Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hitting A Creative Wall & Going Around It

You've just completed a beautiful strapless dress. You taught yourself boning, used your rotary cutters perfectly and selected a classic and timeless fabric and pattern combination that makes you feel sophisticated and sensual at the same time. You've taken your customary photographs of you wearing the garment, your face beaming in accomplished pride. In love with the patterns and comments from friends, you gun ho decide to not only do the pattern again - but do two views at the same time!

The vision is set. The new fabrics have been sourced. Cutting and creative assembly begins.  However, somewhere between the first stitch and the final hemming, you suddenly cannot stand to look at the two projects and would rather do everything in your power to avoid even a small glance in their direction.

Welcome to the last few days of my life.

One of the most frustrating parts of a project is visualizing a fantastic final piece, beginning your work with a heart full of gusto - and then, just when the end is in sight, getting unavoidably stuck. It's like a wall of unease has been built around the pieces I once enjoyed. One that I can't forcibly penetrate beyond just waiting it out.

Recently, I sat in front of my machine and tried to will myself to start cutting and placing the boning. It's a rather straight forward and relatively easy process that amounts to cutting the boning to the desired length, cutting the tip of the encased plastic within the seam allowance an then sewing the altered piece to the garment facing. I made it to two before I felt compelled to stop. Suddenly, nothing looked right. The previously applied boning, which I had cheered myself on for doing such a good job in installing, looked boring and lifeless. The whole colorful piece looked old and ugly. I felt a violent internal discourse between the vision that I had at the beginning, the assembly process and waning drive to continue. Yet, visually, there was nothing wrong with the pieces!

Was I simply bored and frustrated with the amount of time it took to construct my garments of pleasure? Was I burning myself out by switching back and forth between the A line halter version and the black and turquoise belted trim vision that formerly inspired me? What was going on?

I stopped. I started at my machine and took a deep breath. I realized that I needed to do anything but sit at my machine for a few days. I didn't want to stop sewing. But, I didn't want to become frustrated and obsessed with it either.

Since then, I've been doing other required things involving my life and creativity. I made a fantastic book to hold my cut patterns in, I updated my resume, created a new website at using and I've created this blog. I rediscovered that instead of forcing myself to complete a project, being at ease and non resistant toward it benefited me in better ways. Letting my creative energy jump from sewing to other parts of my life created a balance that has slowly calmed my resistance. I can't bother with wondering how it got there. The only thing I can do is work with myself to find joy in the project again so that I can complete it rather than resent it.

Slowly, I'm getting used to the idea of enjoying my sewing machine again. Slowly, I'm not feeling so overwhelmed with the remaining procedures. I know how to install an invisible zipper. The boning came easy once, and can again. Top stitching and teaching myself how to use seam binding tape will create a fantastic finished product that I'll be proud to wear (when it's not raining as it is right now).

Like with anything in one's past, it takes a pass of time before you can see things clearly and with a calm air. Happily for my cheering section - and most importantly, me - I'm almost done.


  1. Awesome post, chica! I totally know the feeling. When I'm knitting, I get to this point in the project where I just cannot finish it. Even if it's just binding the ends. It's awful. I've found that refraining from doing the same pattern twice in a row helps. Even if you do something really stupid and easy in between, it helps break up the monotony.

  2. Good point! I think I over did it when I thought "Wow! This was such a fun pattern to do! Why don't I do two more at the same time!" To break it up, next time I feel that way, I'm going to remember this situation and do an alternative pattern.