Time Management Tips and Tricks…..I need some!
10 years ago
I have to say that I am absolutely amazed by the work that all of you on here do. I am constantly looking at the Flickr site and reading posts on the forums in-between the other things that need to be done. I just have to ask…..how do you do it? I know everyone on here has a very busy life, but you manage to get so much productive sewing done. The quantity of what some of you put out amazes me! Granted, I am a beginner and it takes me a while to catch on sometimes…and I sometimes spend more time ripping seams than sewing them. I also work full time and have two very energetic children. (The fact that some of you have as many as 5 and can get all of that sewing done is impressive to me!)
Okay, so here’s what I want to know….how do you manage your projects? Do you cut out more than one pattern at a time that way you can sew them up instead of going through the whole process one at a time? (The prep work is important, but very time consuming as well.) For me, it takes an entire evening to trace and cut out a pattern and then pin it to the fabric and cut it out again. And we all know about those crazy, late night sewing mistakes…
Again, I am just absolutely amazed by all of you! It is so nice to be surrounded by an online community of so many talented people.10 years agoNicole @motherof5
My sewing is my ‘me’ time and I would go potty with out it! I always have stuff ready to go. A basket on the table with cutting,little bundles waiting to be sewn,bags with hand sewing to take in the car and a roll of drafting interfacing and patterns ready to draft.
I try to have things ready and never think ”The baby will be up soon,I won’t start”….because the baby may sleep longer and any way 10 mins here and there all add up.
My girlfriends have learnt they are welcome,but if the baby is asleep,I am sewing! They quite often lay on the sofa in my sewing room and chat. I love that!
I keep apples and water in my room so I can work through lunch if needed and I have an old telly and DVD player and listen to movies as I sew. This is great when it is monotonous sewing like mending.
I guess be organised,its not hard and a little preparation saves a lot of time.
I do sew production-line,changing top threads if necessary,but this can be dull,so I treat my self with an one-off every now and again.
I also find putting my goals in the forum helps keep me on track,a little accountability keeps me focused.
Good luck and happy sewing!10 years agoTamara @justsewit
My kids are both at school now so sewing for me takes place during the day and I can spend as much or as little time sewing provided I’m not needed elsewhere (like shifting machinery or drafting sheep or other farm stuff). That said, I’m like Nicole in that I would lose my head completely if I didn’t do some sort of sewing everyday.
I generally only finish one or two projects in a week as I spend short blocks of time doing the different elements such as drafting, cutting, pinning and stitching aswell as the handstitching which sometimes is required throughout the sewing process not just at the end.
I can understand your frustration at not feeling like you are achieving anything. I felt like that too when I was beginning to learn to sew. Give yourself the time you need to learn the skills because each pattern you use has new skills to learn when you are a beginner. Is your personal goal of number of projects needing to be reassessed? Taking the time to work on a project doesn’t mean you don’t produce good work. It means that you are giving yourself the time to learn the skills to make really high quality sewing. That’s what you want isn’t it? If you rush, you will make mistakes and get stressed and that isn’t what sewing is all about.
So make a list of the projects you want to make and do a sort of time line in expectation of completing the different elements of the project.
Work on one project a week to start and have the next project ready to go (this means pattern,fabric and notions all together).
Work on the project for as long as you feel comfortable per night. Utilise lunchbreaks with hand sewing, reading instructions or preparing for the next project.
You will be able to get into your own swing and style of sewing that is right for you. Some people swear by production line but I am incompatible with this method of operation. Reason being is that I cut out lots of things and my kids grow out of them before they are all made. So I go one at a time and mix it up a bit and only do bulk for the basics like t-shirts and farm shorts etc.
I hope this is helpful to you.
Tamara10 years agorastis @rastis
I think I do a lot of similar things to what motherof5 does… i find it hard to find sewing time with a new baby in the house (and a whirlwind of a toddler- we call him cycloneT) and i’m often tired from getting up so much at night to feed the baby… but i love to sew so after i have tried a pattern once (to work out if i like it and if there are going to be any fit issues with it) i usually try and have a night or two when the children are asleep cutting… and i cut many things at once… usually i would sew multiples of things at once (similar colours together as well so i don’t have to change threads so often) and sew ’em up production line style… it’s not as fun as sewing things one at a time but it is way faster… i also grab any little minute i can to sew an extra seam or two and it does add up! it’s way easier if there is always something there waiting for you to sew- because quite often the tracing out and cutting out patterns stage can take forever and be a bit daunting- so doing it in sessions eases the pain a little!
