I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the wonderful replies to my post a few weeks ago about trying to get my sewing mojo back. I think we all go through little slumps now and then with our various crafts of choice…sewing, knitting, paper crafting, you name it. You might be seeing lots of things that inspire you to create, but finding obstacles along the way, even when you sit down to work.
Because all the comments I received were really a big help in fighting through my sewing slump, I thought maybe it would be helpful to others out there to call out a few tips and suggestions I received. I found these especially helpful once I sat back down to sew, because I still found myself facing obstacles and wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Here are a few tips on little things you can do to get back in the saddle with your crafting, compiled from reader comments and with my own two cents on my experiences thrown in. 😉
Tips to get over a crafting slump
Dip your toes in gradually
Miss P likes to start with something small and easy if she hasn’t sewn in awhile. After several months of not sewing, I know that I sure feel like I’m practically starting back at square one! Easing in with something quick is a great way to re-build confidence in your skills that have been laying dormant for awhile. My first sewing project after several months should have been this easy idea I have for a great vintage-inspired purse (well, it’s easy in my head, lol), not a project that was in-progress 9 months ago that had fiddly bits I already found difficult (semi-sheer button-up blouse with a collar).
Anthea of Sewing ♥ Vintage ♥ Knittingmentioned she likes to take her time getting back into a project if it’s been awhile since she worked on it. She’ll put on a dress form and kind of size it up and down periodically while moving onto another project. After awhile she’ll know where to pick back up. I like this idea a lot. I tried to jump right in whole hog to the sewing project I had in progress the last time I sewed (aforementioned blouse), and it was a disaster. I really should have put it aside for awhile and started something fresh.
Work with something you really love
Dolly Cool Clare (who just made a gorgeous Hawaiian print dress, by the way!) suggested starting a new project with fabric you really love. What a great suggestion! My white cotton blouse was in serious violation of that. What’s to get excited about with white cotton?! Instead, it felt more like drudgery to work on, combined with the other issues I was having with it. I should have just skipped right ahead to the fabric and pattern stash and dived in for something I would actually enjoy working on. After awhile away, start back in by using a supply or a pattern you really love to help get (and keep) you inspired.
Avoid the things you dislike
This one is all me, and is something that dawned on me when I tried to figure out why I was so mad about sewing when I started back in on it after months away. Seriously, I began to think maybe I really hated sewing, and why was I doing it? When really, I just hated what I was working on. It wasn’t working for me, for a variety of reasons. I did some reflecting about why, and as silly as it sounds, one of the reasons I came up with was the collar. I love collared blouses in cooler weather, but find them a huge pain to sew, and quite frankly when it gets warmer outside that’s just too much fabric on my neck and chest anyway. (As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a heat wuss.) So why was I sewing a warm-weather collared blouse when I don’t like to wear collars in warm weather and I hate sewing collars in the first place?!
My tip? If you haven’t worked on a craft in months, don’t start back in with something you already know you don’t like to work on! If you dislike it, you’re not going to want to work on it. Period. Move on to something you like.
Set aside a little time each day
Casey of Elegant Musings brought up a personal goal she’s trying to make for herself, which is setting aside 30 minutes each day to sew. This was like a little light bulb going off in my head. Squeezing in some time each day for a sewing-related activity is something I need to commit myself to. And ever since she said this I’ve really been trying to stick to it myself, and it’s been great! Even if it’s been just pinning sleeves into armholes, or sewing a seam or two, at least am seeing forward progress on my project and it’s satisfying. It’s also easier to take minor snafus (which of course I’ve had… seam binding sewn to the wrong side of my seam allowance on one sleeve, I’m looking at you) when I know I’m forcing myself to work on it again the next day instead of just turning away in disgust for weeks at a time.
Organize your space
Jessica of Chronically Vintage also moved recently, and like me will be setting up a space in her basement to craft, and hopes it will inspire her to create. Liz of Busy Lizzie recently re-organized her sewing space and is indeed finding that inspiring! Don’t underestimate your workspace. Since I haven’t gotten my dedicated sewing space setup yet, I can vouch for the importance of having an organized space… from the perspective of someone who totally does not have an organized space at the moment!
It’s frustrating searching around for a tool because it’s buried under a pile of pattern pieces, since I have nowhere else to put them. Or walking up and down between the dress form in the basement and the sewing machine in the dining area. This does not motivate me to want to sew. Even in our condo I had a better organized space, though it was still multi-tasking as the dining room. Because my space is in limbo right now until I get my sewing area setup, I haven’t even been trying to organize my space, which is a major mistake that just adds to my frustration! Maintaining an organized space makes it easier to actually work in your space and you’ll spend like time fumbling around for things and swearing.
Keep up the momentum into the next project
Liz of zilredloh.com and I were discussing this topic over email and she shared a tip I really took to heart. She said one of the best things you can do after finishing a project is jump right into the next one. You may even find it goes smoother and faster than the project before. I am notoriously horrible about this with sewing. I’ll sew a project, and then not sew again for weeks or months. In my case a lot of this is lack of confidence in my skills and frustration. But I need to get over it! I’ll never participate in Me Made May if I only manage to sew a few things a year. Nor will I ever get more confident. Once my current sewing project is complete, I’m going to bounce right into the next one, whether or not this one turns out great or just meh. I swear!
So now that I’ve bared my sewing soul with you (eek)… where am I now, you may wonder? I’m working on a 1940s dress. It’s a house dress pattern that buttons up the back, with ruffles for sleeves, ties at the back and patch pockets. No collar! And no facing pieces, something else I don’t like working with, so I avoided it for my first project back in the saddle. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of fiddly stuff to annoy me with this project…. lots of French seams, what feels like miles of blind stitching by hand and the world’s strangest-to-iron cotton lawn. But I love the pattern, and I like the fabric, and I’m making progress. And I hope to have a new summer dress to show off in a week or so, if it all works out.
Thanks, dear readers, for your tips and suggestions on getting over my sewing slump. And I hope this post helps others out there get over their slumps, too. If you have more suggestions or inspirations, please do share!
Have a great weekend!