I was out with my sister and her girlfriends during my recent visit to Copenhagen and of course, we love to talk. A lot. My sister is really passionate about psychology and usually, these outings tend to turn into impromptu pour-it-all-out sessions where we lay things out for analysis. And the first thing that spilt out of me was about how much sewing means to me, but also how guilty I feel about it completely taking over my life.
So I started thinking about this a bit more. Clearly, there are many positive effects of sewing on our lives. We create, we unwind, we connect, we escape reality. We surround ourselves with beautiful fabric, we create beautiful clothes that fit the bodies that we have, not that the ones that the fashion industry says we should have.
But is this all there is to it?
Sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed as often as I do excited. Or anxious. Or self-pressured. In relation to sewing, of course.
And then there is the guilt. It takes so many shapes that I sometimes feel it’s not just one feeling, there are dozens. So I’ve made a list of the top 10 ones for me so we can compare notes.
1. Guilt of having too big a fabric or patterns stash
I think this is something that a lot of sewists have in common, even if they don’t admit to the actual guilt. I have over 150 m of fabric in my stash and I still can’t stop myself from buying or acquiring new pieces. I can’t say no to a bargain. I also really enjoy the process of shopping for fabric, especially rummaging through the remnant bins or going to Abakhan for the kilo fabric. I have a lot of fabric in my stash because I get given a lot of fabric, from the sewing events I organise or from work, and I can’t say no to free fabric. In my defence, I do pass on quite a lot of my stash at fabric swaps. I try to only have fabric shopping trips only a few times a year, luckily Abakhan is not in London, and only shop for very specific pieces that I haven’t got in my stash.
If you’d like to explore this further, check out the Love to Sew Podcast from a few weeks ago where Helen and Caroline talk about fabric stashes, really interesting conversation.
2. Guilt of spending too much of your time sewing
I think this is my number one guilt at the moment. In the last year, I have been spending more time sewing or blogging about sewing than I ever had since I first started. I am becoming aware that my default state when I get home is to head to the sewing room and work on my project. Instead of sitting on the sofa watching TV to relax in the evening, my relaxation takes place in front of the sewing machine. I do realise I am super lucky, as I don’t have kids and other responsibilities that I can’t shun even if I wanted to and this sounds like a bit of a first world problem, but still, this is something that I can’t stop feeling guilty about. Luckily, my husband is behind my hobby, otherwise, I’d be writing about sewing -related divorces…
3. Buying fabric and patterns that you end up not sewing
I have a few patterns in my stash that I was very keen to sew when I got them, but now I’m not that interested in them anymore. Some of the Indie patterns are especially expensive, so I feel double the guilt, as I am renowned for my stinginess in my family. I just feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth and it feel guilty for spending the money on that in the first place.
4. Spending too much money on a piece of fabric or on sewing in general
As I have stopped buying clothes for myself in early 2015, this is one guilt that I suffer very little from. It all evens out. I don’t buy expensive fabric, as I said, I am very tight and I just can’t bring myself to spit out excessive sums for one meter of fabric. I also recently started a sewing budget that I set aside each month, and I try not to exceed it. This covers fabric, patterns, haberdashery, gadgets and consumables. I keep this is a separate account and so I can keep track of what goes out towards sewing. And it also makes me think twice about spending on something and question if I really need that, as well as keeping a limit on the overall sewing spend. Before everything was going on my credit card and the sky was the limit, which was not a good policy.
5. Not blogging often enough
I often see sewing bloggers apologising for prolonged silences on their blogs and I must confess I do feel very guilty as well when I don’t post as regularly as I would like to. There are hundreds of sewing blogs out there, do people even care that you have not posted two weeks in a row? I know that I do miss people who have been missing for a long time, and I do wonder what could have happened to them, but I never judge if people skip a few posts. This is especially true for non-monetised blogs. It’s meant to be a passion and a hobby, why do we stress so much?
6. Wasting fabric on projects you don’t wear or did not turn up alright
Because of my job in sustainability, I feel doubly guilty about anything that results in waste or unnecessary production or consumption. So, if I produce something unwearable, even something that is perfectly nice but I just don’t wear often enough, I feel terrible. For some people, it’s the work that went into the project, but for me, it’s more the fabric being wasted and the fact that I put something out there that will not be used.
7. Sewing too much
This also links to the point above. Do you feel like you are churning garments for the sake of it, or just to blog about them? Garments that you don’t actually like or that don’t match your lifestyle. The slow sewing movement, like slow fashion, is something that I recently became aware of and I am schooling myself to be more considerate in my choices and well, sew a bit less, and bit more thoughtful and a bit more meaningful.
8. Not sewing fast enough
The opposite of the previous point relates to comparing ourselves to other sewists we follow on social media with tremendous outputs, who finish garments of a quarter of the time it takes you to complete the simplest project. I often envy them, but I try to tell myself that it’s not a competition. And then I realise I haven’t got anything to blog about this week, grrr.
9. Not sewing with sustainable fabrics
A lot of social media campaigns that have been emerging lately, from Fashion Revolution to Dirty Fashion report on viscose, Zero Chemicals Discharge Campaign, all the issues around plastics in the ocean etc, the environmental impacts of fashion are being put in the spotlight. And let’s not kid ourselves, we’re not H&M and Zara, but the majority of the fabric we use is produced in similar conditions. Even if you use less of it, it has an impact. This is a massive source of guilt for me all the time because I don’t always live by what I know I should be doing.
10. Not wearing hand-made all the time
I get in massive panicked frenzies every time I need to go to a sewing meet-up. Even events like weddings (including my own) and other fancy dos stress me out, as by now everybody expects me to wear something I made. Whilst at non-sewing events, people are usually in awe of your skills regardless of the issues you know are there (but of course no one else can see), the sewing meet-ups come with the added dread of people that actually know what mistakes look like as soon as they take the first glimpse. So, yes, I do feel quite guilty when I have to say ‘actually, this is shop bought’.
SO, HOW MANY OF THESE REASONS RESONATE WITH YOU? WHAT DO YOU FEEL GUILTY ABOUT? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT? START THE CONVERSATION IN THE COMMENTS OR TWEET ME @SEWRENDIPITY.
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