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Episode 112

Ways to Stay Focused in a World of Shiny New Projects

In this episode, Sarai and Haley help you stay focused. They cover how to decide what you'll actually sew and wear, how to cultivate your personal style, and share concrete strategies that you can use to make clothes you'll love.

Podcast Transcript

Sarai
I’m Sarai.

Haley
And I’m Haley.

Sarai
And this is Seamwork Radio. Welcome back to Seamwork Radio, where we share practical ideas for building a creative process so you can sew with intention and enjoy. And today we’re talking about how to stay focused in a world of bright and shiny new projects. 

So we’re going to cover how to decide what you’ll actually sew and wear, how to cultivate your personal style so you can stay focused, and concrete strategies that you can use day to day to make things that you’re going to love.

So we’ll start with our ice breaker, which comes from Seamworker Jane. And Jane writes a little bit of a longer ice breaker, but I really love it. “Could you please tell us about the reactions and comments you get from family and friends when you show them clothes that you’ve made, especially when you first started learning to sew? Lots of people are great at being kind but honest. But there are also those, thinking of my husband hero, who really don’t know what to say. Any funny stories with this or anything that has really surprised you or really upset you and how did you deal with these reactions? Thank you. Love your podcast.”

This is a great question, Jane. I think it’s so funny thinking about her husband just, like, at a loss for words over something that she made. Yeah, it’s great. I think that’s really funny.

Haley
This is such a good icebreaker. I struggled to answer this because I was sewing for four years before I ever sewed anything for myself. So I was kind of outgrown the more awkward beginning phases of sewing. It was like a pretty accomplished sewer by the time I started sewing for myself, so I didn’t make. All of my rookie mistakes were on sample sizes, which I cannot fit into and have never been able to fit into, so guess it kind of saved me some of that kind of stuff. I just remembered there is one kind of adjacent story. I made this skirt for my mother the first year I started sewing. I made a block for her. I drafted the skirt from the block and I sewed her the skirt. It actually was pretty decent. It was cute. This, like, embroidered skirt and this brown color, which is like a color that she really likes. And I spent so much time on it. It fit her so well. And she never wore it. And I was pissed. I was so pissed. And she said she liked it, but she didn’t wear it. I spent so much time on this thing, I’m like, she must have not liked it and just felt too embarrassed to tell me.

Yeah, that is one story that I can think of, honestly. My best cheerleader is my husband. He is always, like, hyping up everything and telling everybody we meet about how she made her top. Isn’t it look so good? So if he has not liked something I’ve made, he’s made the correct choice in keeping it to himself.

Sarai
Yeah. Kenn is also definitely a cheerleader and always tells me I look good. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing or what I look like. He’ll always tell me I look good. So not really in that, at least when it comes to me, that kind but honest category that Jane mentioned here. I made a ton of weird stuff when I was starting out sewing, and I think I was lucky because I dressed really strange when I was in high school, like a lot of kids in high school do. And that’s when I started sewing. So I made a lot of just weird stuff, which I think is cool. I think that’s great. That’s what you should be doing when you’re that age, just experimenting. And I think I was lucky in that my family was very understanding about my weird quirks as a teenager. And I don’t think anybody ever said anything mean spirited, even though I might have given fodder for some jokes, probably with the stuff I was wearing. But I have a couple of things that came to mind from this question. And the first one, it was not mean spirited, but it was when I was first learning to sew.

I am the kind of person who will just dive in and do things and not always read the instructions. And I just kind of think, oh, I’ll figure it out. I can do it. And when I was first learning to sew, I decided I wanted to make a skirt. And this is like when I was really first learning to sew. And I thought, what is a skirt? A skirt is just like a tube of fabric, right? And so I made this skirt. Absolutely. But maybe this knit can be a tube of fabric. But I made this skirt. I don’t remember what the fabric was, but it was probably like a quilting cotton or something. But it was basically a tube of fabric. And my grandmother is the person who taught me how to sew, how to use a sewing machine and the real basic stuff. And I remember I was wearing it and she was like, oh, your skirt doesn’t have any darts in it. And she’s like, Well, I guess you’re young. You can wear that, I guess. Indicating I didn’t really have hips.
Haley
I know. I was kind of dissecting that. I’m like, is this a comment on your shape of your body?

