Friday chatter: Have you ever taken a sewing break?


Breaks are on my mind this week.

See, I decided to do something a little different this week. You may recall that my watchword for 2014 is “focus.” Focusing is not always easy for me. As the person running the creative side of things around CPHQ, I have a lot of different jobs. I often find myself bouncing around from task to task and question to question. I often feel I’m in fire-fighting mode.

I think this can really hinder my creativity and ability to see the big picture. So this week, I rented a tiny cottage out in the middle of Oregon, where I’ve been holed up doing nothing but writing. It’s wonderful.

Stepping away in order to recharge my creativity has been vital at other times too. When I start to become burned out on something or no longer feel inspired, sometimes all I need is a little break.

I’ve done this occasionally with sewing, with photography, and I’ve definitely done it with knitting.

Have you ever intentionally taken a break from sewing or another creative hobby?

[image above: Hammock by Florin Gorgan]

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On , Trisha said:

Oh yeah. I’m a trained artist, but haven’t painted more than a handful of finished works in the last 4-5 years. I still sketch a bit. I temporarily halted my artwork because a whole bunch of major life events happened all at once and I just needed to stop for a while, because painting is a long process for me. It didn’t fit well with a new job, new house, etc. Right now sewing is fun for me, so that’s what I’m doing. But I am planning to paint again soon whenever it gets warm here in northeast Ohio. Sometimes you have to switch gears and be creative in a different way.

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

Very true. For me, there’s also a sense of obligation sometimes because sewing is so ingrained in everything I do. I get tired of thinking about it! But a shift in focus usually sets me back on track.

On , Caroline said: | carolineparadigmdesign.blogspot.com

I sew almost every day and rarely feel that I need to take a break. However, just before Christmas I decided to make a more wintery version of the lovely Hazel dress that I made last summer. It was a real disaster – the fabric was just totally wrong for it! So, after that I decided to take a week off. It did me and my sewing the world of good and I returned to a new project refreshed with new creativity.

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

A sewing disaster can really grind things to a halt for me too.

I’m jealous that you sew every day! Even though I work around sewing stuff all day long, it’s hard to find the time. I must change that.

On , Sophie-Lee said: | tworandomwords.wordpress.com

You could try “30 minutes a day”. I tend to sew almost every day (despite sometimes working 60 hour weeks) because I love it and it’s my escape from work. When I’m in a sewing funk, though, I just say “I’ll spend 30 minutes a day in my sewing room” – it might only be tidying up the mess I usually leave, organising patterns or notions, starting to trace of a pattern. Knowing I don’t need to commit to anything is really handy, and I often end up spending a lot longer than 30 minutes in there!

On , Pippa said: | beadsandbarnacles.blogspot.co.uk

Oh hell yes.
I do lots of bouncing from one project to another, which annoys me sometimes but is good other times. Although quite often my breaks from sewing etc are not 100% intentionally breaks from sewing but as I do a lot of sailing it means I’m away from my machine for long periods of time so am forced to take breaks.
Incidentally after nearly a year and a half sailing constantly I’m currently taking a break from my sailing and it is letting me catch up with my sewing :D

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

That’s a really cool combination of skills! One is so domestic, and the other so adventurous! I’ve always wanted to learn to sail.

On , Amy W said: | booksbobbins.blogspot.com

I’ve taken a bit of a break in the last month or so, with only sewing a a couple of things. I’m in a Quilt Block swap so I had to make my blocks for April. Work has been really busy (especially this week..11 hour days) and I haven’t had the energy for sewing; but I’ve been reading a lot this week. I’m on my 3rd book this week. This weekend I’m planning on getting in the sewing room this weekend and catching up on projects.

On , paige @ LPD said: | luxperdiem.com

I’ve been on a bit of a break all winter. The sewing bug is just starting to hit me again.

On , miss agnes said: | readytoknit.com

I’m a knitter and I love it so much that I rarely take a break – except when sick or very, very tired. I had to though a couple of weeks ago as I got what some call Spring Fever: dizziness, nausea, extreme fatigue and my head was spinning after 10 minutes of using my needles. I’m so glad it’s over.

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

That sounds awful, glad you’re feeling better.

