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Today I want to talk about sewing burnout, or what I do when my sew-jo goes flying out the window.
Burnout is a real thing, and it can happen at any time and with any kind of activity. Ever get that feeling when you go to the fridge or freezer, you open it to get something out for dinner but even though it is stocked to the brim you just have no desire to make something …cooking burnout.
How about when that pile of dirty washing gets so large you cannot open the laundry door…yep housework burnout!
In all seriousness, burnout can strike at any time and it can happen to the thing we love the most, our sewing. It is kind of inevitable that when you spend hour upon hour of doing the same thing you are bound to get to the point where you are a little sick of it and need to take a break. There is nothing wrong with needing to take a step back from doing the thing that we love most.
I am going to share my tips on how I deal with and come back from sewing burnout.
Tip number one:
Repeat after me, ‘Dear sewing, I love you, you bring me peace and joy and I enjoy our time together, but I’m feeling a little tired, a little uninspired and I think we should take a break from each other. It’s not goodbye, it’s I’ll be seeing you soon ‘.
The first step in overcoming burnout is to first acknowledge that you are experiencing it. If you sit down to sew but have no desire to pick up your needle or you just cannot pick a project to work on and the thought of choosing one leaves you feeling a little anxious, safe to say you are experiencing burnout.
Know that it is not just you, it can happen to all of us. I have experienced it many times at various levels. Sometimes it is just a day, sometimes a week, sometimes it is five or so months (although I kind of mostly blame being pregnant for that no sew-jo stint!).
Once you have acknowledged that your sew-jo has temporarily gone walk about, it is time for my second tip…
Tip number two:
Yes, that is right, embrace the newfound time you have for other things. Your sew-jo has not got up and left the building for nothing, your body and brain is telling you that it needs to take a break, so take one! Go for a walk, ride a bike, have a picnic in the park. Lie on the lounge and binge watch a TV series (my current pick is Bridgeton on Netflix). Read a book or magazine, read two or three. Free your mind to explore and concentrate on other things that still bring you a little joy and peace to your day.
Tip number three:
Go on an adventure. Whether you go for a bush walk, explore a waterfall or a town you have never been too, getting out and exploring is a wonderful way to refresh your mind and find new sources of inspiration. A walk through an open scheme garden could help inspire the next colour palette for your quilt. A trip to explore the architecture of old buildings can awaken new ideas on pattern, form, and function. Simply just getting away from it all and thinking of nothing but simply just being in the present can be seriously good for your mental and physical health.
Tip number four:
Try something new.
Now is the perfect time to try something different, a new craft that you have been curious about. Losing your sewing mojo does not mean that you cannot be crafty at all. Get yourself a starter kit, jump on to YouTube or attend a workshop and learn a new crafty skill. You might just find another crafty passion, or you will just enjoy being creative and make something beautiful.
Tip number five:
Chat to your crafty friends
If ever I feel like I have hit a bit of a wall with sewing, and I am feeling little down with the state of it all, I find reaching out to my crafty friends, my tribe, to be extremely helpful. Just chatting about what projects, they are working on, what stitchy plans they are making can help lift my spirits and get me inspired and motivated to pick up my needle.
Tip number six:
Have a tidy up.
I do not know about you, but I find a good tidy up and spring clean can be very cathartic. Tidy up your projects. Put away the ones that you are not working on for another time, rotate in an old project you have not worked on in a while. Sometimes just switching up what you are stitching on can help get your sew-jo back on track. Organizing your notions and fabric scraps can also not just make you feel great (and keep everything tidy), but it can remind you of something that you bought for a particular project and get you motivated to start it.
Tip number seven:
That could be as easy as scrolling through Instagram, or head over to Pinterest. Watch or listen to a crafty podcast. Go for a visit to your local patchwork or craft shop. Flick through a patchwork book or magazine. These days the avenues we have to find some inspiration are many and varied. You might be inspired to try a new technique, you may discover a new shape or pattern to try. Most importantly it might just remind you of why you love Slow stitching and EPP so much.
I hope you find these tips useful when losing your sew-jo. We are lucky indeed to have found this wonderful craft of ours that enables us to connect to ourselves, to our past, present, and future, and to connect us to each other.
I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your slow stitching. Today I’m bringing you a Slow Stitcher profile. I can’t honestly remember when Ali of @arabesquescissors first popped up on my radar, but it was definitely through Instagram and I was instantly drawn to her bright and cheery work. For those of you who are yet to discover Ali, she designs beautiful patchwork projects from quilts to pincushions, bags and pouches. Her style is pretty and sweet and she uses a lot of florals, bright pastels, and whimsical fabrics in her creations. Ali is a great sharer of quilty knowledge and you can be sure to learn a thing or two from her sewing tips and tricks.
