Finding time to sew

When I talk about sewing with friends and acquaintances a lot of people ask me how I find the time. I won’t lie; it’s difficult! I work full-time, and my commute to and from work takes an hour and a half each way. I try to keep fit and do exercise. I want to spend time with my friends and every now and then I just want time to relax.

Sometimes it can be quite challenging to find time to sew on top of all these other things. The patterns and ideas are always stacking up. I look back on my teenage and student days and curse myself for not using all the spare time I had and for not realising how precious it was! Hindsight can be a great (and also useless) thing! At the very least I now have a new perspective on the value of time.

On that note, here are some of the ways I find time to squeeze sewing in to my life.

  • Don’t find time, make time! Set aside time during the week when you commit to doing your own thing, in my case sewing. Plan the best times to set aside in advance. It’s always worth making the time for something you enjoy.
  • Don’t try to do it all in one go. This is the hardest thing for me. I always want to be a sewing ninja and be able to sew an outfit together in an afternoon. But the more I rush, the more I make mistakes (such as my top 5 sewing fails) and end up spending hours unpicking mistakes. I end up getting frustrated and taking twice as long as if I had just taken my time. It’s so important to work at your own pace. Plan a few sessions to finish a pattern. When you stop enjoying it, or you start getting frustrated, take a break! Get some sleep and come back to it another time. You’re doing this for fun after all.
  • Prepare in advance. Read the pattern beforehand. I highly recommend doing any pattern preparation and fabric cutting beforehand as it always takes longer than I anticipate. If I do the admin stuff one evening then I can get started on sewing (the fun bit) straight away another day.
  • Find a dedicated sewing space. This makes it so easy to stop and start whenever you want, and do the odd half an hour here and there. I had a whole room full of my sewing stuff in my old flat which was great. This isn’t possible for everyone (including me since I’ve moved) so I also recommend finding effective ways to store your sewing equipment. I have my patterns and sewing basket stored on a shelf, and my fabric stored in a giant bag. It’s all fairly accessible, and I have a collapsible table for my sewing machine. This isn’t as good as a whole room to myself, but it does make it easier.
  • Do it on the go! I don’t mean carry a sewing machine around with you, but I have happily been that crazy lady on the train finishing off any hand stitching for hems and bias binding and so on. I spend a total of three hours travelling each day, this is usable time! If you’re not willing to take your sewing in public, you can still learn to use up those odd chunks of free time. Occasionally I’ve spent half an hour sewing before work, or half an hour before dinner. You can get a surprising amount done in small chunks of time.
  • Pick appropriate projects. If you’re very busy or stressed, choose something easy to make. Save the complicated projects for when you have more free time. It’s important to strike a balance. Simple projects can be really satisfying because you can make a new piece of clothing with little time and effort. The Coco pattern is a great example. You can save the challenging patterns for when you have the energy for a big project.

Most importantly, take your time and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t finish a project as quickly as you’d hoped. Life is too short! 🙂



4 thoughts on “Finding time to sew

  1. I like to do projects in pieces. One night after work I’ll just sew on the pockets. Or I’ll just cut out the lining. Something finite that take an hour or so. Then if I am still going strong I can do more, or if I’m tired or busy, I stop before I make mistakes.

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