The Emotional Side of Sewing

A few weeks ago I felt like I was getting a barrage of information that was making me feel all the things. It wasn’t all bad but it did all just feel so HEAVY. And after awhile of slogging through some of these feelings, I realized that I’d totally avoided sewing anything during the thickest part of this emotional battering. Sewing had no part in making me feel overwhelmed but I felt totally incapable of adding sewing to my pile of Things I Needed to Think About. I had too many things on my mind and adding sewing, even if it was going to be a positive source in my life, felt too much to handle mentally. So I waited and now I’m feeling in a better place. And, although there will always be information and emotions I have to process because, well, life is life, there will times when that burden feels manageable and times when that burden feels heavy enough that I’ll have to cast things to the side, at least for a little while.

Having this sort of mental block toward using my creativity as an outlet got me thinking about all the emotions involved in my sewing and how much that impacts my processes, and it certainly isn’t nothing. I sew because it’s something I love and that brings me a lot of joy but that doesn’t mean that I don’t experience a range of emotions from this hobby or from outside sources but that impact this hobby.

I know I’ve talked about it so much that some of you probably want to barf with me bringing it up again but this past year I’ve struggled a lot with my postpartum body in a way that has most definitely impacted my sewing. As I reflected on this last year of sewing I was surprised and a bit saddened to realize that of all the projects I’ve completed, only a small percentage are things that actually get worn regularly. So, in effect, the majority of the things I’ve made this last year have been failures. Maybe not in the sense that I wasn’t able to complete a well-made, finished product but definitely in the sense that they haven’t become integrated pieces in my wardrobe.

This year I’ve sewn plenty of patterns that I’ve never sewn before. I’ve tried new things and used different fabrics and all that. BUT I think the whole time my attitude has been a little bit standoffish. Like I don’t want to get too close because I’m afraid of getting burned. Clothes can do that to a person who’s feeling a bit at odds with their weight (and, I’m sure, even someone who’s not)! Before, I was making clothes for fun, to fill holes in my wardrobe and to enjoy. But this year I’ve been making clothes because I didn’t have anything that fit me. Trying to fill all my wardrobe needs has been overwhelming, not to mention I don’t want to commit too much because I’ve been hoping my size stabilizes and I can, once again, count on something fitting for awhile. I’ve mostly used fabric I didn’t care much about because I didn’t want to risk using a treasured fabric on a garment that might only fit for a few months. The stupid thing is that it’s just perpetuated this weird standoffishness that’s resulted in me making clothes that aren’t filling the holes I need filled and that I don’t love totally. And to what end? So I could keep wearing clothes I felt lackluster about and that didn’t boost my mood or my confidence? I mean, it’s just fabric. There will always be more fabric. So why shouldn’t I use up that fabric right now that fills me with light and happiness or gets my creativity flowing?

And it’s not just postpartum and/or body emotions either. Think about the last time you had a sewing fail. I have these often and should probably blog about them more because that’s reality. For me, it makes me step away from the project and, sometimes, away from my machine. I feel like with time I’m usually able to come back to it, but not always. Sometimes it’s just over but I do think those kinds of things affect our other projects as well. I think in the emotional barrage of a few weeks ago, I let sewing slide because the wins were feeling too few and far between. I think if I’d been having more successes, I may have actually turned to sewing to feel that positive sense of control in my life.

I started sewing clothes when I was going through a really difficult time and the sewing brought me peace and helped me sense light and joy. It was such a contrast to the darkness I had been experiencing that I knew I wanted it to be a part of my life for ever after so long as it still brought me that. And it does. But sometimes the light’s a littler dimmer or the joy is marred by annoying human error (usually my own, but occasionally someone else’s). Sometimes it feels more like a chore than a balm. But that’s life. There will always be ups and downs and sewing is the exact same way. And sometimes those feelings are what fuel us and help us create something beautiful.

I know this was a giant detour from my normal posts but it honestly just felt good to write! And I didn’t even have a chance to get into the emotions surrounding social media or the fact that my sewing space now looks a lot different than the picture above (ha!) so we’ll have to save that for another day! My sewing has most definitely ebbed and flowed over the few years I’ve been doing it but I think that’s what creativity is naturally supposed to do, especially as we all have other things going on in our lives. Pregnancy was definitely a slower time for my creativity but I’ve been feeling more of a pull lately and hopefully I’ll allow myself to lean into it and make myself something (or lots of things) lovely. Thanks for indulging me here! Happy creating!

2 thoughts on “The Emotional Side of Sewing

  1. Postpartum is a tough time. It is hard to love your ever-changing body, for sure, when everything feels tight and nothing is flattering. It does pass and things will settle down, but it takes so much time.
    At some point I decided I would just shop at thrift stores and find things that made me feel good at whatever size/shape I happened to be until things settled down. That meant 10 years of thrifting, which can be fun in its own way. I was not sewing then, but I feel sure I would not have wanted to sew things that might have fit, and maybe for a few months only.
    Hang in there. You will figure out what works for you. You can always sew accessories, bras & underwear, less fitted things–knits!

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    1. Aw thank you!! Those are kind and wise words-well said! And I ought to try thrifting again! I used to thrift shop a ton but haven’t in quite awhile. Definitely worth a try!

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