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On Deadlines and “Done Enough”

April 25, 2014

I sew for my own pleasure. I’m not aiming to pump out as many finished garments as possible, I don’t have any kind of business plans associated with making, and I certainly don’t think sewing is saving me money (although the quality of my handmade garments is much nicer than I could afford in RTW). For the most part, I sew because I need to make things with my own hands each day as a balance to my intellectual/conceptual daytime work in academia, and I like to have high quality garments that fit and suit me better than anything off the rack could.

I like to sew garments for everyday wear, sure, but I especially love making myself something new for special occasions, as wearing a handmade garment makes these occasions all the more special for me.

What I’m grappling with lately is balancing the desire to make handmade garments for particular events with the realities of sewing under a deadline. There are enough deadlines in graduate school as it is, so it seems silly to pile on deadlines for something that I ostensibly do for fun.
The latest example of this is, of course, my birthday dress. Above is a photo of me wearing it yesterday, on my birthday, but I was only able to wear it because it was “done enough”: on the outside, it looked just fine, but the lining was loose and the hems were merely tacked down. Don’t get me wrong–I felt great wearing this dress on my birthday, got a lot of compliments on it, and swooshed my skirt around my birthday jam circle at swing, but I was a little disappointed that, even though I had stayed up altogether too late the night before, it still wasn’t fully finished.

Sure, I could have started the project earlier and waited on finishing up projects like my red pants. Perhaps then the setbacks that I experienced with this project, most of which shouldn’t have even happened to begin with, wouldn’t have kept me working so close to my deadline. But maybe I would have run into another kind of trouble instead.

If I dug through my sewing and knitting UFOs, I bet that missed deadlines would be the reason why at least half of them exist. I work on a project for a specific purpose (even though I also plan my garments for versatility within my wardrobe), and if I don’t meet my goal, I set it aside for something new. This is not a habit I recommend, and I’m really trying to break it.

I doubt I’ll stop sewing under self-imposed deadlines since these special occasion projects are such a big part of the fun for me, but I wonder if I can find a way to approach them that doesn’t involve me frantically finishing projects the night before the big event. Have any of you found a solution?

I hope you don’t mind this long-winded post, and I also hope you’ll forgive me for (most likely) stepping away from the blog for the next week as I finish up the semester’s work. If nothing else, I’ll be back with full photos of my birthday dress after my photographer comes for a visit next weekend.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2014 3:49 am

    The dress looks fab, can’t wait to see it properly. Hope you had a great birthday šŸŽˆšŸŽŠšŸŽ
    I’ve ended up with a deadline for this Saturday when it’s my first wedding. I thought it was the following week, yikes!! Best get a move on.
    PS can I pick your brains… My chosen fabric when it arrived is more ‘drapey’ than I imagined. It won’t stick out like on the photo, but I think it will drape and swish. Do you think that will look ok? Or I was wondering if I should add a 1/2 circle skirt instead of the pleats?? Help!!

    • April 28, 2014 12:36 pm

      Oh no! I hope you have some decent sewing time this week!

      I’m no expert, but I think a drapier fabric will look just fine. If you want to give it some extra body at the hem, perhaps you could use the outer fabric for the hem facing rather than the lining (which is what the pattern calls for). Good luck!!

  2. janeclemo permalink
    April 29, 2014 5:21 pm

    I can COMPLETELY relate to what you are saying about the deadlines. Long story short, I did the same thing to myself last year with the Bombshell Swimsuit. I had my heart set on wearing it for trip 4th of July weekend last year and despite pulling an all-nighter, I didn’t even get it totally done and skimped in a lot of areas. Now I’m completely not happy with it and wish I would have taken more time with it. I turned around and did it again with a dress for a Christmas party and it is still a UFO!! GRR! The way I’ve started to cope with this is by removing the bonds of the deadlines all together and by making plans much, much further in advance by predicting those occasions for which I love a special handmade, like birthdays and Christmas. I too love to compliment a special occasion, but if I haven’t even started on a muslin several weeks out, I just abandon the idea rather than try to make something too quickly for satisfaction. I also try to sub in a special me-made garment that’s already done for the occasion. It’s still special, but it doesn’t have all the bad mojo of a deadline project. I hope these ideas help and I can’t wait to see the whole birthday dress!

    • April 30, 2014 9:05 am

      Thanks so much, Jane.

      These ideas really get to the core of the issue: practically speaking, I either need to start earlier or sew faster. Since I’m unlikely to sew any faster than I already do (or magically find more time for sewing than I have), I need to plan ahead. I tend to run with an idea when inspiration strikes, but I think I’ll end up a lot happier if I step back and really consider the situation before getting my hopes up. In the end, it’s probably better to be well-rested and enjoy a special event than stay up all night to finish a garment that I may or may not feel good about.

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