Sarai
I don’t know.

Haley
If it was my grandma, it would be probably both.

Sarai
So that’s like one comment. I don’t know why I remember that, but I remember that. And then I was thinking, oh, maybe I should learn how to actually put darts and things and do things properly. That was an early one. But on the other side, I remember my best friend in high school is also one of my first things that I made was just this really simple shift dress. It was literally like a two piece pattern plus facing. It was just like a front back and a facing. And I made it in a quilting cotton, but it had this really cool print on it. It was red and black swirly print on it. And she loved this dress so much. And she told me that if I died, I had to will her this dress. She liked it so much. So those are like the two comments from when I was first learning to sew that really stick in my mind for some reason. One that taught me I needed to sew better and one that encouraged me to sew more.

Haley
Honestly, people can make the comments they’d like about my clothing that I make for myself. As long as they don’t ask me to do their alterations, like, I’m fine. You can like what I wear. You could not like it, but don’t ask me to do your sewing, please.

Sarai
Yeah, those are the comments I don’t want to hear. Well, thank you for this great question, Jane. I love this icebreaker and that you solicited these stories from us. So if you have an ice breaker that you want us to use on a future episode, you can leave it for us. If you’re a Seamwork member, just go to seamwork.com/go/icebreakers and you can post it there and we will probably use that on a future episode. So thanks again, Jane.

All right, so to the topic for today, it is really easy to get distracted by all the different things that you can make. I know that I have long suffered with this problem, continue to, which is one of the reasons that we created some processes to help with it that we’re going to talk about today. I think the really great thing about sewing is that you can create almost any piece of clothing that you want. If you can learn the skills of sewing, you can make just about anything. You can take a look at Pinterest what’s in the stores, go shopping in person, online, and see things that you like and think creatively about how you could make them yourself, which is really amazing when you think about it.

But I think the problem is that sometimes our appetite becomes bigger than our actual capacity to sew. We’re exposed to so much that we have way more ideas than we have time to execute them. And we end up just wanting to make all the things which can lead to a little bit of either analysis paralysis sort of thing where you don’t make anything, or maybe over indulging, buying tons of fabric, planning more things than you could possibly make, maybe having more than you even need. So those are both some problems that I think a lot of us struggle with. And you might not even want all that much stuff, so you might see all this really cool stuff that you could make and want to make it and at the same time not actually want to have 100 different dresses in your closet because that adds a lot of overhead to your life, and maybe you don’t actually want to own that much stuff. So I think that can be a problem because people get into sewing because they see all these problems with purchasing ready to wear, purchasing fast fashion, for example, this kind of endless cycle of needing more stuff, wanting more stuff, feeling like you have to own more stuff, or you have to look a certain way, or you have to change the way you look constantly.

And I think sewing can sometimes feel like an antidote to that, but then once you get into it, it starts to become a substitute for shopping, and you end up still feeling that you want more than you actually need. So how do we address that? So I think that’s what we’re going to talk about today is just addressing that with real practical strategies and tactics that you can use day to day to make sure that not that you’re not still having fun with your sewing and making all the cool things and getting all those creative ideas. But doing the next creative step. Which is how do you edit those ideas and hone those ideas so they actually fit who you are as a person? To start us off, Haley, what was the last impulsive project you made? Something that you hadn’t planned, you just decided to make it on a whim?

Haley
I think that the last impulsive project that I made was a Kari romper last summer. It’s actually been a minute since I’ve done something impulsively. I made it out of this rayon challis that I’ve had in my stash forever, and it was this very busy, colorful floral print. It’s been sitting I’ve had it for probably like seven or eight years, and I wanted to make this romper, and I was like, I’ll just make it out of this. I have so much of this fabric, I need to use it. It’s a quick project. I made it in, I don’t know, 3 or 4 hours, and I put it on and I was like, I’m never going to wear this. I felt like such it is such a cute pattern, but I think it’s like the combination of the fabric and the pattern, I felt like a toddler, like a floral teletubby or something. It was just like not giving what I wanted it to give. And I don’t even think I knew what I wanted it to give. It was just, so I thought of it on the spot and made it immediately. And I don’t even think I stopped to think about the outcome, but the moment I put it on, I was like, no, I gave it like, an honest shot, and I wore it out to have lunch with a friend, and I felt, like, so weird the whole time.

