Working Through Down Times

Hand sewing the binding on the stays.

I mentioned in my last entry that I was having trouble focusing on any of my projects.  With worrying about the job situation, it’s hard to honestly care about anything else — even things that bring me so much happiness.  Once I vented my frustrations a little and explained the situation on my blog, I felt like I might be able to attempt finishing my stays.  Here is what I did to help get me back on track:

Cleared my mind

It seems silly, but it’s such a vital part of focus.  True, I didn’t realize at first that I’d been so upset and down about the job situation, but it was hanging in my subconscious enough to affect my ability to proceed with anything.

I literally had to clear my mind and realize that we were going to be just fine.  There is nothing I can do — especially worrying — that will help me right at that moment.  Christopher is doing what he has to do to find work, and I’m keeping my eyes out for any potential work as well.  We still have some savings, and although we both hate seeing those savings dwindle, we will just have to work hard to build it back up again once there is more income.

Forgot how long it’s taken

I’ve been working on these stays for way too long.  Some of the time spent was careful planning, researching, and creating a pattern (and I probably did it the hard way, knowing me).  There were many times I didn’t work on the stays so that I’d have time to think about my next step or whether I wanted to go back and fix something.  We also had travel plans we made before the layoff that made it impossible to work on the stays, even if I wanted to (I need to figure out a good travel kit that doesn’t take up too much space — but projects aren’t always at the point where you can easily carry them and hand sew — like if you’re still cutting out fabric).  Anyway, I’ve been sick of dealing with the stays and just want them to be finished!

Unfortunately, in order to achieve that wonderful feeling of a finished project, I still have more work to do.  I’ve also been dreading sewing the binding on, which will possibly be the most time-consuming and annoying step.

Took one step at a time

I had to decide which step to do first, and then focus only on that step.  I was familiar enough with what’s left to know how each step would affect the next, so I wouldn’t make any glaring errors, but I tried not to focus on all the work that was left.  I didn’t want it to overwhelm me and make me feel even worse than I already did.

I also made decisions — which may or may not have been wise, but time will tell (and I’ll learn something from it, I’m sure) — about whether or not to skip steps and cross my fingers that moving on to the next step would work for this project instead of stressing about every little thing.  Sometimes you can put too much into something and make more of a mess with it than you intended, afterall.

Remembered to enjoy the process

I need to remind myself that I do love to work on a project, and often I’m actually very sad when a project is finished.  Although I can’t wait to be finished and move on, I need to remember that I love sewing and I’m thankful that I do have something I can work on.  Maybe if I just focus on my task, I’ll get better about not dwelling on those things I have no control over.

Cut myself some slack!

The most important thing that helped me was finally realizing that regardless of how I think I feel, if I’m not in the mood to work on something due to other things dragging me down — then I shouldn’t work on it!  I wanted to sew, and thought I was just fine, but obviously there was plenty on my mind if I ended up just staring at my sewing projects and walking away disgusted and even more down.  The minute I stopped kicking myself about not sewing or doing anything else I thought I needed or wanted to, I was able to relax and approach it in a less stressed out state of mind.

So far, I’ve been working on adding the binding to my stays.  I decided to save some money and trouble and buy store-bought bias tape.  I didn’t have any fabric to make my own, and have been needing to buy a rotary cutter and cutting mat.  I’ll try making my own another time and instead be happy that I’ve saved myself a little trouble and cash.  I’m hand sewing the binding, so it’s a little slow-going, but it’s not too bad.  I’m enjoying the process again, and the minute I don’t feel like messing with it, I’ll take a break from it again.

It can be such a silly thing to worry about something as minor as sewing when there are more important things to worry about, but hobbies are an important part of our lives too.  They bring happiness and can even get our minds off stressful things.  It’s not fun when you start stressing out about things that are supposed to be relaxing and fun!  Next time I get in a rut like this, I hope I can remember these tips, and I hope they might help someone else.

About Cynthia Griffith

I have way too many interests and hobbies, and continually cycle through them -- paying attention to some, while others wait for when I can get around to them again. My main interests are sewing and costuming (I enjoy historical clothing, such as 18th and 19th century, as well as fantasy costumes like elves and hopefully someday even dwarves), as well as getting back to art by drawing fan art of Thorin Oakenshield and Company. My husband Christopher and I spend a lot of time together, enjoying the outdoors and shared hobbies such as juggling. This blog and website is my way to share what I'm up to with friends and family.
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6 Responses to Working Through Down Times

  1. I know the thought of sewing the binding on was making you nervous. I definitely understood your concerns. It’s such a neat garment. Not knowing much about sewing, my fear was when you got into tight areas that there may have been some bunching.

    But seeing the binding on the straps all smooth…it’s just really, really cool!

    It really amazes me that you can look at a drawing and say, “If I do this, this, and that, I can replicate this…but I want a different front, so I’ll have to do this and that…” and have it work out.

    I always love seeing the progress of any creative thing you do 🙂

  2. Thanks Christopher! It was a bit of a crazy jump to decide to make my first stays like that, wasn’t it? At least I’m having fun… and I guess that’s the reason I did it. I didn’t want to buy a pattern. I wanted to see how to make the information in my book work, but as usual… I had parts I wanted to change. I’m definitely learning from this! 🙂

    I’m hoping some of those really tight areas work out (my tabs not only are close, they’re the type that are long and angled to cross each other on the sides until you are wearing the stays). I’m still a little nervous that at the very least I’ll end up with stabbed fingers and feeling a bit crazy and wanting it over. Ha! I’ll be trimming two or more of the tabs up a little, so hopefully it’ll buy me a little space for getting the binding on there. Still, seeing how well the binding is going on now is helping my confidence.

  3. Mary says:

    I think those last two points, remembering the fun and cutting yourself som slack, are key. And I’m with Chris 100% about being able to look at a drawing and customize it for YOU. What a talent!

  4. Thanks Mary! Honestly, I felt a little silly letting this get to me so much, but I think the thing that surprised me is I didn’t know what was wrong with me at first. I’d been having so much fun sewing (sometimes I have down times and slow times, but I’m still learning so flying through constantly might not be wise if I’m not comfortable with it) — to suddenly dread something I enjoyed so much… well, it was a little frustrating. 🙁

    By the way — I’ve just added a plug-in that watches out for comments that shouldn’t be here. I’m hoping it will work smoothly but if anyone who was posting fine before suddenly has issues with replying, let me know.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Sorry to hear about the layoff. I am glad you are still working on your projects. Creativity can help ease stress.

  6. Thanks for the reply, Stephanie! You’re right of course — and I need to remember working on things will help ease my stress. I guess I just got so overwhelmed and frustrated, knowing that I won’t be able to attend the 18th century picnic in November (along with wondering a lot of other things, of course). There’s just no way we can purchase all the fabric and accessories in time for both of our costumes (most likely not even mine by itself, and I don’t want to go without my sweetie). Seeing how long it’s taking me to sew these stays, there’s not enough time for me to crank all of these garments out, either! I’ll admit, the stays are a lot more detailed and annoying than anything else I have made or probably will make garment-wise. I’m hating trying to sew the bias binding around all the tabs. Not enough room to work, and the work is a little wrinkly and ugly right at the top where it turns to the next tab. Argh! 🙂

    By the way, I really enjoy your website! I especially love your tips — great photographs and explanations. Thanks so much for sharing them with everyone. Best wishes!

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