i also want to add that production line sewing works for me because i am a product sewer or a “finisher”… i love the process of sewing, but love the finished product more… i am driven to sew by the finished product and i have very few “UFO’s” because having unfinished things around drives me crazy! and it’s probably good to find a method that suits the way you sew… there is really no point in cutting out 5 pairs of shorts at once if you only end up sewing one of them!10 years ago
Thank you ladies for all of the great advice! It was very helpful to hear how you manage your projects and very reassuring to know that everyone has to juggle time restraints. I am a kindergarten teacher, so I am at school with my children. (No sewing during the day for me.) ; ) That leaves only evening sewing time. I suppose my frustration comes in being too tired to sew….knowing that my fatigue is going to leave me with crazy mistakes. Also, of course being a beginner does slow the process….but I do love the whole learning process as well. I suppose when it comes to these beautiful Oliver + S patterns I have the “eyes bigger than the stomach syndrome”…..I want to do it all! I was thinking that tracing, and cutting out the patterns I want to sew on paper and fabric and having it ready to go may help get things going. I do not tend to make a bunch of one garment at a time….like I said I want it all, so I’m trying to make one of each! : ) (Before my daughter outgrows that size)
Thanks again for all of the great insight! I really and truly appreciate it!10 years agodkbnyc @dkbnyc
i dont really have any time management tips- i end up doing my sewing after 9pm and often stay up past 1am. (Its 130am as i type this.)
I wish i could get more sewing done, but i work full time and have 2dc. Thankfully, DH does most of the housework, so thats one less thing for me to worry about10 years agohomefire @homefire
I would like to stress how much time is saved when you take 5 min after sewing to clean up your area! I had a solid hour the other day to sew but it took me about 45 min. to tidy up. My sewing space is in my bedroom so I had laundry and other various bits and pieces scattered about (it’s been a hectic month). In the end I only got a pattern pinned to the fabric. If I had been keeping things cleaned up and put away all I would have had to do was sit down and start sewing.10 years agoTamara @justsewit
You know homefire that is my biggest downfall!! I tend to leave the mess to clear up after several projects because I go charging ahead. Time to turn over a new leaf me thinks – looking at the mess right now and thinking Gaaargh!10 years agoyellow_blue @yellow_blue
This was one of the MOST helpful posts for me to read. Thank you Adrienne for asking the question. It was really important for me to realise two things as i read the various things that people posted here–one, that I keep sewing whatever I can, and thereby get better day by day. And two, there are ways–there are some ways to make this faster like a clean workspace and some amount of production line work. Thanks all you talented, competent and lovely sewers out there who encourage and help me so much!10 years agoTriMama @TriMama
When I sew, I try to group similar steps together and do them all at once. For example, I’ll do all my pinning at once, then I’ll sit down and sew as many seams as possible, then I’ll press all the seams I’ve just sewn. This saves a lot of time in getting up and down from the machine, waiting for the iron to heat up, etc. It also means I’m working on several sections of a particular pattern at once. I’ve been sewing for a long time, so doing some of the steps out of order doesn’t (usually!) cause me to make mistakes. If you’re new to sewing, maybe just try doing two steps in tandem.
I also try to do tracing and cutting out in batches. Once I’ve got a couple garments cut out I put them in a plastic storage basket. I also put the pattern and notion in the basket so everything is together. This saves me time hunting for materials.
Another thing I find helpful is to pin the pattern instructions on the wall behing my sewing machine. I can easily read the instructions without getting up or putting my work down.10 years ago
Everyone’s input has been so helpful! Yellow-blue, I’m so glad that this question helped you as well.
This week has been a tough one for me….a lot of obligations have left me feeling completely overwhelmed. I’ve come to realize that I am going to be a “weekend sewer” and that it is okay! (I’m sure though there will be weeks where some weekdays will be an option, but I shouldn’t stress over it.)
