Making Time to Sew: Small Sewing Projects

I think to a certain degree, I was really surprised when the survey results came back for our 2010 Sewing Goals and I learned how many folks struggle just to find time to sew.  I think I assumed much of that was built around the sewing space issue: if you don’t have a dedicated sewing or craft room, then you have to get out your machine and supplies, set it all up, unpack your project, plug everything in, just to get started.  That’s 25 minutes right there.  And the clean up is the same in reverse.  Meaning if you only have an hour to sew, and you don’t have a dedicated sewing space where all your things stay out all the time so you can put a project down and pick it up again at the next opportunity, you’ve spent 50 of those 60 minutes just packing and unpacking your stuff!  Not satisfying sewing time, if you ask me.

What came to light through these survey responses, though, was that it isn’t just a space issue (although all that stuff is totally true for many of us).  It’s also a LIFE issue.  For some, it’s that there is too much work left at the end of our day, and not enough life: we’ve got so many career-related tasks that are both urgent and important (and plenty that are urgent but not important–you know the ones I mean) that stealing time away to sew is nearly impossible and frequently brings on bouts of guilt.  For others, it’s that our homes are full of people who want and need our attention, and not giving it isn’t really an option–but it takes up an awful lot of time.  And for still others, it’s the home itself: there is always another cleaning or organizational task that must get done in order for our real lives to run smoothly, and dedicating time to sewing instead of getting the laundry folded or the dishes washed is an exercise in procrastination disaster.

Finding time to sew is tough.  Which is why we’re all going to MAKE time to sew.

At the risk of quoting Loreal, t’s worth it, and so are you.  Carving out time to dedicate to something that fulfills you in a way that few other tasks can is of monumental benefit, not just for you, but for all the other areas of life that matter to you.  It’s like carving out time for your marriage: it’s hard, it’s sometimes awkward, and in many ways you have to cheat on other areas of your life (work, kids, housekeeping) in order to make it happen, but when you choose to spend time with your spouse, it spills benefits over into your work and your kids and your home in such a way that the idea of not doing it becomes assinine.

Sewing is like that.  It revives us, it feeds us, it asks us to use our brains in ways we might not at any other time of the day.  It calls on creativity and patience, it inspires new vision and inspiration.  It’s something that rewards you for every minute you dedicate to it.  Anna Maria makes a lovely point on her FAQ page:  she has a large family and a home to run, but her kids and husband understand that she has dreams, too, and that the work she does helps those come alive.  They don’t begrudge her the time she spends creating because it helps her to be a better wife and mother and person at the end of the day.  Cut yourself the same level of slack and give yourself permission to come home from the office, make a nice cup of tea (or wine, or milk, whatever), sit down to do a little designing/daydreaming/planning/cutting/arranging/stitching/embellishing to ease yourself out of your work-life and into your domestic-life.  Have a scone, for heaven’s sake.

With a new baby, and a new shop, and a new book on the way, and a husband I adore and children to whom I’m devoted, plus a home that’s always in constant need of a little TLC, there are plenty of demands on my time.  I’m dedicating this week to setting aside time to sew small projects, things I can pick up and put down as my life insists I must, but that give me tastes of creative fulfillment and artistic daydreaming, to keep me on track.  I hope you’ll make time to do the same.

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  • Jessica Warrick
    May 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    i agree with you. It is hard for me to sew because i have a 21 month old at home at all times and i dont get the time to sew but i have to make time so im going to start setting up my sewing machine and everythig every morning so there is no excuse to not sew. I have so many projects that i need to be doing right now but no time to do them. and i just entered into a new business venture with a friend were i will need to be sewing all the time. My problems stem form no where to sew but the kitchen table and a 21 month old demanding attention, its hard to sew.

  • Christie
    May 19, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Very nice post which has inspired me to make getting my sewing space set up a priority. IKEA here I come….

  • Ali
    May 19, 2010 at 9:49 am

    First of all, I LOVE your blog! This post describes me to a T! And the time limitations are currently amplified by the birth of my little boy, who I’m dying to make stuff for (I have a growing list). I’m looking forward to following this series. I’m going to make a point of setting the time aside… I’ll blog about it (successes and struggles) at

    ~Ali (an ATL native and local)