I’m like, who am I? I just felt like I could not pull it off. So I donated it pretty much straight away, and I think it was really, like, made an impact on me. I hadn’t done something like that in a while, and I was like, man, I am just like, my sewing time is too precious to be doing stuff like this anymore.

Sarai
Yeah, I bet you looked great in it, too. You just didn’t feel right in it. Probably.

Haley
I mean, probably it just did not feel like me. It did not feel like a representation.

Sarai
Of it doesn’t feel like you mentally. Things just are different. I feel like if I’m going through my day wearing something that doesn’t feel quite right or doesn’t feel like who I am, and conversely, when I am wearing something that really fits my style, I just feel so much more I don’t know, free. I feel like myself I’m embodying everything that I want to embody. It’s interesting how clothes can have that effect. I think, for me, I’m trying to think back, and I think the last impulsive project I made was actually not that long ago. So I went to Joann because I live kind of far from some of my favorite fabric stores, and Joann is right by the grocery store that I go to every week. So I went to Joann to pick up something. I don’t remember a zipper thread or something like that. And in the children’s section or they have an end cap, actually, of all of these double gauze fabrics people use for making baby stuff all the time. So why I was in the kids area, but it was a really pretty color. It was, like, this dark green color, and I was really into dark green at that moment.
And so I bought some, and then I brought it home, and I washed it, and I thought, I really want to sew this weekend. I really want to make something out of this. And so I just dug through my pattern stash, and I found this vintage pattern from the 70s that was sort of like a peasant sleeve. I think it was raglan, looked really simple. It was just a few pieces, and it had an elastic neckline. Elastic or drawstring, I can’t remember. So I cut it out, and I started getting ready to sew. And then after I cut it out, I pulled out the instructions, and I looked at it, and I realized that it was supposed to be made in a knit, and I had already cut the fabric, and so I was like, oh, no. Well, it’s pretty fast, so I’m just going to try it and serge what happens? And I did, and it actually was okay. It definitely fits way more snugly than it’s supposed to. It’s supposed to be kind of billowy, and it’s not billowy, but it actually looked not that bad, so it actually turned out okay, but it could have been a total disaster.

And I have to admit I haven’t really worn it that much, I think because in my heart of hearts, I know it’s not supposed to fit that way, even though it looks fine. And I love double gauze but also wrinkles really easily and I’m pretty lazy about ironing and stuff. So that’s another reason I haven’t worn it that much, but a solid reason. Yeah, I think impulsive projects like that are so much more likely to go wrong, horribly wrong than something that you’ve planned out and really thought through that could have gone really badly. So I think that is my last impulsive project I’ll make for a while.

Haley
Yeah, that’ll do it. You just got to make one bad choice once in a while and it really turns you off for making those impulsive decisions, at least for me. I’m curious, what are some of your triggers for wanting to make or even buy more clothing?

Sarai
That’s a great question. I think one of my triggers is, well, anytime there’s been a big change in my life, I feel like that’s a big trigger for me, whether that’s my life circumstances changing or even just the weather changing, which we’re going to talk about a little bit about triggers in a second, but I think that’s a big one for me. When the seasons change, like right now we’re at the beginning of fall. We’re recording this in mid September and you’re listening probably mid October when fall rolls around. It’s just like all the fall things come into view and you start thinking about how both your lifestyle changes, at least here in the Pacific Northwest or weather is quite different, everything feels a lot cozier and you start thinking about how your clothing can match that. So that’s a big one for me. And you just start seeing a lot more of that sweaters and cozy dresses and all the things that you don’t wear during the summer as much. So those are ones for me. What about you?

Haley
Definitely weather. I agree with that. I would say also very specifically, like extreme heat because I hate it and I get it like this thing in my brain where I’m like, maybe if I buy or make something, I’ll be comfortable and not feel like such like a swamp monster. And that is when I made the Kari romper because I was like, I need something that does not touch my body. I wanted to have the feeling of being nude because I was so hot and then I made a bad choice. So I feel like extreme heat really does it for me. And then probably fall because I’m very basic and I love fall and I want to be cute and like frolic in an apple orchard or something.

