Maybe Matilda: A Cautionary Tale: Stray from the instructions at your own peril

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Cautionary Tale: Stray from the instructions at your own peril

In my early elementary school years, my teacher once handed out a worksheet and told us to read the instructions and get started. Being a typical young student, I got out my pencil and started right in on question #1 without bothering to read the directions first. A line at the bottom of the worksheet said, "When you have answered all the questions on this paper, you may write your name on the blackboard!" Also being a know-it-all-teacher's-pet-showoff, I finished as fast as I could, sprinted to the board, and scrawled my name in gigantic letters so everyone would see that I was done.

Did you have an assignment like this in elementary school, too? Do you know what the instructions, which I failed to read, said? "Don't answer any of these questions; turn this paper over and doodle on the back side until your teacher says the time is up." 

It was an exercise in following directions--those who had taken the time to read the instructions knew that we showoffs hadn't bothered to figure out the purpose of the handout, and doodled smugly in their seats until the teacher pointed out that some students didn't know how to follow instructions.

An important lesson that I clearly didn't learn.

Where to begin with this disastrous failure . . . well, like everybody else with two brain cells to rub together, I love this shoe makeover that Katy of Sweet Verbena came up with:
 $5 Walmart sneakers? A packet of fabric dye? I can totally handle this!

Or not.

Everything started out okay . . . I gathered up my supplies and could hardly wait to see my shoes take on that lovely turquoise pictured on the fabric dye:
But it became clear pretty quickly as my shoes bobbed about in the dye that they were not going to be turquoise, or anything remotely resembling turquoise. I should have taken a picture for you (but your corneas will thank me for the lapse)--they were fiercely blue. Atomic-ly, piercingly, nuclear blue. This is where a lesson learned in elementary school about following instructions would have really paid off . . . I could have stopped here, realized things had gone awry, pitched the shoes, and started fresh by following Katy's instructions a second time. 

But I launched a rescue mission instead. First, I tried scrubbing the shoes under boiling hot water. The shoes and their offensive blue-ness were unaltered, but I think I need to get some skin grafts for my melted hands. Then I got out my big jug of bleach and dumped it over my sneakers, thinking that I could soften it up to more of a robin's egg blue.
That's not so much "robin's egg blue" as "stomped in a puddle of kool-aid."

I know what you're thinking . . . just stop. Let the shoes go. Accept your failure. But no, there's more.

I remembered that I had a bottle of fabric painting medium in my basement, which you can mix with any old acrylic paint so it will adhere to fabric. Brilliant, no? (No!)
Not only did I completely decimate all the portions of the shoes that were supposed to stay white, but it is painfully obvious that I painted my sneakers. The pictures don't quite do it justice--they are downright crunchy

And just when you think I can't possibly do anything more to humiliate myself with these sneakers, inspiration struck again! I thought, "Maybe if I run them under really hot water and scrub them, I'll be able to get rid of that crinkly, painted look."

Another fail. I guess you can't scrub away fabric paint--they began to turn a sickly gray in what I can only assume was a desperate plea for me to just let them die, and I finally took pity on them and put them out of their misery (may you rest in peace in the garbage dump, you poor, poor sneakers). 

Lesson learned: follow the instructions, dammit.


  1. haha! I love your stubbornness. I too refuse to fail. I think I am going to go and check out the tutorial now. Hehe, I am still laughing.

  2. i think i may have issues too, cuz i think you should mod podge them instead of throwing them away...:)

  3. This made me laugh so hard. Before being a SAHM, I was a teacher, and I have given that instructions sheet to my fifth grade students in the past and the results are always priceless. Thanks for making me remember that!

  4. Thanks for the laugh, I needed that today! I thought I was the only one that went through these type of "don't give up on it" projects! LOL

  5. You made me laugh :) How funny - I would be just as stubborn and figured out a way to salvage those sneakers too! Glad you finally chucked them - and can laugh about it!

  6. This was a funny post. But when did you start swearing??

  7. Do I not see a "I'm a mormon" pin to the right there, Miss Dirty Mouth?

  8. (by the way to anyone who may read my nagging comments, I am Rachel's sister and am thus allowed to nag. No one else can though. Just as an FYI) :)

  9. You are da bomb, Rachel! If at first you don't succeed...;)
    Love that you wouldn't give up!!!!

  10. Love the the the nagging sister...

  11. Oh this was too funny. You are a hoot! I'm really confused as to why they didn't turn out turquoise in the first place though?! Really weird, since that's the same dye I used. Maybe it was because I used my sister's Keds with that dye. Maybe RIT is the one to go with..hmm

    I had a test just like that in school too. Our teacher had us do a whole bunch of things like draw a star at the top right corner, wave to her, circle all words that start with an r. And then at the end she explained to us how most of us overlooked the directions that said to just sit there quietly. But don't worry, I've had plenty of failed craft attempts too, usually because I think I can cut corners hah.

    Anyways, I'm really sorry that it didn't turn out well for you ): I hope you'll give it another try sometime! Thanks so much for sharing this hilarious post with us!

  12. Ahhahahaha!! I'm sooo the same way. I did this with some white curtain panels. Epic fail! Poor shoes...and curtains.

  13. I was totally that kid in school that skipped the instructions...they take so much time to read.

    Nate is a total instruction reader. It's so annoying.

    Good work on the shoes...just wear them to Wal-Mart..or your next chiro going away'll be styling.. ;)

  14. This is so funny. Haha... Sorry of course that it didn't work out, but thanks for at least turning the failure into something entertaining for us!

  15. Unfortunately I don't even have the guts to throw "craft fails" away...they just end up in an enormous heap of a pile because in my brain I think I can do something with them again.

    Umm....hoarder? D

  16. Thank you so much for posting this! I thought I was the only one in the blogger realm with project disasters!
    I'll be posting next week(Kids' Room Reveal) about a corkboard project I did for my kids' room - started with a great idea, didn't turn out as expected, got worse, thought of an idea to fix it....well, it's in the kids' room now - but I'm glad I don't have to wear it! LOL!

  17. OH, that is hilarious! Your a good sport about it and I admire you for posting about your failures! Good for you:)

  18. Hello newest follower from the hop look forward to reading your blog

  19. Rachel, you are so funny! Just goin down with ship aren't ya? Ha ha, I do the same thing, never say die, the show must go on, fight till the ned, and all that crap. Sometimes I guess it is just better to throw in the towel!

  20. This is hilarious, I love the crunchy description!

  21. oh this made me laugh! Glad to know I'm not the only one who turns bad to worse.

  22. I purposely paint my shoes. LOL Use the "mess up's" as a way to express an artistic side. Go and get Textile Medium for acrylic paints and go to town. Pencil in designs then paint away, and yes on top of the colors you dyed the shoes. Also paint the white bases any contrasting color. Have a blast and be free!

  23. lol, got that assignment twice- once in fifth grade- only the teachers son ended up actually reading the directions- and once in seventh grade- where i remembered it...(was gonna tell my little brother it when he made it to 5th grade((my brother is like, 7 yrs younger than me. FAIL)) anyways, i was the only one who read the directions then. and the steps on there were so silly. *spin around seven times saying i love my teacher, i love my teacher*
    *ask someone next to you their middle name and write it on the back* *ask the same person you asked for the middle name to sing mary had a little lamb with you* *touch every wall but the back one*, and so on. then question 17: *omit questions 1-19*


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