Just make it already! How to boost your sewing confidence // Closet Case Files


I’ve been thinking about sewing and confidence for the past few months, and have written and re-written this post in my head so many times that it’s time to finally just get it off my chest. Here it is:

Stop telling yourself you can’t do it.
Stop telling yourself it’s too scary.
Stop telling yourself you’ll fail.
Stop being your own worst enemy.

In blog posts, in comment sections, on Instagram, time and time again I read, “I want to make X but I’m scared”. Each time you say this, I want to reach across the internet, take your hand, look deep into your eyes and say, “Enough”.

If you can thread a bobbin, you can make a shirt. If you can sew a zig zag stitch, you can make a bra. If you can cut fabric, you can make a pair of jeans. The only thing stopping you is the little voice in your brain that is whispering, “You can’t do it. You’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, and when you fail you will only show everyone what a great, big fraud you really are”.

That voice is evil. That voice is some vestige remainder from our Neanderthal days when self-doubt kept us from being eaten by cave lions. That voice serves no purpose anymore except to bully you and prevent you from reaching your full potential, and that voice MUST BE STOPPED.

Here’s how to stop the voice:

Start sewing. Pick that “scary” project you’re longing to make and just. Make. It. Pull out that fabric you’ve been fondling but are too nervous to use and just cut into it. Turn on your machine, put on whatever song makes you feel invincible (may I suggest this or this?) and just. Make. It. Already.

What is the absolute worst case scenario if it doesn’t look exactly like the Pinterest-worthy image your perfection-mad brain has conjured? Will you have to cut off your own arm? Will a serial killer throw you down a well with a bottle of lotion? Is a spider going to hatch eggs on your face? WHAT ARE YOU REALLY AFRAID OF?


Now, here’s the thing about failure, if this is what you fear; you’re giving it way too much power. Even if the thing you do or make is the ugliest thing that anyone in the history of mankind has ever done or made, it is still teaching you something about doing and making. And chances are, your Neanderthal Pinterest-scrambled brain is seeing failure where any random passing stranger would see aptitude and courage, because you tried. You made something with your bare hands, and that in and of itself is important and true.

The beautiful, priceless, magical thing about learning to sew is that you get to learn. Each project presents new challenges, skills to practice and opportunities to improve; how lucky we are for that. Few things in this life are enjoyable AND valuable in a meaningful way, and the act of making is one of them. When you push yourself, finally turn that self-defeating voice off and just go for it, the pay-off is enormous.

  • You start to believe in yourself and your inherent capabilities; “the voice” gets quieter.
  • You realize the endless potential of your own innate creativity.
  • You satisfy that deep, primal instinct we all have to make things and leave a physical mark on the universe.
  • You get to make and wear things that no one else in the history of the planet has worn, because there is only one, and you made it.
  • You learn to love yourself more, because sewing your own clothes is at its very core an act of self-love.
  • You start to admire and appreciate your body for what it is, rather than what you wish it would be; through sewing, your body becomes your friend, not your enemy.
  • You learn that each mistake is just an opportunity to get better.

The next time you are beating yourself up about a wonky seam or talking yourself out of something you really want to make, ask yourself, “What would I say if I was talking to my best friend?” You would tell them that they are smart and amazing and totally capable of anything. Tell yourself that and just. Make. It. Already.


Approached a technique you’ve never used before? Google it. You’re blessed to live in a time when everything that has ever been done now has a youtube video. Our grandmothers had to rely on their peers, luck, trial and error; we have the internet. Take advantage.

Worried about ruining that “special” fabric? Is it woven from unicorn eyelashes? No? Life is short. It’s just fabric.

Scared it’s going to look like a hot mess when it’s finished? It probably doesn’t (the voice), and even if it does, no one really cares but you. It’s not a reflection on your integrity as a human being. If you’re committed to getting better, remember that everything you make is a step forward, a lesson learned. It may not happen as immediately as you would like, but that evolution is happening each time you try.

But what if it doesn’t fit perfectly? Again, no one really cares but you. You are asking way more of your me-made garments than you would of ready-to-wear, and if that pressure is preventing you from getting started or simply stopping you in your tracks, you need to learn how to shake it off. A drag line is not the end of the world. Learn what you can for the next time. Resilience is about not getting tripped up by imperfection. Be resilient.

But my topstitching is off by 1 mm and this zipper is not quite invisible and my handstitching is uneven and and and and….. LEAVE IT. It’s fine; it really is. Finish it. Stop beating yourself up and just move on to the next thing. The next thing will be incrementally better.

Scared to cut? JUST CUT. Scared to get going? GET GOING. The secret to getting things done is just to do them. It’s truly that simple. The voice is the only thing telling you otherwise.

