I Don’t Have the Skills to do THAT

Friends, I am so so tired of hearing this. I am so tired of hearing “oh, that’s so nice, I wish I were that talented.” Didn’t your Bob Ross lessons sink in? You know, the one about how “Talent is pursued interest” and if you’re willing to practice, you’ll get all awesome at it because you develop the skills you need? That one?

As Oona’s just pointed out, we don’t need to put ourselves down to lift other people up. The amount of skill and talent and beauty and general awesomeness in the world is not finite.

Oh, wow, I could’ve done a better job of pressing the back there, huh?

So I get a little frustrated when people claim that the thing they want to do, they just aren’t good enough for it.

If the worst that can happen from trying is having to rework a lot of times, and no one’s safety or security is threatened, then you should totally shoot for that ambitious goal.

So here is a thing I made that I really do not have the skills to make. (And some really strange, awkward selfies. For which I am not at all sorry.)

Vogue 1172. Out of the envelope, it is mid-calf length, with princess seams, extended shoulders,  wide v-neck, godets, side zip, lingerie straps, waist stay, and facings.

My version is knee-length, fully lined, with in-seam pockets, horsehair braid at the hem, and the (handpicked) zip moved to center back. Both skirts have a combination of French seams and bias binding. I drafted pockets myself, and added three seams to the skirt to make them work.

Until I made this dress, I had none of the experience needed to make this thing happen. I had 3 weeks to figure it out and make a ton of stupid mistakes, like assembling the bodice and lining completely, then stitching them together at the neckline and the armscyes, then clipping and grading seams AND ONLY THEN trying to turn the thing right-side out. After which I took a guess at which seam I’d have to unpick and then handsew to make it work. And guessed incorrectly. And ended up handstitching the lining and shell together at both armscyes and the neckline.

And when THAT was all done, I still had to catch stitch a full 10 yards of hem, insert the zipper (then grit my teeth because the zipper was so close to the right color that it looked like a mistake), wash it, press it, get on a plane and fly across the country with it (almost miss the plane), arrive on the other coast and rip out the zipper to replace it with a contrasting one that matched my belt, and insert the waist stay.

And let me tell you. I’m still not sure I have all those skills, not really. I’m not really good at modifying patterns yet, or sewing princess seams, and I don’t quite understand the trick to clean finishing a sleeveless bodice. But I did make the thing, so I know I can muddle through, and the next time I muddle through will be a little easier, a little less dramatic, a little tidier. And when I muck it up, it won’t be the end of the world.

This dress isn’t perfect, but it is nice (it makes me feel like a very ferocious sort of princess), and it taught me a lot of things.

Having done it once has made me braver, which means that once Tour de Fleece is over, I have something else to show off. In fanciness, it’s got nothing on this baby, but I’m still awfully pleased.

And if I can come out excited after a battle with my old nemesis “sewing,” well, friends, you can definitely do that thing you think you’re not good enough yet to try.

Wanna hear a secret?

I already know you can do the thing.


9 thoughts on “I Don’t Have the Skills to do THAT

  1. Beautiful dress and a great message. I’ve actually had a similarly arduous experience with my largest creation, but it really does boost your confidence when it goes right doesn’t it? 🙂

    1. Thank you!

      Actually, I think I most like when I mess something up and still manage to get the thing right in the end. You can hone every skill you’ll ever need and still make mistakes. Being able to correct most kinds of mistakes is, I think, at least equally valuable. Then when it’s over you come out of it with the great thing you made and an entertaining story about “You will not believe the comical way I messed this thing up.” And it IS a big confidence boost to know that not only can I make the thing I wanted to make, I can also handle whatever problems arose in the process!

  2. So, apart from not making that dress and having no idea who Bob Ross is, I couldve written this. I feel like Ive stopped telling people so much that they can do things (mostly sewing!) from sheer frustration!
    The dress is gorgeous!!

    1. Thank you!
      Oh gosh, okay, Bob Ross was the creator and host of The Joy of Painting for PBS. His philosophy of art is so tremendously kind, and he had such a soothing voice. Definitely look him up if you’re ever having a bad day.
      Specifically, though, I’m referring here to this:

      1. Right! Thats makes sense. Im Australian, which is why I dont know him. I was concerned it was like some famous musician and I just had no idea lol
        Definitely going to look him up on youtube. Sounds like a top guy!

  3. Beautiful message! I KNOW you’re talking to me! I just don’t have enough interest to try this at the moment. I may someday. You’ll be the first to know. I’m thinking your quote from Bob Ross has extra letters (interestED), but you know, I could be all wrong…Lol.

    I’m so proud of you and all of your many artistic abilities (natural born & self taught). I love you Sissy! XOXOXOXO

    1. Oh, embarrassing. Fixed, thank you.

      What can I say, I happen to know that you give yourself a lot less credit than you deserve! But it’s not just you–it’s a lifetime of implicit training we all receive that commodifies female self-esteem. It’s a terrible system, and even though rejecting it is a lot of work, it’s work worth doing. Which is really the bigger point I am trying to make here.

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