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5 Ways to Find Your Sew-Jo

5 ways to find your sew-jo |

We all go through phases where our enthusiasm for sewing dims. It’s when you look at your sewing machine and think

“Ugh, I just can’t be bothered”

But you know it’s your happy place and you want to get that joy back. So how? Where did your sew-jo even go?

Sew-jo is a play on words, combining ‘mojo’ with ‘sewing’ to describe a drive for sewing. I don’t know which witty person came up with it, but kudos to you, my friend. Very clever. It’s totally normal for this drive to ebb and flow, so don’t be too concerned when you hit an ebb.

There are, however, things you can do to help trigger your sew-jo again. Here is a list of


5 ways to find your sew-jo |

1.  Ditch The Stress

Busy-ness and stress will squash creativity. When you switch into survival mode, your brain ditches creativity to cope. But it also works the other way where creativity can ease stress. It’s a catch-22. If you’re stressed, you need to relax and get creative, but your brain is swamped and all you can muster is sitting on the sofa to stare at the TV.

The key here is to just start making. Find something that doesn’t involve too much creativity, but will just get you sewing. Try a tried-and-true pattern that you know will work and won’t involve a lot of thinking. Be sure to use a fabric that makes you happy and you’ll love to wear! Your creativity may be stifled, but the act of sewing itself may help trigger your sew-jo again. Absorbing yourself in something else for a while may even help you find creative solutions to your stress and could help you sleep better.

2.  Project Satisfaction

Maybe your last make(s) left you feeling flat? It didn’t turn out like you’d expected and you missed that rush of satisfaction that we all crave. I’ve been there plenty of times, especially when I first started out and most of my sewing ended up in the bin.

What you need is that buzz. That rush of pride in a garment that fits like a dream. This is about self-esteem and feeling good about your abilities. You need a guaranteed winner. Go for a basic style top or dress pattern; a real simple design in a relaxed fit. Even better, choose one enjoying renowned success on social media. That way, you can see how it looks on a lot of different body shapes and find out what any issues are before you start.

Also, drop the perfectionism. We are our own worst critics and to be honest, most of the time your garment is just fine! Let your ‘failure’ sit for a month before trying it on again and you may find the issues aren’t really a big deal.  Or you might be more willing to unpick and try fix the errors by then. If nothing else, you’ve had a learning curve and that’s valuable. A success in itself! It’s often the best way to learn any lessons, be it sewing or life, so take the lesson and move forward.

5 ways to find your sew-jo |

3.  Seasonal

Every winter, my sew-jo fades and I discover a compulsion to knit instead. I don’t want to sit in a cold room, chilly toes beneath a sewing table while the fire burns in another room. I want to be tucked up on the couch with a blanket, Netflix and a creative project between my fingers. Go with that.

If knitting isn’t your jam, try practicing some open-work (illustrated below), hand-stitching or even mending. If those fingers want to make, let them make. You can get the sewing machine out again when the sun returns.

5 ways to find your sew-jo |

4. Short Term vs Long Term Sewing

There’s nothing like a gritty sewing challenge. One where you can learn new techniques and stare a scary zip insertion in the eye. But too many of these makes in a row can be taxing, so be sure to intersperse them with easier, short-term makes for quick gratification. I like to call those ‘palate-cleansers’. A small make between larger projects to refresh my joy of sewing.

It goes the other way as well. Too many quick and easy makes can leave you bored and unstimulated, so make sure you challenge yourself occasionally with a new technique or two. Spice up your sewing and reap the satisfaction of tackling a new skill. Just imagine all the options that will open up to you when you learn how to sew a button-hole or an exposed zip!

5 ways to find your sew-jo |

5. Roll With It

Maybe you just need a break. We can get in too deep sometimes and it might be that you just need some air. If sewing is an activity you usually love, then trust it will come back next time you find a need in your wardrobe or fashion-envy on Pinterest. Give yourself the time and space to pursue other interests and when inspiration strikes, your sew-jo will let you know. Whatever led you to sewing in the first place, will likely lead you there again in time.

Read a book, do some gardening, go for a walk … if it relaxes you, then do it. Because isn’t that why we sew? To find that calm place where we can lose ourselves while the rest of the world momentarily melts away? It’s good for the soul. For our well-being. So if you find this escapism elsewhere for a while, that’s okay. Your sewing machine will still be there when you return.

5 ways to find your sew-jo |

Briar Dress //
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Briar Dress by Megan Nielsen

I’ve previously made a few Briar tops out of merino for winter, but summer called for a dress version. Especially after Megan Nielsen released a kids version of this pattern and I saw how great it looked on Poppet!

For both of these dresses, I just extended the pattern to dress length and lowered the front curve a little for a more subtle shape. Megan Nielsen has a great tutorial for the Briar dress hack over at her blog, if you’re interested.

In other sewing-nerdery, I also attempted to do a sway-back adjustment with no centre back seam using an illustration I found on Kitschy Coo. The idea is that, after doing the standard adjustment, you then straighten the centre back again and transfer the extra width back to the side seam. It’s confusing without the picture to help, but it looks to me like you’re essentially creating a more dramatically curved side seam.

My brain says it shouldn’t work; that it’ll only create horizontal lines in the back. But the result was okay. In fact, the most successful I’ve had so far in non-back-seam garments. Certainly better than no adjustment at all, but I’ll still be keeping my eyes peeled for other techniques too.

This dress is just so comfy! It’s actually the only knit dress I have, but I’m seeing the appeal. It’s not too clingy, yet still has nice shaping, good for the beach or work and doesn’t wrinkle when I haven’t sorted laundry for a week … which is most weeks.