I’ve felt that way about knitting at times, but lately I’m having a difficult time picking up the needles. I think it’s because I have a few incomplete projects, and I’m just not excited about finishing them right now since they’re no longer in season.

On , Stephanie said: | star-spangledheart.blogspot.com

I’m coming off of a sewing break. I just wasn’t very inspired to sew. But the sewing bug is back with a vengeance and my machine is wizzing along again. :)

On , Anne said:

Oh, yes. Last fall I was going full speed getting products ready for a couple of craft fairs (and they didn’t sell). This past winter I guess I was on burnout, I took a break from everything creative except for thinking about future projects. I’m definitely back in production mode now. I’ve learned that I need to develop a better work/life balance.

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

I think if you work really hard on something only to be disappointed, it always leads to burnout. Or at least it’s that way for me.

On , Jen said:

I love this entry. Yes I’ve taken breaks – or breathing room – from creative practice. When I was a young artist that was hard to do but as Ive gotten older I see it as a natural part of the creative process now. Sometimes the break can really allow room for the next body of work to show up :)

On , Andrea said: | zoopolis.wordpress.com

All the time. It’s usually a switch from one creative bug to another (like you with sewing to writing). I’ve been taking a break from writing for a year or two, except for the blog, and in the meantime have been sewing and crocheting and taking pictures and doing a bit of sketching and painting, and some embroidery, and I just move from one to the other to keep the energy up. For me at least, “A change is as good as a rest” is absolutely true.

On , Amanda said: | symondezyn.wordpress.com

In a creative profession, you find out real quick that breaks are absolutely necessary! :) I kind of think of it like a well – with normal usage, it fills itself back up naturally but if you drain it dry it’s gonna be kind of useless for awhile LOL.

On my off days, I try very hard not to think about anything work related, or look at my computer if possible, and focus more on the tactile arts like sewing, painting, knitting, etc. If work has been particularly draining, and I’m not feeling creative at all, I don’t force it, and just do something else – usually something completely relaxing and unproductive! LOL :)

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

That’s a great metaphor!

I am the same way with my time off. Some people (like Kenn) can turn it on and off pretty easily. He doesn’t mind doing spots of work here and there on his off days. For me, when I start thinking about it, it’s like unleashing an avalanche.

On , Tanja said: | sewbeauty4ashes.blogspot.com

Yes! I am on a sewing break right now. When I started to really get into sewing a few years back, I noticed that after having loads of fun for hours with my sewing, at some point, I started feeling tired and impacient with the whole thing. I decided right then that I’d never sew because I HAD to finish something, the moment I lost the joy, I’d put it all away and do something else.

Normally, this would only apply for one night but in the last weeks, I haven’t had any desire to sew. And so I haven’t. I know I’ll get there, and when I do, I’ll be back at the machine, sewing up lovely stuff all over the place. And loving every minute of it. It’s a fun hobby and I don’t want to push myself to do it when I don’t want to – I think that will kill it…

On , Jennifer said: | sortingbuttons.com

Yes, I take breaks, both short (hours or days) and longer (weeks or months). I tend to find that I’m obsessive about a project once I’ve started, and spend every spare minute working on it, think about it all the time, let other jobs slide! I also don’t have a dedicated sewing space, so if a project is going, it’s out in the main room staring at me all the time and it makes it hard to enjoy anything else.

So sometimes I do put my sewing machine away in the closet for a few weeks. It enables me to focus on other things and enjoy them more for a while.

I also take short breaks, sometimes, in the middle of a project, especially if it goes wrong. I find that if it’s 9pm and I’ve just made a mistake, my impulse is to fudge it and keep going, which of course I’ll only regret later. If I take a break and come back the next day, I’ve usually had time to resolve the problem or gather the courage to get out the stitch ripper! Without breaks I just become obsessive and irrational…after a break I am prepared to do good quality work again!

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

I am the same way! I get completely obsessive when I start something and work on it day and night.

On the flip side, if I set it aside for a while, I tend to lose interest. Knowing this might partly be what fuels my obsessive work. Hmm.