Need more convincing, my Debbie Downers? In all the time I have been helping people make things, I have never, ever heard a single person say after they tried something new for the first time, “I really wish I hadn’t done that”. No one. Whether it’s online or in class, what they actually say when they challenge themselves with something “intimidating” is  “OMFG I freaking made this!” That feeling is like heroin, only it’s free, and it won’t ruin your life. And you can get that feeling every time you challenge yourself to try new things, even when they are intimidating or scary or hard. Because when you do, you create a positive feedback loop where you tell your brain and that voice that you are smart, capable and worthy, and the voice gets smaller and smaller, until eventually it’s not really there at all. And that is called winning.

Sewing teaches us so much, but the most important thing is that you can do anything when you simply do it.  If you have been holding yourself back, make 2016 the year that you jump forward. Turn the voice down, and just make it already. It wants you to.

  • OMG, YES!!!!!! I am awful for this. I’d actually already typed up in my new years goals that I would just sew a damn coat and enjoy blindly trusting your lovely instructions and fuck it if it didn’t fit in the end for some reasons because dammit, a life of handmade coats has to start somewhere. So then I read your first paragraph, said, “Hell yeah!” (apparently I’m sweary when I’m excited) and bought the paper version of Clare. Then I came back and read the rest of your post. Brilliant, my dear, and very true!
    Does one dare to ask: What are you holding yourself back from these days? I wish you luck with whatever it is! I”m excited to make a coat!!!

    • YAY! IT’s gonna be awesome. And the sewalong will really help. NO MORE FEAR!

  • Nic

    Best. Post. Ever. Plus, “unicorn eyelashes”! Aces! I may have snorted a little at that one 😀

  • LaLa Sews

    What fantastic encouragement! I love a good prep rally – and turn of phrase. I’ll be carrying “unicorn eyelashes” with me for the foreseeable future. You’re a great advocate for the sewing world. Thank you.

  • Janet

    Love this and love that it was over the top. I think that the biggest hurdle on my sewing journey has been fear. I just made a wadder. Wrong fabric choice, interfacing too stiff, style doesn’t work (are my boobs that low?!) So the best thing to do after a wadder is make something else. You gotta love the process! Oh, by the way, that Liberty fabric? 😉 I may return to this post.

    • Well, you learned something about fabric,interfacing and what works for your body…. sounds like a success to me!

  • Wonderful, wonderful post Heather!

  • K_Line

    Amen sister. I could not agree more. I’ve been shouting this from the rooftops since the minute I started crafting. What a gorgeous message is a gorgeous post. I’m sure it’s going to change someone’s new year. xo

    • Thanks darling! That would make my year 🙂

  • This was amazing and so so true. I struggle most about the “ugh it doesn’t fit properly” bit, and it’s true – I don’t agonize that much over the fit of RTW so why am I agonizing over it in the clothes I made myself?! Also the bit about it being “just fabric”… I definitely have a few fabrics in my stash that I’m hording because I’m waiting for the “perfect pattern” so I don’t waste the fabric – but who cares?! If I sew it up now, and least I get to wear the most beautiful fabric ever instead of just staring at it longingly in my stash! Thanks so much for this post 🙂

    • Just going to quote Sara, another commenter: “One thing I recently realized is that I almost never regret a fabric choice. I have deliberate endlessly about how best to use a fabric and end up stashing fabric for years waiting for the “perfect” opportunity. But you know what? Once a garment is made, I don’t see opportunities I missed or other things I could have made, I see only the finished garment. So there’s no need to worry about regret when cutting into fabric. Even though I *think* it’s possible, it never really happens. So just cut.”

      Amazing advice!

  • Sarah Koch

    I LOVE this! Last year I decided that I was done sewing with fear and it was my most productive and exciting year yet. Sometimes I feel like there is so much planning that goes into a project that it can be overwhelming and stifling. I try to mix in spur of the moment projects so that I can just go with my flow more rather than be constantly striving to meet the perfect version of something I have in my head. Thanks so much for writing this.

    • That’s amazing Sarah! Thrilled you found a system that works!

  • pam

    My fabric stash has gotten too large…as in o-ver-whelm-ing. The thing is I live very close to a never ending abundance of fabric purchasing opportunities. I have No Shortage. Ever. And yet I find myself saving “special” fabric. I like shopping for fabric & currently can Not. I’m going to begin sewing with abandon. Any “mistakes or missteps” I have with a piece of fabric can easily be replaced. So thanks for saying it just like this. Your post allowed things to coalesce for me in a very useful way!!!

    • So happy to hear it Pam! Someone earlier in the comments said they have to remind themselves that they never regret using “special fabric” after the fact; it becomes the garment you made with it and its hard to see it as anything else. No regrets!

