Friday, December 23, 2016

Sewing Less in 2017



Sewing problems:

  • Spending more than 2 hours on Pinterest having forgotten what you came for

  • Trawling the internet/insta/blogs for the most perfect pattern that never quite seems to match the precise image in your head of your next project

  • Trawling through fabric site after fabric site trying to find some elusive fabric type/print/colour/texture that absolutely MUST go with a pattern you’ve decided you MUST sew immediately

  • Seeing a post on insta, following the hashtag to the pattern they used, trawling through every version on the hashtag, stalking the pattern company’s website to see if the design lines are going to be as great on you as they are on other people, finding another pattern that’s also awesome and might just work for the fabric in your stash, pulling apart sewing room to find said fabric and patting it whilst trawling through hashtag on insta of new pattern crush, finding blog reviews of pattern that suggests other patterns that are similar and might work for your body type better, investigating all reviews and pictures on hashtag of even newer pattern crush, wondering why your phone now has 18 tabs open, 3% battery left and your sewing room is a mess

The problem with these sewing problems are that they’re actually not sewing problems. They don’t feature any sewing. At all. Not one stitch.

And therein lies the problem for me.

I’ve spent the last year and a half consciously and mindfully slowing my life down. You may have read about my Konmari fervour here and my review of Konmari 6 months later here. I spent a lot of time decluttering my house in order to sell off things that didn’t bring me joy anymore. I’ve also made an effort to slow down my consumption and be more mindful to everything that makes it’s way into my house. It’s the reason I’ve cut out a lot of refined sugar and packaged foods and switched to all natural beauty products. I’ve been waging a slow and incremental war on plastic through replacing plastic toothbrushes and razors, saying no to plastic bags at every opportunity and sewing up produce bags. This whole mental shift for me is about reconnecting to the things I own and buy as well as saying no to Being Busy, clutter and things that don’t sit with my values.

You may also know that things got a little shaky for me towards the end of this year. Anxiety took over and I was in a state of constant panic with regular panic attacks for weeks. I took 6 weeks off work and only returned part time for a couple of weeks before going back to my full time hours for the last two weeks of the year. One moment it was October, I was in a constant state of overwhelm and by the time I resurfaced it was mid December and Christmas was already upon us. That's not to say that a whole lot of things didn't happen between October and December, they absolutely did, but my participation in reality was suspended for that time and it seemed a surprise when I re-entered my normal world of work and routine. Time had passed without me being present. 

The thing about being in crisis and being so far removed from your daily life and routine is you get to come back with fresh eyes that evaluate where the busy-ness and stressors really are in your life. Obviously my biggest stressors had absolutely nothing to do with my hobbies, it was all very work centric but going through the experience of a breakdown was what enabled me to see my hobby as just another way of Being Busy.

Let me explain by sharing my favourite quote from a book I read back in May this year.

Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert

I firmly believe that we all need to find something to do in our lives that stops us from eating the couch. Whether we make a profession out of it or not, we all need an activity that is beyond the mundane and that takes us out of our established and limiting roles in society. We all need something that helps us to forget ourselves for a while - to momentarily forget our age, our gender, our socioeconomic background, our duties, our failures, and all that we have lost and screwed up. We need something that takes us so far out of ourselves that we forget to eat, forget to pee, forget to mow the lawn, forget to resent our enemies, forget to brood over our insecurities. Prayer can do that for us, community service can do it, sex can do it, exercise can do it, and substance abuse can most certainly do it - but creative living can do it, too.
Perhaps creativity's greatest mercy is this: by completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir - something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.

You see the last 6 years of my life sewing has been my creative outlet. I don't just crave it, I need it. I need a creative outlet otherwise I feel restless. I start to feel that creative energy pile up physically within me if it's left unexpressed. This is why I sew. 

I’d love to say that my hobby is about pairing a fabric with a pattern and spending numerous hours lost in the flow of creativity sewing whilst listening to music, podcasts, my dog snoring and eating snacks. But this is only a small window of what it means to sew.

I spend sometimes two, three or four times as much time wandering around in creative inspiration as I do physically sewing and it’s exhausting. It’s just like having 18 tabs open, draining my battery down to 3%, looking around at the mess I’ve made. While my hobby was always about being lost in that creative flow that I crave, that takes me out of the ordinariness of my everyday life, so often it was manifesting as Being Busy trawling the internet and social media. I never realised how much overwhelm I felt trying to narrow down the infinite choices of pattern, fabric, fit and style.

I now understand that there are two aspects to my sewing now. The actual sewing, which is the real reason I’m here, and the creative inspiration hit. I noticed that my creative inspiration hits are at their worst when I’m busy, tired or stressed. If I don’t have time or energy to sew, chances are I’m going to spend that downtime reaching the bottom of the internet to get a creative inspiration hit. I might buy a new pattern, convinced it will make me feel better when I have time to sew. I might spend ages pairing fabrics in my fabric stash to an entirely new-to-me pattern on the internet by pinning tons of stuff on pinterest. I might spend ages on Bloglovin or Kollabora my mind pinging with inspiration of things I can sew when I finally have the time. But all of these things are just about Being Busy. 

The irony here is that Being Busy with creative inspiration hits all the time has been adding to my overall sense of Being Busy in life which is part of the reason I’m too exhausted to sew in the first place. Too busy Being Busy.

I can now see that any time I’m spending far too long obsessing over the creative side of sewing I’m actually just distracting myself and I’m doing absolutely no sewing.

So next year is about More Living, Less Sewing.

And by less sewing I mean not relying on a creative inspiration hit to make me feel like I’ve done something creative when actually I’ve not sewn a thing.

I might find that I physically sew less or that I sew just as much but I limit the energy and space that is occupied by my mind on the creative inspiration hit rampage.

To combat this I’m widening the net. Creativity need not only come in the form of sewing. I have such a thirst for knowledge that doing anything else that’s creative and allows me to commune with inspiration and still create something is equally as satisfying. I want to live a creative life that’s not limited to one or two hobbies but find ways to be creative in the time and space that I have that will still give me the same hit.

It might come in the form of classes, borrowing books from the library on new things to learn and create or simply looking at the things I do in my day to day life more creatively.

Whatever the case I’m going to work on releasing myself from the Creative Inspiration Hit in 2017 and see how living a fuller, creative life allows me to flourish in different ways.

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