Mindful crafting

It’s Saturday afternoon and you have a clear calendar—when does that ever happen? Better take full advantage of it and sew that dress burning a hole in your stash.

But first let’s check Instagram really quickly, just to search this pattern’s hashtag. Wait, better send a quick email. Oh, neat—an order just came in! Just package it up really quickly with a nice handwritten note, buy and print postage, mark it as fulfilled—and now it’s 6 p.m. Dang. Time to leave for those dinner plans you made two weeks ago. Bye bye, afternoon!

At least once a day, many of us ask ourselves: Where did the time go? Yet, when we account for the incredible amount of things we try to cram into our days the answer is pretty clear.

Think of your mind like a web browser. In 2018, each of us has about 50 tabs open at once. Work, school, family, fun, running a small business, Instagram, new blog post from that cool influencer, sale at the fabric store, SALE AT FABRIC STORE—we are bombarded by all the things, all the time and they all want a chunk of your attention.

Couple this with a small business to run, family, friends, maybe a full-time job in addition to all of this, and it’s no wonder so many people are anxious, stressed out and constantly feeling like they don’t measure up. There’s literally so much to do and only a finite amount of time in one’s day to do it. But there’s good news: There’s a way to reclaim your attention from the clutches of everything else competing for it. It’s called making things. For fun.

When you engage in the act of making something just for the sake of making it, you are applying your full attention to the object you’re creating while engaging in a process. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dress or a card for your dog’s birthday, as you complete each step you’re teaching your brain to focus on one thing at a time. To go more slowly. To relax. Just like actual meditation does.

Contrast this with the outcome-oriented, harried pace of that one time you thought the craft fair was two weeks from now but it’s next week. (Guilty. So frantic.) When you concentrate only on the outcome of what you make, whether it’s the need to make the P E R F E C T pair of jeans or the very best, most efficient batch of tea towels for your Etsy shop, you miss the simple joy of taking one thing at a time. You’re basically only looking at the summit of the mountain while not paying attention to the beauty of the vista in front of you.

As crafty entrepreneurs, the act of making can be a little more complex. While our business is likely something that many of us do for the love of the creative act itself, it’s commerce-driven and it’s always focused on a goal—to sell, to promote or to achieve.

So, here’s a challenge for makers and craft-based business owners: Carve out time to make something for yourself. Not for sale, not for other people, but for you. Do it slowly and with your full attention. Don’t “sew for Saturday night”—really take your time. Enjoy it. Luxuriate in the time to do just one thing.

Just like Zen practice, this making meditation can help you feel calmer in your daily life—and I’m willing to bet it will energize your business, too. After all, when you love what you make AND love the way you make it, people can feel that joy radiating from everything you create.


Sarah teaches timeless skills to modern people by way of her shop, marigold sewing studio. Based in Houston, TX, marigold sewing studio focuses on helping adults find themselves through sewing classes that prioritize peace, joy and community over perfection. In addition to spending way too many of her 26-plus years of sewing focused only on the outcome, Sarah is a copywriter and marketing strategist, has a pug named Sonny and is married to an incredible teacher and jazz musician, Ryan. You can find her at marigoldsewingstudio.com and on Instagram, or at the Houston Zen Center trying to sit quietly without fidgeting. 

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