Today, in #SewTalk, I will be answering a question I got from a reader on Instagram:
How to find time for sewing?
For most of my career, I was juggling working full time and studying (first I was getting a bachelor’s degree in economics, later - a professional seamstress diploma). For me time management, motivation and goal setting were a necessity and throughout this period I learnt a lot on these subjects. I selected a few most effective techniques that I use daily in my professional and personal life, and picked out how you can apply them for finding time for sewing (or any other hobby). Please enjoy the read!
1. Make your sewing machine visible and easily accessible. It’s simple - if your machine is visible and easy to access, you will sew more. And on contrary - if your sewing machine is hidden in the upstairs closet, behind a big pile of clothing, you will rarely sew because you will either forget about it or it will be too tiring to get it out often. My industrial machine is big and cannot be moved. It’s placed in our living room and so I see it everyday and can easily start sewing whenever I want. Similar with my overlocker - it’s placed in living room, in a clear box under bookshelf (to protect from our cat) - easy to see, easy take out. Make your environment suitable for sewing and you will definitely sew more.
2. Schedule your sewing sessions. What I find really effective is to plan sewing time in advance. For example, I mostly sew on Saturdays - I love waking up early, getting my cup of coffee and then start sewing for the bigger part of the day. I know it’s my ‘sewing time’ and will get most of my work done then. It’s more difficult to make time throughout the workweek, so I just look at my calendar and see on which days I can schedule some sewing time: if on Mondays I get home late at evening, then maybe I can schedule an hour for sewing on Tuesday, when I get home earlier? Look at your weekly calendar and check where you can place these small sessions for sewing - it will be much easier to accomplish your sewing goals this way, rather than just wondering day by day “do have enough time to sew today’.
3. … but stay flexible. While my main hobby is sewing, I also enjoy other activities such as reading and biking. Biking is a hobby that me and my husband enjoy doing together and as we have a short bike season here, we try to go on a bike rides as much possible whenever the weather allows. We had spectacular weather these past few weeks, so instead of regular Saturday sewing time, I chose to go for an all-day bike ride with my hubby.
You don’t have to complete your schedule by full 100%, but trying to get as close to this number as circumstances allow you to will bring significant progress. Having a schedule time for sewing is good, but stay flexible in case something really important comes up.
4. Break down work in small pieces. Let’s say you can sew only on workday evenings and you have only 1 hour from dinner to sleeping time that you can dedicate for sewing. On average, a dress would take 6 hours to make from finish to start - with that 1 hour you have, it might seem it’s not even worth starting until you have more time available. Instead, I break down work in smaller pieces and ask myself what can be done in that 1 hour - for instance, I know that tracing my pattern and cutting fabric takes approx. 1 hour, so I go ahead and do that. Next evening, with same 1 hour available, I would stitch side seams and do my first fitting. Fast forward a few evenings and my dress is done, without a big grand sewing session!
5. Change your perspective. Back in autumn last year, I made a decision to get into best physical shape of my life. I was never athletic, so doing sports wasn’t something natural to me. But I am approaching 30 next year and when I think of myself at an old age, I want to see myself as a healthy, active person and now was the best time to start working towards that. Along the way on this journey, I was surprised that the biggest struggle I faced wasn’t gym or eating habits, but switching my mindset from “I was never athletic, but I will try to get fit” to “I am an active person and sports is part of my lifestyle”. Once I made this mental change, it became so much easier to go to the gym or for a jog - I am an active person and these activities became part of my lifestyle. Fast forward a few months and I saw some real changes in my physical shape and strength.
Very same logic applies to sewing: even if I sew for myself, I think of myself as a seamstress. With this mindset, it’s easy for me to make time for sewing, because this is what seamstress do. With this change, results will follow.
6. Move away from stuck projects and don't take on something you don't want to do. I love sewing, but give me a pair of pants to hem and I will stop sewing for weeks. Hemming pants is literally a 10 minute job that I will delay for 2 weeks, if not longer - I simply dislike it that much. But guess what people want me to do when they learn I can sew? You’re right, they want me to hem their pants.
A work that does not bring you joy (such as hemming pants to me) or makes you feel stuck (we all had that project, haven’t we?), can easily bring your sew-jo down. I now take up on only projects that I really want to make and turn down the rest - sewing is my hobby, not my job, and it must bring me joy, otherwise it loses its purpose. Learning to say ‘No’ is difficult, but needed if you want to be master of your own time.
7. Track your progress. I got better at running once I started to use a running app to track my speed, distance and progress. My eating became healthier once I started to use MyFitnessPal to track my eating. My spending habits became more clear once I started to track my daily spending with an app. Same with sewing - once I started to document everything I make on Instagram and my blog, I was able to see my progress and see areas that I need to improve. At the end of each year, I do annual review of what I sewn throughout the year and I am always stunned how much I made, with everything else going on in life!
You don’t have to have a public social media account to post your makes - maybe a journal or simple photo collection on your phone would work, too. We tend to forget how much we have accomplished and tracking your makes allows you to know exactly how far you have come. If you see you are improving, you will be more likely to sew more.
For the conclusion, I would like to add one thing: for most of us, sewing is an enjoyable hobby, that relaxes us and allows us to express our creativity. This is not something have to do, but something we want to do. Find time for yourself today and your future self will thank you!
If you have more tips on how to find time for sewing or if you have a question for next SewTalk - let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org, I would be glad to hear from you!