Mindful sewing: Making mental images

20160828_164243This summer, I embarked on my own personal literature review of books on productivity by successful people. One of these books was Smarter, Better, Faster, by Charles Duhigg. While I was searching for a way to be more effective at work, this book actually gave me some tidbits that helped me sew better. The most profound one involves making mental images.

Duhigg provides anecdotes illustrating how effective people use mental imagery (From NICU nurses to Michael Phelps) to motivate themselves, easily spot when something is wrong and work through setbacks. I decided to apply the idea to my sewing to see how it would go.

20160823_150512Before beginning to sew anything on the Gwen skirt, I sat down with a set of general written instructions on skirt construction, my own instructions to make this particular skirt and a notepad. I read through the steps and consolidated them, noting the exact order I would do anything. One of my biggest downfalls as a sewist is believing “I’ll know how to do when I can see it” or “crossing that bridge when I get to it.” This often results in my sewing things to the wrong side, in the wrong order, or looking something up only to realize there were several steps I needed to take earlier to make it possible. This results, then, in ripping out seams or MacGyvering a solution. Which often just doesn’t look as nice.

When I forced myself to imagine, in detail each step, I was able to make sure everything happened when and how it was supposed to. I even remembered to put in my tag (which I almost never do)!

As a result, I sewed faster and more calmly than I ever have. I didn’t have to unpick (or even re-pin!) a single seam. I got the skirt done in record time and it’s perfect, inside and out.

5 thoughts on “Mindful sewing: Making mental images

  1. Very interesting read! I usually do something similar to a new pattern I’ve never sewn before. I read through all instructions and imagine it. But then, when I am actually sewing I will certainly forget something! Jotting it down in simple words is a great idea! I will be giving it a try 🙂

  2. […] Make mental images of each minute step of a project. I read a LOT about productivity and efficacy (not the same thing) a couple of years ago and this is the one thing that impacted my sewing the most. Much like professional athletes before the big game, visualizing exactly how you are going to approach a project ensures that you won’t skip a step or do something in the wrong order. […]

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