On , Courtney Ostaff said:

Yes. I have a 6-wk-old baby with a strong startle reflex. :)
But also, yes, I haven’t been sewing all winter, with the exception of a cute flannel nightgown for my daughter in January. I feel guilty if I take too much time for myself, (and sewing is for me), so I don’t sew unless I have serious free time, or I have a purpose for it.

On , Nancy S. said: | melrosemiss.blogspot.com

My sewing “break” has to end soon. It started because I was unhappy with my size and I still am but I doubt it will change much now. At least I can have nice clothes if I start sewing again. My 50th high school reunion is tomorrow and as much as I wanted to make a simple a-line dress with a boatneck and cap sleeve, the state of my knees prevent me from sitting at the machine for any lengthy period. My December, knee repairs will be behind me and then I can get my mojo in gear and start sewing. I want to get a dress form (recommendations, anyone?) and those padded things that let you fit out a dress form with all your lumpy/bumpy parts. Anyway, knowing I would never be able to make something in time, I visited Dress Barn Woman, never expecting to find anything. I was very pleasantly surprised with the designs and the quality and there were even several choices in stretch cotton. I have a very hard time with polyester because of hot flashes. I came away with two really nice stretch cotton dresses and will be well-dressed for tomorrow. Can’t do much about what the scissor-happy hairdresser did to hair, however. We all deserve a break. I just hope no one’s ever reaches the point mine has.

On , Kristen said:

I definitely understand about the size thing. I didn’t sew for myself for awhile because I anticipated losing weight and didn’t want to “waste my time” on projects I wasn’t going to fit into for very long. Eventually, I just decided that I deserved to make nice things for myself right now, regardless size.

I am now a few sizes smaller, and a lot of the clothes I made within the past few years don’t fit me well anymore. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t regret spending time on them at all, because making and wearing my own clothes makes me feel good. I believe that no matter what the ultimate outcome of the project is, time spent creating is never wasted.

As for the issue with your knees; have you ever considered putting your sewing machine at standing height? A lot of factories do it this way because it’s much better for your posture and productivity. Of course, if your knees also prevent you from standing comfortably this won’t work for you. Good luck with the surgery!

On , Catherine from Canada said:

I’ve been on a exercise/eat better/weight loss campaign for the last 18 months (44 pounds so far, aiming for another 10) and have found that sewing my clothes is a major part of it.
1. Making my own clothes is fairly quick and a lot cheaper than buying! (I buy fabric on sale)
2. Clothes that fit the size I am now look better than too big or too small and encourage me to keep going.
3. Clothes I’ve made myself are easier to take in and re-fit to the size I am now. And I can then transfer those changes to the pattern for the next time I make it.
4. I never run out of projects!

On , Robin said:

Ditto for me on the polyester, and for the same reason. I too am going through the weight gain, no weight loss at the end of the tunnel. It’s frustrating because it seems to be out of my control. So I am changing what I sew to accommodate. I have made up new patterns I had for a while to experiment with new shapes. It’s been successful in channeling me into positive ways of dealing with what I can’t control. I look best in tailored clothes, but they also tend to be the first items that are unwearable due to weight gain. So I found a great tunic pattern with a formal collar, but the straight tunic shape is very accommodating to any weight fluctuations. And it’s also a fast and easy project, can be made in a variety of fabrics and levels of formality, works well with trims, etc. so the end result is flattering, even more than the old shapes I used to rely on.

So you’re not alone! Good luck and keep trying to work through it!

On , Jeri Sullivan said: | mymodernvintage.wordpress.com

I’m a seasonal crafter so though I have many different hobbies, they sort of cycle around so I rarely get burned out.

I knit but mostly in the fall/winter.
I sew but mostly in the spring/summer.
I embroider all the time because I add it to my clothing a lot but in the fall/winter I do more gift type embroidery like napkins, headbands, or ornaments.

I also scrapbook and quilt but do those activities once a month with other people so it is often more for the social time than actually getting stuff done :)

On , Mary said: | 606howardstreet.wordpress.com

I tend to take breaks from all of my creative outlets, but for some reason I find that sewing is especially on-again-off-again for me. I’ll finish three dresses in quick succession and then walk away from the machine for 3-4 months. Then I’ll spend three weeks whipping up some pretty napkins and coasters and bags as gifts, and then, again, just stop for a while. I’m definitely on-again right now (putting together my spring/summer Wardrobe Architect capsule wardrobe!) but who knows how long that will last.

