About Perfection…

via instagram

Forgive me today, I’m going to wax a bit poetic…

This year for Christmas I bought my 10 yr old daughter a sewing machine.  I couldn’t resist the aqua blue hello kitty one I found online.  I told myself it was mostly for “her” *wink* and added it to my cart.

It’s been a great little machine,  I set her up in the basement with my box of fabric scraps and a few sewing kits that we picked up at the local craft store.

I showed her the ropes, including how to thread it herself (otherwise I’d be getting up to re thread it every few minutes) and told her to “got for it”… Just sit and play with scraps and get the hang of the machine.

Later that day she came to me almost in tears- She was working on a “kit” project and some of her seams were puckered and off a bit.  After giving her a few pointers about pins and pivoting,  I looked at her and said “honey, you just started, you can’t expect it to be perfect right away! You did a wonderful job, it’s just going to take some practice!”

I think I know what happened, you see she got the sewing kit and saw the photo on the outside of the box and thought hers should look exactly like the photo.  right away.

Let me tell you, she has sat by that sewing machine almost every day since Christmas, sewing one thing or another- she loves it, and I love that she loves it.  I would never in a million years look at the things she sews and think they are anything but perfect.. They are wonderful… you know why…

because she is doing her best.

It made me think about how often in life we expect ourselves to be “perfect”. I’ll admit to spending 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and thinking that they next day I’ll be 10 lbs lighter.    It’s just not really realistic- most things in life take practice, lots and lots of practice.  Even olympic athletes and talented musicians practice… all the time… We need to cut ourselves some slack every once and a while.

It also made me think about perfection,and pinterest, and blogs and all of that stuff…..

It’s easy to look at the pretty pictures on a blog and have something seem effortless and easy… but it’s not.  Behind that post are hours and hours of work, mistakes,  sick kids, tired moms, unpicked seams,  photoshop, and lots and lots of time at the computer.   It’s work, and just like anything else and takes lots and lots of practice.

It also made me think about something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while but didn’t know how…

There is always “talk” in blog land about perfection, and reality, and whether bloggers are over idealizing life……  Let me just say,  I don’t think they are (at least the blogs I frequent)… I’m not going to buy into any of it…

I’m old enough to know that NO ONE has a perfect life or kids or husband or dog or house etc…. However,  just because life is not perfect does not mean that there is not joy to be found in it. There is nothing wrong with celebrating your life and sharing it with others. 

her pillow almost done

I’m also old enough to know that if I am going to spend some of my “free” time perusing blogs, I want it to uplift and inspire me, so I take that same approach with my blog.

Please understand… I am extremely grateful for my life and my children and the talents God has blessed me with, but I will not for one second tell you that I’ve got the perfect life.  I totally admit that I DO mostly share the “ups” here and not the “downs”.

My intention in writing this blog is to inspire you to MAKE something, not show you the mess in my laundry room.    Now I’m not saying that I will never share anything sad with you all here, because life is too unpredictable for that.. Nor am I saying that when bloggers share sad things that they are not inspiring, because they are.  Some of the most inspiring things I’ve read online have been written about difficult experiences.  I’ve been moved to tears many many times by a heartfelt blogger—  but what I am saying that I try my darnedest to make this blog a happy place for you to visit…

so if that means shoving the toys under the bed before I take a project photo, I’m gonna do it.. Your time is precious, you don’t want to spend it looking at my messes.

Good grief, all that because of a Hello Kitty Sewing machine :)

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Melissa Mortenson is the author of the Polka Dot Chair blog which is in its 7th year of sharing fresh and creative ideas with readers. She is the author of “Project Teen, Handmade Gifts your Teen will Actually Love”. Her first fabric line “Derby Style” debuted in January 2015 through Riley Blake Designs. A mom of 3, she considers herself lucky to be living in Kentucky.


  1. says

    Thanks Melissa. I think this entry is perfect…heartfelt, honest, and the best daughter sewing story ever. My congrats to her for such amazing progress, and to you for leading her down a path to places and accomplishments that will build her self esteem.