Sarai
Yeah, me too. I just bought some like I just bought apple picking baskets they were delivered to the house yesterday. I’m so excited for a fall. We have an apple tree, and last year, all the deer ate the apples before I got a single apple off the tree. So this year I’m going to do it. I’m going to get all those apples before the deer. Do you want them to do it? Yes. It’s going to be my fault, not their fault.

Haley
You’ve the baskets to prove it.

Sarai
Yes, and I’ve invested in the basket, so I know it’s going to happen. I think it’s funny that the extreme heat, because that’s when I do not want to sew. Whenever it gets really hot, I’m just like…
Haley
Me neither. But then I make these frenzy, weird decisions where I’m like, I’m so hot, I’m going to crank the AC, and I’m going to sew this thing, and it’s going to solve my problems.

Sarai
I just need to do something about it.

Haley
Yeah, totally. I feel so powerless.

Sarai
All right, well, I think it’s a good segue into what our tips are, because the first tip that I want to share is recognizing what your own triggers are.

I think that is something that is going to really help you to kind of before you even start making those decisions, those impulse decisions, to see where that is likely to happen so you can be more careful about it. So, for example, we talked about fall. So if you feel this way. If you start feeling the need for more stuff. To own more things. Or to completely transform your wardrobe or have things that are completely different from what you’ve been wearing for the last few months at certain times of year. Like at the start of fall. Then if you can recognize that. Then it really helps to see that when the next time rolls around. So when fall rolls around, you know, okay. I tend to go a little overboard in fall with buying all the sweater nets and all the new patterns and getting all of this stuff so I can have a completely different wardrobe than I had before. And if you recognize that you tend to do that, it will really help you to kind of tone it down, if that’s what you want to do, if you don’t want to go quite so overboard.

Sarai
So I think that’s the first step is just recognizing what those triggers are. Fall is definitely one for me. I think spring is also one for me. In the spring, I’m already thinking about summer. I’m thinking about the weather changing. I’m so looking forward to everything being in bloom and sunnier, and I want a whole new wardrobe to go with that feeling of transformation. And maybe I don’t need a whole new wardrobe to enjoy the flowers outside.

Haley
Probably not.

Sarai
It’s so easy to fall into that trap, especially because when seasons change, anytime things change or there’s a holiday or anything, it’s also a reason for people to market new things to you. So you start seeing all of these new things out in the world. And I know that just in the last couple of weeks, I use Pinterest quite a lot just to kind of organize my sewing projects, my gardening projects, all my creative stuff. And just in the last couple of weeks, it looks different. It’s all like fall stuff and fall recipes and that’s exciting, but it’s also kind of triggering for these more acquisitive habits that a lot of us are ingrained with. So that’s the first tip is just to recognize what those triggers are for you personally.

And then the next tip is to use a system to help you to plan and prioritize. So if you have a process that can help you to prioritize your ideas and your projects, that can really help you to focus. We have one called Design Your Wardrobe. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a process that is available to senior members year round, but we also do a group program twice a year.

We have just finished up our last one for fall, for fall and winter, and we’ll do another one in early next year for spring and summer, if you want to participate in that. Or you can go through it at any time if you’re a Seamwork member. And it’s a three week program that walks you through the steps from actually coming up with a concept for your wardrobe for the next few months to all the way through creating a color palette with actual fabrics, designing looks for yourself, and then finally developing a sewing queue for yourself that you can use. So if your trigger is seasonal like we just talked about, if that’s one of your triggers, this can be really helpful. I know it helps me a lot because once you start getting into that kind of fall mood or that spring mood and you really want stuff that’s new. Instead of buying all the things and really going whole hog with everything you could have.

Design Your Wardrobe always helps me to kind of tone it down and actually focus on the things that I’m really going to wear. The things I’m really going to love. Come up with a story that fits who I am and my overall style. So I find it really, really helpful. You don’t have to use design your wardrobe as a process. You could come up with your own process. I just think having a plan in place is going to help you to make those tough decisions and really give you some meaningful criteria to do it with so that you can really think through and be more intentional with what you’re making.

The next tip is to keep a list of things that are missing from your wardrobe. So this could be a list, or it could be a Pinterest board, it could be whatever works for you. But if you have a list of things that you don’t have in your wardrobe that you think you would wear often or that would fill in some gaps. That really helps you to actually make some of those prioritization decisions when you’re deciding what you’re actually going to be able to sell. So this helps you to focus more on your long term needs, which might not always be as exciting as those short term fixes that you see.

