Last week I had a spectacular sewing fail. In my mind I was making an incredible jacket, but one mistake (melting a hole in the neoprene) led to another mistake (cutting too much off one side of the the flannel to compensate) and in then end I had spent $80 on materials and 12 hours on the above jacket that I will never wear. I can’t even stand to look at it! Trust me, the zipper mismatch is the least of the problems here.
As with my (many) DIY disasters in the past, I had to go through 5 stages of recovery:
STAGE 1: DENIAL
What you’re thinking: I can fix this! I can tooootally fix this! It’s going to be ok. I am going to take it apart a little and fix it. Oops, that didn’t work. I’m going to try something else. Oops that didn’t work. (Repeat until you’ve made an even bigger mess.)
What to do: STOP! Step away from the project. You are too close to the problem right now to see the solution. . Go to bed. I know, you’re wondering “wait, how did you know my disaster happened in the middle of the night?” Because 90% of DIY Disasters happen in the middle of the night, when you’re tired but you’re so close to finishing you can’t stop now! Right now you need sleep, you need distance, and you need perspective. You may be able to salvage your project, you may not, but you won’t know until you sleep on it. If you have slept on it and have figured out a way to salvage your project, then congratulations! Try not to gloat too much in front of the rest of us, because we’re moving on to Stage 2 which is:
STAGE 2: ANGER
What you’re thinking: I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!
What to do: Swear. If there was ever a time for bad language it is now, and believe it or not, science backs me up on this! In 2009 Dr. Richard Stephens of Keele University conducted a study that found that the use of swear words can help with physical pain. You can read more about the study HERE. You may not be in physical pain (unless your project included the use of a glue gun, in which case you probably have second degree burns on several fingers) but the emotional pain from a DIY fail can be intense, and swearing just might help. Just make sure there are no small children around, or else your 2-year-old’s first potty word could be “SH*T!” (ask me how I know).
STAGE 3: WHAT AM I GONNA DO NOW?
What you’re thinking: My project is a failure and you told me to step way from it, so what do I do now?
What to do: Pour yourself a drink. Self care is very important in a time like this. The simple act of pouring yourself a drink and allowing yourself the time to sit and enjoy it will help immensely. The type of drink is up to you, hot tea, diet coke, or a coffee are all solid choices. If I were you, however, I’d go for the good stiff drink. I’m not saying that alcohol is crucial to this process, I’m just saying that when life gives me lemons, I make a lemonade. And then add vodka.
STAGE 4: WHAT A WASTE!
What you’re thinking: I spent so much money on supplies, and hours of my time (which is priceless) on this project!
What to do: The bad news is: your money and time are gone, and I cannot get them back for you. The good news is: it wasn’t wasted! I want you to imagine that instead of spending the money and time on a project, you had spent it on a class. And in that class, you learned some valuable lessons. I bet you won’t make those same mistakes on a new project, because unlike the information you learn in a class, you will never forget what you learned from this experience. It is burned in your brain forever.
STAGE 5: ACCEPTANCE
What you’re thinking: In the grand scheme of things, a this is not a huge deal. I’ll try again.
What to do: You are now safe to try again! You are past your anger and frustration. Your new project will not be tainted with the mistakes of your DIY disaster because you learned from them. Only a seasoned DIY failure will understand what you went through, so it’s best to put on a brave face to the world and only talk about this hellish experience with the others in the DIY community. They will commiserate, and maybe share some of their fails with you. I wish you good luck on your next DIY adventure, and if you make new mistakes, please refer to Step 1.