A Little Less Inspiration, A Little More Action

I was thinking about the recent Coletterie post on the creative reaction: how there are so many pretty things in the world, and it’s not possible to possess them all. How do I feel about this? I’m certainly a collector of inspiration. I have a sketchbook full of ideas, a folder full of images, file folders full of magazine pages, and nowhere near enough time to put all of these ideas into action!

So then I started thinking – maybe it’s better to act, rather than plan. After all, I find myself unable to start a project sometimes. What if it’s not the perfect plan? What if halfway through, I come across an even better idea? This indecision stops me from even starting.

hazel and parfait - possible fun-sewing friday projects?(I keep debating what do make with the fabric in the background of this photo, because I love it and want to sew it into the absolute perfect thing!)

Then I remember, finished is better than unfinished. Finished is way better than never started. Even if it’s not the most perfect plan, who cares? Make something else. At least you completed something!

Plus, what’s the most fulfilling use of time? Two hours spent on Pinterest looking for ideas, or two hours testing out new ideas and experimenting hands-on? I don’t know about you but after two hours of looking at inspiration and pretty images, I feel like my to-sew list has tripled in size and I’m miles behind if I don’t get started on all those ideas right now. After sewing for even an hour, I feel happy, I feel connected to what I’m making and even if I didn’t finish, or didn’t like the result, the time never feels wasted.

I also relate to the thoughts on trading shopping dollars for fabric dollars. I see something I like in a store or in a magazine, and think, I could make that! I’d save so much money and feel pleased with myself for making it to fit me perfectly. I’d enjoy the process of making it with my own two hands. While I’m very cautious with my shopping budget, I’m reckless with my fabric budget. After all, I am sure I’ll sew every piece of fabric eventually! And it’s part of my business, and part of my entertainment. I have all the reasons in the world to justify buying more fabric.

Which leads to a fabric stash, which isn’t that different from an overstuffed closet. (Perhaps worse in a way because you can’t wear anything while it’s still in fabric form, but better in a way because it’s going to provide you with hours or weeks of sewing joy.) Just because it exists and it’s beautiful, doesn’t mean I need to own it.

There’s nothing wrong with buying supplies for a hobby we love. It’s when that feeling of possession takes over and it’s about owning all the fabric, rather than choosing supplies thoughtfully for a new project.

fabric collection

And I have bought a lot of yarn recently. As I was just learning to knit, I was afraid to buy anything that wasn’t going to be used right away. Then I became more confident in my skills and thought, I can make anything! Everything! All the things! Buy it while it’s on sale! (Rather than calculating what I can actually complete and buying materials when I have a new project in mind.)

On the knitting inspiration front, I’ve ‘favourited’ probably a couple hundred things by now. I have a queue of things I want to make that’s forty items long. Can I even knit forty things in a year? I check out my friends’ projects, favourites and every time, I find another five things I want to make. Again, just because a gorgeous sweater exists, doesn’t mean I need to own a version of my own.

stash of yarn, all the yarn!

When does inspiration turn from a motivator, a spark that gets us going, to a force so strong that stops us from actually making things?

What do we do? I’m going to aim for a little less inspiration, a little more action.

I’m going to focus on sewing, rather than planning sewing projects that never get off the ground. I’m going to be realistic about what I can actually sew in a reasonable time frame. I’m going to stop buying just because it’s beautiful, it has to be useful and has to have an end use planned. I don’t need to own every beautiful idea I come across – nor do I want to, when I actually think about it honestly. And I want to take a deep breath and savour my crafting time, be thankful for everything I do have, instead of thinking about the things I don’t have and could possibly acquire.

What do you think? Do you find yourself spending more time searching for inspiration than actually sewing or making things? How do you fulfill the desire for beautiful materials while being realistic about what you plan to make?

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97 Responses to A Little Less Inspiration, A Little More Action

  1. karen January 28, 2013 at 6:18 am #

    Tasia, that’s a very inspirational post, if you don’t mind me saying so! I have exactly the same problem, ie too many ideas and projects to do leading to inaction and frustration. I do think that it’s so easy to browse on your computer when you’ve just got a few minutes and that is part of the problem. What do do with those “few minutes” you have between tasks and how to avoid repeating the pattern.

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      Thanks! I figured I can’t be the only one who has more ideas than time. And when the time to sew finally arrives, I’m not sure where to begin!
      I think that doing one project at a time would help with this, as would making that first cut. Once the fabric is cut, there’s no going back! (Both a good thing as it stops the indecision, bad thing if we made a mistake.)

  2. Marie January 28, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    This is kind of obliquely related, but it made me feel better about my reading habits: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/04/21/135508305/the-sad-beautiful-fact-that-were-all-going-to-miss-almost-everything

    Can’t do it all, and that’s not a terrible thing.

    • Claire January 28, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      I totally agree that time spent searching for inspiration is time that could be better spent actually creating something. I try to remind myself of that when I have free time and I find myself surfing the internet instead of picking up a project. I also have a new tactic to avoid accumulating a huge stash of patterns and fabric. When I start to think “OMG I have to buy this now! It’s so perfect!” I remind myself that it’s not really a “now or never” situation because I can find something just as perfect a few months from now – when I’m actually ready to create the thing. We have easy access to thousands of beautiful things via the internet these days, so there’s no need to act like if we miss something today we won’t be able to get something just as good tomorrow.

      • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 11:01 am #

        I like this – “When I start to think “OMG I have to buy this now! It’s so perfect!”” this is me in the fabric store, all the time. Just because I *can* envision this fabric as a great new Renfrew, doesn’t mean I have to make it.

        Like you said, we have easy access to thousands of beautiful things. And sometimes just admiring the beautiful thing is enough, we don’t need to own it!

