Sewing can be repetitive and frustrating at times

Sometimes sewing is a quick, gratifying experience for me.  Other times, I feel like I am doing the same thing over and over again.

I’m not talking about the act of sewing in general, but rather perfecting a project.

Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.

There are times I find myself thinking “aren’t I finished yet?” before I even start working on the actual piece.

Of course, a lot of that is my own fault — I’m not working from a purchased pattern.  I’m working from a drawing in a book, and trying to size it or make changes to it.  It doesn’t help that I’m still learning as I go along.

For example, on my current project, I’m trying to make a jacket to wear in time for an 18th century party in a couple of weeks.

I made the initial pattern from the drawing, and then used some scrap fabric to test it out on my dress form.  I made the changes I needed to make and then made a better mock-up that I tried on myself.  It fit better, but there are still a few final things I need to adjust.

I just feel like I wasted even scrap fabric (an old sheet, so it got some use before it was tossed out) and the “fabric” I use to make my patterns.  The sort of changes I had to make would have made a mess of piecing it together, so I started from scratch on some of the pattern pieces.

It doesn’t help when you’re still not feeling great about the project itself.

I keep second-guessing myself on this project.  It wasn’t going to be my first jacket, and the style is different than what I’m used to seeing.

I’m still unfamiliar with 18th century clothing and how it’s supposed to feel to start with, so add garments that are even a little different than I expect (and working from drawings only, no less)… well, it can seem a little bit like wandering around in the dark.

I also have some other projects I want to finish in time as well, so I really need to get finished with this jacket!

I’m still happy with any small victories.

Even still, I’m very pleased with the sleeves so far.  I did have to make a second pattern piece for the sleeve, because it wasn’t as full as I thought it was at first, but the mock-up sleeve turned out very nice.  I’m hopeful the final version will be just as good.

Also, as I mentioned I’m still learning, so I’ve been happy with my ability to see an issue somewhere on the garment, and be able to adjust it to fit better.

Now to make the final pattern and start working on the actual jacket.  I just hope it turns out nice enough.  I’m sure once I’m dressed up and having fun with my friends, I won’t worry about it, but I’ll probably see photos later and pick out all the details I don’t like.

I just keep reminding myself it’s more important to get some things finished and worry about the bigger details later.

I still can’t help sometimes but look at my “To Do” list, how much is left on it, and then stare at the current project/s and feel like I’ve walked into a very tall building with only a stairway winding up and up and up.  You think of all that repetitive work just to get to the top, only to walk back down and do it all over again.

Then again, there are all those pretty-pretties to be made and worn, so obviously it must be worth it.

How about the rest of you?  Do you go through the same frustration with things, especially when it comes to perfection and fitting?  How do you keep your spirits up?  Especially when you need to hurry up and finish something, but don’t want to end up hating it later.

Happy Sewing!

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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8 Responses to Sewing can be repetitive and frustrating at times

  1. I think we’re feeling the same things with our creative endeavors. The parallels between writing and sewing are interesting. We both work on bigger things, and it’s at times a frustrating slog getting to the end. As I edit a book for the umpteenth time, I can’t stand it.

    It’s good stuff; I’m not knocking it, but I’m soooooooooooo tired of seeing it. I just want it done!

    I see the same frustrations in your sewing a bigger project.

    This much I know: it’s worth it in the end. I get through it just by reminding myself that I don’t have to write. It’s something I’ve chosen to do. You don’t have to sew.

    But come on…when a novel is done for me, or when you try on a gown that is finally done, you’re already thinking about diving back into the madness of the next big project 🙂

  2. I normally don’t mind it, but every once in a while it just occurs to me “man, here I go again making another pattern piece or mock-up!” It feels wasteful (“wow, I could have made another pattern or mock-up from that”), even my time! I start wondering how many others go through that many mock-ups. I try to allow for the ability to trim down, but sometimes like in the case of the sleeve, I thought I was going to end up making it a bit smaller and realized I needed to start even bigger. D’oh!

    I just know that even though I really need to hurry up and have a few outfits finished now so I can start wearing them, I just can’t bring myself to ignore too many things I don’t like or too many mistakes. Sure, I can’t do the seam/hand finishes I want to do on this… but I want it to fit decently at least! I’d end up hating it and never wearing it again if I didn’t try that much.

    And yup… I definitely see myself continuing to sew. It is rather funny that I hope to have a closet full of clothes — that I can’t even wear every day. I’d rather have more historic than modern clothes, I guess. Ha!

