Saturday, 28 April 2012

Stitcher's Indecision


One of the wonderful things about making your own clothes is the ability to design bespoke garments exactly how you want them. You choose the colour, the style, the fit, the neckline, the sleeve, the buttons... At times, however, I consider this availability of choice more of a curse than a blessing. It can take me days to decide which buttons to sew onto a blouse. My fabric stash is full of pieces I bought with one project in mind, then changed my mind. Matching the perfect pattern to the perfect fabric is no easy task. It can get a bit ridiculous sometimes.

Apparently people fall into two categories - "satisficers" and "maximisers". If a satisficer wants to buy an apple, they'll go into the nearest shop selling apples, and pick out an apple which is "good enough". A maximiser, on the other hand, will consider all the possible shops they could go into, perhaps do some research on their ethical credentials and pricing, then once there will examine each and every apple on sale to find the one without any bruises and the perfect blend of red and green. Do you recognise one of these behaviour patterns in yourself when you're in a fabric store or rifling through your fabric stash? I definitely fall into the maximiser category. Even though I may end up with the "best" choice, it's no surprise that maximisers tend to be more anxious and stressed than satisficers who keep the task simple and don't worry too much about their decision.

For my Greensleeves Dress, for example, I changed my mind about how to finish it around fifty times. Tab or belt? Cap or elbow length sleeves? Collar or no collar? For the red button-back blouse I'm currently working on, a seemingly simple step like picking out the buttons turned into a soul-searching quest. Are teal buttons too obvious a choice? Would red fabric-covered buttons send out the message that I want to blend in? Am I really a floral button kinda girl? Cripes!



Am I the only one who suffers from Stitcher's Indecision? Do you face the same problem? If so, have you developed any strategies to overcome this blockage? Help me!

[Soundtrack: 'Too Many Fish in the Sea' by The Marvelettes]

51 comments:

  1. I totally understand! I like to blend, but I like to make things a little wild. Don't stress too much about your fabric choice for the DRD. I have made two already and have just ordered the fabric for my third. You may just end up using all three of the fabric choices you've shown here.

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  2. I am a maximiser, though that seems a far too positive term for what is a curse on my creativity! I suffer paralysis at every decision, what pattern, which fabric, then all the various design element choices... so rarely end up with even close to a finished garment. This is not helped by a huge pattern, stash and notions collection and a thousand ideas in my head, all competing for creation. I need help too, so I hope your readers have some suggestions, Tilly, as I have none!

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  3. So recognizable! I'm making a dress for a wedding this summer. I want it to be perfect because it's a posh kind of wedding. So after my muslin i decided to make a wearable muslin before i make the finall version. But a wearable muslin means it has to be some thing i would wear, so not to posh. After digging through my stash i decided to by new fabric.... Now i'm thinking about buttons for my wearble muslin....
    You might understand that i'm not a fast sewist ;)

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  4. Ha ha! I am most definitely a maximiser. I knit more than sew at the moment and the length of time it takes me to decide what my precious yarn is going to become sometimes verges on the ridiculous. The good thing about being indecisive with yarn is that if you change your mind you can rip it out and start again!

    BTW, I adore that teal rose button. Where did you find it/them? (I assume you have more than one!)

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    1. Aw thanks! The buttons are from a little shop in Brighton that I went to as part of a blogger meet-up.

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  5. Yes, I'm a maximister. My current project is a jacket. During the fabric cutting process I found myself ignoring grain lines only to use as little fabric as possible, so I have more than scraps left (maybe for a pair of pants?).

    Then, I reminded myself that this jacket won't be the last one I sew, and I rather have a great garment to wear than more fabric in the stash.

    The same goes for indecision. You can always change the buttons, make another dress from the same pattern with difference sleeves, or shorten a hemline. But first, the apple has to be picked.

    I also believe that there's a process. Things can't be done just "right" immediately. So playing a little with difference buttons, making some mistakes - it's inevitable.

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  6. I think for most of my sewing projects I'm a satisficer - I like to wing it. I have only ever made a muslin once (when I was making a Medieval style jacket for a friend's wedding dress) and sometimes I don't even use a pattern. My main problem is deciding to use my fabric in the first place (I don't like to cut up my pretties).