So without further to do, let me introduce to you the Lovel Ali…
Name: Ali Phillips
Where are you from: I’m an Adelaide girl through and through. We currently live in the Adelaide Hills, right on the edge of a small town. We get to overlook a little vineyard, and farmland where cows and horses roam around.
When did you discover your love for EPP? I first saw EPP in a Golden Circle magazine book of small patchwork projects. There was a simple hexie flower pillow in there that really caught my fancy, and I made it for my bed out of old bed linen. It took me so long that I wasn’t that hooked right then, but I was still fascinated by the process, and many years later I took it up again when I loved taking more time to get a project finished.
How did you learn EPP? I learned a lot from YouTube, and specifically watched a lot of Sue Daley’s tips.
What is your favourite EPP shape? I do love anything that can be fussy cut for a beautiful tessellating centre. So diamonds, jewels and elongated hexies are my absolute favourite.
Thread or glue baste: I’m a glue baster, as I find it faster. I really don’t enjoy the whole cutting out and basting part, so I like to streamline this as much as possible. I find it leaves the pieces nice and crisp, and makes matching fussy cutting easier and more accurate. There’s some things I like to do slowly, and preparing the shapes ain’t one of them!
What thread and needle do you use? I’ve tried a few now: Tulip, John James, and I’m currently snapping my way through all my needles! I think I push too hard into the cardboard shape, which tends to put more pressure on the needle. My thread is always Bottomline thread in a neutral colour. I love that it blends in so well, and is strong and pretty snag free.
Favourite fabrics to use in EPP: I do love a Liberty lawn! The fineness of the weave just means there’s less bulk and means that your points are more accurate. But I do love mixing them with other fabric so the effect is less busy, so Art Gallery Fabrics is a favourite for this as they are also pretty fine.
Do you like to embellish you EPP, for example with embroidery stitching? I’ve not tried much of this yet, but it’s joined the queue of ‘someday’.
Do you have a favourite EPP tip to share: When I join a long seam which has lots of points that need to meet, I like to join the points first, to anchor them accurately. It means you’re not pushing one piece along faster as you sew so those points are mismatched. It’s a bit more fiddly, but means that you can just stitch that long seam really fast after that, and all those points will meet!
Favourite place to EPP: Currently on the couch. It’s comfortable and so relaxing.
Favourite thing to watch or listen to while you EPP: I watch a lot of lifestyle house renovation shows. But of course, not much actual watching gets done.
Favourite thing to drink/eat while you EPP: I always have a few squares of Old Gold Roast Almond. Somehow I manage to eat a block quite fast though. In my defence it is DARK chocolate, so just a bit better for you 😉
What is your current EPP work-in-progress: My Pemberley quilt is my first ever completely hand pieced quilt, and is ever so nearly finished! I started it almost two years ago now.
What is your longest running EPP work-in-progress (or EPP project that took you the longest to finish): I really am not a multi project person – too many projects just clutter up my brain. So the Pemberley is my longest running, and only EPP project on the go right now. I am beginning to eye off different ones now though!
Pemberley Quilt Block
Pemberley Quilt Block
What is your favourite finished EPP project: My clamshell Christmas stocking would have to be my favourite right now! I included so many favourite fussy cuts, and then hand quilted them with bold black thread which gives it a more modern look. I love the mix of vintage and modern!
What is on your EPP bucket list? Could be a particular pattern, shape or size: I’m currently really crushing on the Seedlings quilt. The variety means you’re not making the same block over and over, which keeps me interested.
Are there any other EPPer’s whose work you find inspiring? I do greatly admire Jodi Godfrey @talesofcloth and her wonderful use of colour and pattern.
If you could travel anywhere in the world to EPP where would you go? I would love to sit on the flower filled balcony of an ancient Tuscan villa, overlooking a cobblestoned street. I’d stitch and eat all the fresh focaccia I could (I’m gluten intolerant) and maybe a bit of Old Gold chocolate too!
Be sure to check out Ali’s beautiful website where you will find Ali’s lovely blog, tutorials and workshops, and more about Ali’s story.
Above is Ali’s Citrus Squeeze Quilt that she designed for Homespun Magazine (you can find it in the June/July issue). I love the fabric collection Ali used for this quilt, Primavera by Rifle Paper Company. This quilt is so summery and I can imagine lazy picnics by the beach with cocktails and a big fruit and cheese platter. I adore the tassels that Ali added and the striped binding make this quilt really special. You can read more about Alis quilt on her blog post.
Next month Ali is teaming up with Lauren of @mollyandmama to host a fun challenge. The #SewOrderly challenge will be a fun series of weekly prompts to help you intentionally think about your sewing space, and the way you use it.