This is how I feel when I’m in the middle of a long-term sewing project.

I’m proud of how Epic Project is coming together, and I’m excited to share it with its future owner (and with you guys, natch). But, it has been challenging — not throw-in-the-towel challenging, but huh-I-should-have-done-that-differently challenging.I’m sewing something extra special right now, and this extra special something is taking a long time to complete.

This project is time sensitive, so I haven’t worked on other sewing stuff (save for occasionally blogging). It’s been a test of will, and as my head’s been down, I’ve thought about how to survive a long-haul sewing project. Here are six survival tips that I hope you can apply to your next epic stitching adventure.

1.) Stretch and relaaaaxxx.

If I’m not careful, I sew with my shoulders scrunched up to my earlobes. I’m also prone to zoning in on a project for a long time and not changing my body position. These behaviors make my back and shoulders unhappy. Stand up at least every half hour or so, or take a mini break after a certain number of seams. In any case, do some shoulder rolls and roll your head around. Stretch skyward and downward. Breath deeply. Shake it out. When you move to the next step, you’ll feel refreshed and refocused.

2.) Sew a palate cleanser.

If Epic Project isn’t time sensitive, jump to something else for a bit. Or work on an Epic Project and an easy project in tandem. For example, sew two elements of an ensemble, such as a jacket and a simple top. Sewing a TNT pattern will make you feel like a boss when you come back to Epic Project.

3.) Take your time.

It’s SO EASY to rush when you’re working on a big project. Sometimes big projects have boring, repetitive steps that practically beg to be sped through. Speeding is like a snowball, gaining mass and velocity as it rolls downhill. If you whiz through this section, you’ll whiz through the next section (and the next and so forth). And what happens is little mistakes creep in because you sacrificed accuracy for speed. I’ve been there. I feel you. To put the brakes on speeding through a big project, break the project into smaller pieces and focus on masterfully completing each piece. Your overall project will be more successful, and you’ll keep up your confidence.

4.) Reflect on what you’re learning.

Love the process, not the product. (I’m sure the final product will be rad, but enjoy the journey, man. OK, that’s enough hippie talk.) Think about what you need to do at each step for the best result. Examine whether to baste, use a special presser foot, change stitch length, etc. When you concentrate on how actions impact outcomes, you improve your troubleshooting skills and become a better sewist. In a long-term project, you have lots of time to meditate on how far you’ve come. Every stitch makes you more skilled. Relish that truth!

5.) Go ahead and fantasize.

Fantasize about what comes next in your sewing queue and how it’s totally different from Epic Project. Absence makes the heart grow fonder! By the time you’ve wrapped on the big project, you’ll be ready and raring for, in the words of Monty Python, something completely different.

6.) Clear your mind  or think about stuff.

Use a long-term sewing project to rest your brain at the end of the day. More than likely (unless you’re a sewing professional), sewing is different from the rest of your daily activities (your job, taking care of kiddos, spending time with your honey, housework etc.). That stuff doesn’t matter so much in your sewing studio, and you can get into a flow state as you crank on Epic Project. Or, if you please, sewing could be your time to think big thoughts and work through life problems, big and small. Ever have an epiphany while working out? Yeah, that could happen while you’re sewing.

How do you survive long-term sewing projects? When did an Epic Project almost break you — and how did you come back swinging? Please share in comments!

P.S. If you like this “Deep Thoughts” post, check out these musings:

5 Sew Pro convention takeaways for every sewist
Sewing #truth: 12 best-kept secrets of people who sew clothes
Creative inspiration: 7 times Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” spoke to sewists