What Are Your Sewing Rituals?

sewing rituals

I wrote recently about the ritualisation of cutting out paper patterns, and how routines help guard against sewing failure. This led me to ponder what my other rituals are.

In no particular order…

Monthly worshipping at The Man Outside Sainsburys’ stall.

Throwing fabric in the washing machine the moment it enters the house.

Getting up super-early to sew in silence whilst the rest of the world sleeps.

Sewing in my pyjamas.

Sewing in my nuddy pants.

Wiping down surfaces to avoid transference of grease to fabric. Wiping them down again.

Religiously snipping thread at the end of a row of stitching. All the time. Always.

Cutting out interfacing at the same time as fashion fabric, even though I hate doing it.

Covering my dressmaker’s dummy after a sewing session so that visitors don’t glimpse a plastic torso wearing a bra.

Running up and down stairs a gazillion times to check fit.

Forgetting to eat. Making up for it with a tub of humous.

Buying too many buttons.

Rituals I should indulge and don’t:

Using a fresh needle with each new project.

Cleaning my sewing machine between makes.

Wiping down my cutting mat and changing the blade on my rotary cutter.

This is all normal, right? What about you? What are your rituals?

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51 Responses to What Are Your Sewing Rituals?

  1. Hanne says:

    I need to clean up.my sewing table after sewing. If it’s still cluttered from the last session, I cannot get to work.
    Also: I light a scented candle when working. It functions as a ‘green light’ to start sewing and stop looking at screens 😊

  2. Ahhh, TMOS. Someday I will make the pilgrimage. 🙂 My sewing rituals involve sorting out a decent stitching soundtrack, and pulling out vast quantities of fabric or patterns until something speaks to me. Music is very important for my sewing sanity. Xx

  3. Always radio or music first 🙂

  4. Paola says:

    Sewing between 2030 and 2100 most nights – If I’m tired, I’ll stop. If not, keep on going for another hours.
    Sewing between 0700 and 0900 most Sundays, while listening to Sunday Extra on Radio National (Australia). Then I go down to have breakfast – not even sewing gets between me and my meals 🙂
    Snipping threads as I sew is one that I adhere to as well.
    Iron goes on first (I have to pass the ironing board to get to the sewing machine).
    Generally start a session with a hot beverage in my possession. Miraculously have not come a cropper with that one yet!

    • Jenny says:

      What kind of iron can you just turn in and leave on without getting a massive electric bill?

    • Nicola says:

      I always sew with Radio National playing. I sometimes stop mid-stitch to listen to a discussion. I would probably be a more efficient sewer without Aunty on the radio but I would definitely be less well-informed.

      • Meg Kundert says:

        Yes! I listen to NPR in the states and often have a “driveway moment” when I have to stop and listen. My favorites are Radio Lab and This American Life.

  5. Gail says:

    My sewing rituals include: worshipping at Tessutis; listening to talking books in bid to get cultural while indulging in my hobby; and making a hell of mess then cleaning up at the end of every project.

  6. Fiona says:

    Please! Who is The Man Outside Sainsburys?
    I think I need to get some rituals going – perhaps that’s why I end up having to un-do most tasks and re-do them!
    Karen – could you talk about dress-making dummies, please? I bought one, but ended up bringing it back to the shop – I couldn’t get it to represent my shape, so I didn’t see the point. I have just got my man to help me make a replica of my torso with duct tape (oh yes – I do have a ritual: I look at sewing videos on Youtube almost every night before going to sleep). I have just got to work out a way of making it stand up.

    • Kas says:

      Fiona, I made my own dummy using this method and to make it stand up I used the cardboard tube from the inside of a fabric roll (I spoke nicely to the fabric store owner). I had to cut a hole in the base and push it up through the torso – I also filled the tube with that yellow diy foam that solidifies to make it strong. For the base I used a plastic Christmas tree holder (it’s like a big dog bowl with big screws on the inside) which makes it stable. I was able to make it the same height as me too. Good luck!

  7. Colesworth says:

    I was really good at changing my needle for a while but I keep forgetting. I also hate cutting out the interfacing, it’s just not as fun as fabric. Any morning I can get up and sew in my PJs is a good morning! On the weekend I chuck a load of laundry in the washing machine first and then I feel like I’ve started my ‘chores’ , then I can have a coffee break from sewing to hang out the washing ;o)

  8. Esta says:

    When I sew, I only wear a sock on my left foot, because I find it too slippery to have it on my pedal pushing right foot 🙂

  9. Anna-Jo says:

    I fuse the interfacing to the fabric first, then cut it out. Makes it much more fun.