  2. says

    Thanks Melissa. I think this entry is perfect…heartfelt, honest, and the best daughter sewing story ever. My congrats to her for such amazing progress, and to you for leading her down a path to places and accomplishments that will build her self esteem.

  3. says

    thanks for the post! it seems to be a theme so far this year for several blogs i follow. it could not have come at a more perfect time. i have been trying to teach myself to sew…..AGAIN!
    my mom was an excellent seamstress (i feel it’s fair to call her that since she made her own bathing suits for cryin out loud!). she passed away 6+ years ago & well before i had any interest in sewing. before passing, she asked if there was anything of hers i wanted & i asked for her sewing machine, i had no idea what i was in for. but it meant so much to my mom that i knew i had to have it. it has been an uphill battle all the way. for a perfectionist like me who would rather sit the game out and NOT fail, taking this up has been humbling.
    i’ve had multiple starts and stops. most recently i decided to commit to messing up. commit to the seam reaper & pulling everything all the way out & redoing it. commit to not worrying about money or material lost. just this past Sunday, i got up from that machine in tears & swore i was done. i could not take self-defeat again. but my mom did not leave me that machine so i could walk away from it. i know it must have made her proud when i asked for it, so i commit to making her proud by sticking to it & accepting imperfection. because completion is more important than perfection!

  4. says

    A wonderful post – my daughter has just turned ten and is young for her age, but I too tell her she is doing great and she just needs to practice. We also talk about how she didn’t just get up and run one day – it took quite a while – first crawling, then standing(and falling) then staggering, walking and finally running! And all other skills can be like that do.
    I also think of blogging being a bit like writing a letter, or a diary – things you are excited to share or want to remember – so Hello Kitty sewing machines definitely fall into that category (unlike the laundry pile I’m currently avoiding)

  5. says

    I am new to quilting and yes I am perfect (NOT!) my seams are wrong my points don’t match. And yes I have to take pictures far enough away that you cant see that. I am glad that you can be a great mom and teach your kids to sew. My wife’s mother did not teach her and she because of it does not want to try.

    I took up quilting to teach my 13 year old (you cant teach what you don’t know) So one day at a time. Thank you for the great blog post and tell your kid congrats from me.


  6. says

    Love your little Hello Kitty Seamstress — and her project looks perfect to me! :-) I also gave my daughter a sewing machine when she was almost 10. She loves to just sit and sew — even if her project never ends up being anything. :-) Is your daughter’s project an American Girl kit? If so, I think my daughter has the same one (she didn’t put it together yet). Anyhow, thanks for being so honest in this post. I agree with you 100% — and I hope my blog reflects the same. Some people just don’t get it — but I think it’s because they are just miserable people. Please continue whatever you do in your blog — I enjoy reading what you share. Thanks! Linda

  7. says

    What a great post, thank you!! It is so important to be real. I don’t ever want to portray that I “have it all together, because who does” :) Your daughter is so cute, showing off her pillow! My 5 yr old was asking when I was going to teach him how to sew. I have to find an easy project to start him on and a box for the foot peddle. Her machine is super cute!

  8. says

    Loved your comments. Very well stated. I was just wondering last week about how you and other bloggers can possibly keep up the pace-lots of pressure, but you do a great job! Keep up the good work. Also, thanks for sharing about your little one and her machine.

  9. says

    Oh, LOL….it’s totally real in my neck of the woods.

    I can relate to your daughter’s story too. The first time my son picked up his violin, at six, he expected to play like a professional. He was totally NOT happy that it was anything but pleasant at times. However, the more he practices, the better he gets! Two years later, I can enjoy listing most always. =)

    Thanks for a lovely post. =)

  10. says

    Oh how I wish that I had a turquoise hello kitty sewing machine. It looks far less scary to me than a big girl white one. :) You hit the nail on the friend. Know that I am shoving clothes under beds and behind doors to get the perfect picture too. well said!

  11. says

    What a lovely post. I think you hit the nail on the head. I, too, am teaching my daughter to sew and craft. She is doing great with the glue gun — not so much with needle and thread. I love visiting your blog and being inspired by the beautiful things you create. Perfection is not always necessary, and I think you make that clear. Although most things you make are perfection!

