Sewjo in lockdown – part one: the vanishing act

Disclaimer: no overlockers were hurt in the making of this blog

If you’re discovering this blog at some distant point in the future, this post comes from the midst of the dismal summer of 2020, the one where the usual British preoccupation with cruddy weather was well and truly submerged beneath the Covid-19 iceberg and all its horrific trappings.

For the natural homebody, not to mention the quasi or full-blown introvert, having to stay in looked, on the face of it, like a cloud with a silver lining: more time at home, more time with family, more time to get crafty (if you’re crafty).

So why, when it seemed like the perfect time to capitalise on more time in the house and less time commuting, dropping off children, running around chasing our tails, have so many of us experienced an unexpected dip in sewjo?

Ebb and flow

What is sewjo? I hear you murmur at the back. Well, *adjusts spectacles*, sewjo is like mojo, but with sewing: it’s our inner sewing motivator, the muse that drives our creative power house. And, for many, it feels like the power switch has been flicked in the wrong direction.

This isn’t the case for everyone, of course. For some, lockdown created the perfect environment for a veritable sewing bonanza, a frenzied whirlwind of production – the no-holds-barred last supper of creative output.

I guess it boils down to how we deal with external threat: man the barricades and hunker down or leap from the parapet brazening the quick-unpick.

And me? Well, I’ve been all over the shop. I’m guessing this is a fairly standard response. My sewjo has wax and waned with the moon – and with every update of The Guardian live news feed.

The first few weeks of lockdown were, for us, a whirlwind of intense anxiety and do-the-headless-chicken. Suddenly plunged into working from home, parenting and ‘teaching’ our kids at the same time, furlough came as a blessed relief.

But I was TIRED. We are all tired, amirite? I did the odd bit of sewing but I wasn’t feeling the usual intense and joyous focus. Flow had gone awol.

I kept up the sewing, one way or another, but it felt forced at times. When I made actual garments (a few of which had been planned prior to lockdown and now seemed to have no place in my new life as home worker, stay-at-home mum, home school tutor, cook, cleaner), I didn’t derive the usual joy from the process.

The glaringly obvious, when it comes to sewing clothes, is that we make things to wear. Many of the things I might have made this year (a swimming costume was on my list, some summer dresses, more work clothes) have become redundant in this new world. I don’t want to make what I don’t need, but part of me is always wedded to plans. The dress I’d been mulling over – a homage to the Vampire’s Wife dress worn by Villanelle in Killing Eve – suddenly felt like a waste of time.

Now, I know that there is that little thing called ‘sew frosting’, and that sometimes sewing something indulgent and fun is a very good thing for the soul. But right now it isn’t what I need. Right now I want to batten the hatches. I will be in my dungarees until further notice.

Maintaining practice

While I would say my sewjo has ebbed, the need to make things hasn’t really diminished. It’s the fun part, more than anything, that has gone on the back burner.

Me Made May gave me time to enjoy what I had already made, and spend time considering what I might need to make in the future. I ruthlessly curated my closet, weeding out the unloved and penciling in new makes that would be useful and worth the time behind the sewing machine. I did a bit of refashioning, a lot of mending and, for some items, I learned to let go. It was just the tonic. Thank you to Zoe @Sozoblog for hitting us all up with a potent lockdown elixir.

In this way I kept my hand in, treating sewing more as a reflex than a passion. I made stuff for the kids, I made wardrobe staples (jersey tee, anyone?), I made gifts (purses, bags, hats, poufs, cushions), I made masks, I made NHS scrubs, I made knickers, reusable pads and towels (I did, I did! I’m knitting my own leg hair into a hat too!*).

All this may have just kept the flickering flame alive.

When I did choose to make something new, I shopped my stash and used up fabric I already owned – some of it languishing unloved for more than twenty years. All this was extremely cathartic, satisfying and sustainable.

And now? I still don’t really feel like making anything fancy right now, but that’s fine. It’s not where I’m at right this minute. I’m going to rest up, keep on fiddling and fixing, and let my sewjo find its new equilibrium.

*One of these statements may be untrue

So, there you have it. The waining of the sewjo. How about you? Has your sewjo taken a battering this year or are you more prolific than ever? How has lockdown affected your making? Let me know in the comments below. 

16 thoughts on “Sewjo in lockdown – part one: the vanishing act

  1. That photo! No! Take it down! 😂
    The ebb of energy generally – there’s much invisible processing going on. Like so many, I haven’t slept well and I do recall thinking a lot about what to sew in the middle of the night. My mind needed something kind and manageable to hold onto. Sewing is that, even if I haven’t done that much of it. Enjoying the drum roll for part 2…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! It almost broke the bin! That’s very true about the processing. And I know what you mean about sleep and holding onto the idea of making even if the practical side seems to have lost its allure…


  2. I can totally relate. Definitely been through a lot of those feelings and Me Made May, definitely did some harsh getting rid of and taking stock. For now I am just getting on with practical but comfy sewing for a hopefully less dystopian future!

    Liked by 1 person

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