    How about just letting rip with some cheap fabric - don't worry about how it will turn out - just enjoy the process.

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  7. I try and limit my choices... sew with restrictions... hence my stash busting or second fabric only rules for most of my sewing. I'm oftentimes so stuck at fabric stores when I have to choose fabric for certain projects, and then even more stalled as I don't make muslins, so I hesitate cutting... I need to dive in with thrifty choices and then usually they're ok and totally wearable and everyone loves them!

    For your buttons, I'd go the subtle smaller red ones, as you may have more wearable options... Can't wait to see the Darling Dress! xoxo

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    1. The red buttons would mean I could wear it with anything... but then again I would probably ending up wearing it with a turquoise coloured necklace anyway!

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  8. My indecision doesn't come from buttons, but sometimes what to make from my best fabrics. Should I proceed with this pattern. But oh the fabric is soooo beautiful, or so expensive...what if I wreck it!

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    1. That's me in a nutshell! I have a length of Liberty lawn that I just CAN'T make myself cut into-- what if I choose the wrong pattern? What if I find an even better pattern right after cutting the fabric? What if the world ends because my Liberty project isn't PERFECT?

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  9. I think I am a maximiser too! In fact most responses so far seem to be - I wonder if that is partly why we sew?
    I try to use my stash wherever possible, that helps make the decision for me sometimes!
    For the dress, I would try draping the fabric around you in front of the mirror and visualise the end result, and choose whichever you'd wear the most - I find that helps me focus on what is 'me' and not some other influence. If that doesn't help, make it in the peacock fabric because I think it's fabulous!!

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    1. I think you're right and I was just thinking the same thing - seeing the number of people who say they are maximisers, maybe part of the reason we sew is that we want to make things the "best" way, exactly how we like them, rather than making do with whatever is in the shops.

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  10. My sewing closet is full of bins stuffed with fabric that I bought for a project.... and then changed my mind! So, Tilly, you're not alone!

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  11. I love getting a good fit and a nice garment from sewing but I actually sew just to relax. I think in most things I am the satisficer. I would just buy the best apple I could get with the least fanfare. But with sewing I am definitely a maximister. I always buy extra fabric and then I am afraid to make a wrong choice for the perfect fabric I bought. My productivity would be greater if I simply got on with the project rather than lament over all the choices I have.

    Nothy
    www.aftagley.blogspot.ca

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  12. Yes, I think I'm probably a maximiser/over-perfectionist! I've got so many ideas in my head that I haven't even started on because I can't find THE perfect fabric - the exact combination of weight, drape, colour and, alas, cost.

    By the way - what are you going to make with that ikat? I've got the same fabric (from John Lewis?) and made it into a great simple maxi sundress with a shirred bodice, which is now my go-to summer dress (particularly great for BBQs as you can stick some leggings on underneath and no-one need ever know). It's such lovely, soft fabric and the stripes made it super-easy to get the shirring in even lines!

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    1. Good question! I'm *thinking* of making the Darling Ranges Dress in the ikat as I think the simple design will show off the fabric and it'd make a nice and casual dress for lounging around in. But I've had so many different ideas for it, who knows what'll it end up becoming!

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  13. OMG LMAO. We were separated at birth. I've been sitting for A WEEK with fabric & patterns fretting. And I buy things, love them but decide they are not 'quite' right. My crafting friends used to call me the OCD kid because I would spend one hour picking one fabric... but hey! By then I was committed!

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  14. Oh my gosh, YES. You've hit the nail on the head! I've been really struggling with this lately... and now I think it's partly because I'm both a Maximiser AND a Satisficer! I tear into projects with little or no planning... and then the paralyzing indecision strikes and I can't figure out how to finish them! I even posted about the problem this week. I'm so torn between loving the adrenoline of churning out things that are "good enough", but also having the same perfectionism that so many people are mentioning here. At last I'm not alone, and that helps!

