I dreamed about my coat project last night. It went disastrously wrong. And something is certainly stopping me from getting on with it. I have just finished cutting out the pieces for the muslin but I keep on finding reasons not to start sewing it. Must do the washing up. Must tidy the sewing room. Must sort the washing.

Coat muslin pieces

I love the pattern I’m using. But I’m worried I won’t be able to set the sleeves in. I did give myself a little bit of insurance by reducing the ease in the sleeve cap but now I’m also worried I have a pattern I won’t be able to move my arms in. I also love the fashion fabric, but it’s really thick and I’m concerned it might be too much for my machine to sew. And I’ve no idea what needle to use. Or which interfacing. And I really want to make a good job of this.

I know how to deal with a lack of sewing mojo (cleaning the sewing machine always works for me). But has anyone got any tips for complete sewing paralysis?

21 thoughts on “Coatophobia

  1. Change the project for something easy and gratifying first? I have to say I’m also suffering from coat phobia I got mine pattern waiting to be sew for ages but I just can get myself doing it

  2. That sounds oh so familiar, and exactly why my jacket took about 9 months to complete! It will come, that mojo. Probably when you have the least time to set about doing it! I watched a lot of YouTube videos. That helps and gives a bit of reassurance, so you can make it in your head after you’ve made your muslin. You can do it Catherine. I have every faith in you that this will be an amazing coat, however long it takes 🙂

  3. Do something else creative (coding, baking, icecream making, drawing?) that’ll help bring your confidence up + get you into the ‘making’ mood.
    Or just make something easy that you can finish in an hour or two.
    Or just put it away and go read a book.
    When you’re ready, remind yourself that it’s only a muslin. And even if it was the finished garment-the world won’t end if you can’t swing your arms freely. It’ll suck (effort/ cost-wise) but you can just finish it well and donate it to charity and move on. Keep things in context and everything will slot into place. Music helps too. Best of luck.

  4. I’d cut out a few more things- little easy win stuff, then just touch on the coat a little at a time when it strikes you- you’ll get to that point where you don’t want to put it down.

  5. Oh Catherine, sewing paralysis sounds all too familiar…I feel this way about dresses and coats. And dresses are what I’d like to make most. But I still haven’t figure a way of getting over it, so I’ll be reading these comments eagerly for any top tips. Good luck with your coat, I’ve no doubt it will turn out perfectly!

  6. I agree with the others; do something else, fun; until you feel like doing it again. Sewing should be enjoyable!
    Thanks so much for your kind comment too 🙂

  7. There are so many smaller projects withing a coat project that you can start with something small/easy first to give you the confidence to continue on. For example attach interfacing, prepare the collar, etc

  8. To get out of a sewing paralysis I’d just wait it out. It will eventually come back because it’s something you love and you shouldn’t get frustrated with it. When it does come back, I’m sure you’ll do a fantastic job cause you’re a great seamstress.

  9. I just finished a leather jacket after several bouts of paralysis brought on by fear of ruining the jacket. What helped me was setting aside time for testing all the techniques and finishes that I was thinking of using (like working out how my sm would handle the bulk). So, in some ways it was purposeless sewing, since I was just sitting at the sm stitching on scraps without any task to complete. It turned out to be very productive in the end. Good luck!

  10. So frustrating to have a project stare at you and harass you mentally! But everyone has posted great advice, and, since I’ve nothing new to add to the already-posted wisdom, I’m just going to add my *cheers*. Here’s to finding the mojo again! *clink*

  11. Agree with the others that waiting it out for a while is the right thing to do and in the meantime do something fun until inspiration strikes. Why not also write a list of tasks that will need to be done on the coat, breaking it down into wee bits that are easy to tackle. Might make it more palatable…!

  12. Leaving this aside and do some instant gratification project … This works for me. When this project is completed quickly, it’s back with new strength to confront this …. All good energy from me to you!

  13. Sleeves don’t need ease.

    I tried it out on a coat I just finished and it worked really well. It took me about 4 sleeve drafts to get it right on the muslin. All of the work I put into the muslin really paid off though! The actual coat sleeve sewed up beautifully.

    Sewing is kinda like a roller coaster. The anticipation is the worst part. Find a way to get strapped in and you’ll surely get taken away and enjoy the thrill. For me, this means pretending like I totally know what I’m doing and just going for it. Sometimes I have to pressure myself to get into my sewing room at all but once I’m there and I get in the zone, there’s no turning back!

    I also recommend just sewing. It doesn’t matter what you sew, just make something. And then transition into the bigger project.

  14. You are a fairly accomplished seamstress, so I wouldn’t be too worried. When you are ready to set the sleeves, work with a friend or go to your local sewing guild and there is sure to be someone willing to help. You’re British…didn’t Churchhill say the only thing we have to fear is fear itself!

  15. Perhaps attack this bit by bit between easy/fun projects? Splitting the project into chunks might make it less scary and more fun!

  16. A lovely resource is a guided sew along from 2008 , “the great coat sewalong” hosted by Marji. Informative and inspiring.

  17. When I feel totally overwhelmed by a project, reading people’s blogs (like yours!) always inspires me to get over to my machine! Sometimes, in extreme cases, shopping online gives me the needed incentive– you just can’t put a price on custom-made, which makes the time-investment for sewing seem even more worthwhile. I’m sure you want to have this coat all finished for this winter, but maybe that’s also putting too much pressure on yourself*? Who cares if it isn’t finished til June? You’ll have a beautiful coat for many winters after that. (*I am still trying to swallow that pill myself…hahaha!) Best of luck on this project… I will be looking to you for inspiration 🙂

  18. Just do it! Test the needle, buttonholes, tension and get the interfacing you need and just do it. Break it up mentally into a series of tasks, for example today my goal is to fuse the interfacing to the pieces and hems. The next sewing period will have a similar achievable goal and before you know it you’ll be half done. It’s a big project so don’t pretend it’s just any other blouse. That doesn’t mean it’s not doable though.

    I used a fusible woven weft interfacing for my coat project. I also used these books a lot:

    P.s. This site have very good interfacing if you don’t find what you want locally.

    Good luck! It’ll be great 😉

  19. Just remember that wool eases much better than the shirting cotton you’ve been using lately. You might actually find it easier to set your sleeves than you thought. In the meantime, make yourself some pj pants or something. I agree with the girls, sometimes all you need is some quick satisfying project to get your mojo back.

  20. Everyone has great advice! For me – sometimes it pays for me to go shopping and see the beautiful and unique coats that are out there – that always inspires me to get going!

    Two of my favorite designers are The Row and Rick Owens

    Here’s some links that may help.

    Good luck! Love your creations.

  21. I have certainly been there …paralyzed by fear of thing’s not going well. I finally figured out it is really a fear of imperfection. So, remind yourself that it’s okay to not have all the answers right now and it’s okay to not have it allbe “just so.” In the end, if you walk fast enough, no one will ever notice your struggle with the sleeve caps!

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