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I own all the ‘right tools’ and have a fantastic Bernina machine- I’ve made some very simple yet beautiful quilts and love the end results- yet I am so stressed when I work on these projects. Why am I so scared to sew? I mean, I CAN do it- yet as much as I try to enjoy it- I’m so relieved when it’s over. Does everyone do this? How do I get over my anxiety and start enjoying this like I know I should???? Help me Sewfie!!
P.S. A side note to my question…. when I DO sew… my family knows how stressed I get- they actually stay away from me, sad- huh? It’s crazy- ’cause I REALLY DO ENJOY IT!
First off….. take a deep breath! You have come to the right place, Sewfie can help you. She is a bit of a Type-A tomato herself, so she knows exactly what you are going through. What you are experiencing is called “fear of failure”, also known as “perfectionism”. You love sewing (perhaps you are even obsessed with it) and you want to do a good job – as evidenced by your investment in all the ‘right tools” and the fancy Bernina machine. But you are so concerned about doing a really great job and getting perfect results, that you can’t enjoy the process. You are afraid you will make a mistake, it won’t turn out just as you had envisioned, it will be “not perfect” in some way. Your focus on the end results is ruining the fun of the process. What you need to do is focus less on the end results, and more on the process, accepting that even if it doesn’t turn out perfect, it doesn’t have to be and you can still have fun. Here are some practical tips on how to reduce the stress of your quilting projects:
- Buy cheap fabric. By “cheap” I mean inexpensive, not low quality. Shop the discount fabric shops or the bargain blots at your LQS (Local Quilt Shop). This way, with less financial commitment, you will feel less anxiety about cutting into an expensive piece of fabric.
- “Little victories”. Build up your confidence by investing your time and talents in some small, easy to finish projects like table runners or placements. By building up a series of successes under your belt, you can later tackle that heirloom king sized quilt with greater confidence and less stress. And in the mean time, you’ll have tons of cute placemats you can give away as gifts! Sewfie’s favorite source for cute little projects is Pieced Tree Patterns. They have these adorable small, laminated pattern cards called Tiny Ones. They are no bigger than an index card and their tag line is (no kidding) “Easy to Piece, Easy to Enjoy!”. They cost only $3 and they make the cutest projects. Sewfie keeps a stack of these cards on her sewing desk for times when she needs a quick fix of something fun and rewarding.
- Don’t sew after 10pm. Nothing good ever happens to a sewing project late at night. You’re tired, you will make mistakes, crabbiness will ensue.
- One stitch at a time. Don’t feel like you have to plow through a project all in one sitting and don’t set a deadline on when you “have to” get something done. Set mini-goals, such as, I’ll work on this until Block X is done, then I’ll take a break. When you’ve reached a mini goal, walk away, have a coffee break, etc. and revel in your progress. Learn to be happy with achieving the little goals along the way so you won’t have to derive all of your satisfaction from the completed project alone.
- Don’t point out your mistakes. Every sewing project has some mistakes in it and the rest of the world need not know about them. I bet you are the type if someone was admiring your finished work, you’d dismiss their compliments and starting pointing out all the boo-boos…. don’t do that. No one else cares if the binding is crooked or you had to piece the blue fabric because you ran out after cutting it the wrong way.
- Sew for charity. If you are sewing for someone else – someone who needs what you are making – then little mistakes and getting it “perfect” will take a back seat to the comfort you are bringing to others.
- Finally, as for your family that fears the wrath of your sewing projects, if you try Sewfie’s tips, they are sure to notice a significant reduction in your anxiety right away. If you really want to show them that a Quilting Mom is a Fun Mom, then make things for them! They’ll be happy to see you sewing if they know they are getting a colorful pillow or a cuddly lap quilt out of it!