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Life as a Quilt

Where Oh Where Can My Sewjo Be?

by Jessica

September 10, 2020

Needle in a Haystack

Where oh where can my Sewjo be?

If you've been putting new words to the classic Cavaliers song lamenting your lack of motivation to sew, you're not alone! In fact, I've noticed quite a few people complaining of this in quilting groups I belong over the last few months!

One moment you and Sewjo are BFF’s, the next you’ve been given the cold shoulder.

What did I ever do to you? I gave you my heart! What gives?

It can be a real metaphorical needle in a haystack, haha. 


What is Sewjo?

If you're unfamiliar with the term, Sewjo is what gets us excited about filling our free moments with piecing, quilting, and daydreaming about the aforementioned.  Sewjo is what makes us build a queue of projects we can't wait to start. It’s cozy and nice and very exciting.

Karen Brown of Just Get it Done Quilts describes Sewjo as:

The enthusiasm we have to pursue our hobby [and] that wonderful intersection of brain, desire, and creativity

So it can be depressing when we turn to it and it hasn’t shown up to the party. What about that project you were in the middle of? Or the fabric you just ordered? You start to question why you've invested so much time, effort, and money into this whole quilting thing to begin with.

What is one to do? It’s like writer’s block for a quilter.

What happens next? Does the hero save the day? Don’t leave me hanging like this!

In this post, I will share my thoughts on why this happens in the first place and some tips on how to get your Sewjo back- ASAP!


Worried Gummy Man


Somebody's Got a Case of the Sewjo's

I've noticed that I tend to phase in and out of my creative endeavors. I always seemed to switch into "crochet mode" in late fall when I was living up north. I'd be obsessed with crochet and yarn for months. But then it would slowly melt away with the snow. It was always a little sad when I realized it was happening but I also knew it would be back. This hasn't been quite the same since I moved to Florida, but I suspect it will sneak up on me one of these days out of the blue!

Quilting is like that too. Sometimes I’ll be gung-ho and then one day I wake up and the enthusiasm isn’t there. I had planned to work on a project that day, but I’m just not feeling it.

Sigh.

Sewjo in the Age of COVID-19

There are a lot of reasons why this could be happening. Especially now if you think about it.

As I write this, it is September of 2020 and we have been dealing with COVID-19 since nearly the beginning of the calendar year. Many of us went into quarantine around March. Some of us are still in quarantine. Others like me are taking extreme caution when going out and still spending the vast majority of time at home. Like a ¾ quarantine if you will.

quarantine artwork


And what happened at the beginning of quarantine? We suddenly had a lot more time at home. We looked for ways to keep busy. Some people baked grotesque quantities of bread, some feverishly cleaned the house, others binge-watched Netflix. For quilters, it meant more time to sew! Woohoo! But after over seven months of fairly intense quilting, doesn’t it seem normal to experience some burnout? Absolutely.

I took a few minutes to think about the projects I’ve done in this time. Let’s tally it up: 6 quilt tops (2 are quilted and bound, 1 at the long-armer and the other 3 waiting their turn), 7 table runners/toppers, 3 pillows, and 4 potholders. That’s 20 projects! Not to mention during this time I also started Journiblocks from the ground-up and built the website myself! 

I feel so productive! Some of this productivity stems from extra time but I suspect part of it is also because sewing is a good therapy for me during stressful times.

Perhaps the same is true for you.

I'm holding my breath, hoping my Sewjo keeps showing up for work because I know I still need that stress relief. 


How to Get the Sewjo Flowing Again

But what if it calls out sick? There are lots of things you can try. Whether COVID-19 is causing your burn-out or not.


Head with Branches


Address Your Stress

If you’re like me, quilting itself is a way that I destress but if your Sewjo is missing, you have other options!

It's true, the world is a really scary place right now. Everyone has their share of everyday stress but with COVID-19 it’s piled higher and deeper. It can get overwhelming.

Pushing this stress down and ignoring it only builds up your internal "pressure" if you will. It leaves your mind in a state of unease, clogging it up and making it harder to focus.

Try to have meaningful conversations with a loved one. This is always a huge help for me. My husband and I have spent many an evening just talking on the couch.

Seek online counseling if you think you might be suffering from depression or serious anxiety. There shouldn’t be a stigma about these things but I realize there often is. As I’ve mentioned before, anxiety is something I’ve struggled with my entire life. It can be a killer of motivation to be sure. 

Addressing it and putting it out in the open helps to reframe your reality and feel less alone. It’s a weight off your shoulders. You'll find others share many of the same worries as you.

