Progress Report #2: Saving a Disaster and Learning from my Mistakes

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a perfectionist and have been my whole life. My paternal grandmother was the same way, although it never kept her from crafting, as it has occasionally kept me from doing so (I can’t knit a row of stitches without ripping it out). I often think of my grandma when I show people what I have sewn because I’m always pointing out my mistakes just like she always did.

I think sewing has helped temper my perfectionism a bit. I have yet to make anything that’s totally perfect, and I’ve had to learn to just live with some of my mistakes. After all, I’m not selling these things, and so far I’m not even giving them away. Part of dealing with perfectionism, though, is to resist the urge to rip something apart and start over completely. I have two recent experiences of how I’m learning to deal with this.

First, last week I attempted to make the very cute Lindie Bag from Craft Apple. I had concerns that the bag was a little bit too small to be anything but a purse, and without any form of closure, it’s a bit useless as a purse. However, it only took two fat quarters and seemed easy enough.

Lindie Bag with Butterfly Fabric

Totally love this fabric, but the straps are useless!

It was relatively easy, and I finally got a lining right on the first try. The fabric (outside and lining) is gorgeous, and that helps the bag look really cute. The only tricky thing in this project was boxing the corners. I *think* I did that correctly, although the first time I try, I caught too much under the needle and had another part of the bag stuck to the corner. Mr. Seam Ripper helped correct that mistake. I’ve done so many bags lately that interfacing has become second nature. The inside pocket was a bit crooked, presumably because I didn’t stitch the outer and lining perfectly straight, but I can live with that.

Inside of Lindie Bag

The pocket somehow ended up crooked. I swear it was straight when I put it on!

However, once I had the whole bag done I realized that I had made a tragic mistake. The straps are going the wrong direction! This is yet another example of failing to use common sense when constructing a project. I really should have looked back at the picture of the finished bag and/or stopped to think about the straps, but I had just forged ahead instead. The straps should go across the top of the bag, so that you can put them over your shoulder. Instead, they go front to back, making them completely useless.

I was pretty down about the mistake. It was such a cute bag, with such cute fabric, and I had ruined it. I left it in a funk for a few days, but yesterday I picked it up again and decided to fix it. And it was so simple. I just removed the stitches on two diagonal strap attachments, swapped the straps, and top stitched the straps back in. And voilà, cute and functional bag!

Lindie Bag, fixed

Yay! I'm so happy that it's fixed!

Pink Sony Reader

Got mine free with Sony Rewards points. Love it!

It’s still a fairly impractical bag, but I found that it’s the perfect size for carrying my Lean Cuisine frozen meals to work for lunch. It’s also a great size for carrying around my Sony Reader. (By the way, if you don’t own an ereader yet, buy one now. I LOVE my Sony Reader, but I hear some of the other ones are neat too. And if you live in Chicago and have a public library card, you can borrow ebooks for free!!)

Anyway, I learned a valuable lesson about not giving up and about finding creative ways to fix problems without pulling apart the whole project.

My other disappointing project (besides the wallet, which was too much of a disaster to salvage), was my first attempt at the Buttercup Bag. I had sewn together the wrong sides of the exterior and lining instead of the right sides, and I didn’t have the heart to rip it out and try again. I thought long and hard about using bias tape or making my own to cover the ragged edges, but I think I’ve decided to leave that purse alone. It’s still really cute, even if I know there are mistakes. Also, I think the magnetic snap might rip right out of the fabric at some point, so it seems silly to invest more time in fixing an unrelated problem.

So instead, I decided to make another Buttercup Bag yesterday, this time with Butterfly fabric. And I’m so glad I did.

Buttercup Bag, Take 2

A not-ragged Buttercup Bag.

It was really nice to make a project I’d done before. I almost didn’t even need the instructions this time. It was great to already know how to do things like interfacing and pleats. I did a few things differently this time, based on my experience last time. First, I interfaced the whole lining pieces, not just where the snaps would be. The bag does hang differently with more interfacing. In some ways I like the old slouchy bag better, but I think the bag is sturdier this way.

Interior of Buttercup Bag

Notice how close the snaps are to the top.

I also put cardboard backing behind the snaps. Since I placed the snaps a little too close to the top, this made sewing the exterior and lining together difficult, but it was so worth it. I’m not at all worried about the snaps ripping through the fabric on this bag. You may be able to tell that I included two pockets, one on each side. I figured it’s always better to have more pockets. I kind of wanted a zippered pocket, but that was more work than I wanted to do yesterday. Most importantly, I sewed the right side together this time, and there are no ragged edges in sight! I had set it up to do all my ironing at the beginning and then turned off the iron, so I haven’t pressed the edges together, but I think it’s still cute.

Although I dread making full muslins for clothing, I think I may have decided in this project that it’s almost necessary for the first time through making something. I’ll just have such a better idea what I’m doing when I cut into beautiful fabric if I have a run-through first.

I’m happy with my output, but I didn’t sew quite as much as I’d hoped this weekend because I spent some time preparing to run, running, and then recovering from running The Chicago Half Marathon. It was a gorgeous day, and I’m glad I ran, but I’m happy to be done training. All those long runs were getting in the way of sewing. 😛


2 responses to “Progress Report #2: Saving a Disaster and Learning from my Mistakes

  1. Great bags. I especially like the buttercup bag. I’m a sucker for pleats!

    I also have a problem with perfectionism, but I read somewhere that when you go back to a project the next day, you don’t notice the imperfections so much, and I’ve found this to be true.

    I just sewed a bag from an online tutorial (blogged about here:, and even though the fabric wasn’t as stiff as I would have liked and the corners weren’t exactly square, I forced myself to take it to Borders with me that day and I didn’t mind the imperfections (too much anyway).

    In the Gentle Arts of Domesticity, the author says that store bought products are “too perfect,” which I think is an interesting way to look at things. I’m trying to remember that.

    • That makes sense. If I wanted something “perfect,” I could just buy things at the store instead of sewing! It’s definitely true that the next day I focus on what I like about the projects rather than the mistakes. And I’m learning what to rip out and do over and what to live with. Thanks for the perspective!

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