I think part of it for me is that I don’t take terribly good notes (or really any notes at all) while sewing, so if I put a project down for more than a few days, I’m likely to forget what my plans are. Also, I am definitely a “product” rather than a “process” seamstress–even now that I’m more at an intermediate level and can mostly figure out how to fix the things that go wrong for no apparent reason, what keeps me at the machine is the desire for the finished product, as I imagine it in my mind. The upside of this is that the dresses that I love, I really LOVE, and I want to wear them all the time–so I don’t really feel the need for new things all that often.

On , Kristen said:

Not taking good notes is why I’ve put down so many knitting projects and never picked them up again. I can never figure out what row I’m on or where I’m at in the chart if I leave a project alone for more than a few weeks.

On , Kristen said:

Unfinished projects and buying supplies for projects I’m not particularly excited about often results in me taking a sewing break.

Right now I’ve got fabric for a dress ready to go, but while I think the color is nice I’m worried about how it will ultimately look on me. I’ve also got half of a finished jacket laying around here somewhere…between those two things I feel guilty about starting something I could actually get excited about.

On , s j kurtz said: | erniekdesigns.blogspot.com

The last couple of years my sewing/knitting changed up dramatically. I had to stop knitting for hand issues, I started a full time job over the summer, and I decided to pay attention to sewing/pattern making/blogging as a job rather than a hobby.

Between the three events, I make sure my machines go away to get tuned up over the summer. I can knit one thing then. I need the break, as the rest of the year I have to consider what projects I want to focus on for my sewing work, and balance those with the sewing needs of my family (I’m talking about you, cosplay kid!) and friends (yes, you cosplay pals!). That and the alterations are turning into their own job.

So summer is for planning, dreaming, and reading. Because now my office job is vacation time from sewing. I found last September I came back with more energy and more ideas than I’d ever had before. I love sewing, but enforced time off makes me better at it.

On , Kat said: | coutureacademic.com

I can relate to the obsessiveness that another commenter pointed to. When I get a sewing ‘challenge’ I think about it all the time till I solve it. Then, phew, I need a break! I’m trying to be more level instead of so much up and down, but perhaps that’s just the way I work… :)

On , Susannah said:

Yes, I take breaks, and it gives me more time for other crafts that I love. As a great sewing marathon wraps up, I might pick up knitting again for a spell or crochet or reading or cross stitching or maybe sewing…oh wait, I thought I was taking a break, maybe not! It’s fun to be immersed in a project and love that craft so very much and wonder what I will be even more passionate about a year from now.

On , Marie Purnell said: | livingamystery.com

Right now my husband is really sick and I’m very worried about him. I guess you could say I’ve taken a break from everything that has brought me happiness. I just don’t have the heart to enjoy anything right now. It’s in today’s post of my blog: O2 Limbo at http://www.livingamystery.com

On , Sarah O said: | ohsaraho.blogspot.com

I tend to have phases where I’m really into knitting for awhile, and then I’ll set knitting aside for sewing, then I’ll switch to crocheting, drawing, etc. And sometimes life gets in the way or I just feel too tired after work to be creative for awhile.

On , Claire said:

I’m in that too tired after work thing right now, and then sewing only happens slowly at the weekends. Always have something on the knitting needles as I relax in front of the TV with that. (And my lovely new rescue cat Ella :-)
My sewing has slowed down so much, I bought a book on sewing knits at Christmas, then found the UK choice of cotton jersey is not so great. (Wanted to get something like the clothes in White Stuff.) Bought some viscose jersey online but it seemed to have a life of its own and couldn’t face cutting it out. I decided to take it to a charity shop and bought fabric in the sales to make a quilt. Not yet finished… then started on a Hawthorn top…not finished. Oh dear!

On , SizeMode said: | sizemode.com

Like many of your posts, Ive had to postpone sewing projects because of other life events. I found myself out of time and energy after a stressful day at work/gradschool. Additionally, like many of us, I always thought I could do way more than I could really accomplish, which snowballed into a vicious cycle of feeling like I was never getting anything done. Instead of taking a sewing break, Ive ventured into taking a work break so that I can do more sewing. Im at the beginning of the work-break process and a major goal is to do less and focus more. That means, less internet, more gardening and bike rides, and more meaningful dedicated sewing.

