Crafts · Sewing

Sewing – Craft Frustrations, Stress, Pressure and Anxiety

     Hello everyone, hope you’re well.

     So this is a topic I hadn’t thought about before but it’s come up a bit these last few months now thanks to the pandemic – it’s my frustrations with sewing. Now, sewing is something I wish I was good at and enjoyed because I wish I could make those beautiful finished objects and justify being able to get all those gorgeous fabrics on display at almost every second stall at the Knitting and Stitching Show.

     I started sewing a few years ago when I got a mini sewing machine in Aldi that pretty much just did straight stitches with no adjusting the size but worked for what I did, which was sew basic straight lines so I could make things these:

     I did eventually upgrade to a slightly better sewing machine which was a cheap enough one from Ikea that at least did different stitches so I was finally able to use a zig-zag stitch on stretchy fabrics but my makes were still just sewing straight lines, like on cushions like these:

     So while I can use a sewing machine, I don’t count myself as a sewer because I sew so irregularly that pretty much every time I do go to use my machine I have to watch YouTube videos to remind myself what to do. 

     However, while I don’t count myself as a sewer, by virtue of owning a machine, family and neighbours do and just assume that I’m proficient at using it and can make loads of things.

    I own a basic machine, I had a small amount of fabric in my stash and luckily had some elastic so I decided that I would use what I had to make some facemasks for me and my parents. I had enough fabric to probably make about 10 or more facemasks but you see, I’m not a proficient sewer and I constantly make mistakes so I wasted more than half the fabric on mistakes. I did eventually get five facemasks made – two each for my parents and one for me. Great, I thought. I really struggled making them and I did not enjoy making them but it was done. They’re weren’t finished greatly but they’d suffice.

     The reactions from my parents to them were ‘great, these will be really useful!’ followed fairly quickly by ‘hey, you could make and sell these’. Then my mum gave one of her masks to my older sister forcing me to make another for her and my sister also went down the road of comments about making and selling facemasks. My dad said something about maybe making some for neighbours and when I posted a picture of the facemasks I’d made online there were also comments about making and selling the facemasks. Also, some family members asking my mum if I could make facemasks for them.

     I’m not lying when I say that actually, the whole situation stressed me out a lot and I almost wished I’d never made the facemasks in the first place. It stresses me out a lot and makes me really anxious when I make something for someone as a gift and one of their first responses is ‘you should sell these’. I know people think it’s a compliment but I want to be able to make things for fun and not have every single make be judged as worth selling.

     See, I enjoy crafting. I especially like yarn crafts like crochet. Sometimes I struggle with making something but at the end I’m usually happy that I stuck with a project. Even if it’s not perfect or I’m not happy with it, I enjoy seeing the end of a project and thinking ‘yeah, I finished that’. Even with knitting, though I sometimes find it a struggle and get frustrated when stitches fall off the needle and it becomes a huge mess,  if I stick with a project and get it finished I still feel some amount of satisfaction with it.

     This is not the case with sewing. When sewing, I seem to stress out about the project at the research stage, get frustrated cutting fabric, make mistakes sewing it together, panic over the machine not working and feel dissatisfied at the finished result. I often struggle to even take photos of the finished item for a blog post because I feel so annoyed at it and the process that went into making it. I don’t get enjoyment out of the making at all and sometimes can’t even enjoy the finished object as a result.

     I’ve never felt like throwing out my knitting needles and crochet hooks because the craft stresses me out but I have in the past few weeks thought about getting rid of my sewing machine so that people will stop asking or implying that I could make something (my sister mentioned during a phone call to my mum that she had a load of old t-shirts she was never going to wear but didn’t want to throw out so she was thinking about cutting out the front so that they could be sewn together into a blanket – she does not sew and has no intentions what-so-ever to learn).

     I’m not really sure how I’m going to finish up this post. I wish I had some positive end to my craft frustration story but I don’t. Because of the ongoing need for facemasks due to the pandemic, I still feel like I’m being pressured into doing a craft that just makes me not want to craft. It’s not even that people are doing it on purpose but that unfortunately doesn’t stop me from feeling anxious and stressed and often it’s really hard to explain to people just how much I don’t like sewing 95% of the time.

     So yeah, not exactly a positive post here. Let me know if this is a feeling you share at all, be it about sewing or any other craft. Feel free to vent your frustrations! 