    I am trying to get better about snipping threads, but the one thing I always do is start out my sewing sessions with a cup of tea. It doesn’t always get drunk though, as sewing is very distracting!

  10. Changing the needle with every new project? Oops I change mine when it breaks. My ritual is giving the dining room table a good wipe. Don’t want food stains to get on my precious fabric. I’m with you on forgetting to eat!

  11. Marion says:

    I listen to the same podcast over and over again because I want to listen to something interesting while sewing but cannot actually concentrate on it !

  12. I’m the opposite! I only seem to ever do the last 4. I run a sewing machine store, so I get sew here and there when customers aren’t around, but I have to keep the machines/sales area clean. Thank you for sharing!!!!

  13. Tanya says:

    Wow! So disciplined, I’m impressed! I love the fact that for decency’s sake you cover your dummy. I’m sure the neighbours must have caught a glimpse of my semi-naked sewing, mismatched undies and contortionistic (and ineffective) self-fitting…

  14. Serge ends, wash fabric.
    Clean machines, change needles, oil serger.
    Change the rotary blade
    Cut all the parts, and interface, then leave to “age” for a few days.
    Somehow manage to get all pin magnets and snips in same area, despite all attempts to make sure every corner of the room has 1 of each.
    Scare self over spider. Realize its a thread spider. Consider vacuuming, but don’t.

    Doesn’t everyone sew in their jammies or less? Isn’t that normal? … Please?

    • stitchedupsam says:

      I love the “scare self over spider… realise it’s a thread spider” I did exactly the same yesterday. Did I vacuum? No!

  15. Helen says:

    Setting up and clearing away every. single. time because I don’t have a dedicated sewing space and I have young children who can’t be trusted not to press buttons/eat pins. Another sewing ritual is stabbing myself with a pin/burning myself on the iron at least once each per project.

  16. Right now my ritual seems to be procrastination! Curses. It seems I am afraid to start–for fear of failure? of not finishing? of what????
    Must remember to do the machine cleaning, etc.
    I do faithfully snip threads and clean up after a project.
    And a fresh cup of coffee.

  17. Candie says:

    I’m with you on the wiping, the snipping, the cutting of interfacing but I also clean my machine and install a new needle, every single time. My biggest though is cleaning my sewing room after every make then reading & studying of the next pattern. I read it until I understand it.

  18. I do a lot of this stuff too: wash fabric right away, wipe down surfaces before sewing (because I sew at the kitchen table and my ironing board goes on the stove) and I have four small children. I usually break a needle during a sewing session, so I never worry that I haven’t changed it often enough! I do snip the threads after every seam, because…just gotta do it. I also press everything after every seam, but I do try to consolidate my jumping up and down to go to the ironing board. I also go up and down stairs quite a bit to check fit in the bathroom mirror–hah!) I wear my thread nippers on a ball chain around my neck so they don’t go walkabout. I have a particular way I like my tools set up around my machine and I set them up this way before I sit down to sew. I always cut my fabric with pinking shears.

    But I should clean the guts of my machine after every project and I don’t. I should pull my pins out as I sew but I don’t (I put them in perpendicular to the needle so I can sew over them). I know there are lots of little things like that, but that’s part of my process too.

  19. Melizza says:

    You do all the right things! I change my needles when they dull and clean the machine when it skips stitches. D’oh!

  20. sewsincity says:

    I have to sew in silence. Lots of people have to have TV on and some type of background noise, but I need silence. I also fill my iron with water before I even turn on my machine so I don’t have to leave the room. Lastly, I wake up before the sun usually around 4am to sew before my household gets up too.

  21. Abigail says:

    I have to fess up… I live in the US, but last summer when I visited London, I couldn’t restrain myself and went to meet the oh so world famous Man Outside of Sainsburys. Of course I worshipped… too bad my first make with the fabric I bought from him did not turn out the way I expected it so it was done away with.

  22. Toni says:

    Sometimes, a project doesn’t take so long, so, I go two or three projects before I change my needle(s). I just finished making a coat, and don’t foresee using 80/12 microtex again anytime soon, so, yes, I changed my needles as soon as I was done.

    Buying notions that to go with each project whenever I buy patterns.

    Buying a pack or two of appropriate needles whenever I buy fabric.

    Pre-washing and, if the fabrics permits, pre-drying fabric as soon as I bring it home.

    Before I begin sewing, applying interfacing to any pieces that require it.

    Setting a timer, so that I take a drink at least every hour while I’m sewing.

