Sewing blissfully. How to avoid feeling frustrated when sewing.

Never have we been more inundated with new patterns launches, mini sewing trends, sewing challenges, community projects, friends requests “oh I saw on Sewing bee they made that couture dress in 8 hours, you can make me a dress in a day don’t you?” and many other sources of inspiration.
Sewing is incredibly social and as in all social activities we as humans want to fit in. Even thou is impossible to take part in everything we insist putting over ourselves an enormous amount of pressure. Sewing, crafting, knitting or whatever is your favourite creative outlet, it should never  feel like a chore, or make you feel you are failing.  Here are a few tips to keep your hobby a joy.
Don’t follow the hype:
With so many amazing things going on over the blogsphere is so easy to get excited about taking part in everything. I’m so guilty of over-committing myself. I put my hand up for everything. Is just my collaborative nature.  However, over my sewing years I have lost count of how many times I felt completely burned out. I was ashamed to admit it and would rush my makes just to get it in time for the big reveal, some times sacrificing my down time, which is super important for creativity. Deadlines and overcommitting are a strong source of frustration, so don’t follow the hype.
  • Be selective:
Make a note on a post it or notebook of everything you feel you ‘want it’ with the deadline and keep it where you normally read your blog posts. That will help you visualise everything that is happening before you openly signing for it. See if multiple challenges you would like to take part can be tackled in one outfit.  It really helps to visualise everything that is coming before picking the challenges you are truly excited about.  Don’t feel guilty over the ones you don’t pick, no one will think less of you because you didn’t join the latest ‘big thing’. Other opportunities will always be there.
  • Pick the right patterns:
I don’t know anyone that sews that don’t have a never ending list of projects. Many are added just because you loved someone’s version. While providing inspiration is one of the goals I seek over the blog, I know that many styles I make don’t suit everyone because I make my clothes for me. Don’t you pick your patterns because of their fame, you may get a few more blog hits but not a satisfying make.
My personal criteria in picking a pattern are: I love the style and it suits my lifestyle. I know that style is flattering to my shape. I matched the pattern difficult with my current skill (or a skill I want to practice/learn), I can adapt the pattern to something I want.
  • Invest in knowledge:
Picking the right fabric to work with a pattern is almost as important as choosing the right pattern. A lot of learning can be done reading but I’m a practical and visual learner. Get as many different types of fabrics samples and start your own exploration. Look at the drape, the weight. Feel with your fingers how the fabric behaves. Use sample and practice some stitches. It will help you picking the right fabric for the pattern.
Happy Sewing!
  • such wise words of advice, we can all get carried away sometimes…bestest wishes Daisy j x

  • Thanks for this x I’ve still no finished the dress I hoped to make for #sewdollyclackett but then I’ve 2 essays for college not finished and an exam to revise for too, as well as budget planning as I’ve not had any income while at college, so I need to not beat myself up and remember that it’s my hobby and creative outlet, not a chore or another to-do, so Thank You for the reminder x I think I’ll give myself a new deadline for the frock of Roisin’s wedding day in ‘MMM14 ;o)

  • Great tips! It can be difficult sometimes to stay focused with so many cool new things happening out there, but you always have to stay true to yourself and your own ambitions 🙂

  • This is a really great post, Rachel. When I started my blog last year, I wanted to join in with everything, partly because it all looked like so much fun, but also to get more blog readers. While it kind of worked, I also discovered I don’t like sewing to a deadline! This year I’ve been forced through pregnancy, to hardly join in with anything, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s nice to sit back ad watch and really, properly consider what I will make once I get my body back!

  • Great advice! There’s so many projects that I added to my list when I started sewing only now my taste has changed – it’s a good idea not to jump on everything but wait and see if you have time and really love it!

  • Great tips Rachel … and like Stephanie said it is important to stay true to yourself … and make what you love and wear not what you think other people might want to see!

  • I’ve been so overwhelmed by all the new patterns and sewcialists chat recently – great post to remind us all to think more about what we choose to make and why! Thanks Rachel

  • Wow Rachel! This post really could`nt have come in a bether time!
    I wrote a simiar post earlier today, around the challenging feelings around guilt-sewing vs. pleasure sewing and what to do when you are strugeling whit the pressure of pleasing both youre self and others. Please, do come on over to my blog and have a look! 😀

  • T

    So very true! Just finishing up my third pattern review this month and unlike the first two this one is just an all out bad style for me. I have no love for it and am so unenthused don’t even want to take photos. I should have politely declined when I first say the technical drawing. As we’ve said before, life is short … make what you love! Thanks for the reminder, oh wise one. 😉

  • So well put. I only started my blog a few months ago, and I already feel the pressure of populating it with amazing posts – almost letting the blog rule my creativity rather than the other way around. Also need to come up with an evaluation system of patterns I like to determine whether they are for me! So many pretty things, so little time…

  • Great post Rachel – so true that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the possibilities pf exciting things to do. I really wanted to join in with #sewdollyclackett but it with a changing body shape and the time I’d have need to muslin and then sew a dress that I wouldn’t get to wear much at the minute, it wasn’t a good use of my precious sewing time. But other challenges like the #vintagepledge have suited me much better plus I’m really trying to make time to make the things I’ve wanted to sew for ages!