You can think about it as if your wardrobe needs, for example, like a new pair of black simple pants or trousers. That might not be something that you get super jazzed about making, but it’s something you’re going to wear all the time. Then having a way to prioritize those things as well as the more fun projects can be really helpful if you want to make things that you’re actually going to wear a lot. So just think about the things that you’re going to wear and you’re going to use for years to come instead of just only the things that are really exciting or really trendy right now. I think it’s also important to give yourself room for those things that are just exciting and trendy in the designer wardrobe process. We call these wild cards. So these are the things that after you’ve made your plan for the season. You give yourself some room to have those little moments where you can add in something that’s just exciting on the spur of the moment once in a while. Because it is fun to do that and not just have to follow a plan and never deviate from the plan like some kind of a sewing robot.

You don’t have to be a sewing robot. You can allow yourself that creativity.

I have a Pinterest board for this that I use. So I have a Pinterest board that I think I just call it Wishlist or something like that. I might have mentioned this on the podcast before. And then I have sub boards for different pieces that are currently missing from my wardrobe. So it’ll have things like if I need a new white button down shirt or something like that. And then I’ll find examples that speak to me and put it in that sub board so that when it comes time to actually sew that, I have a whole bunch of inspiration already gathered for that. And sometimes those end up being things that I’m going to buy. So for example, it’s a new pair of boots or something. I could also put it on that wish list board and collect examples there. And then I also have a sub board in there for things that I’ve already made so I can move it into that category once I’ve made it. That’s been really helpful for me just to kind of keep track because a lot of the things that are on that board are not that exciting.

They are just like wardrobe staples that I’d like to have because I know I’d wear them a lot. I found that really helpful and I also think it makes it more exciting because I’m collecting examples and maybe they have a really interesting detail to them or it’s a fabric I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. So it’s not just thinking abstractly about something as simple as a white button down shirt, but collecting together all these examples of what it might look like and all the different things I could do with it and still have it fulfilled a function that I need in my wardrobe. Do you have a list like that, Haley? Do you keep a list of gaps in your wardrobe?

Haley
Yes, I do. I have a little list on my phone of the things that I’m currently searching for patterns or I do a lot of like second hand shopping, not a lot, but that’s one of my main ways that I buy clothing. So I like to keep a list to kind of remind me of where I need to focus when I go into the thrift store or when I’m looking at online second hand marketplaces. Also, when I do Design Your Wardrobe, I create a Pinterest board with my plan for that season. So I use it kind of as a project queue. I actually just finished mine for the fall season. I have six projects that I want to make, all on sub boards. And I have ideas for the patterns I could use links to fabrics that I might want to consider or even pictures that I’ve taken of fabrics for my stash inspiration, all of that. It’s a really helpful way for me just to like I need to have some kind of sewing queue or else it just will get lost in my brain.

Sarai
Yeah, I’m the same way. If I don’t have one, then I will just make whatever springs to mind, which, as we talked about, sometimes doesn’t work out the best. So sometimes it does, sometimes it does not.

Haley
Yeah, I like having kind of the short term, long term list because then it really helps me to prioritize and also sometimes the long term items at second glance, maybe I don’t actually I decide after a year or two of it being on my list that maybe I probably don’t want it that bad if I haven’t sat down and actually made it yet.

Sarai
Yeah, that’s really helpful. And for things that you’re thinking about buying, like a certain pair, I’ve had a pair of boots on my wish list for probably like a couple of years and I haven’t bought them. And now I’m thinking I already have quite a few pairs of boots for the fall. I don’t know that I actually need this pair. So it’s nice to give yourself the space to just think and rethink because maybe something that feels like a staple is not necessarily something you need. So the fourth tip is going back to what I just mentioned. Which is those wild cards. So I mentioned that in Design Your Wardrobe. You have these wild cards that you can include in your sewing queue so that you give yourself the space to have those projects that might not be something that you plan out far in advance or that fit into a little wardrobe for the season. But you still want to make and are exciting to you to make. Because I think it’s really important that you still find your sewing to be exciting. But maybe having a certain number of those wild cards is a way for you to kind of make sure that you’re still staying focused on those longer term projects and those plans that you’ve created.

