November 15, 2012


This is a public service announcement. Mrs. Sunni Standing, proprietress of A Fashionable Stitch, is officially burned out. Burnt to a crisp. Charred.
This fall has been one of the most grueling seasons of my life. Have you ever had that feeling where you dread the next phone call, or your email tells you "You've got mail!"  and you cringe or if one more person asks you to do one more thing you're going to fall in a heap right there in front of them and start crying because you absolutely do not have the ability or willpower to say no? OK, Okay I'm exaggerating, but only by a little bit. Ha ha! This week, I walked into my sewing room and just had to let you have a peek. It's disastrous.

Friends, I can't work in disaster. Well, actually I can, but I have a very hard time with it. I hate being disorganized. I hate feeling like my time is always running out and I hate coming home and feeling so "ugh...." when I look into my sewing room. How about you? Anyway, the funny thing is, this is actually a confession, prompted by none other than Jen at Grainline.
I, Sunni Standing, love to start projects and not actually finish them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE starting/scheming sewing projects. In fact, all this crap all over my sewing room is evidence of project scheming and no follow through. Its a big reason I'm feeling a little burned out these days. Since September, I've schemed and started thinking about, pulling out/purchasing fabric and patterns for:
a Chanel sweater jacket knock off
20 two seam tops, all with differing variations
More Renfrew t-shirts
an aqua wool circle skirt
a chartreuse wool pencil skirt
2 Liberty of London button-up shirts with snaps
a coat or two
a grey pencil skirt and another plaid pencil skirt
flannel pajamas
pinstripe cropped pants
black stretch cropped pants
the Anise & Juniper
a knit jacket & a regular jacket (fabric still to be determined)
This is only to name a few because there are more and I just can't quite remember all of them right now. Ha ha ha! Some of these projects are actually cut and half done and sitting in a half done pile along with several other projects - my UFO's. The even sadder part: I kept thinking that the only reason I wasn't getting anything done - on top of a very full schedule - was because I didn't have time. But the reason I didn't have any time was because all I kept doing was scheming about new projects and creating a huge mess in my sewing room that looked really overwhelming. So after I took these photos, I set about putting everything into its place. I put all of my sewing patterns away - all of them! Now I know where all of them are! Yay! I put all fabric away. I did some much needed cleaning up and a bit of reorganization. I also decided something.

It's time I embrace working on only one project at a time. Weird thing is, its actually liberating and surprisingly, it really works. Yesterday I got some much needed work on the Mister's winter coat done. More to come on that front, but there's a photo of the proof above. A really funny thing occurred to me too - this is the whole reason why I instituted the Everyday Wardrobe idea! The Game Plan is about this very thing - not overwhelming yourself with too many projects at one time. Pick one sewing project that goes with one article of clothing in your closet to work on. Crazy right?

So, are you a project schemer or a project finisher? Do you have a problem of working on or scheming up too many projects at one time? Does your sewing room/corner resemble mine?


  1. Oh.... i think it's totally natural to really love that exciting first stage of a project: conception, inspiration, and planning - that's the easy bit!! Actually making it come to life takes work, frustration and even some boring bits... blegh! So easy to put it aside in favour of more fun stuff! But when you make a plan and follow it, the payoff is so huge that you start to see joy in the things you once thought were boring. How do I know? Why, no reason other than I've been through the exact same thing ^__^

  2. OMG RIGHT THERE WITH YOU!!! I absolutely cannot work in a mess and will have to organize and clean my apartment or studio before I can get any serious work done. I especially can't function when the bed is not made, hahahaha. I'm impressed that you listed all of your projects! I only have 3 unfinished projects but I have the fabric for about ten million projects waiting. AHHHHH!!!!! We can do this, one project at a time!

  3. God knows I LOVE starting new projects. By the time I get to hemming I'm kinda over it!! At that point, my hands are just itching to start something new and sometimes I do. I have a denim skirt, a pair of pants and a dress waiting to be done. And I just finished a pencil skirt hem last night! and yeah, I'm a very messy sewer - bits of thread and fabric all over the floor. Everyone who sees my sewing area (was supposed to be a dining room - not anymore!) says Wow! Literally just wow. lol

  4. Sunni - I wrote a weirdly similar post today! (Slightly on the flip side perspective but I can totally understand how you feel overwhelmed.) I want to tell you that I'm giving you peaceful vibes for the winter. It's incredibly horrible and stressful to live dreading what might come next. Here's to some uneventful weeks (full of sewing, of course) in the coming season. xo

