[Above: Waistcoat made for Alexandra, Princess of Wales, by J. Busvine & Co., London, 1890s. Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection. Via FIDM Museum Blog]


That time of the year is coming… when a more prolific soul than you or I will post a list of the sixty-five fabulous projects she completed this year. And lo, most people will look at her edited highlights, and compare them to their backstage mess, and feel inadequate.

Ugh. Doesn’t sound like fun.

So let’s release some of our stuck creative energy right now, and release ourselves from 2018 like an arrow departs from the bow.

To begin, let’s release procrastination. We all have times when there are things we don’t want to do, but sewing procrastination is a particularly persistent opponent.

When procrastination comes to town, it moves in, takes up residence on far too much of the couch, and starts sapping your time and energy like an unwelcome acquaintance who thinks they’re your best friend. Before you know it, you’re making it cups of tea and it’s eating all your biscuits…

Worst of all, we beat ourselves up about it. We should be able to just get rid of it, right? Ask it to leave? Get on with our day? But we’re too nice. We don’t want to face it and tell the truth.

Take this waistcoat pattern. It’s been stuck to my sewing room wall for over a year.


1895 waistcoat/corset draft, (c) Cathy Hay


It’s a hybrid 1895 waistcoat/corset. I took the pattern for my 1895 Symington corset and superimposed it onto an 1895 waistcoat draft in my size, and now I’m supposed to make this thing happen. Instead, it stays there on the wall.

It’s looking at me. I know it. It wants my custard creams and a nice cup of Earl Grey, and if it gets its way, it’ll be here for dinner too. Dinner on New Year’s Eve 2019.


But wait.

Why not look it squarely in the eye – what if my procrastination might actually serve a purpose? Let’s take a notebook and a pen.


Reasons I might be procrastinating over this project (and why you might be procrastinating on your project too – you know which one I mean):

I’ve overcomplicated it. I wanted a waistcoat with a fantastic silhouette. It soon became a corsetted waistcoat. Then I wanted it padded too. And it has to be perfect, obviously…. soooo….  maybe I need to simplify this project in order to make it happen. Have you overcomplicated all the fun out of your project?

I’m not clear on what I want. Do I really want to do that hackneyed corsetted waistcoat thing? It’s not like THAT’s never been done. Not that every project has to be an original design idea, but it would be more awesome to have an amazing silhouette without visible lacing. But then I would have to be corsetted all day underneath it, with no escape. Maybe the idea is not fully developed yet…. so I need to go back to the Pinterest board and get inspired again to give this thing some life.

It’s too expensive. How can I scale it back without losing the point of the project, or the excitement?

Other things have taken precedence. This ain’t a gown for the Gala. Or a ballgown for that event in September. Those may be must-haves…. Time to write a prioritised list of no more than three projects, and make 2019 an easy win.

I’m scared. What am I scared of? Break the project down into a to-do list. Isolate the bits that are an issue. Explore what’s stopping me. Like the angle of piece 3 of the corset. How does that bit work?

There’s an annoying step I can’t be arsed to do. Again, break it down. But break it into micro steps. If the annoying step is just getting around to sourcing fabric, for example, set a time and set an alarm. Spend x amount of time on this task, and then make a decision and declare it done.

I’m not sure whether I’m interested in it any more. Am I really up for this project? If not, decide now, and release that stuck energy for other things. What would Elsa do? (Read: It’s ok to let it go.)


Don’t go into 2019 with a legacy of things you’re putting off. Look those stuck projects in the eye and be prepared to re-think or throw out what isn’t working. Give yourself the gift of a clear plate for the coming year. Merry Yule, and Happy Christmas!