    • Angela January 28, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      Thanks for posting this link. It is a beautiful and apt response to this issue I think.

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 10:49 am #

      Thanks for the link! I like this, I like the thought of culling vs. surrendering, choosing what we aren’t going to do in our lifetime rather than feeling defeated by it.

      Sometimes I feel like I need to do it all in all genres of sewing as well – must master sewing underwear! bras! tailoring! etc etc. Thanks for the intelligent article and the reality check. Can’t do it all, but can certainly enjoy the things we choose to do.

    • Irina January 29, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      This is such an amazing article, sad and consoling at the same time! With the world constantly shrinking it is becoming harder and harder to make choices without second-guessing yourself and thinking there might be other (oh horror Better!) things out there. It leaves us feeling dissatisfied and lusting for more because we know there IS more (be it books, films, sewing/crafting projects, partners)… So, really, the best thing to do is focus on what you have at hand and be thorough and happy with it. To find value in what you have feels much better than wanting that which you don’t.

      Thank you so much for posting it!

    • Tasha @ Stale Bread into French Toast January 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      That’s a great article. I’m finding it really comforting to think that humans have actually been struggling with these same issues ever since there was more literature than one person could read in a lifetime . . .

  3. karla January 28, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    A very thoughtful post and particularly apt for me. I am currently decluttering my craft room that is chock full of stuff that I purchased because they were a bargain and I would probably need them one day. The result is a room that I now can’t use so nothing is created – very silly. The sooner I sort this the better!

  4. Sam January 28, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Excellent post! I find I spend lots of time planning and writing about my plans, and then end up sewing or knitting completely different things. I’m going to try and spend less time planning – or maybe not make so definite plans – and more time making things!

  5. Evie January 28, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    This is so relevant to me at the moment. My fabric stash isn’t huge, but I feel slightly oppressed by it. So I’m taking steps to sew it all up. It’s hug fun working out what I’m going to sew and allocating patterns to fabric. So much so that I’ve actually shifted a sewing block and have started my first project of the new year. Much better than just thinking about all the lovely things I’d like to sew.

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      I know the feeling, isn’t it bizarre that having more fabric can actually make us less likely to use it? If I had two pieces of fabric, and time to sew, I’d choose the one I liked more and get to it. Having thirty pieces makes me think too much about where to start! Good luck sewing up your stash. Allocating patterns to fabric is fun and probably reminds you that you have plenty to keep yourself busy!

  6. Natalie Harrison January 28, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    I think this applies to anything creative such as writing, or even studying.
    The measurement of urgency.


  7. Seraphinalina January 28, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    I keep hearing the phrase “a little less inspiration a little more action” in my head as Elvis singing “A little less conversation”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvlxRvhCB_A

    I totally hear you. In analytics, it’s called analysis paralysis. You spend so much time looking at numbers and digging up more numbers it becomes impossible to just stop and find the story. Same thing with too many inspirational ideas – where do you start? Add to the fact that cutting into fabric has it’s own “hold your breath” type moments, it can be daunting to just get going.

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Haha, that was where the title came from! :) Thanks for the video link! Those are some short dresses!

      Analysis paralysis, I like that.

    • Sophie-Lee January 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      Ohh analysis paralysis, I like that too. My problem comes from both having too much inspiration/fabric etc and also (mainly) the feeling that I’m not doing things the best way – suddenly I need to fit everything PERFECTLY even though it was never a huge issue in the past. And once I learn about a new technique/better way of doing things, I really should be doing that and not the way I was doing it before, and that required a new foot on my machine that I just must have.

  8. O! Jolly! January 28, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    I often spend far too long in the planning phase. My excuse was that I was more into “process” than “product”. What I need to remember is that there is “process” in every “product”, but the reverse is not always true. Thanks for this post. I’m going to go produce something now. :)

  9. Hearthrose January 28, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    I love pinterest… but I agree that it leads straight to “I am a lazy cow, why don’t I have all the beautiful projects in my head hanging in my closet”? That said, I tend to hang out there when I am tired and it would be a very bad idea to let me anywhere near a sewing machine or even worse – scissors.

    Like any tool, it needs to be used well and not abused. It’s so new, it’s hard to find the sweet spot!

  10. Marisa January 28, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    I couldn’t agree more with you!

    I spend hours finding new things, beautiful things that I can make, but unfortunately, I spend all my free time searching for them instead of doing them.
    Last week I’ve come up with a very strict schedule so I can have time for everything, for reading and making beautiful things.

    I also have a list of things to do and I cannot change their order, never! This helps me getting things done.

  11. Lisa January 28, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    I get like this every time I walk over to my sewing table. I want to make the right thing with my fabric but have a change of heart before the scissors come out. You are right about just cutting it out and getting on with it. So much sewing time is wasted just humming and hawing over it.

  12. Katie January 28, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    I have separate ‘inspiration’ time…that is my lunch break! I sift through blogs, Ravelry and fabric websites. I consolidate all the inspiration…queue a bunch of the same type of thing on Ravelry, or check Pattern Review for some examples of a pattern. I can pop out for yarn or notions If I need them.

    When I get home it’s my ‘creation’ time. I have set a goal that I always work on a project at least 20 minutes a day (with a few exceptions). I only allow myself to have 2 knitting and 1 sewing projects on the go. I don’t have any UFOs and it also means that if there aren’t projects on the go, I have to start something. Things don’t ‘stall out’ in the inspiration stage.

