Failure: It’s a Good Thing

I’m not keen on failure in the moment when it’s happening. It’s irritating and discouraging. Yesterday and today have been full of sewing failures as I try to work out a prototype for a kind of zippered pouch I’d like to make and potentially sell. (They are fun to make when they work out well, and I need to find a way to make a bit of money to pay for fabric for my sewing habit!).

I have, in the last two days:

-cut fabric wrong more times than I can count; my scrap pile is getting fed steadily

-made a pouch that was way too big, and one that was way too small, and one that was just oddly shaped


Cons: Too big. Lopsided. Pros: Learned to do the zipper tabs (little bit of blue at ends of zipper); braved patchworking even if fabric choices weren’t so great

FullSizeRender (1)

This one is just sad. The idea was to have a small strip of linen at the top and mostly patterned fabric, but you can see what happened to that idea. BUT, I topstitched the zipper! And the fabric was a decent choice.

-sewn a zipper in upside down

-twice sewn zippers in with the ends turning up wonky (still trying to figure out what is causing this problem, but have a good idea, I think)

-sewn some very lopsided edges because of my stubborn refusal to pin or use clips

-made dubious design choices; oh so dubious

-sewn a tab with a D-ring with a gap that is waaaaaay too long to make sense

(And I also burned a whole pan of cookies.  But that did not stop me from eating them–a burnt cookie is still a cookie.)

But, the bright side of all my failure is that I learned a lot, like:

-I am getting a sense of how cut fabric sizes will translate to the end product–how much is lost in the sewing itself. I’m not there yet, but I get closer each time.

-I can now sew zipper tabs, which pretty up the ends of the zippers.

-I maybe used clips a few times.

-I know how to topstitch zippers, and how to sew zippers on my machine without the zipper foot (that I can’t seem to locate).

-I used fusible interfacing successfully for the first time.  (Have used it unsuccessfully in the past and was afraid of it, but after all the other stuff going wrong, I figured I had nothing to lose.)

-I think I can fix the tab on the D-ring, and next time I’ll know to make it shorter.

-I learned how to do applique, which kind of scared me, but again, I had nothing to lose.

FullSizeRender (3)

Applique! But yeah, weird shape and super long D-ring tab. The color is weird in this picture–the bag is a natural linen color. This one has zipper tabs, but they got swallowed up by my overabundance of seam allowance, I think.

My point (and the sewing details are probably boring) is that, with each failure, I learn something.  (Aside from sewing the zipper upside down–I apparently am doomed to do that once in a while, regardless of how many times I’ve done it already.)  I try, when I’m feeling bummed about the way a project turns out because it so radically contradicts my mental vision that started it, to focus on what caused things to go wrong and how I can fix it next time.  It’s like debugging in coding, I guess.  My zippered pouches have a lot of bugs in their code right now, but one by one, I’m cleaning them up.  And I hope that, in the end, maybe over the next week, I’ll end up with a solid process for making these pouches, and maybe even learn some new ways to add some flair, and MAYBE even make a few that would be good enough to actually sell.

One step at a time.

In the meantime, meet my best friend:


Seam Ripper 


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