    As for your dress: I love them all! And I think that they are going to look so different when made up that you should make at least two, if not all three versions!
    Button-wise: I say floral or turquoise. Go big or go home! If you really love the turquioise flower buttons, you can always cut them off the blouse later and reuse them. :)

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  15. One thing I've learned over the past 10 years since beginning to sew my own clothes is that this actually diminishes with time away from the "decision". For example...all of your button choices could be a nice fit for your project. Just choose one and I promise in a few weeks, you'll be perfectly happy with your decision (doesn't really matter which one you make). This happens to me time and time again, so I've stopped sweating the tiny details as much!

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  16. I like the floral buttons or small blue fabric covered one for the blouse.

    I think I am a maximiser but also a satisficer when I lose patience.

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  17. My husband and I have both taken the Myers-Briggs personality test. One of the personality quirks it tests for is whether you are happiest after a decision is made or during the process of making the decision. I am the former, and he is the latter. It makes shopping for big ticket items together stressful. Having lived with him for a long time, I would proffer that those of you who are maximisers are actually not stressed by the process of making the decision. It's having the decision made that twists you into knots. So choose a covered button the same size as the teal. Since the buttonholes will be the same size, you can go through life never having to make a final decision. Just swap the buttons as often as you like. Who knows, you might even find a third button that you like in a year or two.

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  18. I'm a satisficer. I try to get the perfect fabric, but I definitely don't research anything and I kind of rush my decision sometimes.

    Meg
    http://megshandmadelife.blogspot.com

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  19. I'm a maximiser for sure. I adore the peacock fabric- it's so beautiful- is it Liberty? Lx

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    1. It's Alexander Henry, a gift from Fancy Moon Fabrics if I recall correctly:
      http://www.fancymoon.co.uk/regent-peacock-feather-alexander-henry-cotton-lawn.html

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  20. Please, please use the teal rose buttons for this blouse?! They're just gorgeous and whilst you won't see them all day they'll really add something to the back detail!

    As for Satisficer and Maximiser I can be either. Normally more of a satisfier though as my budget won't indulge my maximiser inclinations...

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    1. I'm starting to think it may just be the teal roses!

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  21. I'm pretty sure I'm a satisficer. When it comes to knitting, I like to experiment, but when a combination doesn't go right, I am ok with fixing it. It may take me a while to get around to fixing it, but eventually it will be the way I want it.

    I love those teal rose buttons! Those are my favorite out of the bunch and I think they'd be a really interesting detail for the back of a blouse.

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  22. I'm generally a satisficer, unless I have something verrry specific in mind, in which case I will be on a quest for Just The Right Thing until I find it. Although even then, sometimes I get bored with the search after a while and just move on to something else. :)

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  23. I am a satisficer, according to the descriptions above. I learned a long time ago that all that extra angst doesn't actually produce perfect garments, after all. I have from time to time taken a lot of time to decide whether to buy a particular fabric, but that is uaually because I love it but don't have a patten in mind, and/or it is really expensive.

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  24. Of course, the nice thing about sewing your own clothes is that if you can't make up your mind, you can always make it again another way, unless you're using materials that are too expensive for that. As long as you can narrow down your choices down to a reasonable number, you can have it both ways! :D

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  25. I start out as a maximiser - searching for ages trying to find perfect pattern and fabric, but then I get to the stage of "anything will do" and become a satisficer just to get the project done!

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  26. This dress will look great on you - go for the gorgeous peacock feather print. I love it!

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  27. I agree most of us sew to get exactly what we want, I know I do!

    If I'm agonizing over a decision, I try to just walk away for a little bit and think about something else. If the answer doesn't float into my brain overnight, I go back and look at the choices again, and go with my first instinct that time.

    Since this blouse won't have any other floral or organically shaped details (at least it looks like it won't) I would go with the red or teal covered buttons. But then, I'm into subtle!

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  28. I make fabric collages, tool aprons and wall art using vintage and reclaimed materials so I'm always faced with TOO MANY choices. What looks good one day, may not click at all the next. In those cases, I go with the serendipity (or goddess) of the sewing room--dumping all the options in a big pile, digging my hands in and pulling one out. Messy, but it works and it's great fun.
    Love your blog. I had almost given up garment sewing. You're re-inspired me to makes some clothes and I love seeing the patterns that we don't have in the States. Thanks from a US reader

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  29. I like the floral and too good buttons.