  • Mélina

    YES, YES, YES. I am very new to sewing and, looking back, I went into it quite fearlessly… I learned it on my own, I followed next to no advice (“start with making simple things like pillows”…. ha ha ha sure *sews a corduroy dress completely unaware of the fact that corduroy has a direction*), disregarded skill levels on patterns, and said fuck it to perfectionism. Sure, what I sew isn’t nearly as beautiful and well-made as what I see up on the internet but making things makes me so happy anyways that I’m glad I didn’t think twice before diving in and inevitably making really stupid mistakes. That’s how you learn and build skill anyways!! And that’s how I, person who has never, so far, really been able to sew a not wonky t-shirt neckline, decided to sew a button-up shirt and DID IT.

    (Saying yes to imperfection and choosing to cherish the process over the result is a nice life decision in general.)

    (p.s: thank you for this blog and your never changing positivity! and happy 2016 🙂 )

    • This comment made me so happy Melina! I think I started to sew the same way and I learned so much just because I threw myself into the process. Wishing you a fantastic year of making and learning.!

  • Whoa, it’s like you READ MY MIND. I’m dithering about cutting my first pair of pants (Hudson pants. Freaking sweatpants!) and fretting about WILL MY STRIPES MATCH?? instead of just cutting. Thank you!!

    • Honestly? Who gives a sh*t? Just cut em! (devil’s advocate over here)

      • That’s mostly what I ended up going with, even if I did cut the pocket pieces twice. And hey, they mostly match! And I almost have pants!

  • Helen

    LOVE this post! ??

  • What a brilliant post – words that should make their way into everyone’s new year’s resolutions whether sewing related or not! I’m making a start today by trying to tackle a couple of trouser muslins. I WILL have a pair that fits this year!

    • YES YOU WILL!!! WIth pants I find people get SUPER obsessed and hung up on “perfection” when “pretty good” is often good enough.

  • Thank you so much for posting this!! I definitely needed to hear this, as I’ve got so many projects just waiting for me to get started. One thing I started telling myself, since my biggest fear was “wasting” fabric on a garment that just doesn’t work- I tell myself that the money I’ve spent on the fabric is the money I spent to do this activity of sewing, an activity I love to my very core. Once I started thinking in terms of experience over finished product, it got a lot easier to start!

    • Aunty Maimu

      Cheesus the times I cock up and I’ve been sewing half of my life. Stuff happens. I learn with every cocked up piece!

    • That’s such a great way to look at it! If the fabric is “too special” to use, it’s not really serving you, is it?

    • patsijean

      Any number of times, I’ve made a garment that was just a bit snug, or not flattering to me. I donate it to charity. There will be someone out there who will be delighted with the garment and I have done a good thing. I also treat it as a learning experience. What went wrong, how do I avoid that in the future?

    • Emily, I really love this approach. I am going to keep this along with the words in this post in mind. Because these words are “important and true.”

  • Micheline_C

    Holy bejeez! Best. Post. Ever.

  • Awesome post! Just cut the damn fabric. Yay!

  • hungryhippie

    Perfect post especially with the New Year. Love this so much– will be sending it to my buddies, sewers and non sewers too. Just make something. ????

    • Thanks for your kind words! Happy if people find this helpful.

  • karin

    Hi Heather! I’m such a big fan of yours! Thank you so much for this empowering post! So useful for me to hear today. While I’m super fearless when it comes to sewing, I’m full of fear on the blogging and selling of my sewing, both of which I’m wanting to get into. These sentiments can apply to so many areas. Hugs to you, can’t wait to see what you do in the new year! Off to sew some Carolyn pajamas today 🙂

    • Be brave Karin! Blogging is a great way to get started since we’re a pretty supportive crew 😉

  • Violently nodding along with so many of these comments. One thing I recently realized is that I almost never regret a fabric choice. I have deliberate endlessly about how best to use a fabric and end up stashing fabric for years waiting for the “perfect” opportunity. But you know what? Once a garment is made, I don’t see opportunities I missed or other things I could have made, I see only the finished garment. So there’s no need to worry about regret when cutting into fabric. Even though I *think* it’s possible, it never really happens. So just cut.

    • That’s so true! I never really thought about it like that but I don’t think I have ever said “Oh, I wish I had saved that for such and such project”.

  • Janice

    Thank you so much! This is a fantastic post with great amount of encouragement and humour!

  • Jess C.

    Oh my gosh! This post is so absolutely lovely! I’m a brand new sewist (as in, started in November) and to date I have made two Christmas stockings (SO. MUCH. FUZZ.), a circle skirt, three small purses, a LINED DRESS WITH DARTS, refashioned a sweater dress into a cardigan… Right now I think knits are my nemesis and zippers are dodgy, so what did I do yesterday? Bought more knit fabric and some zippers! Happy new year! ::waves from a new blog follower::

    • You’ll figure it out Jess! Get a walking foot for your sewing machine and a stretch needle and you’ll conquer those knits in no time!

