Back To Reality: Keeping My Sew-Jo Alive While Working Full Time

Hello everyone! Yes I am still here, I’ve not fallen off the face of the earth and I’ve not given up blogging. What has actually happened is something I think has happened to a lot of sewists. After 18 months of working from home and getting enough space and time to myself to enjoy my hobby, I’m now back in the office and crucially I’m back to commuting.

Now I wanted to say first off that I love my job, I am an event manager at a leading cultural venue in London, I’m lucky that I get to work on amazing events and with fantastic clients. However there is a reason I didn’t have much time for sewing pre-pandemic. There’s a reason I’m sitting on the sofa blogging before I head to work at lunch time and work until midnight. My job by its very nature is stressful, the hours are unpredictable and its exhausting. I pour my heart and soul into every event I run and it leaves me tired and all I want to do at the weekend is sleep forever. I will say though this job, unlike any other I’ve ever had, has got a greater awareness of welfare which is amazing. I’ve had jobs in the past where if an event runs from 6am – 10pm you would work the whole thing yourself, my current job recognises that not only isn’t feasible, it isn’t good for your physical and mental health.

Its not just that though, commuting is tiring (although I have to say I am loving how much reading time I get now!) and the reality is that once you are home you don’t want to do anything at all. I feel like it takes so much brainpower that its a struggle to reset and go and do some sewing because the reality is there is dinner to make, dishes to do and then I need to be in bed by 10:30 because I get up at 6am. In addition, I’m now back to my second year of my MA degree. Although it only takes one day of my week, it means that there is a lot of additional work i need to do on my evenings/weekends.

Plus I haven’t felt as inspired in this flat because I don’t feel as on top of everything. The office is a mess because I’m in and out all the time. The washing is piling up because Adam and I are both working in London. Our landlords are trying to sell our flat so I don’t feel like I can make mess on the weekends by sewing if they are coming around with viewings.

So altogether even when I do have the time to sew I don’t want to because I’m so tired. I’ve got beautiful fabrics, loads of projects I want to do, the equipment to make them but no brain power. Sewing should be relaxing and fun but its hard when you don’t have enough brain to relax. I’ve bought loads fo fabric because that was a way of getting inspired, now I need to find the time to do it. I’ve got two projects cut out that I’ve got no desire to finish.

And I guarantee I’m not the only person struggling with this. Last year at the beginning of lockdown Hobbycraft’s sales of sewing machines tripled. There was actually a global sewing machine shortage! So many of us took up sewing in the last year when we were working from home or furloughed and so there will be a corresponding number of people who are now having to fit their favourite hobby around commuting.

It’s hard. I miss the inspiration I had when my brain had enough space for it. I miss how relaxing saturday morning sewing felt when I wasn’t exhausted from a commute that went horribly wrong on Friday night. At the end of the day I love sewing and I love vlogging and blogging – I just need to find a way to fit it around my work life and to boost my energy levels enough to do it.

So What Is The Plan?

Firstly I’m going to plan out everything I do in a week without sewing, which looks like the following pie chart:

Realistically I have two hours every evening to myself or for myself. I won’t sacrifice sleep during the week because I know the effect that has on me so I’ve not included it on the pie chart, its a given that I need 8 hours sleep or I am useless. Lack of sleep reduces my ability to cope with stress and decision making so I prioritise that over everything else.

So maybe I need to change the way I sew. I’m big fan of long sewing days where I pretty go beginning to end on a project in one 8 hour day. I find that relaxing. I find I can really sink into the sewing and ideally I would still like to have one of those days at the weekend but maybe there are little sewing tasks I could do in the week? Maybe I could I cut out a pattern during the week so I’m ready for sewing at the weekend? Maybe I can do planning? Maybe I can dedicate one night to tidying to office so its all set-up and ready for sewing at the weekend? Realistically I go to Ballet on Monday and Thursday, Tuesday night I try and do my MA reading while its fresh in my head from Lectures that day so lets start small.