    I love your work and each piece you do is very pretty so keep at it. Take as long as you need to make the decision that makes you happy.

    I make my decisions as I go and decide when to go the full distance on a project and decide when to plough through the project.

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  30. You just described me! Oh dear. I wish I knew how to cope with it but I agonize for days or weeks over little choices like this. I suffer from "paralysis by analysis" when I have SO many wonderful options it makes it so hard to decide which one is the best to go with.

    However, since I end up loving most of the things I end up making, I don't think it's so bad but I could see how being more stressed over little things isn't a good way to be. I'm no help!

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  31. I suffer from severe indecision but I think it stems more from the fact that I just recently (as in this year) got serious about sewing my own clothing. I appreciate the "just do it!" attitude of more advanced sewasaurus rexes, but I'm very hesitant to use cherished vintage items or my fabric from India (for example) while I'm still teaching myself how to properly fit clothing, do button holes, finish seams, etc. Which is a real quandary as these are the fabrics I'm dying to wear and, as I continue to use fabrics I don't really care about, I keep producing clothing I'm kinda "meh" about.

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  32. Oh I don't know if it's reassuring me to know that other sewist and not beginners are doubtful! Because i am very doubtful about making "right" choices and i still need some time (too much)to take a decision, and as i just start sewing, i thought it was linked to this lack of experience! But i read you and haaa good sewist have that too! Let's say that i will probably made some technical part faster with experience and still wandering myself with "if i do this..., if i do that..." for days!!! Until i find a compromise!
    Courage! Sometimes i just go thinking/dreaming to another garment or just look over a magazine, book... and then i got some clues!

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  33. I'm a satisficer, but I have a big pile of fabric I've bought thinking, "Oh, some project or other will come along I can use it for..." which never ends up getting used.

    I love the big buttons.

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  34. I'm a satisfier - impulse is my second name, I buy fabric and patterns online late at night and have to make them within days, cut out while kids are napping, sew at every opportunity.....far too easy to spend my very little available cash.

    Def go for the teal (so much easier to spell than torquoise) roses, they are adorable and how nice to make the people walking behind you smile x

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  35. I am a maximiser and the only advice I have about it is that in my experience there is no escape. :-) You can tell yourself to rush it, "just go with the first option", "other people can make a top in an hour, so can I!" but you will end up unhappy with the result.

    Sorry about that - you want something a little more upbeat? If you accept that you have to agonise over the decisions, then you'll be happy with the finished product and you'll forget all the pain?

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  36. Definitely not an issue for me. I mostly make quick decisions & 99% of the time don't regret them. The Roommate is always there if due diligence must be done. But we both tend to just enjoy stuff, rather than worry too much about the choices we've made. We're also lucky in that we make very good choices (for us).

    I guess I'd prioritize...buttons, make a quick decision--you can always change them later, right? And I'd make the same dress in 2 different fabrics (take a look at my Mohammed-made-June postings, http://bellaindustries.blogspot.com/search/label/mohammed-made-june, at least 4 of one pattern that I love)!

    But buying a house/changing jobs/getting married/moving? Then spend your time researching/fretting before making a decision.

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  37. Remember - you can always change buttons. (Well, as long as they are the same size). But I know that doesn't really help right now. ;)

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  38. I love the blue iKat fabric in the photo, where did you find it?

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    1. It's from John Lewis (UK department store). It was half price so I couldn't resist. It feels really soft and lovely too.

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    2. I noticed that ikat, too...it's great!

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  39. I'm a maximiser all the way! I'm just learning to sew, so it hasn't hit me too hard in that department yet, but for most general shopping I am the ultimate spend hours researching, spend hours buying, spend hours wondering if I made the right choice. It drives my husband nuts!

    Wish I had some tips!

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  40. No indecision here. I buy my fabric to suit my patterns and vice versa (in rare cases I buy pattern and fabric together) and I don't hoard so I know exactly what I'm making. I don't buy fabric if I don't have a pattern in mind to suit it. Buttons are a bit harder to manage because I do most of my haby shopping online and it can be difficult to judge colour/ style on a monitor. And please, please, please install disqus so I don't have to struggle with recaptcha every time I want to leave a comment.

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