Thursday, April 28, 2016

Guest Post: Becca from Free Notion shares how to get your Sew-Jo back

Hi Project Run and Play readers! I am Becca from Free Notion and Top Stitchers. I have to tell you something. I didn't want to do this. In fact, I haven't wanted to do much of anything lately. We sold our house in January and have been floating in limbo for months now, navigating the crazy  that is this real estate market. 

Limbo, as it turns out, is NOT good for my creativity.

But this deadline loomed, and I owed a tutorial for my friends at PR&P! I figured, what better "how to" for me to tackle than "How To Find Your Sew-Jo"??

Sew-Jo (/sō/jō/) - a seamstress' internal drive to create pretty things with pretty fabrics.

I'm sure there are a few eager readers waving their hands at the front of the class ready to spurt out "BUY NEW FABRIC!" or "JUMP ON PINTEREST/INSTAGRAM/FACEBOOK GROUPS!" But I'm going to resist both suggestions, and encourage you to do the same. Why?? Because EVERY seamstress I know has an inspired to-sew list as plentiful as their fabric stash. To find your sew-jo, you need to address the REAL reason you lost it to begin with. 

So I'm going to do my best Andie Anderson impersonation, and give you a "sort of how to, in reverse." How you lose it - and what to do to get it back. 

How to Lose Your Sew-Jo 

  1. Take on too much obligatory work. My son potty trained this winter. To celebrate and encourage his success, I told myself "a good mom would sew him some undies for such an occasion!" I regretted that thought the moment I had it. For weeks I tried to tell myself "it hardly takes any time at all... and it's the definition of scrap-friendly... I've got no excuse not to do this..." Except for the obvious excuse that had me avoiding my sewing room for days at a time: I just didn't wanna. In my humble opinion - sewing underwear is just BORING. Fortunately for me, sewing is my hobby, not my work, and if I "don't wanna" sew something, I really don't have to! I broke down, took him to the store. A dozen character underwear, less than $10, and 7 minutes later ... my no-sew-incentive disappeared. // Sewing should be FUN. (Whatever that means for you!) If you can afford to - unburden yourself of the obligatory projects on your list. And if you can't stand the judgy eyes of fabric-that-was-destined-to-be-something-you-no-longer-wish-to-make... then wrap a bow around it and gift it to a sewing friend. Get that guilt outta your creative space!
  2. Hampster-wheel sewing. This is for those of you who read #1 and said to yourself "LUCKY! Sewing IS my job! I sew a dozen ______s a day, and my family is counting on that income." Sewing the same thing over and over and over again is brutal, no matter how you cut it. There's hardly any creativity involved at that point! But the show must go on, so how do you overcome?? // As best as you can, create a reward system for yourself. Cross a few of those mindless, obligatory projects off the list, then treat your creative soul to a challenging project you've been dying to try! Life's a great balancing act. Don't cut your happy out of the equation!
  3. Sew out of your comfort zone. My favorite part of sewing is the seemingly endless potential to build my skill. But some of these tricks of the trade can be REALLY difficult to learn via Professor Youtube alone. When you're fed up, and ripped the last stitch your sanity can handle, put that project down long enough to clear your head. Just don't disappear for long. Replace those frustrations with some confidence building projects - an easy sew is always a good choice, as is any other craft you enjoy! The perfect invisible zipper installation or twin needle tension settings will still be there when you're ready to take another stab at them.
  4. Tell yourself "Housework Can Wait." Ruh-roh, this is seamstress heresy! By all means - put off that sink of dishes to power through a project. But when your home or your sewing space is so cluttered it interferes with your productivity or your stress level... take care of it! Sewing under stress virtually guarantees seam ripping - and the last thing you want to have to do is shake out a dozen yards of fabric to find the dang seam ripper! // My husband calls this "sharpening my blade." It's his obnoxious way of encouraging me to invest more time into my prep work (like tidying a sewing room, or working through my to-do-list) so I can set myself up for success and enjoy my sewing more. And as much as it pains me to say it.. he's totally right. So go on and get organized, my friend. As a reward for all your hard work, you can even tell yourself you'll keep it clean ;)
  5. Give into your excuses. After all, there's Just.No.Time. So why even bother? This sounds snarky - but I promise it's not. I do this far too often. It's hard to start anything at all when you doubt you'll find the time to finish it. But you "can't win if you don't play" and the only way you know that project of yours won't get done is if you never start it. Set yourself attainable micro-goals. Only have 15 minutes? That's long enough to assemble most patterns, or iron some fabric. You could repair that popped hem or replace a lost button. Whatever you choose, you're 15 minutes closer to the finish line than you were on the couch, submitting yourself to 15 minutes of feed-scrolling. // Don't forget to make those micro-goals time-sensitive! The more realistic the deadline the more likely you are to meet it. I share my micro goals with my sewing friends for that extra accountability incentive. (I'd say it works for me, but I'm really good at making up excuses..)
  6. Fear possible failure. (Alternate title: "Have really high expectations.") This is a biggie for me. I do a really good job of convincing myself that I'm a perfectionist. (Nevermind that in practice I am very happy to say "close enough!!") Take for example this member of my long-time-stash. I have dreams for that plaid to become a capelet. Two winters have passed since I bought it. I may never ever start that project because "What if the prints don't match up!?" or "That fabric came all the way from San Francisco! What if I ruin it and never get to see that sewing-project-dream realized? I can't just walk down the street and buy more!" What might never be and the fear of failure is my biggest sew-jo killer. Which... when you think about it, is really darn silly. Worst case scenario, beloved fabric ends up in the trash.... and get replaced days or weeks later with newer, better fabric anyway. Once again - you can't win if you don't play. Set realistic goals, strive to learn from this project - not (just) to have a perfect result. You, and your sew-jo are worth the time and fabric investment.
Notably missing from this list is any version of "Real world stress." That, my dear reader is not a missing sew-jo. It's life. Sometimes the heart just needs something else, or nothing at all. When you're going through a loss (of a job, a dream, or a life) - be gracious with yourself throughout your recovery. Let the machines gather dust. They're loyal friends, they'll be there when you're ready to get back to it. Just try and remember the joy sewing brings to your life, and that you deserve (and likely need) such joy now more than ever. 

