I have always loved making things and I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t making something. I started in miniature: dolls’ clothes and DIY dollhouses in shoe boxes. I was always collecting something, whether it was shells or weird stones, and was pretty much always creating in some shape or form: drawing, painting, building huts in the woods, embellishing my school essays, tea dyeing paper, baking, writing stories, making mood boards, sewing dresses, recreating film costumes.
As I turned sewing into my full-time work, with a freelance career in costume making, sewing ended up further down the list of things I wanted to do in my free time. I spent 45-50 hours per week sewing for a living, and felt that I wanted a break from that in my private life. Sewing was my favourite hobby and I turned it into my profession, which was always my dream, but this changed everything. As soon as you monetise your hobby, it turns into work and is technically no longer your hobby. You become financially dependent on doing something that you always did for fun. This isn’t necessarily all bad, but it changes the nature of the relationship.
I have now moved past the years where I sew every hour of every working day. Everything I do for work is still sewing related: I teach costume making and I co-founded this company, where I do a lot of the technical sewing and pattern related tasks. But not sewing every single day anymore, has opened up my love for sewing in my spare time.
What I love these days is shorter projects that I know I will finish and feel a sense of accomplishment. My spare time is limited due to work commitments and a young baby, so I want to make things that don’t take a week to make because I don’t want to commit to that at this point. Luckily, there’s a plenty of ways for me to enjoy sewing: I like making quick cushions (no zips!), reupholstering my kitchen chairs, anything for babies because it’s so small and quick, dresses with gathered skirts and no fastenings. This way I enjoy the sewing and I don’t have to feel guilt over stacks of unfinished projects.
Turning your hobby into work is not for everyone. Just because you are good at something and you love doing it, doesn’t mean you should make it your work. Some things are best kept to the space of your private time, where there is only the pure enjoyment of making something because you love it. I wouldn’t change my career and feel lucky to be inspired by what I do most, if not every day.