Life Lessons from using the Seam Ripper

“Looks like everyone’s getting practice with the seam ripper today!” Val, the sewing instructor, commented with a smile as she sent yet another of the ladies back to her station to finish unraveling the seam she had just sewed. 

This time it had been a shoulder strap that got twisted before it was fully attached to the bag and now needed to be un-done and finished correctly. Just before that, another new seamstress had accidentally used the wrong thread color, moving to a new tan handbag with the bobbin still threaded with the blue thread from the last bag. Details matter. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do have to put effort into making our product quality. Without being too overtly spoken, Val’s attention to detail has set a great standard for these ladies to strive towards. 

It’s been interesting to watch each of the ladies grow in her confidence as a seamstress over the course of the summer. And honestly, making mistakes and learning from them has been a big part in that growth of confidence! To not only know how to sew but also how to identify and correct problem areas makes each of these ladies a stronger seamstress, more capable of working and problem-solving on her own. 

Just so you know, our sewing classroom is not just full of new seamstresses. It is full of new seamstresses from different cultural backgrounds. I had been curious to see how the handling of mistakes and corrections would go over between an American teacher and students from cultures in which saving face and honor vs. shame is a big social faux pas. But watching them listen to Val’s gentle and clear explanations of how to sew and how to correct mistakes reminded me that we can navigate even cultural differences when we speak all things in love and show how much we care. At one point, Val told everyone that we have to make those mistakes to learn from them. And with her great sense of humor, she helped the ladies laugh at their own mistakes and learn to course correct to achieve their goals: quality products for their future customers. 

And it hit me that perhaps some deeper lessons are in there: don’t be afraid to try something and make some mistakes along the way, and letting people know you truly care about them bridges the gaps that different cultures can put between us. I guess the sewing classroom is also a good place for life lessons!