Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lessons in the Wadder

For those of you who sew, I'm sure you've encountered the nefarious wadder. It lurks in your fabric stash (and sometimes tip-toes through the patterns as well…). It's the project that calls your name, knows who you are and knows how to break you.

For the last two weeks, I have been working to finish my Chanel jacket (Vogue 7975). I wanted to wear it for my birthday (which is Wednesday, 3/31. Nothing says "happy birthday!" like cash!) I was learning new skills – how to insert piping, making my first pockets (which were gorgeous, I should tell you), and trying new couture sewing techniques. It was all very exciting. I planned to make a dress this fall in the same fabric and wear them together. Classy! Coco would be so proud.

From the start, the process was difficult. It took three hours for pattern fitting and five hours just to cut out all the pieces in triplicate (fashion fabric, lining and interfacing). When I started sewing them together, the pieces didn't seem to line up correctly. I kept "troubleshooting" construction with some very creative design solutions. It just wasn't working, but I pushed forward anyway. By the time I realized that this project was doomed to failure, I'd topstitched everything together and was ready to insert the sleeves (one of the final steps). I wasn't happy with the princess seams, the hem didn't hang right, the front of the jacket was poofy. Not even decorative trim could save this one. It was so disappointing. That jacket would have made Coco cry. What I failed to realize (until yesterday), was that I'd cut the lining out 1/2" too short. It was the crux of all of the problems. The shorter lining was "pulling up" everything, making the entire garment fit, hang and sew wonky. I'd made my experience completely difficult from the start, before I'd even sewn a stitch! This Chanel jacket was never going to make me happy and I wouldn't be proud to say (when someone inevitably asked), "I made this!" It would most likely hang in my closet, rarely – if ever – worn.

So I walked away.

And in walking away was the lesson that practically kicked me in the teeth this morning. This project wasn't a total loss. I'd learned so much in the process! I'd tried new techniques, honed new skills and was ready to try it again with the next Chanel iteration (v. 2.0, out of boucle, destined for creation Fall 2010). This project took me out of my comfort zone, it pushed me to try new things and take risks. It made me reach a little higher. It made me better for the experience.

Life is like that, too. Sometimes you give a new experience your all and jump in with both feet. You surrender to the fact that you may not know everything, and it may not be comfortable (change rarely is), but you're going for it anyway. Sometimes things just don't work out. Whether it be a relationship, a new career path or a sewing project, there's opportunities for hope and learning in failure. There's growth and knowledge that comes with taking risks. You put yourself out there and you did your best, and that's a good thing. Even when your heart's breaking. Even when you don't get the promotion you deserve. Even when your Chanel jacket (v. 1.0) is a wadder.


  1. Jeannette SteiberMarch 29, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    I LOVE it, Darci! Reminds me of "the" sewing project we made in HomeEc years and years ago--it was called Classic Sampler--a cotton, shirt waist dress with button front and under-arm zipper--set-in sleeves, collar, belt, pockets--the whole nine yards! It was an incredible wadder! The real kicker was that we had to wear them for the "Fashion Show" Tea that we put on for our moms. Up the steps, a couple of turns, out the door and into the trash can! Never saw the light of day again! But I learned alot on that ugly project!