Of all the resources needed for sewing, time is probably in the shortest supply. When I tell people I sew, this is always their first question: how do you make time? And it’s true, in today’s busy world, it’s hard to make space and time for a hobby. But happiness can be hard to come by. If sewing truly makes you happy, it’s worth making time for.
Over the years, I’ve changed the way I think about sewing: instead of feeling silly or selfish, I’ve started referring to my hobby as my “sewing practice.” This subtle change has helped elevate my hobby in my mind and it’s changed the way I prioritize sewing. One thing I’ve learned is to treat your sewing time with respect. Here are some tips to help you carve out time for yourself, stick to it and make the most of it.
Decide a few things up front and get started the right way.
Decide what you plan to sew before you get in your sewing room. Too many fabric options can be distracting.
Have a set amount of time each week that you plan to sew.
Decide whether you work better in small batches or longer expanses of time. Know yourself – I time out at about the two hour mark! And most things sewn after 11pm are a touch wonky!
Spend time in your sewing space everyday. Even if it’s to straighten up or sew on buttons.
Don’t wait until all the laundry is put away and all the chores are done – if your house is like mine, that may never happen.
Stay organized! Also decide whether you like to have one project done before moving onto the next or if you’re more “all the projects all the time.” Either way, pick and stick with the approach that is most likely to get you back in your sewing space.
Sew more! Same is true for writing – the more you do it, the easier and faster it becomes. And, maybe, the more you want to do it.
Avoid time sucks – like social media! I have a pretty strict no IG in the sewing room policy…it’s too easy to lose 15 or 20 minutes.
Before you make your first stitch, gather all of your tools together so they’re handy and accessible.
If you’re spending time in your space but not getting much done, consider keeping a log so you can assess your habits and distractions.
At the end of your sewing session, do things that will help you be motivated to come back into your space and get started quickly.
Prep the next pattern pieces.
Leave a little time for cleaning up.
Thread the sewing machine and the serger for next steps (especially if you don’t like changing them!).
Do things in batches.
Batch cut projects when you have time.
Batch prep PDF patterns when you have time and space (and enough tape).
Sew projects together that use the same thread/serger thread.
If you know you want to make multiples, sew them at the same time (rather than finishing one and starting the next).
Sew similar types of garments together. If you have a few collared shirts planned, sew them consecutively while the steps for collars are fresh in your mind.
Serge-finish seam edges in batches.
Listen to music, audio books, podcasts or online classes.
If watching TV is how you unwind, consider sewing while you watch or try tasks that take less concentration, like taping a PDF pattern together.
Pick music that has a nice, upbeat (yet not frenetic) pace.
Make the most of your non-sewing time.
Read instructions through if you’re not in the mood to sew. Understanding the instructions well in advance can help you avoid mistakes and getting stuck.
Plan your makes in advance with sketches, including pattern hacks, fit adjustments, etc. Sketching can help you maintain focus – though let inspiration strike.
If your sewing room is away from family activities, think about tasks you can do in other parts of the house while multi-tasking. If my kiddos are playing in the back yard, I’ll often tape my pattern PDFs together on the back porch.
Do you have other tips for carving out time to sew and/or making the most of your sewing time? If this approach is too task-master-ish, skip every tip and find what works for you so that sewing remains enjoyable and you’re as productive as you want to be.