exercises in frustration

Lo and behold, a month since my last post. What have I been up to? Lots of stuff I suppose, but precious little sewing. I started feeling like I was spinning my wheels and all I was accomplishing was getting more and more frustrated.

Here are the projects that I’m not on speaking terms with at the moment:

  • linen drawstring pants – seasonal and would be useful in my wardrobe, but I can’t decide whether the crotch curve is so off or the fabric so see-through that I shouldn’t bother finishing; seriously, the last time I picked this project up, I felt paralysed
  • Minoru jacket – too hot to be particularly useful right now; cut the front placket pieces according to the pattern but have decided midstream to make the jacket proportionately longer (hopefully more flattering) and now these pieces are too short, am agonizing whether to recut (which means buying more interfacing) or piece in patches at the bottom (which means adding a couple of thick seams – interfacing and corduroy – and deciding whether to cut on-grain or otherwise)
  • black corduroy jeans, green T-shirt – I have stalled so early on these projects that I haven’t done anything beyond washing the fabric, but at least I haven’t ruined anything
  • grey tote bag – something I’ve been designing in my head and would like to have; I pulled out some scraps to make this but just felt completely meh about actually working on it

My wardrobe needs lots of work and I had hoped to make rather than buy. I’m now willing to buy, but then I remember that nothing in the stores fits, which is a whole other frustration. Other than the tote bag idea, I note that all of these UFOs are stalled because of fit issues. Anyway, other than add a couple of tassels to my fringe belt, I’ve been on a hiatus rather than beat my head against that particular brick wall any more.

On a whim, I recently picked up a book at the library about procrastination. I found some reassurance in the early chapters, which discussed anecdotes of people causing serious problems in their lives because of procrastination, like losing jobs and marriages. If that’s professional grade procrastination, I’m a rank amateur – thankfully. But I do notice some patterns; for instance, I have paper clutter and my basement is still filled with lots of crap to get rid of. Clutter is procrastination is physical form. The paper sits because I don’t know whether I should keep it and if so where. I’m not attached to the crap in the basement but I struggle to figure out how get rid of it without (a) tossing it in the garbage or (b) having a garage sale (which to me is a form of torture). Theme: not knowing what to do, not wanting to do the wrong thing, with a dash of “I can’t just give this away – it’s worth something!”.

By and large, not a huge impediment to me, but procrastination does flare up with my sewing. I have plenty of UFOs: I get to a stage where I don’t know what to do, so I stop. I also feel I need a certain level of mental acuity to be able to make the infinite little decisions that are necessary when sewing, and when I’m tired I just can’t do it. I’m often tired. Tired + sewing = blood and/or tears, which is not a good scene. I suspect that one of my major  reasons for sewing – getting a better fit than I can buy – exacerbates my selective perfectionism, which translates into procrastination when it’s not clear to me how to address the problem I’m facing.

I’ve had a couple of ideas lately that I’m hoping will help me accomplish something (even if I continue to avoid my stalled projects), although I admit I don’t feel particularly optimistic about anything right now:

This is as far as I’ve gotten with the shirt project – taking the pattern out of the envelope. Not pictured: I’ve also calculated how much to shorten the bodice for my short waist.

  • draft a basic skirt block – on the theory of “begin at the beginning”; I rarely wear skirts, but I’m willing to give it a shot – maybe I’ll surprise myself, and I can see some applications for the waist to hip portion of the block
  • make up McCall’s 5138, a basic shirt pattern – there are a couple of details that I’m not crazy about; trying to resist the urge to change details before making it up the first time – usually a sure recipe for UFOdom in my world
  • ordered Sewaholic Cambie dress and Thurlow trousers – really hoping that the fit out of the envelope is closer than what I get from the big pattern companies

Do you get mental blocks about projects? How do you decide whether to power through for good or ill, or just give up? Is perfectionism an issue for you?


About Zena

I sew sometimes.
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9 Responses to exercises in frustration

  1. prttynpnk says:

    I cannot sew with a plan. I admit it. Phew. I flit from bright shiny objects and sew what seems like fun. If I have a queue it makes me grumpy and I bog down and start reading my book – pretending I don’t have a sewing room.

  2. Chris says:

    yes yes yes – I feel your pain and understand!

  3. Big in Japan says:

    I didn’t do any sewing (beyond essential mending) for the first 5 months of this year. And then when I was ready, the first project was an aggravating mess that couldn’t be completed. The second didn’t fare much better… Fortunately there wasn’t much waste involved as I was using crap-stash UN-wearable muslin fabrics. It was very discouraging, but I got back to it again and wound up with a couple less than perfect, but wearable pieces. In the end, for me, it’s about having/needing something to wear.
    On the topic of clutter: it can be a huge impediment, physically and mentally. There is a website called “unclutterer” and a book written by the site’s main writer that I have found quite helpful. It is certainly geared toward people living in a house, working in an office (trad or home), so while a lot of it doesn’t apply to my “freelancer living in a tiny Japanese apartment” life, there is a LOT of useful information. Like anything, take what’s valuable and applicable to you and skip the rest.

    • Zena says:

      Mending… now that you mention it, I haven’t had any mending for a while. I like mending as a low-stakes project to get the juices flowing. If I can take something that’s not wearable and make it wearable, it’s a win.

      Re clutter – I’ll have to check out that website. It sounds like it could be really useful. Thanks!

  4. Tanit-Isis says:

    I am a huge procrastinator (although usually pretty good about finishing the sewing projects, at least…). Not quite to the life-destroying stage, but I get pretty close sometimes. I know exactly what you mean about the clutter—it’s not that I want it, it’s just that I don’t know what to do with it, and how to get it where it needs to go when where it needs to go is “out”. Especially the mountains of stuff the kids bring home and create.

    As for the UFOs… it really sucks that you feel paralyzed by the fit. For the linen ones, I’d say finish them, wear them for a bit, and if you can’t stand them after all send them on to the thrift store. At least if they’re finished, someone else may be able to make use of them even if you can’t. I wish I had magic pants-fitting advice for the other stuff, as I suspect that’s one area where you’re always going to be frustrated by the storebought stuff, but I can barely figure out my own issues and I’m not *that* hard to fit. I will cross my fingers that Thurlow will work out for you… 🙂

    • Zena says:

      Now there’s a blessing – I don’t have to figure out what to do with crap (masquerading as sentimental souvenirs) sent home from school with the naive intention that one keep it forever.

      I’m ignoring the fresh crop of UFOs for the time being and working on a skirt for the hot weather. As it’s my own design, rectangular construction, and minimal new techniques (plus stash-busting bonus), I think it’ll get done quickly and be useful. It’s too hot for pants this week anyway.

      I have my Thurlow pattern in hand, but will likely wait for an optimistic day before I cut anything. Please, sewing gods, let Thurlow work for me!

  5. Pella says:

    No plan here I’m afraid

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