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How to feed yo sew-jo (or get it back)

Posted by Lisa Lam on

Don't get stuck; get a kit! 


No matter how much of a hardcore stitch lover you are, there are times when sewing can turn ugly; the swear-jar is overflowing and we are that close to hurling the machine out of the window.  Sound familiar???   To experience these feelings (a few times during every project or every now and again) is normal and anyone who says it isn't should be treated with suspicion...

I've sewn for a living for over 20 years.  In that time there have been plenty of occasions where I felt that sewing was crap and I wished I was a farmer/belly dancer/pilot etc.  When we lose our sew-jo it's not nice. 

We all lose it at times!  Here are my top tips for coaxing your sew-jo back into your work-room:

  1. Blocked by tricky step/instruction not making sense - rather than gouging an even bigger hole in your fabric (with your red-hot, angry seam ripper), put everything down and go away!!  Have a walk, have a cuppa and a snack, see if you can ask for help on social media or even sleep on it.  This almost always helps, because you get to refresh yourself and calm down.  Plugging away whilst you have the red-mist is never a good idea.  
  2. Sew easy - sometimes you just can't be bothered!  Or that pattern was a step toooooo far.  I get this sometimes, I will be in the midst of designing a pattern and my brain won't come up with a fix for something - ahhhhh!   Times like these call for a nice easy sew (with your fave fabric).  By all means, buy new fabrics, it's OK, it's medicinal.  Pick an easy pattern or an no-brainer kit and enjoy seeing it come quickly together.   This always works for me.  Most of my sewing involves writing patterns, so the joy of following someone's pattern is meditative.  
  3. Stitch (Stig) of the dump - just tidy up (a little).  There's a good chance that right now your workroom/area is not insta/pinterest worthy - neither is mine!  But it gets to a stage where the craft-mess not only hurts your eyes, but it actually affects sewing-joy.  You can't find anything anymore and you buy more fabric than you need (errrr...like...what's new??).  Whilst I can't bring myself to properly tidy up, I do tidy up (a little).  I keep my work table tidy.  I keep my tools in a tray by my machine and I clean up as I go along.  This helps preserve my sew-jo, and it increases my productivity, I can always find what I need and a clearer space really makes for a clearer mind. 
  4. Sew confident and inspired - this is tricky for everyone.  No matter where you are in your sewing journey, it can be hard to have confidence in ourselves.  Social media is a wonderful source of sewing inspiration, but if you spend more time surfing over sewing we can become intimidated by other people's makes.  We give ourselves a hard time for 'not being as good as them'.  Social media is nothing more than a curated snapshot of what folks want you to see.  What is real and true is: everyone is learning, everyone buggers things up and we are all at different stages.  Don't let curated snap-shots negatively affect how you feel about what you are doing.  Celebrate yourself for giving it a go, take your time and enjoy the journey. 
  5. Get sewcial - try to get out of the house and meet with other sewing junkies.  I attended a local Saturday sewing group and it was lovely!   It was so nice to be in like-minded company (no eye rolling when going on and on about fabric!).  With only your cat and sewing machine to talk to, sewing can get lonely.  If you are unable to meet with folks try joining facebook groups. There are many to choose from for all kinds of craft.  You can ask for help, share your makes and enjoy some crafty banter.  

What are your top-tips for feeding your sew-jo?


  • Sometimes I feel alone but this article is so encouraging because I’m not alone. I cannot tell you of the anxiety attacks I have when starting a new project. Making purses are new to me but I’m been sewing since I was 7, but clothes. This time I didn’t want to make clothes I wanted to make purses and accessories. However, once I start I’m find but getting start takes a long pep rally lol but I eventually gets through it.

    Charsetta Conway on

  • Thank you Lisa, an inspiration as usual😻 I think we are all over critical over our own work instead of just enjoying the process. After all the Sewing Police aren’t going to come and take us away for not producing perfect projects. 💕💕💕💕

    Janice on

  • Thank you for above will keep that to read when times are hard,
    When you next on the telly really enjoyed watching you
    Have a great sewing day Gail x

    Gail on

  • I enjoy lots of different crafts and your comments relates to all types of crafting, I’m sorry to hear that you sometimes struggle like the rest of us, but it shows that even someone as talented and a crazy mad ray of sunshine like you sometimes looses their mo-jo.
    I am not a particularly brave person and so joining groups is a nightmare, but I like to be around people who want to craft and feed off each other. In a crazy moment I joined a local Young woman’s Institute (they let me join even though I am in my v,v late 50’s, I only went to a few meetings but I have a large area for crafting and offered to share my space. Now every Tuesday some of us meet at my house for craft night and a few of my friends join in too. Sometimes we sew,some ladies might knit or crochet and sometimes we drink tea and put the world to rights, we have just finished making 60 re-usable sanitary towels for girls in a school in Malawi. Non sewers did the cutting out, kept things organised or made tea whilst the rest of us did the actual sewing,working together helped us all and made us feel good about ourselves because no-body judged our work and we where all so happy with our achievements.
    Thank you Lisa for being such an inspiration to us all. Xx

    Kim Bevan on

  • I sew bags and I find that keeping really riveting books on CD handy keep me engaged with my sewing tasks (even the ironing!) My studio is in my house, so it’s easy to drift away to the kitchen for a snack (oh, maybe I’ll bake something!). But a good book brings me back to work!

    Michele Corbeil on

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