On sewing and motivation | 11 ideas for when you loose your sewing mojo

On sewing and motivation | 11 ideas for when you loose your sewing mojo

Dear readers, I haven’t sewn in more than a month. Ok, I took up a pair of jeans for my husband, but that doesn’t really count, right?

I am in a massive motivation slump when it comes to getting lost in my sewing room – which even a few months ago was the easiest thing in the world. If anything, I had to stop myself from doing too much of that and not be antisocial. A few weeks ago, I even had a sewing date with my pal Kate from Time to Sew, and instead of actually sewing, I ended up unpicking some old items I needed to repair. No sewing machine in sight!

I sort of have an idea as to why this is happening. I have been cooking like mad since I started a new sugar free, low carbs eating lifestyle (I won’t bore you with the details, but I LOVE it and it’s been doing wonders for every aspect of my life other than sewing :(. If you want to know more, send me a message, happy to wax lyrical…). I feel like all my creativity has been directed towards the kitchen instead of the sewing room.

So now what? Is this a phase and I should just go with the flow? Or do I need to look for tips on getting my sewjo back?

That is why I am putting this topic to you, my ever resourceful and full of bright ideas readers and community friends.

What do you do when you lose your sewjo?

To start the conversation going – and I do hope you will let me know in the comments what you think about this – here’s the list I came up with.

Tips for getting your sewing motivation (aka sewing mojo) back

In no particular order, here are the tips I found the most helpful from my researches.

1. Tidy up your sewing space

I am a both a very messy person and a tidy freak at the same time. I know, this is a contradiction, but believe me, it is indeed possible. I’t important that everything has its place and there is a place for everything, BUT I also have an annoying habit of going at it fast/famine style. I will leave stuff everywhere for a few days (ok, weeks…), then go through a major tidying up spree and maniacally clean everything in sight. Especially in the sewing room (and now kitchen). So for me, doing a major tidy up in the sewing room is actually quite fun. I feel this can definitely be a great way to get me in the mood again.

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2. Do the boring prep work

I really do not enjoy PDF assembly, tracing patterns, cutting out and all the other boring tasks that come before the actual sewing. But sometimes a mindless task like that is exactly what you need to get you in the mood. There is no pressure to actually do any sewing, just the promise that if you ever will fancy sewing again, you have already got the annoying/time consuming parts out of the way. The one thing I’d rather not do in this stage is actually cutting out, because I can easily change my mind about a pattern/fabric combination, and if I already cut it out, it will be a waste. I only cut when I’m fully committed.

3. Do some mending/fixing/tweaking

Again, a bit of a counterintuitive one. We sewers usually hate mending, taking up, tweaking an existing garment, etc. However, I found that the joy of getting an old garment back in circulation gives me such a sense of achievement. This might even jog me back into other creative pursuits. My mending pile is not too big, but things tend to stay there for many, many months. So when anything makes it out, it really is a cause for celebration.

4. Sew for an occasion or a deadline

Since the days of the Sewing Bee, I really really hate sewing against the clock or on a deadline, but sometimes this is just what I need to get my sewing mojo going again. I can be an upcoming wedding for which I want to make a new dress, or a friend’s birthday to whom I want to give a handmade present or an upcoming holiday for which I’d like to make some new togs. So long as it’s not becoming too stressful, this is a great way to push through the lack of motivation.

5. Sew a TNT pattern

Especially after a row of failed projects, the sewjo tends to become elusive. Your confidence dips and you really cannot face another dud. But if you reached out for that one pattern that you know always works out for you and that you pretty much can make with your eyes closed, the chances of that are pretty slim.

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6. Sew in short chunks

Have you heard about the Pommodoro technique? It’s a time management tool that breaks down any task in short chunks, usually 25 minutes, with small breaks in between. So in the sewing world, that means that you might sew for 25 minutes, then stop. It can even be a competition with yourself to see how many steps you can do in the allotted chunk. The main thing though is to only do what you had planned, so no checking emails or Instagram, no going for a cup of tea or any other distraction. Those can be your rewards. I found that because of the limitation, if I stop in the middle of a task because the 25 mins expired, I am really excited to get back to what I am doing as soon as possible.

Alternatively, set yourself a definite task – for example, attach the collar, or sew the side seams – and then stop after that. This way, it feels less like you are looking to finish a project, but just enjoying the task at hand and you can stop when it’s completed. Jeans or shirt making is brilliant for that.

7. Finish a WIP/UFO

This one might be hit and miss. For me, if something has been relegated to the UFO drawer (yes, I have a special box of shame where the UFOs go), it means that I have lost interest for some reason, and it’s unlikely that it could get me out of the slump. However, it has happened that rifling through the drawer of shame, I had a lightbulb moment where I remembered why I was so excited to make that project in the first place and I picked it up again with gusto. Sometimes it can be that I decide to finish the project and pass it on to someone else, and that’s a good motivation in itself.

8. Do a style exercise to figure out wardrobe gaps

Could it be that the sewjo is coming from lack of inspiration and a disconnection between your sewing queue and your style? So, instead of looking for new fabric and patterns, maybe you can start with analysing your style. This way, you can identify the clothes that you would like to wear with the patterns that you have or figure out what’s missing. As I have mentioned before, I am quite anal and I really like this kind of exercises, they really fuel my creativity. I am planning a post soon on style and sewing, so stay tuned for more ideas on this topic.

