A Would Be Idler’s Productivity Tips

After reporting back as part of Tilly’s Sewing Productivity Project, Tilly gave me a gentle reminder that part of this whole process is  about sharing productivity tips.

I had a good think about this one, as I’m not even sure what inspires one person to make a dress in a weekend and another person to take a month for the same process. I know LIFE often gets in the way.

Anyway, here are my tips, for what they’re worth…

DON’T have a dedicated sewing space

Contentious this one. Who among us doesn’t yearn for A Room Of One’s Own in which to cut up fabric? But part of my creativity is down to the fact that my sewing machine is in a corner of the living room. I’ve been known to indulge in two minutes sewing as I wait for my boyfriend to bring the vegetables to the table.

My corner of the living room

Write a blog

The bloggers I know all seem to follow a similair pattern: they discover an interest in sewing, read lots of sewing blogs, develop a creeping, curious urge to contribute to this online community and start wondering, ‘Could I write something?’ Well, yes, you could! The most difficult decision seems to be choosing between Blogger and WordPress and, from what I can tell, there’s little in it. But the moment you start blogging, you’ll be spurred on to make more. After all, without any sewing action going on, what do you have to blog about? My productivity has gone through the roof since the day I sat down and thought, Now what shall I call my blog?

Join a class

I’ve talked a lot about my course at Morley College, so I won’t bang on about it again here. But the discipline needed to turn up to class once a week makes a difference to what you’re working on. It’s called homework, people!

Invest in decent fabric

An unexpected suggestion from the Queen of Walthamstow market, where fabric can be bought for £1 a metre! But my experiences spending money on higher end fabric have proved that I take my makes far more seriously and keep sewing. The long and the short of it is I don’t want to have wasted £40 that could have gone on Cava!

Spontaneously splurge on cheap fabric

I am nothing if not contrary. As well as expensive fabric, buy a few metres of something that will give you change from a fiver. Yeah, go ahead! Stock up on the stuff that would explode in flames should a match be lit. You won’t mind if this fabric is wasted and so you’ll experiment and challenge yourself. The worst that can happen is that you’ve wasted an afternoon, and you could do that watching the Hollyoaks omnibus.

11 metres recently bought for £12

Follow Your Dreams

Get a decent night’s sleep and watch what happens in your dreams. If you’re anything like me, a stimulating make will infiltrate your sleeping hours. I often dream about my sewing and discover answers to frustrating sewing questions once I’m in my pyjamas and tucked up in bed. More times than I can count, this has led to me leaping out of bed at an ungodly hour on a weekend morning to switch on the radio, brew a steaming coffee and hope that the thrum of my sewing machine isn’t disturbing the neighbours.

Remember why you’re doing this in the first place

It’s not out of a sense of duty, there isn’t a budget or time sheet, no graduation ceremony or contract of employment. Indeed, sewing is an escape from all of these things. If you’re doing it because you feel you should, it’s time to take a break from the sewing machine.

Do as I say, not as I do

Finally, and most importantly, I should confess: I don’t particularly admire my need to constantly be doing stuff and I’m not sure anyone else should admire it either. It didn’t used to be like this. Back in my mid-twenties, weekends were for a) going to the pub or b) lounging in bed, reading the Sunday papers. If I had a rare spurt of energy, I’d bake a cake. When did I lose the ability to have a lie in? This state of affairs stinks!

A very young me. I don’t yet know how to spell the word ‘deadline’!

I’m going to make a final, revolutionary statement that flies in the face of productivity:

Sometimes, it’s time to drag the dust cover over the sewing machine and do nothing at all!

Seriously. Can you remind me I said this when I next blog about the make that kept me up all weekend…?

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17 Responses to A Would Be Idler’s Productivity Tips

  1. Ashley says:

    Wonderful tips! 🙂 I especially agree about the blogging tip. Since I started blogging I take more care in my sewing, and try and spend more time on a garment instead of rushing through it! Now I actually wear the things I make instead of shoving them in the bottom of the wardrobe!
    Ashley x

  2. Trisha says:

    Great tips! I agree that sewing should be fun. I have a couple of unfinished objects that I’m probably never going to finish—-because I don’t want to! (It feels wasteful to say that, but it’s true.) On to another project that I’m excited about. 🙂

  3. You are so right about the blogging and the fabric. What also works for me is to try to sew the pictures in my head rather than sensible projects; I could never make a SWAP wardrobe.