  • What a fantastic talking to. Sometimes we need a good slap in the face and this one was wonderful. Needed that. To the machine I go! Watson bra it is this year then……

    • A very gentle, loving slap (hopefully) hahaha

  • Christine Griffin

    I “ruined” fabric that I adore because I didn’t account for lack of ease or some scratchiness. This post makes me thing that I learned some important details. Thicker fabrics have less stretch than their percentages, and that if an edge is scratchy, I should cover it before finishing the garment. Maybe I can salvage the fabric and make something I *do* love!

    Your jeans pattern is what got me into, “Hey, maybe I CAN make this!” I read your sewalong many many times and at each step I thought, “I can do that”. I’ve made two pair so far, and while they aren’t perfect, the second is good enough to go to work in! Thank you for making such a fantastic contribution to my life!

    • I’m sure you can find a use for that fabric…. bias, a quilt, something? And so happy Ginger gave you confidence! Makes my day to hear that.

  • Karen

    Thanks for this great post. I needed this. Am going to print it out and hang by my sewing machine for whenever that negative voice starts talking….

  • Emily Kate

    This was literally the best thing for me to read today after finally getting my ass in gear and starting sewing my wedding dress! Thank you so much for such an inspiring, awesome post.

    • Aww, awsome Emily! Your wedding dress is going to be AMAZING even if it’s not “perfect”.

  • Goldstyck

    Oh dearest:) I’m just reading Big Magic and it feels like you and Liz are teaming up together in my offline and online life. I’ll go now and pick up the Bane to my sewing Mojo : a pile of Moss skirts – they never turn out like I envisioned them to look like. So what. Onward. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • I’ll have to go find this “Big Magic”!

  • You’ve absolutely nailed it with this post! Love it.
    A few of my non-sewing friends have said to me before ‘but how on earth did you go from being able to work a sewing machine and make a cushion cover to being able to sew a coat?!’ and to be honest my answer is normally ‘I wanted to sew a coat…so I did’. Sewing one garment is really no different from sewing any other is it? It’s all lots of small steps that make up the big process and the techniques may be new or different but broken down (and with the hand holding of a good youtube tutorial/blog post!) it’s really all the same.
    I always set out with the aim of each and every project being perfect, yet it very rarely ends up that way and one of the most important things I’ve learnt is that actually that’s ok. The learning and the enjoyment of the process of making something are the main reasons why I sew so looking at it that way means I never see a failed garment as a waste of time or fabric, I’ve got something out of every stitch!

  • So, so, so what I needed to hear. I LOVE YOU!

  • Iris

    Yess! Thank you. I am an adult, beginning sewer and every new fabric, technique and garment has me questioning my growing skills. The idea of waste is part of it. But, yes…life is too short. Bless you for this.

    • Aunty Maimu

      Nothing is waste if it helps you learn.

    • It’s just fabric. You can always use fabric from projects that don’t work out for other things… maybe a quilt from “failed” projects? Better than not making at all, right? Good luck on your new journey! You’re going to have a blast.

  • Larissa

    This is all about me! But mine is a fear of finishing, I worry things I make won’t fit right, not suit me….or worse, just look homemade. Before Christmas, I had parties that I wanted new things for, but the budget was busted….I had two dresses languishing, just needing hems and little things….SO I took a deep breath and just finished them….and wore them and got compliments! My head is now spinning with possibilities, confidence buoyed!

    • I’m so happy you did that Larissa! It’s like running the whole race and then quitting just before the end because you don’t think you’ll get “first”…. the irony being that NOT finishing probably feels worse than getting like, fifth, right? We should start a hashtag campaign: #finishitalready

  • Yes, yes, yes. You hit the nail on the head with this post. #winning

  • Sophie

    But my special fabric IS woven from Unicorn Lashes! LOL. I had a laugh over that. Heather, these are great points. And it’s like sewing imitates life imitates sewing sometimes. Like sewing confidence and the ‘just getting in there and making shit’ filters out into other areas of life. Actually its funny, well not funny, but in pretty much every other area of my life I like to know exactly how something is going to work out before I jump in, which leads to all sorts of paralysis and agonising over not getting things right the first time. But strangely with sewing, I just jumped in in the beginning and screwed up and got back on the horse and fell off, and climbed back up again and again. Resilience = confidence.

    • Do you find you’re more confidant in other areas of your life after killing it with sewing for so long? That’s what I’ve discovered… its contagious.

  • This is excellent. My mother’s motto, which I have adopted, is “Better finished than perfect.” I do have a problem with starting projects; I think I need to add to it: “Better started than perfect?”