32 thoughts on “Sewing – Craft Frustrations, Stress, Pressure and Anxiety

  1. Hello, I just stumbled on your post and then realised it was from May. How are you feeling about it all now? I hope you were able to step away from the machine and give yourself a much needed break. I really admire your honesty discussing this issue – it’s so hard sometimes to keep our crafting (whatever it is we craft) to ourselves and retain that special magic. It’s like a little bubble and when other people pop in to ask us to make this, fix that, or sell everything (let’s face it, most of the time we wouldn’t be able to cover the cost of materials, let alone our time – and that’s not even thinking about all the stress involved of providing services to others!), it can pop and leave us feeling dejected. I’ve sewn for many years now, and all the while had it in the back of my head that one day I would set up shop and sew for others… It’s only now I’ve realised that it never happened because I didn’t want it to! I don’t want to sew for other people – it’s really stressful! I don’t want anyone getting up close and personal with my wobbly seams! Anyway, sorry, bit of an essay there. Hope you’re feeling more in control and have found a way to say no. Ruth xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment ^-^ I’m glad I wrote this post. I mean, not glad about the subject in general but I think the pressure and stress to turn our crafts into a business is something so many of us crafters feel and it’s important to share those frustrations.
      Yes, I was able to step away from my machine for a while. I think I made it clear to family that I wasn’t going to be making them masks (and thankfully they found lots of sellers online making them) because I was just really struggling with that pressure to essentially turn my craft table into a production line.
      I’ve taken a break and happily, my sewing machine is still with me – I didn’t resort to throwing it in the bin!
      What you feel about sewing is how I feel about crocheting things – I once thought that I’d sell my crochet but I realised that (ignoring the cost and time of making), I didn’t enjoy making things for other people. I do like gifting things but that’s quite different to making things. But it’s funny, I love hand dying yarn and do want to work a lot on selling that. I think it’s because with dyeing yarn, I get enjoyment from dyeing it and seeing how it turns out but the intended purpose is for it to be used by someone else for them to make something and I’m curious what they’ll make with it. Feels very different to making a finished piece for something.

      Like

  2. Hi there! I was perusing fellow sewing blogs and came upon your post.

    Just wanna say that I totally feel you! I just started sewing myself. I’m actually really loving it, now that I’m getting the hang of it.

    Just the other day I experienced lots of comments about how I should start selling or “mass producing” the stuff I sew. I thought about it and realized how much I absolutely do NOT want to go that route, because doing so would zap the fun right out of it and I know I would resent it down the line. I totally agree the pressure and anxiety you are feeling about having to “meet the demand.” So I’m very adamant in telling people “Hmmm… maybe, but no. I just like to sew for fun!”

    Anyway, I do hope you will be able to pull through the negative and continue sewing. Believe it or not, for me, making masks actually helped me get better in my sewing skills overall. And yes, I agree also that masks are not qualified to be on the list of “fun” sewing projects…not in the least! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment!
      I think recently I have started to ease on my avoiding sewing like the plague. I started crocheting a pencil case and realised that I would need to line the inside and while I will be hand stitching the zipper, I think I’m going to sew the rest of the lining because it’ll be short, straight lines and I guess if I can’t handle that then I probably shouldn’t be sewing!
      I’ve also had the urge to try sew some cushion covers.
      I think the important thing about what I feel like sewing is that it’s all things that I don’t need at all so I don’t feel pressure to have to make them.

      Like

    1. Thank you ^-^
      Crafting is a great anxiety release and that’s why it sucks so much when it’s the cause of anxiety. Definitely need to make changes whenever that starts happening.

      Like

  3. I see other people have mentioned this, but have you considered hand-stitching? It’s much, much slower — it would probably take a week to make a face mask! — but I find it gives me much better control. I have other issues with machining (having no room because I’m bed-ridden, being unable to use a pedal for fine speed control, being unable to bend over the machine for long periods, unable to wrap my head around the more technical aspects like loading thread, etc) but I find hand-stitching is cathartic.

    I can’t do much of it because of wrist pain/hand weakness, but it might be worth a go: it allows you much more control of speed so you’re not stressing about the project getting away from you (one of the things I struggled with when I watched my seamstress mom years and years ago was just how freaking fast the fabric zipped under the needle!). It would also give you an excuse for not accepting “commissions”: “sorry I can’t make that for you unless you don’t mind waiting a year because I have to do it by hand and that takes foreverrrrr”.

    Another downside is that it can be tricky controlling stitch size. My early/worst days of stitching are very obvious, but I bought a quilting ruler and it makes such a difference! (No more guessing if I’m seaming at 1/2″, no more struggling with a regular ruler and finding out it didn’t line up properly, yada yada.) But the more you practise, the better you get (as with anything lol). And if you’re unsure, you can also use a quilting ruler to mark where your stitches need to go (bit trickier than just drawing a line for the seam because most washable markers don’t seem to have a fine enough tip for small marks, but I use it especially for top stitching or where it really matters if my stitches look uniform (it doesn’t matter so much with back stitch that’s going to be on the inside of something).

    I’ve made drawstring bags, crochet hook rolls, cat toys, etc. (Actually, if you have scraps, I recommend the latter for practise. You can just make catnip cushions and they’re both cute and a cheap way to rejuvenate your kitties’ toy box).