  4. Law says:

    Hi Karen. Some good tips there. I especially like “Remember why you are doing this in the first place”. That’s so true.

  5. Lauren says:

    Good (and timely) tips! I agree with the blogging one – since I started there’s been a pressure to make things to show off, that and do exciting things to write about. Blogging has made a very positive impact on me!
    And though your young self might not have been able spell, she knew a good frock when she saw one – I love it!

  6. Jane says:

    As well as splendid pie charts, you also give great tips Karen – you’re so wise! The ‘start blogging’ tip has definitely spurred me on to sew more and try new things. I also dream about sewing virtually every night, and often wake up in the middle of a lightbulb moment and have to write it all down in case I forget (which I would for sure). x
    PS. Love the toddler Karen photo

  7. Uta says:

    You’re right about time-outs, especially since sewing is “just”a hobby. I just wish I’d found my current level of productivity before I had kids. Now, if I’m not sewing, I’m still busy! I also like what you’re saying about sewing in the middle of living quarters. I have a room reserved for sewing now, and it’s still not finished because I just never get around to going up two flights of stairs and spending a peaceful hour there. For the time being, I’m back to sewing on the dining table.

  8. Sherry says:

    Great – I’m not the only one who has my sewing machine in the corner of the lounge! I like the social aspect, and doubt I would sew as much in my own room… although it would be handy!
    You’re so right about sewing blogging – the number of times I say to myself things like: “I must get this finished so I can post it on my blog!”, or: “I better unpick that mess and sew it right, I can’t put it on my blog like that!” It helps my productivity and my quality!

  9. Roobeedoo says:

    Good tips! But I see you do have a dedicated sewing space in so far as not having to put the sewing machine back in its box ten times a day – that’s what thwarts me! We have one table for everything: meals, homework, sewing, cutting out, the lot, and I get so fed up with the constant tidying up before and after a sewing session. I need to sort this out!

  10. Alessa says:

    Some very good tips! I especially like the “don’t have a dedicated sewing space”, mostly because I really don’t like sitting somewhere all alone for hours on end. That said, I’m wiht Roobeedoos in that it helps when you don’t have to put away your sewing stuff at the end of each day. If I have to set up my sewing machine before I can start, I’m much less likely to go ahead and sew…

    Something that also really boosts my creativity and sewing is joining challenges, sew-alongs and me-made months. Especially because of the community aspect, I think.

    Take care!

  11. CarmencitaB says:

    Good post, it’s true that since I started blogging, I’m on a roll! And since I started reading all of your blogs, I got so much better. As far as the room stuff is concerned, I bought a 7foot dinner table, that took care of that!

  12. Great tips. I am definitely with you on the sewing space, e.g. my dining room table!
    Regarding the blog, it motivates me to create for sure… but it takes me so long with the picture taking and writing that I end up being faster at sewing than at posting (and I am not a fast seamstress!)

  13. Elle F says:

    Well, thank you. We have a rather small home and I have moved my machine and self all over trying to get comfortable and my husband suggested the living room. It’s not as often used except for tv watching and I do often tire of trying to hide my creative messes. Thanks to you, I will be moving my stuff to the livingroom (lounge?) shortly and see how that goes!

  14. Brenda says:

    I have a lovely, cheery, quilting/sewing studio, lovingly built for me by my husband, even tho’ I am not a very productive quilter. I enjoy my own space, and feminine world, where I can read, dream, sew, listen to music/watch TV, or quilt/sew w/o interference. I too get lonely at times, when my projects are long. So, I just shut the door, and go back into the house! Being a neat freak prevents me from setting up in the house. I can’t stand a mess in the house, so appreciate the studio for that also. I think women need their own space, just for themselves, largely, as men some times need a “Man cave.” Happy Quilting! : )

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