Prioritizing the right kind of sewing project

Does your to-make list feel like a Google Calendar full of obligations? 

Even when we come up with our own “Make Nine” project lists to fill out our wardrobe goals, we run the risk of sewing simply to get to the finish line. Of course, we’ll likely enjoy wearing the finished garment, but the process itself can become devoid of joy if we’re prioritizing the wrong kind of projects.

So what, exactly, is the right kind of project to undertake – to keep both overwhelm and drudgery at bay?

Let me draw a little parallel between my recent experience with nearly drowning in the family’s Google Calendar and the project that became my lifeline.

Lately, Patrick and I have been nerding out on the art of planning.

Which, if you know us personally, might come as a surprise. We are a creative and carefree couple, primed to excitedly follow the next big idea, and open to whatever adventure serendipity would throw our way. 

Planning, historically, has been the oil to our water.

We would try, on occasion, to stick to a plan. But then, of course, a young child would have an emotional breakdown. Someone would get sick. Or our attention would get pulled to solve an urgent problem, and the plan would get stuck in a beaver dam along life’s ever-flowing river of time; ultimately forgotten as life moved on.

A while back, however, our personal river of time felt like Class 5 rapids. We were struggling to keep the logistical boat afloat. With three kids, each in various activities, a business to run, elders to care for, and our physical health to nurture, our family’s Google Calendar was a torrent of tumultuous waters.

During one of these rudderless rafting trips I’ll call a typical “the heater is broken/no, I DON’T know where your second soccer cleat is” kind of day, I happened upon this quote by Tolstoy:

“We are asleep until we fall in love.”

We had been asleep at the rudder of life, not because we had too much on our schedule (though that can be edited, I’m sure.)  We had been struggling so much because we had neglected to schedule and prioritize time for pursuing our own creative passions

It’s amazing how project management at work and driving to and fro soccer practice in the evenings feel that much more doable when you have personal leisure time to look forward to at regular times during the week.

For me, that means taking the time to pursue my interests in signing and guitar, as well as regularly taking on sewing projects that are less about the finished product and more about the challenge of the project itself.

It’s less about making an item for my closet and more about working creatively within a set of pre-determined parameters (like only using materials I have on hand) or flexing my pattern-hacking muscles to make something completely unique.

When was the last time you fell in love with a project?

Like the brand new, passionate love referred to by Tolstoy, a challenging creative project is exciting because it’s a bit of a mystery. We aren’t 100% sure where it’s headed. We are living in the present moment as we learn to navigate it. We want to spend every moment we can together right now, not for some oblique future relationship (ahem, wardrobe) goal.

This quilted vest was my most recent passionate creative love project.

The sewing project that saved my sanity: the quilted Hinterland Dress vest hack.
Learn how to hack your Hinterland Dress to make this vest with our video tutorial!

We can wind up feeling like our leisure time has turned into factory time. The get it done soon so I can wear it asap mentality doesn’t often serve us well.

If sewing is feeling like drudgery, and the fact that you’re not reaching for your “make nine” projects is causing you guilt, I suggest you try embarking upon a creative challenge – a passion project that is perfectly aligned with your own skillset and interests and just challenging enough to keep your mind in the present moment, figuring stuff out. 

Sophia, our Learn to Sew Your Clothes student, sewed her first practice seam ever!

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