So instead of having maybe as many wild cards as you want and getting excited about things and neglecting your plan altogether, you tell yourself, okay, well, I’ll probably only be able to make maybe, let’s say, ten garments in the next six months. Maybe three of those could be wild cards, or maybe two of those will be wild cards, and the rest are these things that I’m going to plan out. One of the things that I did for this last round of Design Your Wardrobe, I’m still working on my final sewing queue, but one of the things that I did because I was having some difficulty deciding what I would actually be able to sew, I realistically wanted to only have, like, maybe five or six projects for the next season. There are other projects that I think I would probably wear and enjoy, but I couldn’t sell them all. So what I actually did for this round and we’ll see how it goes, is I created my project queue and then a separate list of some possible wildcards for the next six months that I could refer back to. So if there’s something that I want to make or maybe there’s a particular fabric that I find that I fall in love with that I think would be perfect for one of these wild card ideas, I have some to choose from, or I could choose something completely different.

So I think that’s fun, and I’m going to see how that goes. I think that’ll maybe by the end of the season, I will have completely abandon all those ideas and have things that are totally different from my wild cards. But I’m interested to see how that goes.

Haley
Yeah, I’m a big fan of incorporating those wild cards. I love a plan, but there is, I think, like a point where you’ve tried to add too much structure to your creativity, and I think that can backfire in different ways. You don’t want your plan to become an obstacle to your sewing. So I think wildcards are such a valuable tool when you’re stuck. Maybe you just need a wild card.

Right, we have three more tips to get through. Our tip number five is to create a mood board for your core style. I know this is something that Sarai and I both do, and that is to just have kind of a living mood board. Of course I use Pinterest. I’m a Pinterest fan. It’s very accessible to me. And I have a mood board that’s quite literally called “core style.” And anytime I see an image that really speaks to me, for whatever reason, I add it to that core style mood board and I make it a habit to kind of maintain it, refer back to it. Pretty often when I’m planning my sewing delete pins that just are not like, I don’t know, you look back at things, you’re like, I do not know what I liked about that, or I do not know what I was thinking, and just kind of like prune it like my little garden.

And sometimes after a few years, I find that none of it really speaks to me anymore. And it’s something that I just need to kind of start fresh. That definitely happened after I had Charley, I just felt like I don’t feel like I can relate to any of this stuff anymore and I started fresh. But I think it’s really helpful to have this kind of core style mood board so that you’re I think it’s really easy to get caught in this trap of thinking of your wardrobe from season to season. It’s a very fast fashion trap of like, reinventing yourself and redoing your entire wardrobe every single time the weather changes and having a good sense of your core style and putting just as much effort into cultivating that as you do. Your seasonal sewing queue is so invaluable when it comes to sewing things that you’re actually going to wear and kind of like staying on track when it comes to achieving your sewing goals.

Sarai
Yeah, I agree with you. Well, as you mentioned, I also have a core style Pinterest board, and every couple of years I totally redo it. So the one I’m using right now, it’s called Core Style 2022 because it’s different from the one I created in 2019 because my life is different. And if you were to look at them side by side, I don’t think they would look completely different. I think it’s more of an evolution. How can I evolve my personal style for the circumstances of my life right now? So there’s this kind of core identity, I think, for each of us and the things that we’re attracted to and the things that hold meaning for us and that aesthetically please us and fit our personalities in our bodies. But then there are these external circumstances that tend to change that might require you to evolve your style in a slightly different direction. So that’s the approach I take to it.

Haley
Totally. Tip number six is to create a physical or an analog mood board. Sarah and I talk a lot about Pinterest. I think it’s a really great tool. It’s really accessible. Something you can do straight from your phone. Anytime you see an image that you like or a recipe that you whatever, it’s accessible. We love it for that. But there is something, dare I say, kind of magical about actually printing off all of that inspiration and taking out a big piece of poster board and interacting with it physically. There are so many times I just created a physical mood board for the first time in a while. I’ve been doing all of them kind of digitally in inDesign or in Canva in the past few years. But the exercise of printing everything out and looking at everything in front of me, it was so much easier to edit myself and to create a more defined idea of what I wanted to create. And I think that it’s a really great exercise if you are feeling a little bit overwhelmed or a little bit stuck, whether that is in your seasonal mood board or sewing plans or maybe it’s in creating, really defining your core style.