So tell me - which of the above is your biggest sew-jo killer?? 
Thank you Becca! I'd have to say that lately it is #2 for me. I am going to take your advice and sew something fun today. You all can follow Free Notion on Pinterest, and Instagram, and shop Top Stitchers as well.

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  1. You hit the nail on the head! Deadlines and commitments can be motivating, but too much stress kills the joy. Another sew moj killer is an unfinished project that already takes too long. I therefore try to avoid creating ufo's by not cutting multiple projects, only one at the time. This avoids me losing interest in that project.

    1. Absolutely! Unfinished projects = guilt for me. The time put into them, the money they cost, the dream they haven't yet fulfilled. If its a project I aspired to long enough, I push myself to finish it. If it's a project I've lost interest in... I pitch it. I don't need that guilt hanging around my creative space!

  2. I have to clean. Every single time! Also, something that helps me with #6 is that no fabric designer wanted the fabric she designed to sit in someone's stash and never be used.

  3. Hahahahahah! You totally said it all! Every.Single.Reason. Love this post. UFO's are the worst. And the messy house, that one gets me all the time. Love, love, love <3

    1. Thank you Shelly! Messy house is the most frustrating, because when it comes down to it... an hour can load and unload a dishwasher, throw discarded socks and jackets in the laundry/closet, and tidy up to "good enough" status. (Or at least, not-interfering-with-the-creative-process status) ;)

  4. #6 is my nemesis. It's hard to let go of the potential of a folded up piece of fabric. What if I mess it up? What if I don't mess it up but still end up wishing I had made it into something else? What if......

  5. This is great! I have been missing my sew-jo for awhile now and I would say mostly because of #5. I work a full time job now and I tell myself I have no time to sew but in reality there is lots of time! I just have to split my sewing time into short periods and get out of the mindset of "I have to finish this today!" A little sewing time is better than no sewing time, after all!

  6. No surprise, Becca hit it out of the park here. I've been victim of all of the above at one point or the other! The only thing I don't see here is too many ideas, so little time! Sometimes I'm caught in paralysis because I can't decide where to start. It is like having TOO much sew jo. But it is a good problem to have.

    1. Yes! Great catch! I call that "paralyzed by indecision" - in which case, start with the project that ranks highest among the following:

      1. You already have the materials for.
      2. Is season-appropriate.
      3. Will get the most wear.
      4. Matches your current serger thread ;)

      And if it's still a wash - maybe eeny-meeny-miney-moe!?

  7. It's amazing how #4 can be a problem regardless of the size of your sewing space. I was thinking about how it's never a problem for me to have a messy sewing space since it's currently my sewing machine/server sitting on top of my ironing board in the living room and I have to set it up and take it down every night. Then I remembered how messy the diaper box that holds my current sewing project supplies can get sometimes and how frustrating that is.

    1. That should be serger... not server. Darn auto-correct.

  8. I love this! I'm only a sometime garment sewist, but an avid quilter. Numbers 4 and 5 are my main stalkers. Posting progress and getting feedback and encouragement from other sewing friends really helps me.

  9. You made some good points here. I did a search on the topic and found most people agree with your blog. Thanks

    - Lisa
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