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Topic: How perfect is "perfect"?  (Read 3147 times)
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Luna1375
« on: October 28, 2009 06:13:40 AM »

I suppose this question can be answered by both buyers and sellers on Etsy.  I don't have an Etsy store yet, but I've been wanting to sell stuff on Etsy for a while now. 

What holds me back is that in most of the things I make, no matter how hard I try to be "perfect" there are often small imperfections that come from things like: I do not own a laser cutting machine.  So, like, if I made greeting cards, any embellishments would be cut out by hand.  I'm pretty good with scissors, but if you look close you can tell it wasn't done by a machine like with cards you'd buy in a store. 

I also make jewelery, sometimes with shrink plastic, and those of you who are familiar with this may know that sometimes the plastic doesn't shrink completely evenly, so what started as a circle might be more like an oval when it comes out of the oven.

And then, I also want to make and sell coasters, and I glue cork to the back to protect the surfaces they'll be on.  I cut the paper for the front with a rotary cutter at work, so that looks great, but the cork doesn't fit in the cutter so I had to use scissors, and it's not laser-perfect either. 

So my question is, how big a deal are imperfections like this?  Should I wait and save up for some kind of cutting machine so my stuff will look as good as things in the store?  Or should I go ahead and try to sell my imperfect things but sell them really cheap?  Or do people not mind imperfections so much on etsy since the stuff is handmade?
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2009 09:26:21 PM »

I sometimes ask my self that too, but I've come to realize that small imperfections can't be seen unless I tell people, so I don't fret on the really minor stuff. If it is obvious that a seam is crooked or the fabric is cut uneven, then I go & redo things. It is easy to be hard on yourself when selling your crafts. I tend to take myself for granted & it can get frustrating. Craftster has helped, hopefully the critics we are all giving are honest. If you haven't already, post some things & ask for honest opinions. Sometimes detail work is hard to see in pics, but you'll at least get general critics. Sorry, I don't think I answered all your questions, but I just wanted to give you my opinion.

**On a side note** My husband was just in here & said that "small imperfections are what make things unique."
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009 09:28:54 PM by little me » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2009 08:47:17 AM »

Ive slept on it & I think I can answer your questions better. Cutting stuff I cant cut a straight line let alone a circle & thats even following drawn lines. I use a paper cutter, rotary cutter w/an acrylic see thru quilting ruler & a circle cutter. These tools help me a lot a laser cutting machine would be awesome for you, but if you cant afford it right now then the tools I just mentioned would be my 2nd choice. Really minor cut imperfections I think are ok. Its what my husband said about small imperfections.

As long as your imperfections dont affect the overall design of your product, then I think youre ok selling them at regular price. I think most people on Etsy (I am a seller) do their best work, but I do notice some imperfections & I think its up to the buyer whether or not they want to buy it or not. Im finding out that not everyone is crafty so what might seem like an imperfection to you, a non crafter wouldnt even notice it. Thats why I dont fret the really small stuff  I do a lot of sewing (bags & purses) & sometimes a small part of the seam will get caught & there will be a little pucker. If I just iron it carefully, it goes away & I dont have to rip the seam out. As you go along w/your craft, you will eventually find a way to not fret the small stuff too. Good luck!
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sparkling_gem1987
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2009 05:50:26 AM »

I tend to put a disclaimer up regarding imperfections as being part of anything handmade. Maybe something like this:

"Disclaimer: This item is handmade, so please be prepared for the slight imperfections that comes with being a handmade product."

Just as long as the buyer is aware that they aren't getting anything machined cut and 'perfect', I'm sure they will be okay with small imperfections.

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Farren
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2009 09:41:56 AM »

Another option is taking really honest but lovely pictures of your item! Sometimes my product doesn't turn out ideal and there is NO GOING BACK! lol, so I do what ^^ was said above, announce that since the item is handmade, imperfections are part of the process, and then make sure to have a picture that shows the flaws I'm fretting about. I had one of the images on one of my journals turn out a little wonky in my eyes and made sure to include a closeup of it - it was the first to go! And the customer made a point to announce she liked exactly what I had disliked about the image! lol.