I think printing it all off and getting a glue stick and some paper and having at it can really be such a useful exercise. How often do you go back to making a physical mood board?

Sarai
That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say I return to it that often. But I do have you can see behind me right now, I have this big pin board on my wall here in my sewing room and I created a physical board. I printed out a whole bunch of pictures and put them up there. I want to add to it. This mood board on my wall is kind of sort of like my core style board. It’s less just about clothing though. It’s more I would say it’s more broad than that. More of just like general aesthetic. I have pictures of flowers and I have art up there and I have all kinds of stuff up there and it just kind of conveys a certain mood that I want in my life. And so that is really helpful to me because it’s something that I can return to and that’s in front of me all the time. And just as I was going through the Design Your Wardrobe process this last time, I started to get kind of pulled in some different directions and I returned to that. It was something that was right in front of me that I could look at and remember the sort of very corresponding that appeals to me and why that appeals to me.

That’s the reason I find analog physical mood boards so helpful. I agree. They can also really help you to edit yourself a lot more because you have a lack of physical space to include everything. I also like that you can include things other than just images. So you can include swatches, you can include pieces of trim, you can include actual dried flowers or a feather or whatever it is that is important to you and represents whatever you want to represent. So I’m a big proponent of analog mood boards. I wouldn’t say I create them all the time, but it’s more like this stable thing that I can have in my life and return to over and over again.

Haley
Yeah, I hung my mood board in my sewing space and it has been such a nice reminder every time I step into the space of kind of like my priorities for the coming months when it comes to my sewing, it’s really nice to have that very front and center when I’m in this space that I sew in.

Sarai
Yeah. One of the things that I was thinking about doing with it since I have this in the pin board, so like the center of it is all of these images that I was just talking about, but I was thinking about taking a corner. I’m using that to work on my kind of capsule for this next season and then maybe even putting up like individual project mood boards. So kind of taking the flats from the pattern that I want to make and adding in swatches and having that all up in front of me I think would also be really fun and a good way to remind myself of what I’m making and how it all fits together.

Haley
Totally. I left some space on my mood for it to do exactly that, kind of fill in with some more flats and some more concrete plans now that I have them. I have one more tip to offer before we go into the recap, and that is to not forget about the joy of sewing and get too buried in project planning. As fun as that is and as great of a tool as it is, I think it’s really important to prioritize the projects that you’re actually going to enjoy making. Something that I ask myself frequently is do I want to make it or do I just want to have it? There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to have it. But like I said before. I do have a little thrifting list and sometimes if I’m like I just do not want to make that. I just want to have it. Then that’s a good indication to me that maybe I need to obtain that item a different way and I should be spending my valuable time and my creative energy making things that I actually am going to love making. Oftentimes I feel like the projects that I’m most likely to abandon halfway through are those projects that I wanted because I wanted it, I didn’t have any interest in the process of actually creating it with my hands.

Sarai
Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. I think knitting taught me a lot about this because knitting is obviously much slower than sewing. I also am a very slow knitter in terms of like I am constantly putting down projects and forgetting about them for weeks at a time. So to make a sweater, it takes me I’ve been working on this sweater for at least six months that I’m working on right now, and that’s fine. That’s taught me that if I see a sweater I like and I can’t sew it, it’s something I might want to either knit or just buy. There’s a limited amount of knitting I’m going to be able to do, and I think applying that to sewing is really helpful as well. All right, well, those are our tips. I’m going to recap them for you. So the first one is to recognize what your triggers are. So, for example, if you’re triggered to buy a lot of stuff at certain times of year or to want to make all the things at certain times of year, recognizing that can really help you to tone yourself down a little bit. Number two is to use a system to plan and prioritize.

Of course, you can use Design Your Wardrobe if that’s something that appeals to if you want a more structured process, or you can develop your own process. But the point here is having a plan that’s going to help you to make those difficult decisions about what you’re going to make and what you’re not going to make.

Number three is to keep a list of things that are missing from your wardrobe so that you can think about those more longterm needs and not just the really exciting and trendy projects that might appeal to you in the moment.

Number four is to give yourself a certain number of wildcards. So wild cards are those projects that might not be part of a plan that you might be really excited by. And if you have a certain number that you’re going to allow yourself to sew in a given period of time, that can help you to make sure that you’re still sticking with your plan, if that’s what you want to do.