  • Great tips, thanks Rachel! 🙂 I think I’m pretty good at limiting the number of patterns I invest in and picking projects but where I go ‘wrong’ is putting pressure on myself to make a long list of things! It’s great to enjoy the end result of a nice garment, but it’s so much better to enjoy the whole process behind it.

  • So so true – wise words! 🙂

  • This is such great advice! I have grown to really dislike sew-alongs, me-made-mays, appreciation months, and so on just because I can’t live up to the deadlines. It’s ridiculous! I’m getting better, though…

  • love this post 🙂 great tip about picking patterns based to suit your level of difficulty!

  • Lou

    Totally agree! I was so tempted to join the sewdollyclackett bandwagon as I love Roisin’s blog, but I resisted as I’m not sure how much I’d actually wear that style… I’m trying to focus on fewer things and do them well rather than quickly.

  • Lou

    Totally agree! I was so tempted to join the sewdollyclackett bandwagon as I love Roisin’s blog, but I resisted as I’m not sure how much I’d actually wear that style… I’m trying to focus on fewer things and do them well rather than quickly.

  • This is a lovely post. I think a lot of sewers will absolutely relate with what you’ve stated here. I gave myself permission to sew what I want earlier this year. As fun as SALs are, I vowed not to participate in any this year. I never actually get the satisfaction I hope to get from taking part, and I know that my time is better spent working on projects that make me feel accomplished at the end. Thanks for writing. 😀

  • Great tips, Rachel! To ensure that I am living a fulfilling sewing life, I make sure I’m using patterns that are for my shape, learning from each project and having no deadlines.

  • EXCELLENT advice. lately i’ve been more careful about how much i load up on my plate, hopefully not to the offense of anyone asking :))

  • Very good advice Rachel! I’ve definitely felt burnt out after trying to attempt challenges and then was embarrassed when I couldn’t deliver the final items.

  • Excellent post, full of wisdom. It is really important not to take on too much and to pick your projects wisely. I’m guilty of getting caught up in the excitement at the beginning but have mastered the skill of not immediately buying a pattern.

  • This is music to my ears…after feeling guilty I’d missed a blog event I was planning to link up with. I think I’ll re-read this every now and again to keep me on track!

  • Great post – thank you for a reminder of how to keep things blissful! 🙂

  • Definite words to live by! Sometimes you get so caught up that it makes you almost manic with the pressure of everything and taking the fun out of it. Thanks for reminding me why I started sewing!

  • I haven’t committed to anything because I know I’m just too busy to keep up with all you top level sewists. Maybe when I retire…in the meantime I will live vicariously through you 🙂

  • Kat

    I love this post. I totally agree with choosing a pattern based on what you like. Making stuff just to get blog hits is rather soul destroying.

  • Really good advice Rachel, you are so right when you say there will always be other opportunities and one of the most important things is to pick what suits not what is the current craze 🙂

  • Very inspiring post. I wrote one about the same and mentioning how right you are. Sometimes we get lost in the frenzy of sewalongs.

  • Wise words!

  • Completely agree. I have avoided sew alongs and competitions thus far to avoid my hobby becoming work. But I do love reading about them and following the competitions.

  • Rachel,
    such a wonderful/true blog post. Thank you for sharing..
    I sometimes get so overwhelmed with my commitments that, I don’t want to even go into the sewing room. And that is not a fun hobby, that is ruining it.ha
    So, I have tried to do things I want to do, and just admire the other pretty things,Love reading the
    blogs and seeing the pretty things that everyone makes. ..
    Hugs my sweet friend.

  • These are wise words! Sometimes I find myself so overloaded with deadlines and unfinished projects that I just want to cry! I’m trying to be wise and limit my commitments, but it’s so hard to say no to fun sewalongs and pattern tests! I want to try everything and sew EVERYTHING under the sun, but I always think I have more free time than I really have. It’s important to keep from burning out!

  • Girl, you don’t even KNOW how timely this post is! I just decided last night that I was going to chill on the sewalongs and focus on what I wanted to make because I want to make it.


  • Some good advice, I am definitely always getting carried away with all the projects that I add to my to do list, more get added than I can keep up with making, but I do love blogs for the great inspiration and ideas I get from them, though sometimes I should spend less time looking online and more time making…


  • Great advice Rachel! As a new sewist it’s hard to find the patterns that suit me, or will fit, so I’m sort of sewing all sorts of stuff that I don’t even like. I’m trying to avoid just buying anything new that comes out…takes will power that’s for sure!

  • Such a great post – thank you!!!

  • So true Rachel – thanks for the great reminders!

  • Thank you so much for this post!

  • Thanks for this post Rachel! Sometimes it is easy to see what everyone else is doing and want to copy, but I am pretty good at sticking to my resolutions – still haven’t made an Anna yet 🙂
    Good timing too – I am just in the process of doing up a list of my project priorities

  • So true, I am always tempted to join in with sewalongs or other community events, but I’ve learned it’s best for me to stick to making what I know I will wear, not necessarily what looks pretty on someone else 🙂 I just don’t have time to make things that won’t suit me, no matter how pretty they are! ^__^