9. Look for inspiration

I don’t know many people who need much encouragement to head to Pinterest and look for sewing (or other kinds of inspiration). I usually look for quite specific thing, like ‘mustard top with flounce sleeves’ or ‘rust corduroy pinafore’, but just scrolling through the home feed works just as well. Also, looking online or in shops at the latest RTW fashion can inspire, as well as good ol’ Instagram. You can make a secret board or save on IG the things that appeal to you and then start figuring out how you can sew them (maybe with fabric and patterns you already have).

BTW, you can check out my Pinterest boards to see what kind of inspiration I go for.

10. Do a stash review

Speaking of stash, doing a tidy up, or even just rearranging your patterns and fabric stash can be a great source of inspiration. Maybe you came across some fabric you forgot about or you looked at an old pattern in a new light. I really enjoy finding the right pattern for the right fabric, and it’s a double win if they are both from the stash.

11. Make something, anyhting

It has happened to me a few times that when I’m in a sewing slump, making something as simple as a tote bag or zipped pouch can reignite the passion. Little stash busting projects can also work great.


These are my few pennies’ worth.

I WOULD LOVE TO READ YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW YOU COPE WITH THE LACK OF MOTIVATION/SEWJO. SHOULD WE REALLY BE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO REGAIN MOTIVATION, OR LET IT COME BACK ON ITS OWN? DOES IT EVEN MATTERS THAT WE ARE FEELING UNMOTIVATED FOR A WHILE?

LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR COMMENTS.

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12 Comments

  1. 25 March 2019 / 12:49 AM

    I’d have to go with sewing a TNT pattern. Something I know that will work without much thought. Something I could do in front of the TV with no need for a seam ripper. At the same time I would be thinking about my wardrobe looking for my next project, something I need!

    • sewrendipityalex
      Author
      25 March 2019 / 9:44 PM

      I envy that you can sew in front of the TV. I sometimes try to watch Netflix, but I end up either unpicking more or taking three times longer. Well done you!

  2. 25 March 2019 / 9:38 AM

    I’m currently in a slight different place than you are, I have a concussion and can’t sew. Any kind of concentration gives me headaches and sets my healing back. :((

    I am cleaning and tidying up the sewing dungeon, one tiny little bit at a time. I currently am working on my drawer of scraps that I use for bias binding. I am cutting the strips and sewing them together and pressing them so when I can sew I can quickly use them. Even something as simple as this I can only do for half an hour a day. It is driving me nuts! I want to sew. Badly.

    My vote for normal missing sewjo is TNT or tidying, it usually works for me.

    • sewrendipityalex
      Author
      25 March 2019 / 9:46 PM

      Ouch, concussion sounds terrible, hope you feel better soon! I think sometimes the fact that you CAN’T do something makes the heart grow fonder, it’s the human nature of wanting something that is being denied to us. I bet that if for some reason I couldn’t sew, I would be desperate to.
      I hope you feel better soon and can get back into sewing properly again.

  3. Linda Rickman
    25 March 2019 / 3:11 PM

    You need to attend a day’s sewing workshop with Alex….. Did it for me.

    • sewrendipityalex
      Author
      25 March 2019 / 3:24 PM

      Ha ha! If only it were that easy! Great seeing you on Sat, can’t wait to hear what you make next with your overlocker buddy 😬.

  4. Sam
    25 March 2019 / 4:54 PM

    I’m so glad I’m not the only person who is both incredibly messy and a neat freak, you sound exactly like me in that respect. Having a good tidy up can do wonders to restore your sewjo, as can sewing a TNT pattern. I’m sometimes put off sewing something different if I’m not sure it’s going to work or suit me, but choosing an old favourite to revisit can really help get me back into the swing of things.

    • sewrendipityalex
      Author
      25 March 2019 / 9:49 PM

      Oh good, I’m not the only one! I actually have very few TNTs, so usually a simple new pattern or a non-garment project does the trick for me. I have just downloaded the Basic InstincT Tee by the wonderful Sasha at Secondo Piano and I have already assembled it. Unfortunately, I thought I had some cotton jersey in my stash, but I actually don’t, so I now have to wait until the organic cotton that I ordered will arrive.

  5. 26 March 2019 / 8:07 PM

    Loosing the sewing mojo happens to me several times in a year, maybe 3 or 4 times, sometimes a month, sometimes less. I try to alternate complex or medium projects with fast and easy projects. I use the tip 6, small chunks : trace, cut, baste, assemble, finishes, no more than 1 hour for a day. I also do the tip 5, but my one and only tnt for now is a burda skirt πŸ™‚ As for the tips 8 and 9, they are my daily sewing addiction πŸ˜€

    • sewrendipityalex
      Author
      7 April 2019 / 4:44 PM

      Yes, it may be a seasonal thing, maybe spring sewing will bring some inspiration. And so glad to see someone else who is into planning and styling as I am.

  6. Elaine Marsh
    4 April 2019 / 4:34 PM

    That’s the nature of creativity, taking a break and getting new inspiration is essential. Sorry I’m reading your article on catch up, I’ve been out of the country on holiday, so no sewing for me either. Eventually I will get back to my sewing projects but I need time away from my sewing cell not only to rest the eyes, fingers and back but to take a fresh look at things, looking at what’s new and out there commercially and balancing my gardening and that side of me too now that Spring is here. Making anything requires it to be a joy, when it becomes a toil – time to take a break. Who won the Sewing Bee? Your Mojo will return soon I’m sure.

    • sewrendipityalex
      Author
      7 April 2019 / 4:45 PM

      Hope you had a lovely time on holiday, Elaine! I love people who garden, but as much as I love plants, I have two black thumbs. I haven’t watched the Sewing Bee, I just found it too stressful. I’m sure you would have found out by now anyways.

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