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sugarshoxcrafts
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2009 09:23:48 PM »

You're thinking the same thing I'm thinking LOL.  Small imperfections happen to EVERYBODY, and are a part of every product.  So far, the products I've even bought on Etsy all have some kind of imperfections, like jump rings that stretch, prints that rub off a bit, & ink that smears (OK now that one got me mad because I paid almost $30 for the item).  This is normal to me, because no one can be absolutely perfect in their design-not even big companies with huge factories.  This is something that needs to be more understood on Etsy.

In fact, I got a bit discouraged a couple months ago when I was posting all the time on the Etsy forums and felt pressured that I had to make everything absolutely perfect--from what people said in critiques, from the machine perfection that the featured front page stuff had, & from the "I won't buy from you if..." threads.  I felt so pressured to be obsessively perfect in every single craft I made that I lost interest in crafting.  Honestly! Don't let this happen to you; small imperfections are natural and OK as long as they don't interfere with the main objective of the product and don't create any quality issues.
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2009 08:23:29 AM »

Quote
. . . I lost interest in crafting.

I totally understand sugarshoxcrafts. Recently, almost everything I make comes out wrong. Either I measure wrong or I don't allow enough room for the pockets. It can get very discouraging at times. Don't give up, keep at it. What I do is find something real easy to do that can give me instant gratification & make me feel good about crafting again. Maybe put aside what you're making at the moment & make something totally different that can help inspire you again.
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Luna1375
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2009 08:38:18 AM »

Thank you all for your replies! I did ask some things on etsy's forums too, but honestly I find the people there kind of intimidating. I find this whole process intimidating, actually.
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sugarshoxcrafts
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2009 11:09:34 PM »

Thank you all for your replies! I did ask some things on etsy's forums too, but honestly I find the people there kind of intimidating. I find this whole process intimidating, actually.

Each forum seems to have its own culture, but I don't blame you; you have to be so careful when posting stuff in the Etsy one.  I always think twice about what I put in there for fear of their reaction or how it could come to bite me back later.  I think it's best to discuss more sensitive things off the site so you don't have to worry about that. 
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Wildfyre
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2010 03:28:45 PM »

I agree that small imperfections are part of buying handmade  Smiley And most of the people won't notice.

I just sold my very first item on Etsy and now I am paranoid about it. I look at it and see a seam that poked out a little from the binding.. etc etc etc. But no one else seems to notice it. In fact, the prototype was a gift to my Mother, I whipped it out in a hurry, finished it while we were visiting for the Holidays, and I'm 100% sure it is far more imperfect than my most recent ones. But.. hers is the reason I sold out. She took it to the mall with her and several people went crazy over it... and they were actually seeing it in person.. in all of it's imperfect glory! Then they bought every one that I had listed on Etsy  Shocked

What's funny is I have been avoiding Etsy for years for exactly that reason - I didn't feel like anything I made was good enough.

Do you have friends you can show your stuff too? Both crafty and non-crafty ones? I think it's important to get a wide variety of opinions because crafty people tend to already be looking for the little imperfections.

Or go to a craft show or one of those boutiques that sell handmade stuff and look at the things that are selling. I always feel better when I do that because most of the things people go crazy over don't look perfect at all.  Grin
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2010 06:55:05 PM »

littleme..I couldnt have said it better myself.."Im finding out that not everyone is crafty so what might seem like an imperfection to you, a non crafter wouldnt even notice it"

because I am ALWAYS around crafty folk its hard to see things from a non crafty folk point of view..sometimes someones non perfect is someone elses perfection..
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2010 05:27:35 PM »

I agree with what many of the other posters are saying - part of the charm of Etsy is knowing that the items ARE handmade and they are going to look handmade. If the buyer expects machine perfect they should head to Walmart. I think a disclaimer with your listings is a good idea and taking nice but honest pictures is a DEFINITE must.

I make polymer clay figures and no matter how hard I work there will always be a fingerprint somewhere or a slight imperfection in the clay somewhere. It adds to the personality of the piece and as long as the piece still looks good, I go ahead and list the item. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable buying the item you are about to list. If the answer is list and you give full disclosure in your description and pictures then I think you're fine.