  3. Mary says:

    From an observer’s standpoint, it’s well worth it in the end. I’m glad you keep at it. I know it’s ultimately satisfying for you, it’s a great creative endeavor, and I get to feast my eyes on the beauty you create. 🙂

  4. Kaycee says:

    I feel the same way ALL THE TIME! Hence why I gave up on being a paid seamstress lol. And why I haven’t picked up my current project for 4 1/2 days hehe. I am about to do a post on my progress (just update my gown from the picnic). Try to stay positive and focused…your work is turning out beautifully! And in response to your email on boning…I’m not a fan of plastic boning but use it sometimes…I have it in a corset and it doesnt keep good shape in my opinion…I have 1/4″ reed if you need any…a have quite a bit and could part with some I’m sure…let me know I’m off tomorrow and we can meet up

  5. Thanks so much, Mary 🙂 I just want to be able to build up my 18th century wardrobe (and Christopher’s as well), quickly enough, but still like the pieces enough to keep wearing them for some time. It would be nice to have enough items to keep me happy rotating them for different events, and then take longer to make the things I really want to do.

    Kaycee: I’m looking forward to reading your post! I think chatting with others and reading their frustrating posts really helps. Since I’m mostly sewing on my own, and not everyone goes into great detail about how they “got there” with a garment or pattern, I often wonder if I’m taking the long way ’round. As I keep re-making things merely to create the pattern so I can move on to the actual garment, I need to reassure myself that I’m not being wasteful or going about things the wrong way.

    As far as boning, yeah… I’m not a fan of it either. I have a roll of that stuff leftover from when I first started sewing (the plastic boning covered with fabric). It can be a pain to buy some of the nicer steel boning in time when you’re in a hurry. I figured, if I had issues, it would do in a pinch, but I do prefer better boning. Thanks for the offer about reed — I’ll keep it in mind. I think for this particular jacket (it’s one of Janet Arnold’s mid-century “Undress” jackets… view “C” I think it is), I should be fine. When I tried the mock-up on yesterday it seemed to fit nice enough, minus the few things I need to change. And that was without the better striped fabric and lining… so I’m hoping having a little more stable fabric will help smooth out anything that isn’t laying right.

    Best wishes, and thanks for the replies! 😀

  6. Leila says:

    It’s comforting to know that there are others who also second guess themselves. I do during most projects. I think the only thing I really feel solid about is the baby carriers I make.

    I’ve been staring at a pattern from one of Grimble’s books of Victorian costume and my eyes cross every time I try to imagine where to start. It’s just that oompf I don’t have when I’m starting a project.

    Funny thing is that I usually have one project at each stage of doubt. I’m working on an LBD from a Palmer/Pletsch pattern that I heavily altered for fit but I was chicken to start sewing it together. I spent so much time with the alterations to the pattern that cutting out the fabric seemed like enough of an accomplishment. Then, I’ve got the Victorian costume and then a purse I could probably finish in a couple of hours but I just have to add a slippery lining to the mix and make it more of a doubt-maker.

    Anywho. That’s my long story to say that you’re not alone- which I’m sure you know. I can’t wait to read more of the process.

  7. I also take comfort knowing I’m not alone with second guessing myself, or having issues with things. One of the things I love most about sewing blogs is reading about mistakes and experimental “well, that didn’t work, but it was worth a shot!” entries. Especially from people I really look up to in the sewing/costuming community. It makes me feel not-so-bad about my mistakes. They’ll happen eventually, so I might as well get them over with (as long as I’m trying to be as careful as possible, that is).

    I also have spots where I will fly along and feel SO confident, and then suddenly it’s like I’m terrified I’m going to ruin it all in one quick moment. Starting projects (I especially hate cutting my fabric for the first time), and even in various points during construction.

    My last two projects have especially been that way. My 18th century embroidered mitts (took me longer than it should have to sew up the mitt — which was tight, but still fit enough — and I had to put the 2nd mitt on hold to work on the next project), and my 18th century jacket. The jacket especially bothers me here and there because there are quite a few things I’m having to do differently than I probably should have, but I need to have something to wear on the 7th. It would be a shame to attend an event with friends and not be in costume, all because of one garment that made me nervous to complete it. Add to the fact that it’s not the typical frilly silk gown most people associate with 18th century and it makes me double-check it a billion times to make sure I’m not too far off the mark.

    It’s all a learning experience, sure… but wow… when your budget and time are already tight, you really don’t want too any mistakes or to have to start over again. Eep!

    Thanks so much for the reply! The best we can all do is keep sewing, and share our victories and frustrations with each other 😀

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