“I didn’t fail! I found a way that doesn’t work!”

The following was originally posted to my Facebook page, and I’ve decided it needs to be here instead. Probably a lot of things originally posted there will be moved over here.

“I didn’t fail! I merely discovered a way that doesn’t work!” ‘Maura Isles’, Rizzoli & Isles.

There are a lot of ways to think of it, but I’m going with the above. There are many ways to do a given thing. Some ways work, and some ways don’t. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you did not fail. You simply scratched off one possibility on the mental list of methods to try. You eliminated one method. That’s a good thing. If you had a list of 10 possible methods to try, now you’ve got nine. Your chances of discovering a successful method just increased by 10%, because that’s one way you don’t have to try again.

Last night, I discovered something that doesn’t work. I had a good seamstress, Cat Ellen, over to my house, and asked her to show me how to do a gore inserted into a slit in the fabric (instead of a gore sewn to a seam, which is quite easy and attractive). She showed me. I learned how. However! My way looked horrible. I checked Cat’s example again, and hers… Well, it was better than mine, but it was still kind of a mess. Nothing like the clean, sharp lines and the securely double-folded-and-sewn edges and corners of a gore on a seam (which, by the way, is really really easy to do, as well).

Now, if we’d both been beginners, I would’ve said to myself, “Well, if I just practice this 200 more times, I’ll get good at it, and then these inserted gores will look terrific on my garb.” I would have tried on LOTS of scrap fabric, and spent a LOT of time trying this out, getting increasingly frustrated and cry-faced as I determined that I was a sucky seamstress and a total loser. But that’s not the issue. See, Cat is a very good seamstress. If her inserted gores don’t look good to me, it’s not because the seamstress is at fault. If her inserted gores are weak, it’s not because she did it wrong. The faults aren’t with the seamstress, who was doing it right: the faults are with the method.

I could still spend a lot of time “perfecting” my inserted gore skills, and if I ever lack for things to do, I might do that. Learning is never wasted, after all. But I’m thinking that I won’t be doing it on actual garb. Probably ever. See, if one method looks a mess even when an expert does it, and isn’t all that strong even when an expert does it, and is difficult even for an expert… why would I want to do it? I want gowns that look good, are sturdy, and don’t make me want to cry for an hour at a time on every single gore. Now, your mileage may vary, but to tell the truth, in all the web-searching I’ve done, I’ve never seen one inserted gore that looks as nice as a gore on a seam. For me, at least, what I have discovered is a method that doesn’t work.

So from now on, if I need a gore in a location, then I will be making a separate panel piece just so I can put that gore on a seam instead of inserting it up the fabric. It’s better that way. This is a method that works.

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