The distinct smell of a hot iron, the humming sound of stitching a seam, the textures + variety of colors of all the fabrics…these are a few of my favorite things. When I’m experiencing these things I am in my element, my sewing studio. It’s here that I am in a place of flow and most of the time, utter oblivion to things happening around me. Such a peaceful place…until it’s not.
Projects not turning out like they should, needing to rip apart seams to fix something, figuring out why pieces aren’t going together like they should, cutting fabrics wrong, attempting a method I’ve never done before, processes taking 3 times as long as planned, issues with my sewing machine not sewing right. All of these things can + do happen at any time during a sewing session. It’s here in these times of frustration that I choose to stick with it [well, most of the time lol] and work through the issue. Thanks for that grandma.
The results of sticking with it are not always instant, easy or even noticeable. Over my 25+ years of sewing I realized I have gained many skill sets from these frustrating times that not only improve my sewing capabilities but lend themselves to many areas of life in general. And the more I sew and create the more life skills and perspective shifts I gain.
Mistakes don’t create disappointments, rather it’s my expectations that there will be no mistakes that creates disappointment.
I don’t know what I don’t know and I can only learn what I know by trying things I don’t know much about.
And when I start to know better, from trying new things, it’s beneficial to the whole project or process to implement the things I’m learning rather than skipping for the sake of time. Because, 9 times out of 10, in the moment, that new knowledge may take just a bit longer to incorporate but will save me so much more time and headaches in the future.
When one attempt at fixing an issue doesn’t work I’m naturally given another chance to strengthen my problem solving skills by giving that issue another try. It seems the more opportunities I have with problem solving in sewing the easier problems outside of sewing become.
Just about every sewing project I’ve ever done has some component of measuring to it and the more I’ve sewn the more I’ve seen my math skills sharpen in other areas of my life. It’s hard to not get better at something when it’s part of every project I do.
After many years of learning, step by step, of how to make things [ie. purses, pillows, quilts, dresses, belts, stuffed animals, cushions, etc.] I have an ingrained perspective, or practice, to think about the sequencing of how things are created. This perspective seems to be integrally connected to a sense of confidence in knowing I have the ability to make and/or fix things, even outside of my sewing studio.
And right next to that confidence I am empowered to work for what I want as I have seen in project after project that continuing to complete one small step after another can create some really cool things.
Let’s not forget about that feeling of stepping back and looking at a finished project. Especially when one that has had a lot of challenges reminds me that there’s not many things in life that can’t be accomplished. It’s a practice for me that when things get hard it’s time to see what steps can be made even smaller, to get that jolt of success, to then keep moving forward.
As many other things that I’ve gained from sewing I think the state of flow is what truly keeps bringing me back again and again. Flow is that sweet spot where challenge meets ability and then the challenge grows a tiny bit more. This spot is pure bliss, meditative and so calming to my nervous system. I believe it’s this aspect of flow that sets the foundation for all the other learning and growth to happen. And it’s allowed me to cultivate sewing into a coping tool when other areas of life are giving me a lot of ‘practice’.
When I think about it, if my sewing time had no challenges or frustrating set backs I don’t think I would enjoy it as much. I think my sewing sessions would get predictable and boring if everything went together just as it should. So as much as the frustrations can get to me, they’re kind of what makes the craft of sewing so interesting and they’re part of the reason I have the skills I do.
Oh and of course the community and deepening relationships as I learn from and share with others is the cherry on top of all of the lessons. Being able to connect with another person on an aspect of how they progressed through a situation or watching the joy someone else gets from their project truly fills my heart with smiles. And at the end of the day aren’t we all looking for some sort of community and belonging?
Check out some Button designs I made inspired by my love of sewing and crafting.