    • Sophie-Lee January 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      I think I need to do this – just have 30 minutes almost every day to work in my sewing room. Whether it’s cleaning, doing actual sewing, or just cutting out patterns/fabric, at least I’m doing SOMETHING. And often it just leads into more creative time because I’m in “the zone”

      My lunch break tends to be looking at cheap fabric on trademe – then I buy it and have to wait until I get paid – then I use up all my money. And I often buy fabric that I don’t have the skill/time to develop the skill I need to sew it, because I read on someone’s blog that it was nice fabric (I have so much slippery/sheer fabric that I need to learn to use!!)

  13. Diane @ Vintage Zest January 28, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    I saw and commented on the same Colette post you mentioned, and even blogged about it a couple weeks prior.


    It’s almost like junk food at times. You get excited over having a bit of inspiration, and then you have a little more, then more, then more… And then you just feel sick, like you can’t look anymore because you’ve had too much. Your energy is sapped by the very process that once inspired you.

    But, like you said it is important to spend your time ACTUALLY creating! And with all the ideas and talent that you already have, I’m sure less planning and more action will just lead to more finished projects (and less inspiration boards). Can’t wait to see them!

    • bela s. February 6, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      I like the junk food analogy.
      I think the hard truth is that sewing is work. Is it oyful work, sure! But it takes time, concentration, energy, and if you don’t like UFO’s it takes discipline too. It’s always much easier to buy stuff or watch other people work, than do your own work. Watching other people exercise won’t get you in shape contrary to our deepest wishes.
      Being on Pinterest is not creating anything except more craving for stuff you probably already have or could make if you weren’t on Pinterest or PatternReview, etc.
      I’m a fan of the internet Sabbath. Some people do it for a weekend, others for a few hours but unplugging can be a big productivity booster.

  14. PepperReed January 28, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    This. I am really struggling with this right now (as I surreptitiously close the Pintrest tab on my browser…). I don’t have cable, as I proudly say, ‘Why watch HGTV about how to decorate my home and play in my garden, when I can just do that’. But I DO have the internet and my crafty ideas (and stash!) languish into obscurity, while new ones fill their place. It’s a Difficult conundrum… you want to see what others are doing and what is ‘new’ and interesting, but not at the expense of never creating in the first place.

    For me, a lot of it is perfectionism; I’m still learning this craft and screw those 10,000 hours — I want it to be perfect Right Now. I also wonder how much of the issue is what we deem ‘public’ craft vs private. My home and garden, etc. are static; they don’t walk around with me everywhere like an outfit or accessory would. Both types are a direct reflection of my interests, patience and skill, but one is overtly critiqued (in person and also Pinned, commented on, Tweeted, blogged), either positively and negatively just by its public nature.

    Maybe Nike was on to something…

  15. Stacy January 28, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    I definitely need to start making and stop looking, but it’s so hard not to look. Especially when you’re surround with temptation. I recently have learned to knit and have group of fabulous ladies I knit with. We knit together once a month. We also inspire, encourage and show off out latest makes. It’s so hard to not make “my own version” of every product I love. I am however, trying very hard to stop looking for inspiration on various websites and actually sitting down to knit more. Let’s hope I keep on that path to creation.

  16. Brumby January 28, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    I am exactly the same, all these beautiful fabrics that I have dreams of making into ‘the’ perfect top/dress/skirt but put off because I keep seeing different designs I’d like to make it into, or I worry I may not like the style in 12 months then the fabric is lost, or I will just lose a bit more weight before making it so I don’t have to resize it. One of my resolutions was that I could buy no more than 6 pieces of fabric this year, after going through and data basing most of my fabric a couple of weeks ago, I realised I have over 500 meters (550 yards) in 4 of the 5 boxes of fabric I have databased. The need for less inspiration and more doing, is dire!

    • Sophie-Lee January 29, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      500 metres! Phwoar!! That is a huge chunk to get through!!

      My resolution is to only buy more fabric once I have used some from my stash – I so often go to the fabric shop to get one thing (even if it’s just a zip) and see some fabric that I MUST HAVE, end up coming home with three pieces of fabric that sit in my stash for yonks.

  17. The Sewing French Girl January 28, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    You are so right! I realized about a year ago that when I didn’t have time or energy for sewing I would tend to do 3 things:
    – planning / scheming projects;
    – buying fabrics/notions/books (in my case its a lot of sewing and patternmaking books);
    – shopping RTW.

    And the more I do those 3, the less I sew! So in 2012 I started taking breaks. I did 2 three months breaks of shopping and I sewed so much more!!!

  18. Tasha January 28, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Both the Collette post and this one definitely have me thinking. I am a BIG planner. I know for sewing, I have substituted planning and inspiration for actual sewing a lot in the last 1.5 years, perhaps in part because I have been both unsure of my skills and easily frustrated. I sewed exactly 5 things last year, and while they are all nice, I though I’ve GOT to be doing more than this. So this year I’m not going to plan as much. I’ll look for inspiration sometimes, but try to approach it more like when I have an idea for a project that I want to start and need some inspiration for perhaps shape or details, instead of searching for inspiration endlessly for projects that will never materialize when I have a 20-mile long list.

    And I’m off to a good start. I’ve sewn 3 complete things and have 2 others almost done (after I work out some minor fitting issues). That means I’ll have sewn as many things in January as all of 2012. It’s so easy to get lost with inspiration and planning! I’m resolving NO MORE. Less inspiration, more action, you said it best!

    As for my Ravelry queue omg… it’s over 300. lol I just use it mainly like a Pinboard, so when I need inspiration I can turn to it. I don’t take it literally to mean I have to knit everything on it so the length of it doesn’t overwhelm me. :)

  19. Jan A January 28, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    I too am a fabric stasher. But, I have learned after many years of sewing, to make and plan time for the ideas, cutting and sewing. If I don’t do anything with the fabric after a few years, I donate it to a charity group. I also hate cutting out fabric, so I cut several projects out at the same time. That way, I can start them anytime. I also have started doing alterations and sewing as a part time business from my home, although I have been sewing for friends and family for years. I admit, I still venture into the fabric store for my “fabric therapy” to feel, look, and get inspiration.

