Why Making is a Learning Curve


‘It’s all gone wrong!’ I wail from my craft room. I’m filled with that dreaded feeling that something hasn’t turned out the way I planned, or it’s beyond repair.

On Instagram, I’ve recently been sharing more of my doodles. Generally, I’ve been chuffed with them, but there have been a few that I’ve been really disappointed with. In particular, one evening, I came up with an idea loosely based on a doodle that had proved popular the week before. In my head, it looked fantastic. On paper? It looked dreadful. My immediate feeling was disappointment; I’d invested time in something that was now a bit of a waste.

I’m not the only one paying attention to when things go wrong. Although Pinterest is full of wonderful inspiration and tutorials encouraging us that something is super simple, there are also numerous articles online dedicated to ‘Pinterest fails’ mocking when things have gone wrong. In June 2015, an online story about an Elsa from Frozen cake appeared everywhere, making fun of a finished homemade cake. A few days later, it was revealed that the story had been mis-reported; a volunteer for a charity had made the cake. The online baking community soon began celebrating the effort that someone had put in, rather than focusing on just the aesthetics.

True creativity requires us to experiment, to push the boundaries, to try new things. Unfortunately, that means that some of those experiments just don’t work. But instead of being ashamed/disappointed/down heartened, we should celebrate and learn from them. If we don’t make mistakes, how will we develop, how will we get better?

Back when I was doing my GCSE and A-Level art, we were encouraged to experiment and just give things a go. One of my favourite ever lessons was where we experiment with textures by adding different things to paint. The whole objective was to see what worked, but more importantly, what didn’t. Those that didn’t work well, just made the ones that did even more of a success.

If everything we make was just perfect all the time, would it not ruin that moment when you’ve done something really well, and you just want to show it off to everyone? Regardless of how something we have made looks, we should focus on the work that has gone into it, the time, the skill, and the love. I make because I love the process as much as the finished article.

As I write this, I think about many of my crafting fails. I wanted to put a positive spin on them, and share the lessons I’ve learnt.

The A-line skirt

A few years ago, encouraged by the Sewing Bee, I invested in an A-line skirt pattern. ‘It’ll be easy’ ‘I can totally fit a zip’ I thought. How I was wrong, it was almost easy, the zip did not go well, and I ended up with a skirt that did not suit my body shape at all. It sat in my sewing room for about 6 months before it was inevitably binned!

Lessons learned: Do try things in cheaper fabric first, don’t buy a pattern for a garment which you wouldn’t buy ready made in the shop, start simple! Later skirts have been much more successful.


Not the original skirt, but a later project that has actually been worn!


The papier mache eggs

Remember this egg I shared on Instagram at Easter? There were actually meant to be three. But I used cheap paint, and didn’t wait long enough for the paint to dry between coats. The paint went lumpy, and then the papier mache started falling to pieces.

Lessons learned: Don’t scrimp on paint. Just be patient and wait for the paint to dry! I had another go with this papier mache ‘E’ and after being patient, ended up with something I was proud of.


The doodle

A doodle that was originally intended to be an Instagram post, I hoped to quickly draw it out one evening in front of the telly. The finished product was not what I had imagined, and the colours didn’t really work together.

Lessons learned: Plan things out more, start with some little experiments and then get bigger. Don’t be disheartened when it goes wrong, turn the page and start again.

The dreaded doodle, the green just isn’t right!

It’s so easy to just omit the bad projects from my online presence, and only share the good ones. I’m certainly going to share more of my experiments both on here and my other social media accounts. I’m also going to be proud of them, good or bad. Being a maker is a constant learning process, and the successes wouldn’t be there without the disasters that have led to them.

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