  5. I am ALL ABOUT finishing the current project before starting another - for exactly the reasons you stated! UFOs in my possession tend to never get completed, so it's really not an option for me to put something aside to start something else. This goes with knitting too - one project at a time! I just like to think of myself as very monogamous when it comes to my crafts :)

  6. Right there with you!!! I am so a plotter and planner....I just love that phase of the creative process.....but along with it comes tons of UFOs and projects that I've lost interest in working on at the moment!'s so frustrating! But I'm with you--starting to try and focus on one thing at a time and trying NOT to overplan :) hehehehe Loved this post!

  7. I am disastrously a schemer. I so wish I was more of a finisher. I think I must enjoy the scheming and planning more than the actual doing, sometimes! I need to learn some of Lauren's crafty monogamy. ;)

  8. I actually have the opposite problem--I can't focus on a new project unless I've finished what I'm working on! So, if I get bogged down with a long and complicated garment, I get very easily frustrated. I've started trying to break up long projects with smaller ones, like whipping up a couple of tees while working on a dress that Would Not Cooperate. It helps me achieve a sense of accomplishment even while I'm still in process.
    But I do agree with you about a clean workspace! I am my environment--I need pleasant surroundings in order to create.

  9. I usually work on only one project at a time, two at the very most. If I work on more then I start to feel stressed out and sewing should be fun, not stressful :)

  10. I'm exactly like Jenny - my head is always full of new ideas, but I can't start one thing until I've finished another. This is why I end up sewing lots of little accessories/gifts/kid stuff - spot on about needing that sense of accomplishment to keep the process going. I think actually what I enjoy most about sewing IS the process, all of it from beginning to end. Having an idea, formulating the design, then all the stages of executing it - it's the whole thing that I find rewarding rather than just the ideas bit, or just the stitching.

    I do wonder though if this way of approaching it makes me a bit of a plodder. I think perhaps some of that exuberant, slightly chaotic creative energy is essential to capturing the really inspired ideas.

    Finally, well done on listing the projects in progress. It's a pretty brave list! With tons of cool things on it, but you know that :-)

  11. Your sewing room looks like my sewing room on a GOOD day. I know my weaknesses, though, and I rarely let myself start a project before the one I'm working on is finished. As a natural slob, there's just no way I'd ever find anything if I had more than one thing going at a time. That doesn't stop me from constantly daydreaming about all the awesome things I want to make. It takes all my willpower to refrain from flitting from one project to the next.

  12. My name is Stef and I used to be a knitter. (that's meant to sound like I am at an addiction meeting)
    I knitted for 30+ years, and the thing that *amazed* me when I switched to sewing was how much faster garments come together! I am talking garments with relatively similar purpose, say a sweater compared to a long-sleeve blouse. It was a revelation! Sewing has cured me of my chronic UFO-itis, which was the part of knitting I hated the most.
    Now I make a point of finishing a sewing project before I start a new one. Of course there are still things I cannot finish, but the important bit I decide on the fate of a UFO very quickly. Finish, recycle for scraps, give to the "rags appeal" of the local charity shop.
    (slightly philosophical aside) my whole life I have felt I never know when to walk away from something, and always stayed too long. Now I am much quicker realising whether I have made a mistake and you know what? It's no longer the torture it used to be. Not at all actually.

    There is a quote I read recently, which was something like "The happiest people are the one who are most comfortable making mistakes". Or something like it. I liked it a lot!

  13. i'm mostly a one project at a time gal for the very reasons you've talked about. the only exception is when i have a really big project and am starting to feel burnout... a quick t-shirt or something can help pick me up and give me a fresh re-start. whenever i want to start something new, i remind myself that working on 5 projects at one time does not get them done any faster than going one at a time. in fact, it usually means that nothing gets done...

    also, sewing is messy! and nothing is more distracting than a messy sewing room. that's not to say that mine is immaculate (it is NOT), but it's usually due to finished projects whose mess i never cleaned up before plowing into the next. also, i have found that when i'm feeling overwhelmed, it helps to make a very specific task list about the project to help break it up into manageable bites. good luck getting back on track!