  20. Christine January 28, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Yes! This is the year I bust my stash and I’ve already done quite well with it. I too can be reckless with fabric purchases and it’s not good. But I can tell you that once you cut into things and remove the “precious” label from the fabric, you will feel wonderful. It’s addicting too… I started cutting into my stash and couldn’t stop! I loved Sarai’s post as well and I love that we’re all thinking this way :)

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Oh yeah, that ‘precious’ label – the ‘too pretty to cut’ curse! Great to hear that it gets easier to cut into those gorgeous fabrics once you start. I think we’re all thinking along the same lines because it’s the New Year and we’re trying to improve ourselves, our skills and our outlook, maybe.

  21. louize January 28, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Thanks for this, it is reassuring to see I am not the only one!
    I have been struggling to make the first cut in the material for my Minoru since the beginning of the month, and getting hugely stressed about it, without understanding why – I have made half a dozen coats in the past, I have never really thought much before jumping in to a sewing project, no matter how challenging it is. What makes the Minoru different? Yesterday I realised it is the amount of information out there about it, the number of reviews and comments on the pattern, the countless beautiful examples… suddenly, instead of sewing on my own, I have company, and some very talented people… instead of sewing I am hopping from one blog to another and on to another, spending hours analysing each and every jacket I can find! I am inspired and overwhelmed and paralysed!

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Oh no! I would hope that all the Minorus out there would help with ideas rather than overwhelm you.. but it totally makes sense. If there was one version, you’d look and say ‘well, I hate orange, so mine will be blue’ and then you’d get to it. With a dozen or more versions, there’s so much to look at that it’s overwhelming!

      Here’s my recommendation – start! What’s the worst that can happen? You wish you’d made it in red all along. Well, at least you have ONE finished jacket, and you can fine-tune it for when you make that second one. (Bonus: it’s a fairly fast pattern to sew, compared to other jackets!) Good luck!

  22. Parnuuna January 28, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Wow – you just hit a nerve there. :P
    I spend waaay to much time on pinterest, and generally on the computer, rather that doing the things I love the most – like sewing! :)

    Thanks for the post, it just reminded me to get off the computer and finish my jacket, that I am working on. :)

    Have a nice week.

  23. Ksaunm January 28, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I’m a quilter, and have collected a lot of 1/4 yard pieces of fabric. While it’s nice to have a stash, a few years ago I realized that often when I was jonesing for new fabric or a quilting book, what I really was feeling was an urge to create. One way around that, for me, was to have a project absolutely ready to go, or partially done and made accessible, so I couldn’t resist the urge to get to work. Then when I realize I’m aimlessly Internet shopping, I reach for a project “just for 5 minutes” instead, and have been able to finish things that I’d lost momentum for, or spend more time doing new things.
    Great post! Thanks.

    • Meraj January 28, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      Reaching for a project “just for 5 minutes” sounds like a way better option than going on the internet “just for 5 minutes” :P. Having a project ready to go and made accessible is a good idea, thanks!

  24. Thea January 28, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    I think I’m quite lucky in that I haven’t gotten started on pinterest yet (looks like I shouldn’t either, or I’ll get lost), and currently my fabric shopping is limited by a number of factors combining to keep me off fabric stashing. There’s my limited knowledge of what to make with the fabric – I can look at fabrics and think, oooh, that’s nice, but I can’t buy it because of no clue what to do with it later. And since I have a limited budget, buying fabric to have it sitting around kind of hurts… Plus: London flats = tiny! No space to stash.
    Funnily, any fabric that sits unsewed is not because I like it too much: it’s usually because I don’t love it enough. I have a few (three?) sitting here that were mis-purchases, and they just get reasigned and remain unloved. I’m quite lucky though: I live half an hour walk away from Goldhawk Road in London. If I like a fabric, I don’t feel too pressured to buy it, because I can always pop back in on another day.
    So, I don’t stash… yet?

  25. Meraj January 28, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    “I find myself unable to start a project sometimes. What if it’s not the perfect plan? What if halfway through, I come across an even better idea? This indecision stops me from even starting.” …Haha, I think a lot of us have that problem! And being surrounded by fantastic creations on the internet definitely makes it worse.

    What I’m also trying to figure out, though, is how to reconcile the desire to make with the desire to not be wasteful? I mean, won’t sewing always, in the end, lead to more posessions? I think in your new year’s post you talked about responsible sewing, and you mentioned that you wanted to make clothes that you would still be wearing in 10 years, and I was really kind of awestruck by that. (10 years!) But in that case, wouldn’t you have to stop sewing clothes for yourself at one point, or at least sew far more slowly, only when you needed to replace something that had worn out?

    Haha I sound super-critical, sorry! I’m not meaning to. But the thing is, I generally tend to buy boring, staple fabrics (because I adore them), I sew maybe one garment a month, and I very rarely buy clothes. And even then, I think that at some point I will have far more (admittedly nice) clothes than I want. And I don’t want that.

    Right now what I do is I’ve gone back to drawing a lot (especially on the computer), so that I can create visual things without using up or wasting as much material, but now, seeing your and Sarai’s posts on “inspiration” I’m wondering if drawing a lot actually is a solution. Do you have any thoughts on that :)? (Translation: Can you give me the answers to life, the universe, and everything, please and thanks)

    • Meraj January 28, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      Ack, super long comment, I apologize.

      • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 11:11 am #

        No need to apologize! It’s not critical at all. (I like to think critically about what I write here anyways. You guys have some great insights and often mention things I didn’t think of, here in my bubble.)

