All sewists have experienced it at one time or another – the mysterious case of the lost sewjo. Overnight the act of sewing, once a source of such joy, has become the most unbearable chore. The sewing machine gathers dust while you are stuck in a hideous holding pattern of hesitation, frustration and resentment.
It’s no fun at all, but it’s by no means incurable. Here are four tip-top suggestions to help find that pesky, elusive sewjo and kick your sewing machine back into gear.
Reorganise Your Sewing Space
If you find yourself hovering around your sewing machine but unable to sit down and start anything, one of the best things you can do is give your space a thorough clean. Sweep up all the scraps and spare threads, put away all the pins, neatly stow away all half-finished projects thrown aside in despair, re-sort your patterns and refold your fabric stash.
While it’s easy to fall into procrasti-cleaning habits and use “tidy room, tidy mind” to justify ignoring rapidly encroaching deadlines in favour of scouring a sink, in this instance it really does work. Clearing away any chaos that may have accumulated around your sewing station will clear away stress and guilt you might not even be aware you’re carrying and your new cleanly optimised space will be that much more beguiling for you to sit down and actually sew.
Plus invariably while sorting through your fabric stash you’ll find some hidden treasure you suddenly remember you had set aside with the brilliant idea of exactly what you were going to use it for and the inspirational spark will be rekindled.
Set Yourself Small Victories
Re-immerse yourself in the water of sewing with a tentative toe dip rather than trying to force yourself to dive from the high board. Do you have any mending you’ve been meaning to do, clothes in need of minor alteration, or a project you set down just short of the finish line?
A simple project like fixing a busted seam, reattaching a missing button or adjusting a hem will give you the bolstering boost of satisfaction of completing a fully wearable item without all the gruelling work of starting a full scale project. If you don’t have any obligingly easy slam dunks to hand, set yourself a small sewing project – something you can start and finish within a couple of hours. A scrunchie, a face mask, a tote bag, it doesn’t matter, it just has to be something that you can knock out quickly and knock out of the park.
Then, crucially, you have to let yourself take the win. Don’t diminish or downplay it. Bask in your incredible power to create something where nothing was before – you haven’t lost it, the magic was inside you all along!
Window Shop For Inspiration
There are as many cures for missing sewjo as there are causes. One reason you may be struggling is that nothing you are working on right now is exciting you creatively. You need to find some inspiration that will fire up your fervour again. This doesn’t mean searching tirelessly for the one perfect pattern that will single handedly cure your slump – an endeavour which (from experience) generally leaves one unsuccessful, frustrated and feeling like an uninspired, time-wasting lump. You need to take a step back and seek that secret spark of sewjo more holistically.
Window shopping is often far more relaxing and enjoyable than arduously trekking through stores in search of something specific, and that’s the approach you should take to looking for inspiration. You can literally window shop, if it is safe in your area. Look at all the new season’s fashions and ask yourself – what do I like about these? What don’t I like? When an outfit catches your eye – on the street, on the television, on Instagram – ask yourself, what are the elements of this which appeal to me? The world is your Pinterest board – keep an eye out for what delights you.
Then turn back to your roster of projects, old and new, and examine them using your new insights. Do they contain aspects you know excite and inspire you? If not, can you alter them in some way so that they do? When you’re trying to reconnect to what made you love sewing so much in the first place, make sure you’re sewing things that spark joy.
Take A Break
Sometimes the only way out of a slump is through it. Some part of you is trying to tell the rest of you something and the right thing to do is to step back and listen. Sometimes you’re simply too tired and too busy and you need a break.
This isn’t a bad thing! You shouldn’t expect yourself to be constantly churning out content. The creative cycle has its fallow periods. When you feel like you’re barren and dormant of ideas and output, what you are actually doing is recharging, growing strong roots just beneath the surface.
So don’t put pressure on yourself, especially if sewing is your hobby or outlet. It’s supposed to be fun! If you’re not having fun, don’t do it! You can try experimenting with creative endeavours next door to sewing, like dyeing or embroidery, or you can lie around and watch TV.
Whatever you do, be kind to yourself, and have faith that when your sewjo returns from the war (and it will) you will be there, refreshed and rejuvenated, waiting with open arms.