5 Ways to Get Your Sew-Jo Back

No matter what type of sewist you are, chances you’ve lost your sewing motivation at some stage. So here are my five top tips for reigniting your sewing passion.

Picture the scene, you’re sat in your sewing room or at your sewing table, you’ve finally carved out five minutes in your day to get sewing but all of a sudden you just don’t want to. You’ve been thinking about sewing all day but now you’re there you just haven’t got the energy to turn on your machine or cut out a pattern.

This happened to me this week. I’ve been so tired lately that I just haven’t felt like sewing at all. What’s more I have been thinking a lot about sewing my dads shirt. Its one of the only projects I’ve ever truly messed up. I cut the first version so badly that I literally couldn’t even get to the sewing stage and honestly I felt so upset and ashamed that he couldn’t get his present at the same time as everyone else and that I’d messed it up so badly. So I got him something else for Christmas but people have been pushing me to start making it for his birthday that was in April and the more people pushed and asked the more overwhelmed I felt.

The thing is I’ve made myself shirts, none of the sewing is daunting at all apart from maybe cuff plackets. I was just so scared of cutting it incorrectly that I’ve let the project overshadow me. In April I took the plunge and bought the fabric however even then it sat in the sewing room looking at me. On Saturday I finally felt like it was getting too much so I set myself the target of cutting it out. No time limit, no concerns about sewing or vlogging the process. I got my partner to help me lay the fabric out and pattern match it really carefully and cut it out.

Today I did about half of the sewing, the shirt is together and currently sleeve-less, the collar is together and the buttonholes are marked and I do feel a little bit better but the project is still overshadowing me a bit and sewing it is not relaxing in the slightest because I want it to be perfect for him. I’m feeling better because everything I’ve done is good and I’m really happy with the sewing I’ve done but also I can’t wait for it to be done. Not only to give it to my dad as a very belated present but also to prove to myself I can do it and hopefully restore my sewing confidence and my sew-jo!

That experience got me thinking about my sewing motivation in general. What motivates and demotivates me and what you can do when you’re feeling a little low on sewing enthusiasm.

Why do we lose our sewing motivation?

There are many reasons we lose motivation for a hobby. It can be that you’ve lost impetus to make something new if none of your patterns or fabrics are really grabbing you. Maybe you’ve left a project half done and just can’t face going back to it. Maybe you’ve made mess of the last garment you tried and your sewing confidence is low. A hobby should be a relaxing space and if you’re struggling with a new pattern then suddenly your hobby time can become less relaxing. After a long day at work, you might not want to spend an hour cutting fabric or stitching buttonholes or deciphering complex pattern instructions.

I personally struggle with sewing motivation after a concentrated period of sewing. For example after a month of sewing everyone’s Christmas presents I just didn’t want to touch my sewing machine. This made me realise that I don’t like sewing for others precisely because it detracts from the relaxation of my hobby, there is suddenly a greater amount of pressure to make things ‘perfectly’ and it can leave you not wanting to spend your free time sewing.

However it can also happen when you’re sewing for yourself. Maybe you’re working on a big complex make you’ve wanted to do for ages like a new coat or a pair of jeans. Makes like that require brain power and sometimes after a long day of work or a long week you just don’t want to sew because you don’t want to make a mistake or sit down for a long period of sewing. I found after spending a lot of concentrated time making my Eden Coat that although I was in love with the garment I had made and very proud, it took a lot of brain power and I felt like I couldn’t face sewing for a few days after.

Sometimes we can be enthusiasm personified one day and have zero motivation the next day and thats pretty normal. So what can you do about it? Well my first piece of advice would be to give yourself the space to think about why you aren’t sewing and then try one of my tips below to see if you can coax back some enthusiasm into your sewing.

Top 5 Tips to get back to Sewing

1. Tidy Your Sewing Space

This is a simple way to do something sewing related without the pressure of sewing. You may have lost some of your motivation if your sewing space is messy or if its being used as a dumping ground for other things. Take 10 minutes and straighten everything up. Put something good on the TV or the radio or Netflix and just take your time, whether you’re tidying a sewing room, a sewing table or a tiny sewing nook. You never know you might stumble across patterns you had forgotten you owned or fabric you had a great idea for and then forgot about. Its a great way to spark a little sewing enthusiasm.

2. Pick a palette cleanser project

This is a great way to deal with the post project blues. If you’ve spent a month working on a coat or you’ve been toiling jeans for ages put them to one side, pick a super easy project that you’ve got the pattern and the fabric for and just make it. The golden rules for palette cleanser project are make it quick, make it simple and make it fun. I’m a big fan of whipping up a t-shirt in between projects as I never have enough t-shirts that fit me comfortably and they are so quick to make. Whatever your preferred palette cleanser is, just make sure its something quick to make as you don’t want it adding to a growing pile of UFOs in the corner!

3. Break down your projects into smaller goals

Can’t face starting something new? Then just cut out the fabric today. Nothing else. Have a really big project in the works that promises hours of sewing? As my history teacher used to say, you’ve got to eat your elephant one bite at a time. Break down big projects into small tasks and then reward yourself when you complete them.

4. Set a 5 minute sewing timer

This is a technique I use for everything not just sewing. If you can’t face doing something set a five minute timer and say to yourself ‘I’ll just do 5 mins’ whether that is writing an essay, tidying the kitchen or sewing your next me-made garment. What this does is it takes away the threat of spending hours doing something because you can stop when you’re 5 minute timer is up. More likely than not you won’t stop after 5 minutes because you’ve got into the rhythm of the task but what it does is motivates you to start rather than thinking about starting.

5. Do something else

Sometimes we can be full of enthusiasm one day and suddenly that enthusiasm dwindles all of a sudden. This can happen for rational or irrational reasons. Maybe you’re experiencing one of the situations I described above or maybe you’re hormonal and don’t feel like doing anything at all. You could be exhausted and stressed and tired and all you should actually do is have a bath and go to bed. The most important thing to do is not to beat yourself up about it, it is completely normal to have off days. Literally everybody does. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not sewing – give yourself the space to go and do something else if you want to. I don’t sew everyday. Sometimes I play the piano or go for a walk with my partner or bake or read or just watch TV with my partner on the sofa. It doesn’t make me a bad sewist, it makes us human.

I hope this tips are helpful to you and let me in the comments if there is anything else I’ve missed. My top piece of advice however no matter what the situation is to actively choose to take some time away from the sewing machine. whether thats 20 minutes to grab a cup of tea, a biscuit and let your brain catch-up with you or a full evening to do something completely different. Just remember that there is nothing wrong with losing motivation, it happens to the best of us and you will get it back I promise.