        I do have things I’ve owned for nearly ten years! I have a jacket from 2004 and a dress from .. 2006 maybe. I think those are the oldest things in my closet. (Now I want to go home and check..) I make things pretty slowly unless they’re for the business, and things do wear out, so I don’t think I’ll reach maximum capacity any time soon.

        It’s an interesting balance between the desire to create and sew, the responsibility to be less wasteful, and to spend time doing hands-on experimenting rather than just planning.. I certainly don’t want to make stuff that I don’t plan to wear (or that I have too much of already) just for the sake of sewing, and I do care about not being wasteful of materials. (I donate most of my scraps and remnants to the high school home ec programs, so it’s at least going to get used by someone, sometime even if it’s not me.)

        Interesting question! I’m sure I will come up with more thoughts on the subject as time goes by.

        • Meraj January 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

          Thanks! I think your description of the situation is a little more nuanced, and therefore more complete, than my initial sewing vs. wasting question — I tend to think in terms of perfect ideals and then fret that I can’t find the matching perfect solution. (This is probably yet another case of me going, “What if it’s not the perfect plan?!”)

          I like your points– that even though zero-waste is near impossible, remembering not to sew just for the sake of it will help reduce waste almost automatically, and that clothes will unavoidably wear out and need replacing. And that there are other ways to be a responsible seamster/maker, locally and globally. Not that I was surprised by how practical and nuanced your reply was–it’s pretty clear just from your posts that you make a point of considering these questions thoroughly :). Thanks for the thoughtful answer to my questions!

      • Tasha @ Stale Bread into French Toast January 28, 2013 at 11:33 am #

        I also have struggled with this a lot lately, and it’s great to hear that others have the urge to make and do more than we can in one lifetime! Thanks for all the thoughts about it.

        One way I’ve decided to help with this is to make what I need right now, instead of all those things that I love but don’t have that much use for. Right now I have a lack of long sleeve tops and sweater layers, so that’s what I’m working on. I’m trying to make them unique and reflect my style, but not get paralyzed by needing each piece to be absolutely perfect, there is such a thing as good enough/the best I can do for now. I would love all my me-made clothes to last a long, long time, but there will still always be things that are wearing out and need replacing. Plus, if I do get to a point of a wardrobe stability, then I can spend months working a big project (I’d love to tailor my next winter coat) trying something new (I want to make bras too!) or actually sewing something for someone else, like say my husband.

        I think it’s good to draw as long as you don’t feel like you have to make everything you ever drew and every idea you ever had, I’m trying to “let go” of some ideas by just drawing them and letting that be all. I do have a set amount of sewing time that I try to stick to, and I think that’s also an important tool keeping me moving forward and not just dreaming.

        Hope that helps!

        • Meraj January 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

          You know, spending a long time on a big project like a coat when you reach “wardrobe stability” sounds like a really, really good idea. Lots of time and effort (which is good) + an intense technical process + a really classy end product which will be useful! Great tip. It sounds just as satisfying as your choice to make pieces that you know you’ll get to use right now. :)

          And thanks for your thoughts about drawing and inspiration — I think part of my worry came from me subconsciously channeling that old “art is a waste of time!” mantra. I’m reassured to see that other people feel the need to try to “let go” of some of their sewing ideas, too.

          thanks for your reply!

          • Tasha @ Stale Bread into French Toast January 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

            You’re welcome! I’m finding that thinking about making a coat down the line when I need a coat is somehow way less overwhelming than adding it to a general “to-sew” list. And that reading everyone’s thoughts about this is helping my own thought process a lot.

            P.S. As you know, art is never a waste of time! Sometimes you just need to let some ideas out into the open. :)

    • Sewing Sveta January 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm #


      • Meraj January 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

        Aha, of course! :P now if only I could figure out what the question was …

        • Sewing Sveta January 28, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

          The questions was Life, Universe and everything%))

  26. Michelle January 28, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    I have pieces of fabric I’m afraid to cut into for fear that I’ll ruin them. :-( I like the Hazel pattern for the fabric you have pictured. I think the print is really beautiful. The panel seams on the parfait might interrupt the pattern on the print.

  27. Truly Myrtle January 28, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Oh man – you’ve hit the nail on the head. I suffer from this sooooo much!!! I currently have a pile of fabric on my sewing table, some of it dating back 20 years! There is one piece I bought in my early 20’s – italian knit in a rich burgundy – it has been waiting for the right pattern since then…. Silly.
    And, these days, with pinterest and blogs and etc etc – I get easily overwhelmed and feel like it is all moving so much more quickly than I can keep up with! Being multi-craftual doesn’t help because you feel torn in different directions.
    I am trying a new tack this year. One outfit per month. Complete outfit. So far so good – I’ve made two things (one knitted, one sewn) that I have been meaning to make for ages. So far I’ve got a dress, cardigan, hat, a half finished bag, fabric for a faux fur stole/thing and I’m having a go at glasswork tomorrow to make a ring. Yay!
    Month two is planned in my head. Can’t wait to get started…

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      One outfit per month is a brilliant idea. Not only do you complete things, you avoid the dreaded ‘closet orphan’ issue where you have nothing to wear with your new garment! I’m impressed with your January progress so far. (And intrigued by the idea of glasswork – how cool!) Good luck with your challenge!

      • Ann January 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

        I think I might steal the one outfit per month idea! Such a good idea!! (But it might be just a top and a bottom…I don’t think I’ll put pressure on myself to do accessories yet!)

