Something that always makes you feel upset with yourself is when you’ve given up on something. It could be giving up on waking up early, leaving that last bit of ice cream for tomorrow, or even giving up on something like studying. No one wants to feel like a failure, and sewing is no exception. Giving up on a project is really rough – it makes you feel as if you aren’t talented and you suddenly start to question why you sew at all. That being said, sometimes it’s almost necessary to let go of a project and move on. We’ve all seen those quotes about never giving up…but they aren’t very good at acknowledging that you can’t always keep going. In sewing, it’s ok to ‘give up’ and move on from a project. Just toss it out and try something new! It doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you can recognize when you need to just stop. The whens and whys will be different for everyone, but here are my thoughts on the subject. Please feel free to let me know what you think and share your own stories!
1) I get so frustrated, I no longer see myself wearing it.
This seems pretty self explanatory. When I’m making something I’m doing it because I see myself wearing it in the near future. I can see myself in it at work, going out, and even just around the house. For most projects if I get frustrated I walk away but am still excited to finish it soon. However, some projects make me angry and I stay angry. Even just thinking about the project just makes me upset and frustrated. In the event that I can’t even get excited about it anymore I just ditch it, permanently.
2) I’ve made so many mistakes that it’s damaged beyond repair.
Some mistakes are easy to move on from and resewing a seam or two isn’t the end of the world. However, you can sew fabric to death, or rip it, create holes in it, etc. I’ve accidentally cut a hole in a couple of my dresses…I’ve been able to patch them up though so it’s nothing serious. I was working with some silk once for a muslin and after needing to unpick a seam to let it out about 4 times, the fabric was dead. It was fraying out of control, and the silk was so sensitive that the needle left holes I couldn’t hide. I had to re-cut the silk and ended up just putting the whole project aside until I had reviewed the sizing some more. It still isn’t finished, mostly because it’s for a bridesmaid dress I don’t need for over a year, and I’ve been losing weight so until I level out it’d be silly to try again.
3) I no longer like the pattern/fabric.
I have this great fabric in my stash, a pretty contemporary floral. When I bought it, I had dreams of making a cute summer dress out of it. Now? I hate the fabric. A lot. I don’t even want to make pillows out of it. I’ve contemplated using it for muslins, but I don’t even want to do that. I also started working on a shift dress – I mentioned it last week. Since then, I’ve gotten some fit issues taken care of…and I hate it. Shift dresses on me are just not working. I don’t like the silhouette on me at all and it just makes me feel dowdy and gross. So I’ve decided to be happy with the fitting experience I gained and not waste anymore fabric on it.
4) The techniques are over my head.
It’s ok to admit that you don’t have the skills yet for a certain technique. Yes, practice does help, but if you still have trouble sewing curves, then maybe you should stay away from princess seams until you get more practice. Same goes for any other difficult technique or anything that makes you feel too nervous. By too nervous, I mean that thinking about it makes you anxious and you start sweating. Some nerves are ok, too much means to just wait for it.
5) The feedback I’ve received is overwhelmingly negative.
Now I know we should do what makes us happy, and normally that’s what I do. However, if my boyfriend absolutely hates something I’m planning on wearing, I do take that into account. If my friends/family after him say similar things, I ditch the project. I trust them enough to take their comments to heart and realize that they do sometimes see things I don’t. Likewise, if I’m making a gift and I’m being told it’s terrible, I’ll just try something new. I’d rather not disappoint my giftee so I don’t mind starting anew.
How long does it take me to abandon a project? It really depends on the project itself but usually about halfway through. Often just after making the first muslin I’ll realize if the fabric or pattern isn’t right, and if I ruin the fabric that usually happens towards the end when there’s a tricky part involved.
Of course, I’d rather not leave something unfinished but it can’t always be avoided. When it does happen, I see the good in it: Now I can start on a different project I’m really excited about, I’ve learned something new, or maybe I can still use that fabric for something else. The edges of that skirt might be shot but I can use the rest for a bodice maybe, something cute and simple.
If you’re considering just ditching a project, it might be best if you do. Feeling that stressed over it is doing more harm than good at that point and it’s good to meet your limits at times. Of course, I sometimes lose my sewing mojo for a little afterwards but by my next project I’m feeling refreshed and happy to sew again. Just remember that it happens to everyone and you can’t beat yourself up for too long about it. Always make sure you ask for help too! I’ve found the sewing community online is amazingly helpful and kind. I can always ask questions on Instagram or Reddit and get kind and amazing advice in return. Remember, you’re amazing, and I believe in you!
Again, please share your own thoughts on giving up, and your own stories on when you had to. Subscribe for weekly posts, and thanks for reading!
Until next time,