I’m going to commit Wednesday night(or morning if I’m working) to sewing activity. To doing something sewing related whether that is cutting out a pattern, filming a talking vlog, proper project planning, tidying the office or just pre-washing fabric. I will try and post to IG every Wednesday to let you know what I’ve done, I find accountability tracking really important for the way my brain works. After a few weeks Wednesday nights will be demarcated in my mind but I find its important to schedule it into my diary as a commitment so I take my own welfare and relaxation as seriously as I would an appointment or a work commitment.

Scheduling in down-time is actually a technique I was encouraged to use when I had a therapy session a few years ago. Its not for everyone but if you are a busy person like me then its important to block out time in your diary for yourself so you can’t book over it. You don’t have to schedule what you do in that time but its like creating a window in your week or your day for you. Even on a small scale I now actually put my lunch break in my diary at work to reclaim an hour just for me. I’m advocating this technique for everyone as I know it would stress some people out more but for me its having that reminder and committing the spending time on myself or my hobbies.

This month I will mark out my Wednesdays for myself and I will also be doing my Simple Saturday Sews on YouTube where I do a project on a Saturday that should only take a couple of hours and I’ll vlog along, the first of those will be coming up very soon!

Even writing this blog I feel like I’ve had the time and space to consider my needs and I feel much better. The key is finding the time to stop and think and find a way forward that works for you.

I should say I am off to the Knitting and Stitching Show on Friday, I booked a whole day off work to go and enjoy myself and I’ve even booked onto some workshops which will hopefully reignite my sewing passion so I’ll come home and will be sewing all of Saturday!

Have a great Wednesday everyone and I’ll back much sooner next time xx

Welcome To… So What If I Sew

Welcome to the So What If I Sew blog, a place for me to learn new sewing techniques, explore different patterns and document my progress as I go.

The Blog Logo

As a human being my three main hobbies are reading, yoga and sewing. Yes I enjoy other things but those are the three that I am genuinely extremely passionate about. Sewing is also one of those hobbies that comes with an incredible community spirit which is lovely. I wanted to make this blog because I really love sewing and I feel like I have actually have something to share. I want to document my own progress as well. I inserted a sleeve perfectly yesterday for the first time and it made me realise how far I have come in just a year. This blog is all about progress, projects and developing new skills.

Sewing has always been a big part of my life; growing up I was surrounded by sewing. I was lucky enough to have an incredibly skilled mother who taught me the basics of sewing at a young age and did various sewing projects with me such as bunting and quilts. Once, on one memorable occasion, we saw an amazing pillow in a fabric shop that wasn’t for sale so mum decided we would get the exact same fabrics and we replicated it perfectly at home. I have always been quite headstrong and I just wanted to get on with it but sewing requires patience. Before I was event allowed thread and fabric, my mum taught me to machine sew by drawing lines on paper and getting me to sew along the paper until I could sew straight. She had endless patience with me and still does. Even now I ring her up even though I live hundreds of miles away to get her to talk me through facings, sleeve insertions and demystify sewing language for me. I started sewing in earnest in 2014 and now I am here in 2020. I have made multiple garments that I wear often and now I can do zips, sleeves, bust adjustments, bodices, dresses and even wired bra’s!

One of my favourite things about sewing is fit. The ability to create a garment perfectly crafted for your own body is so incredible to me. Fit is something I have always struggled with as I have what would best be described as a 1940’s build and its hard to find modern clothes that fit everywhere. Hence my particular interest in pattern hacks and pattern drafting. I am hoping one day to draft an entire dress pattern from scratch based on my own measurements.

What is the main focus of the blog?

  • Patter Adjustments & Pattern Drafting – Fit is so important to me and I can’t wait to document the tricks I am learning.
  • Dressmaking – I’m not really a “craft” sewing person, I don’t make things, occasionally I will make a quilt or similar but my main focus has always been clothes.
  • Improving my sewing – The main reason I am doing it is to document my sewing and see how much I’m improving.

I want to start a public blog to add my voice to the sewing community and contribute the little amount of experience I have. Sewing is a hobby you have for life, its a skills that never really leaves you and no matter what there is always something you can make. My big project for the next month is a Shirt Dress and for this year I want to make my own coat! I have a lot of sewing practice left to do and lots of garments to make along the way but that is my next big milestone. Hopefully you will all join me on my sewing journey!