  28. chase January 28, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Dear Tasia, I love you, you rock! In these days I don’t have time to sew but I still think about it all the time and miss it. So instead I surf inspiration, thinking, well, 10 min of looking at patterns is better than no sewing at all. Instead after reading this (and I haven’t even got time to read all the comments right now, under deadline!) I will make those 10 min more practical by getting out the fabric. The next time I have those 10 min I will cut out the cloth for the pattern, etc. Slow and steady gets me a finished garment, not just another 37 additions to the Wanna Sew list. Fantastic post! Thank you!

    • anne jewell January 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      that’s my system!

  29. Sheryl January 28, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    I can certainly see why you want to make it perfect, Tasia! That’s an outrageously dishy fabric. But if you sew it up and wear it, more people that us sewaholic… um, -aholics will get to see its loveliness!

  30. nothy January 28, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Amen. You diagnosed my problem perfectly. I am afraid to start and then change my mind. But you’re right, if I start, change my mind, learn something and finish a garment that isn’t everything I wanted who cares? I am a lot harder on my me-made things than on store-bought things.

  31. arlene January 28, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    I spend (100 times) more time and effort, into planning than in actually doing!
    It’s a dilemma I hope/plan to correct very soon.


  32. Aisha Johnson January 28, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    OMG!! It’s almost as if you and I have been joined at the hip for the past several weekends. I “discovered” Pinterest recently, and between it, Polyvore and blog searching, I easily find myself “wasting” 2…3…4 hours of time looking for and pinning inspiration. And while the searches may be helpful, and the activity itself fun and useful…not HOURS of it!! I, too, need to focus on working the craft instead, and spend less time looking for project ideas. Thanks for confirming that I’m not alone in the inspirational quicksand. Now…on to work down my considerable fabric stash!

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Inspirational quicksand!! I love this expression and wish I’d came with it myself!

  33. Sue January 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    I have fabric in my stash that’s been around for more years than I want to confess, just waiting for that perfect pattern that I know will suit me perfectly! As you get older you become aware that there is less time to ponder. Just get on with it! The longer you keep the fabric, the more you change your mind what to do with it; and then it either goes out of fashion or you no longer have a use for it at all!
    I now only buy fabric if I have a project in mind and will be do-able in 6 months or so! Life is too short! Spend more time SEWING!!

  34. Judi January 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Tasia…You nailed it!!! To comment I would have to repeat everything you said, so instead I will just say thank you. Your 2nd to the last paragraph about focusing on sewng rather than planning, etc sums it up very well and it’s what I need to do. Wonderful, wise words!!!

  35. Tiffany January 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    I’ve started trying to think about what I actually ‘need’ and not just ‘want’. Right now, I need a jacket, so I’m going to focus on that (here I come Minoru!).

    Alternatively, I’d love to make a new work shirt, but don’t need it right now (my closet is full!). It can be really hard when I’m standing in front of some beautiful fabrics that would make great shirts. But, I know if I buy the fabric and start looking at patterns now, I spend time and money on fabric that will just sit there. And when I finally get to sewing it, I might not like my idea anymore.

    It can be so hard – there are so many beautiful fabrics and patterns!

    Anyways, I also like the idea mentioned about of planning an outfit and working on that.

  36. Lucy January 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Oh my gosh, yes! I’m so guilty of this – but for me it’s patterns. I don’t have access to a really good fabric store (it’s more a fabric supermarket) so I don’t just go out to browse fabric and come home with pretty cuts to stash. I only buy fabric (and knitting yarn) when I actually have a plan to use them. Mostly.

    But I have a drawer full of patterns. Every time I go to an op shop I end up with several vintage patterns (for 20c each, come on!) and great plans to do something with them, but do I ever? Bah. Either they need grading, or I just can’t find the right fabric for them, or I know in my heart I just won’t wear ’em. So they sit and taunt me.

    Doesn’t stop me buying them though!

  37. Abby January 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    I’ve recently been less active in the blogosphere, and completely inactive on Pinterest, and I’ve found that I’ve been way more productive. I sewed a clutch for my sister, knitted a scarf for my dad, sewed a pair of pj pants for my partner, started making a bra for me, and have been knitting a pair of mittens while watching TV. I think inspiration is definitely getting in the way. When I look at everything I’m planning and take into account how slowly I sew, I get completely overwhelmed and end up sitting on the couch watching old episodes of Project Runway. :(

  38. Jamie January 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Yes! I spend so much time trying to make certain I’ve made the right choices when it comes to what I want to sew/knit. However, my main reason for this is I have a limited budget and I *don’t have an over-flowing stash of materials. I have about 5 cuts of fabric and 6 skeins of yarn at the moment. Trying to pair those with all the ideas I have in my head is hard. I often don’t do anything because of it. I’ve been trying to be less hesitant about what I make and go with my gut. I may not have a ton of fabric but it’s not doing me any good just sitting there, either. I can’t have everything but I can have some things. And that’s ok ;)

  39. Andrea January 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    It’s what is known as “analysis paralysis” and we all suffer from it on occasion for whatever reason.
    Sometimes its a fear of failure, or of the unknown, embarking on a new project requiring different skills…
    I find myself planning a lot more than I used to and there are pros and cons. I have fewer wadders, more meaningful end results but fewer projects altogether.

  40. Kathy January 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I so relate to your post and many of the other posts. I probably am older than many of your readers and see how fast time goes by. I know that I have more fabric than I will ever sew. I don’t buy inexpensive fabric so it is hard to give away. I have made some items for charity but since I have limited energy too it is hard to expend energy on stuff to give away. I decided to just go for it and start making garments that I can use for my life style now, not wait to lose weight, etc. etc. Giving up the idea of perfection is difficult for me but I am trying to embrace “it is good enough” and “if others won’t notice your mistakes while you are riding a horse fast, it is okay”. I am going to print your post out and read it everyday.