This dress is my fourth make using the Briar pattern, so I think it wins on value-for-money. Sweaters, t-shirts, winter tops and now dresses; a great staple for the pattern stash if you’re after a good, versatile basic.


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Bowline Sweater by Papercut Patterns

The Bowline Sweater from Papercut Patterns* is a work of art. Here you have a dart going into a pleat with another pleat coming out of it … I don’t how she did it! Katie has outdone herself.

Moana Top by Papercut Patterns |

I made my version from this delish, charcoal merino sweatshirting, picked up from The Fabric Store last year. It has all the benefits of merino, but in the thick weave of sweatshirt fabric and it’s so soft!

Bowline Sweater by Papercut Patterns |

The Bowline Sweater came together surprisingly fast; I whipped it up in just a few hours (after I had performed the jigsaw miracle of cutting it from a mere 1 metre of fabric. It IS possible, people!)

Bowline Sweater by Papercut Patterns |

This design is really well suited to a knit fabric that has good structure and stretch, like a ponte, but structure isn’t essential. This merino is pretty soft and the effect is a little more draping, which is fine by me. You do need stretch though. Don’t compromise on that.

Bowline Sweater by Papercut Patterns |

A great pattern, well suited to intermediate sewists and up.

I love this alternative to a hoodie or jersey. It’s fancy yet comfy and I’m a total sucker for anything with structure.

Bring on autumn!

*See my about page for my Papercut Patterns disclaimer.


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Summer Kimono Jacket

Kimono jackets are quick to make and simple to wear. This one has already been in serious rotation this summer!

After scouring Pinterest, I found a free tutorial for a kimono jacket via Elle Apparel and then this colourful poly chiffon in a local store. It was meant to be.

kimono jacket for summer |

The tutorial is great, giving you tips on creating one to fit your measurements, rather than ‘trace a top you already own’ which annoys me no-end. If I already owned such a top, I wouldn’t need to make one now, would I? Yup, this is a tutorial for the masses.

The kimono jacket sews together easily. The hardest part was the copious amount of tiny hems. A great chance for lots of practice with the hemming foot, but it came with a lot of unpicking at the start! After a few metres of hemming, I’m much more practised now.

kimono jacket for summer |

As a side note, if you’re ever sewing with chiffon, my best tip is to use small stitches. It will help the seams sit nice and smooth.

kimono jacket for summer |

Right, I’m off to maximise this sunshine!


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Hepburn Shorts

I need leather-look shorts in my life |

This black polyester, wet-look fabric is incredible. It looks like leather, drapes like rayon and doesn’t wrinkle. I want more! Skirts, tops, a blazer … where would I stop?

I need leather-look shorts in my life |

I made these shorts using the Hepburn Shorts pattern by Pattern Emporium. The fit of the pattern is good and didn’t need much tweaking beyond reducing the top edge of the waistband (I chipped out about 3cm, graduating back to the actual size at the bottom of the waistband). I also used an invisible zip and raised it to meet the top edge of the band, instead of using the recommended hook fastener there.

I need leather-look shorts in my life |

The instructions though. Ugh. This is by far the largest PDF I’ve ever downloaded at a whopping 10MB (just for shorts!) and the instructions feel clunky and overwhelming. I mostly ignored them, not wanting to wade through the 67 pages just to find a starting point *groan*.

Love the shorts, but I need that clutch! |

But the instructions look so in-depth, that it’d be quite ideal for any beginner. Every step is photographed and thoroughly explained. Just don’t let the quantity of instructions overwhelm you or put you off Indie patterns in general. They’re not usually so huge and photo heavy.

And rather than print the whole PDF file, perhaps pick out the bits you think you’ll need first.

I need leather-look shorts in my life |

Other than that, the pattern was great and came together well. I’m so happy with the final result! The shorts are edgy and fun, which was just what I wanted.

That clutch! I need someone to make me one|

And I had enough fabric scraps from previous projects to whip up a fold-over clutch and while my Hubby insists it looks like a pencil case, I’m loving it for the pop of colour and a touch of class.

Pencil case. Pffft.


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Linen Peplum

Sometimes a design idea launches itself at you and demands to be made. Demands, I tell you! It’s mostly why I began sewing in the first place, just to shut it up.

Linen peplum top with pleats |

This linen peplum top was one of those lightening strikes. I craved drama, structure and a gritty challenge. Read More

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Ella Top by Liola Patterns

Ella Top by Liola Patterns |

I needed a ‘palate cleanser’ between a couple of big makes. Something that was uncomplicated, casual and suited to fabric that I wouldn’t cry about if failure hit.

This is the Ella Top by Liola Patterns, which is available via Indiesew. I made it using this (static-prone) polyester fabric which I found for $3 per metre over a year ago. Read More

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Aztec Print Skirt

Cute outfit. Loving aztec prints right now |

If it’s possible for fabric to sing to your soul, that’s how I’d describe this. Colour, geometrics and texture … I’m in love. It just begged to be made into a pencil skirt, so of course, I happily obliged.

I'm loving aztec prints right now |

Read More

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No Sew: Fix a Metal Button on Jeans

No sew fix for the metal button on jeans

It’s easy to repair a metal button that has broken off your jeans.

This is the ‘no sew’ method which is super quick and effective, but may force you to compromise on button position. If you want a more thorough fix which also allows you to place a new button in the same position as the old one, then you’ll want my tutorial on ‘How to Replace a Metal Button on Jeans’ showing you how to sew on a patch first. Read More