    At any rate, good luck! It sucks if you don’t enjoy your hobbies. As looseendfibres suggested, it might be time to switch up. I have so many hobbies in part because I’ll get obsessed for a while and then put it aside and not touch it for months or years — but I usually go back eventually, and cycle through them all again. xD

    There’s really nothing wrong with putting your machine away until you’re ready for it.

    Like

    1. I’ve always been averse to hand stitching because every time I did it just to finish up small sections, I just ended up with sore fingers and hands from stabbing myself with the needle so much. When it comes to hand stitching, my hands feel so clumsy! Practice would obviously help with that but I’m just not very fond of stabbing myself 😀
      I have been wondering if I should get a small crossstitching kit or something to practice and get my hand used to those kinds of motions. If it works out, maybe hand stitching small projects would be the way for my to go.
      (I’d try make catnip cushions but I feel that’d be a waste. I have broken cats! They just don’t respond to cat nip at all!)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Dude, cats. Get your act together 🙀 (Have you tried them with valerian or silver vine? Apparently the first smells like mice to cats. KitKat doesn’t react to that, but she has a mild affection for catnip so I think it depends on the kitties.)

      I’d personally got for an embroidery kit rather than cross stitch if it’s about the motion. I used to love cross stitch but, aside from really struggling with keeping count now ( I messed up several projects because I apparently can’t count to ten repeatedly), the motions seem slightly different to me. I only use straight and back stitch, though, so I guess it depends which stitches you’ll need.

      I can’t help with the stabbities except to say… ouch! And ouch! And ouch! (Maybe a leather thimble? Or two?)

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I’ve not tried them with either of those. I should someday. It’s hard with the outdoor cats because they just don’t play with things I get them and as for Mysty…well I have to pretend things aren’t for her so she’ll take an interest in them 😀

      Hmm…good to know about cross stitch because I too fail at counting so often! And about the embroidery being better maybe. Maybe I’ll just get kit a cross stitch kit and an embroidery kit (because you know, I just can’t seem to stop spending money!).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s annoying how people can’t seem to let us just have hobbies any more. As if anything you’re good at MUST be monetised or there’s no point. I’ve started telling people it would be too expensive to cover my time and that seems to make them drop it, but I do wish I didn’t have to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes a craft just isn’t for you and I think that’s what sewing is for me. I’m much better at crafts that are easier to pick up and put down depending on whether a cat wants to sleep on my lap or not ^-^

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally feel you! I also do a bit of sewing and although I’m decently proficient as my mother taught me when I was young and I’ve made a few dresses I mainly just make simple things like project bags and handkerchiefs. And lately masks. However every single time I do it I feel like I am wrestling with an uncontrollable beast. I find it very frustrating and I am never 100% happy with what I have made. Don’t get me started on those masks. Haha too many fiddly curves. I have made 3 for me and 3 for husband and that is enough for me. No more masks thank you very much. Lol. But I must say that that kitty fabric is adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Adorable fabrics is the only reason why I want to sew I think 😀 I’d be very happy if I could just continue to buy fabric but then give it to a friend who likes sewing to make stuff!
      And yes, masks – too many fiddly curves! I can’t sew a straight line, definitely can’t sew a neat curve!

      Like

  6. I’m quite a perfectionist and I’ve always dabbled in lots of different crafts, but I’m generally happiest with those that, by nature don’t require perfection and ‘flaws’ can be features – I don’t put much pressure on myself when I can’t go wrong. I had a similar experience to you when I began to knit.
    When I started, I made 2 garter stitch scarves (the only stitch in my repertoire) and a family friend gifted me a book of knitted egg cosies with the expectation that I would have a go at them. I was completely intimidated when I looked through it, so put it away for later, but each time I looked at it I felt inadequate and thought I would never be able to knit properly. It wasn’t until last year when I found the book again, that I actually wanted to have a go.
    As the projects were small, I didn’t have many stitches to undo when I went wrong, so I didn’t get too frustrated and managed to persevere. I was so happy when I completed my first egg cosy that I had a go at some others and without realising it, I was building up my skill set and enjoying myself. Since then I’ve knitted in the round, made 2 pairs of gloves and started improvising my own simple patterns.
    If you feel pressured by yourself or others, then it’s probably not the best time to do that particular craft as you won’t enjoy it. Put your sewing machine to the side and make things you feel like making at the moment – crafting is about having fun. There will (hopefully!) come a time when you look at your machine with curiosity instead of loathing and that’s when you’ll feel like having a go regardless of the outcome 🙂

