Perfectionism: Mental Illness or Endearing Quality?
Sewing friends, whenever I speak of my personality flaws I call them endearing qualities. You do too, right?
Today’s endearing quality topic is perfectionism. I think there is a scale for perfectionism which goes something like this:
1 being (“it’s great if you have time to do it”) to 5 (mitred corners on the sheets every day) to 10 (perfectly lined up soup cans in the cabinets a la “Sleeping with the Enemy” 0r full on OCD mental illness).
I think I speak for most sewing peeps when I say that we all have a little perfectionist in us just bursting to get out. I mean, who doesn’t like a well-ordered pantry? When it comes to my sewing, I have noticed that perfectionism is trending a little higher with each successive project. I’ve also noticed that my projects are taking longer and longer to finish as well.
Coincidence? I think not.
For instance, take this skirt pleat(s) in my current project, NL 6067.
There are two matching sets of pleats at either side of the front skirt as well as a box pleat in the CF of the skirt. When I first sewed the bodice to the skirt, I carefully pinned and basted those pleats just so. I was so careful that I was very confident that my pleats would come out beautifully matching.
They did not.
The pleats pictured above were woefully not centered over each other the first time I sewed them to the bodice. I only noticed after I had clipped the seam allowances and started pressing the seam. It was late when I noticed, so I put it aside to work on the next day. Which I did. I unpicked, re-basted the pleats together, and re-sewed the seam.
Now I have perfectly sewn, perfectly matched pleats on either side of my dress skirt. It did add time to my construction process, but in the grand scheme of things, not much time. Of course, the time spent re-sewing several spots that didn’t quite pass muster did add up considerably. But the end result is so worth it, nicht wahr?
So far, I have had
a couple, a few, several of those situations pop up during the construction of this dress. Yes, it’s added time to my project, but I am so pleased with how this dress is turning out. I will be happy with how professional it looks. I will actually wear it. Because, as I am sure you know or have already experienced, if you don’t like something you’ve made or something about it’s construction doesn’t turn out well, then you won’t wear it, right? I know I don’t.
When I was cleaning out the fabric/clothes closet in preparation for Peter’s visit last week, I weeded my clothes with a ruthless eye. If something I made didn’t fit well or wasn’t constructed well, I put it in the donation pile. Out went the following clothes I have made but don’t wear:
- The first iteration of B5147 in stretch chambray fabric. This dress didn’t fit very well, gaping at the arms, and had a sub-par invisible zipper insertion, i.e. it was a visible invisible zipper. Also, the fabric sucked. It bagged out with body heat and looked a hot mess after 1 hour of wearing.
- The shirred knit skirt I made without a pattern. This skirt was never flattering on me. Never wore it much because I was too self-conscious of that fact.
- The doubleknit dress. It never fit well in the bust, even with princess seams, and after two muslins and constant tweaking of the final version, I couldn’t look at that dress again. I loved the fabric and the buttons I used, so I did wear it quite a bit last fall. But my skillset has improved in the last year and I cannot wear it again knowing how ill fitting it is.
Long story long… I have found that, as I learn more about sewing, fabric and techniques, my standards of excellence are rising in lockstep with my knowledge. I want better fabrics (silks please!). I want impeccably made clothes which I will wear with no fear of the “loving hands at home” look, and I want to expand my sewing skill repertoire (suit jackets maybe?).
So, do I consider my growing perfectionism a mental illness? No! Let’s go with my old standby… It’s an endearing quality. Well, at least it endears itself to me anyway.
What do you think about perfectionism and sewing? Is there correlation between the two? Is it a mental illness?