    • Both would be great tattoos, if I was that sort of lady 😉

  • Maggie S B

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Heather. What an excellent start to the New Year…

  • Aunty Maimu

    I’ve been sewing for half of my life. When I got a job to work as a woman’s wear tailor for a fashion designer I was scared shitless because I did know very little of dressmaking. Internet helped me a lot. Plus the designer saying my jackets were the best she ever saw…
    When my best friend asked me to sew her wedding dress, I had a panick attack. I didn’t dare, I took me some time to think about it. I even helped her to find another seamstress. When she teared up at our first muslin fitting…it meant a lot to be a part of her most important day in such way. I was pretty sure my hand stitching was not up to a standard. …but what standard? I am not a couture seamstress! She knew that. But still she asked me.
    Getting over myself has given me the best memories and experience of my life!!! I wouldn’t change them for anything!

    • Also you are one of the biggest wealth of knowledge and skill in my life so clearly SOMETHING worked! xoxo

      • Aunty Maimu

        Mhm, something.

  • Kat

    Thank you so much. I think in a way everyone needs to hear this! It’s so easy to let fear run our sewing lives. I most relate to the fear of cutting into new fabric. Once you move forward you remove all it’s other possible could-be’s, but I finally realized that it’s okay. If I want it to become ANYTHING I need to move forward.
    Taking risks with something like fabric should be fun!

    • It’s an easy first step once you give yourself a pep talk. In my own life I’ve seen how my confidence with sewing has totally transformed other areas of my life…..

  • Talking to yourself as you would talk to others is hands down some of the best life advice ever.

    I’m currently trying to apply this ‘just do it’ approach to my first pair of socks. I’ve reached the part where I need to do decreases and frankly have no idea what I’m doing! However I’m forging on with it knowing the 2nd sock will be that much better!

    It’s too easy to talk yourself out of trying new things so thanks for giving us all a virtual kick in the pants!

    • My pleasure Jenny! Happy if anyone finds this helpful (and decreases are hard but you’ll figure it out!)

  • Ola Russek

    Great post! Your ability to sound convincing while still being funny is enviable 🙂 “Unicorn eyelashes” – I nearly fell of my chair, when I read that part 😀 Yet it sounds so true. I need to remember that the next time I’m afraid to ruin some of my fabric.

    • I relish the idea of an army of empowered makers just chanting “unicorn eyelashes” whenever they need to jump in!

  • Kerynne

    Thank you so much for this post! I laughed until I cried a bit. I hadn’t realised how much I had held back on sewing certain things or sewing with certain fabrics. Next time I’m fabric shopping I’ll think ‘Unicorn eyelashes – let’s do this!’ and buy 2 metres of crepe de chine or super slippery silk! This way of thinking rings true for so many other parts of life. Women are famous for talking ourselves out of things because we are afraid that we’ll fail or not be very good at something. The only limiter is ourselves, we can do anything! Thank you again Heather, you are fabulous.

    • My first draft of this post had a whole part about how socialised women are to chase perfection and beat ourselves up to our own peril…. But then the post would have been a whole book 😉

  • Liz Green

    This was exactly what I needed to read today….I’m pretty good with sewing confidence, where I struggle is in interaction with the sewing community – I’ve been lurking on the edges for ages now. My resolution is to start commenting on any blog or instagram post that grabs me, and this is the start!

  • SUCH a great post! I once served this gorgeous lady who told me that her mother had died suddenly and she’d inherited her “beautiful” stash filled with the fabric that her mum had LOVED but had never used simply because was too afraid to cut into/ruin it. And so she resolved to use all of it with abandon because it made her realise that there was way more to gain from having a go. And she knew her mum would approve.

    • That’s an amazing story! I would have loved to see that stash 😉

  • Jessica

    Thank you. This rings all too true, not just in sewing but in so many aspects of my life. It’s time to let go.

  • Lauren

    Excellent post! This is what I love about sewing: trying a challenging project and learning something new in the process. The feeling I get after making something challenging is awesome and totally worth the risk to try something new. You just don’t get the same excitement after making a hundred pillowcases or something else simple and boring. Every time I wear my me-made jeans, I feel like a rock star. Thanks Heather!!!!

  • You rock, Heather Lou! Your list of payoffs from facing failure is beautifully written and inspiring.

  • You have raised such a central issue to sewing for a hobby! It’s true I keep fabrics in my stash that intimidate me until “I’m ready” to take them on – patterns are in this class too! I have a partner too who hates to see waste (it’s always been a challenge to throw things away around him!) so outside pressure to “justify” our expenses (particularly if it doesn’t get at least worn!) also adds to the stress of really making sure you’re ready to sew this.

    • Too bad you can’t make him something with the “special” fabric and get him off your back 😉

      • I did make him a pair of pj bottoms that he loves actually 🙂 I made them out of a quilting flannelette which is quite thick and high thread count using a Vogue pattern. Very fancy. He’s just one of those people who has trouble throwing stuff away – not exactly a pack rat but close.