Good luck with your store!
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Wolfie Crafty
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2010 07:51:42 AM »

First Post! (loooooong-time lurker) Woop!

I agree with everyone else though, hand-made=imperfections=good.

However, I wanted to add that many a time I've bought clothes from high street stores which have been imperfect. And, of course, of lesser quality. So not even mega-super-business aren't immune (well, I'm talking about affordable high street stores from the cheap to the quite expensive - not the high fashion end of things). I've bought items where all the buttons fall off in the first week or so and where the stitching is so awful that I have to sew it back together again.

As long as you make things that don't fall apart the moment you get it back, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Some of the clothes I made have wonky stitching and lumps in various places - but these aren't the things people notice really. And if they do, usually they've said it adds to the overall effect. As long as it looks good and doesn't fall apart, it's all good!
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2010 05:26:42 PM »


What's funny is I have been avoiding Etsy for years for exactly that reason - I didn't feel like anything I made was good enough.

Do you have friends you can show your stuff too? Both crafty and non-crafty ones? I think it's important to get a wide variety of opinions because crafty people tend to already be looking for the little imperfections.

Or go to a craft show or one of those boutiques that sell handmade stuff and look at the things that are selling. I always feel better when I do that because most of the things people go crazy over don't look perfect at all.  Grin


This thread is SOOOO needed by me.  I've been thinking about opening a store, but I have felt my work just wasn't 'perfect' enough yet.  And what you said about how I feel when I buy handmade is so interesting...I hadn't thought about that, but when I'm looking at handmade, and some of the items are a little different sizes, etc. I expect that and just choose the one that appeals to me.  Smiley  Thank you to everyone on this thread for their input.  It helps so much.
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010 10:13:22 AM »

I If the buyer expects machine perfect they should head to Walmart.

OMG!  I don't want to store-bash, but if I want a product to be perfect, I do *not* head to Walmart. 

Cheap assembly-line products (especially textiles & clothes)  are rarely perfect and often wear out really fast.  Even high end products can have issues.  I bought a pair of boots for over $100 and they wore out in 6 months!  Seriously, go to a shop and really look at seams & joins... you'd be surprised at what kinds of imperfections pass through on manufactured goods.

I say do your best to make sure your products are technically sound, make sure they don't look sloppy, and toss up a disclaimer about the 'unique' qualities of your home-made item.
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cherryrose
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2010 12:50:19 PM »

I think little imperfections make the item perfect.
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« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2010 12:56:57 PM »

It's a good reality check to stop by a consignment shop or thrift store (or, for that matter, a department store) and take a look at the construction of their garments.  I recently found a consignment shop in my area and I was blown away by the imperfections in a lot of higher-end, very expensive garments.  Fudged linings, buckled seams, you name it.  There is no such thing as perfect.  Almost anybody who says otherwise is lying.  (I'm sure there a small contingent of very professional, obsessive-compulsive seamstresses out there who can make things with no identifiable flaws.  But those people probably aren't selling on Etsy.)  Things made in factories by machines aren't perfect either. When you sew, you notice those things, you chastise yourself for those things, at the very least, you make mental notes about how you might do it better next time.  But a huge percentage of imperfections that are noticed by someone who sews aren't going to be noticed by someone who doesn't. 
It might be helpful to pick up some department store clothing from a thrift shop, so you have a good reference as to what people who buy clothing consider to be good quality.  You don't want to settle for making low quality items just because so much RTW is low quality, but at least when you're critiquing something you've made, you can remember that while you might want to mentally file the imperfections as things to improve on, very few of those things will ever be noticed by someone who doesn't sew. 
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« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2010 02:57:25 PM »

That's such an excellent point.  I was looking at my favorite purchased bag the other day with a sewist's and designer's eye, and I realized it was put together kind of bulky, with what I would consider messy seaming and not so graceful design choices!  And yet I love this bag!  I think we totally look at things with much more critical eyes as designers and crafters than any consumers, including ourselves!
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