This is a question I have struggle with frequently. Does EVERY project require or deserve perfection?
Most recently, my struggle focused on the party favor bags for my grandson’s 8th birthday. The party had a sports theme, with a football pinata and soccer field cake. My contribution to the festivities was 12 teepee bags (click here for the post with the free pattern) 3 each from football, baseball, basketball and soccer novelty fabrics. After enjoying the bounce house and the girls swapping clothes and changing again and again with the garments in the dress up box, the bags were stuffed by the children with the spilled contents of the smashed pinata.
Like most of you readers, I am very, very busy. But I am also very, very fussy about my sewing. Often I ask myself, is it better to sew more with a few imperfections or better to sew less and get my projects as close to perfect as possible? In fact, I rarely achieve results even close to perfect.
I wrestled with this question when making the quick and easy bags , which take 10 minutes each without finishing touches. Two of these touches include topstitching the zipper, finishing the seams and trimming stray whiskers from the seams. Ultimately, taking time to cut out and make each bag unique (who wants mass produced?) with different colored zippers and handle loops, winding different colored bobbins and changing threads, I spent about 20 minutes each. But was it worth it?
In search of the answer, I did not sit in my Adirondack chair under a freshly leafed oak tree on a sunny Florida spring afternoon. Remember, I am very busy. Oops, I think I already mentioned that… Instead I contemplated the quotes below while folding laundry, feeding the cats and scouring the kitchen sink.
Confucius said, “”Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” Hmmmm….
But Aristotle said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” I have an abundance of pleasure in the job, but I don’t get perfection. Hmmmmm…
Plato really muddied the waters with his declaration, “Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.” Hmmm…again and again.
Then, many quotes addressed the subject of excellence along with perfection.
“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” ~ Pat Riley
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~ Aristotle
Ultimately, it was the wisdom of a football legend who spoke to my heart.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” ~ Vince Lombardi
As you can see from the photo of the single soccer teepee bag, the seams were finished, the zipper was topstitched, and finally the stray threads. were trimmed. I’m not sure it was the wisest expenditure of my time, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve decided that I am in search of excellence in all I sew rather than demanding or expecting perfection. Whew! That’s a relief!
So what would you do?