On , Nakisha said: | sewcraftychemist.blogspot.com

Only once. Involuntarily :)

I was sick like the entire month of September. I did not sew a single stitch and :GASP: I did not even shop for fabric, patterns or notions.

On , Izy said:

During the hotter weather, I just take it easy . It’s too hot to sew. I nap in the sun & pour myself a drink. It’s a nice feeling to wear the things I made for myself. I get recharged once the fall begins. Most of my sewing is during the cooler months.

On , Michelle Rose said: | happilycaffeinated.blogspot.com

I’ve only taken two major sewing breaks since I started sewing seven years ago. The first was when I was pregnant and had horrible morning sickness and no energy; the second was when we moved three times in four months, and my sewing stuff was packed for the majority of that stretch. I have a stressful job and a toddler, so as another commenter said, sewing *is* my break.

On , Di Gee said:

I’m just about to take a break for a couple of weeks. I custom sew and I’ve been snowed under and feel like I have no more inspiration or energy. I plan to take on less when I start back working again as I feel I have no creativity for my own things. I feel it’s good to re-charge occasionally. Enjoy your break.

On , Nancy said:

I have just come off a sewing hiatus. I had a couple of project fails and one that had me stumped – I also gained some weight and I was discouraged with everything I made so I just closed the door of my sewing room and went to knitting. – although I never stop buying new patterns and material. Now I’m back to it and enjoying it once again.

On , Leah said: | noidlehandshere.com

I’ve been sewing since I was a child, many years ago, I also knit, crochet, quilt – basically I am a fiber artist. So through the years I have taken big breaks from all of the above. although I usually was knitting when not sewing or vis-versa.
These days I’m back doing it all. Of course I will take time to not create something, I think there is a real need to take breaks in life, even from things you love.

On , Kathleen said:

Yes, I’ve taken a break from sewing. After The Unfortunate Cocktail Dress Incident of 1999 I vowed I’d never sew again – and didn’t, save the occasional button – until I had granddaughters in 2010. What, you ask, was the Cocktail Dress Incident? Well, it began when I wanted to make a ‘spectacular’ dress for a Christmas party. In my haste, I neglected to measure me. Sure, I’d gained ‘a little’ weight but not enough to make a difference, right? I spent $200 on fabric (it really was gorgeous) and spent at least ten hours sewing, eschewing fitting because I was rushed. You know what’s coming; the day of the party, I donned the dress for the first time. It was so tight I couldn’t move. I wore it but sat very erect and didn’t get to dance. I swore I’d given up sewing. But then granddaughters came and sewing has once again, become a passion. Thank goodness!

On , Caroline said:

I have to take breakes from sewing quiet regulary. I’m a fybromialgia/Me patient, and there are longer or short periods in witch I cannot work due to pain and extreme fatigue or illness. So I’m forced to take a break, and hate it when that hapens. During those periods, I’m mainly busy making new sewing plans in my head. So maybe that is not a real break…

On , Tiffany said:

I’m a classically trained musician, and it was my career for some time, but because of so much negativity, I became extremely burned out. Music gave me no pleasure–in fact, I had come to HATE it. Sewing was my creative replacement, and has rebuilt my self-confidence. I am still taking a break from music (2 years later), and so thankful I can. With sewing, if you make a mistake, you can fix it, or just start over, without a cynical audience poised and ready to ridicule or write-off your ability. Hallelujah!!!

On , Angela said:

Hi, Sarai,

If you wouldn’t mind, could you tell either the name of the place where you rented your cabin or how you found it?


On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

No problem! I found it through Airbnb.


On , Jayne Douglas said:

Yes, I take breaks but not for long. The sewing room is always calling me. I think I am obsessive with sewing. Obsession with a hobby is when it interfers with normal activities. Well, the dishes sit on the counter for two days while I work on a project. Thats not good thing. I love to sew in the mornings and before I know it, its noon. Naughty lady!

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