    Like

    1. I hope so. I’ll be putting that advice into action and setting the sewing machine back into it’s nook where it can live untouched for a while. Maybe in a few months I’ll think differently about it (because I want a reason to buy pretty fabrics!).
      I was also intimidated by knitting books and patterns when I had first started and only knew garter stitch. I think when you look at knitting as a whole it seems like there are so many stitches and techniques you need to learn that is can be off-putting…which I did do! I put off knitting in favour of learning to crochet which seemed a whole lot simpler to me! Getting back into knitting these last few months though, I’ve been making an effort to take my time learning. I made my first pair of socks a few months ago and learned how to pick up stitches for the heel and recently made a shawl where I learned how to wrap and turn. Like you, I was slowly building my skill set by learning one new stitch at a time and it’s a lot less scary that way!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Socks are next on my knitting bucket list – I just need to find time when I’m not spinning, weaving and washing fleeces! Pretty fabrics are always very tempting! I haven’t done much machine sewing myself – mainly because mine are vintage machines that have been handed down the family and need restoring before I try and figure out how to use all the features on them, but they’re so beautiful I can’t bring myself to just buy an electric one instead!

      Like

    3. So many yarn crafts, not enough time! Actually, I just got some cotton yarn so I must get my loom out and motivate myself to warp it up (always procrastinate about that!).
      Ooh, as much as sewing intimidates me, there is something lovely and beautiful about vintage machines. Even if I could sew properly, I’d probably still never use a vintage machine though – I’d be terrified I’d break it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing this so honestly, I can relate to feeling frustrated but then the feeling of satisfaction with the finished product too. I thought your masks looked great, I did my first ever crochet one this year, never thought I’d crochet a mask 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks ^-^
      Yeah, I think I just need to take a nice long break from sewing and when I do go back to it, really think about how I feel about the process along with satisfaction over the finished item. I have so many crafts I could be doing, I don’t really have time for ones I don’t actually enjoy.

      Like

  8. Gosh Emma – I sympathise with your plight. I feel so sad that you are feeling under pressure and stressed out about the sewing. I agree – crafting – in whatever form we wish to use – should be pleasurable, enjoyable, and done when we want to do it, how we want to do it – and do whatever we want with the finished product. Even if that means binning it, or starting again.
    I love to see all your makes and still have the little knitted bunny you sent me as a swap for some crafting goodies. He/she (I don’t know which even now) sits on one of my coffee tables – always a conversation piece when guests come round.
    I am a card giver and sender – not a seller. This craft gives me pleasure – I feel pressured even when I know a family celebration is coming up – I know they all expect a hand-made card from me!
    You have been very brave to put down your feelings so very eloquently – and I wish to send you virtual hugs……..I’m going to hunt out your address so I can ‘gift’ you one of my cards – purely for encouragement and the pleasure I get from giving them away.
    Keep on crafting for your pleasure, and sharing what you wish to share on your blog – please………….. 🙂
    XXXXXXXXXXX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy you think I expressed my feelings eloquently – I’d have settled for semi-coherent emotional rant 😀
      There’s no need to send anything, honestly just hearing that you still have that little teddy and enjoy him/her (think it’s her…) put a smile on my face. That’s why I enjoy making things and gifting things.
      Also yes! I get that pressure too whenever I know a family occasion is coming up because it’s always my job to make the card. Usually I don’t mind and don’t find it too difficult to make something but other times I’m just not in the mood to make something and have to force myself to come up with a good idea…I think that’s why I got back into buying card kits and having them on hand because it’s still a hand made card, I’ve just not had to stress myself out with thinking up an idea.

      Like

  9. I completely understand – especially with sewing! I sew but with a needle and thread, and I do it to make a few useful fixes or makes per year. It takes hours of my little tiny stitches to make a hand towel or hankie, and no I’m not making you a mask. I love you and would like you to have one that didn’t make me hate knowing you, lol. So, no fix for this jist sympathy – Abe

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can imagine how painstaking your sewing must me! It’s one thing to do it with a machine, another thing entirely time wise to do it by hand. Hand stitching really is a labour of love, not profit. (I just about manage to finish things up by hand stitching but I don’t think I’ll every be able to fully hand stitch something – me and a tiny needle don’t go well together unless the aim is to repeatedly stab myself).

      Like

    2. Well, I’d love to say it was some sort of virtue, but the truth is I’m terrible with machinery – especially spinny, stabby machinery lol! Thanks for the reply 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I too wish I could sew. What few things I know I learned either through trial and (many) error or in junior high home economics class.
    As for making and selling things. No. I will not sell anything I make. I will gift things if I want to. It is frustrating when I’m told I should be selling my knits. People who aren’t makers can’t appreciate the time and effort that goes into each item.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very true – like trying to explain to people that you can’t charge minimum wage for something you made can be a hassle. If it takes me 5-6 hours maybe to make something like a small teddy, I could charge upwards of €50 for that and then no one will buy it! I don’t mind making things as gifts and even if people do insist on giving me money, I generally just as for enough to cover the materials.

      Liked by 2 people

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.