  41. Thewallinna January 28, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    As many other bloggers out there, I used to stash fabric in my wardrobe, patterns in my drawers and ideas on Pinterest. But, suddenly, something clinked inside of me and I stopped, and I feel so grateful for this clink :)

    Same as you, I’d rather spend two hours creating something. I feel that we are often more creative when ideas spring from inside of us or from the outside world. Today people loose the ability to think for themselves and rip off the ideas from Pinterest.

  42. Esz January 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    I’m pretty good at actually doing instead of planning – being a Dive In Head First kinda gal. This is the reason I stay away from Pinterest – It just makes me want instead of create. The same reason I stay away from ‘inspirational only’ type blogs (mostly Tumblrs) – they tend to just be a regurgitation of images with no end – I don’t want to be a part of that.

    The hardest thing for me is matching my stash to my patterns. I’m making more of an effort to find patterns for the fabric I have, and make better choices when buying new fabric.

    Back to inspiration – when I’m at a bit of a loss as to What Next, I start going through my patterns and my stash instead of turning to the internet. It can get frustrating when I need a lining for something or don’t have the right buttons, but there’s usually something there – even if it’s just a quick skirt to knock out…getting over the doldrums by doing…


  43. Agneta Olofsson January 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! I blame Pinterest…. ;)

  44. Liz January 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    It sounds like a lot of us are trapped by our own thinking.
    I know I am. The more I think about what I am making, the less likely I am to make it.
    So lets alll stop OVERTHINKING and start DOING!!!!
    Tasia you have inspired me to stop being so trapped by inspiration.

  45. Erika January 29, 2013 at 2:43 am #

    Love this post! I had to stop about 1,5 years ago and take a good look at my fabricbuying habits, and since then there’s been very few impulse purchases. I find that I need to not only sew with a plan but shop with a plan, and it can’t be one garment at the time I plan for. At the same time sewing scheduales and to-do lists just puts me off. Instead I’ve done a wish-list of what I would like to sew this year. The list is broken down into months, with the disclaimer that it is a wishlist so things can be moved between months, be removed from the list (if I don’t have time for all my ideas, or just realise I don’t want to realise that particular idea anylonger) of be replaced.

    I need my planning/dreaming time, but now I can dream of projects already “in the loop”. For example: I want to make a 30s blouse, so instead of letting inspiration from everywhere hit me, I filter out all else and only look at the 30s blouses. I’m not making the blouse this month, but when I do decide to make it, I will be ready to start drafting. Come to think of it, this might only be an idea for those who draft their own patterns… Anyway, it allows me to plan for a project that isn’t imminent, but still keeps me from coming up with new sewing plans.

    When I’m done dreaming about a future project, I start sewing instead. After all, 30s blouses are fun, but one can’t spend too much time in one go looking for inspiration =)

  46. Amanda January 29, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    Great post, and very thought provoking. I myself, as I’m sure have many others, have been crippled by my very own inspiration… it’s so easy to get carried away dreaming about all the amazing things we can create, especially when we have the means to do it at our fingertips. I love the process of flipping through my pattern books, and getting inspired ^__^

    Because of the fact I’ve got a more or less nonexistent wardrobe, and thus a great need for wardrobe basics, I’ve had to slow down and thoughtfully plan, and stick to that plan most faithfully, otherwise I get sidetracked. By planning a couple months at a time, I can more easily be held down to the plan and still allow myself the ‘dreaming time’ where I can make lists of ‘next in queue’ projects, whether they make it to the next stage or not. It fulfills my need for fanciful dreaming as well as for actual sewing ;)

  47. Maggie January 29, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Great post! I love the planning part of the process, but also get paralyzed by the many options and whether or not it will all work out. Clearly I just need to do it! :)

  48. Tamsin W-P January 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Great post Tasia. I am suffering from that right now. I find myself getting very overwhelmed by everyhting that is out there and how lovely other people’s makes are. By the time I have finished looking at stuff, I have run out of ‘sewing time’. Very frustrating, and yet I know I am doing it :(

  49. Victoria English January 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Yes its so true i’ve had the most glorious piece of Liberty in my stash for about 5 years! Every summer i think i’ve got the perfect project for it but nothing is ever perfect enough. Its ridiculous! Sometimes I also find that the more i research the more inertia it actually creates. Over the years i’ve developed a soft policy on unfinished projects…if it remains unfinished for a year (!) then it gets recycled into scrap fabrics for craft. Its a relief most of the time :)

  50. Edurne January 29, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Agree 100%
    That’s why I’m going thru Reader or Pinterest instead of finishing a very much needed coat for tris growing belly of mine…
    And let’s not mention the fabrics scattered all around the house while planning another trip to my wonderful stores, oh, such bliss…

  51. Sarah January 30, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    YES! Oh my God, I do this all the time! I have a small sewing room, and too much fabric. Too many idea, too many choices! I never get anything done! Like you said, less imagination, more action! This is something ALL sew-ers can live by, I’m sure!


  52. Deb January 30, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    This is such an apt topic Tasia, I feel like you have jumped into my mind ! I too ‘can’t’ justify buying any clothing being on a tight budget but ‘can’ justify the fabric and associated accessories purchases without question, it’s totally bizzare. I’m completely overwhelmed with the embarrassing stash going on and spend more time getting it all in some kind of order than actual sewing and have about a dozen unfinished items as well, it’s shamefull. I do periodically go though the stash and attempt to be ruthless and make a pile for the local charity shop which helps me feel better about my ‘problem’, but curbing my erratic thoughts would be a very wise move I think. It is, however, slightly comforting to know that I’m not alone in all of this.

  53. The Slapdash Sewist January 31, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Such a great post! I have so many more ideas (and lengths of fabric) than I can realistically get to, but I can’t help collecting more. I really like the thought that it doesn’t have to be the perfect project. The NPR article was really great.

