Motivation to Sew in the Time of Coronavirus

A 1930s UFO – it’s not made well, but it’s made!

The year thus far has been a rollercoaster (understatement), and my sewing adventures have been rather manic-depressive – great big swings between “sew all the things” and “I haven’t entered my sewing room in longer than I can remember.”

A lot of us are feeling this way right now. I’m on a semi-upswing of sewing. I do about a good day’s worth, then lose energy to continue, but even in that stripped-back way I’m getting things done, and drawing benefit from the creative time.

My “big” project of 2020 – pulling this 1760s sacque out of its plastic bag and pushing it through to completion.

I don’t have tips for you on how to re-energize and get back to sewing. I’d just like to share the things I’ve made this year, and what I’m kindof working on right now…

Things I’ve Made/Finished…

Things I’m Working On/Intend to Finish…
1730s Robe Volante in progress – this is pretty much a hot mess at the moment.

I guess that’s not so bad for this year! Most of my projects are UFOs. I enjoy “fixing” things, though finding the motivation to pick up and seam-rip into a roadblocked old project is challenging. I greatly enjoy seeing something rise from the dead and come to fruition.
1890s Shirtwaist. I look hopeful for the future. LOL.

If you too have lost your sewing mojo, I encourage you to make a list of everything and anything you’ve made this year. It doesn’t even have to be sewing-related. I’ve cooked *a lot* this year, and I get the same creative buzz from cooking.
Have you grown a garden?
Made masks?
Gotten out of bed? (most mornings, some mornings?)
Put on makeup or done your hair?
Just surviving this year is accomplishment enough. <3


  • Theresa in Mèrida

    October 14, 2020 at 3:53 AM

    Your 1940s outfit looks great on you.

    I'm gardening instead of sewing. Sewing reminds me of all the events I couldn't attend. We had to cancel my husband's 70th birthday party which was going to be a 1920s themed garden party. I enlarged my veggie plot and I recently started turning our much neglected front yard into a cottage style garden.

    I'm also crocheting like crazy, 2 sets of curtains and a couple of intricate lap robes.
    My sewing room looks like a looter went crazy in there, recently I started feeling like I want to clean it up and sew again. I have 2 pairs of American Duchess shoes I bought and still haven't been able to wear anywhere.

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 14, 2020 at 7:38 PM

      I can definitely relate on the "sewing room looks like a looter went crazy in there" part, lol! And why is it that the one thing you're looking for is never where you're sure you left it? MUST be the LOOTER! (perhaps related to the gremlin that steal socks from the dryer?)

  • ZipZip

    October 14, 2020 at 7:36 PM

    Oh, that saque! If you had done nothing else, this would enough to celebrate, imho.

    I've been digging deeply into 1890s magazines and books all year, and more so now we're at home. Such an escape! Life was expanding and bright with promise for women those years.

    Yet I can't seem to sew. Repair household items and daily clothes, yes, but no costumes…there's just so little time. With the whole family always home, daily life is a more complex dance. It has its bright times, and we are grateful indeed, but I've less energy to go around. That's all right…it's so good to see people so creative. All safety and health to everyone!

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 14, 2020 at 7:44 PM

      Indeed! Low energy to begin with, and even more sapped by a million things to do at home. I'm glad the 1890s magazines are an escape, even if just for a moment. Interestingly, there was an economic recession in the US in the 1890s too – I had no idea! But even amidst that, as you pointed out, so much good progress was born.

  • Unknown

    October 14, 2020 at 8:02 PM

    After finishing up with the Burley & Trowbridge 18th century sewalongs, I've turned madly to sewing things for our two granddaughters, sparked by GD#1 deciding she will only wear dresses now, just in time for her 2nd birthday. And I've done countless masks, all for family and friends, once I found a pattern I didn't hate either sewing or wearing. But mostly I'm still trying to recover from a traumatic year with a happy ending. My husband's health was very unstable for months, and is now six months from a successful transplant. Our puppy is 13 months old, and we lost our 14-year old dog, so there's been just a teensy few things vying for everyone's attention!

  • Crystal

    October 14, 2020 at 8:16 PM

    Ive been sewing. My year started with a flood in my apartment, so i was forced to move, then was furloughed, THEN got all of my belongings back, but had to wait to set up things bc the place i moved into had a tenant who was moving out but not until mid-May… I did sew a little bit. Ive been working on a themed project, and im closing in on the end of a handsewn silk dress. I made some significant discoveries about myself. Noodled with starting a YouTube channel. Shaved one side of my head, dyed most of the rest of my hair magenta and a big chunk teal. And then was recalled to work after 5 months off lol. Its been a year all right!

  • Amanda

    October 14, 2020 at 9:02 PM

    I've STARTED sewing a bunch of things this year…does that count? xD I'm terrible at costuming without a deadline/event, and obviously there haven't been too many of those this year! I think I've started at least 3 different costumes, to say nothing of all the bits of everyday/ vintage dresses and skirts I've cut out and abandoned! I don't really feel guilty over it (because What A Year, amirite; I will create when I feel inspired, and nap when I don't), but it does kinda turn the sewing room into a disaster area, LOL!