  14. Well, it's kind of like that for me too. I enjoy the planning, the pairing of fabric with pattern, the gathering of necessary materials (buttons, zippers, etc.) The making of the muslin and altering of the pattern are not my favorite but I can get through them. Cutting out can be fun or a huge pain depending on the fabric. What I really don't enjoy is sewing all the bones of the garment, especially long straight seams. Or darts. Or making the lining. Boring, boring, boring, and not challenging. But THEN, my very favorite part is the finishing up - the hand stitching, the hemming, the sewing on of buttons. LOVE that part! Something can look so blah and messy but then with a bit of effort it is suddenly perfect and beautiful and neat. I realize this is not the part that most people enjoy. Guess I'm just weird that way.

  15. Im am definitely a schemer... It's my favorite part of the whole sewing process, I guess. The problem is that (1.) I get bored easily. So when I'm sewing on one garment, I don't want to finish it, because I have another, more excitig project in mind and if I don't get started right now, I might (2.) forget it. I often have ideas and start pulling out patterns and fabric, but then I don't have the time to start right away and later I totally forgot what exactly I wanted to do - which pattern with which fabric etc.. It's as caotic as it's sounds and I find it extremly tiring myself. That's why I chose to make (finish!!) approx. 1 garment/month and really take my sewing it.. (:

  16. I am so with you on this, although, I'm being really restrictive at the moment and only doing one project at a time, it's going well so far although i'm itching to start other projects but I am not giving in, even my fabric buying is on hold until I've whittled down my stash. It's hard to stick to but in the long run it makes me feel better and not so bogged down with projects to finish.

  17. I can totally relate to that feeling of starting and never finishing! Start-itis, it has a name. :) I'm a schemer and starter, too. And a list-maker. Especially the 'Things I Will Make This Winter' type of list. I've stopped making those kinds of lists because I feel bad when they don't get done.

    What's even more funny/stressful is when people call you out on it - "hey Tasia, what happened to that thing you started way back when?" Um, I threw it in a drawer and moved on to something else? Don't talk about things you might not finish, is what I've learned from that! :)

    You're so not alone in feeling burnt out. This is the time of year where I start to feel it, too! People love the holiday season, but it's more like stress season for me, it seems!

    I can't work in disaster, when the things I can see out of the corner of my eye are taunting me! The only way I can make it better is to clean house, tidy everything up and work on one thing at a time. Or decide if it's important or not, if it is in fact important, make it a priority and if it's not, put it out of sight. That whole 'if one more phone call comes in' feeling is a sign that it's time for some personal time. Turn off the phone, unplug the computer and do something totally relaxing and mindless. Or go for a walk (if it's not too cold out) - anything to get away from the things that are draining you!

    Anyways, I hope the crazy feeling subsides and things start to feel calm in your world! :)

  18. I definitely scheme - all day long! However, I've learned to cull the best ideas, put the idea, description and picture of said scheme in my little notebook. Then I sew ONE project at a time from said notebook/list. Scheming is part of the fun of sewing and if I couldn't scheme my sewing would dry up because I'm so far past buying fabric & a pattern and sewing...can you say boring! I think you just need to add a little method to your scheming and you'll be fine. ALSO a clean sewing room is a must for me to sew. I try to keep my sewing table cleaned off at all times, that way my room invites me in to sew. Good luck with your future projects!

  19. Wow! That's a lot of WIPs you've got there, lady! I can see why you're overwhelmed! Interestingly, with my knitting I always have several projects going at once, but with sewing, it's usually one at a time. But I have a feeling that if I had a dedicated sewing space (other than my dining room table), things might be a little different! Today is actually the first day I can remember that I've started a new dress before finishing the skirt I'm working on. It feels strange to me!

  20. I can totally agree with you, Sunni, and with most of the contributors above. I have been sewing and making things for myself for at least 60 years. I learnt from bitter experience early on that if I did not finish a project big or small I was not inclined to go back to it later. At that time I could hardly afford the fabrics in the first instance so I had to learn to finish one item before starting another! Nowadays I do one thing at a time then restore the dining room to its former function, then proceed to mess it up again. That is not to say that I don't have a queue of patterns lined up ready to sew (and a houseful of fabric) waiting for my attention.

    Keep up your blog I really enjoy it. It makes me realise I'm not the only person in the world that still sews!

  21. I must confess that I am the slowest sewer ever. I only work on one project at a time - I couldn't keep more than one straight in my head! I take so long though, simply because I get distracted by other projects and end up leaving my UFO for weeks on end. I can only focus on one project at a time, but that means it can take me months to do one dress!