  • Esta

    I agree to everything you wrote, hands down. I think people should accept that learning to do something involves not only getting better at it over time, but most probably also sucking at it in the beginning. You can’t get better at something if you weren’t worse in the beginning, now can you?

  • damoromo

    F***ing loved it. Thanks for writing this! I’m going to print this post out and stick it on my wall :)))))
    Happy New Year to all!!

  • Impeccable timing! I’ve been on some kind of neurotic, sewing freeze for MONTHS. Starting projects then walking away the second they don’t meet my ridiculous standards. Mostly, I realize I haven’t really learned anything in MONTHS. And this post reminded me: failure is how we learn just as much as success is. Doing nothing is the ONLY way I can fail. And i’ve been paralyzed, lemme tell you! Thank you for this post, and being so awesome and totally being that girl friend who will say “enough!!”. XO

    • One of my students told me the best thing about the class was that she had to just move on the next step regardless of whethe ror not she felt like they were “perfect”. I say just move on the next step, and just finish it! That sense of accomplishment is waiting for you!

  • Joanne Roberts

    What a great post. I am a give it a go girl so I am often shouting (in a nice way!) to people to just give it a whirl. I have made some god awful things and some beautifully fitted garments I simply couldn’t buy. I have tried hard things too. It is just fabric, you can say a swear word or two and then you can have another go – some people pay to play golf!! My 2016 resolution is to have a go at making a bra, I expect the first one will be hideous but who did something the first time and was fantastic? nobody. Jo x

  • Nikki

    This is awesome. I literally have a list of projects that I’ve been waiting to start. What I’ve been waiting for exactly is an even longer list of excuses…… and you’re right. Mistakes are OKAY! Each project does get better. And no one cares but me!!!

    I needed to read this post today!

    Thank you,

  • Elisabeth M. Schoopp

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! And happy new year!
    I have been putting off making “your” jeans because everybody else seem to get them perfect, and I’m afraid I won’t. Better get ’round to it!

    (That’s one downside to reading sewing blogs – some of you guys are just so good!)

    • No one does them perfect! I STILL after god knows how many pairs feel like I’m getting better. The fear of perfection is punishing! Let it go!

  • Hélène

    You’re so right, Heather Lou. Now that I’ve picked up sewing and knitting, I couldn’t be happier to live in this Google/YouTube/sew-alongs era. Such a wealth of sound information everywhere to learn new skills and overcome difficulties. Thanks for all your helpful and inspirational posts, especially this one!

    • No idea how i would have figured out magic loop knitting without youtube!

  • Sandra

    This is, in my opinion, one of the best posts I’ve read. It applies not only to sewing but to life in general. I have that little voice in my head that speaks to me and tells me all kinds of lies. And I listen to it, not all the time but it’s there. I started a pair of Ginger’s last year, my first time to make jeans. My topstitching left much to be desired and so I’ve never completed them. I began another pair with different material, haven’t finished them either as in my mind, they are not perfect. I want to make a blazer/jacket for work but am scared to do it. And it’s all BS!! You are right, the only way to get better is to do it and keep doing it. I can apply this to many areas of my life where fear is the underlying theme. And realistically, what would happen? What is the worst thing that could happen? I make a mistake and learn from it. And no one will judge me or tell me how awful it is, I am my own worst critic. I love fabric and sewing, every time I look at my stash I think to myself, the possibilities are endless! So much to create, to sew, to enjoy and it’s all part of the process!
    Thanks for posting this and making me realize that the only limitations there are are the ones I set for myself. Like Nike says, Just Do It!!!

    • One of the best things I heard in my Ginger class is taht the fast pace sort of forces you to plow ahead regardless of whethe ror not its “perfect”, which means youa ctually get to FINISH and feel that sense of accomplishment, even if they could still use improvement. I think the FINISHING is what is important. So go finish your jeans and feel amazing!

  • Genevieve

    While this is not an issue in my sewing life, I enjoyed reading. I think about this optic all the time as well because of reading, as you also point out, comments from other sewists about how they can’t ….
    You are absolutely correct that just doing…feeds that place in your mind and soul to keep on striving for learning and ultimately improving your makes. I am addicted to that rush of excitement when I can put on my finished piece and parade about.
    Take care,

  • You are so right! Be fearless, it’s only fabric and wonky seams can be unpicked and sewn again! 🙂

  • Cherie

    So bloody true. Just started my first ever knit project about 4 years after buying the fabric. 2016 here I come! No more being too scared for me.

    • YES! You can do it Cherie! (a stretch needle and walking foot will help!)

  • Caroline

    Thank you so much for this. It cut straight to the marrow. I don’t know you but I love you!

