Oh, what to do when your sewjo says, “so long”? Most sewists lose their sewjo at some point, and, speaking from experience, it’s frustrating and shocking.
One day, you’re all lovey-dovey with sewing, and the next day, sewing projects feel like a chore and you question your creative decisions. Or maybe you’re apathetic toward creative decisions, shrugging, staring blankly, and sighing heavily. Meh.
Let’s chat about why sewjo goes on hiatus and the one thing you can do RIGHT NOW (OK, after you finish reading this post) to reignite your creative spark. (Spoiler: This trick works for me pretty much every time!)
Why Does Sewjo Go Away?
Sewjo skips town for three primary reasons.
1.) Skills Gap
I think this is the No. 1 reason why sewjo evaporates. When you’re not confident in your ability, it’s common to back off an activity to protect yourself from failure. (This is me! My psyche is fragile, y’all!)
It’s a huge bummer to be working on a sewing project and COMPLETELY botch a technique: installing a zipper, easing a seam, gathering, hemming a curved edge, etc. (Related: Choosing the wrong fabric, while not a technique per se, also is tragic.)
And let’s not forget about fitting fails. I don’t think there’s anything that puts the brakes on a sewing project faster than a garment that you can’t get to fit. My projects with fitting woes definitely take the longest; project procrastination is a mild loss of sewjo.
2.) Internal Tension
This is the head stuff, what’s going on with your inner monologue and how you feel about yourself and your life. The major sewjo killers here are body changes and shifts in personal style.
Losing or gaining body mass, among other body changes, can make you feel like a stranger in your own body. It’s no wonder figuring out how to sew for a (somewhat) alien figure might impair one’s sewjo.
Sewjo may flee as you find yourself drawn to different fashion (perhaps to your own surprise). Your current wardrobe no longer feels like “you,” and you’re not sure how to start pivoting toward clothes that better reflect how you feel about yourself.
3.) External Tension
This is stuff that’s swirling around you: major life changes, work busyness, sewing project paralysis, and general sewing burnout.
I had big-time dips in sewjo when I was pregnant, when I was working on my M.B.A., and after my mom passed away. Sewing wasn’t important to me for months at a time.
When you’re bananas busy at your 9-to-5 job, your creative well may be dry by the time you get home. Sometimes you barely have energy to feed yourself and watch TV until 7:30 p.m. Mental fatigue is physically exhausting, too!
Sewing project paralysis is when have too many choices about a would-be garment. It happens when you look at your sewing queue and can’t decide what’s next. Or which view to sew. Or what fabric to sew it with. Or where to buy your fabric. GAH, too many decisions!
Sewing burnout is similar to project paralysis in that you’ve had too much of a good thing. The process feels like a slog, and you start to ask, “Why bother?”
The 1 Thing You Can Do TODAY to Get Your Sewjo Back
If your missing sewjo is freaking you out and you have NO IDEA what to do next, start here: Go to your sewing area and start picking up.
Set a timer for 15-30 minutes (c’mon… everyone has at least 15 minutes to spare!), and:
- Put away stray pattern pieces and instructions. (Ziploc bags FTW.)
- Make sure all your pins are in a pincushion (because DANGER).
- Restack sewing magazines and books.
- Get rid of fabric scraps and pick threads off the floor.
- Put all your rulers, scissors, seam rippers, marking tools, etc., in their respective homes.
- Gently fold any projects under construction and tuck them into bins, baskets, boxes, or respectable-looking bags. No hobo piles!
- Store rogue cuts of fabric.
- If it doesn’t belong in your sewing space, toss it or put it away.
If your sewing gear and projects already are tidy, clean your sewing machine. Use a link brush and vacuum cleaner to defuzz this finely tuned device. While you’re at it, dust your sewing surface with a microfiber cloth and vacuum or dry mop the floor. I get a TON of satisfaction from cleaning my sewing machine and serger, and they work better for it.
Tidying is Good for You!
This ain’t busywork, sewing pals! Neatness has major health benefits. People who describe their homes as “restful” and “restorative” are less likely to be depressed and tired than folks who use words such as “cluttered” and full of “unfinished projects.” And people with exceptionally cluttered bedrooms report more sleeping problems, which can increase stress and depression and impair cognitive function.
Bringing order to your sewing space is self-care, and this self-care will help your sewjo return! (Hey, there’s a reason why Marie Kondo calls tidying up “life-changing magic“!)
I guarantee you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment even marginally tidying your sewing habitat. That’s the first spark in reigniting your sewjo. What’s more, when you sit again to stitch, you’ll know where everything is. Super bonus. 👏👍🙌
Over to you, my sewing dears: Tell us about a time you lost your sewjo and how it came back to you. Is your sewjo currently AWOL? Please let us know so we can hype you up!
P.S. Here’s the previous post: New Sewing Magazine Alert! Read Fibre Mood with Me | VIDEO. Yup, there’s a vid wherein we can page through all 100 pages of a sewing mag together. Yay!
P.P.S. If you liked this post, I suspect you might like these other self-care-ish posts, too:
Sewing for Depression and Anxiety: 24 Sewing Ideas to Improve Your Mood
Sew with the Flow: Sewing for Your Period
Top photo by Taylor Ann Wright on Unsplash | https://www.instagram.com/taylorannwright/
Sparkler heart by Jamie Street on Unsplash | https://www.instagram.com/jamie452/
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