction. You should get this done and you should be working on this. When I get one too many muslin throw a ways, I get aggitated. Everyone around me knows it, as I get quiet. I am not always sure what will look good on my thin pear shape and is “age apprpriate”. I guess I should think of these as learning experiences and not be so hard on myself.
    Different but excellent post. Thanks.

  19. Casey September 16, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Brilliantly put, Tasia! :) I didn’t get a chance to comment on the “time to sew” post, but I did enjoy reading all the responses. I think especially as sewing bloggers we tend to focus a lot on the “perfect end product” and sometimes forget that the mistakes and taking time to really enjoy the process can be just as fun. :) There is always this push for new content–I know I’ve gotten caught up in that too sometimes! ;) Lately though life has been really busy for me and there are big changes happening, so I’ve been a bit less hard on myself in regards to blogging and taking more time to relax with my sewing. The thing is, if I’m trying to constantly rush to finish projects or whatnot, that really takes the enjoyable aspect of sewing away. Which is not how it’s supposed to be (at least not for most of my projects… lol. I have had a few that were definite “chores” but needed to be completed whether I wanted to or not! lol.).

    Anyway, enough rambling. Thank you so much for posting this! :)

  20. Tilly September 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Very well put! Thanks for such a thoughtful, genuine post. I do find myself considering sewing as… well, if not a chore, then certainly a challenge at times. In that I tell myself I’ve got to get some sewing done at the weekend and then it becomes a thing on the ‘to do’ list. Which is stupid! I’m going to enjoy it for the pleasure it is this weekend xx

  21. Joen September 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I have learned to slow down and just enjoy the process a bit, (maybe doing Yoga helped me with that LOL). But I realized it is my hobby and my passion whats the rush and I enjoy my finished product so much more when I took the time to “stich in the ditch” my lining so it will stay put and fit better. As you say its not a competition, if you’ve set time aside (which is the hard part sometimes) then why not enjoy yourself! Happy Sewing Everyone!

  22. katrina September 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    This is a great post! It’s true for so many different aspects of your life too.

    It has been getting dark really early all of a sudden, hasn’t it? I had to cut my run short last night because of it.

    Also, I hope you have front and back lights on your bike! :D

  23. Louise September 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    One of the biggest problems for a true artist is that we are way too hard on ourselves. We know perfection, strive for it, but if we miss it by a stitch or two, we are horrified and rather than leaving it alone and knowing that people who cannot do this art won’t have any clue, we stand right up and admit our little mistakes in answer to, of all things, a lovely compliment. Why can’t we just take the compliment and be quiet? LOL!!!!!
    We really do need to give ourselves a break, whether it is sewing, cooking, gardening, whatever!!! At least we are trying, learning and willing to try again!!!! Yayyyy, us!!!!! Thanks for the reminder and it is so good to know we are not alone.
    Be safe riding and have a great weekend.


  24. Rachel September 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    hurrah! well said.

  25. Huggie September 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Nice post. I think maybe it’s in the nature of people who have the patience and passion to sew to be perfectionsit! Than attention to detail. I think it’s remembering to turn that ‘off’ when it’s made and just step back and see it as a whole, probably rather fabulous, piece.

  26. Jeanne Marie September 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Love it, Tasia. Thanks for keeping it real.

  27. Heather September 16, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Hi Tasia, what a lovely post! I’ve been thinking about you and wanted to suggest that you have a scheduled time each week for personal sewing in your office. I know you don’t have a sewing machine at home anymore, and perhaps doing personal sewing in your office during the work day sometimes feels like “cheating” but it’s really important to take care of yourself and keep your creative juices flowing when you are running your own business. That way, you have a half day (or two) each work week that you can really look forward to and give yourself a break. All the best to you and be safe on those roads!

  28. Lois September 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    I have a friend who constantly tells me, “Don’t should on yourself”.

  29. Katy September 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    It’s funny, I look at other people’s productivity and think ‘OMG, they’re awesome, they get so much done’ and then feel totally embarassed when people say the same to me on my blog comments. I feel I should be saying ‘no really, look, HERE’S productivity’ lol You’re right though, life is not a contest. No, it’s not… erm, now you must excuse me, I have some projects to work on to try and catch up with a few people… ;o)

  30. Jane Elise September 16, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Great post, Tasia. I do get discouraged when I see some every day people blogging what looks like a finished project every week and they are all fabulous!! I am STILL working on my Lonsdale…and even though my Australian Summer is still coming, I feel like a bit of a loser!

  31. Volute September 17, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    This is so true, Tasia. Kudos for your being that sincere.

  32. Carlotta Stermaria September 17, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    This is just the post I needed to read, thank you for writing it, Tasia.

    My sewing machines are at my parent’ place right now, and with a fall palette challenge going on, the first thing I want to do when I’m at their place is to sew, sew, sew. But I picked a decidedly wrong fabric for my first project, and I already feel way behind… You’re right, the most important thing about your sewing pace is that it is precisely your own. I’ll try to keep that in mind when I’ll work on the second version of my dress…

  33. Janice September 19, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Great post! No one should feel compelled to blog. I am really inspired by other sewing bloggers but I don’t compare myself to them, since I don’t know how busy their lives are or what their schedules are.

    About the productivity, I always try to remind myself that sewing is a slow artform and that is why I’m making clothes, not buying them.

  34. Winnie September 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    This is just what I needed to hear! I just finished a summer dress with liberty cotton and let’s just say – it’s frumparama! I was very upset at myself for choosing such an unflattering pattern, but I also know I learnt a lot and now know to steer clear from skirts that are shaped like a rectangle and then gathered to fit. Not for the pear shaped lady…

  35. Sarah October 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Hi Tasia! I just recently discovered your blog from your guest post on Sew Mama Sew! This is a really inspiring post for me! You see, I am extremely new to sewing. As in, I can count the number of times I’ve used my sewing machine, which I received as a gift. Since I’ve started sewing, I’ve been enamored with sewing blogs! It’s so easy for me to get discouraged when I see how good some bloggers are and how creative they can be. And then compare that to my current sewing skill level. Needless to say, I am no where near where I eventually hope to be. But, I like what you said. “Don‚Äôt be overly critical of sewing mistakes, and don‚Äôt dwell on failed projects.” Even though I’ve messed up pretty much all of my sewing projects so far, the good thing is, I haven’t given up! I’m really starting to enjoy sewing as a process and what I’m learning along the way. Believe me when I say that I’ve become best friends with my seam ripper! :) Anyway, I love your blog, and I look forward to reading more of your blog and your story!