When You Don’t Feel Like Sewing

One of the hardest things about this year has been transitioning into quilting as my only job. When I started in 2016, it was an accidental business that was subsidized by the part-time job that I started at the same time. After 20 months of doing both things part-time, I felt that I wasn’t doing either thing to my fullest ability, so I had to make a choice. I chose this one — the one that was more creatively fulfilling, the one that worked better with the structure of my family life. But it was also the one without a consistent paycheck, the one that left me constantly questioning whether I was good enough.

Watercolour teacups, prompted by a CreativeBug class with Lisa Congdon.

After the Our Song, Your Reflection crowdfunding campaign was over, I was pretty exhausted and in need of a break. I didn’t sew for a long time, nor felt the desire to do so. I needed to reclaim my evenings. I needed a new hobby because my hobby had turned into my job.

Foliage with gouache paint in the style of Matisse, prompted by a CreativeBug class with Lisa Congdon.

Luckily, an email landed in my inbox earlier this month – a three-month CreativeBug subscription for $1. And there was a wealth of stuff there that I was happy to binge watch classes by Arounna Khounnoraj of BookhouJen Hewett, and Lisa Congdon.

And while I didn’t find my “sewjo” there, I was happy to explore new-to-me and re-discover ways of creating that weren’t directly related to my day job. I have always been a serial creative dabbler, I had most of the supplies already for creating my own rubber stamps and screenprinting ink, watercolour paints and paper, brushes, etc. It’s been energizing and exciting.

Carved rubber stamp, applied to a H&M dress for our neighbour’s 7th birthday.

Another thing that was also fun was inviting my kids into my creative world. Up till this point, I had it guarded from them — it was my little sanctuary that was away from the everyday. But now that there old enough to be somewhat reasonable about the materials and techniques, watching them derive joy from what also gives me joy is priceless. So much of their world is digital that they were so mesmerized by the mechanical nature of the sewing machine.

They were happy to paint cards for our family birthdays. And happy to stamp a favourite animal on a “fast-fashion” dress for their friend. Having them create something on a regular basis is something I need to work into our lives.

Watercolour geodes, from a class with Emma Whitte of Black Chalk Co.
The two kids’ versions to the right.

This week, I got a glimpse of my sewjo. I tried my hand at needle-turn applique and I think I’m hooked. Although I have a ton of other sewing work to do, I want to bring this exploration into a full quilt.

If you’re missing your sewjo, I encourage you to not worry about it and do something else. Explore some other creative endeavour, read a book (I would do this, but I don’t like reading!), spend some time outdoors, veg out for awhile. Cheryl Arkison has some fabulous tips to offer when your sewjo is gone (spoiler: #1 is to turn off your phone and the news), so go check out her post. And dabble away at where your creativity takes you.

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