Everyone suffers from bouts of “blah”- A funk. A general lack of enthusiasm or a plague of being utterly uninspired is not uncommon, especially for sewers. For some people a funk is no big deal. They come and go and you have little trouble snapping out of it. Maybe you don’t need to take funks very seriously. But if you’re like me, a sensitive type who struggled with depression for most of your young adult life, you know a funk is a dangerous state to be in. Once you start to feel a little sad or a little “blah” about one thing, it’s really easy to just keep feeling that way about everything. The best thing to do is identify the funk early on and snap out of it. Of course, you probably know that it’s easier said than done, but coming back from a funk starts with identifying the reason (whatever it may be) and making a change.
Step One is to be blunt with yourself and identify the problem.
The problem is: I’m sad. If you’ve been keeping up with my online presence (or lack there of lately) you know my oldest cat just passed away on Valentine’s Day. She had been with me for 19 years and she was my oldest friend. My animals are my life and any fellow animal lover out there will know how I feel right now. I knew she was dying, so for the last two weeks of her life I pretty much stopped taking care of myself in order to be with her for every second of the rest of her days. I gave up everything else I loved because I loved her so much. I stopped sewing, I stopped going bowling, I even stopped sleeping in my room so I could sleep on the couch with her instead. Now that she’s gone (that was the hardest Vet appointment of my life) I’m struggling to get myself back to normal again. It’s not that I won’t allow myself to grieve, I have every right to be sad, I just know I can’t stay in this state any longer.
The problem is when I’m feeling down about one thing, I start to feel down about everything. Even with things that I normally go to in order to feel happy. This is the hardest thing to cope with, hence the funk.
I was feeling completely uninspired to sew or blog or read or knit or be active. When you no longer enjoy your favorite things how do you come back from that? Well most people will tell you that you can just ride out the funk and ride out the blah and soon you’ll be back to enjoying things again. They’ll tell you not to force it. This does not work for me. So if you’re like me, you need to force your own comeback and only you can be the one to do it.
You have to stand in your sewing space and stare at the wall for an hour and say I’m not leaving here until I sew something. You don’t have to sew something large or complicated, in fact you should probably avoid those things at first. You’ll tell yourself “I have nothing to sew”, “I don’t have any fabric I like”, “Why would I sew something for no reason?”. Tell your Naysayer Self to “shut the front door!” and turn on your sewing machine. Pick up a square of fabric and just start putting stitches in it. Force that first step.
Another part of my problem is I don’t have a favorite “go-to” pattern that I can just pick up and make without any adjustments or tracing or alterations. I don’t have a “happy pattern” yet. The point of my Twelve Pattern Challenge is to have that by next year, but I only have the one skirt finished so far and I don’t want to sew it again right now. This was just making it easier for me to be in a sewing funk. Originally my Twelve Pattern Challenge was created as a driving force and a motivation to do better. But lately it’s a looming limitation and detrimental to my comeback. Why? Because I kept telling myself “No you can’t sew that, it’s not 1940s”, and “No you can’t sew that it’s not one of your twelve patterns”.
“No you can’t” is not a phrase to bring you out of a funk. I had mentioned in my challenge that if it ever felt like a struggle, or if it wasn’t fun, that I would allow myself to bend the rules and make a change. So I am, just until I’m back on track. It’s okay to do that.
I wanted to sew something that I love with minimal effort to make it. But that wasn’t going to happen. So I turned on my sewing machine and just started sewing random scraps together. I made nothing, but making something was not the goal. The goal was to start sewing again so that’s exactly what I did in the most direct sense of the word. I just sewed a bunch of nothing but I was still sewing.
After that I started feeling a little better so I started prepping to actually sew something besides scraps. I cleaned my sewing room, I cleaned my sewing machine, and I set up my brand new serger that had been sitting in a box for two weeks. Then I started searching for inspiration.
Seeking inspiration when you’re depressed, or in a funk, can be difficult. It’s easy to see something your peers are doing and compare yourself to it in a way that makes you feel more down. When I’m in a funk I usually stop reading other sewing blogs for a while and seek inspiration that’s totally unrelated to sewing. I’ll look through vintage catalogs, watch a favorite movie, or listen to a favorite song. Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. All you need is one color, or a print, or a feeling and then it hits you! You want to create a thing based off that thing because you love it! I found my inspiration in giant pants (haha! No but I’m serious.) and I’ll blog more about that later. But the point is, just start putting stitches into fabric again first. The inspiration to make something will find you.
So stop blaming it on the weather. Tell yourself the truth. Identify why you’re in a funk. Then slap some makeup on your face (or change your hair color if need be), put on your happy song (even if it’s really bad) and just start sewing scraps together. Just. Start. Doing it. You’ll feel better, I promise.
If this all sounds outrageously corny and you’re rolling your eyes, then whatever, this post is not for you. But I need this and I know there are other people out there that need it too. This “funk” problem is so much bigger than sewing, but that doesn’t mean sewing can’t be a solution.
Sewing is my happy place and I’m making a comeback. I’m ending this sewing/general funk because I love myself, and I deserve to have love for myself and everything I do. I will start this journey today. Better yet, I am starting it right now.
Repeat that after me.