Anyone who has been sewing for a little while will know that sometimes life can get in the way of creating. Usually this is over a busy weekend, after a crazy week or two at work, or often after burning yourself out with a lot projects (especially if you’ve sewn a few things in a row you’re not happy with). These sewing “blips” are part of the making process and generally pass very quickly – you fall easily back into your old sewing stride.
Sometimes, though, despite your best intentions, this feeling stays. Illness, grief, depression, stress … all of these kinds of life happenings can have a lasting impact on your creativity and rob you of your sewing mojo.
Recently, I had a sewing hiatus of my own. Last summer was busy and then the autumn saw additional out of work projects that seemed to eat time, I also had lots of work stress and long hours followed by losing a friend. Before I knew it, November was here and I realized I hadn’t made anything in weeks. Worse still, the further away I got from my last sewing session, the harder it seemed to be to start again. My sewing shed had turned into a mini dumping ground and in the midst of the chaos I felt totally uninspired.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I don’t sew for a period of time I get really tetchy. The force is strong in sewers and all that creativity needs somewhere to go, otherwise it starts to drive you crazy. I knew I needed to take action. I turned to my fellow sewers and via a blog post asked for suggestions on how to escape my sewing wilderness.
Their answers were funny and kind, thoughtful and inspirational. And you know what, they really helped. I started working through their ideas and somewhere along the way my sewjo magically returned. And then … then I actually MADE something! Ahh, the relief was palpable. It wasn’t amazing or groundbreaking or perfect, but it was a start and my enthusiasm for sewing has continued to return.
So, without further ado, for those of you lost in your own sewing wilderness, here are the words of wisdom I would like to share.
7 WAYS TO GET YOUR SEWJO BACK
- Allow yourself time
Big life changes require time to adjust. Particularly when you have experienced loss or grief it can feel impossible to find your creativity again. You will need time to recharge and heal, and if that means that all you want to do is curl up on the couch under a blanket for a few months then so be it. Now is not the time to put pressure on yourself because it will just make you feel worse, and make your return to a creative place longer.
- Drink tea & read magazines
Or coffee, or a double G&T … whatever floats your boat. What you are aiming for here is to spend some time looking at things that might inspire you. It could be anything, from interior or gardening articles to browsing crafting websites, magazines to books. The idea is to find visual cues to awaken your creative spark. My “go to” book for inspiration is Kaffe Fasset’s Dreaming in Colour – full of photos of textiles and landscapes and amazing colour combinations. It always fills my mind with potential every time I look at it. Pinterest is also a really good place to find beautiful things that make you creatively excited.
- Try being creative in a different medium
Sometimes its good to have a break from sewing and try something new. Have you every fancied trying your hand at knitting or crochet, jewellery making or zentangle? Thinking outside of the box and trying a different craft for a while can be a key step in rediscovering your love of making things. For me a large bag of unused yarn turned into a really simple crochet ripple blanket. Once I learnt the basics it was really easy to do and I loved the colour combinations and the steady rhythm of the piece. It was the perfect crafting palate cleanser.
- Tidy your nest
Even if you only have time to do ten minutes tidying a day, having a clean and tidy space to be creative in works immensely. This was one of my greatest roadblocks in my sewing wilderness as my sewing room had become a bomb site. Use the sewing down time as a great opportunity to get everything in order … sort out buttons, get rid of things you don’t want anymore and declutter. I found this one of the most therapeutic steps and it didn’t take nearly as long as I feared. Finally, I could see my stash in all its glory!
- Play with your stash/patterns
Once everything is properly ship-shape it’s a really good idea to while away an hour or two looking through your stash or browsing patterns that take your fancy and see what happens. I found some lovely patterns I totally forgot I had that would be ideal for Spring and I mixed and matched them with stash fabric and immediately found two or three new things I thought would make wonderful projects. Meanwhile several bags of unwanted fabric and patterns were donated to charity – a great opportunity to get rid of the disastrous fabric I had bought in cut price sales.
- Start with something easy
My first make back at the sewing machine was a TNT Lady Skater – a pattern I love and have ironed out all the fit issues with. It’s also a knit dress so runs up easily on the overlocker. Be kind to yourself if you are returning to sewing after a long break. Choosing a first project that’s too difficult or with major fitting issues may set you back further and cause you to lose confidence. Consider hand sewing something with all your scraps and leftover fabric. There are some wonderful pincushions and little purse patterns available on Etsy or free on sewing blogs.
- Forget deadlines
Sew-a-longs, sewing competitions, themed sewing months, while community led projects can be great fun, if you over commit they can often make you feel like you HAVE to sew. Worse still if you also find yourself sewing lots of gift projects in the run up to holidays or birthdays. Try and pick and choose only those projects you really feel a connection with and the rest of the time sew things only because you love them. Be realistic about the time you have available to sew and don’t put yourself under pressure. Most of all, take your time and enjoy the making process, even the toiles. Sewing more leisurely is a much nicer experience and is almost always likely to result in better finished garments.
Although I am sewing again I am still in the baby steps of returning to my full on sewing potential. I still have time issues I need to sort out, I need to stop overcommitting and I’m determined to develop a less deadline driven attitude to my sewing. None of those things help my creativity in the slightest, but by being aware of what led me to my sewing wilderness I hope to bypass it next time life gets in the way.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all those wonderful readers who took time to share their tips. I hope that this post helps those of you experiencing a sewing slump as much as the suggestions helped me.