Number five is to create a mood board for your core style, and you can use something like Pinterest for this if you want, or you can go analog, which is tip number six, which is to create a physical analog mood board. I think this is a great thing to do alongside a digital mood board, or in addition to I really like having that in front of me to help me constantly have a physical reminder of what I’m trying to create in my life.

And then number seven is to prioritize projects that you’re actually going to enjoy making because you have a limited amount of time to sew, if you’re like most of us. And if you can prioritize the things that you’re actually going to get a kick out of making, then you’re a lot more likely to finish them. So those are our tips for you today. What’s your takeaway from this episode?

Haley
I think that my takeaway from this episode. There’s a lot of good tips here. I think that my takeaway is that it’s kind of a reminder that I feel like I need to revisit my long-term to-sew list because I feel like it’s been kind of on the back burner for a while, and maybe some of those projects would fit well into my upcoming wardrobe plans. It’s a very selfish takeaway. It’s a small takeaway, maybe not a big takeaway. What about you?

Sarai
I think my takeaway is that style is something that evolves over time. And I think the trick with planning your sewing is making sure that you’re allowing for that evolution, but at the same time not abandoning who you are in order to create things that are just trendy or that seem exciting in the moment or that are being pushed by retailers or the fashion industry. And so finding that balance between how is my style changing, how am I personally changing, and what is core to who I am and what do I want to represent about who I am, is really what the exciting thing about sewing and about using fashion for self expression. And I think one of the more difficult things about it too.

Haley
That is a much more profound takeaway than mine. Very beautiful and well said.

Sarai
Thank you. Well, if you want to learn more about this, we have some articles and videos that can help you. We have an article called Taming the Project Queue that you can find at Seamwork.com, and we’ll link these in the show notes as well. We also have a video on how to sketch your sewing plans. So sketching is something we didn’t talk about too much today, but it’s something you can really incorporate into your Design Your Wardrobe process or whatever planning process you use into your mood boards, whether they’re physical or not. So if you want to learn more about sketching, you can check out that video. And again, we’ll link it in the Show Notes. And you also might want to check out Design Your Wardrobe, so if you go to our website, you’ll be able to find it there. And again, we’ll link in the Show Notes. But Design Your Wardrobe is available to our members year round for free. So if you’re a Seamwork member already, you can get access to it for free. And if you are a senior member, I highly recommend participating in one of the programs that we do twice a year.

Either we usually do one in either August or September, and then we do one in around February, March, and it is so fun. You’ll just learn a lot about yourself. You’ll be able to design a little wardrobe for yourself, but it’s also really fun to participate with other people, to see what other people are making, how they’re thinking about things, have conversations about it. It’s a blast. And this last round was especially fun. We had so much participation, so many people having these great conversations. It was just so much fun. So if that’s something you’re interested in, you can check it out on our website. The other thing I wanted to mention is that we have a free sewing planner, which is a printable tool to help you design and plan your sewing projects. And you can kind of think about it as sort of a little mini Design Your Wardrobe. It’s something that you can use with designer wardrobe, or if you’re not participating in design your wardrobe, you can use it without it. And it is totally free. And it includes pages for sketching out your looks, for planning out individual projects, adding sketches, and swatches.

And you can also, because it’s a PDF, you can print as many pages as you need, so it really lasts you a long time. And that’s available for free at Seamwork.com/go/free-planner. And again, we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. So if you like this episode, we would love to hear from you. If you would like to leave us a review, we read all of our reviews, and we absolutely love hearing from you guys, and it also really helps us to get the word out about the show to other people who might enjoy it. So whether you’re listening on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or Spotify, wherever you’re listening, if there’s a place to leave a review, we would absolutely love to hear from you. So please do that if you have a moment. And you can also follow us on YouTube at Seamwork Video. We’re always posting new videos there. You’ll see a lot from us on YouTube. You can also follow us on Instagram at Seamwork. And if you’d like to join Seamwork and become part of our private community, plus get access to hundreds of sewing patterns and dozens of sewing classes, our podcast listeners get a 50% off lifetime discount when you join at Seamwork.com/go/podcast-50.

And that is it for us today. I’m Sarai.

Haley
And I’m Haley.

Sarai
And this is Seamwork Radio.

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