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How to Face Your Sewing Fears

Episode 164: A three-step process for overcoming any sewing fear.

Posted in: Seamwork Radio Podcast • October 25, 2023 • Episode 164

Today on the podcast, Sarai and Haley are talking about how to overcome your fears around sewing—just in time for Halloween.

They cover the two types of fears you might have about sewing, how to decide which one you're facing, and a three-step process for overcoming any sewing fear.

Below are the show notes for this podcast episode and a brief summary of what's covered, followed by a full transcript.

3 Steps to Overcome Any Sewing Fear

You might face two types of sewing fears: abstract and concrete. An abstract fear might be hard to identify—it might feel big, like you’re afraid of failing or think your project will look unprofessional.

A concrete fear is more tangible and defined, like installing a zipper, using the buttonhole feature on your machine, or sewing a lining.

This process will work for both abstract and concrete fears.

Step 1: Figure out if it’s an abstract fear or a concrete fear.

The first step is to figure out what’s holding you back. Why are you feeling nervous about this project or this particular step?

If you have a concrete fear, you can skip to step 3, but if you have an abstract fear, your next step is to whittle it down into a concrete fear. You need to discover the specific sewing technique you need to conquer.

Step 2: Ask “why?” until you identify the concrete fear that’s underpinning your abstract fear.

If your fear is abstract, chances are that it’s rooted in something concrete. So, to find the concrete fear, do the “why?” exercise.

Ask "why?" as many times as you need until you get to a concrete skill. Here are some examples.

Abstract fear: I’m afraid my project will look too sloppy.


I don’t know how to make it look professional.


Because I don’t know the correct finishes to use.

Solution: Learn more about finishes.

Abstract fear: I’m afraid this pattern is too advanced for me.


I am unfamiliar with some of the techniques.


I haven’t practiced them yet!

Solution: Write down the techniques that are new to you. These are your concrete fears.

Abstract fear: I’m afraid my project won't fit me.


That was a trick question. You might think fitting is an abstract fear, but it’s not. Fitting is a concrete skill. You have to find the right adjustments for your body and practice them, just as you would practice inserting zippers.

Seamworkers: you can watch the How to Fit With Confidence class here.

Step 3: Use a few simple tips to overcome the concrete fear.

This is your last step once you’ve reduced your abstract fear into a concrete skill. If you’re one of those lucky people who had a concrete fear right away, this is your second and final step.

So, how can you approach a concrete fear? It’s a lot less scary than you might think.

  • Google the heck out of it. Watch a few videos that show different approaches so it’s visually familiar when you do it yourself. Just don't get stuck here in the research phase.

  • Find low-stakes ways to practice the skill. If you're intimidated by sewing with lightweight fabrics, buy a yard, sew practice seams, darts, and hems, and bind the curved edge. Spend a half-day doing little samples of the technique.

  • Pick a project to practice for real. Choose something with mostly familiar techniques and just one new technique so you can focus on the one scary thing.

  • Repeat. Repetition is an essential ingredient to learning. It's like exposure therapy! You might think there’s a shortcut to learning a new skill, but there isn’t. It takes practice.

And now you can overcome any sewing fear, big or small.

Have you overcome a sewing fear? Do you have any tips to share? Comment and let us know!

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