    It doesn't help that my sewing room is my dinning table either... Great for cutting and plenty of room, but it does necessitate packing up/setting up several times during the project - especially if we're having guests over! I wish I could pick up the pace, and I would love to schedule regular sewing time each week, but so far routines like that never work out for me, so I guess I just have to keep chugging on!

    bonita of Depict This!

  22. I am starter and maker of UFO's. I can not make only 1 thing(not only in sewing), I always have a lot of ideas!!!%)
    I decided to make a week or month "no starting new projects, books, sewing etc), I made 1 such week and it help a little bit!:)) Not I decide to finish some my sewing UFO before starting new ones%) But it is so difficult when I bought new pattern magazine, eh!!!

  23. I used to be really good at just doing one project at a time, but at the moment my head is brimming with ideas and so I am struggling.

    Where I really have issues and tend to lose steam is if the fit is not going according to plan, I have a Simplicity 2444 in the works at the moment and it is going horribly - those stupid darts are driving me mad. So, I have taken a break and have made a few other things and plan to tackle and fix it over the weekend.

    I have a couple of piles of fabric on the floor that you have motiviated me to clean up and I will also go through my mending pile then I will feel much better I think.

    Thanks for the clean up motivation!

  24. I just think you are creative and creative people have tons of ideas floating through their heads!! I have so many projects and ideas that I could NEVER be bored (and the stuff sitting around the house to prove it!). I do try to sew one thing at a time but that doesn't mean I don't have tons of other projects in the works (painting furniture, upholstering a chair, repairing/changing holiday decor, cooking new recipes, knitting....the list goes on and on). I read in a knitting magazine or book that you should always have three knitting projects going: one that is complicated, one that is simple, and one that you can take if you travel. That has helped me in that area so maybe something like that would help you define your sewing projects. I also have recently discovered that I get bored easily (found out when I tested positive for emotional eating but my emotion was boredom!!) so I have used that to my advantage and am "puttering" more, meaning that I go absentmindedly from one project to the next and believe it or not, I am finishing a lot of stuff that was sitting around. An example in sewing was some cloth napkins I wanted to make. One day I found the pattern and pulled it out, another day I shopped for the fabric, one night I cut them out, and one afternoon I sewed four. I still have four to make, but it hasn't been as boring or stressful as if I had tried to do that all at once. Hope these comments help and you get your mojo back!!

  25. Funnily when it comes to sewing garments, I am a one project woman. Since I jump a lot with my Cross Stitch pieces and have so many UFOs to prove it. With quilting it's always one big project in the works and a couple of doll quilts in between.

    Maybe I find sewing to be a relatively 'fast' project (compared to cross stitch and quilting for sure) and seeing it come together rather quickly just excites me.

  26. I'm definitely a schemer. I love love love putting together projects - finding that perfect fabric for a pattern I've been wanting to sew, finally finding a knitting pattern to use this gorgeous wool I just HAD to buy yonks ago, figuring out the perfect gift for that special someone. I love gathering the materials and the organizing and the planning. It's the actual STARTING I have problems with usually. I get hung up on the planning phases so that I'm never actually MAKING anything. Until that deadline starts to loom, and then suddenly OMG IT'S TIME TO MAKE THAT RIGHT NOW!!! So I have a good dozen sewing projects (with all notions collected into little baggies, fabric folded up in with their patterns. because organization, it is my thing) ready and waiting to go, as well as at least that many in-progress knitting projects and about-to-start knitting projects.

    I think I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie like that.

    I'm definitely a list-maker too. Partly to keep all the different projects straight and to record those flashes of brilliant insight I get at 3:30 AM. . .

    But I'd decided, when I got my sewing machine for my birthday, that I would only allow myself to actually sew one project at a time. If only because I detest constantly changing bobbins. . . For me, it's better to have all those little piles of potential, than to have myriad UFOs hanging around, judging me silently (yes, I anthropomorphize my inanimate sewing projects. Is that a problem?).

    Though I am trying to work on my procrastination/adrenalin-junky issues. Maybe in 10 years I'll have it down ;) But I'm also working on not pressuring myself, since all this crafting is supposed to be fun and stress-relieving. So we'll see how it goes :D You're not alone, as I can tell from all these comments, so don't feel too badly about it; we all get ourselves into crazy messes and then burn out from the stress we make. Feel great that you took control and got a handle on it! Good luck with sticking to your game plan!!

