Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Maker's Thought

A woman walked into my dayjob office yesterday, and at once admired the quilts hanging on my walls. She mentioned that she had quilters in her family but had never quilted herself. I encouraged her to tell me more, and she shared that at age 12, she won first place in a Singer Sewing Machine Contest for a dress she had made. This was a two-week event where she'd go every day to sew for a couple of hours. I likened it to 'sewing camp' and she nodded in agreement. So I was duly impressed! And then she told me, 'After I won first place, my mother and grandmother took the dress entirely apart because it wasn't perfect, and sewed it back together again." I think my mouth was hanging open at this point. She went on to say, "I don't remember feeling particularly bad about it, but sometimes I wonder if that's why I no longer have any interest in sewing." YA THINK?

My eyes were a little misty as we parted ways, and I could not for the life of me imagine how that must have felt to have your winning project disassembled because it wasn't good enough. And it made me oh-so-thankful for a girl scout leader, a home-ec teacher, a grandma, a mom, and eventually a family, who have valued my skills (or at least my attempt at them!) at every stage. A variety of  objectives are wrapped up in my sewing and my quilts, but perfection, to be honest, is not one of them. A striving to do good work, oh yes, but the delight in the process, and the knowledge that it is good enough must have the last word.


15 comments:

  1. Wow, if her family was that particular about perfection in sewing, can you imagine how the rest of her life played out? Yes, I'm thankful for the support and encouragement from family and friends. It would be a shame to not have that in our lives.

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  2. Oh wow, what a powerful story. My heart goes out to her, because as Barb mentions above, it makes me wonder how the rest of her life played out.

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  3. Perfection has its place in life, but not in my sewing room either! The poor girl. What an amazing effect her mom and grandma could've made on her life if they'd praised her work and accomplishments on winning first place! Thank you for being her listener as she may not have shared this story and emotions with anyone for a long time. Hopefully, seeing your awesome work will encourage her to plug in a sewing machine again!

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  4. Wow- thank you for sharing this story. It makes my heart hurt for her, but is such a great reminder of the power we have to either encourage or tear down one another.

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  5. Such a great reminder of how we should treat others - especially our family!

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  6. I hope she has found acceptance in the rest of her life.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this story. It's message is so poignant.

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  8. People can be mean - and when it comes from your own family - is especially heart breaking. I'm thankful for the encouragement I receive from my own family. Also maybe that is why sewing baby quilts for the hospital is such a happy mission of mine. They are 'needed', whereas often given as gifts at showers you notice, how they are not often wanted, so....my joy is in supplying the ones in need - and especially pray they are a blessing each time :)!

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  9. So, this has nothing to do with sewing, except it REALLY does. When I was small the toilet flusher gismo broke when I flushed it. My mother said some disparaging things and the one that stuck is I break everything I touch. REALLY STUCK. Machines intimidate me. Thankfully I LOVE my sewing machine, but don't want one that is too complicated. I have had a serger for at least 30 years that I have never used. I am 66 and have never overcome those words my mother spoke...and many others. The woman's story IS really sad and I bet it filters into other parts of her life too.
    xx, Carol

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  10. The power of words is remarkable. There is no way that didn't mold and guide her life, at least in some small way. Hearing this story has me going over my childhood and my childrens childhood!

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  11. I took a painting class once, following instructions and teacher example. Fellow classmates admired my work. Teacher came along and with a few brushstrokes changed my rendition to look VERY similar to hers. I no longer loved my work and gave the picture away as soon as I was able. The teacher had taken my spirit out of the painting.

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  12. I love your words.... 'variety of objectives are wrapped up in my sewing and my quilts, but perfection, to be honest, is not one of them'. Thank you for that.
    I have perfectionist quilting friends and have sat next to others at quilt classes, and their intensity is off-putting to me. I would LIKE to achieve perfection, but I 'settle' for continual improvement in my quilting skills. I value quilting as a relaxing and enjoyable process, and love having a heartfelt end product that I can gift to someome.

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  13. Thank you for this blog post; so sad how one can be so easily discouraged instead of encouraged. Perhaps today - you have started her on a new step towards trying again for the joy of the process. This is what I have tried to teach my beginner sewing students - i am not looking for perfection - but joy in the process. Work that they can be proud of when they are finished.

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    1. Right on Shannon!
      Who hasn't been broadsided by someone's careless or rude words?
      'Perhaps today you have started her on a new step,'

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  14. It's easy to allow self doubt to gain momentum when reinforced by those close to you. We must remember to step back and enjoy the journey of creating beauty and joy. Thanks for sharing this woman's story. It reinforces the need to be not only kind to yourself during the process but also to encourage those beginng their own journey.

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