Lessons from the CraftFail Queen

Every crafter - pros, experts, and amateurs, alike - has been there. No matter how great the idea is in your head, you just can’t seem to make it happen with your hands.

Portland-based crafter Heather Mann has become the authority on celebrating  when good projects go bad. Mann started her CraftFail website after some of her own homemade projects went awry, and she realized she probably wasn’t the only creative out there failing epically in between successes. She recently published a CraftFail book to preserve the best, worst examples for posterity.

Yahoo DIY asked for her take on the widespread interest in craftfailing.

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Photo: CraftFail

YDIY: What is it about seeing crafting fails that crafters find so appealing?

HM: Crafters (and other people) enjoy reading about failure because making mistakes is part of real life and they can identify with it. If you’re a crafter, chances are you’ve been there a few times! 

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Photo: CraftFail

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Photo: CraftFail

It’s important to see imperfection represented in books and on the internet since between magazines, blogs, and Pinterest, there are so many “perfect” images out there. Real life isn’t quite as glamorous most of the time.

YDIY: How important is it to keep a sense of humor when crafting?

HM: Keeping a sense of humor while crafting definitely makes the process more fun. When you inevitably make a mistake, it’s easier to keep going if you can just laugh at yourself and move on. I’ve learned through CraftFail that it’s actually fun to share my fails and give everyone permission to laugh along with me at my mistakes.

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Photo: CraftFail

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Photo: CraftFail

YDIY: Is it important to keep on trying after failing?

HM: If you reframe your idea of failing, you can see your botched attempt at crafting as a prototype. What’s the point of a prototype? To learn more about the process so you will do a better job next time. I don’t think you need to try again every time, but sometimes is good! You can’t expect to be perfect on the first try every time.

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Photo: CraftFail

YDIY: What is most crafter’s kryptonite?

HM: Unrealistic expectations are the number one biggest contributor to craftfailing! If you’ve never made a cake before, you probably won’t be able to pull off a fourteen-layer wedding cake with fondant frosting that looks like it’s from Ace of Cakes on your first try. 

YDIY: What crafts have the highest fail rate?

HM: In the course of writing the book, I learned that rainbow crafts have a disproportionate chance of failure. I love the rainbow pinwheel cookies (there are several failed versions in the book) because they are obviously not as easy as they look. We recreated them for the book (the “inspiration” version), but it took us three times to get them to look right, so I know they are tricky.

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Photo: CraftFail

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Photo: CraftFail

YDIY: What has been your biggest crafting fail? 

HM: One time I was trying to sew a red fuzzy hooded jacket and when I put it on, the hood practically strangled me because I attached it to the collar wrong. Now that I think of it, I have never sewn an article of clothing that I would actually be willing to wear out of the house!

Check out Heather’s book CraftFail: When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong or head on over to her website CraftFail.com for lots of fails in good fun.

Want to make a DIY fruit leather roll-up? Watch this Yahoo DIY video for your own homemade version:

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