As I was writing my email list this week about 3 mistakes that are killing your sewjo, it got me thinking.
I firmly believe that the desire to want to sew is not something that you have no control over.
You don’t have to be making THE most creative anything to refuel your sewjo tank. Sometimes doing anything is just enough to get you feeling like pursuing this art is worth making space for in your life.
So with that in mind, here’s 19 ways you can jumpstart your own sewjo.
First off, what the heck is sewjo?
Sewjo is one of those words we toss around in the online sewing community. It’s a made up portmanteau of sewing + mojo.
It’s that motivation to sew regularly. You know that feeling where you wake up and say, “It’s a day that ends in y, so therefore it’s a good day to sew?” That’s your sewjo talking.
1. Understand that sewjo doesn’t equal creativity
The first thing you need to jumpstart your sewjo is to accept that it’s not the same as creativity.
People often talk about it being lost as if it’s some kind of magical force and we’re subject to it’s whims.
I think that’s total nonsense. It is true that there are times that you will be more creative than others, and that’s totally normal.
Creativity is one of the things that powers sewjo, but not the only thing. Simply choosing to sew can be just as motivating.
If creativity is the turbo button for your sewjo, just doing 1 thing every day sewing related can be a simple act of everyday faithfulness. It’s that daily mundane decision to work that helps you get stuff done even when you’re not feeling the creative drive.
When you’re feeling more creative, seize that moment and rev up your sewjo, and when you’re not, know that it’s not forever.
2. Really decide what you want to make
I feel like so often our sewjo takes a hit because there’s too many things to make out there.
Get on Instagram and 10 minutes later you’re heads about to explode with 87 things someone told you you “have” to make.
Get real with yourself though. How many of those things do you actually want to make? Answer these questions when you hit pattern inspo overload:
- Will I wear this again?
- Is this my style?
- How hard will it be for me to make this?
- Am I excited to make this for me or because it’s popular?
These questions will help you narrow down all that noise and help you focus on the best patterns for you that really get you excited.
How to start sewing with a plan can help you make your own sewing plan.
3. Take a break from social media
Going hand in hand with the last idea to pump up your sewjo, why not take a break from social media?
Social media is a great thing but sometimes our heads and our clocks are too filled with it. Not to mention all the pressure to feel like we have to jockey for likes and attention. Friend, you are not bad at sewing because you don’t get 1,000 likes on an Instagram post!
Escape for a few days from it. See how it affects your ability to sit down and just sew.
4. Clear out clutter in your sewing space
I’m going to separate clutter from the need to organize here. I’ll hit on organization in a bit, but let’s define clutter now as all the stuff that’s just hanging around your sewing space you need to get rid of.
Maybe it’s fabric someone gave you you’ll never use. Maybe it’s old patterns that have come and gone.
Can you donate them somewhere? Is it time to trash them? You decide, but simply getting rid of stuff can do wonders for your sewjo.
5. Organize your sewing space
After you’ve cleared out your clutter, give your sewing space some needed organization.
An organized space is a space that’s user-friendly. It’s a little place you can retreat to that you want to be.
Don’t miss out on this big list of sewing room organization ideas. It’s a big roundup of thoughts that will help you rethink your own sewing organization.
6. Sit in the middle of your fabric
When you’re done organizing your fabric stash, just sit on the floor in the middle of it for a few minutes.
Which fabric says, “Sew me now!!”?
Sometimes looking at your fabric from a different angle can kickstart your brain and get you ready to jump on a project!
7. Sew for charity
Sometimes sewing for other people can really help you get out of the dumps about your own sewing.
It’s a weird thing, but true. You’ll feel better, be helping others, and it’ll set a fire under you all in the same moment.
Check out Sewing for Charity for a list of charities you can sew for right now.
8. Make a favorite pattern
If you haven’t sewn in a while, pick up one of your favorite patterns.
You’ll get the feel of the fabric back under your hands, plus you’ll have something that you know you’re going to love at the end!
9. Cut into GOOD fabric
If you’ve been sewing for any length of time, you probably have some fabric equivalent of prime rib. You know that wool tweed you spent too much on and you’re now terrified to use it?
Dude, pretreat that stuff and CUT IT NOW. Fear will get in the way of your sewjo every time. I’m guilty of this too. I say wool tweed because it’s my wool tweed! You can keep me accountable if that wool isn’t a jacket by Spring!