  27. (oh, and, that jacket's looking mighty fine!! I'm waiting with baited breath to see the finished project, as I have some schemes and plans for a similar thing for the boyfriend. I will never stop the scheming!)

  28. Sunni, sorry your life is out of control. I can certainly relate to thinking "I can't take on one thing more". My whole house has been looking like your sewing room (really, it's true) for several months due to too much stress and commitments. I like to get projects done, but sometimes the only thing that one can do is plan. I try to keep my projects in the planning stage and not in the just cut out or half finished stage. I do have a bra that has been half done for a month with no time to get back to it. I have to tell myself I can't buy or start anything until one thing is finished, but that doesn't always work. Good luck and get some rest.

  29. I haven't actually done much sewing or scheming of late. I bought myself some great books months ago and I'm not sure if I've made much from them. I'm not sure whether I'm not inspired or don't "need" any particular clothing item right now... And I do have a stack of repairs I should do but don't want to. If I finish them, maybe I will feel I have permission to do fun things again?
    Thanks for sharing your space - glad to hear that you've got it tidied up and are moving on!

  30. Uh. I know the feeling. There are two things I can't be in a mess, creative or sick. If I'm sick and my home is mess I have to clean before I feel like I can get in the bed and finish being sick. At one time I would overwhelm myself with all the things I want to do and started to do that in the end either nothing would get done or they would get half done. Since I've started organizing my wardrobe on Polyvore, creating outfits similiar to things I already own, I've been able to start sewing garments that would plug in the holes in my wardrobe. And doing it one at time. lololol. This has made me feel less crazy and more productive.

  31. Well, I certainly daydream more about what I'm going to sew than actual sewing. But so far (I've only been sewing for myself just this year) I work on one project at a time, unless its tracing or cutting out something when my husband wants to watch some TV with me, because I do it on the floor with the big cardboard cutting surface. No sewing room for me so I have to keep things pretty contained.

  32. A bit of both, a bit of both. I never publish my plans, because I never complete all of it. But there is a degree of method in my madness!

  33. XS Annoying but fixable. Get everything off the floor-starting with the garment side of things. Make a pile with whatever needs the least amount of work to finish it at the top. Clean everything else away. Sew only the stuff in the pile (i.e. start nothing new). The first thing you finish will make you feel awesome and give your the willpower to take up the next one. Start nothing new.
    You can prevent this sort of thing from occurring by finishing one unfinished object before every new object you start. Best of luck. I'm off to clean my sewing room now XD

  34. I think the Perfect Nose is giving excellent advice. Also, it is the time of year when expectations go out the roof and domestic demands are often unreasonable. So, be nice to yourself and do what will make you feel better and realize that some projects may have to be realistically put off until after the intrusions of the holidays. My last words of advice - stay calm, have courage, and wait for signs!

  35. My apartment looks a lot like your pictures. I really appreciate your willingness to post something that doesn't look perfect. You've inspired me to tidy up and finish a project.

  36. Oh Sunni! I do hope you can find your way through these projects one at a time!

  37. I don't have a sewing room so I have to be organized. One project out at a time the rest in my sewing cupboard. (I keep each project in its own bag fabric+notions+pattern and if I'm particularly organized a little sketch of final outfit I'm planning so I don't get distracted).
    I do try to schedule projects but...there's always something I need to make 'now' for the current weather which can push in in front of scheduled projects.
    EDW - I've realized the reason I don't wear some of my wardrobe is because it doesn't match. I keep making/buying tops and skirts with prints...and only have a few plain tops/skirts. So 90% of my wardrobe clashes.

  38. [...] I totally stole your slogan here. The outpouring of “one project at a time” love really rocked my world last week. It’s true, I’ve been feeling….overwhelmed and [...]

  39. Oh Sunni...I'm DEFINITELY a project schemer...Let's pinky swear to get more done...ok? :) My sewing room AND bedroom are 70,000 times worse than yours.


  40. If it makes you feel any better here is my sewing room currently: I think it will definitely make you feel better.

  41. I've been scheming for more than a year now on a personal wardrobe improvement project. I've got piles of fabric, my sewing corner (since I don't have a whole room) looks like an explosion, and I'm actually *scared* to get started. I also really relate to the whole burnt-out feeling. That's a common one for me, although not in the sewing department!

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