  • Lety

    Yes! All true!

    I took a class on the Moneta dress, which is super easy and flattering and I still had to take a beta blocker halfway through to stop my heart racing and palms sweating! The instructor said, “You’re not building a bridge! It’s just a dress!”

    • Hahahahaha! Whatever gets you through Lety 😉

  • I agree with Emily! The heaviest pressure lies with “wasting” fabric. You buy it because you fell in love with it and even though it was $ that could have gone elsewhere (on a RTW for example) you justified its purchase because you are going to make yourself something REALLY nice with it – something beautiful that fits like a dream….and then it sits in the “stash” because it’s just too SCARY to sew! Crazy crazy and more crazy 🙂

    • It’s like never pulling out the “special” china, or putting plastic on your sofa!

  • LE

    Heather you have a way with words. Every time I’m scared to cut I will refer to the thought ‘Is it woven with unicorn eye-lashes?’ I think I may embroider that somewhere. Thanks!

  • Really great blog! Will be sharing with our followers!
    Jo @ Elephant in my handbag

  • Alison Grant

    This is just what I needed, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the encouragement I need! I love the ” is it woven with unicorn eye-lashes”? At last I see it!!! I bought all that fabric because I loved it and had something in mind for it, I bought those patterns because I thought I could stitch them and now I know I can – and will. I’ve done it before and although I might be a bit rusty – I’ll jolly well do it again. Thank you from a very wet village in East Yorkshire, England

  • Tiffany McGuire

    Lady. This is probably the best sewing post I’ve read. EVER. Thank you.

  • This is such a great post Heather! I mean really, it’s only fabric. No one’s going to die if you screw up or its not perfect. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

  • Mindy Nickel

    This is such a fantastic post. This line in particular speaks to me: “You are asking way more of your me-made garments than you would
    of ready-to-wear, and if that pressure is preventing you from getting
    started or simply stopping you in your tracks, you need to learn how to
    shake it off.” I really held myself back when I started garment sewing, because I felt like everything I made screamed “handmade”. But then when I really took a look at my RTW garments, I realized what I was making was just as good (if not better) than the stuff I was buying off the rack.

  • Adele Terrill

    Thank you so much for this post. It was the kick up the rear I needed! I recently cleaned out my stash of patterns and cloth, and now only have pieces I think I could conceivably use.. But still I don’t, fear of stuffing it all up holds me back, I realise that this is partly due to a poverty mindset and just not wanting to waste things, but you are so right, no unicorns were harmed in the creating of any of my stash, most of it was picked up at thrift shops! This week I cut into some leather I had carefully harvested from an old leather jacket and made a new – desperately needed – handbag, I made a tee shirt I was avoiding because of stripe matching which was plenty successful, and a practice run of some shorts.. Which I don’t think are going to work but hey, I gave it a go!

  • Emma Wileman

    Thank you so much for this, it was exactly what I needed to get me past my “performance anxiety”, and you get partial credit for my nephew’s 5th birthday gift!

  • Mrs. Smith

    I’m “self-taught” (really, internet-taught) and had absolutely no qualms about diving in to any and everything! Ha! When I look back now it is absolutely hilarious. Within my first 4 months of sewing I’d made a button front princess seamed shirt (no, it wasn’t that good but I MADE IT!) and fly front pants.

    Yes, there are things that I’d since worked myself into a fit over (like welt pockets – and then I just did it!) but I do get a little “omg, no!” when I read posts about ‘fear of knits’ and ‘fear of zippers’.

    And I agree that in the simplest way – it’ll be fine. It really will.

  • I appreciate this post SO so much. This is advice I always “tell” myself but then somehow I still always hesitate to actually follow through. Jeans. Bras. Coats. I know I can make these things I just insist on playing it safe. Safe = Success and sewing success feels good. It’s addicting even. But just STARTING a new thing is a success in itself, and the more I sew new things, the more personally successful I’ll feel in the long run. Sooooo… yeah. SEW ALL THE THINGS!!!!!!!1

  • Gail

    Something comprehensively bad has happened to the last few paragraphs of the blog. I use an iMac with Chrome as my browser. Please check your blog. I can read it in my Blog reader Feedly.

  • Great article! This can be applied to a lot of things in life. I’m often surprised when I post a photo on instagram and people comment how perfect my stitching looks. In actuality it’s far from perfect but I’m the only one that will probably every notice.

  • Thank you for this post! I have been sewing for 11 years now and I still have times when I’m not confident enough in my sewing. I made it a goal to sew a pair of jeans this year and I’m so close to finishing them. They are not perfect – there is topstitching that is off, the fly isn’t perfect, but I made them! Not only that, but I learned so much – one of the reasons I wanted to make jeans was to boost my sewing knowledge and learn new things – I had been stuck in a rut of making things I was comfortable in doing. That is okay to do but if you want to learn new things you need to step out of your comfort zone.

