The myth of perfection

Lauren at Wearing History posted a very honest and inspiring piece last week about how people often only show the shiniest, happiest parts of our lives on social media, and how you never really know what is going on behind the pretty pictures. This blog is full of moments that look good on the surface, but it’s also rather empty for the same reason. Many of my personal projects were finished at the last minute, there was no time for progress photos, and when I did show up to the event I was exhausted and not as well put together as I’d like. I felt like it was too disappointing to catalog those moments, or that it would hurt my business, so instead I simply said nothing. Photos generally made it on to Facebook rather than the blog, so here are some “never seen before because I thought they weren’t good enough” moments.


Doublet-webIn August 2009, we decided to put a new guild together for the Renaissance faire, which meant 8 people who all needed new costumes and a pavilion and props, while only Chris and I were doing the majority of the sewing. We only had about 6 weeks to do it all, just when I’d taken an intense full time job for the summer. It was crazy. The first weekend hit temperatures over 90 degrees, which is highly unusual in the Seattle area, so everyone was miserably hot. Just to make everything more interesting, I started my period, was cramping horribly, and bled through all my under layers of clothing. Nevertheless, we smiled for the public, had a lot of fun, and received frequent compliments on our setup.


In July 2010 we played in a charity croquet tournament under the team name of Austen-tatious, with everyone in Regency garb. Four people needed clothes for an entirely new time period, from the skin out. We gave ourselves about a month, and Chris and I did all the sewing. I stayed up all night finishing costumes to “good enough,” pinned together what wasn’t sewn yet, packed an elaborate picnic, and we hauled ourselves down to play croquet and drink a LOT of iced tea from tea cups. This still remains my only Regency gown, and I’ve worn it to Costume College and every Regency event since, which makes posting pictures feel more and more awkward as time goes on.


Lady Washington Picnic

In May 2011 we decided to tackle another new time period, this time the 18th century for a tall ships event. We had three people to costume, no where near enough time, Chris got to wear Regency because making him another 18th century suit was just NOT going to happen, and I made my gown in about four hours the night before. I stayed up all night finishing costumes, packed an elaborate picnic.. and wait, this sounds really familiar, doesn’t it? This gown has been worn for nearly every 18th century event since then.

On one hand it’s good that I had something in my closet because we could go to teas…

Regency teaand play more croquet…

Croquet in the park…but seriously – I am getting sick of those gowns.

Birthday Cake2012 was a tough year. After years of fertility treatments, I finally got pregnant in April, only to be told the pregnancy wouldn’t progress. I waited to miscarry, which finally happened on my wife’s birthday in May. No one knew I was pregnant, so I got out of bed long enough to bake a cake, share a slice with one of my closest friends and her kids, and get a few happy photos to post on Facebook so no one would think anything was wrong. Talk about creating a myth.

552342_10150974260933348_501336032_nI honestly can’t remember much of the following months. I must have done some sewing, because in July we played in the charity croquet tournament again, this time as the Wilde Bunburyists. Of course, this required all new Victorian garb for 4 people in not enough time, as usual. I’d planned ahead for Chris’s suit, by pitching the idea as an article for Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, which forced me to give it more time and attention, and to take photos of the process for once. Despite our plans, we still ended up doing crunch time sewing to finish the rest. I managed to finish a new outfit for myself, but Alise wore one of my final line outfits instead of making her own gown, parts of Chris’ suit were only basted together, and Holly’s new blouse was still in pieces. Alise, Chris, and I had all tried to set the sleeves, and had all put one in backwards during the night before we gave up and scrounged up a passable modern blouse for her to wear. We make a great team, and still had a blast at croquet, but boy, were we all tired – and that darn blouse hasn’t been touched since.

Card partyIn 2013 I finally made a new gown for an 18th c. card party we hosted. I was so excited to have a new gown!

Satin and Furs EventUnfortunately, when I went to wear it again just a month later, Id’ lost weight and it was so loose I had to be sewn into it and hope no one would notice how it gaped.

Wedding w/baby

Photography by Libby Lewis Photography

In July, Holly and I had a second wedding ceremony where we were finally legally married. I made the dresses and petticoats, baked the cakes, and made the food, while she worked on decorations and flowers. There was some family drama that weekend, and the end result was that both brides and our attendants stayed up all night working on the wedding, I was frosting cakes and midnight and still sewing my gown just hours before the ceremony, both dresses were pinned together, we were running late on a very hot and sunny day, and all our careful organization went right out the window as volunteers tried to figure out what we wanted because we weren’t there to do it ourselves as planned. The wedding still looked amazing, but it wasn’t the stress free and fun day I had envisioned.

DeniseYellowRaspberryIn 2014 my weight was still changing and I didn’t want to commit to another fitted gown, so I made this yellow overgown to wear with the same old white dress and sash. I started it the day before the event, and was madly sewing up until the last second just to have something new to wear, but I absolutely loved how it turned out. By Costume College in August I’d gained back some weight and could barely fit into it. I was feeling pretty poorly about myself and didn’t post my own photos, but was pleasantly surprised when other attendees took notice and posted their images me.


Honestly, all of these photos should have made it to the blog, rather than letting months go by without a post. I was too intimidated by comparing myself and my one outfit a year to the people who made new outfits seemingly every month. I was too overwhelmed by life and everything that was going on behind the scenes. I didn’t want to drag everyone down with what was happening in my life, but didn’t know what else to say. I was frustrated by weight losses and gains and feeling like nothing ever fit or looked good. I wanted to post perfect photos of perfect events, and perfect just never happened.

But look at all I did accomplish – I hosted events, I costumed multiple people, I tackled huge projects, and I learned a ton and shared that knowledge with others – and I did it all through some of the toughest years of my life. I have some amazing friends who have pitched in to help with my crazy projects and laugh with me about them afterwards. Maybe some of it could have been better, especially if I’d given myself more time. Lesson learned (I think). But the real lesson is that all these wonderful memories were hidden along with the difficult ones, and that is a shame.

2015 has been a year of change, as I’ve already mentioned on the blog. There is still more change in the future, as unfortunately, my marriage has ended and I’m trying to rebuild my life, including moving house and studio. I am trying to be more honest about both my struggles and my joys. I’m trying to be more realistic about the projects I can tackle, especially when life is being so unpredictable. I create things to make myself happy, not just to show off to other people, and I need to remember to celebrate even the incomplete and imperfect projects. I’m thankful to Lauren for reminding me that other people have their struggles and imperfections, as well. The more I see the real people and stories behind these “perfect” images, the closer I feel to the costuming community in general, and the kinder I am to myself.

*Photography by Holly Hendrick, unless otherwise noted.

One Response to “The myth of perfection

  • Thank you for joining in the challenge. It is so encouraging to think that others are behind the scenes doubting the quality of their work, the way people might feel about a blog post, everything that those voices in our heads tell us.

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