Trimama- I’m going to try tracing and cutting out in batches. I have a Tea party sundress cut out right now waiting for tomorrow. Once I finish that, I’m going to trace and cutout the next 3 things on my project list and have everything I need ready to go. That way I can hopefully make the most of the next few weekends. : )
Thanks again to all of you wonderful, talented people!!10 years agoJohannaO @JohannaO
I don’t have a whole lot to add, but I do love my freezer paper. I trace my pattern onto it, and then iron (with a hot dry iron) the paper right onto my fabric. It saves me gobs of time because I don’t have to pin the pattern onto the fabric. Just make sure not to trace with crayon. (Learned the hard way.) I also save my tracings in a binder, and label all the pieces so if I’m swapping things, everything goes back into the same envelope. Because kids normally go up before they go out (at least after 2) I find that I can normally lengthen my patterns without having to re-trace, even if they’ve grown a bit.10 years agomeleliza @meleliza
I’ve recently adopted the Liesl’s tip for working in small amounts of time and found that it really helps me pick up where I left of a little quicker. I get interrupted a lot – three little ones under the age of 6 – and now that I’m sure to leave a project ready for the next step, I save quite a few minutes. I’ve found that even an hour a day helps my sanity, so I don’t try to rush too much through a project and I’ve found that I don’t enjoy production line style sewing. I like to finish one thing and then move on to something different. But I’ve instituted a system for the sewing that I started with knitting a long time ago. I dislike that “down” time between projects when my fingers are itching but I haven’t yet figured out exactly which project to do next. So, I plan the project or two while I’m still sewing. This allows me to read the pattern, read reviews for any potential pitfalls, choose fabric and gather notions so it’s all ready to go the minute I’m done the first one. For knitting, I only allow myself to plan one or two projects ahead, but for sewing, I may do more than that. I’ve started using pinterest to remind me of what’s coming. Also, I bought this little drawer unit from Ikea where I have some supplies and a separate drawer for each individual project. I start with the pattern or fabric as the case may be, and add the other supplies as I decide on them. In addition to baby sewing, I’ve taken the Colette palette challenge for myself as well, so I have a long queue this fall. But doing the challenge has helped me organize projects as well.
What else? Practice and experience will make you faster, as will having the right tools. A sewing machine that doesn’t jam up all the time or eat fabric will save time and frustration. I’ve started acquiring all kinds of fun little feet that do things for me – narrow hemmed, bias binding and my 1/4″ foot makes my Frernch seams go faster. I don’t use pins anymore on straight seams. For whatever reason, I hate transferring markings and notches, as well as all the “prep” like stay stitching and interfacing. So, I do all of that first to get it out of the way. This makes the actual project more enjoyable and a little faster.
And I think this is also a time saver of sorts – I don’t sit down to sew until I’ve gotten my other work done. So if the baby goes down for a nap, I clean up and take care of laundry first. This keeps the house tidied which I do think helps the sewing.10 years ago
Johanna O…are you telling me that regular freezer paper….the kind you buy at the grocery store…..will adhere to the fabric? You mean it cuts out a whole step! ; ) I want to make sure that I am understanding….you trace the pattern onto the freezer paper (not using crayon) and then iron it directly onto the fabric and then cut around it. Do you iron it on the right side or wrong side of the fabric? Will it stick again the next time you want to use that pattern?
I’ve been using swedish tracing paper that I got from my favorite sewing shop…..but freezer paper would be A LOT cheaper! : )
Meleliza- I love the idea of your drawer unit. I’m going to try to cut out a few patterns at a time so I can make the most of my sewing time. That sounds like a really cool way of keeping all of the pieces together. And you are right….a tidy house truly does help the sewing! It is so hard to enjoy sewing when you know you have 10 million other things that need to be done. When I got home from work yesterday, I did all of my housework so that I could have a lot more time to sew this weekend!
Thanks for all of the great advice!10 years agoJohannaO @JohannaO
Yup. Regular old stuff that I buy at the store. Either this (http://www.reynoldspkg.com/reynoldskitchens/en/product.asp?prod_id=1798) or the store brand. Turns out quilters have been using it for years, and since I have a fairly large cutting/tracing/rotary mat area, I just put it down on the fabric and iron. I normally put it on the right side of the fabric, unless, (and this is a big unless) it has a nap. For fabrics with a nap, I make sure to iron it to the wrong side. I can normally fold them up, and then use them again, and it doesn’t seem to lose it’s ability to stick until I’m on my 7th or 8th use (like the hopscotch dress/shirt.) I do most of my cutting with my rotary cutter, so everything does stay flat. I don’t know how well it would work with scissors as you have the pick up the fabric and it would shift a little. Perhaps just pin it in a few key places to keep it from shifting?
Here’s a picture of a sketchbook shirt that I was about to cut out, with the pieces ironed to the fabric already, if you’re a visual person. (It also shows how I lengthen things so that the lines stay parallel. Close to Liesl’s version, but easier for me to see.) http://flic.kr/p/9ZrAtR
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