Between the kids, the housework, the planning, and the scheduling… it doesn’t seem like there are many hours left in the day to sew or be creative. It is one of my on-going challenges to make sure that at the end of the day I still have at least a few minutes to fill back up my own cup. No time to be fussing about. I try to stick to these time-saving sewing advice rules to keep me focused and productive!
So when I get a few minutes to sew, it’s game time.
Time-Saving Sewing Advice
It’s like motherhood… You look back on the days before you had a house full of kids (or even just one kid!) and you wonder what you did with all the time in your days? I swear I’m 10x more productive as a mom because I know the real value of my time now.
Time is short, sister, and you have to make the most of it… especially when its nap time, am I right?
When you only have very short amounts of time to work, you learn to work fast.
Trick #1 – Use the right tools
(I’ve said this a lot.) You will be more productive when you use the right tools for the job. If it takes you saving leftover change in a jar and asking for sewing tools for your birthday, so be it. It isn’t selfish. You wouldn’t expect an aspiring chef to just use a slotted spoon and 1 simple pot, would you? No.
When sewing, using a basic ruler and a pair of scissors is not only tricky, but it also puts you at risk later if you’re not entirely accurate. Your whole project will be off leaving you frustrated and more likely to toss the entire project down the stairs…
which I may or may not have been guilty of in the past. You can check out my 5 Essential Quilting Rulers and why you need them to get your wish list started!
Also on this list of essential tools should be a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, pins, and magic clips.
You should also catch up on this guide that I wrote for 13 Must have tools in the sewing room. Do you have them all?
Trick #2 – If you can use a Clip instead of a pin, do it.
Why are we having this conversation? I see quilters and sewists who swear by their pins and never ever will stray from their routine practices. I love my pins, I do. And they certainly have their place in the sewing room. You can read about the most popular pins for quilters. But the day I discovered these magic clips, a lightbulb went off, and I never looked at my pins the same again. I never have to worry about pin pricks or pokes, and I find that the clips actually hold the fabric in place just as well or better than the pins do. Especially when working with quilt binding or piping.
No worries about lost pins means more peace of mind. Also, my son likes to play with the clips like baby alligators… so bonus for him too I guess.
Trick #3 – Take one day to really get organized
Complete chaos and/or lack of planning will be your sewing/crafting kryptonite. Wasting time looking for tools, looking for the perfect fabric, looking for empty bobbins… ugh. time wasted is time lost. Do not let your sewing space be in a complete state of disarray. Trust me: I have learned this from experience! It is an on-going struggle, but worth every bit.
Take one day to save you countless hours! Take some time to purge, clean and organize your notions, tools and such so that the next time you sit down to sew, you can spend more time creating and less time hunting for all of your sewing tools. My post on Cheap Sewing Storage is one of my most popular posts and well worth the read to see what is worth your money and what isn’t.
Trick #4 – Keep a log of your projects
When I sew a pattern that I like, I always print out an extra copy to keep in a binder for future projects. Sometimes you need a project to be comfortable and familiar. Not every single quilt has to be a full on life lesson learning experience. When you need a quick sew, you can refer back to this binder instead of sifting through folders on your computer or through file cabinets of craft supplies etc.
I have another binder for quilt patterns that I have purchased online.
Many of the quilts that I have made have been given away as gifts and I have given up keeping track of how many or what quilt went where. I wish that I had started this from the beginning of my quilting, but I make sure that a quilt never leaves my room without getting documented now.
Always take pictures of your quilts. It is fun to take a picture with who you gave the quilt to as well 🙂 Years down the road, you will have lots of fun memories and will be surprised at how many quilts gave you fits in the making turned out to be your favorites.
I find it easiest to store these on Pinterest. These are my “future” quilts. I maybe should be ashamed at the sheer amount I hope to finish in my lifetime, But I am not. Not in the least bit. And it grows more every single day!
PS- You can follow me on Pinterest.
Trick #5 – Cut first, organize, then sew
This is a step that I am adamant about. Do things one step at a time and you will save your brain later.
If you have a pattern, do all your cutting first. All of it. Cutting precise pieces is a repetitive motion. If you do a few and then sew and then decide to do the dishes and then go get the kids etc etc when you come back to your cutting table again, you’ll have to get out the instructions and re-train your brain. Even if it only takes a few minutes, it is still a step that you didn’t have to make.
The one thing that I must stress with this method is you have to be crazy detailed with your organizing. A pile of pieces that are all cut to the specification will backfire on you if you have to sort through them and re-measure and play i-spy to find the right piece.
You can use magic clips (see, they have a place EVERYWHERE) or pins to keep blocks together or pieces that are the same size together. I also have been known to use sticky notes to label everything. Make it so stupid simple that if you came back to your quilt in a few hours or a few months, you could pick right up where you left without any confusion whatsoever.
When you finally get around to sewing, you’ve got everything you need, and you go just gooooooo!
For more tips on managing your busy schedule, check out the Free Guide to quilting in the midst of an already busy life e-book download.
Trick #6 – Only work on one project at a time
Haha… just kidding. I mean, if you can do that, that is fantastic. The idea, in theory, is terrific. I get that this would be helpful as to not stretch yourself thin between multiple projects that require your time, but even I don’t have the willpower for that.
Keep this Time-Saving Sewing Advice in mind, and you’ll be a production master in no time!
Do you have any other ideas or tricks that you use to save time in the sewing room? Let me know in the comments!
Jill Robinson says
Hi, I read your idea of cutting all your pattern pieces out at one go. I often do this! If you have a multi size pattern ALWAYS cut it on the LARGEST size. If you don’t want to trace the lines you need on to the fabric, if it’s delicate fabric or it won’t show up well enough. This idea never fails. On straight seams fold it to the size you need, on curves cut through all the sizes at right angles to the size lines. It looks like wedge shapes. Then fold the wedge shapes under along the size line you want. Pin and cut as usual. This means you’ve always got all the size lines for next time. Great if your friend wants a dress from the same pattern and she’s 3 sizes larger than you! Hope this helps someone? Happy sewing , Jill