  • Emily

    October 14, 2020 at 9:08 PM

    I've been sewing and gardening, (Gigot Girl Gang Gardening was awesome, thank you very much!) and baking, but I do that in any normal year. This year was different because a dear friend who is like a daughter to us had a whirlwind romance during Feb & March and I volunteered to make her wedding dress, because all the dress stores had closed. Even with the urgency of uncertainty, our fabric stores shut indefinitely the day we went shopping. With no time to order on line, Walmart was our only choice. The bride wanted a classic A-line below the knee dress with a lace overlay, and the nasty "satin" and stretchy lace was challenging to work with and more challenging to make look good. I made two prototypes and the dress in 1 1/2 weeks working non stop. As I finished sewing faux pearls to the veil we got the call that the wedding had been moved up a week because the governor's shelter in place order would start in two days. I grabbed daffodils and hyacinth from the yard and we hit the road. When my friend tried on the real dress for the first time, she cried and said she never imagined she would have such a beautiful wedding dress, and that she felt like a princess. Mission accomplished!

  • Missy hale

    October 14, 2020 at 9:15 PM

    Well at the beginning of the Pandemic i did not know how to sew . I am a costume mistress at a local theatre but did not know how to sew. What is with that . So during the Pandemic i Decided to at first hand sewed a dress . Then i did three more on the machine. I am currently working on an outlander style dress. Non are really truly historically accurate there are pioneer dresses mostly . But do love the 1930/40 dress period as well. Glad i started and 1 am enjoying the learning process. Happy Sewing.!!!!!

  • Emily

    October 14, 2020 at 9:15 PM

    P.S. I bought my first American Duchess shoes this year, the Hepburns in tan. Your service is fabulous and although I don't have an occasion to wear them currently, they make me smile every time I open my closet.

  • mamafrog

    October 15, 2020 at 1:49 AM

    I went from making nearly everything I wore to making kids clothes and the occasional piece for me to haven't even looked at anything except mending in the last 40 years. I just lost steam because of babies, kids, moving and working. I'm finally trying to make the effort to set up my sewing and crafting area. Very slow progress but getting there.

  • Time Traveling in Costume

    October 15, 2020 at 1:59 AM

    I really tried to sew on my historical dresses but was never able to finish them. I made some masks for my family. Then I started sewing colorful little girl dresses for Dress a Girl to donate to my friend's church who takes them to Uganda. I'm on #46 but that's over a years time. It made me feel good to be doing those. Recently I made 6 little girl Civil War dresses and just sold my first one. Still not feeling it for my own dresses until there's a definite date to wear them.-Val

  • Rebecca

    October 15, 2020 at 6:37 AM

    My YouTube channel has been a huge motivator for continuing to sew during the pandemic. If I don't sew, then I don't have content for videos, and if I don't have content for videos, then at this point that means that I won't get as much money (little as it is, it still helps)!

    Hanging out with sewing friends over zoom chats has also been incredibly helpful, and sewing has done a good job of filling all the time I would normally be spending doing theatre.

    I think this may turn out to be one of my most prolific sewing years yet!

  • myladyswardrobe

    October 23, 2020 at 6:23 PM

    I've made a LOT of jackets for the insane Cockatoo I'm owned by. Average of 1 a week nearly! I've made some masks. I've half made a 1930s palazzo pants and top but as the parrot is demanding jackets I've not been able to finish them. I'm wanting to so, but the room is a mess. And I keep having far too many difficult days health wise.

  • Gingitsune

    November 8, 2020 at 4:05 AM

    I didn't sew much, I should have made myself a proper time schedule, because I'm just wandering from one task to the next with getting little accomplished. And I'm wasting way too much time on internet. *sigh*

    On the plus side, I have accumulated loads of high quality images of the mid 18th century, both painting and actual clothing pieces. I'm getting a good sense of the period's taste in color matching or possible trim variations. Probably nothing close to your level, but still much better than my carefree 2019 self.

    As for projects, the only one which is more advanced than the conception level, is fixing my petticoats which upper parts are wrong. I'm halfway through with 2 done, one half done and 2 yet to start. Then there's a pet-en-l'air, mantelet and hood project where I need to come with a realistic cutting plan, I'm short on fabric in all 3.

    I'll try to get the third petticoat done this weekend.

    • Gingitsune

      November 30, 2020 at 5:52 AM

      A few weeks later, the third petticoats is done, plus I bought the notions to redo the last two ones.

      I now have a cutting plan for the pink hood, adapting a pattern from Garseault's the art of tailoring's pelisse. Their is a sunburn line of the fabric which will call for a linning, the body will be 8" shorter and the hood pieced from three parts. I guess it's time to use that Ikea red on white chintz bedsheet to complement the pink wool. Garseault says pelisse are made of taffeta or satin and can be linned with fur, so I guess chintz as the outside and wool as the linning, because I'm on a tighter budget. ^_~

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