10. Take a class
Expanding your skills is always a way to fire up your drive to sew.
If you have a local shop, go and enjoy the company of others while you learn. Or you can always check out Bluprint if online learning is more your style.
11. Go to an art museum
Sometimes to get inspiration you have to go a couple steps out of your niche of interest.
I dare you to go to an art museum and not come home with different ways to approach your next sewing project. You’ll be filled to the brim!
I was lucky enough to go to the Dior retrospective at the Denver Art Museum last year. The miniatures wall and the toiles could have kept my attention all day alone. I don’t think I’ll ever approach color the same way!
12. Hit the thrift store
I love this mindset shift: look at your local thrift store as a place for you to go treasure hunting.
There’s good fabric, beautiful buttons, and ideas waiting for you. What can you find? What can you deconstruct that’ll become something new and fabulous?
Check out the refashion it category for all kinds of refashion projects you can try. And if you’re nervous about thrift stores + sewing in general, 15 unusual sources for sewing supplies at thrift stores will help get your feet wet.
13. Use your scraps
Ugh scraps! They can take over your brain space if you let them.
Don’t let them kill your sewjo though. Give yourself a challenge to use up your scraps. Maybe a colorblocked t-shirt.
View this post on Instagram
I truly believe my kids push me to be a more creative #sewist. These Bat-jams from earlier this year were easily one of my favorite projects this year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Today on the blog, I’m sharing some great #pajamapattern ideas for all the people in your life. Whether you sew a set for yourself, your Mom, best friend, sister, your boyfriend, husband, or your kids, there’s a pattern pick for you! Check it out! #linkinbio
I came up with what my family calls “Crazy Jams” to deal with some weird knit scraps a friend gave me. Now all our knit pajamas are crazy jams. My kids love the mixing and matching.
14. Spend time with other people sewing
Sometimes to get yourself motivated to sew, you just need to hang out with other people who are sewing.
Look for local meetups or grab a couple Facebook friends and do a live chat while you sew together. So much of sewing is done in solitary, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
15. Join a sewalong or a contest
Sewalongs can be a great way to make a project with other people. Contests can be too and particularly exciting if you’ve got a little competitive streak in you.
Plus you’ll get the accountability of the group which can be a huge motivator for filling up that sewjo tank.
26. Make a pattern in multiples
Like using the directions, sometimes making a pattern multiple times can help give your brain a rest that’ll reload your sewjo.
It takes a little prep for batch sewing, but it can be a great way to go on auto-pilot a little bit. Check out 8.5 tips for faster batch sewing for all my best thoughts on sewing in multiples.
17. Keep a notebook in the car
Sometimes you’ll be in really random places and see a detail you like on somebody’s outfit.
A guy in the doctor’s office elevator was the inspiration for this raw edge finish hoodie I made for my last Fabric Mart post.
Keep a little notebook in the car or write a note to yourself on your phone the next time you see something that you think, “Hey I can sew that!”
18. Try cosplay
Cosplay is an excellent way to deal with your sewjo problem.
It is not conventional sewing at all. There’s engineering problems, there’s a lot of improvisation around materials, all while you try your best to emulate a look of a character.
It’s a chance to do the best with what you have and discover new techniques you’ve never tried before. What it requires is a lot of grit and innovation.
It’s a creative wandering through a lot of unconventional materials and it will give you a new perspective on sewing!
Read more about this cosplay project on my Halloween sewing recap.
19. Make your own fabric
The last thing I want to encourage you to try as you dig your way out of the no sewjo hole is to make your own fabric.
Now I don’t mean actually bust out a loom and get to work, although that would be cool!
Try block printing, or fabric dyeing, or create your own prints with applique.
We’ve all bought boring, lame fabrics that we see and internally groan over. You see them in your stash and the LAST thing you want to do is work with them.
But if they’re good quality, do something to make them into something you actually want to sew.
The worst thing that can happen is that you ruin some fabric. If it wasn’t precious to begin with, you have nothing to lose!
Don’t know where to start? Here’s some tutorials to get you in DIY fabric land.
DIY Fabric tutorials
How to ice dye fabric
Ice dye is the probably the easiest, most dramatic way to dye!
How to block print fabric
It’s easy fun with carving tools and ink!
Do I have you thinking about how you tackle your sewjo problem yet? We all struggle with a lack of motivation from time to time. Know that this too shall pass and you don’t have to be powerless in the struggle! I’m pulling for you!
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.