  54. Rachelle February 1, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    Tasia, this is such a great post! I often feel guilty about time spent looking at inspiration instead of creating; I even created a little reminder mantra: “Create, don’t ruminate!”

    Sometimes my web surfing would devolve into feeling like everyone else creates more than I do…so it’s comforting to hear so many people experience the same thing! Thanks for creating this discussion.

  55. Mitch February 4, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    I so easily get stuck in the planning stages or maybe more “this is what I planned so I must do that” mindset – I’m working seriously toward more doing & less planning. As my girls get older (they’re now young teens), I’ve realized that I’ve got to make it NOW if I’m going to make stuff for them. Time waits for no woman. So, some cute little flannelette prints that I bought years ago for little nightgowns is now only long enough for PJ pants – I just had to let go of my previous plans & just embrace the reality of use it or lose the opportunity to make it up for them. Now is better than never. I’ve got to say that just quickly measuring up the fabric and grabbing a pattern that fit the amount of available fabric was so liberating – didn’t allow myself any second thoughts – just went to it – actually made a few things those weeks. And I felt satisfied that I’d used up some fabric that had been gathering dust – & it justified my stash of fabrics & patterns – as close to instant gratification that one can get with sewing or any craft.

  56. Juli February 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    This is such a great post Tasia! I’ve really been struggling with this lately as well, to the point where I’ve barely been able to actually sit down and sew anything since I’ve just been so overwhelmed with inspiration online, in magazines, and in my sketchbook, etc. It’s great to read your post and to read others comments and know that it’s a pretty common problem. I think that I just need to sit down and declare sewing time as just that again – time focused on just me, the work at hand, the sewing machine, the fabric, and perhaps a pattern. No computer, no television, no pinterest, etc. for a good solid chunk of time. I think that the key here might be to just focus on your sewing project in that particular moment and really enjoy what you’re working on. I think that I’ve forgotten to do that lately, so thank you so so much for the reminder! :-)

  57. missjoiedevivre February 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    This was lifted out of my head so perfectly I was rendered speechless. What a beautiful eloquent way of capturing it. I have an added element to this – not just about choosing the wrong thing, but about making the right thing wrong. Fear of mistakes both in planning/inspiration AND in execution hold me back and I am drowning in fabric and yarn and unfulfilled desire to just make something. So I’m going to sacrifice beautiful fabric to the vagaries of my skill and just start making stuff. Good stuff. Bad stuff. There will always be more beautiful fabric. And I can always cut a dress into a top, then into a collar and cuffs, then into a bag, then into a headband if it all goes terribly wrong.

    So thankyou for providing the perfect words at the perfect time and completely reinforcing my 2013 pledge to me to Just Make Stuff.

  58. Gillymakes February 10, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    What a great post! I thought I was the only one with more of a shopping habit than a sewing one. I knew things were out of control when the sales lady in John Lewis accused me of loving the shopping more than the doing! The good thing about that was I stopped buying expensive fabric in John Lewis and sourced cheaper places! I can’t help looking at fabric and thinking that would make up into a great top/dress/jacket etc but realising that you can’t do it all is liberating. I am trying hard to bust my stash this year. One of the things I have decided is to concentrate on basics and get some quick wins. A tailored jacket is lovely but it requires a lot of sewing time. I am looking at reward versus effort this year.

  59. Tara February 27, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    Tasia, thanks so much for this post! I have been “down” for nearly two weeks as of today–kind of STUCK with too much inspiration and not enough action! I’ve been trying to figure out a way to become more efficient also with selecting projects or prioritizing them because as you said I will spend hours on either pinterest or just clothing sites in general coming up with more ideas but I never get the chance to implement them. SO thankful for your post because just knowing I’m not the only one might be the thing to light the fire for ACTION! By the way, I just discovered your blog today and that is why I’m commenting on this post now when you wrote it so long ago :-) I have signed up to “follow” you though, it’s nice to “meet you”-lol!

    • Tasia February 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

      I’m so glad this was useful! I think I need to re-read my own notes monthly, every time I get sucked into the vortex of inspirational overload and find myself unable to start. Action is much better than overthinking! Good luck!

  60. J March 6, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    My thoughts and feelings exactly! This is the reason why I just recently started my own blog that will push me towards “a little more action”. Thank you for writing this post!

  61. Lilliancouture March 14, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    I love this post and all the replies.
    I have had the same problem which came about recently. When I first began I was cutting out everything, and sewing non stop. Then I hit a snag and its do too being a beginner or the realization that I was a beginner :) and not doing so good at a lot of before projects. Cutting into fabric that you know is probably not going to be a success puts you in a dilemma and spending hours making a garment you more than likely will not be able to wear can cause you to fantasize about sewing much more so than sewing.

    Since I am not a advanced seamstress I try to limit the things I make and make sure they are coming out wearable :/. Sewing is an expensive hobby. I spend much more money on sewing than I have with other hobbies, and to have to invest in something that may offer little return in the beginning can be daunting, which may be another reason for just daydreaming.

    Altogether I think its inspiration and the knowledge that I know I can’t make that look anywhere near as good as it did on the photo but I keep reminding myself that, as with everything else practice is the only way to learn, so I set myself a quota this year of 10 wearable projects…Well it was 24 but then I stopped daydreaming. :)

  62. Gray Lance October 17, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    Have been in such a slump recently and how timely it is to read this post as I have been lamenting my inaction, chiding my lack of progress, and pondering my overwhelming stacks of misc. ‘inspiration/material/idea books/pattern books/magazine/drawings’ vs. anything completed.

    “Over-think and over-plan’ hits the nail on the head. Good lawrd, as the Nike ad says: Just Do It!

    Thank you!


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