  12. says

    I LOVE THIS!!! You said it so beautifully too. It’s so true. We love to think that everyone else must have it easy, but let’s face it, life is HARD. Things break, kids cry, we lose our tempers and sometimes we fail. It doesn’t meant that I don’t love my life, I just hope I can see through the messes and mistakes and then appreciate the good times more and those little perfect moments in-between the mundane.

    I love your blog. You are real. You are talented and I wish I still lived close so I could see you and visit and enjoy your company like I once did.

    You’re amazing Melissa! Thanks for the perspective!

    Oh, and congrats Syd for the beautiful creations! I taught myself how to sew in Louisville and I’m still such a beginner. Wishing I had been able to learn from my mom when I was young. What a gift!!

  13. says

    My 8 yr old daughter got her first sewing kit for Christmas. She wanted to learn how to embroider, and it’s been a learning process to help her realize things take time. There were some tears at first.

    I will have to look into that sewing machine for a few years down the road!

  14. says

    What a beautiful and timely post – I’m sure it means more to bloggers than anyone – a lot of truths in everything you said. The picture of your daughter smiling from ear to ear brought tears to my eyes because she needs to feel that joy when she’s young and know that she does not have to be perfect. You sound like a great mom, thank you for your great blog!

  15. says

    Love that machine! Can’t wait to get my daughter one someday. And your thoughts on perfection are spot on. My mom always said that mistakes are what make your creation unique. I always
    Iked that.


  16. says

    What a touching post, and so eloquently written! I couldn’t agree with you more!

    And that sewing machine is like wow!!!! I got sucked in as soon as I saw the aqua! What a super talented daughter you have! I actually just started sewing myself, and her sewing skills far exceed mine! What a fabulous pillow might I add! So cool, and making it will be a memory she will never forget. :)

  17. says

    And that’s why I visit your blog everytime you post, why I follow your photos on instagram… No one is perfect, but that’s life!
    I’m an optimistic, always looking on the bright side of life and I think that’s what I want my children to be! Happy people! Not perfect, but happy! :))

  18. says

    Very nice post! I enjoy your blog very much. I love that sewing machine you got for your daughter. Mine is only five so she’s got a little while.
    I agree with what you said and thanks for doing what you do. Take care, Denise

  19. says

    Aww, love that wee cushion she’s working on. As for the perfection, err, I’m right there with her thinking I should be perfect straight off, you’d think after 30-odd years I might have learned otherwise, but I get so cross with myself! I do tell others when I’ve screwed up though, I do not profess to be superwoman ;o)

  20. says


    me encanta!!!!

  21. says

    Oh my gosh, that is so cute. I think I am going to look for one. I am setting up a little sewing area for my granddaughter in my new sewing room. I will give her some of my fabric, notions, etc., and I was going to give her an old basic sewing machine, but now after seeeing that . . . hmmmmmmm.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  22. says

    Thanks to your post I now have the perfect birthday gift for my granddaughter. I just wanted to let everyone know there is one of these machines on ebay with the highest bid of 50.99, which was placed by me. Hello Kitty Janome Sewing Machine Best For Kids is how it is listed, and the auction ends in one day. Now I have decided to go up to the next Hello Kitty machine, which is slightly more expensive, but my granddaughter has a little sewing experience so I have changed my mind. Feel free to outbid me! I am hoping someone out there is looking for one and can get this great deal, and also that I don’t end up with 2 machines!!! Thanks! And thanks for the wonderful story about the machine, you helped me get the perfect gift. I didn’t even know these machines existed. I’ll have to let you know how Hailey likes her first sewing machine.

  23. Grandma Beth says

    Thanks for the post. Tell your daughter that she is quite talented!

    I tried to teach my daughter to sew when she was 10 because that is when my mother taught me. She became very frustrated and gave up (I alwaysI felt very guilty about that!) Believe it or not, at age 27, my daughter is now learning to sew. My mother gave her a sewing machine she could no longer use, and my daughter and I recently spent a whole weekend together sewing. It was awesome! What a wonderful bonding experience.

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