  • Alix

    You are AWESOME ! Positive, and encouraging, and fun. Thanks 🙂

  • Kendal

    Thank you! I’m making the Carolyn pajamas (with piping!) as my first solo patterned project… teaching myself with the Internet and some reference books as I go. Intimidating, but you’re totally right about not regretting it! And I’ve learned so much. I’m currently procrastinating sewing on the collar to the shirt, but I will use this post as inspiration to move forward! So excited for my cozy flannel pjs!

  • Francesca Amodeo

    Wow. This was one amazing post. I’m not one to be scared of much except I hate doing buttonholes – and I do have a couple of liberty pieces that are waiting for the perfect pattern – maybe I should just pick something.
    Hon, you should do motivational stuff – this was really inspiring!

  • Amy Mees

    thanks for this! seriously!!! I’m gonna pull out my ginger jeans kit and just get to it already! I felt so amazing after I finished my first bombshell and feel like ones I get the jeans made I will feel even more invisible. thanks heather for inspiring us

  • mplutui@gmail.com

    Thank you so much for the encouragement! Love it!

  • marieusa

    Thanks a lot, a million lot for your post. I have this fear since I started to sew 5 years ago and I am pretty sure it prevented me from…a lot. I will definitely take your advice and print your post so I can read it a lot !! THANK YOU !!

  • Katie

    I think I need to read this post every day. I find it so hard to sit down and make things sometimes, because I’m expecting to fail! And generally my view of failing is it not being perfect, which is completely wrong anyway. So thank you for this. Hopefully one day I can remember to be like this always.

  • Heather Lou, thank you so much for writing this post. It is exactly the giant kick in the tuckus I need to stop making excuses and allowing fear to stifle my creative dreams. While I have had no problem sewing the cutest garments for the littlest girls in my life; however, I have not been brave enough to proceed past simple skirts and a single very cute but ultra simple maxi dress. BUT I am going to keep this post in mind every day to remind myself: It is just fabric. Just cut. Make. It. Already.

  • Jessica

    I just discovered this post and I love it. I had bought the Deer and Doe Belladone pattern just as I started to teach myself to sew six months ago. I felt so intimidated by the darts, the pleats, the bias facings, and the invisible zipper. It took me six months to get up the nerve just to make a muslin and I realized that as long as I took my time and read tutorials over and over again I could do it! It looked wonky in some spots, but I was the only one who could see that. We certainly have a much more discerning eye on ourselves than other people have of us. Thanks again for writing this much needed confidence booster of a post!

  • Shaz Pierre

    Wow I just wanted to say that this really encouraged me. I was feeling really low this past weekend about my sewing skills as I really want my pieces to look professional and this helped me with some perspective. Thank u x

    • I’m so happy it helped Shaz! Sewing is supposed to be fun; its important not to be hard on ourselves as we grow!

  • slippedaway

    Someone posted a link to this on a FB page geared for sewists. I was in tears after the 4th paragraph. Thank you for this post and being so succinct; clearly it takes one to know one and you have obviously lived this. I am going to print it out and post it in my sewing room [yes, my 2nd bedroom is designated for sewing etc., set up with my serger and sewing machine as I’ve always done for decades]. I froze in the mid 80’s after a comment made by a coworker in front of executives [isn’t that one of the dresses you made?]. Sure, I’ve made some quilts and clothing repairs since then, but balk at sewing anything for myself, even though my room stays ready and waiting. You have picked all my self-defeating words out of my brain and put them in print. It’s quite jarring to see [and to think anyone else has those thoughts]. I’ve lost so many years where I could have been sewing, all because of that little voice in my head that fed on itself. Not any more. I may have lost those years, but better late than never to start again. Thank you.

    • Oh you have just totally made my Sunday. I am so happy if my words encourage you to get in that sewing room and make something for yourself. You totally deserve it. And it will be beautiful. And its not wasted time – you were just psyching yourself up to get going again. 😉

  • grace andrew

    This article gives us a good insight about Custom Embroidery. Highly appreciated, very thoughtful.

  • Andrea Murley-Anderson

    “You are asking way more of your me-made garments than you would of ready-to-wear…”


  • Magdel Du Randt

    I just read this post after starting to read your post on the Sasha trousers and it almost made me cry. I know you wrote it from a sewing perspective, but it is definitely applicable in other life situations too. It made me realise that when it comes to sewing and knitting I’m fearless and I try new patterns and things all the time; I’ve never really paid attention to whether a pattern is intended for expert or beginner – I just try! And then I realised that this is not true for anything else I do; and that made me a bit sad and a bit mad! I think I need to take my courage with me out of the sewing room and show it to the other aspects of my life. Screw you, Fear!