Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Process: A Design Detour & Lessons

Yesterday the kids spent most of the day playing together the way one dreams of when the decision to have another child is made. I am sharing this not only because it allowed me extra time to sew but also because it does not happen that often around these parts. Sibling love is plentiful but the ability to play together for long stretches of time has been an illusive prospect. It was wonderful to witness yesterday!

While the kids were happy at play, and I settled into the idea that they would be entertaining each other for awhile, I decided to tackle a design idea that had been percolating in my mind. It had finally made it into my sketchbook the night before and I wanted to see it come to life.

I pulled out some fabrics I purchased awhile back. These were bought for no other reason than for the love of the prints. Aren't those flowers and birds just great. I thought they would be perfect for my idea.

After some ironing, measuring, cutting, sewing, ironing, and more sewing I realized that my idea was looking exactly like I had sketched and nothing like I had really envisioned when it came to life in fabric!

It felt like a design fail.
I felt like I had wasted fabric.
I had wasted my precious sewing time.
I was a design failure.

No matter how much I liked the fabric the design did not do it justice. And the fabric could not carry the poor design.

I almost cleaned up, swept up, shut down and quit for the day.

But, with the kids still at play I decided to take what I had learned on the first one and take a new approach. No sketching, no over-thinking, just cut and sew and see what happens.

It worked. While I am not totally settled with the design details I now know how I want it to look and how I want to construct it. My second design is usable and workable. A very good start.

While I was disappointed that my idea did not work the way I had planned, and I even had to do some ripping out on the second run through, it was a good experience. Lessons were learned and ideas realized.

One of the best parts was something totally unexpected. 

The kids were always checking in to tell me about their play and ask me questions about what I was doing.
When my girl saw my first attempt cast aside she asked why. When I told her she quickly asked if she could have it.

"It is just perfect for me!"

My heart melted.

Later when she asked why I was ripping out the second one in progress she reminded me of something I tell them all the time.

"You don't always get it right the first time, but you have to keep trying if you want to make it work."
Great advice from my little gal!

I almost titled this post Design Fail but I realized that it was not a failure at all. If anything, it was a great success on so many levels!

Have you had what appears to be a failure turn into a success?

There is a little something I shared over here today... if you want to peek at some sweet spring given.


  1. genius, especially sharing your process openly with your kids. perfect to switch your outlook from failure to detour — because it’s impossible to go straight to success without bumbling through some mistakes and less-optimal choices.

    1. Thanks Lori!

      "...it’s impossible to go straight to success without bumbling through some mistakes and less-optimal choices."
      I love that line of your comment Lori. I think, for lots of reasons, we take note of success but the bumbling is overlooked. Plenty of bumbling here! :-)

  2. I loved this post. I am so glad you shared the process with us. So often, blog posts don't reflect the mistakes, the lessons that happen in the process. Thank you.

    1. And there are so many lesson to learn along the way!
      Thanks Alex!

  3. Loved what you share here and loved what you shared over at Kindred!
    This is something that I have such a hard time with and I was already writing on my post for tomorrow about perfection and my desire for it. I love learning new things but I have to be good at them right away or I tend to let them go. Even though it is something I have long touted to my children as well, I need to learn to embrace the aesthetics of failure instead of despairing in them. Really embrace them as a learning process rather than a definition of self. thanks so for your thoughts. If I end up finishing my post on this, I will definitely have a link back to this one. xo

    1. Thank you Rebecca!
      Funny how it can be hard to apply those lessons we want our children to learn to ourselves.
      I have been trying to focus much more on the process these last few years. Hard lesson!
      I look forward to your post!

  4. That often happens to me in the kitchen. What I think will be a disaster endup being a lovely surprise.

  5. beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I think sometimes our expectations are way higher than they should be :) I think it's wonderful that your daughter echoes your own words back to you.

    1. Yes! Yes! And Yes!

      A reminder of how important our words really are!