If you aren’t ready to talk to someone about it, write it down. There is a lot of power in doing this. If something is churning in your brain, just give it a shot. For me, this is especially helpful if I’m having trouble getting to sleep. Somehow having it there on paper allows my mind to let go of it, even if just a little bit. It's like I cleaned out a little of the sludge that was clogging up the works in my brain.


Self Care Scrabble Blocks


Self-Care


This goes hand-in-hand with addressing your stress because when you take care of your body, it relieves some of the worries in your mind. It improves your overall mood and energy level.

Getting enough sleep is huge! Exercise, too. Go take a walk; it’s amazing what the fresh air can do for your state of mind. The dogs love it, too!

I don’t want to nag, but eat your fruits and veggies! Your energy level will thank you for it! If you've been binge-eating Ben & Jerry's, that could certainly affect your motivation to get up and be productive. At the beginning of quarantine I let this slip big time and boy did I feel the repercussions.

Even if you’re working from home, get up and take a shower in the morning and change out of those PJ’s! It was such a novelty at the beginning of all of this to be able to work in PJ’s, but it feels good and changes the tone of the day to get cleaned up and changed.

I will admit, I often find myself putting on yoga pants after showering in the morning. I've dubbed them my “daytime pajamas”. But since they're not actually my pajama's, it still counts!

Folded Fabric


Declutter

Tidy up your home and, for our purposes, your sewing space!

Get those bits of fabric off the floor, put away that stack of rulers you’ve left heaped on the table and pins back on the pincushion. Fold up your completed quilt tops and stack them nicely somewhere to be admired while you promise to one-day quilt and bind them.

I’m guilty of leaving little piles of leftover fabric lying around, along with patterns and notes from projects that have long since been completed. Best to get that stuff organized and put away and make room for the next project!

You don’t need to get yourself overwhelmed, however. It’s OK to start small and do a little at a time. Try setting a timer for 15-20 minutes and you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done and what an impact it makes!

Do you see a pattern? This connects to self-care and addressing your stress as well! Less clutter means better focus and less stress!


Wonder Woman


Face Your Fears

Get real. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew with a sewing project. Because it looks so pretty in the pictures or other people in a group you’re in are all doing it. 

But if you’re not at that level of advancement, you could be facing some real challenges. These might prevent you from moving forward through a step because you're afraid you'll screw it up. 

Think about it though, what’s the worst that can happen? You screw up? So what! It’s fabric and thread. You can try again, you can rip out seams, you can buy more fabric. I find the best way to learn is by doing it.

And if you're stuck, use online resources to help! Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

So if there is something looming in your sewing space that you’ve been avoiding, tackle it! That might be just what you need to restart the Sewjo!
Piece of Cake

Stay Simple

Mmm, piece of cake. No I'm not saying to eat your worries away, though a taste of chocolate here and there might not hurt...

I'm pointing out that if you've just completed a complex or long-term project, it might be exhausting to think about diving into another one. 

Instead, try making some place mats, pot holders, or a table runner! You get a huge sense of satisfaction from these and they’re generally quicker! If you have a favorite pattern you’ve already done in the past, you can always make it again! No rule saying you can’t! It's like revisiting your favorite novel or movie.

With the holidays right around the corner, this is a great way to knock out some gifts, too!

Piece of cake, right?


Light Bulbs Lighting Up


Get Inspired

Sewing is social and solitary all at once. 

On one side, it is social because it allows participation in things like classes, sew-alongs and discussions of the craft. 

On the other side, generally you sew alone. Perhaps in a small room of your house tucked away from everyone else. You could be feeling isolation and craving connection. 

If that is the case, even during the pandemic, you can connect with other quilters! Head to Facebook to join a quilting group (of which there are many) or see if your local quilt shop is doing any classes (virtually or socially distanced). 

Some quilt guilds are holding Zoom meetings and there are even quilt shows occurring entirely virtually! For example the Modern Quilt Guild will be having the 2021 QuiltCon exclusively online! How cool is that?


Take a Break with Donuts and Coffee


Take a Break!

It’s OK to take a break. It doesn’t make you a failure, a phony, or a sell-out. You need some time to refresh. Go to another hobby for a little while, catch up on some reading or plop on the couch for some good old fashioned binge-watching. You’ll come back to quilting when you’re ready!


See? You're Going to be Just Fine!


I hope these tips have helped and made you more comfortable with a lack of Sewjo from time-to-time. It always comes back! Working through some of the reasons you might be missing it could also improve other areas of your life!

This is an excellent video from Just Get it Done Quilts discussing many of the same points I found to be true regarding this topic.


So take a deep breath- you got this!

Let me know what you think or what you have tried to get your Sewjo back! 

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