    Cleaning my sewing machine and/or serger after each session.

    Cleaning the sewing area after each session, including vacuuming, if necessary.

    Setting up my sewing machine and/or serger with the appropriate needle and thread for the next project after cleaning up after the previous one.

  23. Sonja says:

    Project starts:
    -Radio on
    -Browsing books and internet for inspiration and solutions to solve any sewing problem..
    -Drafting pattern
    -Double checking all measurements
    -Cut out pattern pieces
    -Double checking all measurements
    -Making sure I have everything needed for the garment (often a pause in the process, something is always missing..)
    -Lay out fabric and make ready for cutting
    -Double checking all measurements
    -Make sure every piece are laid out right.
    -Evoke courage
    -Cut out pieces
    -Lay everything in right sewing order
    -Sew, iron, sew, iron…
    -Sew, iron, sew, iron..
    -Cut all threads

    This may take a couple of days, in between I eat at regular times and drink lots of water. After each day everything is cleaned up and put back in place, if I don’t do this I don’t get started the next day.. The list shows the process I have for almost any project, if I change anything something always goes wrong..

  24. Sewniptuck says:

    Ooooh, one should wipe down a cutting mat? Intrigued.
    Yes, as above, complete clean up is necessary for this brain to engage. I procrasta-eat in a ritualised manner, does that count?!!

  25. Carolyn says:

    Ha ha – “sewing in my nuddy pants”. Doesn’t everyone sew in their underwear? And the one shoe/sock thing – YES!

  26. Katy says:

    Great post 🙂

  27. norma says:

    If I’m about to start something challenging I do the ironing first – a sort of warm up!
    I clear some of the clutter from my table.
    I have no shoe on the sewing machine pedal foot.
    And that’s it!

  28. I am kind of terrible about snipping threads, so I always find a few as I wear the garment, ha!
    I am very good about changing the needle in my sewing machine, but not on my serger for some reason…I wait until it starts clanking before I change them.
    I always cut interfacing out with the fashion fabric, and do all of the fusing first.
    I started doing a cleanup after each project a few years ago, and that has been one of my better ideas. It’s so much easier to work when you know where all your tools are and the table is clear. 🙂

  29. redsilvia says:

    I had to look up nuddy pants in the urban dictionary and was rather astonished it was warm enough in London to make nuddy pants comfy. Perhaps it’s a seasonsl thing?

    I watch TV while I sew, especially (American) football. I change my needles for every project unless I’m making two similar things at once. I always wear clothes since the neighbors can see in to my dining/sewing room. I’ve stopped wine and sewing but that hasn’t really helped make more projects successful so that practice is under consideration.

  30. Amy in SC says:

    My mom never snipped her threads. We joked during my wedding rehearsal that each bridesmaid would need scissors to cut the threads off the dress of the girl in front of her. We did get the threads off mine. I cut all the threads, all the time. I do many things the way Mom did, but I don’t leave any threads.

    And I cannot sew with a shoe on my right foot.

  31. esewing says:

    Great post , so many of your rituals struck a cord , you’ve got to get everything right so once you start you only need to stop when your really hungry !
    Undies with a dressing gown is my way to deal with constant fitting issue.
    One thought on torso making issue – could you use a cheap shop mannequin in a small size to put inside your torso ‘shell’ , they come with stand , you’d only have to fill the space in between .

  32. LinB says:

    Here are my rituals, in no particular order. 1. Cut out everything I can in one marathon cutting session, especially for coordinating garments (I despise cutting). 2. Fill two or more bobbins with thread, as I inevitably run out of bobbin thread two inches from completion of a vital step in construction. 3. Put pattern envelope, the cut out pieces, as many notions as possible into one grocery bag or small clear container so I don’t lose pieces when it comes time to sew — might be weeks or months ( or years, gah!) later before I can sit down and sew. 4. Gather all the garments that can be sewn with same color thread into one area, pin together everything for first steps of each garment, then railroad them through my machine. 5. Take new pattern pieces out of envelope and rough cut them; fold with piece name and number on top; leave instructions in pattern envelope; put the whole thing into a clear, zip-locked gallon bag.

  33. Mary Lynn says:

    Good heavens! I am obviously a complete slouch, which is probably why I never finish anything
    and spend at least half my time looking for things……….. Some people sounded a titch persnickety but think I could benefit from being more so 🙂

  34. Amber Evans says:

    What a list! Love your rituals. I’m a coffee addict so definitely a hot cuppa while browsing some of my fave sewing blogs for some inspo.

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