‘Fear’ of sewing and other things to get over.

I’ve been thinking about this for far too long so I’m taking a break from the usual drag and costume posts to exorcise a few things. Specifically ‘fear’. I found myself saying I was a bit ‘scared of sewing with PVC’ and I really need to stop this kind of thinking. It pops up a lot online – fear of sewing with knits, fear of cutting into good fabric, of zippers, fake fur, silk, armholes, lining, facings, FBAs, SBAs. Really? WTF.

These are not things to be afraid of, these are things to be challenged by. Why convince yourself you’re afraid of them before you’ve even begun? There are loads of things you learn to do which, if you think about it, are far more frightening and likely to cause you damage. Drive a car? Cook? Cross the road? Possibly pretty terrifying when you’re learning if you think about it too much. But we persist and through trial, error and advice, we usually figure it out.


Fabric. It’s terrifying.

The point I’m trying to make is that the way we speak about things influences how we perceive them and using words like ‘afraid’ when we refer to knit fabrics is no good for us. Then we end up with cognitive distortion and convince ourselves we can’t sew with knits or whatever. When I teach (language) I hear a lot of ‘ooh it’s difficult’ and yes that may be true but I usually try to encourage my students to use the word challenging. Difficult has passive connotations, challenging sounds much more active, as if the speaker is actively engaging in overcoming the obstacle.

The more we talk about fear of these things the more it spreads to others. Remember that Facebook experiment where they manipulated news feeds so some people had loads of positive stories and others more negative ones? It’s kind of like that. That’s not to say I’m not for open and honest talk about difficulties we have with various aspects of sewing and learning from each other. It’s just the references to scary FBAs, ooh frightening maths equations for circle skirts (calculator and google, anyone?) and being scared of threading a bloody overlocker. These things, at worst, are A Pain In The Arse but not truly scary. And yes, I get the idea of exaggeration for, say, comic effect or writing style but that’s obviously another intention.

I’m not implying that the aspects of sewing I’ve referred to are easy. They can be a pain in the arse, annoying, frustrating and really, really challenging. Many times I’ve had long, expletive-filled arguments with a zipper that won’t go into metallic foil lycra or got into a fight with sequins over a hem but the only thing I’ve been scared about is stitching my finger into the garment.


About Vanessa

Sewing and assorted nonsense. For reasons that escape me, I left the sunshine and beaches of Australia for the crisps and glitter of London in 2001. I now live in the middle of some kind of feline drop-in centre in East London battling for space to make costumes and clothes. Over on twitter and instagram as @smittenness Email over here ------> smittenness@gmail.com
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9 Responses to ‘Fear’ of sewing and other things to get over.

  1. Nicoletta says:

    The very most important thing I’m learning thanks to this sewing journey is that the things you are “afraid” the most are the first you have to do in order to know them and don’t be afraid of them anymore. Because reality maybe is not that we afraid of them, we simply don’t like doing them :)!
    Does it make any sense? Hope so!

  2. I’m most afraid of ruining fabric. That nonsense is expensive! I do a lot of yelling, too. 🙂 Best to yell and create something beautiful/glorious/etc. than to never done so at all.

  3. sewbusylizzy says:

    Great post & I much prefer the concept of a ‘challenge’. I do sew to challenge myself, I love figuring out a foreign language pattern, deciphering a messy pattern sheet & figuring out how to deal with a new fabric. I don’t think I’d be so addicted if it wasn’t for the endless challenges that lie ahead.
    I agree with Meghan. I hate the thought of ruining expensive fabric.
    I recently sewed through my finger & I can assure you, your fear is entirely justified!

  4. I’m mostly “scared” of sewing something up with a precious fabric and then gaining/losing weight and not being able to wear it. I have so much lovely fabric that I’m saving for “when I lose those extra pounds”…and honestly, there’s a real chance I’ll never lose that extra weight, so I may be holding out for nothing. Which also makes me sad. The human brain is absolutely ridiculous sometimes–and the worst is when we know it’s dumb and do it anyway!

  5. Emma says:

    I don’t really have a fabric fear, mostly because I don’t buy very expensive fabric. But then I have seen others point out that if you don’t use fabric that is good quality, the look garment will suffer and may not look as good. Then you have just wasted time and effort sewing something you have to chuck out anyway.
    One thing I do fear (although fear’s probably the wrong word, wary maybe) is of putting a lot of time into something only to have it come out badly. But that’s part of learning really isn’t it, and something things turn out unexpectedly well.
    Interesting post!

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