Sewing as a Hobby

I love this line. If you haven't seen it before, it's the headline of an article posted last Spring in The Onion. In it, the satirical newspaper pokes fun at the hobbies that we are most passionate about, yet don't do for a living.

This is quite the interesting topic for sewists. For many of us, sewing certainly isn't a money-maker (especially if you spend about a month's worth of rent on the hobby each year like I do). And while I find my day job very fulfilling, I often wonder why I haven't made more of a career out of my creative pursuits. The Onion article certainly makes me feel a bit guilty.

One reason, I remind myself, is that I have varied interests. While I love to sew and make my own clothes, I am also passionate about working with other people towards a common good, and am happy to have my job helping non profits achieve that goal. I also enjoy a sense of balance in my life - if I HAD to sew for a living, would I still like it? Coming home at the end of the day full of ideas for new projects is part of the fun!

And now another article, this time from the more reputable (and factual) Time Magazine, has given me a new reason to keep sewing away during free time. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, being creative outside of work actually makes you better at your job. Whatever the creative activity, researchers found that subjects not only became more relaxed but also gained new skills - such as problem solving - that allowed them to perform better at work.

As if I needed another excuse to go home and sew! Even if it only is on nights and weekends...


  1. This is on my mind a lot too. I absolutely think that if sewing (or any other hobby) became a job you would stop enjoying it as much. Imagine thinking of sewing as a means to earn a liveable salary! I admire - and slightly pity - anyone who tries to make a living from creative crafts. I simply can't see enough return in it and for me that would make it stressful, no longer fun. So I'll stick with evening and weekend sewing :)

  2. Well, I recently quit my day job to become a seamstress at a local studio, so I have some perspective on this now after a couple years of wondering "What if...". It's possible that if I had been working at a different place in a different department or with different people, I would have been more fulfilled in an office job, but where I was, I only resented it. I spent more and more time on my work computer looking at sewing blogs, and I started being late every day because I practically had to tear myself away from my sewing room in the morning. Not good! I figured I might as well try to make a living out of my hobby while I still had a chance to make such a risky decision. I can now say that while I make way less money, I am actually much happier. No more Sunday-night-sick-dread feeling for the work week ahead. My job consists of a lot of alterations and sewing things I would never wear myself, but I'm learning new skills that I can apply to my personal sewing and share with my blog readers. As of yet, I still enjoy sewing for myself after a day of sewing for others. Maybe I'm just freakishly obsessed.

    1. Congrats Andrea on making the leap! I hope you write a little about it on your blog, because I think it's definitely a topic many are interested in! It's so exciting every time one of our own starts making a career out of it :)

    2. As I sit here and read this on my work computer, I can totally relate. Congrats on your job change and the positive impact its had. I was wondering about the comment you'd made in your last post that you no longer work in an office!

      I'm in the process of going back to school to get a degree in nursing. After almost 2 years of working in the industry have I realized that my inner social butterfly is not really doing well in the solitary confines of the chemistry lab. Again like you said, different department with different people? Maybe. But where I am? Definitely not.

      My mom and I run an Etsy shop where we sell crocheted items, and during the busy holiday season there is nothing I hate more than crocheting. Mostly because the whole time I'm churning out the same hat in 5 different colors, I'm thinking of what else I could be making for me or my friends/family that I would actually be enjoying. But I'm incredibly happy every weekend in my sewing space. I wake up thinking about sewing, I go to bed thinking about it, I still check my blog roll incessantly. So maybe sewing is different than crochet? Maybe some day I'll be able to find out!

    3. Yes, I do plan to write a post about it! I was just waiting before announcing to the world, because at first I was worried I made the wrong decision and wouldn't last very long ("I'm not a good enough seamstress, I'm gonna be so broke, I might hate sewing on deadlines," etc). I also wanted to feel like I had some experience living out this new career before I could reflect on what it means to me. But it'll come...

  3. I actually had a hobby (drawing) become a job before, and I can tell you that you need to be conscious about it before making the switch, in order to keep it fun. Most other artists I know are aware of the risk and make sure they get to do something for themselves from time to time, without pressure or deadlines. The man I did my internship with went out into the countryside once a week to paint classic oil landscapes, for example! I used to do concert photography as a hobby, but it sort of lost its appeal as soon as people asked me to photograph for websites or articles... Suddenly there were deadlines and expectations.

    At the moment I try to keep my sewing just for me. I would happily combine my drawing with the sewing world, as in designing fabrics and things like that, but the idea of making things for others scares me. What if I lose this hobby as well?

  4. Good subject for a post.

    I'm mid career, and up until about 5 years ago, headlines like the one in the Onion would make me feel like a sellout for not pursuing my creative interests for my living. But now that i know myself a little better, i think my younger self knew what it was doing by keeping my hobby to myself. Sewing and my other creative outlets have been good for stress busting and, well, keeping my creative side alive. Personally i would go crazy if I had to make the same thing over and over again, or in colors I hate, or to hear nitpicky complaints about why it doesn't look store bought. And then to get paid pennies on the dollar!

  5. lots to think about! right now i'm in the position of being mere months away from my youngest (of four) heading off to all day kindergarten. i never got into a career field post-college (just secretarial work) before i quit and stayed home with the kids. so with the eminent prospect of being able to have a "real" job, i keep wondering what direction to go: utilize my sewing skills or pursue the career i intended? tough decisions!

  6. "If I HAD to sew for a living, would I still like it?" This is is, for me. I get stressed out by deadlines and stress + sewing don't mix well for me (except as a procrastinating tool). You'd also have to work out all the costs of every bit, and charge, which I wouldn't like. It does help that (most days) I LOVE my job, and get paid pretty well to do it so I can keep filling up my spare time with sewing


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