It happens to me about twice a year without exception, yet still I find it hard to see it coming.
It might start with a little run of sewing fails leaving me feeling deflated and uninspired. Or maybe I’ll find myself sewing exclusively for work - samples and toiles and stuff that I don’t get to keep - and suddenly I’ll realise how long it’s been since I had the joy of sewing for myself.
While it can feel like a drag when you lose your drive to sew, I try to think of it as the calm before a new beginning. A time to enjoy the stillness, reflect, look forward, make lists and set intentions, and most importantly, remove all the pressure to perform and create that we (speaking for myself here!) all too often pile upon ourselves.
And I think that this can be applied across the board, whenever we feel like we’ve gotten stuck in a rut.
The following tips are more than just a way to kickstart your sewjo; they’re a way to create the space and clarity for fresh inspiration to come your way.
Tidy and organise your sewing space. Clutter does not equal clarity, and a good spring clean will clear out the dust bunnies in your mind, as well as those under your sewing table! Arrange your threads into a rainbow, sort through your fabric stash, reorganise your patterns… You may even find that you rediscover some forgotten gems!
Have a sketching session while looking over your favourite fashion magazines / Pinterest / Instagram. Our PDF sewing planner has transformed the way I plan out my makes. I use the croquis pages to sketch mini collections, cut them out and arrange them in my bullet journal accompanied by pretty little fabric swatches. I may not end up making everything I sketch, but it’s a great exercise in getting the creative juices flowing!
Go fabric and haberdashery shopping - in person, not online! - and treat yourself to something special. And by special, I don’t necessarily mean expensive here - set aside whatever you can afford and simply make a point of getting yourself a present! That pattern you’ve been wanting forever, a couple of metres of Liberty lawn that you know you’ll treasure, a handful of vintage buttons. The important thing here is to make a big deal of it. You’re taking yourself out, for you. Spend some quality time in your favourite haberdashery, stroking the fabrics, leafing through new pattern releases, flicking through books, chatting to the sales assistants, allowing the inspiration to wash all over you...
Make something that you’ve made and loved before, aka, The Quick Fix. Even if you don’t really need another tie-front tank top (I’m looking at you, Hunter Tank by Jennifer Lauren Vintage), you can sew it with your eyes shut and with one hand tied behind your back and you know that it’s going to fit right and be a welcome addition to your wardrobe. It’s a small but guaranteed win, and that’s always a good thing.
Copy something that someone else made. Bear with me here… I'm not talking about ripping anyone off! We all have a sewing style crush who’s one iteration of that cult pattern we’ve screenshotted more than once without realising, amiright? So, instead of just drooling over it, and feeling bad that you’re not as effortlessly chic as they are (spoiler: you are!), make it for yourself! Same pattern, same/similar fabric. It’s a surefire win, and one that might even help you to discover a whole new angle to your own personal style. Just make sure you fully credit your muse when you post your plagiarised make online - chances are, they’ll be so flattered to have been such an inspiration to someone else, that in turn they will feel more inspired and confident in themself, and voilà, you’ve made the world a better place by spreading some love!
Plan with purpose. Penning a monster list of all the things you want to make can feel productive at first, but in actual fact will probably just wind up overwhelming you, and making you feel bad when you’ve only checked two things off a year later. Instead, look ahead no more than four months and pinpoint two or three events or occasions that you’d like to sew for. Your birthday, a school reunion, that killer NYE party your BFF throws every year. Plan your outfits carefully and thoughtfully and enjoy taking your time over them, as opposed to frantically sewing a new frock the night before, and having to wear it the next day knowing that the hem of your lining is actually being temporarily held in place by duct tape… #beentheredonethat
Build on your skill set by taking a course. Online or offline, both have their pros and cons. Online courses are more economical, you can work at your own pace and are great if you don’t live near a good haberdashery or sewing school. IRL courses are certainly more spenny, but will get you out of the house and into a creative environment where you’ll be forced to sew! And even better, you’ll most likely make some new sewing friends along the way. Which brings me to….
I'm teaching a self-drafting class and a new & improved fitting course at NCH! Click here for details and booking
Start a sewing circle. Having a small network of local buddies who share your love of sewing does wonders. You could agree to meet one Sunday a month, alternating between your homes and setting up your machines around the dining table, as you natter and stitch the day away. You could hold fabric swaps, go on fabric shopping jaunts together and even have a Whatsapp group for that constant flow of sewing banter that your other friends just don’t understand. And when you get into a sewing rut, they’ll be there to help ease you back out.
Moral of the story? Losing your sewjo doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As with most things, a little positive reframing of the situation turns a rut into an opportunity. An opportunity to reassess, level up and add new layers to your sewing practice. A time for renewed inspiration and a refreshed sense of purpose - which can only ever be a good thing!