What do you get if you don’t use a thimble? A “D”. And this dress.

by Erin on February 17, 2007

1930s dot dress

Jody (from Couture Allure Vintage) sent me this link to one of her auctions, and it's adorable. Even better is the backstory — check it out!

1930s dot dress

That's right. Some horrible sewing instructor gave poor Dorrice a "D" on this gorgeous dress, all because she didn't use a thimble. Come on! This is an "A" dress, no question.

This kind of thing (nonsensical rules-for-rules'-sake thinking) really gets on my nerves. Sure, you can, as a teacher, make students prove they know how to use a thimble. But that should be a ten-minute observation, at best, not a whole dress! (I have never used a thimble for dressmaking — quilting, sure, but not dressmaking. If I want to stab my finger repeatedly with a needle, that's my right as an American.)

When you demand that everyone do something one way and one way only, you completely stifle innovation, AND you instill a knee-jerk distaste for the methods you're teaching. If your way is really the right way (or, more rarely, the ONLY way) then people will naturally gravitate to it, but you have to give them the chance to do things their own half-assed way. What is obligatory is usually disdained.

You can certainly say "I've always done X this way, and it works for me," but unless you're teaching your clone army to sew, other people are going to have different techniques: some from random chance, some from sheer pigheadedness, and some from outright brilliance. People who gave out "D"s for lack of a thimble probably never got to see the outright brilliance. Good thing the dress survived, so we could!

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